Iron Triangle Brewing
Beer flowed like tap water. Swing dancers kicked and twirled to the buzzing trumpet and bumping tuba of a seven-piece band. Three hundred-some revelers packed out the bar to max capacity, and 1930s-era Chryslers lined the street outside. It could have been repeal day — March 22, 1933, when prohibition bit the dust — but it was January 23, 2016 — the grand opening of Iron Triangle Brewery in an Arts District warehouse.
With its lofty trestle roof and gleaming fermentors — the bar a polished corner of the wide open space — Iron Triangle is a throwback. Founder Nathan Cole and his team are tapping into a time when L.A. was one of the preeminent beer cities in the nation, when its transformation from backwater to metropolis was going full tilt.
Cole named his brewery after the trio of indefatigable men who who brought water to the L.A. basin and were known as the Iron Triangle — William Mulholland, Fred Eaton, and Joseph Lippincott — and he himself possesses a similar tirelessness. It takes unique determination to soldier through city’s antiquated permitting gauntlet to open a brewery in L.A. Vice president Kale Bittner blames anti-booze pentecostal rebrand Aimee Semple McPherson for the strict regulations that have remained in place for nearly a century.
As if opening a brewery within city limits weren’t daunting enough, Cole and his team have their sights set on becoming the beer of Los Angeles. They’re not alone in gunning for the title. Golden Road, Smog City, Boomtown, et al. have a head start, but, in Bittner’s eyes, the healthy competition makes the local beer scene all the better.
Cole’s strategy is to simplify. Iron Triangle’s beers are straight up reliable, the pinnacle of ordinary. Brewmaster Darren Moser’s creations aren’t the funky sours and technical, fruit- infused IPAs that beer geeks crave; they’re brews for everyone. “We focused our core lineup on drinkable beers you can crush three of four of,” Bittner says.“We want to be the beer that at the end of your hard day, you crack open a bottle and watch some shitty TV, or the beer you have at the ballpark” (which you can do because they distribute to Dodger Stadium). Their dark ale, especially, is a crowdpleaser — light and crisp, it’s delightfully accessible to even the humble Blue Moon-oholic.
They’re shooting to have bottles on the shelves of your nearest BevMo! next year, but for the time being are focused on keeping excellent ales, stouts, and one solid IPA on tap. All the more reason to head to their Arts District digs, park it at the bar, and down a few pints of Mulholland’s Stash Barleywine to the beat of some uptempo Count Basie. Or, you know, grab a whole keg to go.
Written by Thomas Harlander
Photographed by Jack Strutz