Hopscotch Hosts Valiant Anniversary Beer Dinner

Valiant Brewing Co. Brews Custom Beers For Anniversary Beer Dinner at Hopscotch Tavern in Fullerton.

chef and brewers

Deep within Orange County’s vast culinary jungle, Hopscotch Tavern’s Executive Chef Cody Storts is war painted clutching a spear, a fish net and a double barrel shotgun. Spotting a flock of ducks overhead, he takes a shot in the sky Nintendo Duck Hunt style. “This will be perfect a perfect starter for our seven course Valiant Brewing beer dinner” he laughs like Rambo, wiping his brow across Swedish Chef tattoo’d bicep.

The Unexpected:

hopscotch_course1When the first dish of any multi-course dinner includes duck liver contraband paired with a 12% Belgian style Barleywine, it’s basically culinary punk rock. “Search and Destroy!!” I think crunching into a bite of the forbidden PB&J. Peppito butter? Strawberry jam? Foie Gras? It slam dances across my teeth and does the pogo down to the pit of my belly. Paired with Valiant’s “1” Anniversary Ale, my face melts down to Hopscotch’s outdoor patio boards, then reconstitutes as the sun sets over the nearby Fullerton train station. I’m not exaggerating. This actually happened.

Okay, that’s it! Review is over! Wait, what? Six more courses to go?

cheers2I can’t say I’ve ever had a Lager Barleywine, but it’s a thing here tonight with course two. The homebrewer in me squints, eyebrow raised at this potent bohemian concept coming from Valiant Brewing in Orange. “Who the hell would start a beer dinner with two Barleywines back to back?” I mutter to myself. As I’ve come to understand, the beers paired for tonight’s dinner are small batch brewed just for this event (aside from the bottle which each guest will take home). Normally, beer dinners are an ‘arranged marriage’ type of deal. Tonight’s dinner is more like ‘The Bachelor’ with both sides vying for my rose. Who will get sent home? Who will get jacuzzi sex?

chefstortsExecutive Chef Storts took over the reigns at Hopscotch less than a year ago, ushering out “slow food” and bringing in bold, adventurous gastropub cuisine.  Out with big racks of slathered ribs, in with a sous-vide, layered approach to freshness and presentation. Backing up his kitchen is a 120+ militia of whiskeys, cocktails, wine and 24 handles local craft beer (plus bottles to-go as well). Hopscotch is a gem as it staffs a Certified Beer Cicerone as well as a Sommelier. If you have any questions on beer, wine or cocktails, this band of culinary commandos has street cred as well as a the paperwork to back it up.

The Good

hopscotch_course3Moving to course three’s crispy pork belly dish plated with “pecan candy” and ultra crispy fried tripe, I feel like we crossed the border from San Diego to TJ. The tripe is like a salty honeycomb chicharrón with a super dense loufa-like crunch. Dipped in a herb demi glace and topped with a piece of pork? It’s a loaded bite that fires on all sides of the tongue, popping its pork candy nuttiness across my taste buds. The Bruce (Valiant’s Scotch Ale) doesn’t mess around either; coming in like ‘The Wolf” in Pulp Fiction; cleaning up the richness on my palate like a murder scene. “It’s some serious gourmet shit!” – Jules Winnfield.

hopscotch_course4Expecting the next course to be a tadpole tureen topped with actual deep fried Kermit the Frog, we are served the next best thing: Elk medallions with bourbon soaked bing cherries. The dish cuts deep with a rich velvety game. Who knew Elk had so much game? Valiant’s Lacto Cherry Stout is the last beer I thought they would bring to the table. Tart and roasty with funk on the nose, tasting somewhat like a sour Schwarzbier. It does a nice job drawing out a smokey component while complimenting the cherries in the dish. Who needs Kermit when a dish like this shows us the rainbow connection (for lovers and dreamers like me)?. Although the lacto-tart-roasty beer is an interesting contrast to the plate, it didn’t really stand up to the richness and depth of flavors in the elk. I’d like to think Pathos, Valiant’s Imperial Chocolate Porter, would have been the obvious pairing. Regardless, still fun to sample a one-off beer with so much character.

The Bad

Fair warning: This paragraph is a bit ‘yelpish’, but needs to be said. When the beer for course six came out and I didn’t get course five’s food, I quickly realize that I’ve been skipped. My table mates plates empty and my server laughing hysterically in conversation with a guest nearby, I suck it up. Despite smoke signals, drowning hand gestures and ESP sent his way, it’s clear I’m out on this round. Should I get up and walk to the kitchen? Should I sulk and write this paragraph?

Tired of hearing my friends say, “Greg, I went to Hopscotch because I read your last beer dinner review, but we’ve had better service at Dick’s Last Resort.” or “Greg, Hop’s bartender told me I lacked intelligence because I wanted a cocktail from last season’s cocktail menu” or “Greg, we walked in, waited for twenty minutes and walked out because nobody talked to us after we were seated” or even “Self, the waiter didn’t serve yourself a course in a hundred dollar beer dinner.” If you do eat there and have a bad experience, pull up this paragraph up on your phone and show it to the manager and say, “THIS.” The back of the house is only as good as the front, and stuff like this makes me sad.

The Best: Winner Winner Lengua Dinner!

IMG_3937Quickly forgiven and forgotten, (thanks chef for plating me a course five) irony plays a role with my plate-licking skills on course six. The kitchen must have called an audible on the menu-listed Braciola and went with a Lengua/Rabbit demi glace dish with brown butter gnocchi and broccoli rabe. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so entranced in a plate of food before. I consumed it with force, scraping every last microbe of the savory dish down. This dish can convert anyone with a cow-tongue phobia…seriously. Not caring for the cherry wheat beer (really sweet), much needed water (and a shot of Four Roses Bourbon) revives my senses.

OH MAI, Dessert!

hopscotch_dessertI dislike 99% of all dessert. My beer tooth is just that much bigger than my sweet tooth…with one exception: Anything that pastry chef Mai Phan creates. She has a way of balancing sweetness with tart and gooey with crunchy without going over the top. Her Strawberry Pavlova is all that. Tropical fruits topped with a green tea custard and a lemon crumble foam disk…simply marvelous. If you’re not in a drinking mood, Hopscotch is a great spot to go for just desserts.


Pretty much eating ‘all the animals’ and drinking ‘all the beers’ is a lot to take in for one mouth over the course of an evening. This epic beer dinner adventure at Hopscotch isn’t for the meek. $20 Uber cards provided for each guest, it’s easy to tell this is a professionally run event for professional eaters and drinkers. Worth a hundred bucks? Absolutely. The beer? Really cool concept to brew custom beers for the evening, but jacuzzi sex easily goes to the food. If you can still find the “1” Anniversary Ale from Valliant, I highly recommend picking it up. After a month, it’s aged into a delicious barleywine with big raspberry notes; it’s decadent!

I’ll see you at the next one!


  • Valiant’s First Anniversary, Belgian Barleywine — 8 ounce pour
  • Forbidden PB&J, strawberry guava jam, pepita butter, brioche, and complementary foie gras.


  • Lager Barleywine, 8 ounce pour
  • Mussels, crispy pancetta, roasted pepper citrus coulis


  • “The Bruce” Wee Heavy Scotch Ale, 5 ounce pour
  • Crispy pork belly, fried tripe, herb demi glace, blood orange frisee


  • Lacto Cherry Stout, 8 ounce pour
  • Elk medallion, black garlic demi glace, bing cherry gastrique, bourbon soaked bing cherries


  • Session IPA 5 ounce pour
  • Duck rillette, Dijon chips, blood orange apples, really really small cilantro


  • Wheat Cherry Ale, 5 ounce pour
  • Medium Rare Braciola, san marzano tomato sauce, crispy asiago chip, micro basil


  • Guava Cream Ale, 6 ounce pour
  • Strawberry Pavlova, green tea custard, lemon crumble


Big Boy Food Comes to Fullerton | Executive Chef Cody Storts Transforms Hopscotch

Photo - fullertonfoundry.com

Photo – fullertonfoundry.com

Sitting down over a few beers with Hopscotch’s new Executive Chef Cody Storts, one thing occurs to me: How have I not heard of this dude? There’s no doubt I’ve eaten something he’s prepared over the years I’ve frequented downtown Fullerton. Le Cordon Bleu culinary school trained, he’s put his talents to work everywhere from Stubrik’s, the Lime Truck and a gourmet catering co. Now the big cheese of Fullerton’s best craft beer spot, I can’t wait to see what he has to offer. 

Fitted with a chef’s coat, a newsboy cap and swedish chef tattoo on his sautéing arm, he looks to add a bit of southern drawl to traditional French technique at Hopscotch. Sitting in the newly air-conditioned lower area, we get down to business chatting about kitchen philosophy, kids, beer, and of course his food.  “We’re all about having fun in the kitchen” he confesses, “we make the kind of food we really love to eat.” Anyone with the Muppet’s Swedish Chef Tattoo probably knows how to party, am I right? He jumps up, heads to the kitchen as I study the beer list. 

photo (1)

Opting for a fresh paddle of British beers among the many local craft beers, a plate of house made pickles pays a visit. Melons stripped wide seemingly by a woodworking planar tool, pickled red-onion and butter pickles are piled high and full of bright tangy goodness.

photoRolling the dice on some fried pig ear, I’m not disappointed. Served on a dark wood plank , the cracklins come alive with a squirt of lime and schmear of in-house chili sauce. This dish is a call to Mexico, any fan of chicharones, pork, or life in general should try this. Again, the dish is piled high and worthy to share. Other small bites I sampled: Duck taquitos, pretzel bites with white cheddar foam…all eye-rolling good.

photo - fullertonfoundry.com

Country Fried Chicken – Photo – fullertonfoundry.com

Fried chicken lands and my eyes bulge. Huge meaty crusted chicken piled high on a bed of fingerling potatos. I’ve never had sous-vide chicken before, but I’m a fan now! Swamped in its own juices, the chicken squirts across my table on the first bite; a drop or two landing in my English bitter ale. This dish is a force to be reckoned with! The herbed crunch and squirt of this dish alone proves Chef Cody’s ability to shock and awe. Also from the dinner items I sampled the scallop dish and pork butt; easily favorites for time to come.

Pan Seared Scallops and Pickled Veggies - Photo - fullertonfoundry.com

Pan Seared Scallops and Pickled Veggies on the side – Photo – fullertonfoundry.com

Chef Cody Storts is the missing puzzle piece in Hopscotch. The food is beautiful, aromatic, and juicy. My eyes rolled. I had goosebumps. It’s not over-the-top either. “Adventurous and approachable” is the best way to describe it. Paired with the beer, whiskey and cocktail prowess of James Wood, Hopscotch is a destination. It’s great for a few beers with friends, some small bites or a nice date night out.
Before shot. credit PacificElectric.orgHopscotch is romantically housed in the historic Pacific Electric Railway building of Fullerton. The current scene is set to a time when men killed animals, boozed at the desk job and nailed secretaries. It’s got a mountain lodge vibe with a repurposed whiskey barrel bar and a wall of a hundred whiskeys. Fifty craft beers (20 draft) also pair great with the food. The draft list is supple and curated intelligently. 
A thousand thanks to Corky at fullertonfoundry.com for the excellent photos!
Tonight! July 31, don’t miss their inaugural pairing dinner! 

Scheduled for Wednesday, July 31, guests will enjoy a five-course scratch dinner prepared by Chef Cody and his staff, accompanied by a range of beverages including crafted cocktails, whiskeys, and craft beer, each hand-selected by Director of Libations James Wood.

The first of its monthly pairing dinner program, guests at the inaugural pairing will be treated to a sample of the inventive culinary prowess HopScotch has become known for with courses including butter poached lobster, and beef cheeks with whiskey-soaked cherry demi sauce.

“We’re all very excited about our first pairing. It’s our first opportunity to really let loose and show guests what we’re all about. Not only from a culinary standpoint, but the full spectrum of our craft beverage program,” said Storts. It will be a night to celebrate great food and drink.”

Limited to just 50 guests, the event priced at $85 per person, is expected to sell out early. Seating by reservation only, guests are advised to pre-book at 714.871.2222.

The five-course dinner is scheduled to include the following:

FIRST: Amuse

APPETIZER: Charcuterie board
Beverage Pairing – Kir Molecule Cocktail with Cremant Blanc and Chambord pearls

THIRD: Butter poached lobster; Cognac cream dipping dots, smoked garlic confit foam
Beverage Pairing – Cocktail “Aged to perfection” including smoked cognac, peach puree and aged balsamic vinegar
and our house cherry vanilla bitters

ENTREE: Beef cheeks with whiskey soaked cherry Demi, English pea and carrot puree
Beverage Pairing – Barrel aged stout

DESSERT: Caramel corn panna cotta, kettle corn dust, dehydrated candied cherry medley
Beverage Pairing – Few Spirits Rye, Chicago;
James E. Pepper 1776


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Bootleggers Moves to the Right Side of the Tracks / 5th Anniversary Details

P1050168There’s a lot to miss about Bootleggers Brewery’s old location: Sure I’ll miss the circa-1998 Home Depot resin chairs and wobbly tables. I’ll miss the stereo trying its hardest to muffle music through years of death metal, dust and yeast farts. I’ll miss tip-toeing by the Breaking Bad creeper RV cooking meth by the train tracks. I’ll miss being walked in on while peeing by a group of girls due the lack of proper locks on the restroom door (Hi ladies!). You bet your ass I’ll miss flashing my balls at the Amtrak Surfliner rumbling by. This truly saddens me.

Death metal closed the doors at Richman.

On February 23, 2013, we came, we drank and we danced the old tasting room away.  A couple weeks went by, and the new tasting room finally opened. Bavarian picnic tables were erected. Cornhole bags flew back and forth with laser-like drunken precision. The sound of girls cheering wildly playing Lawn Jenga filled the air. The beer flowed again, and it was good.

Typical Tuesday night out with the beer peeps in the new tasting room.


The new location couldn’t be more perfect. Edging the corner on the downtown Fullerton map, Boots is now part of the DTF tribe. I’ve always said Bootleggers is a perfect kicking off point for a night out in Fullerton, now you can simply park on Sante Fe and actually ‘crawl’ your pub crawl.



Amerige IPA admires the sunset

The new Boots tasting room has it all: Separate sex bathrooms, a proper Joust arcade game, forty taps, and a tasty pizza place moving in next door. The beer garden extends three areas: inside with a custom-made penny bar, outside with umbrella-covered tables and a covered/lit alcove area. For food trucks, the easy access driveway on the side makes the location a modular beer geek restaurant. The view is also stellar, especially at sunset. There’s also a pilot brewery (the production brewhouse is nearby at another location) which will serve one-off beers in the tap room.

P1050170After five years of constant growth and success, it’s nice to see a hard work pay off. On Sunday April 28, Bootleggers will host its ‘fif’ Anniversary party at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center (for the second year in a row). You should probably go! Here’s the details from Bootlegger’s website:

Sunday, April 28th We will be celebrating our 5 year anniversary with Bootlegger’s Music & Beer Fest at The Muck: Celebrating 5 years!!! The celebration will be held from 1-5pm at the historic Muckenthaler Center in Fullerton. Tickets can be purchased here or they can be purchased at Bootlegger’s Tasting Room & Pilot Brewery at 130 S. Highland Ave in Fullerton ahead of time to avoid the online service charge. Additional tickets may be available at the door for $40, but will depend on availability.

Included in the ticket price will be:

  • 10 taster tickets (additional tickets will be available for purchase)
  • Commemorative tasting glass
  • Live bands performing on stage
  • Over 30 house beers on tap including several barrel aged rarities and sour beers
  • Local guest brewery beers
  • Access to The Muckenthaler Gallery exhibit showroom.  The featured gallery will be: Vintage Travel
  • Mechanical bull ride, Bocce ball, a dunk tank, and MORE!!

In addition, there will be 3 gourmet food trucks: Dos Chinos, TJs Woodfire Pizza, and The Viking Truck as well as Brew Haw BBQ and desserts by Brew Cakes available there for you to purchase. We will also be unveiling our 80th Anniversary Ale. A portion of the proceeds from this event will go towards The Muckenthaler Cultural Center!  For additional info on the Muckenthaler Cultural Center visit: http://themuck.org

Tickets: http://bootleggers5th.brownpapertickets.com/

Pics of new and old tasting room:

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