At precisely 12:01 P.M., the first beer poured at the OC Brewer’s Guild Invitational fest was Chapman Crafted’s Pils, a mere ten feet from the full acrylic taster glass table. The crowd that lined up outside the Garden Grove Elks Lodge all had the same goal in mind: try as many beers as possible in the quick two-hundred forty minutes allotted.
The guild fest is a chance to do exactly that: get familiar with some of the newer breweries, hug some you know well, and check out the guys and gals in other parts of the county you don’t often get to.
The newer guys, such as Costa Mesa’s Brewing Reserve of California were there for their first fest. “It’s actually our second,” smiles co-owner Steve Aguilar, pouring two of his first-run beers. Ambitious Ales also made the event from Bixby Knolls, Long Beach. “We’ve been doing great in the neighborhood,” says co-founder (and my personal doppelganger) Garrett Carroll. “We’re having a hard time keeping up.”
TAPS helped the Brewer’s Guild brew a massive zesty fruited IPA called My Zest Friends with the help of local collab-mates. “Have you tried the mead guys?” asks TAPS’ Kyle Manns referring to Honey Pot Meadery. “That’s some of the most mind-blowing stuff,” he continued.
One of the most improved breweries included Laguna Beach Beer Company who brews out of Rancho Santa Margarita and has a tasting room off of Laguna Canyon. Their Tuava Guava hefeweizen is bright and slightly tropical-fruity. “Our brewer likes to use fruit as a note, not to overwhelm the beer,” says Rob McClaire, COO and Partner. “We also brought online a brand new brewhouse so we’ve been able to dial in the beers and have them be more consistent,” he continued.
As OC Beer Week runs through Cinco de Mayo, there’s plenty of more events to check out. See my top five picks here and the OC Brewer’s Guild’s calendar (click agenda on the top right) for where you should be drinking all week!
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!