We waded through an ocean of suds so you wouldn’t have to.
We hit more than 30 breweries to find the best of the best craft beers in Orange County.
To make our top 10 list, a brewpub’s core slate of beers along with seasonal specials and limited editions had to dazzle us. One medal winner wasn’t going to cut it. We also looked at the tasting room atmosphere, the presentation of the beers, the decor and the knowledge of the barkeeps.
Here’s our top 10 list:
1. The Bruery
This is the bar by which all breweries in Orange County are judged. All hail the King of Belgian-style ales. These brewers can do no wrong. Pick whatever inspires you and trust. Match that with a modern tasting room, complete with board games and, on most days, food trucks. If you’re an IPA maker, it’s time to get nervous. The Belgian Geek Squad is doing what they promised never to do: brew IPAs. Their new line, dubbed OffShoot Beer Co., debuted with four IPA styles in April, including a bad-boy unfiltered triple. 717 Dunn Way, Placentia; thebruery.com
2. Beachwood BBQ and Brewing
Beechwood is rapidly becoming a beer-and-dining empire in Seal Beach and Long Beach. It took over Beach City Brewing, a so-so craft beer outpost in an industrial neighborhood of Huntington Beach, in 2016, partly to increase production for growing demand that couldn’t be handled by its cramped Long Beach facility. With cleverly named beers like Pie Fidelity (strong hints of lemon meringue pie) and Mocha Machine (a well-balanced Imperial Chocolate Coffee Porter), this good-vibe hangout takes a creative approach to its beer making. Mostly it works, especially in beers like Wholly Smoke, a delicious smoked porter. 7631 Woodwind Drive, Huntington Beach; beachwoodbbq.com