Eight years after first opening in a Van Nuys garage, MacLeod Ale Brewing Co. has made the jump to Los Angeles proper with a new location in Highland Park, open this week.
The new location is a long time coming; MacLeod’s owners – married duo Jennifer Febre and Alastair Boase – identified that they needed to tap into an economy of scale. Since they don’t distribute, they saw a second location as their best opportunity to spread their beer (and their brand) in an entirely new section of LA County.
A new neighborhood
“We’ve been intrigued with Highland Park for years,” Jennifer said. “We had friends in the neighborhood and love York Blvd. Side note – [it’s] funny how many UK references there are in the neighborhood, York, ‘Highland’ Park, Glendale – all very English/Scottish! The fact that our location came with an amazing Marsal pizza oven was [also] a huge plus.”
She also noted the differences between their industrial section of Van Nuys and their new “artsy but down-to-earth” section of Highland Park. “The residential density all around us is pretty impressive,” she added. “We’re used to a very industrial street with only a few patrons within walking distance. But on our end of York, we’ve already talked to so many people who live within a block of our place. It’s going to be great seeing neighbors get to know each other better, if they don’t already.”
This section of Highland Park has also become a favorite for craft beer nerds in Southern California. It’s long been home to The Hermosillo, the original home to Highland Park Brewery, and since then, craft beer-focused bars like Barcade, Block Party, and The Holcomb have all sprouted up along this stretch. MacLeod will look to add to that reputation with this new venue.
As far as the specs of the bar itself, the new setup sports four cask ale taps and 24 draft beer taps. The casks, which are extremely uncommon on this side of the Atlantic, serve unfiltered, naturally-carbonated beer served nearly at room temperature, without the benefit of CO2. This results in a complex, aromatic pour, and a much fuller mouthfeel. Generally, they’re also lower ABV – MacLeod’s four beers are a Scottish export, a Yorkshire pale ale, a pale mild, and a pub ale (a general term for low-gravity styles that would fit in at British pubs).
Their 24-tap draft list also hosts a score of British-style beers, like a brown ale, an ESB, and an Irish dry stout. They also brew plenty of American-influenced beers under their Van Nuys Beer Co. label: a light lager, a hazy IPA, and a rice pilsner appear on tap, among many others. They’ve also got nitro taps, plus wine and cider.
In order to convert the new space, they not only needed to remodel the restaurant space, they also needed a place to put their beer. “[At Maximiliano], all the beer was served from a kegerator, whereas we needed a large coldbox to supply 24 taps, plus four casks. So we leased not only the restaurant, but the retail space next door. [Then, we] cut a hole in the wall to connect the two, and created a taproom area similar to our taproom in Van Nuys,” Jennifer told me.
“In addition,” she said, “the restaurant had very little prep space, so we built a dough room in a corner of the taproom for the sole purpose of making fresh pizza and pasta dough.”
The dining room, Jennifer says, is ideal for events, because it’s readily divided into three distinct spaces: the restaurant, the patio, and their new taproom. Between the three areas, they have space for a total of 181 diners.
MacLeod Ale Brewing Company is open 4pm-midnight daily, with food until 10pm.