One of the things I love about Los Angeles is that the possibilities of daytrip escapes are virtually endless. This summer, a daytrip brought us to the heart of Orange County. Specifically, Old Towne Orange, a quaint, frozen-in-time oasis replete with preserved century-old buildings. At the town's center, a round-about encircles a fountain from 1886. It's like a real life movie set. But, of course we didn't come here to peep landmarks... we came to eat and drink!
And what better place to eat AND drink... and drink some more, then at The Bruery Provisions. Any beer geek already knows that The Bruery is making some of the best, boldest and most experimental brews in California, just a few miles away in Placentia. Since our visit, The Bruery has also opened a 40-tap Tasting Room at the brewery in Placentia, but the Provisions location isn't still without its own allure. Take, for instance, the back patio, where flights of beers can be enjoyed alongside a variety of charcuterie plates.
Make sure to check out their daily tap list and menu on their facebook page before heading over. On the menu for us that day were two flights, so we got them both. First, the Classic Flight (below, from right to left):
- Nottenroth - A batch of the Hottenroth that failed to ferment, this happy accident was an almost absurdly light, 2% ABV. While you won't find the intended sourness, there's something really interesting about the light, floral, crisp taste.
- Loakal Red - Perhaps my favorite that we sampled. The hoppiness of this 6.9% ABV red ale perfectly balances out the sweet caramel malt to make for a very well-rounded beer.
- Gremlin - Some fruit and spice really sharpen up the drinkable Belgian ale. A rather nice beer for summer sipping on the patio.
- Trade Winds Tripel - The official summer seasonal of The Bruery may have been the biggest hit at our table. The 8% ABV, Belgian-style Golden Ale uses rice in its mash instead of candi sugar (A Belgian sugar commonly used in brewing), and spices things up with an aromatic dash of Thai Basil.
- Fruet - Not for the casual beer drinker, the Fruet is an Old Ale aged in bourbon barrels that comes in at a whopping 15.5%. The thick, molassasy drink pours more like a syrup, and drinkers should expect something more along the lines of port wine.
And on we moved to a Specialty Flight (below, moving from right to left):
- Sans Pagaie - A spritzy 5.8% ABV American Wild Ale proves a very a solid sour with a tart sour cherry flavor to match its bright red color.
- Otiose - Packing a little more punch at 8.2% ABV than its brother-in-arms the Sans Pagaie, this wild sour pours a dark nutty brown hue, and matches it with notes of oak and juicy guava.
- White Oak - a strong white made by combining The Mischief with bourbon barrel-aged wheatwine. It's deceptively drinkable, which can spell trouble at 11.5%.
- Cuir - The Bruery's Third Anniversary brew is rather similar to the Fruet, though slightly less polarizing at only 14.5%.
- Smoking Wood - This imperial smoked porter is designed to highlight the finiest qualities of wood in beer. Smoked beachwood and cherrywood malts age in rye whiskey barrels for a black-as-night beer that makes getting lost in the woods not such a bad thing.
What better compliment to flights of beer than cheese plates? Tour cheeses from all over the world with offerings like The International (below), or stick closer to home with the gourmet offerings of the Born in the U.S.A.
And why limit yourselves to just cheese when you can have meat and cheese. The Farm (below) combines a few cheese varieties with a heaping portion of sopresatta molinari salami and Spanish nuts.
After eating and drinking to our stomachs' content on the patio, it was time to pick up a little something for later. In addition to the selection of wonderful Bruery bottles available for purchase, Provisions is also host to one of the most impressively curated bottle lists you'll find in the greater Los Angeles area.
All that time spent eating and drinking really worked up our appetites. Luckily, just a hop, skip and jump down the road is Bruxie, where an array of sweet and savory gourmet waffles are served at a walk-up window. With a snaking line that could be seen spilling onto the sidewalk from a block away, this was clearly the place to be on an early summer night.
One of the more basic options on the extensive savory menu might be the Cheesy Bruxie (below), which is essentially a grilled cheese (gruyere and Tillamook cheddar) sandwich, with a crisp Belgian waffle folded in a half moon subbing in for the bread. A fun enough option, but hard to justify when there's Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Waffles (not pictured) on the menu!
More exciting is the Hot Pastrami Bruxie (below), a surprisingly delightful rendition of the Jewish deli classic, made with Boar's Head pastrami, gruyere, cider slaw, half sour pickles and spicy brown mustard. It's so good, you might not even miss the rye bread at all.
The salmon & dill bruxie (below) sandwiches thin slices of smoked fish inside the folded waffle with herbed cream cheese, cucumbers and chives. And did I mention the waffle fries? They're fried in peanut oil and only $2.50 with the sandwich.
The savory waffles are great, but as far as I'm concerned, just a prelude to the sweet portion of the menu. You'll find shakes, custards, and floats (below, left) there to accompany your dessert waffles, like the PB & J (below, right), made with all natural peanut butter and blackberry preserves oozing from the middle.
But it's all about the S'mores Waffle (below), arriving with a light dusting of powdered sugar and stuffed with Belgian chocolate, Graham cracker, and toasted marshmallow.
These Bruxie people are some sort of mad geniuses. If Old Towne Orange is too out of the way, you can still track them down at one of their other locations in Rancho Santa Margarita or Brea. As for us, we're pretty content with our little one-two punch here in Old Towne Orange.