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The Bruery raises a glass to 14 years of brewing craft beer in Orange County

A beer flight at the Bruery in Placentia.
A beer flight including the Ruekeller Marzen, left, Black Tuesday, Cruising, Bruesicle Peaches & Cream, and Third Course at the Bruery in Placentia.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Once upon a beer, the Bruery tasting room in Placentia was nothing more than a warehouse with a few people standing around, drinking beer. It was tucked in the back corner of an industrial park, next door to a dance studio that would sometime host Jazzercise.

“The tasting room was basically chairs set up around the equipment,” laughs Barry Holmes, the Bruery‘s chief executive officer.

The tasking room with the new releases at the Bruery in Placentia on Aug. 2.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

If you were lucky, there might be a barrel you could grab a seat on.

Today, the Bruery occupies the entire business park, including the former dance space, which now houses barrels upon barrels of beer. Eventually the tasting room evolved inside and outside too.

“We expanded to have our own indoor space,” said Holmes. “And then post-Covid we were able to expand into having a patio out on the deck.”

The Bruery was founded by Master Cicerone Patrick Rue in 2008 during the Great Recession and was among Orange County’s first craft beer innovators. Its beer is distributed in 28 states, sold online and served at the Placentia location and at Bruery Terreux in Anaheim. There is a focus on unique tastes like esoteric beer-wine hybrids, barrel-aged stouts and true lagers and ales.

The barrel room is where beer is aged and stored at the Bruery in Placentia.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Innovation is a large part of the Bruery’s ethos and not all of its experimental beers get scaled up for mass consumption. So the owners created Society Memberships, giving members exclusive access to special creations.

“What we have been known for is this core membership group that we have, that is what we call our societies,” said Holmes. “The membership really sets us apart and creates a community.”

Patch O'Brien pours a beer in the tasting room at the Bruery in Placentia on Aug. 2.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

This year, the Bruery celebrates 14 years of community, brewing and a footprint that continues to expand in Orange County and beyond.

“We now have a store in Washington D.C.,” said Holmes. “We had a base of members in that market for quite a while, but when we opened up the store, it really brought a lot more awareness and opportunities for people to drink our beers and interact with our team on regular business, which helped grow the membership base there as well as our distribution business.”

The Bruery has also branched outside its normal offerings with Offshoot Beer Co., which launched in 2018 with more traditional or approachable beers like Hazy IPAs.

The Ruekeller Helles in a glass at the Bruery in Placentia.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“Offshoot gives us a chance to be a little more playful, focusing more on taking it easy and relaxing, knowing that you have a beer geek approved beer in your hand,” said Holmes.

It’s hard to pin down exactly which beers are the Bruery’s most well known. Many are popular, like Goses Are Red, a Gose-style ale with Syrah grapes, for example.

“It is kind of inspired by rosé, but it is beer,” said Holmes. “It is a really crisp, summer tart offering that we have year round.”

Members, however, join mostly for barrel-aged beers, like Black Tuesday.

Offshoot Beer Co.'s Relax Hazy IPA is freshly canned on the line at the Bruery.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“We do a whole days-of-the-week series, like Grey Monday. We do another one called Chocolate Rain.”

The Bruery is also releasing an anniversary ale this year.

“What is cool about the anniversary ale is we are using this method called the solera method, which allows you to link liquid from each year into this year’s release,” said Holmes. “So you have got this continuity of aged ale that comes into this 14th year just like it will the 15th year and beyond.”

As another special surprise, the traditionally member-exclusive Anniversary Invitational will be open to the public this year.

“We are going to have exclusive beers that we are making, and have been putting through our pilot system, that will only be available here,” said Holmes.

Justin Young, the lead brewer at the Bruery in Placentia.
Justin Young, the lead brewer at the Bruery in Placentia, talks about the production of a proprietary yeast that is made in house.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Hosted at Oak Canyon Park on Aug. 13, the 14th Anniversary Invitational will feature more than 20 event-exclusive beers from the Bruery as well as pours from craft beer, mead, cider and wine-producer partners across the industry. General admission includes one plate from a lineup of local food purveyors, like Dough Dudes Artisan Pizza and Meat Up BBQ. The Offshoot Relaxation Station will have outdoor games such as cornhole and pickle pong and live music from blues, country, folk and rock band, the Bodleys.

Tickets, priced at $120, will benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Central Orange Coast.

“Even if you are a casual beer fan, this is going to be a lot of fun,” Holmes said.

Looking ahead to the next 14 years, Holmes said he is confident in the niche the Bruery has created.

“We are going to continue to innovate in the beer space, but we are also going to look to push that envelope even further in the future.”

The working grain silo outside at the Bruery in Placentia.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

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