Hype about craft breweries in Los Angeles has been growing steadily over the last couple of years, but not every operation has had the same level of exposure as the stars of the L.A. brewing scene have. There are still hidden gems and overlooked operations around the Southland that are quietly turning out great brews, and one of these secret spots is perched on a hill above Hermosa Beach's main drag -- The Brewery at Abigaile.
During its various incarnations, the 1920s-era building has housed a church, a rehearsal space for Black Flag, a brewpub, and most recently, a steakhouse complete with a mechanical bull. When the owners decided to pivot their Union Cattle concept into something with a more cuisine-driven menu, they also decided to recommission the copper-clad brewing system and begin making beer in-house again. They gave the brewhouse keys to former Stone brewer Brian Brewer and tasked him with getting everything running again.
There's an impressive 15-barrel brewhouse crammed into the space behind the bar, and Brewer spent months refurbishing the system and developing recipes that strike a balance between the approachable, easy-drinking styles that bar crowds demand with the hoppy India Pale Ales and potent imperial brews that he loves.
One of his signature brews is a blond ale brewed with orange blossom honey, and the delicate style demonstrates Brewer's skill and attention to detail. There's no place for flaws to hide in such a light beer, and even though it doesn't get much attention from craft beer geeks, it's a brew perfectly suited to the clientele and environment of a beach town known for its parties.
His IPAs are similarly refined. Brewer is adept at layering hop flavors and aromas, and 002 -- a double IPA brewed for Abigaile's second anniversary -- is complex, pungent and deliciously hoppy. He's produced some 25 different beers in the last two years, from single-hop IPAs in the Death of Glory series to inventive brews such as a coconut-infused imperial red ale, and he backs up his creative drive with a solid grounding in brewing science.
The brewpub pours four or five house beers at any one time, but you don't have to make the trip to Hermosa to try Brewer's beers -- about half of the beer produced is distributed to bars around Los Angeles by California Craft Distributors. Look for Brewer's newest -- a Belgian imperial porter -- pouring this month.
Abigaile Restaurant, 1301 Manhattan Ave., Hermosa Beach, (310) 798-8227.