It doesn’t feel like it was 15-years-ago that we were talking about Karl Strauss opening up in Costa Mesa. Since that time a lot has happened within the craft beer scene – but even with breweries popping-up weekly across Southern California, many can attest that the San Diego brewery (founded in 1989) helped spearhead the movement.
It started 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 initial recipes. Strauss moved to America and worked with Pabst in the 1950’s, part of a team that reformulated the legendary recipe for PBR. Happy to help, he eventually lent his name and became the spokesperson for Karl Strauss Brewing until his death in 2006 #Respect.
The last couple of years have been somewhat of a rebirth for Karl Strauss Brewing as they completely rebranded themselves, eliminating hard alcohol from their brewpubs and focusing primarily on their fresh brewed suds – that in result have won them medals in competitions across the world. The brewery came home from the 2016 Great American Beer Festival in Denver with two gold medals, two bronze medals and were dubbed mid-size brewing company of the year.
They also recently opened a satellite brewery and brewpub across from the Angel stadium in Anaheim and reopened their Costa Mesa location after a 4-month remodel. The look is similar to Anaheim, open concept, industrial and most days very crowded. If you can’t get a seat at the bar there are plenty of adjacent tables in the bar area where you can sit and watch a game on the big screens and there’s an outdoor covered patio for those who enjoy the fresh air. Happy hour runs from 3pm to 6 pm, offering $5 apps, pints and flights. The menu is stocked with tasty bites like the duck fat pretzels and big juicy burgers. And servers are more than happy to offer small tasters to pair with your meal. Currently there are 25 beers on tap and you can expect to see beer brewing on premises in 3 weeks.
Try Cramer’s Nordic Nectar 5.8% ABV, an Irish Red Ale brewed with apricots. 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. A real treat for IPA lovers is the Eight Merry Mermen Holiday Ale 10.8% ABV. A West Coast style triple IPA that uses plenty of Chinook hops so that it hits you with some bite but then finishes smooth with heavy grapefruit and citrus on the back end. With so many styles and variations I’d opt for a flight and go from there. Enjoy!
Karl Strauss Brewing, 901 South Coast Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 546-2739; www.karlstrauss.com