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Meet Laurie Porter of Smog City Brewing in Torrance

Today we’d like to introduce you to Laurie Porter.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Laurie. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My husband and I started Smog City in 2011. Porter had spent the previous 6 years working his way up through several local craft breweries from cellar man and keg washer to assistant brewer and finally head brewer at Tustin Brewing Co. I focused on the sales and marketing aspect of Smog, with a background in photography- my strength is in telling the story and creating the brand behind the beers.

We spent the first one and a half years self-distributing, selling, marketing and brewing our product out of Tustin while we searched for a location to build our current production brewery. In that time, we tested our product in the market and established an expectation of quality and creativity. We wanted customers to know: “If it’s Smog, it’s gonna be great.” During this time, a friend of ours convinced me to start a blog about our business and the successes and hurdles we encountered. I think that really helped us to share our story and promote the brand even though we were really really small! Many of our first accounts remember us for our approach. We were and continue to be an independent family-owned and operated craft brewery, built on the philosophy of longevity through community and uncompromising quality. I used to deliver kegs with our 2-year-old son, he’d carry the tap handle and the invoice and I’d roll the kegs in. It had impact, to say the least.

As we’ve grown the most exciting part of running our brewery has been the taproom aspect. Not only do we love the direct to consumer contact but we have enjoyed watching a thriving and dynamic community from around the taproom. These relationships breathe life into the brand and we are thankful daily for the support. We just opened our second taproom in Long Beach at Steel Craft and the same community dynamic is forming there as well.

The blog I started about 5 years ago: https://smogcitybeer.wordpress.com

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The greatest challenge has been finding experienced employees. The craft beer industry in L.A. County was very young when we started hiring 4 years ago. Until recently the pool of experienced brewery staff has been hard to come by. This has been both a blessing and a curse for us. We have grown more slowly than we probably would have if there have been a deep pool of talent in the area but it also means that we have grown methodically and put together an outstanding team. 4 years ago it was myself and my husband and we now have over 20 employees and growing.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Smog City Brewing – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Smog City Brewing is a small craft brewery located in Torrance. We have been brewing and distributing for nearly 5 years which makes us veterans of the local craft beer industry. It’s funny to think about it that way- in L.A. 5 years is O-L-D.

Smog City has really made a name for itself through the diversity of our releases. My husband, Porter, is the perfect blend of mad scientist, thoughtful engineer, and artist- each brand has personality, substance and a professional execution and it shows in the demand we have experienced for our product.

Our core brands like Sabre-Toothed Squirrel, Hoptonic IPA, Coffee Porter and Little Bo Pils have become mainstays in many restaurants and bars around town, Balance that with our exceptionally executed creative releases like Bourbon O.E., Snugglebug, Cuddlebug, Infinite Wishes and many many more sprinkling out into the market we have garnered a reputation for doing a lot really really well.

This is not the norm for craft beer. Most breweries become “known” for their flagship but at Smog City we have fans that come from all sides: Sour lovers, Bourbon Barrel-aged beer lovers, and classic style traditionalists. It’s given us reach that I think is unusual in this industry.

I’m most proud that we have built this brewery from the ground up, tank by tank and never compromised quality for growth. We hold true to our core principals of quality and creativity above all else and the customers’ respond with a resounding “YES!”. For my husband and I, it’s about being authentic and genuine and I believe that Smog embodies that just as much now as it did 5 years ago when we launched the brand.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
We’re in the midst of a major expansion here at Smog. Over the next year we will double production and in the next 3 years, triple it. Our goal isn’t to outgrow the local market but to meet the demand that has already been established for our product. We believe in deep roots, supporting the local market first, this city is our home and our commitment is to promote and support that first. As our infrastructure grows, so does our opportunity to expand our brand out into the market. We are excited to dig in deep here in L.A. and continue to grow our reputation as a craft beer destination.

We will also be expanding our taproom at the brewery this year to accommodate the increasing number of craft beer fans, beer tourists and locals that visit us each week. Establishing South Bay’s first outdoor taproom patio so that we can continue to take full advantage of our amazing weather.

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Image Credit:
©Smog City Brewing

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