From a one-man show to an Orange County beer destination
A small artisan brewery with a unique small-batch brewing system, Bootlegger’s Brewing Company was the brainchild of experienced homebrewer and beer lover Aaron Barkenhagen. Aaron developed the business concept and business plan behind Bootlegger’s while enrolled in the Entrepreneurship program at California State University, Fullerton, in Orange County, California, and envisioned building a small local brewery with fresh and unique handcrafted beer. After two years of planning and building, his dream came true when Bootlegger’s opened its doors in 2008.
Aaron decided on Fullerton for Bootlegger’s home, not only because that’s where he was going to school, but also because at the time, there were no other breweries in north Orange County. With the great college town vibe and lively downtown area, Fullerton seemed like the perfect place to start a brewery.
Bootlegger’s started in a small warehouse establishment just a couple blocks from downtown Fullerton. Their brewing philosophy was, and still is, to do small batches, lots of experimentation, and to continually push the edges of the envelope. The result has been a wide selection of many different beer styles - some traditional and some unique (they brew a chipotle coffee stout in addition to an ale brewed with plums and rock candy), but even the traditional styles are brewed to be very different than what one might expect. It’s a strategy that has helped make Bootlegger’s one of the fastest growing and most popular craft breweries in the Orange County region. In fact, both Aaron and his wife Patricia (Bootlegger’s Vice President) were recognized as Entrepreneurs of the Year by Orange County supervisor Shawn Nelson in 2011, to honor their incredibly fast success - and they haven’t slowed down since. In 2012, they moved into a much larger production facility, and in 2013, they opened a new tasting room in downtown Fullerton. More recently, in 2017, Bootlegger’s expanded to a new pilot brewery and tasting room in Redlands, California, and another pilot brewery and tasting room just opened in Costa Mesa, California (also in Orange County). The brewery has also grown from a one-man operation to over 35 employees!
And the name ‘Bootleggers?’ It’s representative of Aaron’s history as a homebrewer, when he often gave away beer to family and friends. Now Bootlegger’s has grown into a not-so-well-kept local secret that draws beer enthusiasts from throughout southern California. We hope our Craft Beer Club members enjoy two of their most popular selections. Cheers!