What happens when you bring together Orange County’s largest Winery and San Juan Capistrano’s flagship Brewery? An epic pairing! Rancho Capistrano Winery is one of my favorite Orange County Restaurants and destinations. They produce a selection of elite wines and their menu, by Chef Adrian De La Torre III, has won a variety of awards every year in the five years since they opened. But those accolades alone didn’t get them featured on our blog. Rancho Capistrano Winery serves the best beer-battered fish taco I’ve ever tasted and offers a rotating craft beer selection for anyone looking for that refreshing effervescent mouthfeel on a warm sunny day. Additionally, Rancho Capistrano Winery has live music on their beautiful patio to complete the South Orange County ambiance.
I had the chance to sit down with Kyle Franson, the owner of Rancho Capistrano Winery, to share with him a little about Tacos and Cold Ones and my love for Chef Adrian’s Cod Taco. I explained to Kyle that their taco tastes better each time I eat it. Seriously, it always gets better! Kyle didn’t hesitate to agree that their taco is the best fish taco he’s ever had.
The Chef’s Cod Taco is beer-battered and deep fried to a crisp golden-brown color, then placed on two-layered, warm, corn tortillas, drizzled with a golden, sweet and savory Asian aioli sauce and topped with flavorful and refreshing coleslaw, slices of ripe green avocados and a splash of cilantro. What I love most about this taco is it’s served hot, right out of the fryer.
Tucked away in the industrial park of San Juan Capistrano, Docent Brewing is by far one of my favorite breweries - period. Great beer is undeniable, and their beer speaks for itself. If I had to choose one word to describe Docent’s beer, it would be smooth. As a leader in the craft beer community, Docent takes great pride in their high-quality artisan craft beer. As a result, Docent has produced some award-winning beers, including the Double Nickels Pale Ale, which took home Silver at the 2018 World Beer Cup for American Pale Ale. The Double Nickels name comes from their precisely calculated 5.5% ABV and 55 IBU’s.
Double Nickels pours light amber with a persistent white-to-off-white head. Initial tropical fruity aroma notes of ruby red grapefruit, sweet orange, and pine mingle nicely with delicate notes of honey and vanilla. It’s round on the palate, with flavors of caramel, vanilla, and honey that provide a sweet balance to the pronounced hoppy bitterness. The pale ale finishes smooth with some lingering bitterness and moderate carbonation.
Double Nickels is to the Chef’s Cod Tacos what wine is to chocolate, a match made in heaven. Sweet caramel malt-character matches beautifully with the caramelized coating of the deep-fried cod. Pronounced bitterness balances the sweetness of the Asian aioli sauce, allowing rich umami flavors to shine through. Hoppy bitterness cut through the fried fattiness, enhancing the sweet beer-batter coating. Tropical citrus notes of the beer elevate the tangy sweetness of the coleslaw and harmonize gracefully with the aioli sauce. Earthy flavors of the corn tortilla resonate with the grainy character of the malt. The creaminess of the avocado was heightened as the bitterness of the pale ale cut through its fatty oils. Double Nickels is equipped with just enough carbonation to wash away any residual fats leaving a refreshing, sensational mouthfeel. Although all good things must come to an end, that last bite and sip will have you placing a double order.
On any given day, you can find me and Karla on Rancho Capistrano Winery’s outdoor patio, enjoying Tacos and Cold Ones while listening to Luke Westin singing the acoustic version of “Today Was a Good Day”, or sitting at the bar chatting with Micah Sampson, their in-house Sommelier about which wines pair best with our favorite dishes. While you’re there, don’t forget to sign-up for their Wine Club Membership, wine not?