Craft beer in Los Angeles has grown up a lot since Strand Brewing Co. opened the doors to its Torrance tasting room in 2010, and now that pioneering L.A. brewery has reached a milestone more often achieved by successful craft breweries in San Diego.
Strand Brewing is leaving behind the quaint (read: cramped) production brewery and tasting room space it carved out of a Torrance industrial park for an all-new 36,000-square-foot facility.
It's a transition common to many of the big names of San Diego's more mature craft beer scene. Stone Brewing, Green Flash, Ballast Point and Mother Earth Brewing all outgrew their original facilities and moved into more spacious digs.
Strand is the first production brewery in Los Angeles to migrate into a bigger building, and with all that extra space comes more, larger equipment, the capacity to make more beer and the space to entertain more craft beer lovers.
"When we started," says co-founder Rich Marcello, "there was no precedent for what would happen."
Strand was among the first of the wave of craft breweries that have since inundated Los Angeles — Glassell Park's Eagle Rock Brewery and Agoura Hills brewpub Ladyface Ale Companie make up the other members of the class of 2010.
Strand was also the first production brewery in Torrance, which has become a nexus of craft beer in the Southland. The partners had no intention of leaving the South Bay municipality — one of the most supportive cities for craft brewers in Los Angeles County.
"They've been so good to us," Marcello says about the city government and the nonprofit Discover Torrance company that oversees the Torrance Tourism Business Improvement District.
Plans are to soft-open the brewery by August with a weekend-long grand opening celebration to follow a month later. The new brewery is at 2201 Dominguez St., about four miles north of the current location and closer to many of Torrance's other craft breweries, such as Smog City and Monkish Brewing.
There's a lot of space to work with in the building: The area earmarked for the tap room is twice the size of the current brewery and will feature a 12-foot-long bar and communal seating. The new space will also feature expanded hours, the ability to hold private events and a food-truck friendly outdoor area.
With the larger brewhouse and additional fermentation space, Marcello says he hopes to brew 9,000 barrels of beer in 2016 (up from the maxed-out annual capacity of 4,000 barrels at the original brewery), and he's excited about opening new markets in the northern half of the state. Brewmaster Joel Elliott is excited about having more space to move around after five years of crafting suds in the cramped brewhouse, and about developing some new recipes.
To help move all this beer, Strand will begin canning core brews such as Atticus IPA, Beach House Amber and 24th Street Pale Ale. "We love cans," Marcello says. "they're the best package for beer." Six packs of 12-ounce cans also fit better with the laid-back brand identity, and distribution will continue to be handled by Wine Warehouse throughout California.