In 1995, owners Mike Madlock and Roz Salamone opened the Newport Beach Brewing Co. (or BrewCo as it's known to its longtime followers and fans), and immediately won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival. BOOM! They've won two silvers and two bronzes since, but more valuable is the undying support of the Newport locals as the go-to place for great tasting beer, fantastic grub and plenty of TVs for sports.
BrewCo has a large outdoor patio and is two blocks from the beach, with plenty of room for large groups, parties yet cozy enough for date night. Food and drink specials happen almost every day, and you can watch them brew the beer since all of the equipment is right inside the restaurant. You don't win all those medals at GABF by luck: BrewCo takes the art of brewing beer seriously. Adhering to the Reinheitsgebot (the German Beer Purity Law), they use only water, hops and barley in the production process, leading to brews that are fresh, full-flavored and with no aftertaste.
Cutback Brown Ale (5.5% ABV) is malty with light hops—if you're not into IPAs, this is your beer. It's Easy to drink but not light, with lots of flavor—something you can drink while watching the Angels try to win a game. Dockside Citra IPA (7.75% ABV) offers a great combination of hops and some fruit, and pairs well with the spicy hot wings. Cap off all evenings, however, with the delicious Dead Cowboy Imperial Stout (9.5% ABV). It won the silver at GABF in '97 and '99—NICE! Chocolate notes, light coffee and toffee, rich and smooth. Newport Beach Brewing Company is so chill and unpretentious, I had to pinch myself because I thought I was in SanTana!
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Newport Beach Brewing Co., 2929 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, (949) 675-8449; www.newportbeachbrewingcompany.com