It's good to be me. You see, I live easy bicycling distance from four of Orange County's breweries--Bootlegger's, the Bruery, Anaheim Brewery, and Noble Ale Works. Turns out there's a fifth, Old Orange Brewing, which opened their brewery and tasting room about four months ago on Batavia Street in Orange, a hop, skip and a jump off the Santa Ana River Trail between Taft and Katella.
I'm working my way slowly through the beer selection, but I've already bought a growler of their Cannonball IPA, which might best be described as an IPA for people who are sick of IPAs. It starts off beguilingly smoothly, then punches you in the throat with the hops on the followthrough. It's great. Drink your growler of Cannonball quickly, though--after a few days, it loses that smooth start. Like you needed an excuse to drink more beer . . .
OOB's strong ale, Old Dummy, goes down mighty easily for its nearly 10% ABV rating. (The tasting room serves it in full pint glasses--you have been warned.) It's got a strongly roasty flavor up front, and the alcohol is hidden by the malt. It's not a particularly bitter beer, though it's got a slight bite.
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I am not generally a huge fan of Hefeweizen, but Old Orange's, called OOBerweizen, doesn't accentuate the banana flavor (seriously, some of those Hefes out there taste like banana Runts). It didn't have the cloudiness I associate with Hefeweizens; also, I hate to suggest the adulteration of craft beer, but it would be better with a slice of lemon to counteract the beer's sweetness.
The tasting room itself contains a short bar around the taps and a longer bar with a view of the brewery; pints are $4-$5, growler fills are $12-$15, and the glass itself is just $5. It's open Friday through Sunday, like most tasting rooms in OC, and while there's no food service, a luxe lonchera pulls up to the front door each evening.
Old Orange Brewing Co., 1444 N. Batavia St., Orange, (714) 744-8410; oldorangebrewing.com.