While Los Angeles continues to pile on with new breweries now that the L.A. Ale Works team has passed their Kickstarter funding goal, Orange County has already been buzzing for years with award-winning brews and approachable tasting rooms. For anyone looking to spend a Saturday sipping beneath the Orange Curtain, here’s a handy guide on where to go and what to order. The hardest part now is finding someone to be your designated driver.
TAPS Fish House & Brewery
Begin your beerventure in Brea, tucked along the northern Orange County boundary near Rowland Heights. That’s where you’ll find TAPS Fish House & Brewery, a local favorite watering hole for folks who really like to eat while they drink. It’s probably best if you tuck into a plate of their fresh oysters or, oddly enough, their very non-fishy Sun Devil Burger. That way you’ll have a nice base for all the beer to come. Speaking of which, the pours at TAPS are fresh off the line, thanks to head brewer Victor Novak’s rigorous brewing schedule. And it’s exactly that level of dedication that has had TAPS taking home Great American Beer Festawards since 2005. Their farmhouse Biere de Garde is a silver medal winner that finishes smooth and won’t kick you too hard this early in the day. Other options, like the lighter Bohemian Pilsner, are smart alternatives for easing into an afternoon of beer sipping.
Earlier this year, we shared with you the positive side of purchasing (and frequently filling) a growler from your local brewery. You get to drink fresh beer that may not be commercially available beyond the taproom doors (and at a reduced price, no less), while the breweries lean on the support of growler lovers to help them grow and thrive in their local craft beer environment. In short, growlers are great. Except when they’re confusing, apparently.
The normal process of purchasing and filling a growler is as such: pay for the glassware and the first fill (say, around $17), then bring the growler back to the same brewery you purchased it from at a later date for another fill, minus the cost of the jug itself. It’s a simple, easy transaction that may lead to collecting a few different growlers from the various breweries you frequent, but it’s nothing that a little bit of shelf space can’t solve.
Except, lately, an online rumble surrounding the legal abilities of breweries to fill blank growlers (or even growlers from a competing brewery) has begun to gain a voice. There are some that feel their two liter Stone Brewing growlers aren’t getting the attention they deserve, and they’d love to be able to legally have them filled at their local brewery of choice, instead of waiting to make the haul back down to northern San Diego County. It’s an interesting idea, and could hypothetically solve the issue of growler clutter for some hardcore craft beer fans (or do away with the first time cost of purchasing new glassware), but it’s not exactly legal. Or is it?
Today I wrote about 1,000 words on the proper labeling of craft beer growlers in California. Let’s get specific, y’all!