Beer festivals are not the time to drink the beers you know you're comfortable with, but a chance to embark on a new adventure with a new brewery, a new recipe or new flavors. Although many may recognize the names of nearby San Diego breweries, such as Stone Brewing Co., here are eight great O.C. breweries, worth checking out with the unlimited 4-ounce pours that admission guarantees you.
Newport Beach Brewing Co.
The first brewery in Newport Beach, Newport Beach Brewing Co. prides itself on its commitment to the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516, known as "Reinheitsgebot" in German. The law states that beer may contain only three ingredients: barley, hops and water — unlike the major breweries, which use rice and preservatives. The brewery has created a number of classic brews that reflect this commitment to tradition.
Cismontane Brewing Company
Open since April, Cismontane Brewing Company is a new addition to the O.C. beer scene out of Rancho Santa Margarita. With only three brews, the brewery hopes to attract new fans for its current offerings: Coulteri, an IPA; El Modena, a mild ale; and Peninfular, a pale ale. Cismontane, a geographical term for Southern California, was the inspiration to name all the brewery's products after geographically significant objects or places in the region. This may be the only time to sample Cismontane until it's carried in local restaurants.
Left Coast Brewing Company
The brewery connected to Oggi's Pizza and Brewing Co., Left Coast Brewing Company has made a name for itself on the world stage. Oggi's Black Magic Stout was awarded the Gold Medal at the 2010 World Beer Cup, just six years after the brewery, under the name Oggi's was named "Best Small Brewing Company in the World." The brewery will also be tapping Hop Juice (a double IPA) and the Schwartz (a seasonal Belgian IPA) today. While Oggi's has 17 franchise locations in Southern California, the brewery itself is located in San Clemente.