The fabled La Palma beer trail in Anaheim features nine breweries, and at its epicenter is Phantom Ales. Located in a cozy cul-de-sac, it doesn’t seem as if much is going on from the outside, but once you enter the tasting room, you find big-screen TVs that are properly situated so you won’t miss any of the local sporting events, wooden barrels of booze stacked high, and an open brewing area. For the home-brew-curious, Phantom Ales offers a well-stocked store and a six-month program, during which you’ll learn how a brewery operates from front of house to the back tanks for $1,000 per month.
Behind all the vats of beer is a kitchen, from which trays upon trays of food come out: piled-high nachos, five different kinds of fries, tacos, wings, pizza, sliders and salads. All perfectly pair with the various styles of beer on the menu.
Phantom Ales was originally a winery, but in 2014, owner Rob Gundling decided to add a brewery license to allow him to also make beer, cider and mead. The most popular mead here is the Cranberry Pomegranate (13 percent ABV), of which Gundling is hoping to increase production this year to keep up with the growing demand. The Flying Brick (8.2 percent ABV) is a solid IPA that is just as refreshing as it is bitter and finishes clean. At 11 percent ABV, the PXI Belgian Quad is infused with oak and bourbon, which give off strong tannins for a full-bodied, malty finish. The Wisdom Imperial Stout (12 percent ABV) comes fully loaded with notes of chocolate, coffee and toasted malts. And the Apple Cider (6.5 percent ABV) is dry-hopped with Columbus and Centennial hops to create a drink that’s tart enough to contrast with the sweetness of the apple, but with a crisp bitterness on the back end.
With a friendly staff and great-tasting suds and grub, Phantom Ales is everything a brewery should be. And who knows? You might catch the home-brew bug!
Phantom Ales, 1211 N. Las Brisas St., Anaheim, (714) 225-3206; phantomales.com.