A brewer works at the Long Beach Beachwood BBQ and Brewing location. Photos by Asia Morris.
Since opening its doors in Long Beach three years ago, Beachwood BBQ and Brewing has been producing some of the best locally-crafted beers available, beers that have earned the brew pub both national and international acclaim. Earlier this month Beachwood expanded its on-site production capabilities to meet the growing demand for its constantly growing list of house beers.
When the Long Beach location first opened its doors, it did so with only six house beers, and before opening that second location at the Promenade, the Seal Beach location served only guest beers from other craft breweries.
Beachwood co-owner and brewer Julian Shrago said the installation of the three new single-batch fermenters and bright beer tanks will allow for an annual increase in production of 40 percent. It will also allow the brew-pub to expand its bottling capabilities. With the additions to the facility, Shrago hopes to fulfill a long-time goal of having at least 15 house beers on tap at all times in addition to the 24 rotating guest tap list.
“We really did want to increase the variety of beer we had on tap, Shrago said. “We wanted to increase the variety for bottle sales and we were having trouble keeping up with the equipment we had in place so we had to add additional fermenters to keep up with demand.”
The bottling part of the equation was a big reason for the expansion. Shrago said that on days that Beachwood bottles it essentially shuts down all other brewing operations because of the machinery needed to bottle beer and pallets of empty bottles taking up space. So the decision to expand became one that was less luxury and more necessity. He added that in addition to more bottles of its Melrose, Thrillseeker, and other IPAs they bottle regularly, Beachwood will turn its focus this year to bottling more barrel-aged beers like its “Sadie” American Strong Ale and “Full Malted Jacket” Scotch Ale.
“We are a brew-pub and the system that we have and everything that’s in place is really designed to serve the needs of the pub,” Shrago said. “It’s not a packaging brewery so bringing a labeling machine in there and a packaging machine and pallets of empty bottles […] it’s not designed to keep up with that capacity or production but we’re making it work.”
Making it work has more than worked for the small operation which is also the city’s only independent craft brewer. Shrago’s beers have received accolades at the World Beer Cup and The American Beer fest and have developed a loyal following of locals and beer-aficionado tourists who’ve marked the brew-pub as a must-visit when they’re in Long Beach.
While Shrago said that recognition has obviously contributed to the success of Beachwood, its really their no-holds-barred approach to brewing. Anything and everything is on the table when it comes to brewing ideas at Beachwood, and it allows creativity to flow straight from the fermenter to the pint glass. And just as they’re looking forward to sharing more of their ingenuity with the public, Shrago said the customers are equally excited to have more Beachwood beer more of the time.
“If there’s anything that’s contributed to our success at Beachwood more than anything else, aside from the tremendous and unwavering support we receive from our friends and family and industry peers, our creative autonomy is really what fuels us,” Shrago said. “We get to create whatever we want, whenever we want.”