Photograph by Greg Nagel
When a brewery turns 21, is it old enough to drink itself? Why, yes! Before Newport Beach Brewing Co. opened in 1995, grabbing a local microbrew was a chore, mostly limited to Pete’s Wicked Ale, Anchor Steam, and the occasional German or Belgian import. Brewco, as it’s called, was at the forefront of beer in Orange County.
Sitting in the historic Cannery Village a scant two blocks from the beach, the exterior boasts a French chalet look and feel. The interior? It’s 100% Caverne d’homme (man cave)! Classic and alternative rock wafts through the air, layering gently with occasional bursts of sports cheer. If you inhale deeply enough, you can detect the enticing aroma of beer and sea salt.
The hop-tattooed brewer, Derek Bougie, has a tenured past with the brewpub. Starting as a server, he learned about craft beer during his time at nearby Hi-Time Wine Cellars by volunteering to help out the brewer at the time, Kirk Roberts. That led him to him taking the reins after Roberts’ departure. Almost seven years have passed, and Bougie still feels fortunate to be the face of Newport Beach-brewed beer.
“Are you gonna take pictures of your beers all day or are you going to drink?” asks one of the salty dogs at the bar, seemingly fresh from cleaning barnacles from his boat. “Bloggers gonna blog,” I reply with a smile, taking one last photo then a sip. My suggested beer and food pairings include Dead Cowboy Imperial Oatmeal Stout paired with the award-winning Brewco Angus Burger, Breakaway Black IPA with the lobster mac ‘n’ cheese, and Wipeout American Red, Brewco’s 21st anniversary ale, paired with beer-battered fish and chips. Adventurous bros should grab a sample of Funky Boss sour, which has a smile-inducing acidic kick.