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EXCLUSIVE: Major California Craft Brewery Takes Over Mohawk Bend, LA Brewpubs

In a major shake-up of the local beer scene, two of Southern California’s most influential craft beer brands are teaming up to run four brewpubs and bars across Los Angeles. Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. will assume management of iconic Echo Park craft beer bar Mohawk Bend, as well as three brewpubs: The Stalking Horse in West LA, Broxton Brewery in Westwood, and the former Bluebird Brasserie space in Sherman Oaks.

The brewpubs will be operated by the Figueroa Mountain Brewing team, led by Head Brewer Kevin Ashford. They’ll include three distinct full-time breweries: a research/experimental brewing facility, a brewery for Mexican-style lagers and ales, and a traditional German-style lager brewery.

It’s all part of a new deal announced today between the Buellton-based Figueroa Mountain, and Artisanal Brewers Collective, the restaurant and bar group founded in 2015 by Tony Yanow. Yanow had previously founded Golden Road Brewing (and subsequently sold it to Budweiser).

Figueroa Mountain President & Founder Jaime Dietenhofer has deep roots in Los Angeles – he was born here, and his grandparents graduated from Hollywood High. In the early years of Fig Mountain, Dietenhofer says, he and his wife would drive down to LA, distributing beer out of the back of their car.

“I knew I always wanted to bring our liquid down to the Los Angeles area,” Dietenhofer said, from his Buellton office. “LA is our big urban center that we always come back to, and there’s so many great beer spots [in LA County]. It was always a kind of a drive for us to get back in and really launch LA correctly.”

Ashford, the Head Brewer, is leading the expansion from a brewing standpoint. He’s excited by the opportunities that will come from joining the LA craft beer scene. The scene, he says, has become a craft beer Mecca, which is a change even from when he moved to Southern California and began at Figueroa Mountain in 2013.

“The LA community has really developed into a beacon of the West Coast for what’s possible as far as craft beer,” Ashford told me. “We get to continue doing what we’re doing, which is community building and learning from the great craft beer community that is in Los Angeles.”

In Sherman Oaks, the former Bluebird Brasserie space will reopen later this year as Figueroa Mountain Lagerhaus. The brewpub will be exclusively dedicated to craft lagers, led by Ashford and brewer Brian Waters, and will have a very traditional German Aesthetic, with a beer hall, an outdoor biergarten, and German pub food.

“We knew long ago that we were going to have some kind of location that would be really driving and telling the story of these traditional lager beers – their origins, the ingredients, the methods we’re using,” Ashford said. “We really want to drive and educate the community on what these beers are and how they’re served and ultimately why they’re served that way.”

This could include anything from intentionally foam-heavy side pull lagers to traditional German gravity keg service – poured from the cask.

“I look forward to sharing these traditional beers and more modern takes on classics with people,” the brewer added. “I think once you see it in the frame of all told, with the food, you know, the community, the actual lounging experience, and the service I think it all clicks.”

As far as the other new spaces go, there are big updates coming to Westwood’s Broxton Brewery. This location has a relatively small brew system, but that will be advantageous for brewing smaller batch new brews, Dietenhofer said. Inspired by the crowd of UCLA students and local hospital staff the location draws, it will become a pilot brewery, testing out experimental brews for the company. This presents as a welcome break for Ashford, who spends a lot of time brewing Fig Mountain’s flagship staples like Hoppy Poppy IPA and Danish Style Red Lager.

“It’s going to be our research and development [brewhouse], which kind of ties into the university itself,” Dietenhofer said of the location, which is just off UCLA’s campus in downtown Westwood. “It has a brew system that’s small and nimble enough to allow us to really kind of play around and create some new things.”

Nearby, in West LA, Stalking Horse Brewery will become a Mexican-inspired brewpub called Agua Santa Cervecería. This location will require the biggest overhaul in terms of design of the space – which currently has a sort of industrial steampunk vibe – though the team is still aiming for a reopening later this summer. The location will highlight Fig Mountain’s eponymous Agua Santa Mexican lager, which was initially inspired by the light, refreshing beers that brewers drank after work.

“[Agua Santa] was really born out of the guys brewing all day,” Dietenhofer said. “They were brewing IPAs all day, and I’d see them in the back, ripping down Mexican lagers and Modelo cans. I’m like, ‘What the hell, guys? Why aren’t you drinking our beer?’ And they said, ‘We just need something hydrating, we need something that we can rip down.’”

Soon, thanks to the new brewhouse, Agua Santa will expand as its own brand under the Figueroa Mountain label. They’ll start brewing different Agua Santa beer varietals, initially including a higher gravity lager, an amber, a negra, and even tequila- and mezcal-barrel aged beers. That – paired with a Latin food menu, and a full liquor license – will be very new territory for the team, but one that they seem very excited about.

Finally, perhaps the biggest name of the bunch, Mohawk Bend, will have the fewest apparent changes in the new partnership. “You’re not going to see any major changes at Mohawk. I think if anything, it’s just going to be reinvigorating that space.” Dietenhofer said. “Just refocusing on craft beer. Mohawk Bend is really an opportunity just to be more in the craft beer community in that area. Echo Park is an unbelievable area, with great people that support Mohawk Bend. We want to inject life back into it.”

Dietenhofer is alluding to the scaling back of Mohawk’s beer program – they’re capable of serving from 72 taps, but recently, especially after reopening post-COVID, that number has been significantly lower.

He added that the local community was a huge draw with the Sunset Blvd. staple. “We want to get involved more with the craft breweries coming into that location,” he said. “Using that as a platform to be able to showcase [local beer].”

The Figureroa Mountain/ABC partnership is taking effect immediately, but Dietenhofer is expecting to be able to implement the planned changes over the coming weeks to months, with the Agua Santa buildout likely taking the longest.

Figueroa Mountain was founded in 2010 by Jaime and his dad Jim Dietenhofer, and has locations in Buellton, Los Olivos, Santa Barbara, and Westlake Village.

Stay tuned on Hopped for all our coverage of the impending reopenings through the partnership.

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