I love leading beer tours, but don't always like the long drive to northern San Diego County and its craft beer paradise.  Happily, Orange County now has a number of award-winning breweries, and Hoffy Tours lead a beer-loving group of to four of its best.  We started in downtown Anaheim at the Anaheim Brewing Company - located in a century-old Packard car dealership.  The beer gravitated towards the refreshing German pilsners (after all, Anaheim was founded by Germans!) and is right next door to the jewel of downtown - the Packing House.
Anaheim Brewery has very refreshing beers, a friendly staff, outdoor seating, and a
killer location in the heart of the Packing District.

The Packing House is located in a 1920s historic building.  With music, over 20 unique food vendors, great drinks and
a super-friendly atmosphere, the Packing House is the most popular place in downtown Anaheim.

Our next stop was Nobel Ale Works which proved to have the tastiest beer - from very light pilsners to intense IPAs and flavorful stouts.  The brewery recently won a gold medal at the World Beer Competition for its American IPA and is currently expanding its tasting room to meet its increased demand.  I loved how the brewery classified its brews from "light-ish" to "hoppy-ish" to "darkish" to"unique-ish"!  Tucked way in a non-descript light-industrial parking lot near Anaheim Stadium, Noble Ale Works is a serious beer drinker"s paradise!

Sean McCracken couldn't resist buying a growler of Nobel's finest.
Nobel Ale Works carries on Anaheim's beer brewing tradition.  After all, the
City was founded by Germans.

Our next stop was downtown Santa Ana for an unusual brewery called The Good Beer Company.  Located  on 4th Street in the downtown Santa Ana Historic District, the brewery is located in a beautiful century-old commercial building.  Unfortunately, the mixed-culture farmhouse ales were a bit too sour for most of my group, but the atmosphere was delightful.  Many played a board game next to the restored brick wall while others took a stroll down entertaining 4th Street - Santa Ana's liveliest thoroughfare, a combination of Hispanic-oriented shops and hipster restaurants.  
This is what a beer tour is all about.  Happy people relaxing, enjoying time together and tasting unique brews.  The old brick wall provided a great backdrop to our merriment.

Fourth Street Santa Ana is a jewel with the best concentration of historic commercial architecture in the
County (notice the Art Deco planter in the foreground).  The Hispanic businesses along the street are combined with
hipster markets, galleries and high-end restaurants, and gentrification is at work.  Look at the the beautiful
wide sidewalk!

Our last brewery was Costa Mesa's only craft-beer production facility - Barley Forge.  Tucked way in the mixed-use SoBECA District (South Bristol Entertainment and Cultural District) near The LAB and The CAMP (other developer Shaheen Sadeghi hits!), this brewery is hoppin'!  With wonderful graphics, a small but tasting menu of brews, and tasty food, Barley Forge was a lively last stop.  I loved their "Grandpa Tractor" - a great German export lager - while others were more adventurous in their choices with "Nom Nom" - a hefeweizen brewed with mango - and "The Patsy" - a rye stout with coconut.

Barley Forge is a clean facility with super-tasty craft beers.

"Barley" has some of the best graphics and T-shirts I've seen at a craft brewery
How lucky am I!  My wonderful daughter Marissa went on the tour, and my
loving son Chris was already at the brewery with this friends!

Happily, there are many more Orange County breweries to explore, and they are winning national awards at the Great American Beer Festival.  It's turning out that craft breweries are filling a need in many cities, not only for our taste buds but for our social strivings.  They are becoming America's pubs.  The next Hoffy Craft Beer Tour will explore some of these new  venues including Riip Beer Company, Pizza Port San Clemente, and The Bruery in Placentia.  Lift up your glass and savor!