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The Best Lager Breweries in Southern California

Your guide to drinking the best lager beers in Los Angeles, Ventura & Orange County.

The one word you most commonly hear about lagers is “crispy.” And it’s not wrong. But there’s a whole world of lager flavors out there: bitter European styles that bring to mind IPAs like Bohemian and German pils; soft, smooth, and malty Munich Helles and festbier; complex Czech lagers that linger in your mouth long after your sip; bocks, dunkels, and märzens that taste like biting into fresh sourdough; and drinkable and, yes, crispy, American lagers. And that’s just to name a few.

These beers have long been a favorite of craft brewers. They’re refreshing, clearly widely varied, endlessly tinkerable, and their low-ABV makes them super easy-drinking. Lagers also happen to be the most most-consumed style in the world. But for decades, craft beer drinkers just haven’t demanded them. Lagers, in the United States, are more commonly associated with the soft, corn-sweet Big Beer thirty-rack standards.

Over the past few years, though, this has started to change. Pilsners are the fastest growing style in the country. Slowly, palates have shifted away from heavy IPAs towards easy-drinking beers. So breweries are newly invested in producing lagers. And, some of the breweries forging this new – well, very old – cold-fermented path are right here in SoCal. These are the 12 best lager breweries in LA, Ventura, and Orange Counties.

14 Cannons

31125 Via Colinas #907 | Westlake Village

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At 14 Cannons in Westlake Village, Head Brewer Nic Bortolin has a distinctly Czech style in his lagers, recognizable in every release. Nic spent time studying music (and drinking beer) in the Czech Republic, and it shows. His beers are rich, complex, and full-bodied – important for the Czech style. This is most notable in the K17 dark lager and one of the team’s flagship beers, Patient Pilsner. 14 Cannons is one of very few breweries in Southern California with a horizontal lagering tank. Their brewery and taproom are decked out with impressively high-end equipment for a brewery of its size, including a LUKR side pull faucet from the Czech Republic designed to pour the perfect lagers, a reverse osmosis water system that helps build proper water chemistry for lager beers, and a centrifuge with in-line carbonation that helps them more efficiently produce clean, clear, and bright lager with proper mouthfeel.

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Beachwood Brewing

210 E 3rd St | Long Beach

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Beachwood is a definitive leader in the West Coast IPA game. But for being so unapologetically focused on dank beers, it’s also carved out a notable niche in the lager field. Perhaps surprisingly, Beachwood’s best lagers lean much more towards crisp Italian Pils and Japanese lagers. No Chestnuts In This Beer and Pairs Well With Pizza, collabs with Highland Park and Riip Beer, are both beautifully nutty and toasty, while Hayabusa is exactly the kind of refreshing pint you want from a Japanese-style lager, made with toasted rice. And if you are indeed looking for something hoppy, the Ice River IPL and Loma Prieta German Pilsner are both great.

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Enegren Brewing

444 Zachary St #120 | Moorpark

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Just north of LA County is one of the only authentic German-style lager breweries on the west coast. Moorpark’s Enegren Brewing serves as the American-brewed benchmark for many German lager styles here in the US. Their beers, like The Lightest One Helles, Valkyrie altbier, Lagertha Mosaic-hopped pilsner, and their German-style Pilsner Edel Pils, are shockingly accessible across Southern California everywhere from Trader Joe’s to your local liquor store. The brewery’s taproom in Moorpark has a casual, family-friendly beer hall vibe, hosts live music, and is complete with a biergarten alleyway shared with a restaurant, coffee roaster, winery, and boutique shops. In addition to their core beers, their annual Reinheitsgebot collaboration has produced a whole bunch of winners – previous partners include Moonlight, Beachwood, and Bierstadt Lagerhaus. Their monthly rotating single-hopped Pilsner series is always standout, and their occasional zwickelbier cask releases make a trip to Moorpark extremely worth it.

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Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co

30770 Russell Ranch Rd | Westlake Village

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Figueroa Mountain, the longtime Santa Barbara County behemoth, recently expanded into LA in a big way. This is great news for any lager heads in LA County, because cold-fermented beers are a speciality of family-owned Fig Mountain. Over the years they’ve earned dozens of medals at beer competitions like GABF for beers like Meat Sweats, their American amber, Schwarz Is The New Black, their German Dark Lager, and Danish Red, their Vienna-style Lager. And they’re not only on our list because of the awards – they have an entire brewhouse on its way dedicated to the lagers. Figueroa Mountain Lagerhaus is scheduled to arrive early next year in Sherman Oaks. When news of the new location first broke, Fig Mountain Head Brewer Kevin Ashford told Hopped that the goal is to “educate the community on what [lagers] are, how they’re served, and, ultimately, why they’re served that way.”

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Firestone Walker Brewing Company

3205 Washington Blvd | Venice

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Firestone Walker might earn a place on this list solely for one beer. A three-time GABF gold medaler, Pivo Pils is Brewer Matt Brynildson’s take on Birrificio Italiano’s Tipopils, the hop-forward German-style pilsner that inspired the Italian Pilsner movement. But their lager program really is more than that. They’re the biggest brewery on this list, and they brew accessible, highly consistent beers you can get almost anywhere – Welcome To LA, their West Coast hoppy lager, is in basically every 7-Eleven in Southern California. Add in seasonal drops like Schwarzbier and Oaktoberfest, a traditional märzen lagered in oak barrels, and it’s clear that their commitment to lagering is more than just commercial – it’s a study in consistency.

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Gamecraft Brewing

23301 Avenida De La Carlota Suite C | Laguna Hills

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Gamecraft in Laguna Hills launched with the express goal of being a lager brewery. Along with 14 Cannons, they’re the other of just a few breweries in the region with horizontal lagering tanks. And though that means more work to clean, the greater surface area means the yeast doesn’t have to work as hard, resulting in greater efficiency – a.k.a., less fermentation time. They even have a lager-focused membership club, The Lager League, which comes with a Sahm tankard and discounts on every lager they make – which accounts for about 50-percent of their tap list at any given moment. They won the GABF bronze medal in 2020 for Umbeereon, their German dark lager.

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Green Cheek Beer Co

2294 N Batavia St Unit c | Orange

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Known nationwide for their hazy IPAs, Green Cheek is way more than a one-trick parrot. At any given time they’ll have six or seven lagers on draft at each of their three locations (Huntington Beach, Orange, and Costa Mesa). They’ve shown a particular penchant for the Helles lager – particularly From The Keller, the creamy, vanilla-forward Helles lagered in oak barrels. Another big winner is Why Is The Lawn Chair In The Pool?, their straightforward, light, bright American lager. Whatever they’re pouring, you’re going to want it in your stein.

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Highland Park Brewery

1220 N Spring St | Downtown LA

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Ask a group of beer-lovers what their favorite local lager is, and we’d be willing to bet the most common response would be Timbo Pils, the game-changing hoppy lager – a.k.a. India Pale Lager – from Highland Park Brewery in Chinatown. This remarkable beer was a 2019 GABF gold medal-winner for best IPL, and its double dry-hopped version, DDH Timbo, took the gold in 2022. Along with other siblings like Jumbo Timbo (a double pils), Brettbo (made with brettanomyces yeast), and Limbo Timbo (an unfiltered pils) – straddles a beautiful line between a clean, crisp German pilsners and the danker IPA. It’s a beer that can convert lager lovers to more expressive hoppy beers, and one that can turn a hophead into a lager fiend. They’re just as successful with their less hoppy lagers, like Baseball, a classic, slightly sweet American lager, Pleasant Pils, a super-clean Italian pils, and Fireweed, the mega-weird (but undeniably great) landbier, a saison-ish lager brewed with fireweed foraged from Washington.

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Homage Brewing

1219 N Main St | Chinatown

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After initially focusing (with great success) on hazy IPAs and sours, Homage has recently debuted a series of truly excellent lagers. The focus, specifically, is German pilsners, classically bitter, very clean, and aromatically hoppy. Their flagship Tristeza – which they offer on-site as a Mlíko, or frothy milk pour – features Hallertau Blanc hops, and is appropriately citrusy, and faintly funky and sweet. Their recent Daily Routine series features lagers that are each dry-hopped with a different single hop; Nelson Sauvin is our favorite iteration so far.

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Institution Ale Company

3841 Mission Oaks Blvd | Camarillo

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Best-known for their IPAs, Institution Ale in Camarillo has had an extremely solid lager program flying under the radar for years now. The set is highlighted by their flagship RX Pils, a classic, true to style German pilsner with toasted maltiness, notes of vanilla, and, importantly, fantastic Noble hop character. Their new European Pils features a sweeter honey malt profile with a more herbal hop flavor, and their Munich Helles checks all the right malty boxes.

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MadeWest Brewing Co

1744 Donlon St | Ventura

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Another spot that primarily focuses their lager game on hoppy pilsners is MadeWest, the Ventura brewery with a beautiful oceanside taproom. Best of their bunch is Waxing And Waning – it’s a clear, slightly bitter Bohemian keller pils with complex, malty flavors and an almost spicy nose, and earned a GABF Gold in 2022. Purple Tide, their German pils, is another great bet – made with Czech Saaz and Mandarina hops, this is a clean, hoppy beer that’s super-refreshing after a day at the beach. Finally, Ventura Light is a local favorite – hopped with Cascade, this American light lager is 4.2-percent ABV and endlessly crushable.

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Radiant Beer Co

1566 W Lincoln Ave | Anaheim

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The winner of 2021 Great American Beer Fest’s Best New Brewery award, Radiant has been impressing in Anaheim since their opening day. Most recently, this brewery, started by a team of Bruery alums, has been impressing with IPLs. Chief among them is the hop-popping Simple Discourse, a clean, clear beer that gives plenty of space for its Citra, Strata, Nelson, Simcoe, and Amarillo hops to shine in all their glory. Another recent release, the refreshing dry-hopped lager Everywhere To Me, was made in collaboration with another lager brewery to keep an eye on: the recently debuted Everywhere Beer Co., Radiant’s neighbors in nearby Orange, who host a burgeoning lager program of their own.

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What's Your Favorite Lager?

With craft lagers becoming more and more popular throughout Southern California, we know this list is going to grow over time.

But by no means are these the only breweries making great lagers in SoCal, so we encourage you to go out and try as many as you can around Los Angeles, Ventura, and Orange County.

Have any more we need to add to the list? Shoot us a message and let us know!

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Responses

3 thoughts on “The Best Lager Breweries in Southern California”

  1. Glad you got game craft in there. Fun place decent food family friendly and the lagers and pilsner’s are on point. Been down there on vacation visited each time.

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