Unsung Brewing Company

Newcomer Unsung Brewing Company has opened in Tustin. Zoning restrictions currently disallow an onsite tasting room, so owner/brewer Michael Crea is in the process of building his tasting room in Anaheim, complete with a three barrel Premier Stainless pilot brewing system of its own. Locating in the soon to open “Make” building, next to Downtown Anaheim’s Packing House, Make’s concept is to house tenants that make things beer, wine, crafts, etc.. Anchor occupants to the transformed building that used to be a marmalade factory circa 1900 will also include a winery, possibly even a distillery.

Originally from Ohio, Crea came out west to pursue his dream of opening a brewery after first finding success in the insurance field. In preparation for his leap to professional brewer, Crea attended the Siebel Institute in Chicago, graduating from its Master Brewer Program.

The primary brewery is equipped with a 15-barrel Premier Stainless system. Core beers will be brewed in Tustin and pilot, one-off batches will be brewed in Anaheim. Given the local water makeup, Mike opted for a reverse osmosis system that supplies a 2,000-gallon reservoir tank. Water chemistry is then modified and adapted for each recipe brewed.

Early in this brewery’s development, the team is looking to improve during each stage of production and each successive batch brewed. In dialing in the new system and recipes Crea has not been afraid to dump a batch of beer. If it doesn’t meet standards it doesn’t get sold. Formulae will be tweaked and reformulated until Mike and assistant brewer Ryan Hunt are completely satisfied with the result. “I think we can make these beers better. We’ve only been getting better and better,” Crea shared.

Unsung’s offerings began with four core beers: a 5.2% ABV cream ale, two IPAs with varied hop mixes one citrus/pine forward and the other with tropical fruit notes, and Propeller-Head, Unsung’s 6.2% coffee amber, incorporating coffee from Hidden House Coffee in San Juan Capistrano. Light on chocolate malts, most of its roast character comes from the coffee. A new XPA extra pale ale will soon join the lineup.

Crea, an avid comic book fan growing up, has incorporated this theme in his brewery’s point of view and beer branding. Beer nerd meets comic book nerd as each beer takes the name of an unsung hero, complete with back story. Each story is created around the ingredients that go into the beer, and the character’s alter ego or super power. Without any arch enemy, the aforementioned Propeller Head is a super-smart nerd whose vice is caffeine. He travels the world in search of the best coffee. Given the seasonality of some of the Hidden House blends, look for a seasonal change in the coffee that will go into Propeller Head. Column space constraints prevent telling every story here, so look forward to learning the backstories for Buzzman Cream Ale, and the two female IPA’s, Sylvan and Anthia. Watch also for quarterly releases of 3-4 page comics telling these hero stories, with artwork by local artists; and a wall mural in the tasting room of Buzzman fighting the yard bees! Unsung’s tasting room is expected to be open in May.

Del Frisco’s Beer Dinners

Monthly beer dinners are back at Del Frisco’s Grille, Irvine Spectrum. Executive Chef Sarah Daniels teamed up with Cismontane Brewing Company for the first dinner of the season, preparing a four course dinner to pair with beer from Cismontane. Head Brewer Scott Holden was on hand to present and discuss the beer pairings. The first course was West Coast clam chowder paired with The Citizen, a lager brewed in the California Common tradition lager yeast brewed at ale temp. The beer contrasted and cleansed the briny fresh clams and creaminess. Coulter IPA enhanced juicy root beer braised pork rib sliders with cucumber slaw and also went nicely with the rye crusted halibut with stewed tomato and celery confit.

Cismontane’s wine/beer, The Mesa, was the appointed pairing for this course. A blend of Riesling grapes and pilsner malts, and fermented with lactobacillus, the unique and melding wine-beer flavor provided an additional complementing dimension to the dish. Spiced carrot cake with ample pineapple cream cheese frosting was served with Black’s Dawn Imperial Stout. The coffee, brown sugar and oats in the beer’s makeup melded with the cakes ingredients to elevate the experience.

Check Del Frisco’s events calendar or connect on social media for upcoming beer dinners. Chef Daniels is the first female executive chef for the Del Frisco’s Grille group of restaurants. She joined General Manager Katie Pavkov’s team at the Irvine Spectrum location after first assisting with opening five Del Frisco’s Grilles across the country and seasoning her skills as sous chef for the Santa Monica store.