Event - TAPS Fish House's Craft Brew Festival

Just this past Saturday, TAPS Fish House & Brewery in Brea held its first annual Craft Beer Festival featuring 32 breweries and plenty of delectable eats from their own chefs. At $50 per ticket, attendees got ample tastings of both food and drink from noon to 3 p.m. I was lucky enough to attend and take a gander at what the buzz was all about

With a line wrapping around the door for the first half of the event, it was no joke at how enthusiastic guests were and how much Orange County needed this type of event. Not only did the 32 local breweries get a chance to shine in the sunlight by pouring sudsy samples but the Boys & Girls Club of Brea-Placentia-Yorba Linda benefited as partial proceeds from the event were going to be donated there. For each ticket sold, an attendee received 15 drink tickets and unlimited food.


Wondering who showed up to the event? Take a look at this long, long list:

Culinary Director Tom Hope and Executive Chef Manny Gonzalez prepared a “street food” menu with global inspirations. I could not get enough of the bratwurst, and apparently the dumplings were a hit!
  • Chinatown - Crunchy Lobster Dumplings (soy dipping sauce, spicy mustard, & vegetable stir-fry)
  • New Orleans - Bananas Foster Waffle a la mode (with bourbon whipped cream)
  • Cuba - Mojo Marinated Chicken Skewers (red beans and rice with fried plantains)
  • Hawaii - General Store (spam musubi, chicken katsu, macaroni salad, and Kalua pork)
  • Italy - Salami & Capicola Stromboli (Italian cheese and vine-ripe tomato basil marinara)
  • Mexico - Picadillo Tostada (onion, pepper, and chipotle-braised chopped steak)
  • Middle East - Shawarma (tabbouleh, hummus, cucumber tomato salad, and tatziki)
  • Japan - Crispy Rice Fried Calamari (with Thai basil chile sauce)
  • Thailand - Banana Leaf Wrapped Swai (with coconut curry sauce, bamboo, Chinese broccoli, and straw mushrooms)
  • Milwaukee - Classic Bratwurst (beer marinated dog with sauerkraut and grainy mustard)
  • Chicago - Windy City Dog (onion, relish, yellow mustard, tomato, pickle, and sport peppers)
  • Los Angeles - L.A. Dog (bacon-wrapped dog with bell peppers, onions, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and jalapenos)


But hey, let's get into the beers now shall we? With 15 drink tickets, I knew that I would not be able to get through the reel but pretended to try. My first run was bold, bourbon bold; I tried the Red Hill Red from Tustin Brewing which was aged in bourbon barrels and came in at 9.2% abv. Nice and strong on the bourbon for sure. Next up was 31 Kings from Valiant Brewing, one of the few IPAs I will tolerate but only because Valiant has their brews down to a perfect science. Everyone loved and raved about the Veranda there. Then I fell head over heels (not literally) once exposed to the Naughty Sauce from Noble Ale Works, a golden milk stout bordering on dessert beer for me. I went for this one twice because it was THAT good. A venture for some Vanilla Coconut Porter from I&I Brewing could not hold up to the creaminess of the previous stout but it was still good! I could really smell the coconut before I even drank from the glass. Then by recommendation, I went for the Limited from Ballast Point, a limited release of something one can homebrew (the recipe's even on the bottling!) that was a good relaxing beer to sip on.


Somehow I ended up with a Hef from Inland despite not drinking many hefweizens normally. By suggestion from a sour lover, I opted for a glass of the Belgian Red from Cismontes and puckered up right away. They are not kidding about being sour! Go for it if you're in need for an intense drink there. One of my last cups was the Dusk 'til Dawn (Imperial Coffee Porter) from Pizza Port which came in at 10.5% abv without tasting so. That's dangerous, right? It was smooth and rich, something I wish I had time to come back to again.

All in all, the overwhelming amount of amazing breweries in one place was nearly unbelievable. At 15 tickets, it didn't make physical sense to be able to finish them all off but I think everyone there sure as heck tried. As a stout and porter lover, I desired to give all the available ones a taste but when you have so many signature and flagship brews around, you have to give those a try too. With beer flowing and food constantly refilling, the event was a hit, and I'm sure we all hope to see another next year. My thanks to the whole crew at TAPS for putting on such an event that OC really needed and to Lee for the invitation. Now, off to stalk some of these breweries that I liked and/or hadn't heard of before this!

Photography by Minerva Thai. More photos are available on Facebook.