Hunting for Beer in Huntington Beach


My wife and I recently found ourselves in Huntington Beach, and decided to check out a couple local breweries. We enjoyed a flight at RIIP Beer Company and another at Beachwood. Both were quite good, though we liked one a little more than the other.

RIIP Beer Company

RIIP started as a beer delivery service (the 1931 Helms Bakery Coach remains parked out front as a reminder of humble beginnings) but has since become much more. Inside are two separate tasting rooms, with 10 taps pumping out a delectable variety of brews. Some are even available to go.

Both rooms were packed on a warm Saturday afternoon. The brewery's location in a strip mall on a major thoroughfare doubtless helped, but in the end it's quality that matters.

We started with Jetty Water Blonde, a crisp and clean beer that is drinkable and satisfying. Fresh grains dominate, augmented by hints of lemongrass and honey, with a mild hop snap on the finish.

Next came Riip-a-Chino, an American porter with coffee and chocolate. My wife loved this one, but I found the dark roastiness a bit overpowering and felt the beer could have benefited from a stronger chocolate presence to help offset the coffee bitterness.

Another American porter, Bi-Porter Disorder, hit the mark for both of us. Served on nitro, its caramel and milk chocolate notes balanced well with light roasted flavors, making for a smooth and drinkable beer.

The one miss for us was Nelson Belnarado and the Citcoe Kid IPA, which wins points for ambition but ultimately tries to do too much. Using five different hops, it combines overripe tropical fruit with an aggressive dankness and lacks cohesion or a sense of direction.

We finished on a positive note, with Grayne's World, an American wheat ale dry-hopped with Mosaic. This juicy brew hints at tangerine, pineapple, cantaloupe, and mango. It melds the flavors of a DIPA with the light body of a wheat, resulting in a beer that is both unusual and delicious.

Beachwood

About 10-15 minutes southeast of RIIP, Beachwood's Huntington Beach location is a cozy space nestled in an industrial complex. It features 10 beers on tap, does growler fills, and has bottles available to go as well. The bar is humble, tables are few, and the beer is tasty. Bright tanks stand within spitting distance of the seating area (please don't spit on the tanks), and there are coloring books for kids of all ages

First up was the crisp, easy-drinking Skyline Gold K├Âlsch. Light and clean, it cleared our palates as we enjoyed the more subdued vibe of this location. It was easy to chill here.

Alpha Galactic Pale Ale followed with a pleasing blend of grapefruit, jasmine, black pepper, and hints of mango. Grassy and juicy, but with a dry finish, it drank like a cross between an IPA and champagne. If you like Galaxy and Simcoe hops (and I do), this is very much worth a shot.

Knucklehead Red is a classic American red that features caramel, toffee, and biscuit notes backed by an assertive but not overbearing hop finish. The result is a balanced, drinkable beer.

On the recommendation of our friendly and knowledgeable bartender who answered all of my annoying questions, we finished with Vanilla Fudge imperial stout. Milk and dark chocolate, vanilla, dark fruits, and some alcohol heat make for a creamy and silky beer that is rich, complex, and dangerously smooth, without any of the cloying character that can sometimes undermine such a powerful brew. This was easily our favorite of the entire trip.

Parting Thoughts

We enjoyed both breweries very much, having a slight preference for Beachwood. The space was a bit more intimate, the vibe suited us well, and the beers more consistently aligned with our palates. Plus there's an In-N-Out right around the corner. That being said, Riip was also quite nice and I wouldn't hesitate to pay it another visit should I end up in the area again.

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