I recently rented out my room through AirBNB to a Smog City Brewing Co. employee. Located in Torrance, the 5-year-old brewery has quickly developed a cult following for its quality, flavorful beers. I was giddy when he brought with him a dozen of Smog City’s delicious stouts, IPAs and sours.
That same weekend, I stayed in La Quinta, at Jim Lefebvre’s house. I got to sip on some Hoptonic IPA with a baseball legend.
I learned more about baseball in that one weekend than I had in my entire life. The 1965 National League Rookie of the Year while he played for the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers, Lefebvre was named to the All-Star Game in 1966. He played in Japan from 1973-76, then returned to the big leagues as a coach. He managed the Seattle Mariners, the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers, and managed China’s national baseball team during the Beijing Olympics.
His charisma and his passion for the game are astounding. He believes in developing better players through better planning, tools, collaboration and teaching.
“Kids love to have something to be challenged to,” he said. “They want to have incentives to be rewarded. … Every single player I know had to deal with some form of adversity to prove to people they can play. When somebody challenged them (that they could not do a certain thing), they did it. That’s what we have to create in our sport. That’s my whole objective and my whole movement. Let’s get the coaches involved. Let’s get them to train certain techniques in the player development program and then make it happen.”
Nothing is more American than baseball and beer. And with the sudsy craft-beer revolution in full force, there’s no need to drink beer for the masses: You can now enjoy Clayton Kershaw’s curveball while sipping a craft beer.
The clocks have sprung forward; spring training is more than halfway finished; and Major League Baseball’s regular season begins April 3. If you head down Interstate 10 to see a game, you’ll be glad to know that Dodger Stadium added craft beer to its lineup in 2013 and has continued to add Los Angeles craft offerings.
Goose Island and Golden Road will likely have the largest presence at Dodger Stadium. Pro-tip: Golden Road’s Better Weather IPA and Ballast Point Brewing’s Grapefruit Sculpin are great choices for tailgating, because cans are easily portable.
For smaller craft options, check out the loge-level concourse and the relatively new Think Blue Bars. The taps rotate, but past sightings included Fireman’s Brew Brunette, Eagle Rock Brewing’s Revolution XPA, Dudes’ Brewing, Stone Brewing Co. Arrogant Bastard Ale, Anchor Brewing Company Anchor Steam Beer, El Segundo Brewing’s Blue House Citra Pale Ale and Angel City’s Witbier. Confirmed craft brews for the 2016 season include Firemans Brew Blonde and Brunette.
Down in Orange County, Angel Stadium also has a nice selection, offering craft beers such as Bootlegger’s Brewery Palomino American Pale Ale, New Belgium Brewing Ranger, Stone Brewing Co. Arrogant Bastard Ale and Hangar 24 Brewery Betty. (Hangar 24 also offers its Ballpark Beer, a blend of a classic pilsner with an American wheat beer.)
Of course San Diego’s PetCo Park is also in on the craft scene with San Diego locals like Ballast Point, Alesmith, Mike Hess, Karl Strauss, Coronado, Lost Abbey and Stone. Don’t miss Stone’s rooftop beer garden at the ballpark, with 12 different beers on tap.
Back at Dodger Stadium, here are some awesome nearby craft-beer spots to check out:
Sunset Beer Company is in Echo Park at 1498 Sunset Blvd. It’s tucked away in a nondescript mini mall, so you could easily miss it—but with more than 800 craft bottled beers (with only a $2 bottle/corkage fee) for purchase and 12 rotating taps, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Just 1.2 miles away from the stadium, also on Sunset Blvd. (2141 Sunset Blvd.), is the ever-popular craft beer bar Mohawk Bend. With 70 taps that include beers like Kern River’s Just Outstanding IPA, Bottle Logic Recursion 8.0, Mother Earth Cali Creamin’ cream ale with vanilla and Refuge Blood Orange Wit, there’s something to please every palate.
Beer. It’s always been American as baseball, and now the craft revolution has taken hold not just in our breweries, bars, grocery stores and homes, but also in the stands. America’s national pastime’s beer lineup is now a whole lot tastier.