ANAHEIM Calif. — The City of Anaheim is promoting National Beer Day on April 7 in an effort to fill up counters at all 20 of its brew pubs and tasting rooms.

Anaheim’s beer scene has grown over the past few years as business-friendly changes at the city level eased restrictions on manufacturing. 

Anaheim has looked to add breweries to its suite of offerings for years. With family-friendly attractions like Disneyland and Angel Stadium, the city has pushed for brewery numbers to expand since 2016.

What You Need To Know

  • Anaheim has 20 breweries, the city tourism bureau reports

  • In a 2019 survey conducted by Visit Anaheim, 41% of respondents said they had taken a trip specifically to drink beer

  • Anaheim has drawn big regional breweries like Modern Times and Golden Road Brewing

  • The city has been trying to push itself since 2016, when it attempted to market itself as "brew city"

“The city passed an initiative that cut through the red tape and allowed breweries to manufacture,” said Visit Anaheim CEO Jay Burress. “It’s part of our heritage, with our name and the German heritage.”

The hope is to get even more visitors, or provide huge numbers of tourists and convention attendees yet another feature.

Visit Anaheim commissioned a survey of 2,000 people in 2019 to gather information about how to get beer drinkers into town. The survey found that beer drinkers are more than willing to travel, with 70% of respondents saying they had gone on a “beercation.” Of that group, 41% listed California as a top beer tasting location, just behind Germany.

Craft brewing had seen a meteoric rise over the years with notable brands like Sierra Nevada finding international audiences after being purchased by giant beverage companies. San Diego-born Ballast Point Brewing Company saw its star rise, culminating in a $1 billion sale to Constellation Brands. The brewery was sold again just four years later in 2019 to lesser known Kings and Convicts for an undisclosed price.

Other models have continued to be successful, like the slow, steady expansion of brands like Monkish Brewing Co. that have a limited-release model well known among beer aficionados. 

Breweries of all kinds, sizes and pedigree have opened their doors in recent years.

Golden Road Brewing, maker of Wolf Pup IPA, and a dizzying list of other offerings, slings beers just near Angel Stadium. And other, smaller breweries, located for years in Torrance, another hub of SoCal beer culture, have opened second locations in Anaheim. 

And part of its effort to advertise itself as a friendly place for breweries, Anaheim has tried to brand itself “Brew City.” With so many established beer communities in cities as close as Long Beach, the name hasn’t caught on.

“I don’t think we’re quite ready for that,” said Burress.

Visit Anaheim has yet to spend any of its finite budget on advertising it, Burress said, which could change in the future. 

He said the city’s tourism bureau may even consider pushing vouchers or tickets for responsibly run pub crawls. Among the options is promoting the La Palma Beer trail, one section of the city with numerous brew pubs within walking distance.

Among the notable recent entrants to the Anaheim brew scene has been Modern Times, a popular regional brewery which invested in a huge 33,000-square-foot space. Branded as Leisuretown, the restaurant and brewery include a pool and beer garden.

Nearby cities and neighborhoods have competitive beer scenes. Long Beach is home to Beachwood Brewing and a massive Ballast Point location right on the water. Even Costa Mesa has a collection of breweries, including Green Cheek Brewing Company on Randolph Avenue. Big-time beer can pop up anywhere.

Cities across California have seen breweries thrive over recent years, as locally popular businesses spread to new towns, or fresh beer makers see if their beverages can catch on.

Anaheim’s collection may be the biggest in Orange County, but Burress said there’s a lot more the city can consider doing.

“It’s a dream area to market in,” Burress said. “We’ve got 20 million people within a short drive.”