Inside Look: Benny Boy Brewing, Los Angeles - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

Los Angeles’ first-ever cider taproom has been a much longer time coming than many realize. Imbibe 75 Place to Watch Benny Boy Brewing has only officially been in business for less than a year, but its time of inception from start to finish spans over a decade. Co-owner Ben Farber spent years apprenticing in Belgium, experimenting with variations of cider making, and researching cider businesses in Europe.

Lincoln Heights’ Brewery Scene Returns

Farber and co-owner Chelsey Rosetter set their sights on the Lincoln Heights neighborhood for their location. The area attracted them for the rich brewing history that once existed there in the 1870s. “Pabst Blue Ribbon had their warehouse in what is now the Brewery Artist Lofts,” Farber explains. “In fact, most of L.A.’s beer brewing at the time happened in Lincoln Heights. … So we are the first-ever brewery to have opened in this area since PBR.” When Farber and Rosetter discovered a two-building property, a 100-year-old former roofing company, just down the street from the lofts, it made perfect sense to bring their beer-cider concept to life there.

A Backyard Oasis

A spacious 5,000-square-feet patio with ample seating greets patrons and features live events and rotating menus from pop-up food vendors. Despite the city’s year-round temperate weather, large group-area fire pits are available for the occasional drops in temperature. “When we were shopping for spots, the most important part was having an outdoor space,” confirms Rosetter. Despite the patio’s proximity to Interstate Highway 5, landscape contractors Gung Hoe Girls made the space feel like a high-desert backyard. Rosetter describes it as an “urban oasis” to the fast paced-ness of the city. “We feel like we’re in a neighborhood, but also in the heart of Downtown L.A.,” she says.

A DIY Space

The interiors of the beer brewing facility and the cider factory are equally massive, 3,200-square-feet and 1,800 respectively. From on-site brewing to bottling and labeling, Farber and Rosetter are fully utilizing every aspect of their 10,000-square-foot property to house each element in their production line.

And while their combined experience in brewing has been notably long, the actual build of the facility took a year. A former contractor himself, Farber subcontracted especially bespoke features within the space. He had the cider house’s counters custom-built from 100-year-old Douglas Fir trees found at a mom-and-pop lumberyard, which uses wood from demolished homes. “It was just a treasure to find,” he says. 

The bars in the cider house and brewery are covered in wainscoting. It’s comprised of metal sheeting with special white vinegar-based patina to mimic wood. There are reclaimed wood slats attached to the face of the metal. There’s also a black steel piping footrest in place, and a suspended rack above the beer brewery’s bar to hang glasses. They even used wood from the demolished pieces of their roofing to make their own flight paddles.

Farber worked alongside architects SRK to design the space and build bespoke pieces like these. Contractors Curato fulfilled the tasks, also helping to maintain the warehouse-like elements of the building.

Natural Elements Brought to Life 

Although Benny Boy Brewing’s apples come from Northern California, the duo also wanted to bring natural elements of the entire cider-making process into their space. At the center of the cider house stands a restored tree from supplier 5 Mile Orchard’s own backyard. A friend and professional set designer Jade Altman completely deconstructed the dead tree, transported it to Los Angeles, and glued it back together within the space. The tree stretches to the ceiling, and still has the moss and mushrooms that once covered it.

European-Inspired, California Twist

From the bar’s steel footrest to the suspended glass rack, many aspects of the space were built with Europe in mind. Farber built an 1800s English-inspired rack and cloth cider press, which sits on display in the backyard for events, as well as making sample batches. Benny Boy’s combination of high-pressure and no-pressure floor-to-ceiling tanks were also custom-built in Canada, with integrated taps for bartenders to pour directly into glasses, a move taken after seeing a similar concept in London. “Like our ciders, we wanted the ethos of ‘European-inspired and California twist’ to be incorporated into the interior, with this pub feel as well,” explains Rosetter. 

When the team saw what is now their current space, it was an instant no-brainer. “When we saw the two buildings, we always wanted to come into Lincoln Heights but we didn’t know if it was going to be possible,” says Farber. “It expands way beyond what a brewery could be,” adds Rosetter.

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