South Orange County has established itself as a mecca for award-winning brews, and now there’s a brew-pub spotlighting a rotating menu of local and hard-to-find craft beers. On a recent visit to the BrewHouse SJC, as I sampled some brews from visiting vendor Firestone Walker, I found myself wondering, as though I were in the movie Field of Dreams, “Is this Heaven?”
Owners Andrew and Kim Reed have created a comfortable setting, with plenty of tables and couches. In addition to 30 craft beers on tap, there’s a selection of bottles and cans for customers on the go. Food trucks come by, and there are a few in-house items, including panini, pretzels and Mangia Cheeses. Within minutes of my posting some pictures on Instagram, they were displayed on the Digital Pour menu. My bartender, John Bentley Reyes, was a super-knowledgeable chap who kept everyone’s pint full and the conversation flowing while handling vendor after vendor.
I had Funkwerks’ saison (6.8 percent ABV), which won a gold medal at the 2017 Great American Beer Fest; it’s a complex, slightly fruity saison as perfect as any. Pomona’s Sanctum Brewing Co. is doing great things, and its Deus Vult Dubbel (9.2 percent ABV) is a knockout, with rich notes of plum and juicy grapes and a subtle spice on the back end. Sip and enjoy! Wild Barrel Brewing in San Marcos is known for its sours and barrel-aged brews, but I went with the well-balanced Hipster Latte milk stout (6.2 percent ABV), which uses beans from Mostra Coffee. Although it’s one of the most prolific javas among craft-beer collaborations, the coffee didn’t overpower the other tasting notes, which were subtly sweet; the bitterness of the dark chocolate went well with the toasty malts.
Ritual Brewing’s Art of Dankness (9.2 percent ABV) uses Summit, Columbus, Centennial, Simcoe and Experimental hops along with 2-Row, Biscuit and crystal malts. Dank AF with a nice malt presence, this double IPA treats your taste buds to a smooth bitterness and finishes with a nice dose of breadiness.
Cheers to the BrewHouse experience!
The BrewHouse, 31896 Plaza Dr., Ste D3, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 481-6181; thebrewhousesjc.com.