When I saw Golden Road pull out of its Oakland beer garden project among immense local pressure, it was akin to Luke Skywalker blowing up the Death Star. Little did I realize the money for that project would be reinvested a couple of months later into the ABInBev-owned brewery’s newest Huntington Beach endeavor.
I shouldn’t be shocked to see massive beverage conglomerates finding Orange County ripe for investment. After all, we have a strong economy filled with pleasure-seekers curious about what’s new in the area, plus billions of tourist dollars rolling in from our 42 miles of lush coastline, theme parks and sports teams, as well as one of the largest convention centers in the nation.
In Anaheim, Constellation Brand’s Ballast Point is nearly open in Downtown Disney, and there’s no denying its product has changed since being sold for $1.5 billion, considering its beer often sits on Target store shelves well past its prime.
When people travel, they usually seek out local flavors, and I would feel duped stumbling into a place that resembles a legitimate local experience, yet is traded on the New York Stock Exchange and headquartered in another country. When I want local, I want small, independent and tasty.
All around these corporate poseurs are some incredible independent beer experiences, including riip beer co., Beachwood Brewing and the family-run Four Sons Brewing in Huntington Beach. And Anaheim is our very own brewery oasis, with more than a dozen places where you can chat with the owner most days. I’m not sure that would ever happen at Busch Gardens.
Eat and drink where you must, but look for the Brewers Association Independent Craft Beer logo to be sure you’re supporting local.
Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, level 1 WSET in Wine, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest happening this June!