About Gregory Nagel

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

What Dad Wants: Puesto’s New Canned Beer (and Tacos)

Puesto Clara Canned Beer Six-Packs Half-Off on Father’s Day

photo – Puesto

Just in time for Father’s Day, Puesto Mexican Artisan Kitchen & Bar has introduced its first canned beer, Puesto Clara, now available for retail purchase at all locations. On Father’s Day, Sunday, June 16, Puesto will offer six-packs of the SoCal-brewed beer for half off to celebrate Dad’s big day (only $6.50, while supplies last).

As its first canned beer offering, Puesto Clara is a traditional Mexican lager – well-balanced with a crisp, cracker-like malt flavor, subtle sweetness, and clean finish. It adds depth to lighter dishes, while serving as a perfect contrast to bold spices, making it the ideal companion beverage for all Mexican cuisine – and most importantly, for Puesto’s trophy tacos.

The new canned Puesto Clara, which is also available on draught and featured in the restaurants’ micheladas, is brewed at the Puesto Cervecería in Mission Valley, San Diego by veteran Brewmaster Doug Hasker.

Puesto Clara Canned Beer
4.6% ABV, 19 IBU
Ingredients: pale malted barley, pilsner malt, flaked corn, German Hallertau magnum hops
Tasting Notes: a traditional, well-balanced bright golden lager beer with a crispy flavor from malted barley; hints of corn; medium bitterness from noble German hops; and clean aftertaste.

Puesto Clara canned beer is available at all Puesto’s locations. For more information, visit www.eatpuesto.com.

photo – Greg Nagel

Puesto highlights the “taco” in “Taco Tuesday” with half off all tacos for dine-in service from 3 p.m. to close every Tuesday. Among the things that make Puesto’s tacos so craveable are handmade, non-GMO, organic blue corn stone-ground tortillas; Wayne Farms chicken and other sustainable meats; Baja and local line caught seafood; and local produce and scratch salsas. Guests are encouraged to mix and match from a selection of nearly a dozen unique tacos, including Filet Mignon, Chicken al Pastor, Carnitas, and Shrimp Tamarindo; as well as vegetarian options, such as Verduras and Mushroom.

Puesto offers a weekday Happy Hour from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Monday through Friday with killer dine-in specials, including $10 Puesto Perfect margaritas; $9 wines by the glass; and half off all Snacks & Shares. Guests can enjoy Puesto draft beers for $6 during Happy Hour. All brewed at the Puesto Cervecería in Mission Valley, San Diego, the beer selections include a rotating Puseto IPA, Mexican Lager, Mexican Amber, and Mexican Negra Lager, which was awarded a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival. Pro tip: on Tuesdays, guests can stack these specials with Taco Tuesday!

Born in Mexico City and built in Southern California, Puesto provides a contemporary and approachable take on authentic Mexican cuisine. Sourcing its ingredients from in and around the Southern California area, Puesto has reached national acclaims for its Mexico City-style tacos made with house-made blue corn tortillas, crispy melted cheese and scratch salsas. Since opening its first location in La Jolla in 2012, Puesto has become a dining institution throughout California.

Don’t Miss This Bucket List Bourbon Dinner

Sipping some small batch at the source. Photo by Greg Nagel

After all these years, there’s one bourbon that has yet to be checked off of my whiskey bucket list. It’s cask strength, uncut at 140ish proof, and is blended from all of master distiller Donnis Todd’s best “honey barrels.” When it’s released, people fly into Central Texas and wait overnight in a long line of cars on a rural road just to snag a bottle.

That sought-after whiskey is Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon, and all you have to do to get a taste is to buy a ticket and head up the elevator to the Basque country-inspired rooftop restaurant The Top of the V, where it’s on the menu for a course at their bourbon dinner this June.

The single Cowboy Bourbon course at the dinner alone is worthy of a ticket, with executive chef Nathaniel McCoy sending your taste buds on a culinary cowboy standoff between food and spirit. McCoy chose a flavor-packed Iberico skirt steak punctuated with sweet and intense Pedro Ximenez sherry glaze, and winter figs to go up against the Cowboy.

Five courses in total include pours of Garrison Brothers Small Batch, a custom VIV Hotel Single Barrel pick, Balmorhea (twice barreled at 115 proof), Cowboy Bourbon, and a Honeydew espresso martini paired with orange flan drizzled in caramel.

The Top of the V celebrates Spanish Basque country cuisine with newly appointed executive chef Nate McCoy after having worked in the restaurant under chef Edgar Beas over the last three years. In the past, chef Nate has worked alongside Top Chef winners Michael Voltaggio of Ink and Mei Lin, owner of Daybird, as well as Michelin-star chefs Tony Esault, owner of nearby Knife Pleat, and Jacob Kear, owner of LURRA in Kyoto, Japan.

Tickets are available at Eventbrite. Top of the V is located at 1601 S Anaheim Blvd, Anaheim.

Watching the 2024 World Beer Cup in 1886

1886 Nachos, aka a Matterhorn of crispy chips. photo – Greg Nagel

Why do some people call it “the Orange Circle,” when it’s actually called “the Plaza Square,” I ponder, while sipping a rare brown porter in the brick-walled 1886 Brewing, just north of the newly rebuilt central fountain. I pick at my heaping plate of nachos, looking for the perfect bite, then gasp as I see the countdown to the 2024 World Beer Cup awards ceremony amongst the various brewpub TV sports.

(World Beer Cup Winners are listed below)

“They make beer here?” asks my niece, who attends college nearby. I point out the grist case and malt mill next to the front window and antique door. “Poor bastard has to walk up those rickety steps carrying bags of grain to get it done,” I reply, hoping she’s cool with us watching the World Beer Cup awards.

1886’s Chili Verde poutine, fresh fries, gooey curds, flavorful pork.

Next to 1886’s tap list are various ribbons and awards they’ve won over the years, including one for the brown porter I’m sipping now. Record Beer, as it’s called, is a luscious ale that lays on the malt pretty thick, yet reverberates some fruity esters on the finish. “If they win an award this year, they’ll probably put it up right there,” I mention.

And just like that, Orange County breweries start getting called up and the place lights up.

“California’s good with some hoppy lagers,” notes Chris Williams of the Brewers Association as he calls out the Hoppy Lager category, with two of the winning breweries within five miles of where we’re at.

The place erupts when 1886 gets called for their ESB, a silver for Ellieigh’s. Man, the World Beer Cup awards are so much more fun to watch at a brewery. 1886’s service is fast, attentive, and super friendly, which matches perfectly with their brunch to happy hour and beyond menu. The malty beers shine here, and you won’t find a hazy IPA…what did you expect? It’s 1886.



2024’s World Beer Cup competition saw 9300 beers from 2060 breweries from 50 countries in 110 categories judged by 280 judges from 27 countries.



  • Green Cheek Beer Co – Chance Favors the Prepared Mind, DIPA
  • Riip Beer Co. Wannabe Wallaby, NZ-style IPA
  • Docent Brewing – Double Nickles, Pale Ale
  • Noble Ale Works – Harry Porter, Strong Porter.


  • Green Cheek Beer Co. – False Memories, WC IPA
  • Chapman Crafted – Cabin Season, Strong Porter.
  • Everywhere Beer Co. – Branching Out, Hoppy Lager
  • 1886 Brewing – Ellieigh’s ESB
  • Docent Brewing – Rabbit Habit, DIPA


  • Golden Road Anaheim – Ride-On Tropical, Experimental IPA
  • Green Cheek Beer Co. – It Just Works, Hoppy Lager
  • Green Cheek Beer Co. – Guava in Berlin, Gose
  • Tustin Brewing Co. – Blimp Hangar Robust Porter

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!