Some people are happy to drink the same style of beer no matter what time of year it is. Breweries, however, understand your beer should match the season. In other words, you don’t want a real heavy beer in the summer when you’re out in the sun. These are some of the best places in Orange County that make sure you have a beer to match the season.
Tustin Brewing Company
13011 Newport Ave.
Tustin CA 92780
Tustin Brewing Company has you covered for all seasons, especially if you like stouts. In spring, you’ll find a dry stout and in the winter you’ll find a good oatmeal stout (perfect for those southern California “winter” nights). In fall, you’ll find the most popular seasonal at Tustin: Oktoberfest. Make sure you get it while you can, it always sells out. While it’s not exactly a seasonal, you may also taste the brewery’s limited-release anniversary beer every year. The 16th anniversary IPA is excellent this year.
Related: Oktoberfest Through the Southland
401 S. Richman Ave.
Fullerton CA 92832
If you’re looking for good variety in seasonal beers, Bootlegger’s is the place to go. The Mountain Meadow Blonde (available in spring) is brewed with honey and herbs. It’s not unusual for a brewery to make a wheat beer in summer, but Bootlegger’s does it a little differently with a smoked wheat ale called Wildfire. Enjoy a pumpkin ale brewed with spices and brown sugar on those crisp fall evenings. In winter, stouts and porters are the way to go, and this brewery knows that. Don’t miss out on the mint chocolate porter. It’s like a brownie in a bottle.
717 Dunn Way
Placentia CA 92870
The Bruery has a cult-like following because it does interesting stuff with beer. Its seasonal beers include a pretty good range. In spring, The Bruery serves a saison (Lente de Saison), a style that is hard to do well but easy to enjoy when the weather starts to warm up. The summer beer is a Belgian tripel brewed with rice (in the mash) and Thai basil, which you won’t find in many beers. The Bruery really gets you ready for fall with the Autumn Maple, a beer brewed with yams and spices. If you like autumn beers but not pumpkin, this is the beer for you. Each year around Christmas, The Bruery releases one of its 12 Beers of Christmas series. This year marks the fifth in the series: 5 Golden Rings.
Alcatraz Brewing Company
20 City Blvd.
Orange CA 92869
The important thing about a seasonal ale is that the weight of the beer has to match the season when it’s available. Alcatraz understands this and produces Penitentiary Pilsner and a strawberry wheat ale when the temperatures are warm. When the temperatures start to cool, Alcatraz offers Drunken Uncle Dunkel. The dunkel is truly one of the best styles of beer you’ll find when it’s done well. If you go to Alcatraz when Tiger Blood Trippel is on tap, make sure you have a driver because this beer weighs in at hefty 10.5-percent ABV.
Related: Best Craft Beers in Orange County
Steelhead Brewing Company
4175 Campus Drive
Irvine CA 92612
Nothing’s better for a college campus than a brewpub. Steelhead is right by UCI and has some good seasonal ales including Anteater Pale Ale, named for the sports teams at UCI. It also serves Titanium Wheat and Bohemian Rhapsody, a European-style lager. Enjoy a rotation of stouts and porters, and you can always find one of either style on tap.
Gary Schwind is a freelance writer covering all things Orange County. His work can be found on Examiner.com.