Why Not in Newport?: A Brewed Awakening

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A Newport Beach Magazine editor shares her thoughts on why the city should be home to its own microbrewery.

By Bria Balliet

NBM_28_Beer_Bootleggers Brewery_By Jody Tiongco-30
A microbrewery—like Bootlegger’s Brewery in Fullerton—would supply craft beer to the local community.

Confession: I used to hate beer. Even worse? I spent my college years in the heart of San Diego, the mecca of the California craft beer scene, yet was never able to appreciate the incredible network of local breweries that surroundeded me. I’m not entirely sure if it was my meager college bank account, the fact that my first beer experience involved a room temperature case of the cheapest kind possible or just pure ignorance of the gloriousness that was to be had. In any case, my typical reaction to an offered brew was to wrinkle my nose and reach for a Smirnoff Ice.

Then, a few years ago, a friend invited me on a trip to the Bootlegger’s Brewery tasting room in Fullerton, and everything changed. The beer had flavor, depth and a distinctly delicious aroma that completely shifted my thoughts on what beer could and should be. It’s this experience that inspires me to propose that Newport Beach take measures to open its very own microbrewery and tasting room. Aside from pleasing would-be beer connoisseurs such as myself, it has the potential to increase year-round traffic to the area, grow local businesses and garner a reputation for the city as a power player in the craft beer world.

Now, don’t think that I’m forgetting about Newport Beach Brewing Co., a quality brewpub serving top-notch beer and food for almost 20 years—the brewing company is great at what it does. What I would love to see, however, is the Newport Beach name expand beyond its front doors. While a brewpub’s beer is for sale at its own restaurant, a microbrewery would focus solely on the beer aspect, be able to produce beer in larger quantities and distribute it to a wider audience.

A microbrewery in Newport could easily capitalize on the already healthy tourism rush during the summer months. A trip to the local tasting room after a day at the beach would appeal to most demographics visiting the area, from the younger college crowd to the more mature set. The more established the business becomes and the further its reach, the more people will want to visit year-round. This kind of success can be found at The Bruery, an established microbrewery in Placentia, which offers beer that’s now available in 23 states. Benjamin Weiss, director of marketing at The Bruery, says a large number of the tasting room’s visitors have traveled many miles just to try the company’s beer.

Additionally, the opportunities to collaborate with other local businesses are abundant. The Bruery hosts various OC-based food trucks Thursday through Sunday, which simultaneously combats the problem of not having an on-site kitchen (drinking on an empty stomach can be less than desirable) and promotes local establishments. A plethora of food trucks are based in Newport Beach and the surrounding area, providing endless food-and-beer pairing possibilities.

It is a bit of uncharted territory, but I believe Newport Beach has the tools and capability to be home to a truly great microbrewery. After all, according to Benjamin, the key to success is endearingly simple: “You’ve got to make good beer.” So, Newport—challenge accepted? NBM

Bria Balliet is an editorial assistant at Newport Beach Magazine and a craft beer convert.

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