This New-Old Brewery Will Bookend the La Palma Beer Trail

We’ve all had a classic Americana-style Knowlwood burger in our lives, but the Anaheim Hills/Yorba/Placentia tri-city area location will soon transform into a local brewery. After checking the California ABC permit lookup for 5665 E La Palma Ave, Anaheim where Knowlwood was, the location has a coveted type 23 Small Beer Manufacturer license as the restaurant had begun to move in brewing equipment, but they ended closing suddenly this week. Bust out the bugle, it’s time for…

teaser taster

TAPS will be opening in that ol’ Knowlwood barn in the coming months… “TAPS Great American Brewery, yes, it’s a long name with a loooong story,” says TAPS co-owner Joe Manzella. “It combines the elements of the tasting room success of Tustin, but with a more sophisticated and larger menu than Tustin and the new Yorba Linda TAPS Brewery & Kitchen (another new spot that is slated to open soon).

Inside TAPS newest Tustin Brewery and Barrel room.

TAPS American Brewery will be 5,000 square feet with 16 taps and will also have elements of the classic Brea menu. “It’s more approachable, priced right, high quality, with lots going on to compliment the beer and our legacy of success,” adds Joe. It’ll have a big patio, fire pits, games, beer garden, and be family-friendly.

Empetus Baltic Stout, a collab with Mikkel himself. Photo by Nagel

Perhaps the most exciting thing about TAPS is the official re-launch of their barrel program, which from years past has gained notoriety with beers like Remy and the single-barrel variants. The first beer to come out of wood is a collaboration with Mikkel of famed Mikkeller; a huge Baltic-style stout called Empetus, complete with a metal-as-fuck logo and matte-black bottle packaging.

TAPS is bringing sexy back.

Empetus is the first of its kind. TAPS Brewing and Mikkel (yeah, that Mikkel) got together and said, “let’s do a big barrel-aged lager,” notes director of brewing ops Kyle Manns. “My complaint with baltic porters is always the special B component which adds raisiny fig,” says Kyle, looking to find a unique recipe.

The finished product, at least coming out of the brite tank, is a black canvas that’s barrel-pungent on the nose with bits of vanillin and some cis-oak lactones, layered with a healthy dose of dark chocolate, and general beer stoutness, which is honestly a welcome approach to the dessert bombs of the 2020’s. It’s a 12+% stout you can easily dome without getting the sugar shakes. There’s nothing wrong with those beers, but this welcome addition comes off dry and clean despite having a hefty 9 plato of residual long-chain sugars floating about.

Overall thoughts on both? TAPS is one of the godfathers of craft beer in OC with strong foothold with classic styles with their old Brea brewpub. We’ve seen what they can do with their new brewery, tasting room, and food truck in Tustin (it was my fave new brewery OCWeekly 2019 editors choice). Finding a foothold in Yorba Linda/Anaheim Hills in the beer business is basically uncharted territory, and the “Great American” stuff should play well with the older locals. One thing I’d be concerned with is the BA’s Dr. Bart Watson’s age chart of alcohol drinkers, but it is just a couple miles from Stereo Brewing and Honey Pot, so it’s well within a La Palma beer crawl. Plus there’s food! The beer has always been solid and keeps getting better, so I say, more TAPS!

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