Yes, winter beer season is basically over, but this week has been the most winter-like weather we've had all year so bear with me. This is a list of Orange County beers that'll get you through an Orange County winter. There's no special releases — that's not what this list is for. Instead, here are five craft beers you can easily get your hands on and enjoy when the weather's wintery (or not so wintery).
5. Coulter I.P.A — Cismontane Brewing Company, Rancho Santa Margarita
While everyone else in the country battles through their polar vortex, us lucky ducks got an early spring. Instead of warming up with a bourbon barrel-aged stout, Orange County weather beckons for something a bit more refreshing and bright. Get a head start on summery drinks with Cismontane's Coulter I.P.A.
If I'm going to drink an IPA, I usually reach for a session IPA because hop-bombs never impress me. At 7.2% ABV, this American IPA goes down like nothing. Some people say that this beer is "too sweet" for an IPA but the dry piney notes cut the sugar and make Coulter a wonderful beer to have any time of the year.
4. Black Phoenix Stout (Chipotle Coffee Ale) — Bootlegger's Brewery, Fullerton
Stouts can be difficult to drink for an extended period of time. They're big beers that are good for getting you nice and toasty on a chilly night; some can seriously put hair on your chest. But, pleasantly mild, Black Phoenix Stout at Bootlegger's Brewery is more like a finely tailored suit than a parka. The chipotle peppers blend beautifully with the dark chocolate and the Kéan Coffee perfectly, without overpowering the beer. Every ingredient is precisely where it needs to be, without being too bold, too boozy, or too spicy. This beer has big flavor, and I can get it down sans chest hair.
3. Red Hill Red — Tustin Brewing Company, Tustin
Amber ales are a perfect winter go-to drink. A proper amber is never too bold and has all the right hints of warm caramel, malt and honey. Tustin Brewing Company's Red Hill Red hits all the right notes, and its ruby color will brighten any cloud-covered day. It's not too bitter or too sweet, this amber ale will make you want to visit Tustin Brewing as often as possible.
2. Big Black Mariah — Noble Ale Works, Anaheim
Taking a page from renowned lyricist Tom Waits wasn't the only thing Noble Ale Works did right when crafting their Big Black Mariah. What really sold me on the beer was how wonderfully sweet it is. Aside from Naughty Sauce, Noble tends to make beer that make a hop-head's tongue tickle, but Mariah is completely different. She's a Belgian dark strong ale and trust me, she's dark and strong but oh so smooth. The bitterness takes a back seat and rich, full-bodied honey and winter spices shine through. Oh, and at 11% ABV, she ain't shy.
(This beer cycles in and out quick so be sure to catch it when its on draft!)
1. Leche Molé Stout — Bottle Logic Brewing, Anaheim
This list was difficult to put together because there are just too many good winter-esque beers coming out of Orange County, and the weather didn't help my cause. That being said, the easiest choice was Bottle Logic Brewing's Leche Molé stout. Loaded with traditional molé flavors of roasted chiles, cinnamon, and chocolate, this coffee milk stout had me wondering if they kidnapped someone's abuela for the recipe. Tapped on nitro, this beer goes down like silk. After drinking their creamy stout, you can tell that Bottle Logic is here to stay.
If you needed to more sway to love these guys, they're figuring out how to bottle nitro beer to make this stout even more accessible. Fingers super crossed.