The brew has met the beach, folks. Beach City Brewery, after several months of teasing local brew hounds, will roll up its door to the public on Saturday, May 10, from noon until 10 p.m. Pouring four flagship brews, Huntington Beach's first production microbrewery will also tap two surprise variety beers and two cask ales on opening day. We stopped by on Sunday for a look inside, a few sips and to give the BCB crew a few well-deserved high-fives.
Visitors of the 4,200-square-foot brewery should arrive thirsty and with the understanding that BCB is all about beer. Its dedicated production space shines in all its towering, stainless steel, made in the USA glory to the right of the entrance, owning nearly half of BCB's space and causing beer aficionados to appropriately geek out at the mere sight of its contained expanse. BCB will not wow you with its interior decor, aside from the artfully crafted signage, tank lettering and etched pint glasses by BCB Founder Glenn Closson's mother, Nancy Closson; rad HB Pier tap handles by Taphandles; and Michael Latham Images pop-up gallery. And you should not expect it to do so. The minimalist, industrial interior and relatively bare walls serve as reminders of the mission at hand: to drink and be merry.
Come Saturday, drink you will and wowed you will be. In addition to their Overcast Summer Wheat, PCH Pale Ale, Sweet Crude Stout and High Five IPA, the crew will also unveil two variety beers. Says Closson, "We are also going to be having two cask ales where our head brewer and assistant brewer will be competing and seeing which cask will kick first. Derek [Testerman] used toasted coconut with our pale ale, and Bob [Weden] used bourbon-soaked oak chips and tart cherries. These are both one-off styles, so you have to get it quick!"
Hailing from Philadelphia's Iron Hill Brewery, Testerman won his role as head brewer just a few months ago and, with Weden as his right-hand man, has helped bring the BCB dream to tap in record time.
"I trained under some of the best brewers on the East Coast and brought some knowledge and skills from them here with me to HB," says Testerman, who has roughly three years of brewing experience under his belt. He adds, "The beers that you will find coming out of our brewery will be very approachable for all beer drinkers, whether it be a seasoned craft beer junkie or someone just getting into the scene."
Closson's father, Jack, tells us that the rocky seven months of development and construction have won the group praise for launching faster than any other brewery in the city.
A novice to professional brewing, Weden has been a homebrewer for years. He says of his new post, "BCB is first and foremost an environment that promotes creativity without sacrificing quality. I think that shows in the end result of our beers." We agree.
Several local restaurants are already tapping BCB, including Slater's 50/50, SeaLegs Wine Bar, Ringside Lounge, BT's Southern BBQ and Eureka!. Next up are Sandy's, Duke's, Spark Woodfire Grill and Pizza Lounge. Tonight Eureka! will honor the new brews in town starting at 6 p.m. with a special "Steal the Glass" night, where they'll pour BCB's PCH Pale Ale and Hang Five IPA into BCB keepsake pints.
When we asked Closson what most excites him about opening his brewery, he said, "...the fact that we are bringing great craft beer to Huntington Beach." He also predicts that HB will catch up with Anaheim's established craft beer scene, so let's hold him to it.
Opening day will see many a pint, growler and flight atop the beautiful beech wood bar built by Tony Young, whose work you may have also seen at Tustin Brewing Company, Smoqued BBQ and HopScotch. Two food trucks, GD BRO TRUCK (11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and The Viking Truck (4 to 10 p.m.), will fill rumbling beer bellies.
Prices are right, with five-ounce pours, pints and growlers costing between $2.75 and $3.25, $5 and $6.50, and $12 and $15, respectively. The growler itself costs $10, and your first fill comes with a $2 discount. As it is a tasting room, BCB hardly neglects every indecisive beer drinker's favorite choice: the flight. Flights of four 5-ounce tasters cost $10, and eight 5-ounce tasters will run you and a friend $18.
The local craft brewery's long-awaited opening times nicely with American Craft Beer Week, from Monday, May 12, through Sunday, May 18. During those days, BCB will remain open for its maximum amount of hours of noon to 10 p.m. daily. Surprise events are in the works.
Normal operation hours post-American Craft Beer Week are Wednesday through Friday, 4 to 10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, noon to 10 p.m.
BCB-goers, prepare to drink craft beer and honor the craft of brewing beer. As Weden so perfectly states, "Ultimately my goal is to be able to make great beers that I would be proud to share with my friends. And one can never have too many friends." Cheers to ales and amigos!
UPDATE, MAY 26, 2014: We stopped in for our first (but certainly not last) growler on our way to a Memorial Day BBQ and learned of a few new BCB updates. Visitors can now have a seat at one of several picnic tables inside the dog-friendly tasting room and enjoy two new brews: Beach Cruiser and Rye't Black IPA.