Before you know it, Old Town Orange will be a welcoming place for pub crawlers, not just elderly people shopping for antiques. The opening of the Bruery Provisions store in the former Frog's Breath place adds a much-needed destination for beer geeks and cheese wonks.
The space hasn't much changed from its Frog's Breath days, save the row of coolers along the north side of the store.
A stunning array of taps hides behind the cheese and charcuterie counter; when they're full, it will be by far the best beer selection in OC. (Listen carefully; can you hear the gauntlet being thrown down?) If that doesn't work for you, there are hundreds (literally) of bottles in the coolers and on the shelves. While it doesn't quite rival the insane collection at Hollingshead's Delicatessen, it's definitely a beer drinker's paradise.
The cheese selection is, frankly, better than the waning days of Frog's Breath. Most of the selections are pasteurized (thank you so much, meddling government worrywarts), though there are a few raw (and aged) selections. The wheels of Brie de Meaux looked very tempting, but even more tempting were whole (about 6") rounds of Epoisses ($23), which might be the best cheese to come out of Burgundy. There are also mozzarellas from Angelo and Franco of Los Angeles hiding in the cooler around the corner.
The charcuterie isn't fully labeled yet, but I saw four or five kinds of pâté, Fra'Mani salame, whole proscuitto and French saucisson sec.
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Tastings are part of the experience, with five-beer flights range from $3 to $9, from all-year Bruery products to tours of San Diego or Belgium. There are wine flights, too, Italian, California, and mixed red and white flights. Each flight comes with a recommended cheese tasting (mostly around $9).
For those of you who still love the old warehouse funkiness of the tasting room in Placentia, fear not; for now, the hours remain the same. They may be adjusted later, but for now you can get your Belgian on in two locations in north OC.
The Bruery Provisions is open noon to 8 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, noon to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at 143 N. Glassell, Orange; (714) 997-2337. The official webpage seems to be dedicated to Bruery merchandise, so check them out on Facebook instead.