For the second installment of my mapped self-guided craft beer tours, I will map out a beer tour I made of Orange County back in January. If you would like to see photos of the locations visited on this tour, you can find my photos and comments here. For the uninitiated, please be aware, there are a lot more craft breweries in Orange County than these; in fact, there are new locations that have opened since I wrote the initial article in January. I chose to visit those locations simply because I had never been there before; I chose the order for a couple of reasons. The first is that individual one day tours are going to start and end at home, so I always try to make the journey circular. You should be able to plug in your own home address and create your own circle by using the same order I have them laid out in; even if you start with Location C instead of Location A. The second thing I take into consideration is food; so I try to include at least one brewpub and I do my best at avoiding two in a row.
The locations visited were Bootlegger’s Brewery in Fullerton, TAPS Fish House & Brewery in Brea, Noble Ale Works in Anaheim, Tustin Brewing Company in Tustin and Brewbakers in Huntington Beach.
A. Bootlegger’s Brewery – 130 S Highland Avenue Fullerton, CA 92832-1803
Hours: Sunday thru Thursday 11:00-10:00 PM, Friday/Saturday 11:00-12:00 AM
My first impressions when driving up to Bootlegger’s Brewery is that it was a very small location; it is safe to say that with Bootlegger’s looks can be quite deceiving. The tasting room is also their pilot brewery so do not be too surprised when you see the small brewing system. That is not where they do the brewing for their primary operation; that is around the corner. The tasting room offers close to 20 different beers on tap ranging from their 5% ABV Old World Hefeweizen to their 10% Knuckle Sandwich DIPA; with literally everything in between. As it is a production brewery they do not offer food but as usual, you are welcome to bring food with you or have it delivered. They have a very large patio area that is available for parties. Growlers and bottles are available to take home.
B. TAPS Fish House & Brewery – 101 E Imperial Highway Brea, CA 92821-4924
Hours: Monday thru Thursday 11:00-10:00 PM, Friday/Saturday 11:00-11:00 PM, Sunday 10:00-9:00 PM
TAPS Fish House and Brewery is about four miles down the road from Bootlegger’s. You will probably have to circle around the block to get to the driveway. When we went there was a valet but you do not need to use him. The parking is free if you find your own spot. As you can probably tell by the name TAPS is a brewpub, it is a brewpub with an award winning brewmaster, Victor Novak. As you look around the walls you cannot help but notice that they have been winning awards for a long time and they most recently won another silver medal at the last World Beer Cup Awards in the German-Style Brown Ale/Düsseldorf-Style Altbier category with their TAPS Alt. They had about 10 of their brews on tap the day we were there, with most of them being pretty sessionable at around 5.0 with their IPA ranking in highest at a 7.0. The food ranges from pretzels to steaks so they pretty much something for everyone. I do not know if growlers are available, our server was pretty busy.
C. Noble Ale Works – 1621 S Sinclair Street Anaheim, CA 92806-5929
Hours: Monday thru Thursday 4:00-10:00 PM, Friday 4:00 PM-1:00 AM, Saturday 12:00 PM-1:00 AM, Sunday 12:00-6:00 PM
A short 10 minute drive from TAPS is Noble Ale Works, which is located around the corner from Angel Stadium of Anaheim. I have only been to Noble Ale Works once, but it was definitely the busiest of the production breweries we visited that day. This presented a couple of issues, the first being that you had better know what you want to order because the attitude was one of figure out what you want then get in line. In fact, when I got to the front of the line I was handed a piece of paper and told to build my flight on paper then get back in line. The beertender did not have time to answer silly questions. Luckily, their beers are quite good and they made up for the lack of communication. The day we were there Noble had nine brews on tap ranging from a 3.2% Scottish session ale to their 10.6 Wee Heavy Scotch Ale. If you like IPAs you are going to love Noble Ale Works. Growlers and bottles are available to take home.
D. Tustin Brewing Company – 13011 Newport Avenue Tustin, CA 92780-3500
Hours: Sunday thru Thursday 11:00-11:00 PM, Friday/Saturday 11:00 AM-12:00 AM
Another 10 minutes away from Noble Ale Works is the Tustin Brewing Company brewpub. On the day of our visit there were six Tustin Brewery beers available and a very extensive guest tap and bottle list. They typically have their four flagship beers, Golden Spike Light Ale, Lemon Heights Hefeweizen, Red Hill Red and American Pale Ale; along with a couple seasonal brews available. Their food menu is pretty extensive with everything from french fries to salmon. 64 ounce growlers are available to take home and they should be bottling fairly soon.
E. Brewbakers – 7242 Heil Avenue Huntington Beach, CA 92647-4466
Hours: Tuesday thru Saturday 11:00-7:00 PM, Sunday 12:00-6:00 PM
Brewbakers is a short 15 miles drive from Tustin and is a little different than any of the other locations I have discussed. Brewbakers is a “personal craft brewery and bread shop” which means that they are a Brew on Premise location. What this means as far as beer tasting is concerned is that the beers are brewed by home brewers that utilize Brewbakers’ equipment, ingredients and sometimes Brewbakers’ recipes. Part of the deal is that you end up brewing more than you would want to take home and Brewbakers sells the rest to people that come in. They have a kitchen in the back where breads, pizzas and pretzels are created from the spent grains. For those interested in learning to brew beer or sodas but do not have the space, Brewbakers is a great option. Individual bottles and 6-packs of beers and soda are available to take home.
These were just five of the many craft beer options in a relatively small area of Orange County. Like I mentioned above, even more craft breweries have opened in the last few months so keep checking back as I get a chance to visit and review each of them. Cheers!