The Art of Going Big | Grits Fullerton + The Bruery Beer Dinner


Grits is for lovers.

“Tonight is going to be like a race,” says the gruff and unshaven executive chef Cody Storts in his home away from home, Grits Fullerton. Six courses set out before us: pork, seafood, game, seafood, beef, then dessert. Having been to four of chef’s beer dinners, I mentally prepare myself to form my lips into the shape of Noah’s arc, and eat all the tasty animals.

Being Grits’ third beer dinner, this is the first with hyper-local O.C. beer: The Bruery, and as far as I know, the first beer dinner led by a Master Cicerone, Patrick Rue. Having had most of the beers, the mere thought of the pairings has me salivating. If I had a tail, it would surely be wagging wildly, enough to knock various glassware off the tables, Pavlov-style.


COURSE 1, The Pork Confessional – A variation of the Bruery’s Sour Blonde Ale was blended and fermented with juice pressed from Fess Parker’s Riesling grapes. Juniper cured pork belly, cilantro and celery root puree.

Not being the biggest pork belly fan, I will say Grits preparation I actually enjoy. There’s something about how they get a perfect crust, bursting with umami, to play with the fat inside. It all comes down to balance, and chef totally nails it. Confession, one of my fave wine-blended beers, matches the dish with carbonation and acidity. The tone set, we move on.

GNAG0042Course 2: Sourrento Mussels – A beer that debuted at the second Firkfest, Sourrento is a sour ale inspired by the lemon flavored spirit, Limoncello. The broth on this dish has a nice rauchy-bacon quality, “I want a glass of it,” says my table-mate Anne Marie of OCWeekly fame. The black mussel is plump and ready, topped with 70’s chili-thread bush. Backed by the beer, this course made a nice intermezzo. 

Course 3: Bambi with Duck-Roids.


Venison injected with duck-roids and the best bread pudding ever.

(Paired with Batch #1731, a homebrew competition winner is a 100% brettanomyces-fermented hoppy session ale at 5%.) “If rare venison doesn’t sound good, go over to Philly’s Best next door,” quips chef. It was indeed rare, but the duck fat seemed to tame the game, so to speak. The real winner of the night is the rye bread pudding topped on apricot key lime bourbon glaze. Nice rye-spicey take on a classic.

So Happens It’s Tuesday – A slightly-less intense incarnation of Black Tuesday paired with Escolar almandine, a fish that can have laxative qualities if eaten in excess. I eat half, just to make sure we don’t have any accidents.

COURSE 5 – The Meat Statue – I’m not sure where one gets a steamship round cut of beef these days, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t look like a statue. “Nobody does this shit,” I say out loud while snapping a photo. Coming back to my seat and finding a full ‘fuck off’ pour of 19.5% beer had me instagramming like a school girl. Sadly, I was full, but managed to eat a few fork-loads of the beef and root veggies. Wineification III, a blend of grenache grapes from Rodney’s Vineyard and Black Tuesday. Matured in a combination of bourbon and French Oak barrels, this beer is liquid dessert.


Steamship Round, aka “the Meat Statue

GNAG0085Dessert Means You Survived: Blackberry cheesecake, Thai basil, bourbon sweetened currants and sweetened cream sauce paired with Cinnamonk was actually the best pairing of the night. But, wow. Full.

A shot of Bourbon is dealt in coffee mugs, we toast, inhale and hold our bellies. Cheers to another great party atmosphere, great hosts and solid, smiley service. Grits is located in downtown Fullerton and is open for brunch, pub dinner service on the weekends, and don’t miss their half-off draft beer on Thursdays!

Grits Fullerton Changes the Beer Dinner Game

A grit can be described as a small stone, just big enough to count with the naked eye. It can also be used to describe backbone, big enough to pull off a packed $135 per sitting beer dinner in downtown Fullerton…at a brunch spot…a few days before Christmas. Stone? Yeah, there was Stone, eight of them to be exact.


For the price tag, Grits Fullerton had a lot to live up to. I went in thinking it needed flow, cloth napkins, and extended pinkies. I thought, we would all get to dive into Stone’s cellar and come out like masked robbers. Having been to two chef Cody Storts beer dinners and two “Dr.” Bill Sysak pairing events, I know the madness both are capable of.


When the first beer is 2008 Stone Brewing Old Guardian Barleywine at 11%, the tone has been set. This isn’t going to be a hoity-toity affair. This is going to be a feast.


Stone’s brand ambassador, “Dr.” Bill Sysak, ruled the beer side. Chef Cody mans the Christmas bush.

Various animals, grains and vegetables are shuffled and hit the table like a no-limit poker game. Plates like cards, beer glasses like poker chips. Do I go all-in or fold?


Course 2 – cajun octopus with a dazzling candied citrus. tequila barrel aged cali-belgique IPA played off the citrus like a margie.

Amuse #1 and #2 down the hatch, “now the fun begins,” yells chef to applause. Smoked trout rillettes paired with Matt’s Burning Rosids, an imperial smoked saison, is served. I’ve seen this beer pulled out for a few events over the years and is drinking beautifully. RIP Matt, always glad to remember a comrade, your burning rosids beer and rillettes didn’t leave much for the dish cleaning crew…it was my fave of the night!

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Hopscotch Hosts Valiant Anniversary Beer Dinner

Valiant Brewing Co. Brews Custom Beers For Anniversary Beer Dinner at Hopscotch Tavern in Fullerton.

chef and brewers

Deep within Orange County’s vast culinary jungle, Hopscotch Tavern’s Executive Chef Cody Storts is war painted clutching a spear, a fish net and a double barrel shotgun. Spotting a flock of ducks overhead, he takes a shot in the sky Nintendo Duck Hunt style. “This will be perfect a perfect starter for our seven course Valiant Brewing beer dinner” he laughs like Rambo, wiping his brow across Swedish Chef tattoo’d bicep.

The Unexpected:

hopscotch_course1When the first dish of any multi-course dinner includes duck liver contraband paired with a 12% Belgian style Barleywine, it’s basically culinary punk rock. “Search and Destroy!!” I think crunching into a bite of the forbidden PB&J. Peppito butter? Strawberry jam? Foie Gras? It slam dances across my teeth and does the pogo down to the pit of my belly. Paired with Valiant’s “1” Anniversary Ale, my face melts down to Hopscotch’s outdoor patio boards, then reconstitutes as the sun sets over the nearby Fullerton train station. I’m not exaggerating. This actually happened.

Okay, that’s it! Review is over! Wait, what? Six more courses to go?

cheers2I can’t say I’ve ever had a Lager Barleywine, but it’s a thing here tonight with course two. The homebrewer in me squints, eyebrow raised at this potent bohemian concept coming from Valiant Brewing in Orange. “Who the hell would start a beer dinner with two Barleywines back to back?” I mutter to myself. As I’ve come to understand, the beers paired for tonight’s dinner are small batch brewed just for this event (aside from the bottle which each guest will take home). Normally, beer dinners are an ‘arranged marriage’ type of deal. Tonight’s dinner is more like ‘The Bachelor’ with both sides vying for my rose. Who will get sent home? Who will get jacuzzi sex?

chefstortsExecutive Chef Storts took over the reigns at Hopscotch less than a year ago, ushering out “slow food” and bringing in bold, adventurous gastropub cuisine.  Out with big racks of slathered ribs, in with a sous-vide, layered approach to freshness and presentation. Backing up his kitchen is a 120+ militia of whiskeys, cocktails, wine and 24 handles local craft beer (plus bottles to-go as well). Hopscotch is a gem as it staffs a Certified Beer Cicerone as well as a Sommelier. If you have any questions on beer, wine or cocktails, this band of culinary commandos has street cred as well as a the paperwork to back it up.

The Good

hopscotch_course3Moving to course three’s crispy pork belly dish plated with “pecan candy” and ultra crispy fried tripe, I feel like we crossed the border from San Diego to TJ. The tripe is like a salty honeycomb chicharrón with a super dense loufa-like crunch. Dipped in a herb demi glace and topped with a piece of pork? It’s a loaded bite that fires on all sides of the tongue, popping its pork candy nuttiness across my taste buds. The Bruce (Valiant’s Scotch Ale) doesn’t mess around either; coming in like ‘The Wolf” in Pulp Fiction; cleaning up the richness on my palate like a murder scene. “It’s some serious gourmet shit!” – Jules Winnfield.

hopscotch_course4Expecting the next course to be a tadpole tureen topped with actual deep fried Kermit the Frog, we are served the next best thing: Elk medallions with bourbon soaked bing cherries. The dish cuts deep with a rich velvety game. Who knew Elk had so much game? Valiant’s Lacto Cherry Stout is the last beer I thought they would bring to the table. Tart and roasty with funk on the nose, tasting somewhat like a sour Schwarzbier. It does a nice job drawing out a smokey component while complimenting the cherries in the dish. Who needs Kermit when a dish like this shows us the rainbow connection (for lovers and dreamers like me)?. Although the lacto-tart-roasty beer is an interesting contrast to the plate, it didn’t really stand up to the richness and depth of flavors in the elk. I’d like to think Pathos, Valiant’s Imperial Chocolate Porter, would have been the obvious pairing. Regardless, still fun to sample a one-off beer with so much character.

The Bad

Fair warning: This paragraph is a bit ‘yelpish’, but needs to be said. When the beer for course six came out and I didn’t get course five’s food, I quickly realize that I’ve been skipped. My table mates plates empty and my server laughing hysterically in conversation with a guest nearby, I suck it up. Despite smoke signals, drowning hand gestures and ESP sent his way, it’s clear I’m out on this round. Should I get up and walk to the kitchen? Should I sulk and write this paragraph?

Tired of hearing my friends say, “Greg, I went to Hopscotch because I read your last beer dinner review, but we’ve had better service at Dick’s Last Resort.” or “Greg, Hop’s bartender told me I lacked intelligence because I wanted a cocktail from last season’s cocktail menu” or “Greg, we walked in, waited for twenty minutes and walked out because nobody talked to us after we were seated” or even “Self, the waiter didn’t serve yourself a course in a hundred dollar beer dinner.” If you do eat there and have a bad experience, pull up this paragraph up on your phone and show it to the manager and say, “THIS.” The back of the house is only as good as the front, and stuff like this makes me sad.

The Best: Winner Winner Lengua Dinner!

IMG_3937Quickly forgiven and forgotten, (thanks chef for plating me a course five) irony plays a role with my plate-licking skills on course six. The kitchen must have called an audible on the menu-listed Braciola and went with a Lengua/Rabbit demi glace dish with brown butter gnocchi and broccoli rabe. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so entranced in a plate of food before. I consumed it with force, scraping every last microbe of the savory dish down. This dish can convert anyone with a cow-tongue phobia…seriously. Not caring for the cherry wheat beer (really sweet), much needed water (and a shot of Four Roses Bourbon) revives my senses.

OH MAI, Dessert!

hopscotch_dessertI dislike 99% of all dessert. My beer tooth is just that much bigger than my sweet tooth…with one exception: Anything that pastry chef Mai Phan creates. She has a way of balancing sweetness with tart and gooey with crunchy without going over the top. Her Strawberry Pavlova is all that. Tropical fruits topped with a green tea custard and a lemon crumble foam disk…simply marvelous. If you’re not in a drinking mood, Hopscotch is a great spot to go for just desserts.


Pretty much eating ‘all the animals’ and drinking ‘all the beers’ is a lot to take in for one mouth over the course of an evening. This epic beer dinner adventure at Hopscotch isn’t for the meek. $20 Uber cards provided for each guest, it’s easy to tell this is a professionally run event for professional eaters and drinkers. Worth a hundred bucks? Absolutely. The beer? Really cool concept to brew custom beers for the evening, but jacuzzi sex easily goes to the food. If you can still find the “1” Anniversary Ale from Valliant, I highly recommend picking it up. After a month, it’s aged into a delicious barleywine with big raspberry notes; it’s decadent!

I’ll see you at the next one!


  • Valiant’s First Anniversary, Belgian Barleywine — 8 ounce pour
  • Forbidden PB&J, strawberry guava jam, pepita butter, brioche, and complementary foie gras.


  • Lager Barleywine, 8 ounce pour
  • Mussels, crispy pancetta, roasted pepper citrus coulis


  • “The Bruce” Wee Heavy Scotch Ale, 5 ounce pour
  • Crispy pork belly, fried tripe, herb demi glace, blood orange frisee


  • Lacto Cherry Stout, 8 ounce pour
  • Elk medallion, black garlic demi glace, bing cherry gastrique, bourbon soaked bing cherries


  • Session IPA 5 ounce pour
  • Duck rillette, Dijon chips, blood orange apples, really really small cilantro


  • Wheat Cherry Ale, 5 ounce pour
  • Medium Rare Braciola, san marzano tomato sauce, crispy asiago chip, micro basil


  • Guava Cream Ale, 6 ounce pour
  • Strawberry Pavlova, green tea custard, lemon crumble


Big Boy Food Comes to Fullerton | Executive Chef Cody Storts Transforms Hopscotch

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Sitting down over a few beers with Hopscotch’s new Executive Chef Cody Storts, one thing occurs to me: How have I not heard of this dude? There’s no doubt I’ve eaten something he’s prepared over the years I’ve frequented downtown Fullerton. Le Cordon Bleu culinary school trained, he’s put his talents to work everywhere from Stubrik’s, the Lime Truck and a gourmet catering co. Now the big cheese of Fullerton’s best craft beer spot, I can’t wait to see what he has to offer. 

Fitted with a chef’s coat, a newsboy cap and swedish chef tattoo on his sautéing arm, he looks to add a bit of southern drawl to traditional French technique at Hopscotch. Sitting in the newly air-conditioned lower area, we get down to business chatting about kitchen philosophy, kids, beer, and of course his food.  “We’re all about having fun in the kitchen” he confesses, “we make the kind of food we really love to eat.” Anyone with the Muppet’s Swedish Chef Tattoo probably knows how to party, am I right? He jumps up, heads to the kitchen as I study the beer list. 

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Opting for a fresh paddle of British beers among the many local craft beers, a plate of house made pickles pays a visit. Melons stripped wide seemingly by a woodworking planar tool, pickled red-onion and butter pickles are piled high and full of bright tangy goodness.

photoRolling the dice on some fried pig ear, I’m not disappointed. Served on a dark wood plank , the cracklins come alive with a squirt of lime and schmear of in-house chili sauce. This dish is a call to Mexico, any fan of chicharones, pork, or life in general should try this. Again, the dish is piled high and worthy to share. Other small bites I sampled: Duck taquitos, pretzel bites with white cheddar foam…all eye-rolling good.

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Country Fried Chicken – Photo –

Fried chicken lands and my eyes bulge. Huge meaty crusted chicken piled high on a bed of fingerling potatos. I’ve never had sous-vide chicken before, but I’m a fan now! Swamped in its own juices, the chicken squirts across my table on the first bite; a drop or two landing in my English bitter ale. This dish is a force to be reckoned with! The herbed crunch and squirt of this dish alone proves Chef Cody’s ability to shock and awe. Also from the dinner items I sampled the scallop dish and pork butt; easily favorites for time to come.

Pan Seared Scallops and Pickled Veggies - Photo -

Pan Seared Scallops and Pickled Veggies on the side – Photo –

Chef Cody Storts is the missing puzzle piece in Hopscotch. The food is beautiful, aromatic, and juicy. My eyes rolled. I had goosebumps. It’s not over-the-top either. “Adventurous and approachable” is the best way to describe it. Paired with the beer, whiskey and cocktail prowess of James Wood, Hopscotch is a destination. It’s great for a few beers with friends, some small bites or a nice date night out.
Before shot. credit PacificElectric.orgHopscotch is romantically housed in the historic Pacific Electric Railway building of Fullerton. The current scene is set to a time when men killed animals, boozed at the desk job and nailed secretaries. It’s got a mountain lodge vibe with a repurposed whiskey barrel bar and a wall of a hundred whiskeys. Fifty craft beers (20 draft) also pair great with the food. The draft list is supple and curated intelligently. 
A thousand thanks to Corky at for the excellent photos!
Tonight! July 31, don’t miss their inaugural pairing dinner! 

Scheduled for Wednesday, July 31, guests will enjoy a five-course scratch dinner prepared by Chef Cody and his staff, accompanied by a range of beverages including crafted cocktails, whiskeys, and craft beer, each hand-selected by Director of Libations James Wood.

The first of its monthly pairing dinner program, guests at the inaugural pairing will be treated to a sample of the inventive culinary prowess HopScotch has become known for with courses including butter poached lobster, and beef cheeks with whiskey-soaked cherry demi sauce.

“We’re all very excited about our first pairing. It’s our first opportunity to really let loose and show guests what we’re all about. Not only from a culinary standpoint, but the full spectrum of our craft beverage program,” said Storts. It will be a night to celebrate great food and drink.”

Limited to just 50 guests, the event priced at $85 per person, is expected to sell out early. Seating by reservation only, guests are advised to pre-book at 714.871.2222.

The five-course dinner is scheduled to include the following:

FIRST: Amuse

APPETIZER: Charcuterie board
Beverage Pairing – Kir Molecule Cocktail with Cremant Blanc and Chambord pearls

THIRD: Butter poached lobster; Cognac cream dipping dots, smoked garlic confit foam
Beverage Pairing – Cocktail “Aged to perfection” including smoked cognac, peach puree and aged balsamic vinegar
and our house cherry vanilla bitters

ENTREE: Beef cheeks with whiskey soaked cherry Demi, English pea and carrot puree
Beverage Pairing – Barrel aged stout

DESSERT: Caramel corn panna cotta, kettle corn dust, dehydrated candied cherry medley
Beverage Pairing – Few Spirits Rye, Chicago;
James E. Pepper 1776


HopScotch on Urbanspoon

Bootleggers Moves to the Right Side of the Tracks / 5th Anniversary Details

P1050168There’s a lot to miss about Bootleggers Brewery’s old location: Sure I’ll miss the circa-1998 Home Depot resin chairs and wobbly tables. I’ll miss the stereo trying its hardest to muffle music through years of death metal, dust and yeast farts. I’ll miss tip-toeing by the Breaking Bad creeper RV cooking meth by the train tracks. I’ll miss being walked in on while peeing by a group of girls due the lack of proper locks on the restroom door (Hi ladies!). You bet your ass I’ll miss flashing my balls at the Amtrak Surfliner rumbling by. This truly saddens me.

Death metal closed the doors at Richman.

On February 23, 2013, we came, we drank and we danced the old tasting room away.  A couple weeks went by, and the new tasting room finally opened. Bavarian picnic tables were erected. Cornhole bags flew back and forth with laser-like drunken precision. The sound of girls cheering wildly playing Lawn Jenga filled the air. The beer flowed again, and it was good.

Typical Tuesday night out with the beer peeps in the new tasting room.


The new location couldn’t be more perfect. Edging the corner on the downtown Fullerton map, Boots is now part of the DTF tribe. I’ve always said Bootleggers is a perfect kicking off point for a night out in Fullerton, now you can simply park on Sante Fe and actually ‘crawl’ your pub crawl.



Amerige IPA admires the sunset

The new Boots tasting room has it all: Separate sex bathrooms, a proper Joust arcade game, forty taps, and a tasty pizza place moving in next door. The beer garden extends three areas: inside with a custom-made penny bar, outside with umbrella-covered tables and a covered/lit alcove area. For food trucks, the easy access driveway on the side makes the location a modular beer geek restaurant. The view is also stellar, especially at sunset. There’s also a pilot brewery (the production brewhouse is nearby at another location) which will serve one-off beers in the tap room.

P1050170After five years of constant growth and success, it’s nice to see a hard work pay off. On Sunday April 28, Bootleggers will host its ‘fif’ Anniversary party at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center (for the second year in a row). You should probably go! Here’s the details from Bootlegger’s website:

Sunday, April 28th We will be celebrating our 5 year anniversary with Bootlegger’s Music & Beer Fest at The Muck: Celebrating 5 years!!! The celebration will be held from 1-5pm at the historic Muckenthaler Center in Fullerton. Tickets can be purchased here or they can be purchased at Bootlegger’s Tasting Room & Pilot Brewery at 130 S. Highland Ave in Fullerton ahead of time to avoid the online service charge. Additional tickets may be available at the door for $40, but will depend on availability.

Included in the ticket price will be:

  • 10 taster tickets (additional tickets will be available for purchase)
  • Commemorative tasting glass
  • Live bands performing on stage
  • Over 30 house beers on tap including several barrel aged rarities and sour beers
  • Local guest brewery beers
  • Access to The Muckenthaler Gallery exhibit showroom.  The featured gallery will be: Vintage Travel
  • Mechanical bull ride, Bocce ball, a dunk tank, and MORE!!

In addition, there will be 3 gourmet food trucks: Dos Chinos, TJs Woodfire Pizza, and The Viking Truck as well as Brew Haw BBQ and desserts by Brew Cakes available there for you to purchase. We will also be unveiling our 80th Anniversary Ale. A portion of the proceeds from this event will go towards The Muckenthaler Cultural Center!  For additional info on the Muckenthaler Cultural Center visit:


Pics of new and old tasting room:

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Mucking it up at the Bootleggers Fourth Anniversary

“If it rains, we will all strip down in our undies and roll around in the mud and do the happy rain dance as we drink!” – Patricia Barkenhagen

I’m sure I’m not the only guy that read that and thought, HELL TO THE YES. Throwing an anniversary party on Friday the 13th during a storm seems like a hell of gamble. Little does everyone know, ‘gamble’ is Bootleggers owner Aaron Barkenhagen’s middle name. If I told my wife I was going to max out the credit cards to start a brewery she would probably say, “I don’t think Sears and JCPenny have brewing equipment you fucking idiot.” Then I would probably make a pork chop sandwich and watch some hockey with one hand down my pants. C’est la vie.

“Chill the fuck out, it’s only rain at a beer fest”

Has the gamble paid off? From my perspective, yes. Bootleggers has a solid core of beers led by Knuckle Sandwich, Golden Chaos, Plum Riot and Black Phoenix. Their family of beers is mammoth! Bootleggers tasting room has at least 15+ beers on tap at all times. Their beers are popping up everywhere, stores, restaurants, even Angels Stadium.

Walking into the Historic Muckenthaler Mansion grounds for the party; taster glass, map and tickets in hand, I yell “Let’s get weird!” as a crowd mutters a resounding “yeah!” The map of the Muck shows the pouring stations and what’s flowing at each. “Quite a bit of sours at station four and five” yells a six foot red-head gal. I play coy with a bourbon barrel aged 78; Bootleggers 3rd Anniversary Ale, toss it down, and pretend not to see someone I just unfollowed on Twitter. White people problems. The thirty-plus fest beers are a few of the usual suspects, varied sour and brett options, bourbon barrel aged versions and some with fruit and other yummy adjuncts. Kombucha? You betcha. Olallieberry? I like it very. Bourbon Barrel Black Phoenix? Crack remix.  Despite cold hands and damp feet, The beer was heart warming and a nice start to the fest. As I missed last year’s party, it was also a good book-end to get this year going proper.

Guest taps from Cismontane BrewingEagle Rock BreweryHangar 24 Craft Brewery and the Bruery were on hand to pour and celebrate with the damp fracas at the Muck. Evan Weinberg of Cismontane erps, “I’d be perfect if I had foot warmer, or a fluffer, or whatever” while he stick-handles a sesh Saison. Derek Bougie of Newport Beach brewing company strolls by like a cop patrolling a beat in his bright yellow security jacket. This is getting WEIRD and I like it. The brother from another motherfunker, Tyler King (and gal) poured their cedary milk stout Bourly Gourde and supersour MotherFunker with icy hands and wide smiles. Hangar24’s options were devoured almost instantly! Note to self, hit Hangar24 first. Eagle Rock’s Populist and Solidarity were also on hand to celebrate. I sip back-to-back Solidarity’s as the English Mild kicks out some solid roastyness with a sessionably low ABV. I love this beer.

I stop by the suspect Bud Light draft station and tip my cap at Bootleggers (and Roscoe’s Famous Deli) server Dana for my ration of Knuckle Sandwich. The Simcoe® hops in this beast have a way of sucker punching me in the nose every time! My favorite of the night is easily Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Black Phoenix. Imagine a flock of huge black birds carpet-bombing a crowd with whiskey barrels. Sorry to be so literal, but ZOMG it’s incredible. Aaron informs me they’re bottling this beer soon, along with their Galaxian Barleywine. Bet your ass I’ll be in line for them both.

Due to the rain, the live music was relegated to indoors. Sadly, my lifelong wish to see a  band get struck by lightning will have to wait even longer. I pop in for a listen and scope out the exhibits, but was distracted by a full bladder. The real entertainment indoors is the long line for the restrooms. Girls line one side of the tight hallway, dudes on the other. So close you could chat about which sex pees slower. Two guys behind me are pointing out the finer notes of anal sex with a man, a fact that makes me laugh hysterically while shake-peeing. “I’m spoken for, gents” I say as they laugh nervously and unzip.

As the night nears an end, I head over to the mechanical bull to witness some robotic shenanigans. Shocked to see Mika Soriano, Aaron’s sister in-law and Bootleggers employee, waiting in line to ride the bull. Due to her petite package, she has to be ass-pushed onto the thing. It starts to buck and flail, then spins quickly as she flies off like a ragdoll. Yeehaw! She talks me into a ride as the clock strikes 9:30 and they pack it up. As I just had ball-surgery three weeks ago, I’m eternally grateful…thanks, Time.

Best Friday the 13th ever.

Photos taken with my Polaroid Mio camera on Fuji Instax Mini Film. Other shots:

Other notes: The anniversary party, held at the historic Muckenthaler Mansion in Fullerton,  sits about a mile to the north of the (current) brewery and tasting room. The Muckenthaler mansion was added to the register of Historic Places in 1999. The original owners, Walter and Adella Muckenthaler commisioned the large home to be built in 1924 for $35,000, roughly a fifth of the cost Barkenhagen spent on starting Bootleggers. The home, a Spanish Colonial Revival was fairy common in that period. The Batchelder tiles surrounding the fireplace and the solarium floor shows the level of detail and craftsmanship of the foregone American Arts and Crafts movement.


Thrilled About Lupulin!

High on lupulin after a night out at the Bootleggers tap take over at Bruery Provisions, I was thrilled to help write some text for a beer label. Bootleggers Lupulin Thrill is a fantastic hopped up IPA with nice citrus-pine notes on top of a slightly biscuity maltyness. I suggested the pic be a hop cone riding a tongue roller coaster, but Bootleggers did a great job with an actual roller coaster. I need to buy some bottles for posterity!

Barkenhagen’s Speakeasy (aka Bootleggers Brewery)

The year is 1921. I’m thirsty for a goddamn beer. Damn prohibition. I tip a paperboy on the corner of Harbor and Commonwealth in Fullerton and ask what’s the scuttlebutt on some blind pig action. He says “I don’t know from nothin’ mistuh” and points down Valencia, the bad part of town. I tilt my seat back in my hayburner as the local residents watch us roll under the canopy of elm trees. My bearcat lights a ciggy as we pull into the orange shipping area of town. The other cars around tell us we struck gold. (20’s slang guide here)

Fast forward 90 years, Bootleggers gives a nod to that era. Sitting down in their tasting room in Fullerton, I get the sense they were going for either a 1920’s speakeasy, or they just don’t give a crap about the decor. The brewery and tasting room sit with eight fermenters bubbling blowoff tubes around various unmatching tables and chairs. The room smells like spilled beer, sanitizer, and yeast farts; which is precisely what a brewery should smell like. As I walk around, my shoes make a tacky noise similar to walking around a budget movie theater with spilled soda on the ground. As I park my ass in a circa 2003 Home Depot Resin chair, I clean the remnants of the last satisfied customer’s beer rings off the wobbly table with conveniently abandoned food truck napkins. Music pumps out of a muddled speaker above the restrooms, making familiar music seem dreamy and distant.The Amtrak Surfliner Train flies by outside and rattles the walls at regular intervals, perhaps re-agitating the beer aging in wooden barrels a few feet away. I contemplate running outside real quick and flashing my dick at unsuspecting train travelers, but the beer I’m drinking gets the best of me. I firmly place a foot on a table leg to prevent my beer from moving around the table top like air hockey, and take a sip.

Having just hit Bootleggers two days earlier I was really looking forward to sucking down the best beer ever; Bourbon Barrel Imperial Black Phoenix from my first official beer review. Black Phoenix is a year round offering at Bootleggers and the slight modifications they concoct keep this cowboy returning. The chipotle stout is easily one of Orange County’s greatest dark beer offerings (Cismontane’s Blacks Dawn and the Bruery’s Black Tuesday among others).  On Thursday, they had the barrel aged Imperial version, the regular version on CO2, and a version on Nitro. As the tap was blown on my fave, I went for something I’ve never tried before, Plum Riot.

Along with 18 taps, Bootleggers offers bottles, kegs, and growler fills for take away.

I was saving Plum Riot for just this occasion; when all my favorites were out. I wasn’t disappointed either! Call the Fullerton Plum Riot Police, this is one tasty Belgian Dubbel! Aroma, I get freshly toasted bread with sour plum jam…YUM! Color is a hazy blushing pale plum with a pinky finger head that fizzed away quickly. Tasted some plum hard candy and some subtle spices that didn’t stick around. This isn’t a very complex beer but would be great paired with BBQ or Teriyaki as it would draw some sweetness from the sauce. For a 7.8% ABV beer, I didn’t get the slightest hint of boozyness and was quite drinkable and refreshing.

The head cheese and his bearcat; Aaron and Patricia Barkenhagen run the joint. (credit Derek Bougie)

Bootleggers draws in all walks of life. One table was filled with some dolled up gals stopping in for a beer before going out on the town. Another table had an older couple chatting about a recent Fullerton Police beating.  Near the door is a gaggle of hipster looking types drinking non-PBR product. As the night wears on, the tasting room line is almost out the door. The music is completely drowned out by the crowd, until 9PM, when the death metal kicks in. Last minute growlers are filled and the place empties out.

9PM Leave or Death (metal)

With eighteen taps, Bootleggers has something for everyone. I highly recommend stopping in and doing a tasting flight for $4.50 with some friends. Whichever beer is your favorite, grab a pint, a growler fill, or a keg for your next party. I was shocked a 5 gallon keg of IPA was around $65! Compare that to any craft beer keg at Bevmo (over $100) and you’ll never do that again! Also keep in mind you’re supporting local business and drinking super-fresh beer! Applesauce!

They’re open Thurs-Sun and have food trucks on most nights. The location makes a great jumping off point for a night out in Downtown Fullerton. Check their website for details!