Central Coast giant Firestone Walker Brewery's expansion into Southern California will include an office and restaurant in the Venice Beach area, and might even feature a second small brewery.
Firestone Walker is California's fourth-largest craft brewery, and is known for producing excellent hoppy ales (such as its lauded Union Jack IPA), decadent brews aged in spirit barrels (such as the sought-after Parabola imperial stout) and, recently, a line of wild ales that should soon be seen more often in Los Angeles bars.
An expansion into L.A. has been in the works for many years, and, after looking for a space downtown, the Westside was chosen because the vibe of the community fits the company's culture, brewery co-founder David Walker said.
A large property on Washington Boulevard just west of Lincoln Boulevard was purchased for a reported $7.5 million. The space's two structures, which once housed doctors' offices and a Sizzler restaurant, are to become offices for the L.A.-based brewery staff and a 7,000-8,000-square-foot restaurant.
I spoke with Walker at Barrelworks, Firestone Walker's sour beer production facility in Buellton. He said Los Angeles has been an important market for Firestone Walker and that he was excited to contribute to the city's developing beer culture.
He said the vibrant community of Venice Beach and the ample room to build a craft beer destination drew him to the property. Though its large parking area is a bonus, he said, it is the area's bike-friendly attitude that was particularly exciting to him.
Decisions on the restaurant's format have not been made. An informal news release that circulated to the beer media late last month said: "Our plans will be shaped as we become part of the neighborhood. We are not a restaurant chain, but we recognize that great beers are best accompanied with food, so the pressure is on us to deliver something worthy."
Walker said he was hopeful that construction and renovations for the project could be completed in the first half of next year, and that the restaurant and taproom -- offering growler fills, bottles to go (including taproom-only special releases) and brewery merchandise -- could be open to serve thirsty Angelenos shortly after.