The odds were low for a small, independent brewery from Orange County, with only a year of operation under its belt, to win a medal at last year’s Great American Beer Festival—but Placentia’s Stereo Brewing Co. did just that by taking home the gold medal in the Oatmeal Stout category for its Wall of Sound (5.6 percent ABV).
Owner and head brewer Rick Smets hails from a family of brewers and began doing so himself at 16. He would eventually become head brewer for Left Coast and Firestone Walker Brewing Co. before opening his own brewery in Placentia. Now Rick and his wife, Amanda Pierce Smets, are bringing locals some amazing craft brews.
The vibe at Stereo Brewing is fun and chill—think School of Rock meets Strange Brew. As with most tasting rooms, the one at Stereo Brewing comes equipped with long communal tables, board games and some big-screen TVs, but that’s where the similarity ends. Smets, who doubles as tasting room DJ, creates a unique atmosphere for those who appreciate wax and great-tasting drafts. He spins everything from Iron Maiden’s Aces High to Cheech and Chong’s Earache My Eye.
If you decide to sit at the bar, you had better bring your beer A game, as the regulars know their suds. Ask anyone behind the counter for a sample while learning about Stereo Brewing’s rotating list of craft beers, eight core brews and four one-offs. I was lucky enough to get a pour of the Summer Sun Tart Blonde with Raspberry (4.5 percent ABV), an extremely refreshing session with raspberries that offers just the right amount of sweetness. Robot Imperial Red (9.5 percent ABV) was brewed for malt-lovers—with notes of caramel and toffee, it’s a hearty brew with a strong hop finish that pairs perfectly with a sausage and pepperoni pizza. Which reminds me, there are food trucks that swing by, check out the schedule on their website www.stereobrewing.com or feel free to bring in your own grub. Cheers!
Stereo Brewing Co., 950 S. Via Rodeo, Placentia, (714) 993-3390; www.stereobrewing.com.