Not that 2017 can't come soon enough, but 2016 did have its share of high points—more local craft beer! This year saw Orange County continue to make its mark on the American cerveza scene, with new breweries opening almost monthly, each carving out their niche great-tasting IPAs, Stouts, Sours, Saisons and Barrel Aged brews. Here's my five favorite for the year—let's all thank the beer Gods and hope 2017 brings us more!
In no particular order...
Dan K IPA at Riip Beer Company
Fresh off their win at this year's Great American Beer Festival—a silver medal for their Super-Cali IPA—the Surf City brewery first came to prominence with their grapefruit IPA, the Dan K IPA (7.5% ABV). It's emblematic of everything they brew: fresh, hoppy, and refreshing. Riip Beer Company, 17212 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach (714) 248-6710; www.riipbeer.com
Alpha Colada DIPA at Valiant Brewing
Pineapple and coconut ain't my favorite combination, but Valiant's Double IPA (7.6% ABV) makes it work. The hoppiness of the DIPA is toned down by a pineapple that isn't too sweet, and just a touch of coconut completes the flavor profile. Valiant Brewing, 2294 N. Batavia, Unit C, Orange (714) 201-0080; www.valiantbrewing.com
Off the Richter IPA at Left Coast Brewing Company
This 6.6% ABV was a one-off that I hope the San Clemente chingones bring back because it was a SAVAGE: loaded with hops and citrus and a secret ingredient that turned out to be gooseberry. So much going on, you don't even want to go to the beach afterward it's so good! Left Coast Brewing, 1245 Puerta Del Sol, San Clemente, (949) 276-6014; www.leftcoastbrewing.com
Santiago Creek American Red Ale at Network Brewery
A traditional red (6.1% ABV) a with nice maltiness and the addition of chai spice is pure genius! This spot still doesn't get enough love, so go over there NOW. Network Brewery, 1824 Carnegie Ave., SanTANA, (657) 269-8811; www.networkbrewery.com
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Nobility Double IPA at Noble Ale Works
Noble dominated at this year's World Beer Cup in Philadelphia and took Silver for Nobility (8.6% ABV) at this years GABF. So well deserved, because Nobility is THE smoothest DIPA in town. And 2017 will bring an expanded tasting room, more room to brew, more room to drink and more room for all those medals—BOOM. Noble Ale Works, 1621 S. Sinclair, St. Suite B, Anaheim, (714) 634-BREW; www.noblealeworks.com