Let me tell you about an englishman, who's a big Green Bay Packer's fan, who lives in Orange, CA and opened a German style tap house and deli, that serves mostly american craft brew's and has a special cooler for all the belgians. Hannah took care of my entertainment for the few days I was out on the left coast, and a whole day of research, hand drawn maps, and an afternoon commute out of LA had her at my hotel after work and primed for adventure. The most important stop would be Hollingshead's. The review said we were walking into a German beer garden that served Boar's Head deli sandwiches. Picture a really well stocked 7-11, complete with harsh flueroescant lighting, commercial tile on the floor, and a cash register near the door. Now add 350 different bottles of beer, about 6 tables all pushed together, a mix of people that would make United Colors of Bennetton blush, and a giant bar in the back, tended by Ken, the same guy who works the register of front. We ordered the only food they had left, "whoopie stix," which were a collection of olives, pickled onions, smoked cheeses and some jaegarwurst, served with side of the best (and only) mustard I've ever eaten. Ken was also nice enough to make us a cheese plate. We ordered some beers, an Avery IPA and a Stone Smoked Porter, and immediately had some redfaced, white beareded german guy hanging over our shoulder engaged in conversation. Then the kind of gansta looking mexican guy next to me joined in the conversation, explaining how he stopped in one day after work for a beer, and after the customer next to him offered him a taste of his own beer, he's never left. Running the gauntlet of self beer education, and hanging with "all these old german dudes." He, along with everyone in the place, was a big fan of Ken, a man who immediately makes you feel like a regular at his bar. That is, until he wants you to go home. When Ken gets tired of serving beers, he grabs a CB style microphone and calls everyone by name up to the register, one at a time, adding his own flavor to your name (I was a very drawn out "Rooooobbbberrrtttooo!) Because the old trick of turning the lights on, the last resort of any bar trying to move me along, doesn't work when the lights have been on the whole time, Ken just continues to grab the microphone and goad you until you leave. With a nod of approval from Ken, I picked up some coconut filled imported german chocolate on my way out for desert. I was assured that "it'd make a nice close after those porters." The rest of orange county really isn't for me. Lots of lamborghini's, dumb rich kids living in 3,000/month apartments while trying to cop urban skate culture with their printed-flat billed hats and tribal tatoos, chain restaurants and strip malls, BUT if I ever find myself here again, I'm stopping back at Hollingshead's for a pint or two for sure, this time before 6:00.
And just for kicks, they've kept every Anchor Brewing Company Christmas Ale draft handle from the past 25 years, I can say for a fact that I remember when they changed from the plastic to the wood, but I never knew they were unique each year. This was my cultural improvement portion of the trip, like visiting a museum.