Field Report: Angel City Brewery Saaz-berry 

I took a day trip to Los Angeles a while back to see my girlfriend before she left for a semester abroad. We went to LACMA and saw all the trippy modern art. We took the obligatory picture by the many street lamps. We walked next door and saw the tar pits, which I could’ve swore looked bigger in Sin City.

As the day wound to a close, I was pretty reluctant to leave, so I suggested we find a bar, restaurant, or just someplace with comfy chairs and tasty beverages. My GF pulled up the ol’ Google Maps and suggested we hit the nearby Angel City Brewery. I was down.

About Angel City Brewery

This place is a fortress.

Angel City is perched on the very edge of Downtown Los Angeles’s Arts District, one of those downtown areas — not all unlike the Gaslamp in San Diego — where the homeless run rampant and one-bedroom apartments rent for like $3,000 a month. An adequate balance of hipsters, older folks, and regular 30-somethings were walking around the streets and chain-smoking in front of Angel City’s entrance. I sensed no latent hostility from any of these characters. Everyone seemed to be minding their own business and just chilling out.

Upon approaching the entrance (which is on a side street — no front door here), you’d think you were walking into some old abandoned warehouse or like a musty loading dock or something. I was reminded of those secret, word-of-mouth dance/fight clubs that you always see in the movies. It was a lot like the setting of the last big fight in Never Back Down, but with less violence and more convenient seating.

In terms of pure square footage, Angel City gives even the Miramar Ballast Point a run for its money. In terms of stuff going on besides the pouring and drinking of beer, Angel City obliterates pretty much any other brewery that I’m aware of.

In my hour there, I saw pop-up art stations; leftover canvases from an earlier graffiti exhibition; little vendor tables selling moonstones, bracelets, and other Etsy-esque stuff; photo booths; a live DJ (complete with a dead Sunday night dance floor); a giant metal slide that was off limits to everyone; and all your standard brewery games (darts, cornhole, etc.). Wall decorations included classics such Picasso’s Guernica (a full-size re-creation of it, but with skeletons instead of those weird cubist figures) and a couple paintings of Frida Kahlo smoking a blunt. The bathroom walls were lined with artificial turf… I have nothing funny to say here. It was an interesting choice of decor. Will it catch on at other breweries? Time will tell.

As for beer, I wanted something light and fruity since I was planning to drive. The Saaz-berry, which sat at 4.8%, seemed like the ticket.


Really diggin’ the logo. Photo credits to my girlfriend.

Superficial Stuff

Appearance: Saaz-berry had a deep red color that shone a dull pink in the light. It was the color of a cheap wine — think boxed merlot but less opaque.

The head was perfectly white, so much so that I was a bit unnerved. It was sudsy, not creamy, with a little bit of burgundy coloring where the head met the curve of the glass. It clung to the glass after I sipped and reminded me of soapy windows that someone had forgotten to squeegee.

Smell: Boxed wine is gonna be the theme of this review I guess. This beer smelled of very cold boxed merlot, but with some wheaty aromas thrown in there, too. There was a whiff of raspberry, and for a second it made the beer smell a little sour, almost like I had dipped my nose into a cider or Weisse.

Taste and Overall Impressions

I got the customary sizzle and sourness from the raspberries right away and then… not a ton of anything after that.

It was a bit bland, to be honest. I didn’t expect the flavor and tartness of a sour or Weisse, I guess, but I did expect something. Returning to our theme, it tasted kind of like a cold, bubbly boxed wine that had been sitting in the fridge for 40 minutes — like sitting in a glass, not still in the box. A similar comparison would be a 20/80 mix of cranberry juice and ice-cold sparkling water. I got a little bit more berry taste on the tail end, and the swallow was accompanied by a distinct hoppiness that had been lacking up to that point.

The beer is easy to drink; I’ll give it that. Chuggability is high, theoretically, but I can see the beer and its low-key fruitiness becoming overwhelming once consumed at a high velocity and/or volume. Your mileage may vary.

Final Thoughts

This beer is okay. Not as fruity as I would’ve liked, and not interesting enough in any other way to really wow me. If I’m ever up at Angel City Brewery again — and I probably will be, ’cause it’s a cool place — I’d try something else.

Suggested for: college-aged women who wanna throw one back with the boys, cheap wine fans, people looking for an all-around mellow brew.

ABV: 4.8%

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