Derek Bougie is a brewer to watch. I recently stopped in at the Newport Beach Brewing Company on my way from San Diego to Santa Barbara, and it was well worth the four mile detour off of the 405. My stop there was initially part of the “Summer Pairings with Craft Beer” series, but I had the good fortune of discovering a diamond-in-the-rough in Head Brewer, Derek Bougie. I had heard about Derek through a friend of mine who happens to be a beer judge, and he recommended I stop in when I was in the area. He was right on the money. It helps to know insiders when you’re looking for the best ales and up-and-coming brewers on the coast because honestly, there are many.Bougie grew up in Costa Mesa, CA. and started brewing only 8 years ago at the age of 31, but you’d think it was a family tradition from the quality of his ales. Like a golfer growing up in Scotland, he has a natural inclination for finesse and attention to detail in his brews. Derek explained that he began brewing because it gave him “…the ability to be creative and challenge palettes, while creating a product close to [his] heart”. He worked under Kirk Roberts at NBBC for five years before formally taking the reins there a year and a half ago, and putting his stamp on the craft brew community with ales like his outstanding Riptide Red for which he uses specialty grains and chocolate malt that make it come off like a true ESB. Bougie also has a rotating sour handle with a new batch every eight weeks at NBBC, so stop in for a pint and tell him Tap Hunter sent you.
If you don’t get to Newport Beach much, you’ll have a chance to sample his fine work at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, CO.. In addition to his Barrel-Aged Sour, he’s also entered an IPA, a Stout, and a Pale Ale. This is Derek’s first year entering his wares in the competition and he’ll have two of them tapped on the floor for festival goers. I highly recommend you stop by his booth to sample and say hello. For industry insiders, Derek will be attending the exclusive after-party thrown by Tap Hunter on Friday night, (there’s another on Thursday) and has promised to bring a small stock of the best Sour he’s brewed over the last year to share at the VIP event of the festival. Get there early, it’ll go fast.
The food pairings Derek recommended were the outstanding Beer-Battered Fish-N-Chips, naturally paired with the Riptide Red used in the batter. The light crunchy batter and light sweet cod inside are worthy of a trip around Old Ben, and stands up to any of the fish and chips I’ve had across the pond. Paired with Riptide Red it completes the illusion that you’ve stumbled through a wardrobe Narnia-style into the East End of London for some post-pub tucker. His second suggestion is the simple thin-crusted Margherita Pizza sprinkled with shredded basil and thick slices of fresh, locally grown tomatoes, paired with his signature Newport Beach Blonde. Made fresh and served piping hot out of the brick oven, you’ll have time for a pint before you dig in, so make it a pitcher and kick back.