From the outside, the Good Beer Co. in downtown Santa Ana resembles a nondescript storefront, but walk inside the former Phillips Block livery stable, and you’re suddenly in a working brewery with stacks of wooden barrels and towering vats of beer, all surrounded by beautiful exposed brick. Dating back to the 1800s, the space was once home to horses, then abandoned and boarded up in the 1980s. But thanks to husband-and-wife team Brandon Fender and Robyn Spevacek—and the resurgence of chef-driven restaurants, coffee shops and food halls—it’s now found a new life.
When the couple opened Good Beer in September 2014, West Coast-style IPAs were all the rage, but Fender took a different route, brewing mostly farmhouse, Saisons and sours. This being a working brewery, customers have the chance to watch Fender and his crew chopping and slicing vast amounts of fruit for brews; whether it’s apples, oranges or nectarines, Good Beer doesn’t skimp on the amount or quality of its ingredients.
While Same to You—a 7 percent ABV IPA using Citra, Centennial and Columbus hops—is full-bodied and deliciously hoppy, with enough bite to satisfy, everything else on Good Beer’s menu is on the lighter side. I tried the extremely smooth Viejo, a 5 percent ABV farmhouse ale that uses copious amounts of Cara Cara oranges for a refreshing complexity. And the Solera is a 5 percent ABV farmhouse that is aged in oak barrels with lemon and lavender.
Open Thursday through Sunday, the Good Beer tasting room is comfortable and equipped with plenty of board games. Plus, you’re welcome to bring in your own food; Fourth Street Market offers plenty of choices, but Calle Cuatro is a foodie paradise, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding something to nosh on.
The Good Beer Co., 309 W. Fourth St., Santa Ana, (714) 714-2988; www.thegoodbeerco.com.