Being sandwiched between the craft beer cities of San Diego and Los Angeles could be intimidating, but if Orange County brewers feel that way, they sure don’t let it show.
Anaheim is one of the fastest-growing beer destinations in the state, with 15 breweries and counting. Three of the city’s notable offerings are the Anaheim Brewery (closed during Prohibition but re-established in 2010 after a 90-year hiatus) and, on each side of the Santa Ana River, less than two miles away from each other, Noble Ale Works (try their Naughty Sauce Stout and Aim for the Fences IPA) and the Old Orange Brewing Company, both with tasting rooms.
Elsewhere, the options are numerous and varied. San Clemente has been a beer lover’s go-to for years, with its Left Coast Brewing Company, the largest craft brewery in the county by volume, and relative newcomers Artifex Brewing Company and Lost Winds Brewing are standouts as well.
In Placentia, try The Bruery’s award-winning ales and wheat beers. The brewery is run by the Rue family, hence the name; they also have a tasting room, Bruery Terreaux, in Anaheim. In the hills of Rancho Santa Margarita sits the Cismontane Brewing Company (the name means “this side of the mountains”).
Others to try: Tustin Brewing Company, one of the pioneers of the scene, brewing since 1996, in Tustin, Bootlegger’s Brewery—with their unique Black Phoenix Chipotle Coffee Stout—in Fullerton, and the city of Orange’s Valiant Brewing Company, with more than a dozen beers in its taproom.