Beer Tasting Rooms Coming Soon For L.A.'s Ohana and Phantom Carriage
By Sarah Bennett
Two Los Angeles breweries will soon be more accessible to craft beer fans, as Ohana Brewing Company and Phantom Carriage Small Batch Beer Endeavor both announced that they will be opening up their own tasting rooms early next year.
Both have been releasing their beers through local bars for the past year without any way to sell directly to customers, but that will all change when each gets their own home base where the owners can keep fresh suds on tap and give people face time like never before.
The tasting rooms will also bring craft beer to two unlikely beer destinations -- Carson and Alhambra, cities that have recently made themselves more open to the idea of working with breweries.
Ohana Brewing Owner Andrew Luthi the day he signed the lease on his new Alhambra storefront
Ohana Brewing Company announced earlier this month that it had signed a lease on a storefront at 7 South First St. in Alhambra, where they will be placing an off-site tasting room, the company's first venture outside its closed-to-the-public South Los Angeles brewhouse.
Owner Andrew Luthi has been wanting to open an Ohana outpost in Alhambra since the brewery started production last year, both because it's where he grew up and it's also the home of 38 Degrees, one of Los Angeles' best craft beer bars.
"Alhambra is the city where I live and want to promote craft beer where I live," Luthi said.
The plan is to have a tasting room and retail space that sells everything from pints and growler fills to t-shirts and pint glasses, similar to the setup of the Stone Company Store in Pasadena. All beer will still be made in L.A. by the brewing team of Robert Sanchez and Erick "Riggs" Villar, who took over in July when former head brewer Chris Walowski left to be an assistant brewer at Smog City Brewing.
Luthi estimates it'll take at least three months to get all the paperwork in order for the new tasting room, but in the meantime, Ohana is available at select craft beer bars throughout the greater L.A. area and occasionally in bottles, whenever they decide to hand-cap some specialties -- like the Imperial IPA ode to beer-scene mainstay Alex "Rhino" Rebollo, Rhino's Redemption, released in June.
Phantom Carriage -- a brewery that currently prefers to call themselves a "Small Batch Beer Endeavor" -- has lived with a slightly more unconventional current set-up, prior to signing a lease last week on an industrial location on Main St. in Carson.
Sour-beer masters Martin Svab and Simon Ford homebrewed for years with vague intentions of opening their own place, but it wasn't until they recently began collaborating with Henry Nguyen at Monkish Brewing Company in Torrance that the public was even granted a taste of their talents with tartness.
Through Monkish, Phantom Carriage was able to release its first beer, a Belgian-style wild blonde ale called Muis, this summer with events at Naja's Place, Tony's Darts Away and City Tavern. The positive response kicked the search for a brick-and-mortar into high gear and eventually, a responsive city government and affordable rent led them to their current 7,000 square-foot space a mile from the Stub Hub Center in Carson.
"Originally it was going to be a Belgian beer café, but I also like the notion of a nanobrewery -- it's very Pacific Northwest," said Svab. "The project just started to evolve and grow."
The concept, then, is to have a hybrid of a European café that serves small plates and house-pickled goods and a small experimental brewery with 900 barrels and a blendery on site. Instead of turning the space into a full-blown production brewhouse, though, Svab said that they will only be moving over their small, three-barrel pilot system and still utilizing contract brewing for most of their barrel-aged beers.
Svab is hopeful that his permits will go through in the next few months and Phantom Carriage's nanobrewery, blendery and café can be open by February or March. Fans will have to sit tight until then -- there are no plans to release another beer beforehand.