Welcome to the final part of the SNB Brewing / Manfish Brewing Epic. In the previous posts I have been recounting my travels with Ken from Manfish Brewing. This post wouldn’t be any different but may be longer.
Before I resume our tale I would like to take the opportunity to point out that Ken recently co-authored a book entitled TheFastest 30 Ballgames. The book follows Ken’s friend as he attempts to break the record for the fewest days it takes to see ballgames in all 30 major league ballparks. Does he break the record? Does he fall short? How did he go about this run at it? Has he attempted it before? What role did Ken play? If you want those answers I suggest you check it on Amazon. I for one know the answers not only because I had the opportunity to discuss it with Ken in person I also scored a copy autographed by all three of the authors!
When we last left our tale we were just leaving the serene setting of Peace Brewing. On our way out we decided that out next stop would be to check out one of the craft brewing gems in Orange County – The Bruery
Today the Orange County California area seems to be going through a Craft Beer Renaissance. While we still have a ways to go before we can start to challenge San Diego County for the title of California’s best beer region.
|The Line Up|
One of the breweries clearly leading the charge is TheBruery out of Placentia. Founded in 2008 by Patrick Rue (the Rue in the Bruery) The Bruery is focused on producing beers different than the ones you often find in California. Most of their beers are brewed in what could be argued is in the Belgian Tradition using a proprietary Belgian yeast strain for the majority of their creations.
|30 Barrel Fermentors|
The great thing The Bruery is the amount of creativity they put into their beers. They have been redefining what works in beers, which includes rice, spices, tea, flowers etc. The cool thing is they release a lot of beers draft only in tasting room to get a feel for what people are beers. They also release dozens of Provisions Series beers only sold at the tasting room and in their retail space The Bruery Provisions in Old Town Orange. One of their semi-year round beers Humulas Lager was the inspiration for my BIG IPL.
In my opinion, one of the things that the Bruery does extremely well that all those that dream of opening their own brewery should that note of is quality control. Quality control leads to consistency which brings people back time and time again. You need to have standards for what you will and won’t sell to consumers and the guts to take the loss if one of your beers fails to live up to that standard. The Bruery regularly conducts sensory panels on their beers and if they feel a beer is not ready it doesn’t get released.
Speaking of quality control processes, in the middle of writing this post the Bruery emailed members of the Reserve Society to let them know that their Provisions Series: Iniquitous was not living up to their standards so they were scraping it and automatically issuing refunds for those who had ordered it. That’s a pretty upstanding thing to do.
With all that great write up on The Bruery I almost forgot to talk about our visit. I started off with a glass of the recently rereleased Black Orchard, a Dark Wit Beer, it was ok but nothing I would take home. Ken started off with a glass of one of my favorite of their beers Loakal Red, which is only sold in Orange County. Next up I grabbed a glass of one of the best berliner weisses in the US Hottenroth. For those unfamiliar with berliner weisse it is a soured low gravity wheat brewed in the German tradition. Ken grabbed a taster flight but I failed to take notes, I do remember he had the Run BMC, Humulus Lager, Cuir and a couple others, plus he got to keep the glass.
|The Bruery has one of the best barrel programs in the county|
On our way out I grabbed a couple of bottle of the Hottenroth for some trades and we headed south to the Bruery’s retail location the Provisions.
The Bruery Provisions
From here on out the following pictures were borrowed from Ken.
|The back way in|
The use of the name The Bruery Provisions stretches back to shortly after the Bruery opened when they started sell homebrew supplies out of their facility. It soon however became a distraction to them so they decided to close. A point of interest with this is when I started in homebrewing I tried contacting them to get their hours of operation but never heard back. I therefore shopped at another shop for a little bit before I got tired of the drive and prices. When I decided to give the Provisions another shot they were closed. They did however have a link on their page to Addison HomebrewProvisions which was going to have its grand opening a few weeks later. So again a nice Bruery connection in my life because I wouldn’t have come as far as I have without the people I’ve met because of AHP.
|The taster flights|
There was once a cheese shop in Old Town Orange called Frog’s Breath. I’d visited it a few times to pick up some cheese and other stuff. They had some beer, mostly local, but nothing out of this world. Shortly after the Bruery’s second birthday they announced that they were buying Frog’s Breath and turning it into a retail store and bottle shop and would be keeping the cheese. After a long wait they finally opened and I’ll admit they had some learning pains. All that is now behind them and it is one of my favorite places in Orange.
|The cheese plate|
The Provisions carries a very large selection of beers from around the world all in singles. They do have a couple of 6 packs but all the six pack beers you can get in singles. They all keep the beers that need to stay cold like IPAs cold. This makes them one of the best bottle shops in the OC. I also love the tasting bar that features over a dozen beers for tasting. I generally skip the prebuilt flights and build my own Scott’s Super Flight with whatever looks good. Scott Tip: If you find a beer you want to have a pint of just order a full flight of just that beer.
After talking to one of my buddies who works there I settled into my tasting flight with Ken. I also ordered a cheese plate to pair with the beer.
After we were done it was off to the home brewery.
|Me pouring a Furious for Ken|
We finished off the night back and the main brewery. Originally we had set up shop in brewery itself as usually but this night it was just too hot so we moved out back. Before we moved however grabbed a Furious out of the BeerVault for us to share as well as a Coffee Bender. Even though I was short on both I wanted to share some of my favorite beers with a friend. I should also note that for Ken I busted out my Manfish Glass that I had gotten from him earlier in the year.
Earlier that day Ken had mentioned that he was a big fan of Brew Masters. I filed that away in the back of my mind knowing that I had a bottle of Portamarillo at home. For those that may not have watched the show let me explain it. Brew Masters was a woefully short lived show on the Discovery Channel hosted by Sam Calagione, craft beer maestro and founder of Dogfish Head Brewery. On one of the episodes, Punkin & Portamarillo, Sam travels to New Zealand to collaborate with Epic Brewing Company on a beer using the native tamarillo, a relative of tomato, they called the resulting beer Portamarillo.
After the Portamarillo I ordered a pizza and wings and continued to drink some beer. During dinner Ken decided it was time to bust out a Barrel Aged Brrrbon. I’ve known Ken long enough to know that he loves Widmer Brrr and that one of his all time favorite seasonal beers. Last year they did something cool and released a onetime limited edition called Barrel Aged Brrrbon. Barrel Aged Brrrbon is Brrr that aged for four months in single use bourbon barrels from Kentucky. Knowing all this I felt pretty honored that he wanted to share this with me. After having it I think it is a highly underrated beer, it’s really nice and mellow with the bourbon, I pick up some faint vanilla flavors and it pairs very well with the spices in the base beer. Bonnie called it a sexy ass beer.
It was a perfect end to a great day. Few things are as nice on a summer night than sitting in my backyard, eating pizza and drinking beer. Bonnie and Ken talked at length about Washington College football and country music. I can’t wait for the next time we get together which hopefully won’t be as long as last time.
Also check out Ken’s Write Up of his entire trip over at ManfishBrewing.com
Here are some left over pictures I a took during our stop at The Bruery.