Brewing Up a Home Pub

Written by Cindy McNatt for the Orange County Register

With the exception of the Peace Brewing Keg hanging from the roof, the back yard of Bradley Daniels home doesn't look much out of the ordinary. Photo by Nick Koon for The Orange County Register

When Brad Daniels told a scientist friend of his that he was going to start brewing beer, the friend replied, “I hate when people say they’re going to do something and then don’t.”

Daniels came from a long line of nonstarters, so with determination and a passion for microbrews, the retired engineer began some serious brewing. And he eventually built the pub to go with it.

Daniels transformed only a part of his 1924 Anaheim garage into a brewery/pub.

“People think if you brew beer you also collect guns in the basement and store food,” joked Daniels. “People have been brewing beer for 4,000 years. Think Mesopotamia.”
You can brew beer with a basic $80 setup: boiling kettle, buckets and a hydrometer. But Daniels Dumpster-dived for his first piece of equipment.

“Hospitals used to distill their own water, so when we removed a still from a hospital I worked at, I bet a friend I’d use it to make beer. I found out I didn’t need a still,” he said.

While Daniels has spent 10 years brewing beer, and three years restoring his historic home, the pub is less than a year old.

“I spent days working on the house and evenings dreaming about how I wanted the pub to look.”

It has everything he needs for a brewery first and a tap room second. The main functions he designed were for the fermentation room and plumbing. Daniels moved the laundry room into the house.

“My wife, Daira, worked just as hard on it as I did,” he said. “She pushed me to make it look finished. I’m the function guy – she’s the form girl.”

The lighting is antique and from the period. Daniels collects signs as he finds them, preferably from between Prohibition and 1959.

Granite countertops, a faux brick wall and the view window to the fermentation room are for Daniels – he likes watching his beer ferment.

His first batch was a disaster. “I didn’t have anyone to talk to about it,” he said. But Daniels says you can make excellent beers in your first year. He recommends “The New Complete Joy of Home Brewing” (Avon) to get started.
The microbrew community in Orange County is growing.

Two excellent places to start, says Daniels, are O’Shea Brewing Co. in Laguna Niguel and Addison Homebrew Provisions in Fullerton.

“The owners of both of these companies are walking encyclopedias,” he said.

It takes two weeks to get a batch of beer, from boiling to kegging. There are new hops – lots of new grains to try (barleys and wheats) – and the fiddling and fermenting never stop.

What does Daniels drink when not pub-crawling Orange County’s tasting rooms? Coors Light or Tecate.

Contact the writer: cmcnatt@ocregister.com