Walking into The Lab is a bit like walking into Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, if Willy Wonka had decided to ditch chocolate for beer. (Which would have resulted in a markedly different book altogether, with Veruca Salt going skinny-dipping in the chocolate stout river, Augustus Gloot passing out in his lederhosen, and Charlie drunkenly yelling "I'm famous, bitch!" while escaping from the cops in a great glass elevator.)
Somebody needs to make that book happen NOW.
I'm getting off on a tangent here, aren't I?
An acronym for Live Arts Brewing, The Lab is the stuff of myth for those who like their beer crafted with artisanal care. A rootsy hideaway tucked out in Agoura Hills, the first thing you notice upon entry are the comically massive copper brewing casks, taking up an entire glass-walled room, like robot incubation chambers from a sci-fi movie. The beer list manages to run both broad and deep, with house brews like the creamy Midnight Moo milk stout, the lives-up-to-its-name Bad Influence IPA, and 30+ on tap that span different styles across the globe. They also make a pleasing little XPA, a more subtle version of its India-bound brother, the ideal beer for anyone who wants some hoppiness but doesn't want to get kicked in the face by it.
You won't go hungry. The joint has a Father's Office-rivaling bleu/gruyere/bacon burger, a lemony Tuscan kale salad, and a sea salt roasted bone marrow that you can spread across crostinis, a process decadent enough to evoke Al Pacino lining out cocaine in Scarface. The place hosts live music and patio brunches on Sundays, and they're even throwing a 5-course dinner with Lagunitas beer pairings later this month.
For those microbrew true believers among us, this place alone is well worth the pilgrimage from LA. For the merely brew-curious, it's the ideal spot to cap off a day in the canyons or the beach, situated right off the 101's Malibu access point, a perfect spot to sit and sip as spring gives way to summer. And remember, it's BYOOL.*
*bring your own Oompa Loompa.
• WHAT: The Lab, a monument to all things brewed
• WHERE: 30105 Agoura Road, Agoura Hills, CA
• WHEN: Sun-Wed, 11 AM - 11 PM, Thurs, 11 AM - midnight, Fri-Sat, 11 AM - 2 AM
• $$$: Pints start around $6, average dinner $12