Strand Brewing Company’s beers range from the flagship 24th Street Pale Ale to its 4th Anniversary Harvest Ball Orange Witbier — and everything in between. Photo by Chelsea Sektnan
The South Bay is home to the most vibrant brewing scene anywhere in the nation outside craft beer’s original epicenter, San Diego, with seven breweries launching in the last few years. Each local brewery is producing beer of the very highest quality, but Strand Brewing Company is the granddaddy of them all — at the ripe old age of four years — and local readers have bestowed a third consecutive BOB title upon the-little-brewery-that-could.
The story of Strand is like a Hollywood buddy movie, starring two oddball surf buddies, marketer/mastermind/hale-fellow-well-met Rich Marcello and brewmaster/mastermind/warehouse recluse Joel Elliott, who have followed their frothy dreams to startling success. Strand, which began with Marcello selling and delivering out of a well-worn Chrysler minivan, is now distributed up and down the California coast, and 2013 saw its bottles (bottled in a jerry-rigged machine by Elliott, who also drew the iconic lifeguard tower design on the label) land in big chains like Vons and BevMo. But the heart of the story remains the beer itself, and Strand continues to innovate: its 4th Anniversary Harvest Ball Orange Witbier includes blossom honey, Indian coriander, and orange zest, building on the beautiful empire of beer that began with the simplicity of the breweries ongoing flagship brew, 24th Street Pale Ale.
“The biggest thing I want to say is a huge thanks to the people who go out and support us,” Marcello said. “They see our beer and go, ‘Oh, I know those guys, and where it’s made!’ It’s something that represents the South Bay — it’s not coming from anywhere else.”