Salty Bear Brewing Co. – Costa Mesa, CA

Starting a business during a pandemic is challenging.  Starting a business that’s centered around going to public places to review beer is a whole other level of challenging.  It’s been a while since I’ve posted because it’s been really busy.  California closed most things down but now as it opens back up and gets back to normal, I’m venturing out more and hoping to be more consistent in posting.

Situated in the backside of the “Campout” in Costa Mesa, Salty Bear Brewing Co. is a perfect brewery to visit as things open back up.  Their mantra is based on their love for beer and a love for where they live.  They strive to “infuse California Soul” into the beers they brew and dare I say it works bear-y well 😉. 

This has quickly become one of my favorite breweries to stop by thanks to their combination of beer, atmosphere and the local food selections.

Beer

Beer

The highlight of Salty Bear in my opinion is the beer.  I’ve been here twice now and I haven’t found a beer I didn’t think was above top notch.  The variety they have on over 10 taps is wonderful and they stick pretty true to the main styles of beer.

I always go hunting for Red Ales and they had a good one last time I was there, but their lighter beers are what are most memorable to me.  They always seem to have multiple styles on tap like Kolschs, Blondes and Pale Ales and they are some of the best in the area.

And if you’re into seltzers like my wife is, you’ll be very happy as well.  They have some winning flavors like kiwi strawberry and huckleberry lemonade which hit the spot on a warm day.  It’s always nice to have variety in my opinion so that everyone has something to drink.

And for hopheads like me they do have some great IPAs as well, but I truly do think their lighter beers are the highlight when I go. 

And to make sure you get the full experience, you can order flights so you can try everything.  There are 13 beers on tap at a time so two flights and you’ve gone through most of the beers but luckily the beers are great.  And lastly, I’ll say that every time I go there’s something new because they are always brewing new beers in their tanks. 

Rating: 4/5

The beers they have on tap are phenomenal and taste incredible but they do have a smaller menu than most places which is the only knock I have (and frankly it’s not that big of knock at all).  However, it’s quality over quantity here which is what’s most important.

Atmosphere

Brewery

While the beer is the highlight (and let’s be honest, the most important part of a brewery), the atmosphere is a close second for why I tell people to visit this place if they are looking for a new spot in Orange County.  The brewery itself is smaller, but it’s semi open air, has a great bar inside you can sit at and is extremely dog friendly.  In fact, you may run into the owner’s dog who likes to frequent the brewery and say hello to guests.

What’s really cool though is the patio right outside the brewery.  Set on some dirt paths, picnic tables are strewn about the patio and set in front of a small stage.  When we were there the most recent time, they had a guitarist set up on stage jamming away and making the vibe absolutely sublime.  They have musicians scheduled every Saturday and Sunday afternoon if you ever want to go drink with some free entertainment

Sitting outside with Parker (and his many new fur friends), with good beer and listening to great music is all you really need on a weekend. 

Rating: 5/5 

Hard to beat an atmosphere where the owner’s dog runs around to meet the many dogs that show up and you get a free concert while you’re there.

Food

The food situation is a little different here.  They don’t have a kitchen onsite but they have partnered with the local eateries in the “Campout” where you can order from and have food delivered to your table.

My personal favorite is Umami Burger because in my opinion burgers and beer are the biggest power couple.  The burgers are decadent and almost melt in your mouth.  I haven’t had a burger there I haven’t liked yet.  But do yourself a favor and make sure to order some of their fries and some fried pickles.  Maybe just because I’m obsessed with fried pickles but it’s hard to beat those dipped in ranch……except when you’re talking about the Cheesy Potato Tots……but I digress.

If burgers aren’t your thing the other options they have to choose from are Folks Pizza, Vitaly (which is an Italian spot serving home-made piadina sandwiches and other Italian food), Rooster Café (which has everything from breakfast to sandwiches to salads & soups) and East Borough (Vietnamese Food).  I personally haven’t tried any of these besides Umami so I can’t speak to how good they are but from looking at the menus it seems like you can’t go wrong. 

Hopefully one of these options calls to you because you are kind of confined to these places.  But the good news is it is quality food and you can order and have it delivered without leaving your seat. 

Rating 3.5/5

While I personally love the options around the brewery, you are limited by what’s close by.  But it’s really nice to not leave your seat and have food come to you!  

Parker’s Overall Rating: 4/5

Salty Bear is one of my favorite local spots that I like to tell people they should check out.  It’s tucked away and a little hidden but once you find it, grab your beer and sit down on the patio, you’ll realize what an awesome spot it is.  Just do me a favor and make sure to pet all the dogs while you’re there!

Paws and Drink good beer!  Cheers!

Published by Mike

Founder of Floppy Ear Beer

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