While we'll never catch up to San Diego for number of beer breweries per capita, Orange County is going through a second round of brewery openings lately. Anaheim in particular is trying to attract breweries, with local politicians promising smooth sailing for conditional-use permits and landlords in hard-hit industrial parks eager to have a steady stream of rent in what would otherwise be abandoned warehouses.
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Phantom Ales is one of the new crop of breweries, a winery with a dual-purpose license that's tucked away in Anaheim's gritty Canyon area, near the city disposal facility. The room is appealing, dark without being industrial, with four televisions playing various sports. Unusually, there are no taps behind the bar; the bartender carries out orders of beer, cider and food from the kitchen behind the doors.
There are several beers on tap, including identical IPAs made with separate hops (Citra vs. Nelson) and a brown bitter beer that seems like it'd be best on one of the few cold days we see in SoCal. The best thing on tap, though, is the dry-hopped cider, an apple cider that tastes like the Washington apples it came from (why not Julian or Oak Glen apples?) without tasting like overfermented Mott's. It seems like the lightest choice, but make no mistake: at 9.0% ABV, this is the strongest beverage they have on tap.
Phantom Ales, 1211 N. Las Brisas St., Anaheim; (714) 630-WINE; phantomales.com