Ponderosa Pale 5.6% ABV
Taps Brewery and Barrel Room

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On July 23, 2018, owner Joe Manzella cut the ribbon and opened his much anticipated TAPS Brewery and Barrel Room in Tustin, on Redhill and Valencia. Mr. Manzella is owner of 3 TAPS Fish House and Brewery’s and also owns The Catch in Anaheim. It was in 1999 that Manzella opened the first TAPS in Brea and over the years has won numerous awards for his craft beer at both The Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup. TAPS Brewery and Barrel Room will be the center of production for all the restaurants and other retail outlets. With a total of 19,000 square feet there is plenty of room in the tasting room and the outdoor patio, there’s a pool table, some arcade games, and of course the ever challenging Jenga! Pull out son! Food is provided by a TAPS food truck, Chef Roman Jimenez has created a menu with some outstanding pub fare, a Royale w/cheese, Oxtail Poutine, a Hippie Burger, Colonel Roman’s Fried Chicken Sandwich, Brewery Pretzel, Ban Me Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog are a few of the items, there’s also a children’s menu. I opted for the Electric Taco, cerveza marinated carne asada, chorizo pork belly, caramelized onions, string cheese, salsa del dia and a truck made tortilla. The tortilla is the key to this taco, a store bought tortilla would disintegrate trying to hold in all this goodness. At first glance I was like, Hmmm, it didn’t quite look like the tacos of my local taqueria, but I folded it up, took a bite and Ay. Dios. Mio! Simply amazing. The carne asada is perfectly marinated and tender as a Prime New York steak, with each bite I discovered the genius of Chef Roman, the chorizo pork belly just melted, it added the perfect amount of crispiness and salt. As I continued to bite into the taco all the juices melded together and they complimented my beer, The Irish Red, but I’m sure it would compliment any beer on the menu. This was my first visit and I wanted something to snack on as I tried the different suds on the menu and the Electric Taco was the perfect pairing for my tasting adventures. The TAPS food truck pulls in every day and leaves in the evening, you order from a kiosk and the first time might take a little bit of reading through the instructions but once you order and pay you can find your seat and someone will bring you your food, having a food truck also saved a lot of area that can be utilized for the barrel room and production, a full size kitchen would have taken up much needed space.

The TAPS brew crew are still settling into their new digs but once everything is in order they will be brewing 5,000 barrels the first year and eventually hit a capacity of 25,000 barrels annually. The separate barrel and aging room is designed to hold up to 350 barrels of deliciousness. Your TAPS brew crew are Kyle Manns- Director of Brewing, Jonathan Chiusano-Brewery Operations Manager, Eric Zwack-Head Brewer, TAPS Corona, Brennan Perry-Head Brewer, Taps Brewery, Tustin and Max Jones, QAQC/Packaging Manager. The Manager of TAPS Brewery and Barrel Room is Kristine “KC” Cunningham. My first beer on my visit was the award winning Irish Red 5.2% ABV, I’m a malt lover and when I see a Red on the menu it’s always my first choice. The Irish Red did not disappoint, smooth, malt forward, a hearty and toasty example of what a red ale should taste like. The world would be a better place if more breweries brewed a red ale IMHO. My next choice was the Coffee and Cream on Nitro 5.5% ABV. OK, I’m also a #coffeesnob and I saw on TAPS Instagram that they used coffee beans from Bodhi Leaf Coffee Traders which I recently discovered thanks to Thien Le of Ideation Brewing in Anaheim. If you are also a lover of coffee please visit Bodhi Leaf, there’s 4 locations in Orange County. So GOOOOD! Coffee and Cream on Nitro where have you bean all my life, it’s light and refreshing and the coffee is right up front but the finish was so clean and creamy, absolutely a treat! I then decided on the Ponderosa Pale 5.6% ABV, a West Coast Pale Ale with Tangerine and grapefruit. WOW! Wonderful hop presence, almost but not quite in the IPA range, citrusy, very balanced( as are all the other beers I drank), grapefruit on the back end and it lingers with its signature tartness. Ponderosa Pale is a perfect compromise for those that don’t care for  Session IPA’s, that want some hops but not the full IPA profile of bitterness. Something I noticed with all three of the beers I drank is the high quality of the water, they all finished so clean, no aftertaste at all. None. Zero. Zilch. Well that was my first visit to TAPS Brewery and Barrel Room, definitely not my last, maybe I’ll see you there! Cheers! BobbyKnowsBeer!

 

 

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Protocol 76 Oktoberfest Style
Network Brewery

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Protocol 76 Oktoberfest Style at Network Brewery in Santa Ana

I always love going to Network Brewery in SanTana. Its old tasting room was one of the smallest in Orange County yet brewed some of the most creative suds around. It just finished an expansion that removed the intimacy but now has 12 extra tap handles,  big-screen TVs on either side, and an art exhibit with five artists that have used drink coasters as there canvass. So much…

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Riip Beer Company

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Parts UnKnown Coconut Pandan Stout by Ideation Brewing

The 2018 Great American Beer Festival will be held next month from September 20-22, with over 4,000 craft beers from 800-plus breweries. But a separate contest is also being held where pros brew the entries of amateurs who have previously won at an American Homebrewers Association-sanctioned competition. Last year saw 118 entries, and it’s become a popular feature of GABF because this is where you see the next generation of taste…

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Happy Hour at Chapter One: the modern local in Santa Ana: #BobbyKnowsFood

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Chapter One: the modern local is located on the corner of Broadway and 3rd Street in Downtown Santa Ana in what used to be a bookstore. Going in to Chapter One you can expect great craft cocktails, 200 aged whiskeys, a rotating list of craft beer and a menu of food that needs to be explored to discover Executive Chef Chicken Wang’s superior culinary skills. Chapter serves Lunch, Dinner, Late Dinner and a rambunctious weekend Brunch. Different evenings bring different events, whether it’s a Taco Crawl with D.J. “I C U Bobbin Ya Head” Lexakhan, a 5 course Dinner with Modern Times Beer or Comedy Night in the Red Room there’s always a damn good reason to chill at Chapter One.

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Thien Le, The Mind of a Home Brewer: Hop Talk

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The 21st Amendment might’ve repealed Prohibition but there was no legislation to support home brewers until 1979 ,when Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Wyoming) sponsored a bill signed by President Jimmy Carter that made it legal to make your own suds in the United States. Nowadays, the American Home Brewers Association estimates about 1.1 million home brewers practice their craft, 19% of those on the West Coast.

One of those people is Thein Le. He belongs to the OC Mash Ups, a group tha…

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BobbyKnowsBajaBrews
Border Psycho Cantina

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Border Psycho Zonkey Imperial Stout

I’ve attended the Ensenada Beer Fest the last 3 years and have seen it grow from 60 breweries to 120 breweries in 2017. It’s held every year in March and is nothing but fun, fun, fun. But you don’t have to wait until March to sample some Baja craft beer—do a quick day trip to Tijuana.

Start with the new Border Psycho Cantina on Avenida Revolucion, within walking distance of established cervecerías Mamut and Nor…

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Moon Sparkle with Mostra Hambela Coffee
The Good Beer Company

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Moon Sparkle Oak Aged Amber w/Mostra Coffee

Husband-and-wife team Brandon Fender and Robyn Spevacek opened the Good Beer Company in the fall of 2014 in downtown SanTana. Their brewery (located in a building that used to house livery stables) has row after row of wooden barrels full of  delicious suds fermenting with different versions of wild yeasts that Brandon has cultivated throughout the years. Brandon began brewing at home in his garage and became fascinated by wild yeast and bacteria and how they reacted with hops, spices and fruits. Thanks to this obsession, Good Beer remains one of the few breweries in Southern California that brews sour beer, a genre that deserv…

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Welcome to BobbyKnowsBeer!

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Robert Flores “the Butcher”

Greetings fellow craft beer drinkers, my name is Robert Flores, some call me The Butcher since I have been a meatcutter for the last 43 years. In January of 2016 Gustavo Arellano, former editor of OC Weekly asked me to start writing about craft beer in Orange County, I was already Instagramming all my exploits in breweries and brewpubs around town so I said, Sure, why not. The craft beer scene has since exploded, I’ve been to The Great American Beer Festival the last 2 years, Ensenada Beer Fest the last 3 years, I was a judge at Coldchela 2018 the largest Latino Home Brew Fest in the Universe and basically covered every brewery in Orange County, some in Long Beach, a few in Downtown Los Angeles, Temecula, Tijuana, Rosarito, going to get to the Inland Empire soon.

Writing for the OC Weekly was  a great experience but now it’s time to venture on my own, besides beer reviews I will be doing interviews, more Baja beer reviews, food reviews and I will cover the home brewing world. Oh, expect some coffee reviews too, I’m a #coffeesnob! Please get @ me @ bobby@bobbyknowsbeer.com I love to see some feedback, let’s meet up for some beer talk. Honored to have Gustavo Arellano as my editor and Dustin Ames as my WebMaster.

With GABF coming up next month I will be going around to see what our local breweries are going to enter to try to win some Bling! Orange County represented well at the World Beer Cup this year so let’s cheer on our favorite brewmasters! Cheers! BobbyKnowsBeer🍻

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