I’ve been told the Irish invented whiskey, but the Scots perfected it. And when it comes to IPAs, there’s no doubt San Diego invented mainstream West Coast IPA, as the city’s breweries produce the vast amount of it, but OC, at only a fraction of the locations, has nearly perfected it.
There is no better barometer to discern beer quality than the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup competitions, where OC has nabbed 11 medals in hoppy beer in the past three years, most of them going to Green Cheek Beer Co. and Noble Ale Works. This year, along with Green Cheek’s silver for Radiant Beauty IPA, a new contender entered the ring, winning silver in Imperial Hazy IPA: brewer Bryan Hendrickson at Phantom Ales.
This is the first OC win for a hazy beer, a style that has only been in competition since 2018.
Phantom’s double hazy Juice Jockey (at 8.7 percent ABV) is brewed with Pilsner malt, London Fog yeast, and Citra and Strata hops. The two hops complement each other the same way Simcoe and Amarillo did around eight years ago with legendary beers such as Alpine’s Duet. They combine like a juice smoothie in which passion fruit, strawberries, grapefruit, guavas and other tropical goodies are blended into a fine purée. The only thing missing is bee pollen and maybe a wheat grass shot. It’s a juicy boy from start to finish, with a cakey malt and alcohol sweetness carrying the flavor throughout the finish.
The hop game at Phantom is strong, and OC’s keeps getting stronger.
Phantom Ales, 1211 N. Las Brisas St., Anaheim, (714) 225-3206; phantomales.com .