JUN/JUL 2006 | REGIONAL | WEST
L.A. Update : There's A New Brewer In Town
By Don Erickson
The Third Stop
8636 W. Third St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
6613 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
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
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
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