In a relatively quick turnaround after officially wining the bid for the former Barley Forge home, Green Cheek Costa Mesa is set to open Wednesday evening! Green Cheek CM offers a kitchen with tasty food, lovely beers we are familiar with, and additional tanks for increased production.
Having a small kitchen is a new venture for Green Cheek, but it won’t distract the brewers from their main task. “We are not just a restaurant that has beer,” proclaimed co-owner Brian Rauso said. “It’s a brewery that just happens to have food.”
My good friend and colleague Greg Nagel will have some words to say about the food and guest taps, so be on the lookout for that!
As for the brewery itself, tank space is visibly amplified. Green Cheek CM adds seven 30-barrel fermentation tanks and a 30-barrel foudre (giant wooden vessel) to its arsenal. Once the new facility has its upgrades and is up and running, there’s a potential of more than 5,000 production barrels when combined with the existing barrelage from Orange!
My concern with producers increasing their output out of multiple locations and/or increase in barrelage per batch is consistency and quality. The challenge with producing so much beer is pushing it out into the hands of thirsty consumers. “Quality is always at the forefront of what we are doing,” said Mitch McDuff, brewing team leader. The added potential to produce more beer will only fuel innovation and creativity. Aside from perhaps Bier, Green Cheek doesn’t really have a core lineup of beers. This frees up the ability to make unique beers, but they are not constrained by having to push beers out before they are ready to keep them on the board. “We let the beer tell us when it’s ready,” McDuff said with a proud grin.
Green Cheek CM adds an in-house canning line to the mix, which means we are getting more product packaged up for us to take home. Now that there will be much more beer produced, one might expect Green Cheek to have more distribution. When thinking of quality, this would be counterproductive. Rauso mentioned: “We have a bigger footprint, and we appreciate the foot traffic.” This is a testament to how the beer industry is going. “The retail approach is where we want to be,” Rauso added. This all ties back in to the responsibility for quality.
In the end, this is wonderful thing for us in the beer community. We may have some losses along the way, and they do hurt. But we can take solace in knowing we have something bright (or hazy, if you prefer it) rising from the ashes of those beers that are now lost to time.
Let’s welcome our cheeky friends to Costa Mesa. Grab a bite, have a beer, and drink while smiling.
Editor’s note: Charlie Perez is an Advanced Cicerone® who covers the Orange County beer scene for the Booze Blog.