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Orange County's Best Breweries

Beachwood BBQ header 610
(credit: Beachwood BBQ)

While Orange County will forever be linked with the strand of Beach City, USA, the buxom bounce of OC's infamous housewives, and everyone's favorite Mouse, there is a growing contingent cultivating another reason to make the OC a destination proper. Flanking the east and west side of Interstate 5 going South towards San Diego, craft breweries have gone from strictly the connoisseur, to the casual drinker - all of which are now coexisting and hellbent on talking up what tap handle is tops. What was once strictly for the cigar smoking, pant suit circles, has become a social sticking point with tasting rooms and breweries packed nightly, co-inhabited with slacks and tank tops standing arm and arm in pursuit of fabulously crafted, locally brewed beer. Here is a rundown of places in Orange County that are crucial locations for that local love.

Photo Credit
Valiant Brewing Co.
2294 N Batavia St,
Orange, CA 92865
(714) 204-0080

Considered one of the fresher faces on the block, former Drag-racing family Brian and Kelly Schroepfer transformed a passionate interest in home brewing into a full craft beer production operation whose core beers are definitely worth considering. Complete with a healthy rotation of gourmet food trucks that camp just outside the tasting room doors, the city of Orange can be a great place to hang for a pint. A must try is "The Criterion" which is definitely more approachable by beer geek standards. This Belgian Amber ale is anchored with honey and rye making it a great option.

Beachwood Brewery
(credit: Beachwood Brewery)

Beachwood BBQ Brewing
210 E 3rd St.
Long Beach, CA 90802

While the brewery is technically located in Long Beach, the BBQ joint that began pouring the tasty brews is nestled on the main drag of the cozy strip of Seal Beach, right on the Western tip of Orange County's sprawling sandy shoreline. Noted for cranking out some incredible BBQ staples from the kitchen, the beer is just as beloved and Beachwood BBQ Brewing has become a Southern California mainstay when it comes to craft beer brands. What we're drinking: Grab an "Udder Love". Taking top honors in the 2012 Great American Beer Festival and the Silver medal in 2013, it features tastes of bittersweet chocolate, coffee, and milk sugar which come together to make magic happen in a pint glass.

Bottle Logic Brewing
(credit: Bottle Logic Brewing)

Bottle Logic Brewing
1072 N Armando St.
Anaheim, CA 92806
(714) 660-2537

Approaching their brew with an interesting balance of science and art, Bottle Logic, in addition to a respected roster of year round beers also have their Cold Classic Series. The line of beer is actually a nod to pre-WWII fiction novels - think Agatha Christie. Adamant on focused, controlled experimentation to cranking good tasting suds, Bottle Logic nails it with the brewery aficionados all while keeping things light enough to not be too scary to drink. What should you try? The "Tattered Prince" is a must. As a French Style Saison pale ale, this variety is by definition a bit more carbonated and loaded with flavor. This one in particular melds coriander, zesty orange peel, and ginger. It's certainly a beer experience.

the bruery beer brewery
(credit: credit Cambria Griffith/The Bruery)

The Bruery
715 Dunn Way
Placentia, CA 92870
(714) 996-6258

Unanimously regarded as one of the premier craft breweries in the country, The Bruery has enjoyed world-wide praise from The New York Times, GQ Magazine, Forbes, and Playboy just to name a few. Poor analogies aside, this is the luxury car of craft beer. Non-pasteurized, unfiltered, and all kinds of other language specific characteristics result in incredible drink. A crown jewel not just for California, but stateside in general. We are just lucky to have the tasting room local. What you have to try: "Saison Rue". The fruit, the tart, the balance is enough to please the snob and still not offend the novice. It's available year round for a reason.

Noble ale
(credit: Joseph Isaac, Noble Ale Works)

Noble Ale Works
1621 S Sinclair St.
Anaheim, CA 92806
(714) 634-2739

Located between the big game excitement of Angels Stadium and the arena-sized atmosphere of the Honda Center, Noble Ale Works has long been the craft brewery that craft beer guys claimed as their diamond in the rough. Known for some insane limited release stuff, the guys working the line seriously push the envelope when it comes to hops. When you get here, go with the Big Whig IPA. When it comes to craft, everyone has now made the IPA a staple. This West Coast version marries tangerine, honey, and rosemary to knock your socks off.

bar fans beer
(credit: istockphoto)

Cismontane Brewing Company
29851 Aventura Ste D
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688
(949) 888-2739

Located in picturesque Rancho Santa Margarita with a tasting room nestled viewing distance of Santiago Peak, you might not find a more scenic place to enjoy a drank. Coupled with the stellar ambiance, the beer ain't bad either. With a nod to the rich California legacy, the brewery does a great job of embracing their states identity and expressing that in the suds. The Citizen is our favorite. Cismontane's homage to the California Common, this Anchor Steam styled beer delivers a real sense of traditional taste with a hint of mint that translates to damned refreshing.

Bootlegger's Brewery
(credit: Bootlegger's Brewery)

Bootlegger's Brewery
130 S Highland Ave
Fullerton, CA 92832
(714) 871-2337

North Orange County's blue-collar contribution to no frills, locally brewed beer has earned a reputation for turning over consistent quality time and time again. The vision of husband and wife team Aaron and Patricia Barkenhagen, the cult following from a small industrial area tasting room has resulted in a proper pilot brewery and tasting room in the heart of Fullerton. Simple, soulful, and solid, Bootlegger's is a can't miss. Utilizing a harmonious blend of pear, apricot, and plum accents, the "Golden Chaos" Golden Ale packs a wallop clocking in at nearly 9% while never compromising flavor.

pizza port -verified
(credit: Mr. Blue./Yelp)

Pizza Port
301 N El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672
(949) 940-0005

The product of the craft beer Mecca that is San Diego, the south Orange County location in San Clemente is another proud addition in a long lineage of nationally recognized brewers. One of the few breweries of it's sized to churn out a canning line of their goods, Pizza Port take the heavenly pair of slices and beers and ups the ante. If craft beer is cigarettes and pleated pants, Pizza Port is the flip flops and cigars of the scene. Their "Kung Fu Elvis" is a must try as the name is enticing enough. This American Pale Ale is the California Coast poured perfectly into a pint glass. Crisp, refreshing, and easily drinkable.

What are your favorite breweries in Orange County? Share in the comments below!

Article by Ramon Gonzales.

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