The Hop-Forward, Yeast-Driven Suds of Gunwhale Ales: What the Ale!

Hopped for Momma Farmhouse IPA at Gunwhale Ales in Costa Mesa – Photo: the Butcher

In November 2016, Gunwhale Ales opened with a handful of delicious farmhouse ales and Saisons, showing a love for yeast and tradition. And last year, it brought in Kevin Hammons as head brewer, who had gone from home brewing to climbing the ranks at the Bruery to becoming the director of brewing for Evans Brewing. Gunwhale’s recent menu adds various IPAs to its four Saisons and farmhouse ales; plus, Hammons will soon tap into fermented magic that was aged in oak wine barrels in a climate-controlled room.

Home brewers with a passion for life that equals their passion for beer, friends Justin Miller, JT Wallace and Bobby Fitzgerald say their goal is to merge the great-tasting farmhouse style with the hop-forward West Coast IPA for a hybrid they call Coastal Ales. 

While I enjoy Saisons, I opted to try some of the IPAs. One of Gunwhale Ales’ flagship beers, Bait Ball (6.6 percent ABV) is an unfiltered IPA using Simcoe, Citra and Mosaic hops that has a well-constructed, bitter profile. A hint of grapefruit melds with the dank from the hops for a bright, juicy finish. Polarized is a West Coast-style double IPA with an 8.8 percent ABV—and a hoppy bite. Columbus, Centennial and Simcoe hops come together to create a well-balanced bitterness that lingers. It finishes smooth and refreshing.

Hopped for Mama (7.1 percent ABV) is my current go-to. Equipped with four different hops—Chinook, Simcoe, Amarillo and Mosaic—this farmhouse IPA is flavor-forward with tropical notes of mango and papaya that blend nicely for a bitter, juicy finish.

The tasting room here is quaint and relaxed, with plenty of seating for enjoying beers, and there are regular food trucks. It’s open every day except Mondays. Cheers!

Gunwhale Ales, 2960 Randolph Ave., Ste. A, Costa Mesa, (949) 393-2537;


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