Brewpubs of the ’90s are an endangered species. The only survivors have had to adapt, innovate or kill it with hospitality. But if you’re TAPS Fish House & Brewery, you go a step further than what the other production breweries in America have done: You add a food truck that is a destination of its own, then let the proverbial taps flow.
“With our legacy of medal-winning beers, we saw this opportunity to come into wider distribution,” says TAPS owner Joe Manzella. “After a long search for a location, Kyle Manns, our director of brewing at TAPS, actually found this space after a few things fell through. . . . So much for real-estate brokers!”
Located on Red Hill and Valencia in Tustin, it’s central to the 55, 5 and 405 freeways. There’s ample parking, plus comfy spaces indoor and out to geek out on beer, as well as play games such as pinball, billiards and cornhole.
The TAPS food truck, which is anchored at the location, has a state-of-the-art touchscreen ordering system both inside and outside of the tasting room. On offer from chef de cuisine Roman Jimenez—who has history with the Manzella Restaurant Group at Macallans in Brea (read his latest interview with Anne Marie Panoringan here)—are international food-truck-fusion bites ranging from a bánh mì hot dog to my favorite, Colonel Roman’s Fried Chicken Sandwich.
The new 19,000-square-foot brewery (which features centrifuge technology to further clarify the many lagers TAPS is famous for) and tasting room will produce approximately 5,000 barrels the first year (with an overall capacity of 25,000 barrels) that will feed into TAPS locations in Irvine, Brea and Corona, as well as the Catch in Anaheim and other Manzella Restaurant properties. Mass distribution into big-box grocery stores and bottle shops throughout the region is next.
TAPS Brewery & Barrel Room, 15501 Red Hill Ave., Tustin; tapsfishhouse.com.
Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest. When not writing about, photographing or filming beer, cocktails, and food, he can be found talking trash while playing video games under the name “OCBeer.”