With a nautical theme and a modern facelift, Helmsman Ale House has retained much of the charm from its predecessor on the same site, Newport Beach Brewing Co., which closed in November. It will look familiar, but make no mistake, this is a brand-new place, with new management and a new brewer.
The grub is very good with my suggestion being the brunch menu, especially the chilaquiles. The burgers are very fresh and juicy, too. For those cocktail enthusiasts, tiki-inspired mixers showcase a solid selection of spirits, especially rum. However, because this was a brewpub, and is still a brewpub, the beer can’t go unnoticed.
Dylan Mobley, most recently the leader on deck at Bottle Logic, has taken the rudders as head brewer at Helmsman. “Those guys were really supportive on my decision to take on a new opportunity,” Mobley said regarding his departure from Bottle Logic. “Nothing but respect for those guys and the entire team there,” he then said with a pure honesty and admiration rarely found in other industries.
The brewouse has been salvaged and refurbished. This was quite the undertaking for Mobley. “It was a nice challenge to get this old system up and running,” he said.
The brewery was not in the best shape after brewing stopped under Newport Beach Brewing. “I’m glad I got this opportunity and glad it’s fired up again,” he added. The beers are still getting their bearings down, but they are on the right sails. Just Shuckin’ Around, an imperial oyster stout, is incredible. Brewed with real oysters (yes, oysters!) and a heavy dosing of dark malts, this beer was impressively easy to drink with chocolate and roasted notes and bit of brine that feels like the sea air kissed your lips.
A few house beers are available with many more in the pipeline. “If there’s an open tank, I want it filled as soon as possible,” Mobley confidently states. “That’s my goal.”
Helmsman Ale House
2920 Newport Blvd.
Editor’s note: Charlie Perez is an Advanced Cicerone® who covers the Orange County beer scene for the Booze Blog.