Taster glass at the 2013 Beachwood and Friends Beer Garden in Long Beach. Photo by Lydia Chain

Long Beach City Council will vote Tuesday on whether or not to explore business practices that may make the city more attractive to new microbreweries and brewpubs, an expanding business sector that has proved economically viable for many Southern California cities. 

As one of the fastest growing areas of the food industry, craft beer has proven to generate new jobs, bring new commerce and encourage new kinds of tourism to the cities that they are located in. Within the last four years alone, craft brewing has grown exponentially in Los Angeles County with more than 20 breweries and brewpubs now calling the region home. 

Three of those brewpubs are in Long Beach with the newest and most recently notable being Beachwood BBQ and Brewing, which put the city on the map for craft beer fans last October when they won five medals at the Great American Beer Festival and was named Best Mid-Sized Brewpub in the country. Belmont Brewing Company and Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery also make their own award-winning beers on site. 

“The success of this style of business and the growing industry it represents is something our city should be both incredibly proud of and willing to encourage on a larger scale,” Vice Mayor Robert Garcia wrote in his memorandum on the proposed Micro Brewery Production Policy.

Several breweries that eventually signed leases in other parts of Los Angeles County had originally looked at Long Beach first, including Brouwerij West, which is now part of a major revitalization effort in the Port of Los Angeles, and Smog City Brewing, which opened last summer in Torrance. Other breweries currently in planning are still considering Long Beach as a potential home.

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The policy asks the city manager to review current licensing and zoning policies for breweries and brewpubs in Long Beach and requests an examination of best practices currently being utilized by cities like Torrance and San Diego, which have not only encouraged brewery business, but also sponsor local beer events and promote beer as part of its tourism endeavors.

“In particular, San Diego demonstrates how municipal government can (and should) co-exist in a symbiotic relationship with the local production of a product that has been treated with some well-deserved trepidation from public safety advocates,” the memorandum also says. 

The memorandum states that current trends in the craft beer industry emphasize the importance of urban development, sustainable and ecological business practices and “a model of consumption that encourages customers to appreciate the quality of their drink over the quantity.”

According to the Brewers Association, craft beer nationally provides over 108,000 jobs and its retail dollar value in 2012 was estimated at $10.2 billion. In the last twenty years, over 2,000 new breweries have come online, commanding almost 6% of the overall American beer market.

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