Bootlegger’s Brewery – Fullerton, CA

Bootlegger’s Brewery – Fullerton, CA

Do you have that one beer that you remember drinking and going “Holy cow!  I’m in love with craft beer!”?  For me one of those beers was Bootlegger’s Knuckle Sandwich Double IPA.  When I first got into craft beer right out of college, Bootleggers was one of the first Orange County breweries I got to try.  They opened in 2006 and how have 3 locations in Fullerton (their main site), Costa Mesa (across the street from Salty Bear) and Redlands. 

The name of the brewery itself is perfect.  The word Bootlegger is defined as “a person who makes, distributes, or sells goods illegally” and I think we all know the story of Prohibition.  There’s a rich history behind their name which really reflects in the brewery that they have become.  They stick to the mantra of Drink Fresh and Drink Local and have become a staple in the Orange County craft beer scene. 

Let’s take a look at why this brewery has a “leg up” on the competition!

Beer

Bootleggers Beer

Bootleggers has one of my favorite beers of all time.  I need to shine a quick spotlight on Knuckle Sandwich before I dive into their variety.  This imperial IPA weighs in at a hefty 10% and was truly a pioneer in this area in terms of big & bold IPAs.  It’s loaded with a ton of hops and sits on a great malty backbone that makes it both tasty and easy to drink.  I try my best when I go to the brewery to try something else but I always wind up going back to this beer. 

The good news though is that they don’t have just one great beer, they have multiple!  They have a ton of flagship beers that you can find year-round like El Chango Mexican Lager, Thai Tea Far Out IPA, Golden Chaos Belgian Style Ale, Far Out IPA, Old World Hefeweizen, Palamino Pale Ale and Rocco Red Ale.  As you can tell from that list, Bootleggers has an awesome base to stand on when it comes to their foundational beers.  I’m a big fan of their Hef and Red ale but all of the above are worth trying at least once.

What’s awesome though is that those aren’t the only beers they have on tap.  The brewery constantly has revolving beers and new ones to try.  We’ve only been to the Fullerton location but walking up and seeing their giant board of beers is always exciting.  One of my personal favorites was the Key Lime Pale ale that was refreshing, a little sweet but also hoppy. 

And one of my highlights is the fact that they always have multiple IPAs on tap.  I’ve tried the ones mentioned above and they are worth getting but recently the Business Slippers and Train to Nowhere were big wins in my book. 

Rating:  4/5

Bootleggers has been in Orange County for many years now and there’s a reason why.   They’ve been consistent in making great flagship beers and are constantly brewing now stuff.  They have a whopping 429 beers listed on Untappd which gives you an idea of how much variety they have.

Atmosphere

I’ve only ever been to the Fullerton location so my review will be based on that spot alone.  I’ve been fortunate enough to visit pre COVID times and know what an awesome place this is when there are no restrictions.  Located in the awesome Downtown Fullerton location, this brewery has a fun outdoor patio with an inside location that has a really welcoming vibe.  It’s hard to describe exactly what the inside is like but it’s almost a giant warehouse door that you step through and into a bar area complete with a huge beer list that looks like a scoreboard in an MLB stadium. 

The outdoor patio is nicely enclosed by a fence so you can bring dogs and not worry about them getting into trouble.  Parker has come with us multiple times and loves to get as much attention from the neighboring tables as possible. 

With current restrictions the patio is a little more separated, but in normal times, the patio is bustling with craft beer lovers and has a giant Jenga set for people to enjoy while they drink.  It’s also close to Cal State Fullerton so if you go at night during the weekend, be prepared for a fun young crowd! 

It’s a little off topic but one thing I have to call out is their openness to people bringing their own games.  The last time we went, we brought one of our new favorite tabletop brewery games, DAGZ dice game with us and played while we were drinking our beers.  On a side note, if you’re looking for an AWESOME tabletop game to bring to play while at a brewery check them out at https://www.playdagz.com/ .

One additional thing I need to call out though is how awesome Bootleggers is in terms of supporting the community.  They set up a special program during the pandemic where they were helping feed workers who were furloughed and were struggling to put food on the table.  It’s pretty cool to see a business who is under pressure themselves, double down on helping the community and giving back.  Big kudos to Bootlegger’s for this. 

Rating: 4/5

The inside portion of the brewery is a pretty cool spot to grab a beer and watch sports and their big outdoor patio is the perfect spot to bring your dog and enjoy a brew.

Food

Play Dagz

While there may be a food truck on site, Bootleggers has an awesome set menu with multiple options.  Their menu is broken down into the following sections: Appetizers and starters, burgers and sandwiches, tacos and melts, salads, dinner entrée and dessert.  Not a bad selection, right? 

If you’re looking to just snack while you drink, the appetizer menu will call to you with classic items like wings, fried pickles, carne asada fries, mac and cheese and chicken tenders.  From experience I can tell you the carne asada fries are worth getting.

But if you’re looking for a more substantial meal, they’ve got you covered.  I personally went with the bacon wrapped hot dog which comes with grilled onions and peppers and it was to die for.  But their burger and sandwich selections are all great too.

And if you want a true meal, the dinner entrée is in fact a full-on meal.  You get to choose from a selection of proteins (fish, chicken or steak), how it’s cooked and it comes with a side of mashed potatoes and mixed veggies.  Pretty fancy for brewery food but I think it’s cool they offer a real meal if you want to get dinner and not go somewhere separate.

And why not end with an order of tiramisu or cheesecake.  Not a bad selection of options at this place.

Rating: 5/5 

I have to give Bootleggers credit here.  While food isn’t the most important thing to me at a brewery, the amount of options they have and the quality of what they cook is pretty incredible. 

Parker’s Overall Rating: 4.75/ 5

Bootleggers is a staple for me when it comes to Orange County breweries.  Their experience in the industry shows when you visit through the beer and food selection.  Pair that with a really cool atmosphere and Bootleggers is one spot that you can’t miss out on. 

Paws and Drink good beer!  Cheers!

Published by Mike

Founder of Floppy Ear Beer

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