Santa Ana + Costa Mesa Beer Scene

Craft Beer Orange County

Cerveza Santa Ana and Marea Roja may be on tap at Cismontane's new location.

One third of the building is ready, and this time next year, you just might find the whole building in use with R&D brewery, distillery and a taproom.

This is happening in Santa Ana with Cismontane Brewing‘s new Orange County facility. Along with Barley Forge and The Good Beer Company which opened up practically at the same time, it is almost as if the Santa Ana craft beer scene arrived in an instant.

Cismontane SNA has room for up to 15 beers on tap in their not-quite downtown location that at first simply was storage for the accumulated barrels from their aging program. They will also have three nitro handles as well that Cismontane Citizen Evan Weinberg told me could be used for all manner of beer styles, from lagers, IPAs or even sour beers.

The new tasting room (which is at an easier to get to confluence of freeways) will initially carry beers brewed at the Rancho Santa Margarita location, with the possibility of having special location-specific only beers.

While Cismontane’s space is in flux and before the smell of brewing and distilling fill the air in 2015, two breweries minutes away in either direction are ready with well appointed tap rooms. The Good Beer Company on 4th & Broadway has a wood and brick interior that would not be out of place for a hip new restaurant. They have come out of the gate with solid beers like Ginger Power, a pale ale with lime and ginger; Saison Primero, which also came in a Sorachi Ace hopped version; as well as a citrus IPA with the moniker of Zing. No flights are available, but you can share half pints with friends to help cover their tap list options.

Costa Mesa is where Barley Forge calls home and their lovely taproom is welcoming and warm. From the branding design to the beer to the food options, Barley Forge looks like it has been operating for years, not weeks. On a cooling weekend night, a light mist enveloped the brewery making the seats prime real estate near the free popcorn and water, with a view of the brewing operation. My tap favorites were the Dortmunder lager Grandpa Tractor and the Agave Amber, El Paisano.  Get the flight to start and see which of their beers become your favorites.

The Beer of the Week is Jubilee from Eagle Rock Brewery.  Celebrate the fact that they leaped the latest bureaucratic hurdle from the City of Los Angeles with their winter seasonal, which is a lovely spiced winter warmer / Old Ale.  It has notes of fruitcake to me that really bring Thanksgiving, and that small holiday after Thanksgiving, alive.

The craft beer Homework for the week is check out the vast array of mixed, variety packs available out there.  Many of which contain a beer that you can’t buy outside the box on its own.  The strength of the mixes is that it allows you to have a brewery experience at home.  Much like ordering a taster flight at a new brewery like the ones in Santa Ana. A mix box might reveal a beer you might not order on its own.  There are hop-centric packs or winter seasonals on shelves.  Some might even come with the appropriate glassware too.

Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

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Sean Inman

Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

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