If you were to look at beer like a simple math equation, it looks a little like this: People + Brewery = Beer. With the millions of combinations of each, it’s no wonder we have a zillion flavor profiles, bottle art and brewer vision. Barley Forge Brewing Co in Costa Mesa is no different. With just around a month left to open, here’s some insight of what to expect when the math is complete.
People – Greg Nylen (owner) and Dave Hulls (brewer). Greg is an older guy with a full head of grey hair looking mildly like a young John Lithgow. He speaks sharply from his years as an attorney as his day job. Even today, his court-ready suit lays neatly across a couch in the back office. He started homebrewing in law school around 24 years ago after visiting Portland. He joined the Maltose Falcons homebrew club, got great feedback as well as went through their beer judge class to hone his palate craft. After doing well at competitions, he thought, “Maybe I can do this.”
Dave Hulls (left) with Victor Novak at 2013 GABF
Dave Hulls (brewer) comes from fifteen years brewing professionally at Gordon Biersch and TAPS Fish House & Brewery. If you’ve ever seen him, you’ve probably thought, “Dave looks like a guy that could lift me up by my neck with one hand.” He speaks gruffly and smiles when speaking of brewing beer. His work in TAPS Corona has yielded him a GABF win with their Schwarzbier.
View from the brewhouse. Orange room is the kitchen, left is the entry way, tasting room, bottling line and offices. On the right is cold storage, kegging and employee area.
Brewery – Situated in a small industrial area behind the Lab/Camp area off of Bristol and Baker sits the brewhouse. My first impression? Huge. What sets Barley Forge apart from other start-ups is they will have a kitchen that will serve cheese/charcuterie and sandwiches. A BBQ smoker will also happen at some point. “Costa Mesa doesn’t like food trucks so we’re going our own route,” says Greg. The tasting room is bold and put together with an industrial-antique feel. Old Brunswick bowling alley seats, thick repurposed wood tables and tap handles that resemble a metal forging hammer will round out the brewery vibe.
Seven fermenters ready for beer.
As Costa Mesa is craft beer black hole, the location couldn’t be better. Seemingly 200 possible accounts are within walking distance, or at least driving distance with their huge military vehicle that will be used for deliveries, beer festivals and parades. “A tap handle will be installed sooner than later on the back,” says Greg.
Building a brewery is dusty. This panel still has the DET sticker from it’s previous home in Michigan.
Beer: They haven’t produced beer yet, but 12oz heritage bottles will soon be rolling off their line filled with a Belgian Dark Strong, Dortmunder Export, DIPA, Wit and a beer with dark Agave syrup. The brewhouse is configured for decoction mash to really dial in euro-styles Dave is familiar with brewing at Gordon Biersch and TAPS.
Belgian-Style Witbier with Horchata-Style Spices
Like the ideal husband, Don Perfecto (“Mr. Right”) will always be faithful, bring you flowers “just because,” put the toilet seat down without being asked, and bring home the bacon on bended knee. What more could you ask for? This tall, handsome beer is a Belgian-style witbier brewed with a twist that’ll treat you right — malted wheat, two-row malted barley, Mexican cinnamon, vanilla, and a bit of lactose, evoking the refreshing flavor of horchata. Whether out on the town, or enjoying a quiet evening at home, Don Perfecto and you are a perfect match.
Amber Ale with Agave Extract
The famed heroic luchadores of Mexico face off in the wrestling arena with villains, classified as “Los Rudos” or “Tough Guys.” These bruisers skirt the edges of fair play, challenging the heroes to prevail with honor even when the odds are against them. Brewed in homage to these rebels of the ring, El Rudo is bold and assertive — a smoky amber ale brewed with agave extract and West Coast hops that is sure to rescue you from the clutches of those bland, flavorless, play-by-the-rules lagers on a hot summer day.
THE BLACK DAHLIA
Belgian-Style Dark Ale
Like a great film noir classic set in post-war Los Angeles, this deep, dark beer takes some time to unravel and fully appreciate, its secrets revealing themselves as the flavor plays out on your palate. By the time you’ve finished a glass of this Belgian-style dark ale (preferably in a goblet you have allowed to warm up to you, like a Hollywood ingénue), you will discover the truths its candi sugar, complex malt bill, and exotic European hops and yeast uncover. The Black Dahlia is an enigma you’ll want to ponder again and again.
THE ORANGE CURTAIN
India Pale Ale
Our neighbor Angelenos joke about going behind “The Orange Curtain” when they cross the county line — like some Cold War-era spy sneaking into the Soviet Union. We get it. It’s different here in Orange County. But we invite you to cross that line and try what we have to offer, like this India Pale Ale. Dry and crisp, with some Maris Otter malt for a bit of sweetness and a mix of West Coast hops. We trust you will enjoy this great tasting beer and find that it’s not so scary down here behind The Orange Curtain after all.
Double India Pale Ale
Shining a spotlight on hop flavor instead of hop bitterness, One Louder is the perfect brew for any rockstar hophead bold enough to enjoy life at full volume. One Louder is a Double India Pale Ale brewed with a head-banging blend of of Simcoe, Centennial, Chinook, Warrior, and Amarillo hops. But don’t fear – all that explosive hop insanity is steadied and balanced by a malty backbeat of Maris Otter and US 2-Row malt. Rock out with one of America’s loudest beers!
Dortmunder-Style Export Lager
A true Dortmunder-style export lager, brewed with noble hops and European pilsen malt. Enjoy this beer on a hot day or with spicy food … a refreshing German- inspired alternative to West Coast hop-forward beers.
The beer labels feature illustrations inspired by the familiar Mexican card game Lotería. The five ales will be available immediately on the brewery’s opening; the lager will be available a few weeks after opening.
More pics/info coming soon! Visit their website here!