TAPS To Open Full-Scale Production Brewery

TAPS Fish House & Brewery, one of the region’s most decorated breweries and a standout for its seafood, fine steaks, oyster bar and famous Sunday brunch, is embarking on a dramatic departure from its three TAPS restaurants with the opening early next year of a full-scale production brewery and tasting room in Tustin.

TAPS Brewery & Barrel Room, at 15501 Red Hill Ave., will further cement TAPS’ reputation as an innovator of the American beer renaissance, with nearly 100 medals to date for its classic styles of European ales and lagers as well as unique brews that reflect the creativity and innovation of the American craft beer scene.

“This will be a modern, comfortable space for beer lovers with everything under one roof and an emphasis on the casual, fun and hip,” TAPS founder-proprietor Joe Manzella said of the new TAPS concept, which will include a 1,900-square-foot tasting room, a patio with a 12-seat fire pit, and multiple TVs and videogames. Architect Amy Steiner of Steiner Studio is designing the new space. The concept’s logo and branding is the work of Seattle-based Blindtiger Design, the premier creative agency for the craft beer industry.

TAPS Brewery & Barrel Room, owned by South County Concepts, Inc., will feature 16 TAPS beers on tap, plus bottled selections, along with four to six planned wine selections. The tasting room, bar and patio at TAPS Brewery & Barrel Room will accommodate a combined total of 84 guests. Draft beers (including TAPS specialty brews) will range from $5 to $9. Barrel-aged selections will run $15 and up.

The brew crew includes David Huls, director of brewery operations; Kyle Manns, brewery operations manager; Jonathan Chiusano, head brewer; Max Jones, cellar man; and Eric Elliott, line cleaner/distribution.

The team has obtained brewing equipment from leading manufacturers in Europe and North America to create the best beer possible, and will continue to source the finest malt, grain, hops, and yeast. TAPS Brewery & Barrel Room will have an initial first year production of 5,000 barrels, but the facility will have the ability to produce 20,000-25,000 barrels of beer annually. The highly acclaimed barrel-aged beer program will feature a dedicated barrel room. Both ales and lagers will be produced daily for distribution and onsite enjoyment, but there will be a focus on lagers, which have won TAPS six GABF/World Beer Cup medals since 2015.

Food selections at TAPS Brewery & Barrel Room will include about a dozen menu items served from a high-end food truck, wrapped in new Barrel Room graphics. The truck will be located adjacent to the patio. Chef de cuisine Roman Jimenez, who garnered impressive accolades in his three years at Macallans in Brea Downtown, has rejoined the TAPS family and is creating a quirky, ethnically-diverse menu with offerings such as Nuclear Masa Fries – crispy handmade masa fries, bulgogi beef, kimchi, pico de gallo, gochujang crema, lime; Bahn Mi-Mexi Dog – artisan roll, bacon wrapped pork sausage, pickled veg, jalapeño slivers, cilantro, ginger lemongrass aioli and Philimanti Cheese Steak – smoked ribeye, red ale pimiento cheese whiz, beef fat fries, peppadew slaw. Price points ($8 to $18) will be lower than those at TAPS’ traditional restaurants, in Brea, Corona and Irvine.

“We are beyond excited to provide our clientele with a new twist on the classic TAPS experience and to attract new fans,” added Manzella, who with his father and sister opened TAPS’ flagship location in 1999, at 101 E. Imperial Highway. The original TAPS is credited with jump-starting the now-vibrant Brea Downtown dining and entertainment district and was among the first on the O.C. brewing scene.

Guests also will be able to purchase for takeout “crowlers,” a canned version of a growler, starting at $7 for 32 ounces; growlers of TAPS-created brews at $14 and up; and high-end metal growlers, which are stainless steel and double walled, at around $35.

Since 2001, TAPS has won 97 medals at regional, state, national and international beer competitions. TAPS is a three-time winner of Mid-Size Brewpub and Brewers of the Year at the nation’s largest beer competition, the Great American Beer Festival (2010, 2011 and 2015). TAPS was awarded a silver medal for its Bohemian TAPSody, a pilsner, earlier this month at GABF.

The new TAPS Brewery & Barrel Room will employ close to 30 at the new business: between eight and 15 in the tasting room, five to 10 in the brewery, and up to five in the food truck.

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