The Perks of Drinking Local
FEBRUARY 20, 2020 | By Martin Medina
Drink local. That became our battle cry. A scene that chased the “whale” (and to an extent still does today-The Bruery, Bottle Logic, Offshoot) has led the charge in helping to facilitate rapid growth of breweries and satellite tasting rooms throughout Orange County. From players big (Ballast Point, Golden Road, Karl Straus, BJ’s) and “small” (Bootleggers, Stereo, Artifex) craft beer is only a $10 Uber away and, in some instances, can be brought right to you through any number of platforms (D-dash, Grub, etc.) for a nominal delivery fee. Yes, craft beer is here to stay.
To keep it in perspective, we’ve had closures (Old Orange, Valiant, Hoparazzi, Barley Forge-truly a stunner) but we’ve also had steady increases (Salty Bear Brewing, Santa Ana River Brewing, Green Cheek) that have helped the locals with the ebb and flow of demand not to mention the abundance of outstanding craft beer “focused” bars and restaurants throughout the county (Meat Up BBQ, Mission Bar, Wise Guys Pizza) that have established themselves as the “go to” for great food and/or current and fresh craft beer offerings from both within “the Curtain” and from beyond (Monkish, Latitude 33, Russian River)
This brings us to the ubiquitous tasting room, the heartbeat of every brewery far and wide, the home base for the home crowd. While ten years ago you stumbled through industrial parks on the south side of the tracks to belly up to the bar and enjoy gourmet food truck cuisine, the current atmosphere has brewery tasting rooms providing On Premise amenities such as food (Tustin Brewing, The Helmsman, Phantom Ale Works, TAPS) games, live music and yoga (Gamecraft, Brewery X, Bootleggers) and now distilled spirits (Four Sons-tours/retail cans, Left Coast-to go bottles/food/on site brewery) to cater to both families as well as the pregame-postgame-anytime crowd.
The communal feeling enjoyed by the patrons and their experience at these establishments is critical to not only the success but the survival of breweries and they are pulling out all the stops to provide the highest value to you the consumer. Springtime is upon us meaning longer days, lighter brews and hanging out with friends so go out and support your local brewery. Drink Local!
Here are a few the upcoming Springtime Ales and Lagers coming from your favorite breweries:
Brewery X-‘s Okay Mexican Lager next followed by “I Know, Huh” Amber Lager.
Left Coast-Galaxy Supernova IPA, 7% Galaxy hopped West Coast IPA
Meet the Pros
I had a chance to speak with two of the many influential people within the Orange County craft beer scene recently to get their perspective on among other things what is happening locally, what are the current/upcoming trends and what is their perception on the changes and future growth of craft beer.
Cameron Collins/President Co-Founder Brew Ha Ha Productions
*How long have you been doing this and how did you get into it?
2010 was our 1st year and by April 1 we produced or coproduced 100 events. I used to cruise to San Diego to hit bottle shops for limited releases as well as breweries such as Alpine, Green Flash, Ballast Point. We started going to the Stone Anniversary parties and beer festivals and thought “why isn’t somebody doing this in Orange County” One day we were having beers at Oggis down south kicking around ideas and said “let’s do this” My In-laws were our (Tiffany his wife) original partners and 3 years ago we Incorporated and became sole owners of Brew Ha Ha Productions
*When did you decide to add music and how did that relationship come about?
Our 1st event was Cali Uncorked where we (initially) expanded beyond beer by adding wine and entertainment. From there we originally partnered up with SGE Events (which has since gone bankrupt) to add our music elements and the rest is history. Music initaially was 2nd tier afterthought but after we added Reel Big Fish in 2014 at Brew Ho Ho (the franchises Winter Ale Fest) we realized we had something.
*How are things progressing with Brew Ha Ha Productions and what events are upcoming?
We’re looking back at the last 3 years to see how it’s gone and have been (continually) refining our process as the staff has grown. Our Punk in Drublic Festival will be in 14 cities this year throughout the US and Canada and by May we will have produced 12 shows Internationally (outside Canada) not to mention our local shows. April 25th | Punk in the Park.
*How have current trends (Hard Seltzer, legal weed) affected the beer fest business?
People want more for their dollar. The true craft beer fan will always be at beer fests as they want to try what’s new from both established and new up and coming breweries but there’s a new generation of festival attendees who want it known via social media that “they were there” You have to provide the experience because anyone can go to a bar.
*I notice your events have progressively “family friendly” what is the general feedback so far?
Very positive, some have complained but there is room for all. Craft beer drinkers have evolved and have gotten away from the “drunkfest” mentality and are more into the exploration and trying new beers from new breweries. These events are not beer specific and are becoming more about community, friends and family
*When all is “said and done” what do you want to be known for?
People to look back and say that they had a good time at the festivals, that I set the bar for a successful event, that I ran the business with integrity and that I was the Kevin Lyman (Warped Tour founder) of the Craft Beer Fests!
Trevor Walls/Director of Brewery Operations at Brewery X Anaheim
*How long have you been doing this?
I come from a military family (mom and dad US Army stationed in Germany) that were homebrewers (dad and uncle) and have been around that since I was little. I used to hang around the Ballast Point homebrew store in San Diego and was hired on in 2009 and also worked at Mission unpaid for a year (for experience) while I owned a screen printing business with a partner. I then became the Head Brewer at Pizza Port in San Clemente, made my way to Riip Brewing and being pursued by the owners of Brewery X became the Director of Brewing Operations here.
*From the look of it, things are booming! How are things going?
In 6 months we’ve brewed 2800 barrels (equal to 5600- 15.5g kegs!) and have sold 80% of that “in-house” through the tasting room averaging 130 barrels in sales per week. We will be adding an in house food element which should be in place by early Summer. We are brewing seltzers (Margarita flavored coming soon!) and those are very popular here. The team likes to mix it up and try new things as you have to evolve to meet demand and changing tastes.
*How did they come up with the name?
Brewery X is a crossroads for people to come together to share a communal feeling and make a human connection. (From approachable beer styles, wide open spaces and entertainment Brewery X does just that.
*Brewery X offers “Crowlers” and “Growlers” to go, will you be offering any packaged beers?
Yes, our 1st can release will be “Slap & Tickle” our house IPA, which will be canned and released in 6/16oz cans March 10 at the brewery with “‘s Okay” Mexican Lager next followed by “I Know, Huh” Amber Lager.