Saturday, November 16, 2013

Thoughts on Alcatraz Brewing Closing

Recently, Alcatraz Brewing located the Block at Orange Outlets at Orange closed its doors leaving the following note on their website:

On behalf of the Alcatraz Brewing Company team, we regret to announce that September 22 was our last day of operations.
After more than a decade of happily serving the community, we are closing our doors.  We thank all of our loyal customers for supporting our passion for creating award-winning, handcrafted beer.
It has been a privilege to serve you.
 That is, as the kids say, "teh suck."

Alcatraz's closing snuck up like a ninja on a lot of people, including, allegedly, many of the employees.  I read about it on September 23rd, when it was too late to go for a last pint and a stack of nachos with enough caloric potential to power your average automobile across country.

This was a place my coworkers and I used to go after work for happy hour as it was close to the office, which has left us in search of a new venue with good food and beer.  I'd also go there before meeting friends for dinner at this mall that can't stop changing names.

The saddest part for me was Alcatraz's beer had improved over the past few years.  In 2004, when I first started going there, they had Big House Red, Weiss Guy Wheat, Pelican Pale Ale, and Searchlight Lager.  I believe they also had an IPA, but I can't recall what it was.  In 2008 (-ish) they started doing more seasonals and as recently as last year, they'd often have four or five seasonal selections to augment the standards.

Their Big House Red was a personal favorite.  Unlike a lot of red ales, it wasn't as thick or syrupy so it was very easy drinking without tasting watered down.  No one I know has found one quite like it, although having recently had Saranac's Irish Red, that might be comparable.

One of the recent beers they made was "Tiger's Blood" which was a strong tripel playing up on the crazy Charlie Sheen brings anytime he opens his mouth.  They also had, what I suspect was their attempt at Stone's Arrogant Bastard for a strong ale that was called Arrogant Jerk.  Comparing the ratings on, it's not suprising which was considered better (Spoiler: they're still open for business).

Replacing Alcatraz is a Saddle Ranch Chop House.
The vision was to create a destination restaurant where, unlike others’, guests could come for a great home-style meal and down-home hospitality and stay long after their plates had been cleared, immersing themselves in a high energy, rock-western experience.
With a rustic over-sized bar, mechanical bull, and outdoor stone fire pits, Saddle Ranch is the perfect place for friends and family to gather and eat, drink and celebrate life.
So the California pub becomes a western style steak house with with a mechanical bull.  Wait.. What?  A mechanical bull?  YupA MechanicalBull.

Well, that almost takes the edge off.

Actually it doesn't, because the beer menu (based on the Hollywood SR) is middling at best with the listed premium drafts being Blue Moon, Dos Equis, Guiness, Lagunitas IPA, Newcastle, and Stella Artois.  Although you can check the "chalkboard menu" or ask you server for a "list of special local craft beer and drinks."

Verdict.  Alcatraz closing sucks and no amounts of mechanical bull tossing people's salads is going to change my point of view.

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