A relatively small brewery with a tasting room at the end of a driveway in Torrance, Los Angeles has managed to convince people to travel 12 hours just to sample their amazing beers. It has consistently been named as one of the top beer spots in California, and you’d be hard-pressed to find any negative reviews about it online. That’s Monkish Brewing Company for you. Their success story is a homage to lip-smacking IPAs and the love shown by their customers.
Located at 20311 S Western Avenue in an industrial park in Torrance, Monkish has been in business since 2011. It has been described as a place that creates artisan beers with brewing techniques heavily influenced by monastic and farmhouse brewing traditions. A visit to their website should give you an idea about the core ethics of this establishment – simple lines, good beer, and friendly staff. So how did a microbrewery in Torrance that doesn’t even serve its own food end up being such a popular spot?
The founder and main brewer of Monkish, who during the initial days of the business was also the “chief glass washer,” is Henry Nguyen. He was about 34 years old when he set up Monkish but had been a homebrewer since roughly four years before that. He studied at Gardena High School and was working at Westchester’s Loyola Marymount University on a part-time basis. Like several others, Nguyen wasn’t having terrific luck in financial matters during that period, and this prompted him to convert his passion into a business.
He managed to collect $250,000 from family and friends to set-up shop. He could afford only 15 barrels and the small space, but he had a lot of confidence in his beers, which were mostly brewed Belgian-style. A few days before St. Patrick’s Day, the brewer of Vietnamese-American origin opened Monkish with the basics – wooden tables with metal chairs and 12-ounce glasses. At that time, his budget did not allow him to even include growlers in the inventory.
Another factor that made Nguyen hopeful of success was that people had started to like craft beers more than the staple ales and lagers that were being sold by big corporations. They were willing to pay a little more for the unique combination of flavors and fresh, local produce so that the hops could literally pop in their mouth.
Since its opening day, Monkish has managed to retain the interest of its customers by serving good brews at reasonable prices. The space inside the brewery is still limited, and their license doesn’t permit any other type of alcohol or food to be served, so they happily allow customers to bring their own food. But a large set of customers have appreciated the pretzels offered by Monkish and the dishes served by the food trucks that Monkish has collaborated with. They have also helpfully given a schedule of the food trucks on their website for those hoping to have a belly full of food and great beer.
Speaking of collaborations, Monkish was a part of a joint event with two other breweries from the country, organized by HBO. Titled the “Conjoined Triangle of Success Beers,” the collaboration was organized to celebrate the finale of the HBO series Silicon Valley. Each of the three breweries created a unique type of beer, all belonging to the Triple IPA family with an ABV of 10%. Monkish’s brew consisted of rolled oats dry-hopped with Galaxy, Citra, Idaho 7, and Simcoe hops.
Monkish refreshes the list of beers available each day on their website, and some of the beers available are:
- Subliminal Sequel
- Wrapped Like a Mummy
- Hearts Turn Brave
- Kiss Up
- Perception Reflection
- Haiku de Saison
- The Seer and the Spectacle
- Wild Aquatic
- Cosmic Type Stuff
- Amaze and Blaze
Feminist is one of the oldest brew-children of Nguyen appearing on Monkish’s menu. Several customers have been singing its praises since the day it was introduced in the brewery. It’s a Belgian tripel with a remarkable pink tinge because of the addition of hibiscus to it.
Customers enjoy the wide variety of double or triple dry-hopped IPAs offered here, along with the occasional Saison or blondes in the menu. Apart from the beers listed above available in their tasting room, customers can now buy growlers or bottles of some of the more special brews of the house, such as the Incognito Ghetto Eagle, Flizoot, and Seven Alligator Seven.
Customers are allowed to bring along leashed pets to Monkish, provided they are well-behaved. You can also shop for a variety of merchandise in-house or online, such as t-shirts, hoodies, and of course, different kinds of alcohol glasses.
A unique part of the interior is a pew from a church in San Francisco carved with the brewery’s logo at one end.
Monkish has become so popular and successful largely because they have continued to serve some interestingly flavored IPAs with fruity flavors. They’ve made their drink menus bigger but still operate a small, tightly run ship. Customers are also appreciative of the casual atmosphere inside with good music and helpful staff who are ready to answer questions even when it’s packed with people. The food trucks have added to the magic because most customers love the variety of dishes available there, which seem to complement the beers perfectly. Be it the Belgians, IPAs, or a pint of Feminist, all their drinks have found a large fan base, with most customers eager to return to Monkish to repeat their orders and experiment with new ones. The quality standards maintained by Monkish have inspired people to try drinks that they normally wouldn’t and have made ardent fans of them.