Far far South of our home in Northern California there is a land widely known as the OC...and neatly tucked away in this land is a brewery with the obvious yet clever name of Bootleggers Brewery. Despite it's location smack dab in the middle of this massive swath of humanity BB is a bit off the well beaten path behind some old neighborhoods in a small industrial park backed up against the metro tracks.
Finding it wasn't that difficult.... it's just one of those breweries that you can barely believe really exists where you are nonetheless expecting to find it.
It's also one of those little gems of a place you are just happy as hell you spent the time and made the effort to seek out. Brewer/Owner Aaron Barkenhagen was on hand when we arrived and patiently answered all of my typical beer geek questions while patiently supplying us with an endless supply of tasty 2oz samples. My first sample from their extensive lineup was their Old World Hefeweizen which utilized traditional Bavarian yeast strains and just oozed clove and banana attributes. I immediately started my shopping by setting aside three 22oz bottles for the trip home. Next up was Golden Chaos a Belgian style Golden Ale ..... a nice crisp representation of the style and I couldn't stop with one sample.
I tried the Palomino American Pale Ale next. Once again...very well done version of a standard style .....and like all their beers I tried...very well crafted...fresh crisp and tasty.
I was already growing tired of the 2oz sample limitation but Aaron explained to me that in a couple of weeks their licence was scheduled to be adapted to allow full pint pours.
Due to the Brewery rapidly filling up with happy local patrons and their empty growlers I was unable to learn the name of the Plum beer they were all of a sudden sharing from their cold storage..but I did manage a taste and it was excellent. Obviously another Belgian style...most likely a double.....big and hearty with perfect Plum undertones and a controlled sweetness.
Perhaps the most interesting beer on the menu was the Black Phoenix.... a coffee and Chipotle Stout! The chipotle came through late in the finish and added a delightful little smokey kick.
Of course the entire time I was running through the house samples my beautiful wife Terri was jumping back and forth between their two Ipa's on tap.....trying to figure out which one to put in growlers for the trip home.
Her eventual favorite, as well as mine and daughter in law Oralia's, was a contract brew they did called Director's Cut IPA. I never learned who they brewed it for but I soon just humorously assumed it was for our visit and had them fill us up three growlers. The aroma told tales of Simco and Amarillo and Brewer Aaron assured me there was also some Columbus hops in there somewhere as well. Light in color and body it had a bit of a grassy finish but was just what the doctor ordered.
The other IPA was the one I'd read about and eventually got me radared in on Bootleggers in the first place... Rustic Rye IPA. The Rustic offered a more balanced and maltier profile than the Director's Cut .... finishing clean with a very pleasing hop and rye interplay. I added some bottles to my growing shopping cart.
Bootleggers also offers an German Alt style beer called Amber that I somehow failed to try. As well as a few other seasonals that you'll just have to show up to sample.
If you happen to live in Orange County, Fullerton, or the greater LA/So-Cal area you owe yourself a visit to 401 S. Richmond Avenue, Fullerton CA 92832. They even offer a growler club deal. Fill five growlers and the sixth one comes for just a buck.
Be there....or just go thirsty.