Tuesday, February 25, 2014

UBH-ing in The OC

Orange County, CA 

Somewhere between San Diego and L.A.

Once again, I feel the need to come clean about my little hiatus here.

I have been working and traveling a lot in the past couple of months and it's been exhausting. Naturally, I've been doing a lot of beer hiking along the way, but I haven't found the inspiration -- or time -- to share any of it (except on Twitter, of course). Planning, mapping, hiking, documenting, and then writing all this shit down takes a lot of time and mental energy. I've always gone in cycles of being fired up to write and being completely uninterested. Currently, I'm feeling very uninspired and it doesn't help that I haven't stood still long enough recently to hole up and force myself to get it all out of my head.






Make no mistake, I still love exploring a city's beer scene on foot and don't have a hard time getting excited about it pretty much everywhere I go -- but maybe I'm getting a little bored with my blogging formula: a nebulous map, a boring recount of Chris or I doing something dumb or eating something really unhealthy, some lousy pictures, etc... I don't know. All I can say is that it's a lot more fun and exciting when you're actually out doing it, but it also takes a lot out of you. By the time I sit down to write, I'm usually already focusing on the next hike and not really in the mindset of the hike from several days (or weeks or months) ago. I guess you know all this already. Or don't give a shit. I don't blame you. Just had to lay it out there. To Orange County!

I was in Anaheim for a conference, but when it was over and my work was finished, I stayed in town for a couple extra days and walked around. Like most of SoCal, things are VERY spread out. All the people in their cars hardly noticed this odd old guy walking under freeways and through parking lots as I logged almost 30 miles in less than three days. I'm not going to give you the routes that I took -- I pretty much just used Google Maps on my phone to get from A to B -- but here is a freaky map of the places I hiked to:

Worthy UBH stops: Orange County, CA

View UBH-ing in The OC in a larger map

I encourage you to visit all of these places -- I'm glad I did. Here's brief summary, in no particular order, along with the usual photo album.

The Bruery (brown)
If you're here, I'm certain that you already know about these guys. Amazing stuff -- don't miss it. Be prepared to spend a lot of money and take a cab home because you'll probably be drunk and buy a case of 750ml bottles. It's not uncommon.

Noble Ale Works (black)
I went here three times in as many days. One day they were closed for the Super Bowl (???), but the other two, I had a great time. My third visit was for their 3rd Anniversary party. I had some really fucking good beer from all over the spectrum. Great hoppy beers in the "Showers" series and goofy, but delicious stuff like "Cinnamon Roast Crunch" as well. You definitely gotta visit this place if you're ever anywhere near Anaheim.

Valiant Brewing (blue)
New brewery that's a bit tricky to find in the dark, but be sure you do. Good stuff. Vibrant taproom and a brewing system so shiny that I needed to wear my sunglasses at night.

Old Orange Brewing (yep. orange.)
Very friendly service, chatty locals, and a cool space. I only had one beer and it wasn't great, but I'll stop in next time and do some further examination.

Anaheim Brewery (red)
Pretty standard line-up, but the beers are solid. If they aren't open when you go, pop in next door to Umami Burger -- they usually have something available from AB to go with the delicious burgers.

Bootlegger's Brewery (purple)
It's not as far out of the loop as it looks like on the map and well-worth a visit. The beers are very good and there's usually a fun crowd hanging out playing Giant Jenga or Cornhole.

The Juke Joint (teal)
Don't call it a dive bar. This is a rock-n-roll joint. The beer list isn't great, but who cares? You're here for the music and/or interesting characters at the bar.

Hollingshead's Delicatessen (green)
Simply unlike any place I have ever been. I can't really describe it. A family of proud Cheeseheads (is there another kind?) owns and runs this deli/beer bar/bottleshop. JUST GO -- it's well worth the effort. Tip: order a sandwich and stay awhile. However, pay attention after you order. It's easy to get chatty with the locals and start daydreaming as you take in all the stuff around you, but you'll be publicly ridiculed if they have to call you more than twice when you order is up.

Provisions Market (yellow)
A very pleasant surprise in Old Towne Orange Historic District. Tremendous tap list and a lot of delicious stuff in the deli cases. Great place for beer and cheese pairings.

That's all I have for now. You'll just have to imagine how our Chicago trip finished (it was outstanding and I can't wait to visit again) or what Chris and I did on our 12-day, 5-city rampage five days later (urban beer hikes in Austin, Houston, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Portland, OR and it nearly killed us). Something tells me that I won't be able to keep those cities off this blog forever. There's great routes in each of them and I have no doubt I'll be back in no time at all.

I'm signing off to get ready for a Nashville/Asheville/Athens swing in a couple of weeks. Cheers.


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