In the 15 years since Karl Strauss opened an outpost in Costa Mesa, a lot has happened within the craft-beer scene. The San Diego-based company helped to spearhead a movement that now sees breweries popping up weekly across Southern California.
It started in 1989 when aspiring homebrewers and college friends Chris Cramer and Matt Rattner decided to take their hobby to the next level by asking Cramer’s cousin Karl Strauss, a retired master brewer from Germany, to help them with their recipes. Strauss eventually lent his name and became the spokesperson for Karl Strauss Brewing Co. until his death in 2006. #RESPECT
In the past couple of years, the company has rebranded itself, eliminating hard alcohol from its restaurants to focus primarily on its fresh-brewed suds, which have won them medals in competitions across the world. At the 2016 Great American Beer Festival in Denver, the brewery won two gold and two bronze medals, and it was named Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year.
In addition to opening a satellite brewery and brewpub across from Angel Stadium in Anaheim, it recently reopened its Costa Mesa location after a four-month-long remodel. The look is similar to Anaheim’s, with an open, industrial concept. The place still gets very crowded, so if you can’t get a seat at the bar, there are plenty of adjacent tables from which you can watch a game on the big-screen TVs, and there’s a covered outdoor patio. Happy hour runs from 3 to 6 p.m., offering $5 appetizers, pints and flights; the menu is stocked with tasty bites such as duck-fat pretzels and juicy burgers. And the servers are more than happy to offer small tasters to pair with your meal. There are 25 beers on tap, and you can expect to see beer brewing on the premises in just a few weeks.
Try Cramer’s Nordic Nectar, an Irish red ale brewed with apricots that clocks in at 5.8 percent ABV. It’s malt-forward, with a deep caramel-toffee body and notes of tart apricot—so good and unlike anything I’ve had when it comes to reds. Another real treat is the Eight Merry Mermen Holiday Ale. At 10.8 percent ABV, this West Coast-style triple IPA hits you with some bite, thanks to plenty of Chinook hops, but it finishes smooth with heavy grapefruit and citrus flavors on the back end.
With the holiday-shopping season in full swing, stop into this Metro Pointe brewpub for a flight and enjoy the merriment!
Karl Strauss Brewing, 901 South Coast Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 546-2739; www.karlstrauss.com.