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L.A. Update : There's A New Brewer In Town
By Don Erickson


The Third Stop
8636 W. Third St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Lucky Devils
6613 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Spike’s Place
571 Higuera St.
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401


Brewers come and go. That’s one of the simple truths of this business. A brewer moves on to bigger and better things, decides to do something altogether different — whatever. A replacement is found, the beer is made, the bartenders sell it, and regular customers annoy their servers. Life goes on.

At least, that’s usually how it works. When Rock Bottom–Long Beach needed a new brewer, what we got was an outbreak of “brewer roulette” that seemed to touch every Rock Bottom location on the West Coast as well as some in Colorado and elsewhere. It was all very entertaining — if you could keep the players straight.

When the dust settled, RB–LB’s new brewer was Hayley Meagher. Formerly based in Seattle, she had become Rock Bottom’s “floater,” bouncing from brewery to brewery as needed. Not surprisingly, she’s quite happy to have a brewery of her own.

A native of Miami, Meagher is also happy to see the sun again. But how does a brewer with a degree in engineering get from Miami to Southern California via Seattle? It seems Meagher had interests in both biology and engineering, so she entered the Bioengineering program at UC-Berkeley. There she discovered homebrewing and got into it in a big way, both as an instructor and a judge.

After graduation, she was bartending at the Rogue Ales Public House pub in San Francisco. There her interest in homebrewing caught the attention of Rogue’s brewers, who eventually offered her a brewing job. After learning the ropes on a 50-barrel system, Meagher was turned loose on a 5-barrel system of her own (and a distillery too, but that’s another story). She quickly demonstrated a talent for exotic seasonals, particularly brews spiced with fruits, herbs or coffee.

Rock Bottom stole her away, and Meagher is now learning the Southern California brewing scene. As is the case at almost every other brewpub hereabouts, the lighter beers are RB–LB’s best sellers. The stronger and hoppier beers have their devotees, but the hop-heads aren’t as dominant as they are elsewhere. On the other hand, Belgian-style beers sell very, very well here. That said, Meagher’s trademark seasonals are eagerly awaited.

Interestingly, Meagher is not the only new woman brewer in town. When Huntington Beach Beer Company reached back East for a new brewer and lured Greg Gerovac away from Sweetwater Tavern, a Washington, D.C., area brewpub chain, wife Barbara, also a brewer, followed. She was formerly the brewer at Founders, an Alexandria, Va., brewpub that closed earlier this year. Thus she is without a kettle of her own to attend to. Expect that to change soon.

In other news, L.A. proper keeps gaining good beer bars. Two notable recent additions are The Third Stop and Lucky Devils. The Third Stop has been getting lots of good press, while Lucky Devils has been getting equally good word-of-mouth. Don says check ’em both out. The Third Stop is near La Cienega Boulevard by the 10 freeway, while Lucky Devils is on Hollywood Boulevard just east of Highland.

Elsewhere, San Luis Obispo’s venerable beer bar, Spike’s Place, has new owners. Past ownership was enthusiastic but inexperienced. The result: rookie mistakes. Very expensive rookie mistakes.
The new owners are not only experienced restaurateurs, they are also very hands-on. On one of my visits, one owner was in the back reconciling the books while the other was one of the servers! I think Spike’s is in good hands.

Don Erickson is an associate editor of the Celebrator Beer News and a longtime “grognard” covering the Southern California beer scene. He lives in Long Beach, Calif.


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