Not all domestic brews are created equal. There’s the watery variety worth no more than the red cup it’s in, and then there’s the locally crafted, artisanal, hits-the-spot-right kind of beer. When you and your crew are looking for the latter, appease your well-informed taste buds at these top-notch Orange County and Los Angeles breweries.
Ladyface Ale Companie
Nestled in Agoura Hills, Ladyface Alehouse and Brasserie boasts art nouveau-inspired vibes that immediately make you and your pals feel at ease. Whether you take a seat inside the industrial-cool space or outside on the plein air patio (with views of the hills!), there’s something for every pint-loving palate here: their signature, award-winning Ladyface IPA awakens your gustatory senses with its medium-bodied sensibility and citrus-infused hops, while the Picture City Porter is a robust yet smooth dark ale infused with coffee and chocolate malt flavors. Be sure to take a breather and refuel with Ladyface’s seasonal European-inspired offerings. The menu features savory bites like mac and cheese with a salt and vinegar potato chip crust, soft pretzels with smoked cheddar fondue, and decadent Novy Ranch beef sliders topped with blue cheese, onion jam, and bacon aioli.
Monkish Brewing Company
Among the Los Angeles breweries catering to discerning beer aficionados is Monkish Brewing Company, a 15-barrel brewery in the South Bay helmed by married couple Henry and Adriana Nguyen. This no-frills brewery and tasting room is tucked away in an unassuming commercial park in Torrance, and the menu more than makes up for the lack of fanfare. Try the crowd-pleasing Anomaly, a strong, dark Belgian ale that boasts dry and spicy notes of molasses, Belgian yeast, plums, dates, and clove. Before your parched crew begins pounding on the table for more, order up rounds of the four-pour tasting flight and mix and match to your heart’s (or stomach’s) desire. Light bites like pretzels and peanuts are available; you can also bring your own grub or grab something filling at the food trucks that are often parked outside.
Noble Ale Works
Anaheim is more than just the home of a famous walking, talking mouse—it’s also where Noble Ale Works appeases the beer-and-sports aficionados who frequent the nearby Honda Center and Angel Stadium. Hidden away in a warehouse district, this craft beer brewery and tasting room scored top honors at the LA IPA Festival for its Tongue Tickles IPA, a smooth, hoppy sip that delighted fans of tropical fruity brews. Dig something darker? On tap is the Naughty Sauce, which forgoes the traditional roasted grains with its full-bodied recipe of oats, milk, sugar, and coffee, then finishes with the sweet flavors of cookie dough, cinnamon, and pecan pie. Stomach grumbling already? You won’t find a full-service kitchen here, but there’s always a food truck or two to hit up when you’re ready for a second (or third or fourth) round.