The sounds of conversation and laughter compete with the clinking of glasses in The Wine Artist’s lofty venue. The space sprawls over 2,500 square feet, with plenty of room to host wine tastings, networking events, and cooking classes. During these classes, students perch on wrought-iron stools around marble countertops as they learn to prepare food with wine or the cuisine of faraway countries such as Italy, Thailand, or Narnia. Afterward, they savor their creations amid the pale tiled floors and dark-wood accents of the Tuscan-style space.
The combination of homemade thin-crust dough, house-made sauce, and eclectic ingredients helped net Oggi’s Pizza & Brewing Co. a gig as the official pizza for the Anaheim Ducks. At the chain's more than 15 locations, much more than pizza is served: the extensive menu brims with crisp salads, pastas, burgers, sandwiches, and wings. Additionally, Oggi’s brews its own beer, serving libations as fresh as laps from the vat and winning the title of Champion Small Brewing Company at the World Beer Cup in 2004. In between swigs of beer, patrons can catch sports games or competitive news broadcasts on one of the eatery's flat-screen TVs.
Though it has no legal bearing in the U.S., the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516 is gospel at Newport Beach Brewing Company. It stipulates that only three ingredients should be found in beer: barley, hops, and water. Brewer Derek Bougie sticks to this 16th century decree when creating all of Newport Beach's beers, which include hefeweizens, pale ales, and the comically named Crash with RYEality IPA. And the Bavarian approach pays off: Derek's beers have earned the brewery two bronze medals, two silver medals, and one gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival.
While Derek sticks to tradition, Newport Beach's head chef, Gabriel Beltran, prefers putting an contemporary spin on classic bar food. Made entirely in-house, his cuisine ranges from bourbon stout salmon, 1/2 lb. Harris ranch raised burgers, and fish and chips to brick-fired, garlic-crusted pizza topped with macaroni and cheese. His innovation even extends to desserts such as calzone filled with white and dark chocolate. Beer-fueled feasts unfold in front of Newport's HD televisions and 101-inch flat-screens, which stay tuned to the latest sports and weather reports from neighboring planets.
While Alcatraz Brewing Company doesn't require incarceration for a visit, fans of beer may be fine with someone locking them in and throwing away the key. Dave Moody, the award-winning head brewmaster, crafts signature and seasonal beers, such as Court Order Porter, Boneyard India Pale Ale, and Pop's Blue Ribbon, an American-style light lager. From the brewery's kitchen, chefs top burgers with garlic puree or roasted jalapenos, smoke pork with dark ale, and hand-toss thin-crust pizza. Waitstaff ferry plates and beer flights to Alcatraz's patio and around the San Francisco-themed dining room, which includes a to-scale replica of the Golden Gate Bridge and a stray wisp of ever-lingering fog.
Amazing Grapes Wine Store features a full wine bar where oenophiles can taste selections from the 1800-plus wine inventory paired with eclectic small plates. Order a sample of one of the around 15 wines offered, including the 2008 La Forge Estate cabernet sauvignon ($4 a tasting), which has a ripe fruit aroma and full-bodied palate, and the 2008 Hirsch Vineyards chardonnay from Sonoma ($6 a tasting), which overflows with lemon chiffon unctuousness and a billowy texture like a cloud of butterscotch pudding. Amazing Grapes takes special care to safely store all 5400 square feet of its inventory for optimal aging. To prevent corks from drying out, all bottles are hung upside down or on their sides in a UV-free environment that is not littered with open tanning beds.
Named in homage to Riverside, California's turn-of-the-century citrus packinghouses, this microbrewery handcrafts four year-round beers. The easy-drinking Sunburst Blonde pairs perfectly with a summer day, and the malty Black Beauty Cream Stout brims with scent of roasted barley. The Heritage Pale Ale and the Riley's Red Ale round out the year-round offerings. Besides the core four, the brewery creates an ever-expanding series of IPAs, as well as several specialty and seasonal libations. Inside Packinghouse's tasting room, bartenders pour pints of each day's available brews, which are also available to take home by the bottle and growler.
Inland Empire Brewing Company formed in 2007 when three good friends—all home brewers at the time—happened upon a deal for used brewing equipment. Not willing to let the chance pass, they decided to seize the opportunity, and two years later, officially opened their doors for business. Today, the Inland Empire Brewing Company supplies suds at more than 40 locations. Its Victoria American strong ale—named after the avenue where its hand-zested oranges reside in Riverside—has garnered award-winning attention.