One week old or new rather, located right in Historic Old Town Orange, Ca. Chapman Crafted Beers is one of the latests craft beer destinations to hit the ever growing beer community in Orange County. When we first found out that Wil Dee of Haven Gastropub and Provisions Market fame was co-venturing along with Randy Nelson and brewer Brian Thorson into a new project of opening a production brewery in Orange, we were pretty excited to say the least.
Known as one of the best sources for craft beer Haven Gastropub and Provisions Market have always had excellent taps, beer pairing and beer events put together by Mr. Dee. So why would a brewery two or three blocks from either location be anything less than amazing? I mean to open a brewery in Orange County right now takes alot of balls, with the amount of beer available in the area, the amount of options out there right now, the location, the atmosphere, the people and most importantly, the beer, better all be on point.
After our Sunday meeting at Grits Fullerton we road out to The Good Beer Company (review coming soon), had a pint or two and decided to hit Chapman Crafted Beers on the way back from Downtown Santa Ana. When we pulled up to the tasting room there was nothing necessarily fancy about it. Now a days people are opening breweries like they are opening fancy hotels. Some of us miss the days of the old Bootleggers where you were almost forced to sit next to people you don’t know and share a pint and a story.
Right now, there seems to be little signs of struggle when opening a new brewery in Orange County. It’s almost as if business men and women are getting loans to open the most cutting edge brewery around. Chapman Crafted Beers, kept it old school which is something we enjoyed. The tasting room was big enough to give everyone their space, yet small enough to be able to have a conversation with someone you may not otherwise. It was hot, it was at times loud, it was friendly and most of all the beer was excellent.
This is not to say, we may not see growth or change to the tasting room in the future, but it is to say, keeping a humble apperience in a county that is less than humble is refreshing. Chapman Crafted Beers was welcoming which is important to us as cyclists who take our local beer and local rides seriously. It was great to see familure faces like Brian who has been part of the local beer scene for sometime and who’s beer judgement you can trust (his taste in music ain’t bad either).
Chapman Crafted Beers seemed like a local spot where the focus was the beer and not the area where you consume the beer. A place where you can just come for a pint and not worry about pretentious people or beer snobs critiquing the decor. It’s a breath of fresh air, it’s a brewery first maybe it will become a hipster joint later, but for now if you want to hang out at a place that will remind you of what Orange Counties breweries used to be like, I suggest heading over to Chapman Crafted Beers.
You remember going into a small unassuming tasting room and the big industrial fan was blowing and the areas the fan didn’t hit were just hot and muggy you would walk up to the bar top and order a pint and that pint at that moment was the best pint of beer you ever had? You remember those tasting rooms? I do and this reminded me of that. Once you had your first pint the air became cooler, the mugginess subsided, your heart rate slowed and you thought to yourself, “awwwwh, I found my new spot.” That is the kind of feeling I got when visiting Chapman Crafted.
Now, that might not be for everyone and perhaps I am being a little to nostalgic in my descriptions or maybe I vewied my entire experience through the eyes of someone who had been riding 30 miles in the Summer heat of Souther California. You will have to judge for yourself. Was it bike friendly? Well, considering they have a huge roll up door in the front of the tasting room and we got spots right at that door so we could watch our bikes, yes. If we didn’t get that spot, perhaps not as there is no place to lock your bike as of yet. However, they are open on Tuesday so WIN!
Ok, enough about the atmosphere how was the beer?! You know what, it was pretty damn good. I went with the Pale Ale, first why, because if I told you their IPAs were good and their Imperial Double was better, you’d probably expect that. Plus I just got off my bike and needed something that was going to be both refreshing and full flavor. Then I went with the Hello Again that’s their Lager and it was amazing, crisp, light and clean it was exactly what I needed on a hot day after a long ride. I had a pint of the Black Lager or Blogger (get it?) which was equally as impressive and clean, a little maltier as to be expected. Some of us had flights others went big and bold with IPA’s and a few Imperial IPA the Lost Invitation, I think it was called. Some even went Coconut with the UnRuely Coconut Brown Ale. That I must say was a tasty beverage.
I tasted just about everything on the beer menu and came away with a favorite and that is the Black Lager aka Blogger. I can’t say enough about that beer, I would have gotten a growler but I didn’t want to have carry it back. Next time, Chapman Crafted, next time.