California breweries really have beer lovers on their toes. They are regularly refreshing their offerings with new releases, trippy labels and clever names. (Faction’s Penske File: we see your Seinfeld reference.) Luckily, our beer guru Adam Driver does the hard work. He chooses the best and brightest offerings, and stocks our shelves with an intoxicating selection for all beer drinkers. Our job is to enjoy the beer. From the traditional to the experimental, here are a few of Adam’s favorite local brewers:
Sam Gilbert founded Temescal Brewing in 2016 with a focus on ‘sunny day’ beers — low ABV saisons and pilsners that are drinkable and soft. Temescal also offers bigger, darker styles — because the sun does go down.
Adam likes this beer so much that he drives all the way to Oakland to pick it up from the brewery.
SAN LUIS OBISPO
Founder Tyler Clark makes funky, friendly ales at this San Luis Obispo mainstay. Libertine specializes in aged, wild ales made with native yeast strains from the Central Coast region.
Libertine’s Pacific Ocean Gose is Adam’s favorite domestic gose. It’s amazing.
Laughing Monk Brewing is a collaboration between head brewer Jeff Moakler and founder Andrew Casteel. Based in San Francisco since 2015, their small-batch productions are California-Belgium hybrids with a mix of local, seasonal ingredients.
Laughing Monk often collaborates with local producers on their releases. They recently brewed a blonde ale with Andytown Coffee Roasters (Coffee n’ Cream) and a brut Double IPA with Libertine Brewing (Brutus Priest.) You can still find Brutus Priest on the shelf, and it’s fantastic!
Rodger Davis and Claudia Pamparana opened their Alameda brewery in 2005, but just started distributing bottles this year. Their Penske File won the bronze medal for International Pale Ale at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver last month!
Faction makes some of Adam’s favorite pale ales, fresh and crisp with restrained hop character. It’s perfect sunny day beer for hop lovers.
Rounding out the list with a Southern California beer is Brouwerij West, considered to be one of Los Angeles’ most important breweries by Eater.com. Owner Brian Mercer specializes in a Belgian-style mixed fermentation process which uses a mix of yeast and bacteria, and gives beer a funky or sour flavor. Here at Driver’s we regularly carry their hazy IPA series, which is executed to perfection – thick, bright and juicy, with crisp, delicious hop flavors and interesting yeast profiles (but without the bitter hop slap in the face). Hazy IPA lovers need to try these!
These cans are a mini art gallery. Brian commissions various artists to create unique label art on Brouwerij West’s regular releases.
Almanac specializes in barrel-aged sour beers. Founders Jesse Friedman and Damian Fagan source the ingredients in their farm to barrel series from small, local farms.
Adam still hasn’t found one of their sours that he doesn’t love!