The beer gods have graced Orange County with a yet another brewery: Gunwhale Ales in Costa Mesa, a hop, skip, jump away from the best burger joint in town, TK Burgers. Coincidence? I think not!
HOP FORWARD-YEAST DRIVEN is the motto of co-founders Justin Miller, JT Walllace, and Bobby Fitzgerald. All three come from different professional backgrounds, but the love of craft beer got them together almost three years ago to create Gunwhale. Also on board: head brewer, Derek Testerman, most recently brewer at Beach City Brewing. Farmhouse ales and sours with a West Coast edge will be featured, along with smooth AF Double IPAs and Pale Ales. The tasting room is comfortable, with decor reminiscent of an old fishing boat. The beers all have names related to fishing or the ocean, and you can also enjoy your suds on the outdoor patio and watch the sunset and talk about the one that got away.
Bait Ball American IPA (6.6% ABV) has slight fruit at the front, then the hops hit—but it's a very enjoyable, well balanced IPA. Grill a nice slab of fresh swordfish to complement the citrus in this brew. The Landloper Saison/Farmhouse Ale (5.6% ABV) is mellow yet full-flavored—I'm thinking of a nice selection of charcuterie meats, cheeses and a baguette. The Bangtail (6% ABV) is a hoppier version of the Landloper, and little tart on the back end. The nuance in this saison is so sublime—a nice touch by the brewmaster #respect.
But the winner right now is The Bends Double IPA (8.3% ABV), an ideal combination of tropical fruit, hops, and citrus that goes down smooth with no aftertaste and clean finish. Pair this DIPA with some delicious shrimp tacos! And speaking of seafood,:Bear Flag Fish Co.'s food truck will park at Gunwhale Ales most days. Not feeling their awesome food? Your loss, but you can bring your own grub.
Gunwhale Ales offers growlers and crowlers to go, and they have that cool self-canning device that will keep your beer fresh for days, weeks or months. But don't wait that long to come on board to the newest freshest beer in town—sorry, sorry, cliché. Call me Ishmael or some shit…
Gunwhale Ales, 2960 Randolph Ave., Unit A, Costa Mesa (949) 393-2537; www.gunwhaleales.com