Back in the 90’s, finding a fine-tasting “microbrew” meant taking a trip to one of the local brewpubs, possibly dodging a barfight at Goat Hill Tavern, or even cracking a tasty homebrew (I did all three). From that era, only the exceptional remain—the ones with great beer, warm atmosphere, and who give constant attention to hospitality. Of those, Taps Fish House & Brewery still sets the bar the highest with almost 30 beer awards at the national/world level between its two brewpub locations.
Widely seen as the grand-daddy of great beer in O.C., Taps has had one major flaw in all these years: you can’t buy its precious liquid in stores…until now.
“We’re opening a production brewery, 1,900-square-foot-tasting room, a patio with a 12-seat fire pit, with multiple TVs and video games in Tustin,” says the new brewery operations manager, Kyle Manns. The name? Taps Brewery & Barrel Room. It’ll be run by the current brewpub team, consisting of Manns, David Huls, Jonathan Chiusano, Max Jones, and Eric Elliott. Initial production goal is 5,000 barrels, but the facility will have the ability to produce 20,000 to 25,000 barrels of beer annually. I got a chance to chat with Kyle about about a few details:
I got a chance to chat with Kyle about a few details:
Will you continue to brew at the brewpub locations or will the new brewery be the central hub for production?
Corona will still operate normally and we anticipate doing a few repairs to get that system up and running the way it was designed to be used. It was built to decoct (a special mash technique that yields more complex malt flavors), but sadly, it was never successfully utilized. We’re looking to do a lot of lagers, hefeweizen, and other styles of beer that will benefit from decoction (at that location). With Brea being 20 years old, the upkeep on the brewery is a time and money pit. We’ll nearly halt brewing in Brea, only brewing on it a few times a year. I would love to do all stainless souring/brett beers in Brea, as we can tie the tanks up for a significant length of time, even blend off of base beers. The ideal plan is lagers and pilot brews in Corona and sours/brett beers in Brea (leaving main production in Tustin).
1) We’ll be able to distribute (our beer) outside of the restaurants. 2) We can do a traditional six-step mash if we want to. 3) Bottle our products. 4) Diversify our portfolio. 5) Use the pubs to experiment a little more. 6) All be under one roof, as a complete team. 7) Utiliza a dedicated lab. 8) Expand the barrel program exponentially. 9) Frankly, re-establish relevance in the marketplace.
Will you be canning?
Not at this time. We’re going to regionally distribute our beer, and most canning lines do not provide the shelf stability that a good lager deserves. Unless you’re spending nearly a million dollars on a canning line. We have chosen to go with a state-of-the-art, rotary, GAI bottling line, rolling out 12-ounce bottles, in 4/6 packs, for the core brands and specialties. Barrel-aged products will start rolling out 6 to 8 months later in 500ml bottles.
Our plan is to be in a position within 3 years, to be able to purchase a state-of-the-art canning line. We initially had the first right of refusal on the adjoining space, so the plan was to expand with a dedicated packaging hall next door. Proper canning lines are approximately 1 million dollars all said and done. We may utilize the mobile canner for small-batch runs of beer that are intended to be consumed ASAP. Crowlers will be available in the tasting room, so there’s your lager in cans.
Set to open January 2018 at 15501 Red Hill Ave.
Follow their adventure via facebook.