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!