Smog City, the Torrance brewery known for its award-winning Coffee Porter, exploratory forays into beer/wine hybrids, creative special releases and sour ales, is thriving. In recent months, the brewery has taken over the space next door with plans to increase brewing capacity, and is set to expand its barrel-aging program and a laboratory into an adjacent building this year. Jonathan and Laurie Porter, the husband and wife team behind Smog City, revealed what’s next for the brewery.
Long Beach expansion and SteelCraft IPA
The extension into Long Beach is part of the SteelCraft development in Bixby Knolls, and the shipping container-turned-tasting room will feature around 20 taps of Smog City Beers when it opens in June. To celebrate the pending expansion, Smog City is set to release SteelCraft IPA, a special brew that will only be served at bars and restaurants in Long Beach (and at the Torrance brewery). The beer was designed to be a “lighter, drinkable IPA for the beach, that uses all our favorite hops,” said Laurie Porter. The pale and slightly hazy ale is intensely aromatic from a charge of citrus-heavy hops, and a dry finish underscores a firm bitterness. The brew debuted in the tasting room this week and will make its way into Long Beach draft accounts throughout the rest of April.
A dual anniversary party (and new beer)
Celebrating three years in Torrance and nearly five years as a brand, Smog City has teamed up with its crosstown friends at El Segundo Brewing Co., which is also turning five. The two breweries will throw simultaneous parties on May 21, complete with a free shuttle that will take people to both breweries. The celebration at Smog City will feature multiple bars set-up in the brewery, plenty of special brews from the archives, and the release of a commemorative brew called Incurable Optimist. Available in bottles in May, the beer is a cross between a tart farmhouse ale and a Belgian-style white ale.
More sour beer
Smog City has found success juggling its regular release standard fermentation beers (a.k.a. clean beer) with the development of an extensive barrel-aging program that covers wild and mixed fermentations alongside maturing clean beer in used spirits barrels. These sour beers spend months in used wine barrels inoculated with a menagerie of yeasts and bacteria that create acidity, complexity and a new outlet for the fruit that the Porters enjoy using. Cuddle Bug -- a blond sour ale infused with peach and apricot -- has been a success, but the Porters say it’s just the beginning. Hundreds of filled barrels are maturing in the aging warehouse, and many of them are ready for blending and packaging. Expect many new wild ales from Smog City over the next year.
Better beer, not just more beer
A successful craft brewery struggling to keep up with demand for its product is not an uncommon story in an industry that’s seen amazing growth over the last decade. Smog City is doing things a little differently. “This year, we’re investing in quality-assurance equipment and people before we grow our capacity,” Jonathan Porter said. The beer is monitored at every step in the process with instruments that analyze dissolved gasses, sugar density and acidity, and Porter recently added an automated cell-counter that’s more common in medical labs or breweries 10 times the size of Smog City. “It allows us to monitor the health of our yeast and how the yeast is reacting through a fermentation,” he said. “Once we figure out how to use it.” Porter said he is planning to bring on a part-time employee to run the lab, and his goal is to create brewing processes based on data and analysis.
1901 Del Amo Blvd., Torrance, (310) 320-7664, www.smogcitybrewing.com.