Hops just a jump, skip away

Daily Pilot

Booze, barbecue, and '80s glam metal. What more could you ask for?

Today, the second annual Orange County Beer Festival will take over Irvine Lake from 1 to 4 p.m. with more than 60 domestic and international brews flowing, including beer from a Newport Beach brewer.

The event promises food trucks and entertainment from Metal Shop, a hair metal band covering the likes of Gun N' Roses, AC/DC, Motley Crüe and Twisted Sister.

Beer festivals are not the time to drink the beers you know you're comfortable with, but a chance to embark on a new adventure with a new brewery, a new recipe or new flavors. Although many may recognize the names of nearby San Diego breweries, such as Stone Brewing Co., here are eight great O.C. breweries, worth checking out with the unlimited 4-ounce pours that admission guarantees you.

Newport Beach Brewing Co.The first brewery in Newport Beach, Newport Beach Brewing Co. prides itself on its commitment to the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516, known as "Reinheitsgebot" in German. The law states that beer may contain only three ingredients: barley, hops and water — unlike the major breweries, which use rice and preservatives. The brewery has created a number of classic brews that reflect this commitment to tradition.

Cismontane Brewing CompanyOpen since April, Cismontane Brewing Company is a new addition to the O.C. beer scene out of Rancho Santa Margarita. With only three brews, the brewery hopes to attract new fans for its current offerings: Coulteri, an IPA; El Modena, a mild ale; and Peninfular, a pale ale. Cismontane, a geographical term for Southern California, was the inspiration to name all the brewery's products after geographically significant objects or places in the region. This may be the only time to sample Cismontane until it's carried in local restaurants.

Left Coast Brewing CompanyThe brewery connected to Oggi's Pizza and Brewing Co., Left Coast Brewing Company has made a name for itself on the world stage. Oggi's Black Magic Stout was awarded the Gold Medal at the 2010 World Beer Cup, just six years after the brewery, under the name Oggi's was named "Best Small Brewing Company in the World." The brewery will also be tapping Hop Juice (a double IPA) and the Schwartz (a seasonal Belgian IPA) today. While Oggi's has 17 franchise locations in Southern California, the brewery itself is located in San Clemente.

The BrueryHeadquartered in Placentia, the Bruery has made a commitment to its customers not to filter or pasteurize any of its beers, a common practice among larger breweries. Specializing in Belgian and specialty beers, the Bruery owner Patrick Rue told the Los Angeles Times that the Belgian style offers many opportunities for creating and flexibility.

"They're not afraid of using flowers and spices and wild yeasts," and many of the Bruery's varieties are barrel-aged as long as wine — from six to 36 months — compared with less than a month for most beers.

Bootleggers BreweryMiss OCLNN's profile of Bootlegger's? Check out OCLNN's top five picks from the local brewery and keep an eye out for any new flavorings the brewery may roll out today at the O.C. Beer Festival.

Deans Bros. Brewing Co.An Upland/Irvine, venture, Deans Bros. Brewing Co. beers are handcrafted in small batches, with only four to 15 barrels of beer per batch. Each of their six beers are unfiltered and ESB and IPA use only British ingredients, with California water, in order to brew them as they traditionally were 200 years ago.

Wingman American LagerNot too much information on this brew, but with pick-up mission-assist lines on the back label like "Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I walk by again?," and an ongoing search for a pin-up girl spokeswoman, Wingman American Lager has enough personality to warrant at least a 4-ounce pour.

Try something new!Talk to the people behind the booths! If they're at the beer festival, they probably love beer even more than you do and will talk your ear off.

Explain the tastes you like, be it a swift punch to the taste buds with hops, the cool flavor of a porter, or the almost smooth texture of a stout, and they will be sure to point you in the right direction, or at least surprise you.

Tickets are available for the Orange County Beer Festival at the door for $60. Designated driver tickets are also available for $15 — enter "dd" when purchasing your ticket. Food is sold separately and parking is available for $5 per car.

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