5 Great Orange County Beers for an OC Summer

You know what's good for hot crowds? Beer.
You know what's good for hot crowds? Beer.
Photo by Rob Boudon

The sun's starting to stay up longer, the temperatures are climbing higher, and the glasses are starting to sweat. That's right, everyone, it's summer, and that means it's the perfect beer drinking weather. Seriously, what better way to cool off and watch the sun set than with the brew.

But what to drink? Well, here are five great OC beers for the season.

5) Bootlegger's Brewing -- Knuckle Sandwich 10% ABV

They'll punch you in the FACE
They'll punch you in the FACE

Knuckle Sandwich is an IPA, so you might expect to be punched in the face with wildly hoppy bitterness, but no. What will knock you out is a fistful of complexity. Not many IPAs are known for their caramel and malt notes, but Bootlegger's Imperial IPA embodies the word "bittersweet." Starting with a sharp citrus flavor, Knuckle Sandwich immediately cools with a pleasant maltiness. And don't fear the high alcohol content because, unlike many Imperial IPAs, Knuckle Sandwich won't leave any lingering boozy off flavors. You'll down this beer before you knew what hit you.

4) Bottle Logic Brewing -- Hanamachi 5.5% ABV

Rice-y!
Rice-y!
Photo by Cleo Tobbi

This Japanese-style rice lager is the first of its kind in Orange County, and here's hoping it's certainly not the last. Not only does this beer welcome you with a light effervescence, but it also pairs beautifully with your sushi. We all have our staple import beers from the land of rising sun ready when we're wolfing down some sashimi, but believe me when I tell you there's no getting off the Hanamachi train. At 5.5 percent ABV, Hanamachi perks the palate, tantalizes the senses and will keep you drinking all afternoon.   3) Noble Ale Works -- Pistola 4.5% ABV

Tiny, but they pack quite a punch
Tiny, but they pack quite a punch
Photo by F.D. Richards

Pilsners tend to be known for their mild, approachable flavors. However, Pistola, a Czech Pilsner with Serrano peppers, is a Pilsner with some balls. Intelligently balanced between wheat, Serrano flavor and peppery heat, Pistola makes for the Mexican food pairing to trump all Mexican food pairings. Screw Corona; upon drinking this spiced-up lager, you won't be able to eat a taco without begging for a pint of Pistola.

2) The Bruery -- Rueuze 5.6% ABV

It's gueze.
It's gueze.
Photo by Cleo Tobbi

The Bruery will make many one-offs like their Cacaonut (a blend of barrel-aged beers with coconut and cacao) and Thai Kao (a Thai tea beer served with coconut milk) but you can always count on their seasonal and sensational Rueuze. The Bruery's version of a Geuze is perfectly tart without tasting like you just dumped the remains of a Sour Patch Kids packet onto your tongue. Each puckering sip will leave you wanting another. Few sour beers can compare to the Rueuze's ability to refresh after SoCal's famous blistering heat waves.

1) TAPS Fish House and Brewery -- Crystal Pils 5.5% ABV

TAPS, taps, taps
TAPS, taps, taps

I know this is another Pilsner but bear with me. This style goes under appreciated and Orange County is fortunate enough to have so many breweries churning out a style that takes twice as long to make as an IPA. And while Czech-style Pilsners are exclusively made with Saaz hops, TAPS makes theirs with Crystal hops, which impose delightful lemon notes. You can even detect a lovely honey character in the crisp and bubbly beer. Crystal Pils, reminiscent of mom's lemonade, is only made better by the fact that it's alcoholic.

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You can also follow Cleo Tobbi on Twitter @CleoTobbi.


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