Utah Beer News travels across state lines from time to time. When we do, we’ll provide dispatches from non-Beehive State beer establishments near and far. We call this: Beer Travels. This edition takes us to Huntington Beach, Calif.
Beer Travels: Huntington Beach
Famed “Surf City USA” is known for its world-class waves and laid back style. But Huntington Beach is becoming a force in the craft beer scene as well.
A quick pre-Christmas trip to visit my uncle provided me with the opportunity to sample several of the Southern California beach city’s beers.
Usually, in these Beer Travels articles, I list my stops chronologically. This time, however, I’m ranking them in order of my favorites. And the top spot goes to…
Riip Beer Co.
This trip, I visited Riip Beer Co. on Wednesday Trivia Night. I arrived mid-game so I silently participated in trivia while sampling a couple flights of beer.
The Riip Beer Co. tap list is substantial, with at least four hazy IPAs for the tasting. Each beer name is beautifully displayed on custom-painted skateboard decks. For my first flight, the standout proved to be Black the Ripper, a GABF silver-medal-winning black IPA.
I also enjoyed Dan K IPA, a super-hoppy (90 IBU) West Coast-style IPA. Lots of citrus but hefty doses of pine resin. In terms of New England-style hazy beers, Stir Hazy hit all the right notes for me. Juicy and delicious with a tanginess at the end.
Interesting fact: Riip actually started out hand-delivering beer to customers, earning the nickname “Millennial Milkmen.”
Another favorite when I’m in the area is Beachwood Brewing. I’ve visited the Huntington Beach taproom multiple times but have yet to make it to the Long Beach brewpub.
Seemingly tucked away, Beachwood’s small but powerful taproom is a nice spot to sip some samples and perhaps play a card/board game. I started with a pint of Street 3, Block 2, a hoppy pale ale featuring 100% Simcoe hops. Lots of pine and earthiness.
My sampler included: Brut IPA, 28 Haze Later, Come in Grape, Your Time is Up (Malbec), and Mocha Machine. What a lineup! Choosing a favorite is tough, but the edge goes to Come in Grape as one of the most-interesting beers I’ve tasted. A blend between a bold red wine and a sour beer, it’s probably best in small doses.
Huntington Beach Beer Co.
I popped into Huntington Beach Beer Co. during a Surf City Nights event on Main Street. It’s Orange County’s oldest brewpub (and one without a functioning website, apparently).
With time for only a quick bite and a beer, I chose the Brickshot Red to accompany a plate of fish and chips. The beer featured a nice floral hop aroma and a pleasant caramel sweetness.
The second-story bar offers a nice atmosphere for watching sports or turning your attention outdoors for a view of Main Street.
The Dudes’ Brewing Company
This was my first stop on my latest Huntington Beach trip. While The Dudes’ Brewing Company is near the end of my list, that’s not to say it isn’t worth a visit.
Located inside the Lot 579 shopping center, the tasting area features 27 beers on tap — each with a meter letting imbibers know how much of each beer is remaining. Cool feature.
I opted to try the Double Trunk Double IPA, perhaps its most-popular brew, judging by Untappd check-ins. The hefty 9.3% ABV beer pours a hazy copper and features aromas of citrus. It drinks thick, with plenty of caramel maltiness to help balance the hops.
Beer Travels: Elsewhere in H.B.
- BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse: After dinner at Huntington Beach Beer Co. I popped in and enjoyed a Grand Cru — the 19th annual release of its Belgian Strong Golden Ale — at the bar.
- Evans Public House: I grabbed a seat at the bar of “Orange County’s Oldest Craft Brewery” and ordered a flight of six (!) tasters. That’s un-Utah. I skewed hop-forward on this round and the most memorable proved to be KrHOPen, a smorgasbord of Nugget, Apollo, Cascade, and Chinook hops.
I must hand it to Huntington Beach. Several of the breweries I visited provided extensive data for their beers. Tasting notes, production volumes, brewery histories, and hop schedules are, for the most part, readily available either on-site on on the websites.
For me, the extra information adds to the enjoyment of drinking beer. I’d love to see more Utah breweries take a page from that playbook.
For more info about these and other Huntington Beach breweries, here’s a nice roundup from SurfCityUSA.com.
All good things must end, which means it’s time for Beer Travels by Utah Beer News to fly home. Though we only scratched the surface of craft beer in Huntington Beach, we had a great time tasting (more than) a few brews. We will be back!