One year in, Liberation remains the city’s most underrated brewhouse

Liberation Brewing Company, the first formal brewhouse in Bixby Knolls, might have just reached its first year of existence—and is bringing quite the anniversary party to go with it—but the truth about the energy and dedication behind the space extends far further back. Even more, it adds a great layer of understanding as to why this tiny-but-mighty brewery remains the city’s most underrated creator of beer.

Five years ago, owner Eric McLaughlin met up with me in The Social List—one week after the restaurant opened—to talk about an idea he had: partnering with his friends and co-founders Danny Regan and Mike Clements, he hoped to create the Liberation Brewing Company, or LBC, an acronym much-intended to give props to his hometown. At the time, the local beer scene was respectable but small: Beachwood and Belmont Brewing Co. holding down the fort as established brands while Congregation was just beginning the creation of its own beers and Rock Bottom establishing itself as a more corporate option. (There was a multitude of others—Ten Mile, Long Beach Beer Lab, Ambitious Ales, Dutch’s, Ballast Point, Steady…—yet to come in existence.

A former film student, McLaughlin became obsessed with beer in while studying in San Francisco well over a decade ago. Surrounded by the Bay Area’s independent beer scene that not only had a cult-like following—witness the chaos surrounding and massive amount of money generated by the annual release of Russian River’s Pliney the Younger—but a deep sense of locality. Breweries there are owned and operated by friends and family; beer bars like the Toronado, Zeitgeist, Monk’s Kettle carry selections that cater solely to the beers created directly around them.

It was a scene that inspired McLaughlin to look into beer on a deeper level: brew-at-home kits were becoming more accessible and he started creating barley-and-yeast concoctions.

Yes, every single sip of every single beer you have at Liberation stems from a man who fell in love with beer and wanted to extend that to Long Beach. And the beers aren’t just OK, they’re great.

I still obsess over their amber ale made with Rose Park coffee, made during their inaugural month of existence, but am happy to report that two coffee beers—a brown ale and an imperial cream ale, both made with Rose Park coffee—will be offered at the anniversary party.

Speaking of which, Liberation will be offering over 20 beers, some classics, some staples with twists, some definitively new and funky offerings. Joining the hop madness will be  Shady Grove Foods and Anarchy Seafood offering up food while music will be provided by DJ Brandude, DJ Dennis Owens (voted best DJ by the readers of the Post this year), as well Rats in the Louvre, described by Clements as a band in which “everyone has been in all the coolest Long Beach bands already.”

Happy birthday, Liberation. Cheers!

Liberation Brewing Co. is located at 3630 Atlantic Ave. For more information on the anniversary event, click here.

Brian Addison is a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or on social media at FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food to politics to urban transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 12 nominations and an additional win for Best Political Commentary. Born in Big Bear, he has lived in Long Beach since college. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.