The Best Brewery Hops in Los Angeles: Downtown

updated June 15th, 2019

It’s been nearly a year since we first wrote about our favorite brewery hops in downtown Los Angeles. Unsurprisingly, things change in a year: both our tastes and the beer scene itself. When friends come to town and want to hop around at local breweries, we send them downtown. (Or to Torrance, depending where they’re staying. But mostly downtown.) In a city known for its relative lack of walkability, there are multiple hops one can make on foot in this area. So whether you’ve taken a pricy Uber downtown or you’ve paid 20 dollars for parking, you’re going to want to walk— and you’re going to want to drink. And DTLA has so many options at your disposal.


Mumford Brewing Los Angeles

Mumford is only in the honorable mention category because this is a list of our favorite brewery hops. If it were simply a list of our favorite downtown breweries, Mumford would be in firm contention for the top spot. Their taproom is bright and comfortable, though it seems by the time we update this list next year, they will be in a new location outside of Skid Row, closer to other local downtown breweries— all the better for brewery hoppers! Still, don’t wait until they move to visit: their beer is top notch. We can’t recall the last time we went and *didn’t* leave with purchased to-go cans or bottles. Our recommendations: if you’re a lover of hazy IPAs, Mumford is your local Xanadu. Their Box Logo series of hazies is always tremendously impressive, juicy and well-balanced, and if they have any triple IPAs on draft (and they usually do), you’ll be blown away by how dangerously crushable they are (Upping the Ante and Welcome to Town were two favorites early in 2019). if you aren’t a follower of the Haze Craze, never you fear— their stouts are also magnificently executed. Both entries in their Stick Figures series live up to the reputations of the collaborators, stout masters like Great Notion and Adroit Theory. We’re hopeful that a Stick Figures 3 is around the corner.

3. Imperial Western Beer Company —> Highland Park Brewery

LA Beer Highland Park Brewery

Now departing from Union Station: a one-way trip to Brewery Hop Town! You can find Imperial Western Beer Company within Union Station— just park down Alameda somewhere and walk over. Imperial Western is a huge, gorgeous Art Deco beer hall, where passers through can stop in for a quick pint, Dodgers fans can pregame before riding to the stadium, or oyster aficionados can slurp some down— they’re a dollar each at Happy Hour. With their food menu, shuffleboard and pool on hand, and even a bar within the taproom, it’s a terrific hangout with plenty of beer to drink. Our recommendations: at a taproom serving oysters, it feels appropriate to enjoy their oyster stout, La Grande— toasty, smooth, and a pinch briney. They also have some good options for the tart lovers out there, with the Travel Bug, a light, spiced gose, and the Bells & Whistles, an absolute scorcher of an imperial sour collaboration with Bruery Terreux. Any place aiming to make Terreux-level sours gets two thumbs up in our book.

It’s a little under a mile to your next stop, so either take a short Uber or lace up those walking shoes and head to Highland Park Brewery. Their Chinatown taproom is spacious, with plenty of seating and a comfortable patio, but it is frequently packed whenever we’ve visited— especially around Dodgers games. Perhaps people flock because it’s family-friendly (and, on the patio, dog-friendly). Perhaps they flock because of the small food menu, which boasts terrific bar fare, including an absolutely legendary corn dog. However, it’s probably because they have a sizable tap list filled with their top-shelf beer. We’ve had 25 different HPB beers halfway through 2019, because we can’t stop going back for new releases! Our recommendations: their hazy IPAs have a terrific, dry bite to them, and their Griffith J. Griffith stouts are among the best in Los Angeles (a recent chocolate, coconut, and cinnamon variant makes our mouths water thinking about it). Even more worthy of note are their sours, which rank among the best in the city: their Coldbox Coolship spontaneous fermentation wild ale was a mouth-puckering highlight at the Firestone Walker Invitational. Finally, their pilsners are easily the best downtown, crisp and bitter and light and packed full of flavor. Hard to choose between the 90 Hour Days or the Timbo Pils. Just order both.

2. Mikkeller DTLA —> Modern Times Dankness Dojo

When we originally published this list, we had this hop at #1. For good reasons, too: they both have delicious food, they’re a block and a half apart, and they have some of the best beers in the city on tap. However, we feel we should dock this hop from the top spot (say that five times fast) because, among other reasons listed later, Mikkeller’s beers are not brewed locally. Still, this place has a *lot* of beer on tap, so get a burger and line your belly with some protein to help facilitate the cascade of alcohol it’s going to be holding very shortly. Mikkeller’s whole tap list is full of delicious options, ranging from its own impressive selection of beer to one of the best selections of guest craft beer taps in the city. You’re going to want to get at least one flight. Or two. Or more. Depending on what you can handle. Our recommendations: any of the NE IPAs are good, but the Mr. Manager is our favorite— it’s tropical and crisp. You’re also missing out if you don’t have a Beer Geek Breakfast, their rich and creamy coffee oatmeal stout.

Stumble a couple hundred feet, and you’ll arrive at the Dankness Dojo. Ever since its opening, the Dojo gets quite crowded, so don’t be surprised if you have to wait for a seat. But it’s worth the wait— over 30 delicious Modern Times beers on tap, served alongside some vegan pub food, ideal to those for whom a big Mikkeller burger didn’t sound too appetizing. It’s also one of the few downtown breweries open for weekday lunches, so take a work lunch here and then forget to go back to work. Let the siren song of dankness allure you. Our recommendations: … it’s really hard to go wrong. All of their hazy IPAs are sublime, their stouts are rich and potent, their sours are tasty, fruity acid-bombs— they even have some barrel-aged options for those who want to crank up the ABV. Among our recent favorites: the DDH Timewave Zero, a citrus bomb of a hazy, the Suggestion of Mass, a thick, rich collab stout with J. Wakefield, and the New Atlantis with Cranberry, Persimmon, Kumquat, and Black Currant, which delivers a hefty punch of sour without losing its fresh fruitiness. Their beers cover a wide range of flavors, and they do great work across the board.

1. Indie Brewing —> Dry River Brewing


This two-stop hop tops our list for several reasons: 1. It has the easiest parking of any downtown hop (a major perk in Los Angeles). 2. The breweries are essentially across the street from each other, making this by far the shortest brewery hop in the greater LA area that we’ve encountered. 3. The taprooms are quite different stylistically, giving you a broader range of experience than some two-stop hops. 4. The beer is all brewed locally. And, of course, 5. The beer is all very damn tasty.

Start at Indie Brewing, which boasts a great facility. It has plenty of TVs, making it an excellent place to watch sports, and there are plenty of games, including an old-school Nintendo you can play! Some of the bigger taprooms downtown are more known for being a great hang-out spot than they are known for their terrific beer, but Indie is, fortunately, a place that delivers both in equal measure. When we wrote about them a year ago, we said they had a solid collection of beers… but either their beer quality has improved or our palates have (or both!), because every time we encounter Indie beer, we’re more and more impressed. Our recommendations: look, their logo is a hop for a reason— they deliver quality IPAs and pales on the regular, varied enough to tantalize craft beer nerds while drinkable enough for those just looking to drown the misery when their favorite team loses. The Current Mood series has provided some of our favorite pales recently, in particular the Breaker of Chains, a complex pale featuring the Styrian Dragon hop, and the Careless Whiskers is a big, fresh, and boozy double. Finally, even if you’re not a big hop fan, they’ve got a good variety of options for you. Their saisons and farmhouses are especially worthy of consideration: their recent Power & Water collab with Brouwerij West is a juicy, funky, and refreshing farmhouse.

Stroll down Indie’s small side road and find Dry River Brewing facing you on the corner. Dry River is a paradise for any sour lover (including the two people who run this site). Their hashtag is #SlowBeer, bringing to the forefront their process: they ferment their beers in oak barrels over long periods of time, bringing out that delightfully tart quality you’ll find in most of their offerings. Their taproom is a small, homey, rustic place— an ideal location to wind down a night with a friend or two, sipping sours and sharing stories. They’ve also recently started brewing and canning IPAs, so even those who aren’t suckers for pucker can still enjoy this little slice of heaven, but seriously, whether you’re a diehard sour fan or if you’re a sour skeptic, Dry River has a wide variety of tasty tartbombs to help you become a believer in Sour Power. Our recommendations: the Lady Roja, an effervescent and tart hibiscus saison, and the Zarza, a blackberry cuvee with some serious sour zing, are personal favorites, but in all seriousness, make sure to take at least a sample of everything on tap.

Mumford (Runners-up: Highland Park, Indie, Modern Times)

Dry River (Runners-up: Highland Park, Imperial Western, Modern Times)

Modern Times (Runners-up: Highland Park, Mumford)

Indie Brewing (Runner-up: Imperial Western)

Indie Brewing (Runner-up: Highland Park, Imperial Western)

Dry River (Runner-up: Mumford)

Modern Times (Runner-up: Highland Park, Imperial Western, Mikkeller)

Which is your favorite of these brewery hops? Are there any you love that we neglected to mention? Please shout them out in the comments below! Also, check out our other Los Angeles guides, including the best brewery hops on the Westside and in the South Bay!