The History of Craft Beer in Anaheim

Incredibly, the history of Orange County’s brewing goes all the way back to the 1850s, before Orange County technically even existed. German immigrants played a pivotal role in Orange County history, dating back to the late 1850s, when a band of German immigrants established the vineyard colony that was incorporated 21 years later as the town of Anaheim.

Thanks in large part to Anaheim being founded as a German colony, the city swiftly morphed into one of Southern California’s primary beer regions just a few years after formation. Up until the national ban on alcohol, brewing was a huge part of the area, and decades later, Anaheim is back on the map as a primary brew hub in the county.

Anaheim's craft beer community has evolved into a rich mix of quality microbreweries and beer festivals, and whether you're in the city for Disneyland, family fun or a convention, there’s a lot to drink to.

The most historic local brewery is no doubt Anaheim Brewery in the Anaheim Packing District (336 S. Anaheim Blvd.). It first opened its doors in 1870, and there were second and third locations soon located nearby. Then the brewer took a 90 year break after National Prohibition closed the taps in 1920. Today, the fourth home of the Anaheim Brewery is the Packard Building, a 1920s structure within the city’s Historic Packing District, thanks to brewers Greg and Barbara Gerovac who reopened Anaheim Brewery in 2011 with four flagship brews as well as a few seasonal drafts throughout the year.

Anaheim Brewery shares this interesting historical information on their website:

“As early as 1870, the Anaheim Gazette ran ads for the Anaheim Brewery. The early proprietors were Solomon Goldstein and Samuel Davis. Meanwhile, Bavarian-born, Anaheim resident Friedrich Conrad started his first brewery, the California Brewery. Located at 113 Adele Street between Lemon and Los Angeles Street (now Anaheim Boulevard), the brewery did well.  In 1888, he purchased 10 acres on Broadway in West Anaheim. There he built a large brick building and named it the Anaheim Brewery, famous for its “Anaheim Beer.”

On the west side of the brewery, Conrad established a park, with trees, tables and benches, and a central pavilion. The park was known as Tivoli Gardens, and later Columbia Gardens. The park became a popular gathering place for picnicking, with people bringing their own food or buying sandwiches and beer at the brewery.

In 1904, Friedrich Conrad sold his brewery to Anton Hessel and his partner John Bauer, a San Diego brewer. The property changed hands several more times, finally closing at the beginning of Prohibition.

Flash forward to present-day Anaheim. Building on its historic past, Anaheim Brewery is once more making fresh, quality beer for the neighborhood.”

Today, there are currently 15 breweries in Anaheim, but the city is anticipating to have 21 breweries open by the end of 2018. What’s more, the city of Anaheim also recently created a “Brew City” initiative to help spur and facilitate even more brewing business. As they explain, The City of Anaheim has alcohol manufacturing roots dating back to the founding of the city in the 1800's. The climate for production of beer, wine and distilled spirits was perfect for the city's founding business leaders. 

What's old is new again - the alcohol beverage manufacturing industry is growing rapidly. The City of Anaheim has again set up the perfect climate for entrepreneurial minds to craft beer and alcohol. In 2013, the City Council passed the Brew City Initiative which cut through the red tape for alcohol beverage manufacturing in industrial and commercial locations. In order to allow the creative brewers to showcase their creations, the City also allowed for small tasting rooms to let the public try the brews straight from the tap.”

It’s clear that Anaheim has positioned itself as a must-visit destination for anyone interested in one of the countries hottest brewery cultures. It started about 150 years ago here in Anaheim and thankfully it has returned full force. Simply put, Anaheim is one of the most conducive environments for the best breweries to create some of the best craft beers. It will be a fascinating and exciting journey to watch just how the business grows in the next few years!