As my series on Orange County pubs and microbreweries comes to a close I decided to save the best for last. The Olde Ship Pub & Restaurant and Heroes Bar & Grill are two Orange County icons that are very near and dear to my heart.
For close to eighteen years The Olde Ship in Fullerton, CA has been serving up some of the best and most authentic British beers and cuisine in Orange County. Upon first entering this cozy little pub (and I do mean little), you are surrounded by all things British. Low ceilings, dark wood paneling and beams, and more Queen Elizabeth stuff than Buckingham Palace! The Olde Ship prides itself on being British owned and operated, the almost completely British staff is warm, friendly and welcoming. In fact, The Olde Ship catch phrase is “You’ll be a stranger here but once.” What’s on tap? The best of Britain of course! Brews such as Boddingtons, Harp, Smithwick’s (pronounced “smidicks”), Abbot Ale, Fullers London Pride, Old Speckled Hen, and Blackthorn Cider are poured almost non-stop. And no British pub is complete without Guinness on tap.
The Olde Ship also serves some great, rustic, authentic pub food. The fish and chips are some of the best in Orange County along with “Bounty’s Bangers & Mash” and “Churchill’s Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding.” And the dessert…good night nurse! You haven’t lived until you’ve tried the Rhubarb Crumble or the Sticky Toffee Pudding. If you are with a large group of friends, you may want to check out their larger, roomier location in Santa Ana, CA. The Olde Ship was the first British pub I ever stepped foot in and remains one of my all time favorite pubs. If you’re looking for a great place to sit back, relax, and actually have a conversation with your “mates” without yelling to be heard, the Old Ship is your place.
Up the road a few blocks sits the pub that started it all for me; Heroes Bar & Grill. It was here in this eclectic, unique, fun pub 17 years ago that my husband introduced me to my first “real” beer. That moment forever changed how I looked at not just microbreweries, but the beer culture in general. The walls and ceiling are saturated with antiques, vintage beer advertisements, and old photographs humbling one to remember that there were others enjoying life long before we were. Kick through the peanut shell covered floor, mosey up to the bar and stand in awe of the 119 beers on tap. Say what? Yes, 119 wonderful beers from around the world on tap! But don’t be overwhelmed, the bartenders are very knowledgeable about what they are pouring and can help you choose the right brew for you. Luckily for me, three of the beers on tap that day were from Bootlegger’s Brewery, Orange County’s newest and most exciting microbrewery.
I started off with Bootlegger’s Old World Hefeweizen. This unfiltered beauty has the gorgeous banana clove and wheat aroma that I just love. Clean, crisp and lightly hopped, this is a well balanced beer. Next up was the Palomino American Pale Ale. This ale had a smooth, creamy, almost nitro-feel with subtle hints of orange, spice and hops. I really enjoyed this ale. Lastly, I was pummeled by the Knuckle Sandwich Double IPA. I knew this beer wasn’t going to be a cakewalk; it’s a Double IPA after all. But, what I didn’t expect was to actually enjoy it. This IPA deceptively starts out smooth and then POW! Knuckle Sandwich punches you right in the face. I enjoyed the beers from Bootlegger’s and look forward to sampling their other brews.
Orange County is amazing. There’s no other place like it on earth and I look forward to my next visit and see what other new hot spots crop up. I hope you enjoyed my series on the Best of Orange County. Now, back to the PNW.