The Art of Going Big | Grits Fullerton + The Bruery Beer Dinner


Grits is for lovers.

“Tonight is going to be like a race,” says the gruff and unshaven executive chef Cody Storts in his home away from home, Grits Fullerton. Six courses set out before us: pork, seafood, game, seafood, beef, then dessert. Having been to four of chef’s beer dinners, I mentally prepare myself to form my lips into the shape of Noah’s arc, and eat all the tasty animals.

Being Grits’ third beer dinner, this is the first with hyper-local O.C. beer: The Bruery, and as far as I know, the first beer dinner led by a Master Cicerone, Patrick Rue. Having had most of the beers, the mere thought of the pairings has me salivating. If I had a tail, it would surely be wagging wildly, enough to knock various glassware off the tables, Pavlov-style.


COURSE 1, The Pork Confessional – A variation of the Bruery’s Sour Blonde Ale was blended and fermented with juice pressed from Fess Parker’s Riesling grapes. Juniper cured pork belly, cilantro and celery root puree.

Not being the biggest pork belly fan, I will say Grits preparation I actually enjoy. There’s something about how they get a perfect crust, bursting with umami, to play with the fat inside. It all comes down to balance, and chef totally nails it. Confession, one of my fave wine-blended beers, matches the dish with carbonation and acidity. The tone set, we move on.

GNAG0042Course 2: Sourrento Mussels – A beer that debuted at the second Firkfest, Sourrento is a sour ale inspired by the lemon flavored spirit, Limoncello. The broth on this dish has a nice rauchy-bacon quality, “I want a glass of it,” says my table-mate Anne Marie of OCWeekly fame. The black mussel is plump and ready, topped with 70’s chili-thread bush. Backed by the beer, this course made a nice intermezzo. 

Course 3: Bambi with Duck-Roids.


Venison injected with duck-roids and the best bread pudding ever.

(Paired with Batch #1731, a homebrew competition winner is a 100% brettanomyces-fermented hoppy session ale at 5%.) “If rare venison doesn’t sound good, go over to Philly’s Best next door,” quips chef. It was indeed rare, but the duck fat seemed to tame the game, so to speak. The real winner of the night is the rye bread pudding topped on apricot key lime bourbon glaze. Nice rye-spicey take on a classic.

So Happens It’s Tuesday – A slightly-less intense incarnation of Black Tuesday paired with Escolar almandine, a fish that can have laxative qualities if eaten in excess. I eat half, just to make sure we don’t have any accidents.

COURSE 5 – The Meat Statue – I’m not sure where one gets a steamship round cut of beef these days, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t look like a statue. “Nobody does this shit,” I say out loud while snapping a photo. Coming back to my seat and finding a full ‘fuck off’ pour of 19.5% beer had me instagramming like a school girl. Sadly, I was full, but managed to eat a few fork-loads of the beef and root veggies. Wineification III, a blend of grenache grapes from Rodney’s Vineyard and Black Tuesday. Matured in a combination of bourbon and French Oak barrels, this beer is liquid dessert.


Steamship Round, aka “the Meat Statue

GNAG0085Dessert Means You Survived: Blackberry cheesecake, Thai basil, bourbon sweetened currants and sweetened cream sauce paired with Cinnamonk was actually the best pairing of the night. But, wow. Full.

A shot of Bourbon is dealt in coffee mugs, we toast, inhale and hold our bellies. Cheers to another great party atmosphere, great hosts and solid, smiley service. Grits is located in downtown Fullerton and is open for brunch, pub dinner service on the weekends, and don’t miss their half-off draft beer on Thursdays!

Scenes from the Sucreverse | The Bruery’s Sixth Anniversary Celebration

Seeing Patrick Rue upon entrance to their Sucreversary, I reach in my pocket to give him a piece of candy. Being warm and a little melted, I kept it there. I shook his hand firmly and asked, “six, is it?” “Yep.” he replied, “have fun”.

You see, as traditional anniversary gifts go, candy is what one would traditionally give on year six. I recall giving my bride of six years bonbons in a heart-shaped box (or was it a Baby Ruth bar in a brown bag?). The Bruery is nicer than I…they brewed an Anniversary beer called Sucré (Sugar) and chose to celebrate with some 3000-4000 of their closest friends at the Phoenix Club in Anaheim. I skip away whistling into the Festhalle tent like a kid headed out on halloween night.


New to this year’s celebration is a healthy list of guest breweries, which upon entrance has lines fifty deep at a few breweries. I do what most people do: grab a line-beer from Societé and stand in line for The Rare Barrel. Twice. Just like halloween, I went to each table grabbing a little bit of ‘candy’.


Standouts for the day: Noble Ale Works/Tustin Brewing Co. All Night Long: A session black IPA that I could drink with Lionel Richie all day long. Sadly, (and sarcastically) there’s no Tout Mais Le Coller to be found. Can they get collab do-overs? That beer gave me a rash.


Henry Nguyen of Monkish Brewing bugs Evan Price for some Naughty Sauce.

Staying with the candy theme, Bottle Logic clearly got the memo with their watermelon jolly rancher randall and Nerds-soaked Berliner. “It’s like sucking on a nerd” says my friend/uber beer geek Anchaya. Great to see the such a long line and big smiles from the pourers. Also, Kyles beard.


Brandon Buckner, Brewmaster Wes and Head Brewer Kyle Manns of Bottle Logic deliver a baby.

I’ve never been big on The Bruery’s anniversary beers until Sucré hits my lips. There’s more of a dark fruity component that draws me in instead of the usual toffee on wood thing from years past. Perhaps the oxidation from solera is ringing in the new fruity/cakeness?  As my last big beer of the day, I toast this sucreversary and savor, then moved on to the Hottenroth’s, Gosebusters and Golden Road Berliners available at my fingertips.


BeerPaperLA on the left, Noble Ale Works Brad Kominek and wife Bridget with Aubrey Price. Thanks for smiling Bridget! Grumps!

Noteworthy are the abundance of cask beers: The Bruery brought six that look like a menu at 31 Flavors (Cookie Monster, Snickerdoodle Sour, Raspberry Coconut Macaroon etc). Many guest breweries had a few as well: Bottle Logic, Smog City, Monkish and a few others are spiled, tapped and pouring nicely. Monkish’s cask smells like a strawberry jelly donut.


Cambria Griffith of the Bruery is enthralled with Austin of Hangar 24’s mad sunscreen skills.

FOOD: Blog favorite Beachwood BBQ brought some tasty BBQ action. The catered version is on par with the restaurant’s smokey, juicy meats. The pink potato salad and coleslaw does the job nicely, and the pretzel bun sopps up anything still clinging to the foam plate. I could have gone for seconds. Or thirds. The line was 30 minutes to get food.


Michael Rue is in timeout for throwing dirt and not taking turns.

Overall: I’m sure some complained about lines, but I found them to be a good buffer with all the big beers and unlimited pours. Also, with basically 4.5 hours to drink, if you were smart you could have sampled all the rarer stuff. There were plenty of spots with no lines. Music would have been nice! The Phoenix club is adjacent to a horse stable and occasional wafts of warm horse shit/urine enhanced the smells of some of the bretty beers…these complaints are all micenuts. I thought this was one of the better run beer festivals I’ve been to, although you have to be or know someone in the Reserve Society to go. Really nice crowd, good glassware and a nice day. Cheers to The Bruery!


The coolest spot at the fest was the back of this truck.


Michael Rue and Jay Goodwin of the Rare Barrel


His name is Jonas on the left and we all know Cambria behind the lens.


Upon receiving his Naughty Sauce, Henry Nguyen gave thanks.


Henry Nguyen of Monkish, Aaron Carroll of BeerPaperLA and my beer geek bud Anchaya.


Writers opinions were discussed at this table, I hope this piece is filled with them, Evan.


Walowski from Smog City and Jerrod from Tustin Brewing Co. #BFF


Beer friends with OC Beer Blog facebook page contributor Chuck U. Farley!


“Hey, Brocofly!” Dir. of Marketing and 2nd employee at the Bruery, Benjamin Weiss


Here are the full details:
The Boys and Girls Club!! of Santa Ana , in coordination with The Bruery, are proud to present this our 6th Anniversary celebration – Sucréversary! 

This event, which is exclusive to The Bruery’s Reserve and Hoarders Society members and their guests, will be one of the largest events of the year. Attendees will have the opportunity to taste a myriad of beer offerings from The Bruery as well as other favorite SoCal craft brewers, all while helping a great organization.// THE DETAILS \\
Date: May 10th
Time: 12-5pm
Venue: The Phoenix Club in Anaheim
Benefitting: The Boys & Girls Club of Santa Ana
Price: $60 (no discount)
Ticket Limits: Reserve Society – 2 Tickets // Hoarders Society – 4// THE BEER LIST \\ …with more to come
Cask #1 – Cookie Monster
Cask #2 – Six Forty Seven PM
Cask #3 – Snickerdoodle Sour
Cask #4 – Raspberry Coconut Macaroon
Cask #5 – Watermelon Sour
Cask #6 – Pure Oreo Black Tuesday
Sour in the Rye w/ Beach Plum
Bourbon Mrs. Stoutfire
Rum Mrs Stoutfire
Sour in the Rye w/ Nectarines
Griffon Bruxellois
Oui Oui
Batch #50
Sucré Tawny Port
Grey Monday
Hottenroth// THE BREWERY LIST \\
Almanac Beer Co: Ichibier Batch #2, Farmer’s Reserve Blackberry Sour
Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits: Sculpin, Sea Monster
Beachwood BBQ & Brewing: Tovarish, Laurel
Bootlegger’s Brewery
Bottle Logic Brewing
Cismontane Brewing
Eagle Rock Brewery: Dairy Tank, Populist
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.: Lil Opal, Wookey Jack
Golden Road Brewing: 329 Lager, Hudson Imperial Porter
Hangar 24 Craft Brewery: Chocolate Porter, Orange Wheat
Pugachev’s Cobra with cocoa nibs & toasted Coconut
Kern River Brewing Company
King Harbor Brewing Company: The Quest: El Dorado
Port Brewing / The Lost abbey
Modern Times Beer: Fortunate Islands, Funky Lomaland
Monkish Brewing Co.
Pizza Port San Clemente
Smog City Brewing
Societe Brewing Company: The Pupil, The Harlot
Saint Archer Brewing Company
Stone Brewing Co.: Saison, Enjoy By 5.16.2014
TAPS Fish House & Brewery: Mocha Stout, Nuestra Señora, Blanche de Conundrum
The Rare Barrel: Fields Forever, Egregious, Consigliere
Tustin Brewing Company: Jacksons Double IPA
Valiant Brewing: Stout-a-mel, Jolly Kratos

$45 The Bruery Beer Dinner at Haven Gastropub +Brewery in Pasedena (Closed)

Haven15When two of my favorite things collide, I usually assume a Benjamin or two is at stake. Not this time! Haven Gastropub +Brewery in Pasadena is hosting a beer dinner with the Bruery with some pretty nice courses for a meager $45. Here’s the goods:

Tuesday, December 10th at 7 p.m.

Pre-Course – The Bruery Humulus Lager

First Course – Pan Seared Dayboat Scallops, Parsnip Puree, Pear Gel, Prosciutto, Brussels Sprouts, XO sauce with The Bruery Rueuze

Second Course Beer Grain Gnocchi, Duck Confit, Black Tuscan Kale, Roasted Squash, Crispy Duck Skin with The Bruery 6 Geese-a-Laying

Third Course Dry-aged New York Steak, Duck Fat Roasted Potatoes, Porcini Mushrooms, Smoked Bleu Cheese Saba The Bruery Melange 3

Dessert Course Brioche Bread Pudding, Poached Pear

Dinner is $45 per guest (plus tax and gratuity) Seating is limited

RSVP by calling: (626) 768-9555
Haven Gastropub +Brewery
42 S. De Lacey Ave, Pasadena, California 91105


No Frills Blog Post for a No Frills Beer Festival | The Bruery Barrel Aged Beer Party

Hi, I'm Greg from OCBeerBlog, can I take your photo?

Hi, I’m Greg from OCBeerBlog, can I take your photo?

Mid November 2013, The Bruery Reserve Society members were treated to a dip into fifty or so barrel aged beers on a very Simpsonesque cloudy day on Center Street Promenade in Anaheim. Kind of a no-frills tentless beer festival with simple folding tables and a map/beer list. What else does one need? The event was put on by a local non-profit that supports growing the arts, Inspire Artistic Minds (same people that brought us Nepenthia Beer Garden earlier 2013). I puckered up to sours all day with the main goal to remain upright and chat with beautiful people that love great beer.

These guys should start a band and use this for the album cover.

These guys should start a band and use this for the album cover.

Highlights for me: the four Sour in the Rye variants; kumquat, peach, SITR 2011 and beach plum being my favorite with a cosmo hue and bright fruity effervesces. The Wanderer 2011 and 2013 were also stellar, the main difference being the punch of flavor in 2013, whereas 2011’s punch was expanded into a longer attenuated flavor. Overall the event had almost 800 checkins on Untappd as most people filled in beers they’ve missed over the years. An insane amount of cask and boozy beers insured glassware was dropped and shattered at regular intervals.

Hopscotch brought sous vide tri-tip. On a street. At a beerfest.

Hopscotch brought sous vide tri-tip. On a street. At a beerfest.

Food was catered by Hopscotch consisting of sous vide tri tip that was briefly seared and allowed to cook in its own inescapable juices at perfect temp. The cauliflower side dish and vegie option rocked the house with layers of umami and sweet. With the big beers, people needed an extra bite or two of something and were even offering money for extra food. This is the first time I’ve ever seen a pizza delivery to a beer festival! As with Nepenthia, bathrooms were a concern. I love you Bobby Navarro, but people need to eat and pee inside a beer festival. Add double what you think next time 🙂 I was cool because I chowed my traditional Veggie Works burrito from Del Taco as I ceremoniously do before every beer festival.

What 5oz pours of Grey Monday will do to people

What 5oz pours of Grey Monday will do to people

Overall, I loved the no-frills atmosphere. I think in the future the standard huge beer festival idea will be widdled down into specialty festivals like this (cough cough Firkfest) catering to a tighter focus of the craft beer world. What do you think? Let me know in the comments or on social media! Not a Reserve Society member? I think a few spots are left for 2014, don’t miss out on great parties like this!

Anyone with a DEVO patch is okay in my book.

Anyone with a DEVO patch is okay in my book.

Cambria and Jenny get their grub on and sell stuff

Cambria and Jenny get their grub on and sell stuff


Showing people how my camera works. Yes, it's film.

Showing people how my camera works. Yes, it’s film.


Various pours of Coton

Various pours of Coton


Matt Olesh, Rob from BeerPaperLA and Katey

Matt Olesh, Rob from BeerPaperLA and Katey


Note to self, waste level picks are always a bad idea.

Note to self, waste level picks are always a bad idea.


Katelyn and Evelyn demanded a retake

Katelyn and Evelyn demanded a retake


Jeff Hood shows off his snappy jacket.

Jeff Hood shows off his snappy jacket.


Anaheim's newest brewery set to open late 2013, Bottle Logic Brewing

Anaheim’s newest brewery set to open late 2013, Bottle Logic Brewing


How To Fly a Plane with Patrick Rue | Urge Gastropub Collab

patrick rue grains in

patrick rue deals with a leaky grantDespite his rock-star brewer/founder/CEO status, there’s no persian rug laid out when Patrick Rue brews. There’s no floor-stand candles lit with dripping wax, no nearby couch with hot groupies watching, and not a single tattoo in sight. On the wee three-barrel pilot system of The Bruery, there’s only Patrick, his ingredients and whatever inventive idea floats his way.

Here bright and early on a Friday morning, the production brewery is bustling on an Autumn Maple brewday. It smells like fresh pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. Brewers elevate large drums of mulling-spiced yams into the boil kettle, then top it with a healthy bucket of organic black molasses. Filling-line bottles clank wildly over Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry”, fighting my eardrums like Mike Tyson at a Justin Bieber concert. Patrick is nearby knelt-down fiddling with a finicky heat exchanger on the pilot brew system and doesn’t seem phased, “Tyler (King) says it starts up for him every time,” he quips nodding twice.

godzillaThe pilot brewery sits quietly off to the side of the main brewhouse. If you’re familiar with the old Bruery tasting room, the kettles and tanks sit (sort of) where the main bar used to be. It’s a simple system, easy to work on like a 1967 Volkswagen Beetle. If you were in a Godzilla costume, the miniature brewhouse would be a perfect set to recreate a Takusatsu film, pretending the tanks were large buildings, thrashing and smashing about while screaming like a giant green lizard.


Most breweries tend to use a tinier half-barrel RIMS homebrew system for pilot batches (15 gallons); however, The Bruery has flexibility to barrel age small batches, do micro-releases for the tasting room, test out different recipes, and collaborate quickly and easily on the 180 gallon system.

patrick rue and grant of urge gastropub discuss hops

Today’s brew comes by way of collaboration. Grant Tondro, general manager and proprietor of Urge Gastropub in San Diego is here to help brew their third anniversary beer. “We were thinking of doing a Belgian pale ale with bourbon soaked Madagascar vanilla beans and orange zest – inspired by an orange cream soda,” says Patrick with an Elvis-like raised lip. Grant adds, “if there’s time, I’d like to hit it with some french oak to enhance the vanilla.” With only seven weeks until the anniversary party (late July), oak spirals are definitely an option.

grant of urge gastropub and cambria griffith of the bruery in the tasting roomWith Patrick in the pilot seat, the brewday is child’s-play; he grains-in while Grant breaks up the dough-balls. I even get to lend a hand, holding up Patrick’s black hefty sack. As grains slowly convert to sugar, flavor and color over the next hour, the true spirit of collaboration takes hold – time is filled with beers and funny stories. At 9:45 A.M., Patrick guides us through a couple unreleased Bruery beers and Grant talks about Urge Gastropub’s latest endeavor that includes a bowling alley on a half-acre lot opening Feb 2014. “24,000 square feet of craft beer goodness!” says Grant.

grant of urge gastropub hops in2

patrick rue fights a boil overBack in the brewery, the system vorlaufs, sparges, then lauters into the boil kettle.  The two gentlemen get down to business as Patrick snaps on the latex gloves. “Is it time for my exam?” asks Grant to my amusement. “Lets talk hops,” says Rue sliding open the cooler. As a wine sommelier, Grant prefers to let the the complexity of the beer derive from the yeast, vanilla and orange zest in secondary. Patrick suggests Columbus, a good clean bittering hop as the sole sixty minute hop addition. Hands are shook. Knuckles are bumped. Pellets are weighed out, then pitched as the boil starts. Boom.

grain outAs the brewday winds down, Grant glistens while graining out. Oxygen is pumped inline through the wort on its way through the chiller. “We can chill down to fifty or hit any temp we want going into the fermenter,” says Patrick on the nimble system. Rue then prepares a healthy pitch of 2.2 billion house-strain yeast cells, squirts down the fittings with sanitizer and sets the little microorganisms free to pursue a life of alcohol/Co2 production and religious consciousness. Beer is being made in pilot proportions.

colorful bruery beersAs Patrick Rue balances his time between family life and operating one of Orange County’s most prolific breweries, it’s great to see his brewday skills are still intact. He’s relaxed, methodical and creative. His brew muscle is roided out and ready to chuck knuckles. The next time you drink a Bruery pilot beer, remember that it’s anything but accidental.

 Aftermath! – the beer, called “Rue the Day” ended up at 8.3% and was very “creamsicle-y and super drinkable.” says Grant.


Good Sour Hunting, at Total Wine & More?

Ah, my beer camp cart. (swoon)

Ah, my beer camp cart. (swoon)

My wife has a bad habit of ‘accidentally’ buying shoes. Me? I ‘accidentally’ fill up a cart at Total Wine & More from time to time. Stopping in for a few beers often leads to a lot of ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ moments, and even more ‘oh shit’ moments when checking out. Among the aisles and aisles of distinct wines and spirits, beer sits comfortably in the back corner, organized confusingly by type.

The one thing I love about beer shopping at a big store is it reminds me of record/CD shopping before the MP3 player was invented. A rare import or bootleg album is the equivalent to finding a great bourbon barrel aged stout, a triple IPA or a nice sour from Belgium. Thankfully, beer can never be digitized. Let me tell you, finding a sour at TW&M isn’t easy. My latest trip I found several: The Bruery’s Rueuze, Petrus Oude Bruin and a Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Red Ale.

Tasting Notes on the Three:

marie antoinette

The Bruery’s Rueuze pours a dusky yellow fiz. The head is like Marie Antoinette at the guillotine; your glass serving as the landing basket. “Let them eat cake!” I yell to my wife as she makes dinner while I sip. “What the hell are you talking about?” she yells back. Lively on the nose are notes of lemon curd, shortcake, light brown sugar, over-ripe fruit and a touch of wild apple cider. From a distance it looks completely flat, up close, tiny bubbles cling to the side and provide a pleasant body to keep things interesting. This dry gueuze is tart to the point it forces a grin no matter how glum you may be! As it warms, call a search party for the carbonation; its soul escapes, leaving a vinous sour that remains worthy until the blade drops.

monks cafe flemish sourMonk’s Cafe Flemish Sour is a great entry point to the huge landscape of sour beers. This beer is easily approachable to someone that is making the leap to craft beer from wine or light American lager. Pours dark with ruby red highlights, lace sliding down the glass like soap at a carwash. A scary amount of halloween candy haunts my nose with notes of Sweet Tarts, Bottle Caps candy, and fresh pomegranate. This is a very easy to drink beer with a mild creamy mouthfeel. Belgian candi sugar flavors and sweet malt hang around, finishing with an subtle mineral water character. Pair this beer with a spring salad and raspberry vinaigrette or perhaps a fruity tartlet.


petrus oud bruinPetrus Oud Bruin is somewhat similar to Monk’s Cafe. It’s a little darker, dryer, and more complex. Notes of oak and cabernet grapes round out this highly quaffable beer. It’s almost too easy to drink for how long it’s aged! As it warms, swirling the glass will give some nice fruity plum and dried cherry notes. The sour factor is also enhanced as the temp rises. If Monk’s Cafe is Kindergarten, this is the second grade…both accessible, delicious and super high quality.

Overall, sour beer at a store like Total Wine & More is still somewhat hard to come by. It’s a gentle start, but I won’t be satisfied until there’s at least a dedicated sour section filled with gems from around the globe. Their selection of wine and spirits tells me, it’s damn possible.

Get a sour in Orange County recently? Share where!