You know life is good when two of my favorite things — the San Fernando Valley and craft breweries — plan to wed in 2014 and live happily ever after. I’m not just talking about one wedding but three craft brewing companies that will call either Van Nuys, Pacoima or the city of San Fernando home.
While Los Angeles has been slower to adopt the craft brewery craze than the rest of the nation, the past few years have brought success for many L.A. names, such as Golden Road Brewery, Angel City Brewery and Eagle Rock Brewery as well as lesser-known outfits in the South Bay. But the SFV has yet to make its indelible mark on the scene, which will likely change with the opening of the San Fernando Brewing Company, MacLeod Ale Brewing Company and Pac City Brewery.
Some of these guys will even have a tap room open to the public, which is the closest the northeast Valley is going to get to the watering hole I’ve been dreaming about. Here’s a quick look at the San Fernando Valley breweries you’re likely to hear about in 2014. Drink up!
Expect some of the usual Cali-style suspects from co-owners and brewers Ryan Rogers, 33, and Vic Chouchanian,34, such as an American pale ale and West coast IPA (my personal fave). Well, not too usual. The San Fernando Brewing Company will offer some of the standards with a creative twist. The IPA will have a fruit-hopped focus rather than pine, the Sonora wheat will be spicier and more intense than a typical wheat and their stout will combine chocolate and coffee flavors in an American-style dark brew.
Rogers has been brewing since he was 16 and met Chouchanian while studying at CSUN. They originally planned to open in Northridge but liquor license issues kept stalling the process. Rogers, who works in heating and air construction, decided to look into San Fernando after fixing a boiler system at San Fernando Middle School.
Surprisingly, the often-stringent city gave them the green light, and the brewery formerly known as Street Sign is now ready to create a 5200-square foot home in the city of San Fernando.
MacLeod Ale Brewing Company means business. If you’re looking for a light lager, something hoppy or even an Irish red, you might want to look elsewhere. The Van Nuys brewery will only feature British ales with a special focus on cask-conditioned ales. “Our brewer is a strict historian who sticks with styles that have a historic basis,” says co-owner Jennifer Febre Boase.
Boase and her husband, Alastair, originally thought they’d be doing the brewing but then they found Andy Black, 27, on a ProBrewer.com forum and knew he was exactly what they wanted: a home brewer who had studied in England and interned in a brewing program. Black soon left Rhode Island for California and became a part of the MacLeod family.
Any chance MacLeod will draw comparisons to that other brewery in Van Nuys? According to their website, it shouldn’t be a problem. “We plan to brew smaller batches. And we’re going to use Shetland ponies to pull our dray!”
Address: 12780 Pierce St., # 5, Pacoima, CA, 91331
Size: 822 square feet
Expected opening date: Already in business!
Tap room open to the public?: No (private events by invite only)
Social media: Facebook and Twitter
I never would have guessed that Pacoima would be home to one of the first craft breweries in the San Fernando Valley. Not because I doubt the residents’ interest in prime beer, but because I didn’t think a brewer would have faith in a place that so many overlook. Luckily, a local decided to give Pacoima something it deserves.
Those of you who follow my blog may have already heard of Pac City, formerly known as Zombie Brewing, and owner Robert Cortez. Cortez has let go of the zombie motif but some remnants remain, such as the “zombie spit” English brown, which counts baking chocolate as one of its ingredients. Other in-your-face brew names include the “me vale madre sucia” Mexican rye, a refreshing, easy-to-drink ale, and the “sucka punch” double IPA with twice the hops and a full-bodied flavor.
Unfortunately, Pac City is the only one on the list that will solely produce beer and not feature a tap room experience for the public. Follow them on Facebook for special event nights.
Any other breweries I should know about? Shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to inform me of any established or up-and-coming breweries worth visiting. Thank you to reader Jerry Cohen for mentioning the Canoga Park-based Fireman’s Brew.