A First Visit to Noble Ale Works
Before even entering Noble Ale Works, a visitor is welcomed not by a red carpet, but by a very noticeable smell. The smell of wort unmistakably welcomes the visitor, guiding them on in to Noble Ale Works, located in an warehouse, situated amongst other such warehouses in Anaheim (across the street, one such warehouse is in use as a crossfit center). Entering the tasting room, as I did on Monday night, one sees not only a packed tasting room (did I mention it was a Monday night?), but also the fermenters right in front of the tasting room. Well, it’s not so much as being a separate fermenting room from the tasting room as it was some different paint on the floor – the fermenters are right in the same room as the tasting room, just distanced a slight bit.
Aside from a couple of tables and some counter space, there really isn’t much elsewhere to sit and enjoy one’s beer(s), which is a shame, since if they can draw that many customers on a Monday night without either an Angels game (Angels Stadium is not far away) nor a Ducks game (the Honda Center is also not too far away) going on, I can’t imagine what another night would be like. It’s a shame also since the beer is good.
Noble Ale Works had sixteen different beers on-tap and offers taster flights of five different beers in 4oz pours, although one can also get beers in such a quantity without having to get five of them. But, of course, as someone who enjoys tasting flights, I ordered one, consisting of four IPAs and a barleywine.
I started off with the Big Whig IPA (6.8% ABV), which had a lovely pineyness to it and was pleasant and a bit light. Next up, I had the Tongue Tickles (8.0% ABV), which had a lovely nose, was lightly-bodied, and its smoothness lent to easy drinking. Following that, I had their Citra Showers (8.8% ABV), which I found to have a lovely pineyness accompanied by some grapefruit notes. Following up on those two double IPAs, I then had their triple IPA, Citra Yum Yum (12.3% ABV), which was on a totally different level than the first three beers (and, yes, there was certainly a lot of yumminess to it!). It had a lot going on and was quite complex (even on the nose(!)), yet so easy to drink. I would love to get more of that beer, although it’s only available in their tap room. For the final beer of my flight, I had the Olde B. Edwards XXX (9.7% ABV), which was a smooth, easy-to-drink barleywine and, of course, malty.
While with my group, we happened to chat with a couple of guys right next to us, one of whom was a regular there for several years and after whom a beer had been named (a cherry wheat beer that was inspired by Sam Adams Cherry Wheat, but was made out of actual cherries and had more of a sour character to it than wheatiness) and the other who gave me a whiff of a coffee beer. Having caught that whiff, I knew I had to try it.
That beer was Naughty Sauce (5.4% ABV), which had a very strong nose of coffee, which makes sense, since the head brewer had worked together with the roast master at Portola Coffee Lab to create this concoction, which is a golden milk stout with coffee on nitro. I found that despite the very strong coffee nose, it was actually quite soft once it hit the palate and was surprisingly not strong with the coffee flavor. This is an easily drinkable beer. However, not to be satisfied with it, they also offered an imperial version of it, so I felt obliged to try the Bean Bump (12.7% ABV). Wow! Wow! This was incredible beer. While the nose was a lot calmer coffeewise compared to the Naughty Sauce, the milk chocolatiness and creaminess of the beer made it into a very special beer. Words do not do this beer justice.
Of their sixteen beers on-tap, they only offer six for growler fills. While waiting in-line for a growler fill (I came home with a growler of Big Whig IPA), a guy behind me struck up a conversation with the guy in front of me and they started chatting about beers; it turns out that the guy in front of me works at The Bruery and the guy behind me in line works at one of the locations of Portola Coffee Lab. The place definitely had a chill vibe and it was really great to get to chat with a couple of people who work at such great places in Orange County.
I enjoyed my experience at Noble Ale Works, especially enjoying the Citra Yum Yum and the Bean Bump beers (I had the lovely lingering taste of Bean Bump on my palate, which was ever so delightful), although it was kind of hard to get a good nose on the beers, since the smell of the wort was so strong throughout the tasting room. Also, as I had mentioned, it was kind of hard to find a place to sit on a Monday night without any games, so I imagine it’s got to be pretty hard to get in on a weekend night, which is a shame (and makes me wonder if they’ll try to expand). Nevertheless, it’s a good brewery making some good beers here in Southern California.