About Gregory Nagel

Greg Nagel is a beer, food and travel writer based in North Orange County, California.

Orange County Wins a Dozen at GABF 2023

Villains Brewing won their first GABF medal at the 2023 Great American Beer Festival Awards. Photo Greg Nagel

250 judges took nine days to judge 9300 entries from 2,033 breweries at the 2023 GABF. Orange County brewers took home a dozen medals overall, up one from last year. At this year’s Alpha King hoppy beer challenge, BreweryX kept the coveted Yakima Chief hop-helmet in OC, last year won by Radiant and 3rd place Santa Ana River Brewing Co.

Here are the 2023 Great American Beer Festival Winners:


  • Lost Winds – Huckleberry Phin Sour fruited American sour ale (1st GABF medal)
  • Golden Road HB – Guava Cart fruit wheat beer


  • Docent Brewing – Super Tonic coffee stout (3rd-time GABF winner for this beer)
  • Unsung Brewing – Chaos Erupts American-style strong pale ale
  • Stereo Brewing – Wall of Sound oatmeal stout (3rd-time GABF winner for this beer)


  • Laguna Beach Beer Co. – Tuava Guava RSM fruit wheat beer (1st GABF medal)
  • The Bruery – Because You’re Mine chocolate beer
  • Villains Brewing – Saca La Bolsita American-style lager (1st GABF medal)
  • Beachwood Brewing – Glenlongbeach Scottish-style ale (made in HB)
  • Docent Brewing – Trabuco American-style brown
  • Tustin Brewing – Midnight Oil American black ale or stout 
  • Docent Brewing – Double Nickles American style pale ale

OC Brewers Take Home 21 Medals at the CA Brewers Cup 2023

riip beer co took home four medals in 2023. Photo by Greg Nagel

It’s a cold and rainy night up in the state’s Capitol, and the California Brewer’s Cup is making it rain INDOORS, with medals for our Orange County brewers. Winners were announced at the historic Crest Theater during the California Craft Beer Summit, which is running from March 20-22. Big congrats to all the winners!

Gold (10)

Brewery X Stein Me Up Münchner (Munich)-Style Helles
Stereo Brewing Company Robot Imperial Red Ale
Riip Beer Company Strategic Arrangement American-Style Stout
Artifex Brewing Company Artifexican Australasian, Latin American or…
1886 Brewing Company Record Beer Brown Porter
Delahunt Brewery Sunbather German-Style Kölsch / Köln-Style…
Bottle Logic Brewing Arcane Rituals Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer
Chapman Crafted Beer Beer of the Dark Wood- and Barrel-Aged Dark Beer
Lost Winds Brewing Company Beach Hoppin’ Pale Ale Australian-Style Pale Ale
Artifex Brewing Company Trigger Finger American-Style Strong Pale Ale

Silver (6)

Chapman Crafted Beer Still the One English-Style Brown Ale
Brewery X Shhhwheat Fruit Wheat Ale or Lager with or…
Riip Beer Company Wannabe Wallaby Australian-Style Pale Ale
Riip Beer Company Dan K American-Style India Pale Ale
Stereo Brewing Company Summer Sun American-Style Sour Ale
Bearded Tang Brewery Llc T Minus 10° Session Beer

Bronze (5)

Flashpoint Brewing Company Churchill Browns Historical Beer
The Dog Pawrk Brewing Company El Hefe – Dognito Light American Wheat Ale or Lager…
Docent Brewing The Rube Imperial Red Ale
Bottle Logic Brewing Fundamental Observation Wood- and Barrel-Aged Dark Beer
Riip Beer Company Chain Out American-Style Strong Pale Ale


Out With St. Paddy’s, In With Fruhlingsfest

The only snakes in Ireland are the roads. Photo by Greg Nagel

I haven’t written a lot about St. Patricks Day, as it’s more of a “drinking” day than it is a “beer” day, and we, as in, you and I, have made the day less of celebrating Irish heritage, and more about:

  1. Putting green dye in gross beer
  2. Eating the world’s saddest corned beef “tacos” 
  3. Flogging some poor gal named Molly
  4. Creepy-ass Leprechauns! 

I’ve been to Ireland, and the beer they drink is BLACK. Corned beef? Turns out it was invented by the BRITISH. The lore behind it is also completely fake, as St. Patrick never drove SNAKES out of Ireland because THE COUNTRY IS TOO FUCKING COLD FOR SNAKES AND NEVER HAD THEM TO BEGIN WITH.  

On St. Patrick’s day, we decorate the house with Irish trinkets, wear green, and cook up a mean Irish meal complete with some beer brewed at St. James Gate, but I’ve seen a trend pop up recently and hope it sticks: Frühlingsfest, aka the German celebration of spring.

Frühlingsfest is sort of like Oktoberfest, but smaller, bringing in around 1.2 million guests as opposed to 6 million in October. Although Germans usually kick their fests off in April (probably due to weather), our first day of spring is March 20th, so why not dust off that old stein, leather pants (lederhosen), and dirndl to get in the mood? Here are a couple events worth checking out:

Maybe more? I’ll update this if anyone else is jumping on the spring festival train!

OCBeerBLAB is Back!

I feel like every blog needs to have some sort of stupid, “I’M BACK” post, or some fucking lame apology for lack of updates. Truth is, I’ve been busy pushing content on other sites, getting paid the “big bucks.”

In case you missed it, I wrote over 250 articles at OCWeekly. I just crossed 300 on OrangeCoast! I wrote a bunch of words for The Full Pint! I’m still on the FourBrewers Podcast

My good friend Kris from High School, recently reminded me of the importance of blogging. There’s a difference between what I write for publications and what I write here. In beer terms, this blog is like an unfiltered IPA, complete with mysterious chunks in the bottom. Writing for publications is filtered, triple distilled, stuck at 300ish words because of your weak attention spans, and listicle heavy. Nothing wrong with that, but sometimes I just want to blab about beer. OC Beer BLAB style.




My goal is to blog about Orange County Beer and also get the backend of this site up to date, post a new banner, and maybe a new theme if I can figure that out. Will it have event photos? You bet your ass. Will it have beer reviews? 100% Will it have brewery news and other stuff? Yes’m.

I’m still going to continue writing for OrangeCoast and other freelance projects, but will keep it mostly wine and cocktail related, as this is OC BEER BLOG. Will I still write some stuff for The Full Pint? Hell yes, if it’s newsworthy for a larger audience. Will Firkfest ever come back? Yes, if I find a location that has grass, electricity, parking, bathrooms, shade, and isn’t $10,000. Will it have memes? Nah.

With that said, welcome back! Hope you like floaties and chunks.

GABF 2021 OCBeer Winners

image courtesy Brewers Association

GABF snuck up on us this year, with no real festival, but a combo wombo GABF/CBC trade show, except with super metal-GABF medals to sling around your beard so that people will declare you the winner of beers. Here are the Orange County winners for the magical year that is 2021. (9,680 entries, 2,192 breweries, 9 medals)

Brewer of the Year:

Radiant Brewing, 1-250 Barrels Brewery and Brewer of the Year


  • Bearded Tang Brewing Vlad the Barista Coffee Stout (first GABF win)
  • The Bruery Mischief (3rd GABF medal for this beer)
  • Radiant Brewing Second That Emotion – Hazy Pale Ale (first GABF win)
  • Stereo Brewing Robot Imperial Red Ale (second GABF medal for this beer)


  • Unsung Brewing Co. Let it Out NZ IPA
  • riip beer co. Black the Ripper (3rd GABF medal for this beer)


  • Karl Strauss Anaheim Golden Stout (Won as well in 2020)
  • SouthNorte Beer Co. Agavamente (first GABF win)
  • 1886 Elleigh’s ESB (first brewery GABF medal)

Modern Times Leisuretown: Open Tuesday!

Poolside sippin’. Reservations suggested. Photo – Nagel

It’s weird to think all the way back in 1851 there was a utopian community in New York called Modern Times, where the founders and builders based its ideals on individual sovereignty and equitable commerce.

There is some parking, but download the CtrCity Anaheim app and use Fran from the Center Street Promenade parking structures or rideshare. Neighborhood parking is permit. Photo – Nagel

A few years later, the city of Anaheim would be built by a similar forward-thinking community of poets, vintners, and ragtag artists…soon to follow with spitoon-filled saloons, breweries, and hotels lining Los Angeles Boulevard where the Packinghouse and totally new Modern Times Leisuretown sits today.

“But will there be a pool?” Photo – Nagel

Not much has changed in Anaheim since then, aside from prohibition, Disneyland, a couple sports teams, and now a dozen or so breweries. Modern Times is finally open after a few years of city planning and other hot-button projects that took priority. But here I am, sitting amongst an atrium of trees in a seventy’s-ish kitchy swoop chair…a fat drippy plant-based cowboy burger in one hand and a sweaty LICE in the other (Lime and salt ICE Lager that’s fresh and delicious.)

Familiar face: Ryan Dick is like the Issac of the Modern Times Love Boat. – Photo – Nagel

The burger fits my bright green cowboy bandana facemask drooping around my neck. We are, after all, in the thick of a pandemic in one of the most densely affected cities in Orange County. This is the first time I’ve been out of the house for a beer in four months, but I still feel the nerves. Check-in was meaningfully thorough, which put me at ease. It included a verbal health check, ID check, a credit card swipe, and I was in. Ordering beer requires ordering food, and the menus are available via a simple phone barcode scan. The space is wide open outdoors with areas to safely distance.

Lime Ice and Cowboy Burger – Yeehaw! Photo – Nagel

Yes, there’s a pool. There’s also a completely refurbished craftsman bungalow that isn’t open yet. Oooh, and there’s a brewery on-site, which I can’t wait to check out. The inside wasn’t signed off on yet so it was off-limits. I’ll do a follow-up.

The munch wrap and house fresh hotsauce. A must. Photo – Nagel

The kitchen, led by chef Kody DeNike, is all plant-based, but don’t let that turn you off. As a carnivore, the cowboy burger ($14) was a serious endeavor that almost needed a hydraulic press to get it within mouth-girth range. Its beefish Beyond patty, crispy house pickles, perfectly fried onion rings, and a coconut-based cheese that actually oozes and tastes like the real deal make this burger a new fave. The menu draws inspiration from far and wide, with items like a chorizo burrito, token Nashville hot, Coney Island dawg, and the must-get Munch Wrap filled with beyond, pico, crema, and “gas station cheese,” I can’t wait to go back and try everything.

Modern Times Leisuretown is at 555 S. Anaheim Blvd, Anaheim. Limited parking. Ride share and FRAN friendly. Opens July 28, 2020! noon-8 daily, check their website for details. 

(Update: Open Tuesday July 28.)


This New-Old Brewery Will Bookend the La Palma Beer Trail

We’ve all had a classic Americana-style Knowlwood burger in our lives, but the Anaheim Hills/Yorba/Placentia tri-city area location will soon transform into a local brewery. After checking the California ABC permit lookup for 5665 E La Palma Ave, Anaheim where Knowlwood was, the location has a coveted type 23 Small Beer Manufacturer license as the restaurant had begun to move in brewing equipment, but they ended closing suddenly this week. Bust out the bugle, it’s time for…

teaser taster

TAPS will be opening in that ol’ Knowlwood barn in the coming months… “TAPS Great American Brewery, yes, it’s a long name with a loooong story,” says TAPS co-owner Joe Manzella. “It combines the elements of the tasting room success of Tustin, but with a more sophisticated and larger menu than Tustin and the new Yorba Linda TAPS Brewery & Kitchen (another new spot that is slated to open soon).

Inside TAPS newest Tustin Brewery and Barrel room.

TAPS American Brewery will be 5,000 square feet with 16 taps and will also have elements of the classic Brea menu. “It’s more approachable, priced right, high quality, with lots going on to compliment the beer and our legacy of success,” adds Joe. It’ll have a big patio, fire pits, games, beer garden, and be family-friendly.

Empetus Baltic Stout, a collab with Mikkel himself. Photo by Nagel

Perhaps the most exciting thing about TAPS is the official re-launch of their barrel program, which from years past has gained notoriety with beers like Remy and the single-barrel variants. The first beer to come out of wood is a collaboration with Mikkel of famed Mikkeller; a huge Baltic-style stout called Empetus, complete with a metal-as-fuck logo and matte-black bottle packaging.

TAPS is bringing sexy back.

Empetus is the first of its kind. TAPS Brewing and Mikkel (yeah, that Mikkel) got together and said, “let’s do a big barrel-aged lager,” notes director of brewing ops Kyle Manns. “My complaint with baltic porters is always the special B component which adds raisiny fig,” says Kyle, looking to find a unique recipe.

The finished product, at least coming out of the brite tank, is a black canvas that’s barrel-pungent on the nose with bits of vanillin and some cis-oak lactones, layered with a healthy dose of dark chocolate, and general beer stoutness, which is honestly a welcome approach to the dessert bombs of the 2020’s. It’s a 12+% stout you can easily dome without getting the sugar shakes. There’s nothing wrong with those beers, but this welcome addition comes off dry and clean despite having a hefty 9 plato of residual long-chain sugars floating about.

Overall thoughts on both? TAPS is one of the godfathers of craft beer in OC with strong foothold with classic styles with their old Brea brewpub. We’ve seen what they can do with their new brewery, tasting room, and food truck in Tustin (it was my fave new brewery OCWeekly 2019 editors choice). Finding a foothold in Yorba Linda/Anaheim Hills in the beer business is basically uncharted territory, and the “Great American” stuff should play well with the older locals. One thing I’d be concerned with is the BA’s Dr. Bart Watson’s age chart of alcohol drinkers, but it is just a couple miles from Stereo Brewing and Honey Pot, so it’s well within a La Palma beer crawl. Plus there’s food! The beer has always been solid and keeps getting better, so I say, more TAPS!

I’ve Moved On…To Get Paid!

′OCBeerBlog has moved on to hundreds of freelance gigs. Find his shenanigans here!

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Darkstar Dinner Done Right

gnag3876It’s tough to write about beer dinners as the numbers show: people don’t like to read about them. As you’ve probably already nodded off to sleep, I’ll get to the nitty-gritty. The 2016 Darkstar November beer dinner was probably one of the best beer dinners I’ve been to. Why? It was relaxed. It was paced. It had hospitality. It didn’t have a billion calories. There wasn’t a nasty slab of pork belly. The dishes were portioned well. The beer pairings actually worked. It wasn’t overly gluttonous. It seems like Bottle Logic is getting incredibly comfortable pulling these dinners off. Crazy, huh?

The plates, for your scrolling pleasure…


Course one: Foie Gras, pickled mustard seeds, rhubarb, strawberry paired with Berlinier Equation with strawberry and rhubarb. Although pretty, mustard and foie was pretty funky, but a great place to start.


Course two: Autumn Salad – seasonal veggies, ricotta solata, brown butter vinaigrette paired with Dark Harvest. The beer had a nice vintage root beer vibe that filled in the flavor gaps of the seasonal salad. Quite beautiful and a nice step in the dinner progression. Lovely fall colors as well.


The best thing ever plated in an Anaheim alley, course three.


Course three is when the tables got loud cutting into little Gnudi balls. Butternut squash puree was licked out of bowls. Sour Prince, the two-year-old experiment finally paid off. It tasted vinous, woody, tart, finished, polished. I’m really looking forward to A) more sour beer from Bottle Logic and B) more food from chef Patrick. This pairing was incredible.


Course four - light and fluffy red snapper plopped on squash with a groovy onion, potato and asparagus to floss with. Love this almost intermezzo main before the main. Although Tattered Prince paired well, we all yearned for something hoppy.

Course four – light and fluffy red snapper plopped on squash with a groovy onion, potato, and asparagus to floss with. Love this almost intermezzo main before the main. Although Tattered Prince paired well, we all yearned for something hoppy. IPA intermezzo?


Five: The best thing I’ve ever had at a beer dinner. Braised lamb belly that had a mutton jerky vibe on a grits-based tamal and mole drizzle…holy hell. Inventive, layered, textured, colorful, and, oh yeah, paired well with Darkstar November 2016 that is easily the best year yet. Blown. Away.


Cheers to the team!


Dessert: Textures of Chocolate. Who knew persimmon would go well with chocolate and BBA stout?


Jam the Radar, Mostra Darkstar, and Darkstar November 2016. Incredible! Jam the Radar should be called Pornstar November. Sees candies, booze, decadent.

What I Learned About Myself After Getting an AlcoMate Breathalyzer

As a beer, spirits, and cocktail writer, people often say to me, “that must be rough” and “sounds like a dream job!” Well, it is fun, but it’s a struggle to tell people the other side that is actually work. Besides editing photos and writing about something I’m proud of at the end of the night, work also includes safety. It takes a crazy amount of will power to carefully manage food intake, time, and alcohol consumption to safely drive home to my family at the end of the night.

When Alcomate asked me to review their AlcoMate Revo (model TS200), I gladly accepted, more of a way to get a (hopefully) good breathalyzer in exchange for writing and sharing this review. After using it for a few weeks, I feel like I’ve learned a lot. I’ve tried other breathalyzers and never really found that sweet spot of trust, where one blow would be well over the limit, the next well under. What a waste of time and money!

When I first found the AlcoMate on my doorstep, I was just coming home from shooting a video on Naughty Sauce with Foodbeast. After a couple pints on an empty stomach at noon, I eagerly cracked open the case, installed the included batteries and gave a long-steady blow.

My first blow on the AlcoMate Revo after two beers on an empty stomach

My first blow on the AlcoMate Revo after two beers on an empty stomach

I blew it again. 0.044. I blew a third time… same. I then ate lunch, drank a bunch of water and blew one more time: 0.032. This thing is crazy accurate! I let my kid use it to make sure it would register a zero, and sure as hell it did.

Me after blowing

Me after blowing .121 at Mission Brewery in San Diego

The design is thin and solid like a cell phone. With its LED screen, blowing in your dark car before leaving an event is nice and discreet. Nothing says “boozehound” quite like blowing a breathalyzer with the car dome light on! With one button, you simply turn it on, blow steadily when it says blow, and wait for the calculation. It takes ten seconds at the most.

Here’re some events I went to over the last few weeks and what I blew before leaving (note that .08 is the legal limit in California):

  • After a fun Halloween Party: Three hours, four beers: .045
  • After recording Four Brewers Podcast: Three shows in five hours with lots of beer and pizza: .024 (was .089 in the middle of recording!)
  • Porktoberfest at Five Crowns: one cocktail, five 4oz beers including a bourbon barrel aged Helldorado: .026
  • Checking out cocktails at Puzzle Bar for a blog post: .078! 
  • Private BBQ event at Windsor Homebrew Supply with a bunch of bottle share stuff: .023
  • Touring San Diego breweries with Travelocity. Alesmith, Ballast Point, Mission and Stone Liberty Station: .121 (I didn’t drive, thankfully)

Firestone vertical at Windsor Homebrew Supply’s private BBQ event (blew a .023)

What did I learn? One of my biggest takeaways being a professional booze writer is to drink in moderation. Having an accurate breathalyzer like the Alcomate Revo is a great tool to not only stay safe, but eliminate the guess work. As I dive deeper into spirits/cocktail writing, I’m finding it harder to guess where I’m at and this is the perfect solution.

AlcoMate Revo TS200 is available for $219 (plus tax and shipping), and makes the perfect gift for the boozehound in your life, not to mention keeping your holiday party guests safe when leaving your house!