When Anaheim Brewery re-opened in 2011 for the first time since Prohibition, it was only the second brewery that existed at the time in Anaheim. Today, there are 21 breweries and counting, with an even larger scene expanding into neighboring towns. The growth of craft beer is undoubtedly a good thing for all, with a brewing community known to be close-knit and friendly. Anaheim Brewery is in many ways the flagship of that movement, reflecting longevity in both its name and its beer.
As members of the Anaheim Historical Society, Greg and Barbara Gerovac became inspired by research about an Anaheim Brewery established in or before 1870. Newspaper clippings and other documents showed that the business changed hands a few times until Prohibition finally closed it down in 1919. Previously stationed together in Germany in the U.S. Army before transitioning into careers in the beer industry, the couple “knew Germans took their beer seriously, and these [early settlers] probably did, too.” They approached the City of Anaheim about an unused building in their neighborhood in 2008, right when the recession hit—they’d wait another three years before opening the doors of their own brewery to the public.
The first Anaheim Brewery made steam beer, now called California Common beer, an ad hoc style of highly-carbonated lager specific to California that has since been trademarked by San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing Company. The present-day Anaheim Brewery serves a similar caramel-colored brew they call Anaheim 1888. And here is where, perhaps, you’ll taste the biggest difference between Anaheim Brewery and its local competitors. Their focus on easy-drinking traditional beers, rather than experimental ones, makes them “proudly unhip.”
In a town known for its tourism, “what we wanted was someplace that’s very community-oriented,” Greg Gerovac said. “The focus is on coming in and meeting friends and neighbors. The beers that we have support that by not being so strong that you can only have one and then you have to go home.” You can drink Anaheim 1888 at over 80 retailers in Orange County, including hotels, restaurants and bars, and entertainment venues. But perhaps the best spot to sip it is at Anaheim Brewery. Their tasting room features a vintage wooden bar and large windows, giving guests a glimpse into the beer-making process, and their kid- and dog-friendly beer garden is almost always warm and sunny.