Golf has Augusta National, Baseball has Wrigley Field, lovers have Paris and Beer drinkers in Orange County have the venerable Goat Hill Tavern in Costa Mesa. Owner Robert “Zeb” Ziemer opened its doors in 1984, and customers from all over the world have come for the great variety of beers, the funky decor and the chill atmosphere. Turning 21 and going to the Goat for your first drink is an OC rite of passage on the level of making out at Disneyland or going on an Undie Run.
The youngsters love their Goat Hill, but us old-timers remember that Zeb previously owned the World Famous Boathouse in SanTana, which he opened in 1968 and made famous for its buckets of green beer on St. Patrick’s Day and for its Boat Burger, the freshest, juiciest burger in town. It was THE place to hang out in SanTana back in the day: off-duty cops, attorneys, cholos and their heinas all congregated to eat,drink and be merry. Zeb took all the kitsch from the Boathouse and brought it to the Goat Hill—the walls are a virtual time capsule and should be declared a historical monument.
Earlier this year, “Zeb” passed away after a bout with cancer (#Fuckcancer), but his legacy continues. Everyday, there is Founder’s Hour, (half off all drinks), followed with IPA Hour (half-off all IPAs). $7 pitchers of Bud & Rolling Rock (alternating weekly) completes the Drink Specials. Thank You, Zeb #Respect.
So with 141 taps of beer, where do you start? From left to right? Alphabetical order? I was there during 1/2 off IPA Hour, so for $4, I drank a 20-ounce glass of Left Coast Trestles IPA. DEAL! When I see Left Coast on a beer menu I order it, never fails to satisfy the taste buds and Trestles certainly delivers the hops: Smooth, slight citrus, tropical fruit but not too sweet. I wanted to explore this menu, so many beers you don’t find anywhere else, so I followed with Mad River Steelhead Extra Pale Ale (5.6% ABV), a great tasting pale with citrus, hops, malt, and a clean finish.
I ended with a pint of Anchor Steam, for old-times’ sake and more #respect to Zeb. Before the craft beer explosion, he was the only one pouring Anchor Steam and Sierra Nevada for years, going so far as to offering Sierra Nevada Celebration and Anchor Steam Christmas during the holidays and now everyone has followed their lead. Cheers to Zeb and the crew at the Goat Hill Tavern, the G.O.A.T. of tavern’s!
Goat Hill Tavern, 1830 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 548-8428; www.goathilltavern.com