Drunk After Work: Tustin Brewing Company
The Hours: 3-6 p.m., Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to close on Thursdays, and 10 p.m. to close Sunday through Thursday.
The Deal: $3-$4 pints of house beer, $11 pitchers (except IPA) and discounted appetizers. Thursday nights women get $5 martinis and $2 off wine by the glass.
The Scene: The Brothers Grimm fantasy outside belies the interior, which is a slightly cavernous brewpub. The bar runs up the left side as you walk in, and gets major points for having twice the seating of a normal bar thanks to a wide rail forming a barrier between the bar and the restaurant. There are a few dozen tables, but you can order food at the bar. There's also some outdoor seating. The crowd is exactly what you expect from a brewpub: a mixed bag. Some come for the TVs, some just to relax, and some are beer nerds.
The Sauce: Strikingly good. The house brews are heavy on the hops, with both IPA and XPA at the time of review, but the house red is not bad and the house stout is definitely worth a drink. Several rotating "guest" beers are on tap; last week there was Russian River's Pliny the Elder. If you don't like what's on tap, there's a small fridge full of bottles of craft brews. This is not the place for Budweiser. The hard liquor selection is heavy on the vodkas; a decent but not earth-shaking selection in the way of bourbon and tequila.
The Eats: Better than expected for a beer hall. The sausage plate, which comes with grainy mustard, sauerkraut and (oddly) couscous salad, eats like a meal for the grand price of $6 or so. Onion rings were another standout, a huge portion of crunchy Os whose onions managed to stay intact through a bite.
The Verdict: There's a reason parking is such a bitch here, and it ain't Casa Gamino across the lot. Prices are good, the beer is good, and it's a totally unassuming little place that just happens to look like Hansel and Gretel live inside. If you're a beer person, this is a good happy hour for you. If you're a gin martini person, not so much.
The Grade: B+, mostly for having happy hour on Thursdays from 3 p.m. to last call.