The Ultimate Guide to Orange County Breweries

A Beer Lover’s Best Friend

We all have a special name for it. For my dad it’s a brewskie, for my mom and I it’s liquid gold, for my brother it’s a no-thank-you. However you wish to refer to it, beer may very well be giving dogs a run for their money when it comes to being called man’s best friend. This thirst-quenching beverage continues to gain in popularity, with more and more microbreweries popping up left and right. In Orange County alone, there are 30 breweries registered with the Orange County Brewers Guild. As a fan of this good timers drink, I made it a mission to do the research necessary in order to compile a guide that will help others discover all the wonderful Orange County breweries. So, sit back, crack open a cold one, and figure out which one of these places you and your friends are hitting first tonight!

Orange County Breweries
Photo by: Ryan Giron, Anaheim Brewery

Anaheim Brewery

Location: Anaheim, CA

Best Beer(s):

  • Anaheim 1888
  • Anaheim Dark Scotch Ale
  • Anaheim Oktoberfest Lager

Best Food Pairing(s):

  • Anaheim 1888 pairs well with mushroom ravioli with cream sauce.
  • Anaheim Red pairs well with grilled hamburgers.
  • Anaheim Hefeweizen pairs well with egg dishes or dim sum.

Brief History: 

Anaheim Brewery opened in 1870 in downtown Anaheim. Today, the fourth home of the Anaheim Brewery is the Packard Building, a 1920s structure within the city’s Historic District. The first proprietors were Solomon Goldstein and Samuel Davis, who ran ads in the Anaheim Gazette in the 1870s. Bavarian native Friedrich Conrad took over the brand in the mid-1870s. In 1888, he built a large brick brewery and beer garden. Soon the brewery was famous for its “Anaheim Beer.” In 1904, Friedrich Conrad sold his brewery to Anton Hessel, his wife, Eva, and his brother, Leonard. They renamed the company “Union Brewing Company” but continued to make Anaheim Beer.

Fun Fact: Today’s proprietors, Greg and Barbara Gerovac, both served in the U.S. Army for twenty years. Between them, they now have almost 30 years as professional brewers.

Orange County Breweries
Backstreet Brewery

Backstreet Brewery

Location: Anaheim, CA

Best Beer(s):

  • Tomahawk Double IPA | Imperial Double IPA | 9.2% ABV
  • Beach Party Blonde | n/a | n/a
  • Rita Red Ale | American Amber| 6.2% ABV

Best Food Pairing(s): 

Varies for each style of beer.

Brief History:

Backstreet Brewery opened its doors in 1998 in Irvine, CA. Establishing itself as an Orange County pioneer in craft brewing, Backstreet Brewery immediately became a local favorite.  Set inside the well established Lamppost Pizza, the brewery and pub style bar immediately earned a reputation for its universal craft beer appeal, atmosphere, and inventive microbrew character. In 2004, Backstreet Brewery opened another location in Vista, CA; again, spearheading a craft beer surge in North County San Diego, and leading the way to reinventing the city of Vista. In 2015, Backstreet Brewery opened a production facility with tasting room in Anaheim to supply their rapidly growing distribution network.

Fun Fact: Backstreet Brewery won “Best of Show” for their Jagged Little Pilsner at the California State Fair Beer Competition (now called The Best of California Beer Competition).

Orange County Breweries
The Bruery

Bruery Terreux & The Bruery

Location: Anaheim, CA | Placentia, CA

Best Beer(s):

  • The Bruery Mischief® | Belgian-style Ale | 8.5% ABV
  • The Bruery Black Tuesday | Bourbon Barrel-aged Imperial Stout | 20.3% ABV
  • Bruery Terreux Frucht™ | Berliner Weisse-style | 4 – 5.5% ABV

Best Food Pairing(s): 

  • The Bruery Mischief® pairs well with crispy skinned loup de mer, pulled chicken panini, rosemary & olive oil Asiago, and orange dream angel food cake.
  • The Bruery Black Tuesday pairs well with braised sasquatch short ribs, manna salad, golden ticket wonkabars.
  • Bruery Terreux Frucht™ pairs well with German-style cheese (butterkäse for contrast; Weisslackerkäse for funk) underneath an oak tree. Zwiebelkuchen (or your favorite quiche) for breakfast, tarte flambée for dinner, a lunchtime concert in between.

Note: Bruery Terreux does not serve food, but they have food trucks visit regularly. All of their beers are crafted to be extremely food friendly, and they include suggested pairings for each of their releases on their website.

Brief History: 

The Bruery was founded in 2008 by Patrick Rue, now a Master Cicerone®, after he found homebrewing to be of greater interest than a career in law. Innovation is what drove The Bruery to create one-of-a-kind barrel-aged, sour, and experimental beers since its inception. In 2015, The Bruery moved its sour beer production to the Bruery Terreux co-brand based in Anaheim, while The Bruery continues to craft non-sour and spirit-barrel aged beers at its original site in Placentia.

Fun Fact: They have one of the largest barrel programs for an independent brewery, with approximately 4,000 oak barrels in their sour and non-sour cellars combined! To their knowledge, they also have the largest American-made oak foeders that has ever been made, and they are amongst the largest ones in North America. Pretty cool!

Orange County Breweries
Evans Brewing Co.

Evans Brewing Co.

Location: Fullerton, CA

Best Beer(s):

  • Evans Chocolatte Chocolate Porter

Best Food Pairing(s): 

  • They recently launched Brews & Brats, an Evans beer and sausage pairing at The Public House by Evans Brewing Company. Their Pollen Nation Honey Blonde paired with the homemade brat of the week is a perfect pairing! Thanks to Chef Amanda Platt Evans Brewing Company has an astonishing amount of food options. Check them out here.

Brief History: 

Evans Brewing Company, Inc. is one of the few craft breweries that is publicly owned, making it possible for craft beer enthusiasts to become shareholders in the oldest craft brewery in Orange County. Father & son team, Mike and Evan Rapport founded Evans Brewing Co. in 2011, and after winning multiple awards for their lagers the following year, they wanted a brick-and-mortar brewery. They took over Bayhawk’s brewery in Irvine in 2013. Evans releases new offerings seasonally, in addition to producing 4 core year-round packaged products, including: Pollen Nation Honey Blonde Ale, The KrHOPen India Pale Ale, Oaklore Brown Ale, and ChocoLatté Chocolate Porter.

Fun Fact: The Public House by Evans Brewing Company recently announced a 2nd location coming soon to the Bella Terra Shopping Center in Huntington Beach.

Orange County Breweries
Four Sons Brewing

Four Sons Brewing

Location: Huntington Beach, CA

Best Beer(s):

  • Coconutorious | Coconut Amber | 5.2% ABV
  • Land of Hopportunity | Blood Orange IPA | 6.3% ABV
  • The Great One | Imperial IPA | 9.9% ABV

Best Food Pairing(s): 

  • While they don’t serve food, they have a variety of food trucks that visit their brewery that serve everything from pizza and wings, to nachos, gyros and sushi.

Brief History: 

They opened in 2014 as part of a family desire to open a business together.  They focused on their love of beer and the fact that one of their four sons was already brewing at home. This caused them to make the decision to take a chance. Everyone in the family gave up their other jobs to focus on the brewery full-time. Since then they have enjoyed tremendous local support and are currently in the midst of their fourth expansion!

Fun Fact: Four Sons Brewing is unique in that it is incredibly family-centered. In fact, the owners themselves are there most of the time greeting and serving their local customers. It’s a comforting and welcoming place with a personal touch.

Orange County Breweries
Lost Winds Brewing Co.

Lost Winds Brewing Co

Location: San Clemente, CA

Best Beer(s):

  • Saint Lasuen Belgian Golden Strong | Pale Golden Ale | 7.2% ABV
  • San Clemente Saison | 4.9% ABV
  • Stairway IPA | West Coast IPA | 7.3% ABV

Best Food Pairing(s): 

  • St. Lasuen pairs well with abbey style cheeses and charcuterie as wells as chicken and pork.
  • San Clemente Saison pairs well with sushi, seafood and chicken, and pizza.
  • Stairway IPA pairs well with spicy Mexican or Indian food, as well as a good burger.

Brief History: 

After commuting to Riverside County for 15 years for work, Tim Thralls knew that he wanted to start a brewery close to home in San Clemente. He also wanted to pay homage to San Clemente with the name of the brewery. Lost Winds is a beach in south San Clemente that has great waves during the right swell. The name of the beach comes from the street that the beach access is on, Calle Lasuen (Fermin Lasuen was a Franciscan missionary, and founder of nine of the twenty-one Spanish missions in California). The name Lasuen is pronounced Laa-swin, and over time the beach became known locally as Lost Winds. Tim designed the tasting room with his wife and partners (all San Clemente families) to be a cool and inviting place, and somewhere they themselves would want to hang out. They have surf videos playing on the TV, pictures of Lost Winds beach, barrels for tables and the brewery right in the tasting room. And great beer!

Fun Fact: They have a mezzanine with games, which can be rented for private events.

Orange County Breweries
TAPS Fish House & Brewery

Taps Fish House and Brew Co.

Location: Corona, CA | Brea, CA | Irvine, CA

Best Beer(s):

  • TAPS Irish Red | Irish Red Ale | 5.6% ABV
  • TAPS Schwarzbier | Schwarzbier | 4.7% ABV
  • TAPS Poseidon | Double IPA | 10.3% ABV

Best Food Pairing(s): 

  • TAPS Irish Red pairs well with their Signature Chilean Sea Bass with Cream Ale.
  • TAPS Irish Red also pairs well with their Cioppino.
  • TAPS Bourbon Barrel Aged Velvet Hog pairs well with their Dry Aged Steak.

Brief History: 

TAPS Fish House & Brewery was founded in 1999. They have been honored three times as the best Mid-Size Brewpub and Brewers at the nation’s most prestigious beer competition, the Great American Beer Festival. The brewing team produces approximately 3000 kegs, or 46,500 gallons of beer annually. TAPS’ has been recognized on the regional, state, national and international levels—to date they have received 90 medals for their beers. TAPS Brew Crew consists of David Huls, director of brewery operations, Kyle Manns, brewery operations manager, and head brewer Jonathan Chiusano.

Fun Fact: There were 6,600 entries from over 55 countries at the World Beer Cup in 2016 and only 6 breweries won 3 medals during the international competition. Three of those breweries are from Orange County, CA. They are: TAPS Fish House & Brewery, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, and Noble Ale Works.

Orange County Breweries
The Good Beer Company

The Good Beer Company

Location: Downtown Santa Ana, CA

Best Beer(s):

  • George | Sour Farmhouse Ale | 4.1% ABV
  • Hoppy Oro | n/a | 3.9% ABV
  • LA Cheese | n/a | 7.0% ABV

Best Food Pairing(s): 

  • Hoppy Oro, or George, pairs well with aged cheeses, fresh fruit, citrusy sea food, or peppery arugula salad.
  • LA Cheese pairs well with salty fried food, Mexican food, Thai food, grilled cheese, and grilled meats.

Brief History: 

The Good Beer Company opened their Downtown Santa Ana tasting room and brewery to the public in October 2014. Good Beer crafts mixed culture ales in the loose framework of farmhouse style ales, using wild yeast and bacteria, aging in oak barrels, using seasonal local ingredients sourced direct from the farmer, and blurring stylistic boundaries. The beers are dry, fruity, and complex. Some ales present a refined acidity akin to lemonade while others draw upon delicate flavors and aromas that take you back to a simpler agrarian life on the farm.

Fun Fact: The tasting room is located in a 130-year old brick storefront, originally built as a livery stable, on Calle Quatro in Downtown Santa Ana.

Orange County Breweries
Noble Ale Works, Photo by @boozlebeer

Noble Ale Works

Location: Anaheim, CA

Best Beer(s):

  • Big Whig | American IPA | 6.8% ABV
  • Naughty Sauce | Nitro Golden Milk Stout with Coffee | 5.4% ABV
  • Nobility | Imperial IPA | n/a 

Best Food Pairing(s): 

  • Noble Ale feels that their food is best served with any of the delicious offerings from their friends at The Cut.

Brief History: 

Noble Ale Works was established in 2009 and started brewing in 2011. After five years in their original location, and producing over 3,000 barrels of beer in 2015, they outgrown their current situation and are now starting a major expansion. They’ll be installing a bigger brewhouse and increasing production capacity more than twofold. They will also be opening a brand new tasting room space that will be able to accommodate way more customers with comfort aplenty! So keep an eye out for all the changes to come throughout the rest of 2017 and into early 2018.

Fun Fact: Named by World Beer Cup 2016’s Champion Small Brewery and Brewmaster!

Orange County Breweries
Unsung Brewing Co

Unsung Brewing Company

Location: Anaheim, CA

Best Beer(s):

  • Anthia | IPA | 7.5% ABV
  • Buzzman | Mutant American Light Ale | 5.2% ABV
  • Propeller Head | Amber Ale with Coffee | 6% ABV

Best Food Pairing(s): 

  • Unsung does not serve food but feels that their beers pair really well with a vast array of foods.

Brief History: Started in August 2015, Unsung Brewing Company is a local Orange County brewery that makes crafted brews based on the belief that there are no short cuts when creating their beers. Their tasting room opened in Anaheim in August 2016. They have a superhero/comic book theme that correlates to the creativity and dedication of those artists as well. 

Fun Fact: Every beer they create is named after a fictional superhero who’s backstory corresponds to the beer style or specific ingredients used. Inside their tasting room, they have a giant mural showcasing some of their superhero’s – pretty awesome!

Orange County Breweries
Laguna Beach Beer Co

Laguna Beach Beer Company

Location: Rancho Santa Margarita, CA | Laguna Beach, CA (Opening Spring 2017)

Best Beer(s):

  • Greeter’s | Hoppy Pale Ale | 6.3% ABV
  • Thousand Steps Ale | IPA | 7% ABV
  • Second Reef | Blonde Ale | 5.4% ABV

Best Food Pairing(s): 

  • Greeter’s Ale, being a solid hopped and full flavored pale ale, stands up to and lifts up the spice and chilies on their Baja St. flatbread.
  • Thousand Steps Ale has great crisp and dry hop forward notes that need refreshing with the sweet heirloom cherry tomatoes on their 3rd St. flatbread.
  • Second Reef Ale pairs well with the earthy spices of their Katella flatbread.

Brief History:

Co-founders and lifelong Laguna Beach residents Brent Reynard and Mike Lombardo spent many afternoons home-brewing, discussing how to turn their love for brewing into a business. After many years and many, many beers, they decided to take the leap and launch Laguna Beach Beer Company in 2014. With the little capital they had the two invested in a couple of new fermenters and began leasing space at an established brewery run by a close friend of theirs in Northern California.  After 2 years of good fortune, determination and an overwhelming amount of support from their friends, family and local beer drinkers they have reached their goal and will soon be opening their very own local brewery.

Fun Fact: Brent Reynard’s wife, Heather Reynard, currently does all the art for the tap handles and labels, all of their future art will be done by Laguna artists. Their soon-to-open Laguna Beach location will have a wood-burning brick pizza oven for their tasty flatbreads!

Orange County Breweries
Left Coast Brewing Co

Left Coast Brewing Co.

Location: San Clemente, CA

Best Beer(s):

  • Trestles | IPA | 6.8% ABV
  • Una Mas | Amber Lager | 5.8% ABV
  • Voo Doo |American Stout | 8% ABV

Best Food Pairing(s): 

  • Trestles pairs well with spicy food, Indian and Thai foods.
  • Una Mas pairs well with Mexican food.
  • Voo Doo makes a good dessert beer.

Brief History: 

Left Coast Brewing Company is family owned and operated in the iconic surf side town of San Clemente, California. The independent brewery began its craft back in 2004 and over the last 11 years has expanded into more than 25 states and 7 countries. With a slew of 23+ awards under their belt, the brewery that started as a mere 3,500 barrels has since grown to 11,000 barrels and counting. Left Coast prides itself on its commitment to quality and constantly strives to find premium ingredients to achieve the perfect balance of aroma and flavor.

Fun Fact: Left Coast Brewing Co. offers Monday service industry night specials. Wednesday and Saturday nights they host Geeks Who Drink Trivia and Sunday mornings they have a fun event called Bend and Brewery Yoga with I Heart Yoga from Dana Point! As if you need another reason to visit, they have a pretty awesome Beer Club.

Orange County Breweries
Artifex Brewing Company

Artifex Brewing Co.

Location: San Clemente, CA

Best Beer(s):

  • No Name | West Coast IPA | 7.5%
  • Unicorn Juice | American Wheat with Passionfruit |5.5% ABV
  • Bog Trotter | Irish Red Ale | 6% ABV

Best Food Pairing(s): 

  • No Name pairs well with fish and chicken dishes.
  • Unicorn Juice pairs well with big savory meals and salty foods.
  • Bog Trotter pairs well with tacos and lighter foods.

Note: Artifex offers chips with salsa, and peanuts for its guests. They have food trucks available Tuesday through Saturday.

Orange County Breweries
Pizza Port Brewing Company

Pizza Port Brewing Co.

Location: San Clemente, CA

Best Beer(s):

  • Swami’s | IPA | 6.8% ABV
  • Lono | Mango IPA | 7% ABV
  • Bacon and Eggs | Coffee Porter | 8% ABV

Best Food Pairing(s): 

  • Swami’s pairs well with their Brassy Ranch PIzza.
  • Lono pairs well with their BBQ Chicken Pizza (with pineapple added!)
  • Bacon and Eggs is a great combo with their homemade vanilla ice cream for a tasty beer float.

Brief History:

In March of 1987 Gina and Vince Marsaglia, a pair of siblings in their 20′s, bought a struggling pizza place in the sleepy coastal town of Solana Beach, just north of San Diego.  Early on, Vince took advantage of free space in the restaurant’s storage area to dabble with home brewing. Pizza Port offered its first craft-brewed beers to patrons in 1992 and quickly gained a reputation in San Diego’s growing craft beer scene. So far, the five Pizza Port locations collectively have won over 91 medals/awards from the Great American Beer Festival.

Fun Fact: Pizza Port Brewing is like a grownup Chuck-E-Cheese’s that the whole family can enjoy. Between the yummy food, unique and thirst-quenching beers, and an upstairs arcade, you and the family may never want to leave.

Orange County Breweries
Phantom Ales

Phantom Ales

Location: Anaheim, CA

Best Beer(s):

  • Flying Brick | IPA | n/a
  • Czar Sidious | Stout | n/a
  • Cranberry Pomegranate | Mead | n/a

Best Food Pairing(s): 

  • Czar Sidious Stout, or their Brown Recluse Imperial Brown, pairs well with Ribeye Steak.
  • Any of their IPA offerings pair well with their Western Burger.
  • Hop Sidious Double IPA pairs well with any of their pizza offerings.

Brief History: Phantom Ales started out in 2007 as a winery called OC Custom Wine. They made their own wines on premise from grapes grown in Napa and Sonoma. They then added their brewery license, and became Phantom Ales in 2014 and began producing beer, cider, and mead. They have grown from a 15 gallon brew house to a 100 gallon brew house with over 1,200 gallons of fermenting capacity.

Fun Fact: Phantom Ales locations was originally zoned to be a vineyard in the original Los Angeles County platt map for the area.

Orange County Breweries
Chapman Crafted Beer

Chapman Crafted Beer

Location: Old Towne Orange, CA

Best Beer(s):

  • Hello Again | Lager | 4.8% ABV
  • Rotating IPA Series
  • Slow Riser | Red Ale with Coffee on Nitro | 5.75% ABV

Best Food Pairing(s): 

  • They offer beef jerky from the Long Beach Jerky Company, and Lucky Habanero Chips and Salsa, at their tasting room.

Brief History: 

Chapman Crafted began with its founding partners Wil Dee and Randy Nelson, two long-time entrepreneurial collaborators with extensive experience in real estate, hospitality, restaurant operations, and business development, as well as having a mutual appreciation for craft beer. Wil Dee has been a formational person in the development of the OC craft beer scene since 2009, and in restaurants for the past 20 years. He co-owns, and runs the beverage programs for both Haven Gastropub and Provisions Market. Head Brewer Brian Thorson comes from Trumer, and former head brewer of Drakes & Haven Brewing. He has won many awards in a variety of styles. Brian White, brand ambassador, started his career at Karl Strauss, then The Bruery, then to Monkish Brewing, and now at Chapman Crafted Beer.

Fun Fact: What makes Chapman Crafter Beer unique is its diverse group of veterans. A team like this is sure to leave an impression.


Honorable Mention

ANAHEIM

BJ’s Restaurant and Brewery | 8188 E Santa Ana Canyon Road, Anaheim Hills, CA 92808

Staff Favorite: Nutty Brunette | American-style Brown Ale | 5.9% ABV

Bottle Logic | 1072 N. Armando St., Anaheim, CA 92806

Staff Favorite: She Shot First | Pale Wheat Ale | 4.7% ABV

Hoparazzi Brewing Co. | 2910 E La Palma Ave, Anaheim, CA 92806

Staff Favorite: La Tarte Cherise | Cherry Sour | 5.5% ABV

Legends Beer | 1301 S Lewis St, Anaheim, CA 92805

Staff Favorite: Wild Child | Belgian Wit | 6.6% ABV

NEWPORT

Newport Beach Brewing Co. | Newport Blvd & 30th Street, Newport Beach, CA

Staff Favorite: Low Tide IPA | American-style Session IPA | 6% ABV

COSTA MESA

Barley Forge | 2957 Randolph Ave, Suite B, Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Staff Favorite: The Black Dalia | Belgian style Dark Ale | 11% ABV

Karl Strauss Brewing Co. | Various locations

Staff Favorite: Red Trolley | Irish-style Red Ale | 5.8% ABV

HUNTINGTON BEACH

Riip Beer Co. | 17214 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach, CA 92649

Staff Favorite: Pirate Pete | Double IPA | 8.5% ABV

Beachwood Brewing | 7631 Woodwind Dr., Huntington Beach, CA 92647

Staff Favorite: Rose Royce | Belgian-Style Saison | 5.3% ABV

ORANGE

Valiant Brewing Co. | 2294 N. Batavia St., Unit C, Orange Ca 92865

Staff Favorite: Morning Meal | Breakfast Stout | 6.7% ABV

FULLERTON

Bootlegger’s Brewery | 130 S Highland Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832

Staff Favorite: Golden Chaos | Belgian-style Golden Ale| 8.5% ABV

PLACENTIA

Stereo Brewing Co. | 950 South Via Rodeo, Placentia, CA 92870

Staff Favorite: Death of a Ladies’ Man | Double IPA | 9% ABV

SANTA ANA

Deans Brothers Brewing Co. | Santa Ana

Staff Favorite: Hawaiian Ginger Pale Ale | Ginger Ale | 6% ABV

Cismontane Brewing Company | 1409 E Warner Suit C Santa Ana CA, 92705

Staff Favorite: Holy Jim Falls | Extra Pale Ale | 4.5% ABV

TUSTIN

Tustin Brewing Co. | 13011 Newport Avenue, Suite 100, Tustin, California 92780

Staff Favorite: Honey Blonde | Blonde Ale | 6.4% ABV

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