When the owners of Beachwood Brewing first told Ian McCall they were selling their Downtown location, a decision to open his first brewery there just made sense.

In some ways, it will be a return home.

McCall, founder and co-owner of ISM Brewing, was one of the original brewers at Beachwood. He’s spent years in the business perfecting his craft and collecting awards for his own brews, which will soon be on tap in Downtown when ISM is unveiled for a soft opening this November.

Launching his own brewery has been a decadeslong dream of McCall, who began at an Orange County spot called Brew Bakers, where he taught people how to home-brew. It’s where he met his wife and, later, Beachwood co-owners Gabriel Gordon and Lena Perelman.

Brew Bakers is now permanently closed, but back then, it supplied Beachwood’s Seal Beach location with sandwich rolls.

Ian McCall, founder and co-owner of ISM Brewing, in a hops field wearing his ISM Brewing shirt. Photo courtesy of Ian McCall.

“I have fond memories of getting up early, going into work at Brew Bakers, baking rolls, delivering them to Seal Beach,” McCall said. “Gabe and I would have 30 minutes in the morning to discuss beer.”

Eventually, McCall would end up working at Beachwood’s Downtown location for about eight years before moving up to serve as head brewer at Riip Beer. When he was presented with the opportunity to purchase Beachwood’s location on the Promenade, he took the plunge.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” McCall said. “I’m hoping it’s going to be natural. I had the opportunity to brew on that equipment for many years.”

McCall knows that moving back into that space will take some adjustment, but it’s a place he feels at home.

“It’s just learning its personality again. When I left Beachwood to go to Riip, it was really like learning to work with a new coworker, because sometimes,” McCall said, the equipment can be stubborn.

While McCall was at Riip Beer, the brewery won multiple Great American Beer Festival awards, and their Black IPA dominated the competition. He’s become known for his particularly hoppy beer, along with the use of experimental hops and new varieties, which he plans to bring with him to ISM Brewing.

Hops are a natural, versatile stabilizing agent in beer that brings in bitterness and add aroma and flavor.

“Everything from American Pale Ales to West Coast IPAs,” McCall said. “Obviously, the Black IPA has gained me a lot of notoriety.”

He’s excited for people to try his experimentations, including some more modernized and hoppy versions of pilsners and lagers, which McCall said he’s been enjoying lately. Recently, he spent a week in Yakima Valley in Washington, where he sources his hops, getting the crop ready for the following year. The area is known as “hop country.”

The brand’s name “ISM Brewing” (pronounced is-em), comes from McCall’s time spent studying the humanities.

“There’s so many different ‘-isms’ out there,” McCall said. “Coming out of a comparative religions space and thinking about religion and art and politics and even society, there’s so many different ‘-isms’ that we can trace our history through.”

But McCall doesn’t feel bound to one thing. He wants his brand to be inclusive, local and—most importantly—centered around community.

Beachwood Brewing’s last day will be Oct. 29. The space will remain closed for several weeks while some renovations are completed, but McCall hopes to reopen the space for a soft launch by the end of November. A date for a grand opening will likely be set after the new year, he said.

Follow ISM Brewing on Instagram for updates.

ISM Brewing will be located at 210 E. Third St.