Four years after opening, Smoqued BBQ is going strong. It serves up the tastiest ribs and brisket in town, all smoked in-house and slathered with homemade BBQ sauces. Even better is the underrated beer menu. Co-owner Mike Hernandez used to manage and bartend at Tustin Brewery, and I remember the night he told me he was going to get his own place—and here he is!
Smoqued offers a week full of booze specials: Monday Night Football hosts Happy Hour from from 3 p.m. until close; Tuesdays is Kill the Keg night_$4.50 pints of a designated craft brew. Wednesday night offers half-off wine bottles; Thursday through Saturday features an additional late-night Happy Hour from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. And if you follow Smoqued on Facebook, you can find out when spots are available to join the Craft Beer Society (CBS): For a yearly fee of $60 (plus tax), you get your own 22-oz mug and select beers for only $5 a mug.
Smoqued BBQ usually has about 12 beers on draft, all pairing nicely with the 'cue. The Orange Plaza Saison/Farmhouse Ale (4.7% ABV) from Network Brewery in SanTana is light but delicious, with no aftertaste. Bolder is the Raspberry Wheat from Mission Brewery in San Diego (5.2% ABV). The fruitiness is on the on the back end and just the right amount—I tend not to like fruit-based wheat beers because they're usually too sweet, but Mission does it right.
As for the Fou' Fight Apricot Kettle Sour from Acoustic Ales Brewing Experiment (6% ABV): wow, wow, WOW! The tartness is strong with this one—like beer Pop Rocks. Very aggressive on the palate—but that's a good thing. AND LOVE the apricot! Acoustic tends to get overshadowed by its fellow San Diego breweries, but kudos to Smoqued for picking 'em good.
Smoqued BBQ, 128 N. Glassell St., Orange, (714) 633-7427; www.smoquedbbq.com