So far in 2013, I have ranged from Torrance to Monrovia, Eagle Rock to Agoura Hills to get you the scoop on the rising L.A. Beer Scene. Today we take a break from the City of Angels and head to Anaheim, home of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the “off hiatus” Anaheim Ducks to visit two breweries that are nobly and valiantly pouring beer for Orange County.
My first stop, Valiant Brewing, officially opened on February 9 just across the Santa Ana River in Orange. They’re offering up a slate of three beers starting with their Mighty Mavericks ESB, 31 Kings IPA and Veranda, a French style Bière de Garde. This brand new brewery is the handiwork of husband and wife team Brian and Kelly Schroepfer.
It is nestled in a warren of buildings in an industrial park off Batavia road. You enter through the office lobby and head down a small photo filled hallway to find the tap room. You make another right turn (if you can take your eyes off the brewing equipment) to find the counter where you can make your beer selection. There is no seating but plenty of small tables to stand and chat at while tasting their brews.
My choice would be the Mighty Mavericks ESB. I am glad to see this style on tap here (and at stop #2). It is a bit dry with some really nice and subtly sweet caramel notes. In fact, all four Valiant beers had that same caramel touch to them to different degrees. Their IPA had a light and fruity note up front then all seven of the hops used in this batch really come on strong at the end.
We head from Valiant to another Game of Thrones type adjective, Noble Ale Works. It was my first visit to this two-year-old brewery based in, yes, another industrial park.The homey tasting room was busy with tables filled with their taster flights and Duck hockey sticks on the wall. Our cheery, hard working bartender, Danielle, gave us the lowdown on the beers and set us up with our own Noble logo-ed taster where you can pick any five beers to get a wide appreciation of what Noble brews.
I was really impressed. These were some of the best beers that I have had in 2013. First Dip, Royalty and Moby Dick are widely divergent styles that were flavored strongly but were still well balanced and easy to drink. From rye barrel aged to a single hop (Mosaic) Triple IPA to a beer with Earl Grey tea, they all hit the mark. I could not pick one of those three that was better than the other. Then I had the Golden Milk Stout + Coffee by the name of Naughty Sauce and was blown away. It was like drinking a coffee and cream popsicle. A big coffee aroma followed by a sweet cream taste. But neither flavor is too overpowering.
It is a short drive between these two breweries in the shadow of the Honda Center and both should be on your next craft beer itinerary.
The Beer of the Week is being exclusively poured at Lucky Baldwin’s during their Belgian Beer Fest that is a two week long celebration to the art of Belgian beermaking. Brouwerij Van Steenberge in Belgium and Lucky Baldwin’s have a long relationship and now they have cemented the bond with a beer made for them by brewmaster Jef Versele. It is simply called Lucky Baldwin’s Red and it went on tap a little over a week ago. It is a Belgian brown and/or amber beer that has a touch of caramel amidst some dry hopped bitterness.
Your Homework this week is to create a romantic craft beer evening in honor of today’s holiday. Now, you could make an excellent chocolate and beer pairing, but, as with the recent Super Bowl party, how about digging a little deeper for your Valentine and creating desserts that have craft beer as an ingredient? Or finding a beer that has a name that is specially relevant to your relationship? Or get flowers and a floral IPA? A Hallmark card and box of chocolates is nice but you can be as creative as brewers like Noble that add Morita peppers and curry to a beer.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.