In 2011, Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait looked at the two currently existing beer makers, Anaheim Brewery and Noble Ale Works, and asked, “How do we make this city the Napa Valley for beer?” The “Brew City” committee was formed, issues were addressed, and Anaheim became one of the easiest places in Orange County to open a brewery.
Seven years later, the city has more than a dozen production breweries and brewpubs, largely fueled by a thirsty local beer culture, two sports teams, Disneyland, and the largest convention center this side of the Mississippi. There’s a mix of tiny operations such as Asylum Brewing and well-funded operations such as Bottle Logic, plus two of San Diego’s biggest entities are creeping north with Modern Times and Karl Strauss.
I didn’t realize how valuable Anaheim’s beer soil was until massive beverage corporations moved in: Behemoth Anheuser Busch’s Golden Road, Constellation Brand’s (#MexicaliResiste) billion-dollar Ballast Point at Downtown Disney, and MillerCoors Saint Archer planted inside Anaheim Stadium.
Yet, two mid-size independent breweries are looking to open soon: Brewery X (a dream team of investors, beer lovers and brewers) and Brewheim, a brand built big.
As someone who marinates himself in local taprooms, bars and bottle shops, cracking into the beer business is not only about “build it, and they will come,” but also about integrating into the existing culture. In order to make it, a place has to have flawless beer, branding that stands out in a sea of competition, knowledgeable and hospitable tasting-room staff, distributed beer, events, a fun atmosphere, strong business sense, marketing, community outreach, and so much more. In this oversaturated town, the question now is “Who will survive?”
Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest.