Best Brewery Orange County 2010 - Bootlegger's Brewery
130 S. Highland Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92832
Aaron Barkenhagen's labor of love is a cavernous warehouse in an unlovely part of Fullerton, within stumbling distance of the Amtrak station, in a plaza with an auto-body shop and no fewer than three storefront churches. An eclectic crowd stands around Thursdays through Saturdays, drinking beers of many colors out of Mason jars. The left-hand beer menu lists the house productions, available on a seasonal but more or less continual basis, while the right-hand menu contains the experimental batches, available in half-pints only to gauge reaction. Hand over $3 for a five-beer tasting (2-ounce pours, but they're flexible about what 2 ounces look like). Prohibition Mild may be the greater LA area's only English-style mild beer; it's what Budweiser wishes it could be; 77 Anniversary ale is a subtle barleywine with a hoppy, grapefruity taste. Rustic Rye IPA is a dark amber pour, with the hops tamed slightly by the rye used in the malt; for a similar style minus the rye, the Knuckle Sandwich double IPA is a winner. The first two parking spaces to the left of the roll-up industrial door are perpetually reserved for a rotating cast of gourmet-food trucks that parks there during normal business hours. It's best to leave Bootlegger's with a full growler ($5 one-time purchase for the glass and $10 to $12 for the half-gallon fill).
But Bootlegger's definitely has a wider array of choices. The Bruery is ok for Belgian beer, but Bootlegger's is better for everything else. And the fact that so many different types of good beer comes out of a little brewery is really great.
Wow, I mean bootleggers is cute and small and everything but it's not Bruery. Just because bootleggers has that cute hole-in-the-wall charm or something it's on this list? Because the beers are no where as well refined as the Bruery's.