Long Beach has been on the leading edge of the craft brew scene for some time, so it’s not surprising that you can find great brewpubs all over the city. Beachwood in the downtown area not only serves its own creations but terrific barbecue. Long Beach Beer Lab has wonderful pizza. Go to Trademark Brewing and you’ll not only get great beer but the opportunity to throw axes. Still, if you want the greatest concentration of brewpubs in the city, the choice is simple: Bixby Knolls, or, as it has come to be known, Brewery Knolls. Here’s what’s waiting for you.
Ambitious Ales (4019 Atlantic Ave.)
Rightly named considering it started as a homebrew operation, it now inhabits a space featuring not only a tasting room but a patio and backlot beer garden. Ambitious specializes in reinventing classic styles with unique ingredients. Imagine if you will, drinking a Belgian table beer infused with chamomile, lavender and strawberries. Yeah. Besides infused beers, Ambitious features a core lineup of IPAs, saisons and barrel-aged fare, which the staff believes will help it continue the historical role of a brewery to be a social connector.
Dutch’s Brewhouse (4244 Atlantic Ave)
This has the distinction of being the first small batch community craft brewery in Long Beach, a place where you can roll up your sleeves and get down to making some handcrafted brew of your very own. Of course, if working for your beer isn’t your thing, Dutch’s has plenty of options, including 12 rotating taps featuring mostly guest beers. Dutch’s relatively small, but definitely creative food menu features the likes of Frito Pie and a slew of creative takes on pizza including the Dirty Bird, which is loaded with beer chicken, BBQ sauce, charred pineapple, pickled chiles, Mozz avocado and ranch dressing. Yes, that’s a thing.
Rasselbock Kitchen and Beer Garden (4020 Atlantic Ave.)
As the name suggests, Rasselbock is all about getting your German on. It has more than 35 German and Belgian beers, many of them lagers and pilsners offering a lighter, crisper alternative to hoppy West Coast brews. This restaurant/pub features modern twists on authentic German cuisine such as schnitzel, Bavarian pretzels and, wait for it, elk sausage. Its apple strudel is a thing, and taste of beauty. The menu also includes vegetarian and vegan options as well as kid-friendly items and a family-friendly patio happy to accommodate beer drinkers with children.
Liberation Brewing (3630 Atlantic Ave.)
Liberation has classic offerings, staples with twists and then some really funky stuff. It uses its relatively small, five-barrel production system to its advantage, as it lends flexibility to Liberation brewers to not only experiment but respond in a timely, tasty manner to customers' likes and dislikes, sometimes as soon as its next batch. You can enjoy your beer on Liberation’s patio along with whatever you get at the FB Nashville Hot Chicken located inside. This is some of the best hot chicken in the area, though devotees also go nuts for the Nashville Hot Mozzarella Sticks.
Stateside Crafts (4242 Atlantic Ave.)
It may seem like a small shop from the outside, but Stateside offers a broad swath of variety within. The bottle shop/tasting room has a wide selection of not only beers but meads, kombucha and wine, all of it uniquely produced. The same goes for the craft sodas and snacks offered that include craft ice creams, pickles and jerky. A first encounter with such a selection can be a little intimidating, but not to worry, Stateside’s staff is exceptional at matching consumer with what they would like to consume, even if they don’t know it at the time.
Smog City at Steelcraft (3768 Long Beach Blvd.)
Smog City’s eclectic, constantly rotating lineup of craft beer has become so popular that it now has four locations – but the Long Beach location is the most unique, as it is situated in a repurposed outdoor food hall created from recycled shipping containers. The outdoor space, which looks lovely lit up at night under the glow of strung lights, offers a lot of tasty food options, ranging from burgers to Mexican to chicken and waffles. You can munch while enjoying Smog City’s trusty and experimental brews, including popular choices as the Coffee Porter and the Sabre-Tooth Squirrel Amber Ale.
One of Brewery Knolls' best features is not a brewery at all. It’s the Beer Trolley made available every third Sunday of the month. (Well, it was until the pandemic. It’s on hiatus as of this writing, we’ll let you know when it’s kicked back into gear.) Participants can ride the trolley and be safely shuttled to Bixby Knolls’ best bars, breweries and restaurants for free! The trolley runs from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and everybody is welcome on its constant loop, which is a great way not only to get around but to compare notes, and beers, with other hop-minded individuals.