L.A.’s Beer History Stretches Back to the 1850s

eastside beer

Thirsty Angelenos have been sipping locally brewed ales and lagers since the 1850s, when Christian Henne opened the New York Brewery at the corner of Third and Main streets. In the early 20th century, bars served local brands like Eastside — named in reference to the brewery’s location on the east bank of the Los Angeles River — before the city entered a long, dark age dominated by mass-produced national brands.

Thankfully, that dark age is now in the past. Led by companies like Angel City, Eagle Rock, and Golden Road, a resurgent Los Angeles brewing industry crafts beers — as well as product packaging, marketing campaigns, and drinking establishments — that appeal to local tastes and traditions.

On Saturday, October 12, I moderate a panel discussion at the 8th-annual Los Angeles Archives Bazaar that explores what makes Los Angeles’s beer scene unique. Panelists include Dieter Foerstner, brewmaster at Angel City Brewery; and Charles Perry, president of the Culinary Historians of Southern California. Join us at 2:00 p.m. in USC’s Doheny Memorial Library.

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Can you recognize any historic Los Angeles architecture in Angel City’s bottle labels? At the Oct. 12 Archives Bazaar, I’ll ask brewmaster Dieter Foerstner how the brewery developed its product packaging.

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Photo above courtesy of the USC Libraries – California Historical Society Collection.

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