While serving on his third tour of duty in Iraq, platoon sergeant Brian Lambrose received many emails but he was hardly ready for the one he got from his old high school friend Jerry Nine. Jerry emailed Brian to ask him to join he and fellow Orange High School classmates Tony Foster and Mark Villa in opening a craft brewery in their hometown of Orange upon his return from Iraq. Through his job in the restraurant industry, Jerry came across the opportunity to buy the brewing equipment which was being liquidated by a brewery in the South Bay area. It was now or never for the four friends to pursue their dream and that’s just what they did. In July, 2011 they opened the Old Orange Brewing Company or OOB and haven’t looked back.
Jerry and Mark had dabbled off and on with home brewing for years with a great deal of success but this was a new ball game for army veteran, Brian. Just out of the service and unemployed, the job of brewmaster went to Brian by default. It didn’t take long though for him to find his calling. After just a few months training alongside a local brewmaster in Los Angeles he was ready to put his new skills to work at OOB.
The moment the grain leaves the hopper for the mash tun is the start of their beer magic. In just four short weeks it will become a finely crafted brew which will be ready for enjoyment. Using a combination of three to four different grains from the twenty varieties they keep in stock, Brian is keeping the fermentation tanks going at full capacity to keep up with the demand for their beer. OOB carries eight to ten different beers at any given time and many are seasonal. The names of each beer has significance to the partners and is tied to their Orange roots. Yesterday, was the release of the newest addition to their family of beers, Smudge Pot Russian, Imperial Stout which pays homage to all the Russian made smudge pots that kept the frost off the Orange trees in the groves during their youth. Personally, I’m a fan of the OOBerweizen which is a Bavarian style wheat beer that is a little lighter and has a slight hint of banana. The most poignantly named OOB’s beer, Cannonball, an Indian pale ale bears the nickname of Jerry’s late brother, avid cyclist Mike Nine. Another crowd favorite, Old Dummy is named for the old Orange street car that would travel back and forth between Orange and Santa Ana. It’s an American Strong Ale that is amber in color and loaded with malt taste. Many of OOB’s regulars purchase a growler for $5.00. A growler, for the beer challenged such as myself, is a reusable amber color glass beer jug which holds 64 oz of whatever beer you happen to be drinking at the time. Fill your growler and enjoy a taste of OOB at home!
Currently, OOB’s beers are served at such great local eateries as Haven Gastro Pub in Old Towne Orange, Jimmy Bones and Wise Guy Pizzeria both on Chapman in Orange and Heroe’s Bar & Grill and Joe’s in Fullerton, just to name a few. Stop by the Old Orange Brewing Company Tasting Room located at 1444 North Batavia Street. Tasting room hours are Friday 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 and Saturday and Sunday 1:00 to 8:00. If you happen to be in luck, The Lime Food Truck may even be there so you can enjoy your beer with some Carnitas Fries, Ahi Tuna Poke Nachos or Crab Ceviche.
So what’s next for the men of OOB? They hope to soon begin onsite bottling and continue doing what they do best…create fine craft beers, remain independent and stay embedded in their community. Until the next time, salute!