At Noble Ale Works’ 1st anniversary party a couple years ago, Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait asked me, “How do we grow craft beer in Anaheim?” I was taken aback. Normally, people have to lobby local politics to get involved in clearing a path for small artisan alcohol producers in this day of fat-walleted, misinformed NIMBY’s.
Craft beer has been a spark of positive change in many cities across the nation and Mayor Tait is no slouch for pushing this tasty agenda. Not only does good beer bring people together, the economic impact of a new brewery, especially in a tourist town, is huge.
The Brewers Association reports the economic impact of craft brewers in America hit 34 Billion in 2012, with California leading the pack at 4.7 Billion. San Diego obviously leads the growth at 70+ breweries; Anaheim will lead OC with almost 9% of San Diego County’s number of breweries by the end of 2014, however San Diego far outweighs production with many large regional craft brewers.
Mayor Tait and city advisors have been active getting Orange County to utilize the State’s health inspection codes instead of OCHCA’s stringent regulations that treat breweries like restaurants; making it quicker to get doors open.
Among the many beer festivals in Orange County, Anaheim will be home to three revolving fests including the OC Fest of Ales put on by Downtown Anaheim Assocication, The OC Brew Ho Ho Holiday fest and now Firkfest – A cask ale festival put on by OCBeerBlog. The city aims to attract the Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) or have a GABF scale event at Anaheim Convention Center sometime in the future. The ACC is the largest convention hall on the west coast.
Full text of Mayor Tom Tait’s “State of the Beer” portion of his city address. (1/28/2014)
A fun example of how Anaheim is showcasing its business-friendly attitude involves one of my favorite topics: craft beer.
Anaheim’s German heritage means that we’ve actually been brewing beer here since city was founded. And in the last several years, the craft and microbrewery industry has seen tremendous growth. Anaheim will soon have more craft and micro-breweries than any other city in Orange County.
The city has been working on making it easier for these artisan beer makers to practice their craft in our town.
As a beer enthusiast, I’m really excited about the attraction of micro and craft brewers to our city. We have all of the elements that these entrepreneurs need—space, great water, a super-friendly regulatory climate, and Southern California’s tremendous population of thirsty residents and visitors.
This budding industry has great potential for our town. Think what the wine industry has done for places like the Napa Valley or Paso Robles over the years. And we’ve seen what the brew industry has done for the city of Portland. It has brought that city new jobs, lots of tourists and events, not to mention bringing the community together.
That’s why we’re branding Anaheim as the Southland’s BrewCity. In Southern California, when you think about craft beer and all that goes along with that scene, you’re going to think about Anaheim.
Moving beyond craft beer, I think Anaheim’s future can be summed up with what’s happening in the center of our city: it’s cool, diverse and authentic. It’s the type of place that young entrepreneurs are drawn to.