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SoCal Craft Beer King Ballast Point Opens Brewery in Downtown Disney

The Happiest Place on Earth just got a little happier.

SoCal craft brewmeister Ballast Point Brewing Company is the latest addition to Downtown Disney, opening its latest outpost and the first brewery at the Disneyland Resort last week. The 4,000-square-foot space includes a restaurant, airy bar, beer garden patio and brewery.

Courtesy of Michele Stueven

There are 50 beers on tap, including a long list of IPAs and crisp and bright selections such as the Longfin lager, a traditional German Helles that will transport you to Munich. There are six sours, including the delightful Tart Peach Kolsch and the award-winning Blackberry Sour Wench. If you like rich and malty, the robust Victory at Sea has coffee and vanilla notes and is one of the many brews Ballast Point corporate executive chef Colin MacLaggan uses in his elevated but very approachable pub fare.

Together with Downtown Disney sous chef Joey Lerma, MacLaggan developed an elevated bar food menu just for this location. About 10 percent of the menu is the same in all locations, while the rest is inspired by the taste of the region.

“Here we have a lot of vegetarian dishes,” Lerma tells Irvine Weekly. “There’s soyrizo and roasted cauliflower tacos, Impossible larb lettuce cups and a handmade vegetarian pasta dish unique to this location, with sweet potato and ricotta and wild mushrooms.”

Courtesy of Michele Stueven

And there’s plenty to keep carnivorous diners happy, too, like the smoky blue burger, glazed pork belly, California Kolsch steak burrito and duck confit nachos made with a Blackberry Sour Wench reduction. The Buffalo wing batter is made with the house Sculpin IPA, and MacLaggan loves using the Mocha Marlin Porter for his seasonal braising.

“We use a lot of beer in our preparation and change it seasonally,” MacLaggan says. “We use the Longfin beer in our beer-battered fish tacos and Victory at Sea for our dessert panna cotta.”

A classic beer pairing,  the house made pimento cheese is an picante American cousin to a good Bavarian Obatzda you’d find in a Munich beer garden, served with a local flare of  pickles and chicaronnes made in house.

“When I built Virginia out, I was introduced to the world of pimento cheese,” says MacLaggan. “When we developed our Disney menu, we also wanted to bring a little flavor of our other locations here.  Our clientele is from all over the United States, so it’s something familiar to guests from those regions to enjoy and make them feel at home.”

Courtesy of Michele Stueven

Ballast Point Brewing Company was founded by home brewers and college roommates Jack White and Pete A’Hearn in 1996 in San Diego, the epicenter of the California’s craft brewery phenomenon.  

The company started out with humble beginnings when White opened Home Brew Mart in San Diego for home brewing enthusiasts in 1992.  The shop became a meeting place where brewers could come together and learn about the craft, many of which  went on to found breweries of their own and helped launch the IPA community of Southern California.

The first micro distillery in San Diego County since prohibition, it’s become the second largest brewer in the county and 17th largest in the country since 2015 based on sales volume.

In addition to their main 107,000 square-foot brewery in Miramar, which also includes a laboratory, restaurant and tasting room, an East Coast brewery and tap room opened in Virginia’s Roanoke Valley in 2017.

Courtesy of Michele Stueven

The marriage between brewpub and Mouse House seemed a natural for the Ballast Point Brewing Company, which started in San Diego more than 20 years ago. With the addition of the Anaheim location, there are nine tasting rooms nationwide, including those in San Diego and Long Beach, Virginia and Chicago. A brewery and kitchen will open in San Francisco this spring, the company’s first in Northern California.

“I have to say that my favorite Disney memory is coming here with my daughter and her reaction to seeing all of the princesses,” Ben Dollard, president of Ballast Point, shared as he looked out from the brewery window onto the beer garden patio. “We are two magical businesses with a very positive outlook on the future coming together.”