The sleeping giant that once was the craft beer scene in Los Angeles is no longer. Beer enthusiasts will attribute this wakening to the hard work and dedication of emerging microbreweries throughout the neighborhoods of LA. Each one brings a unique perspective, story, and expertise to the industry while also contributing to the beer culture and community unique to Southern California. While other cities may have a longer tradition and history of the craft, Los Angeles isn’t far behind.
My brother and I experienced this firsthand when we recently visited Lincoln Beer Company located on Lima Street slightly north of the Burbank airport. It was an early Friday afternoon as we pulled up to a lofty Medieval-style castle built with grey stones and traditional crenellations edging the perimeter of the roof. If it weren’t for the custom “LBC” sign protruding from one of the turrets, we would have accepted defeat that we were at the wrong location. The contrast of the building aesthetic and its surrounding neighborhood was unexpected; it was as if we discovered a hidden gem in a pocket of LA. And it made us wonder who else was in on this well-kept secret?
Inside the castle façade, the spacious tap room was modern with an industrial flare. Black walls, concrete stained floors, and light wooden communal tables filled the room. There was ample seating and a large projector screen utilized for sporting games. The space was comfortable and inviting. Familiar.
There was a sizable bar with a beer menu that beckoned visitors, a cozy nook with couches, and a large whimsical wall decal of Abraham Lincoln laying on his side – a witty nod to our 16th President.
While taking in the surrounding space, we were warmly greeted by LCB team: brew master Patrick Dunn, his wife Laura and her brother Tommy. Instantaneously they made us feel right at home. It was like we were part of their family. They graciously invited us in, offered us two beers to sip on, and started chatting away.
It all began like most good stories do, with a college kid discovering his love for beer.
Patrick’s passion for beer propelled him to take things to the next level by home brewing cream ales. As he reminisced about his home brewing days, the nostalgia reminded him of why he initially fell in love with the craft. He explained to us that he enjoyed taking control; he tinkered around with the flavors aiming to produce something well developed. The bottom line. It all boils down to flavor.
“My worst day here at the brewery is better than my best day at my old job.”
Today, he honors and upholds the same mission. He feels a sense of accomplishment when both the mechanics and flavor come together - each brew getting a little bit better. When asked about his favorite part of owning a brewery he responded with “my worst day here at the brewery is better than my best day at my old job.”
It wasn’t until later in life that Patrick decided to exit the film industry to pursue his true aspiration of opening a brewery. His drive and goal of bringing well-balanced flavor profiles to the public fueled him to open Lincoln Beer Company alongside his wife and brother-in-law. As we all sipped on a delicious IPA, each of them agreed that while the company was technically formulated in 2014, they refer to 2018 as year one. It wasn’t an overnight process. Luckily, they had a strong family unit anchored at the heart of the whole operation to drive the business forward.
As we talked with each of them, we felt a sense of purpose and role they fulfilled at the brewery. Patrick was the creative who focused on flavor profiles, Tommy ran operations, and Laura (like all great women) was the brains behind the business side of things. Each one brought a unique skill and expertise which all served towards the greater picture; running an awesome brewery with damn good beer.
My brother and I connected to their story in so many ways. It was heart-warming to relate to another small family business producing a craft product in Los Angeles. We empathized with their everyday struggles and successes that naturally comes with a family run business.
Living and breathing it can be challenging at times because there can be tense moments of discord. They explained that those arguments serve as opportunities for growth and only stem from a place of being passionate about the craft. This idea resonated most with us. As a small family business like Lincoln Beer Company, we challenge each other to be better on a daily basis. While we may not see eye to eye at times, at the end of the day we can still give each other a hug and walk away knowing we have each other’s support.
As far as the future of Lincoln Beer Company, the business' desire for growth feeds their goals of expansion. They plan to hit the retail market with a variety of cans, open satellite taprooms, and focus on regional expansion with the castle serving as the main hub. They currently offer events such as "ballet and beer", trivia night, and comedy shows on a consistent basis. Inside the tasting room there are over 12 different styles of beer, which rotate religiously. Outside food is welcomed and they are also dog friendly.
From one family business to another, we highly recommend stopping by and experiencing this firsthand. We're already looking forward to our return and might just see you there.