Any Given Saturday: October 22, 2016

Three breweries, each with something special: a grand opening, a coveted bottle release, and a first anniversary. Sounds like a busy place. Where could we be?  This is the state of Ventura County’s accelerating craft beer scene.

Ventura Coast Brewing Company: Grand Opening

Our first stop of the day is at the grand opening of Ventura Coast Brewing Company (Facebook/Instagram). Situated on the corner of Oak and East Santa Clara, this gorgeous facility features both indoor seating and a patio.  With its roll-up window garage doors, they let the cool ocean breeze  in, but can easily be closed off when it gets too chilly out. Off to the side of the main hall is a barrel room for aging beer in various oak barrels. Ventura Coast is clearly wasting no time jumping into the barrel-aged beer game.

Bellying up to the bar, the grand opening featured five beers: a blonde ale, an amber ale, both an IPA and session IPA, and a porter:

  • Initial Blonde Ale: Moderately sweet grainy aroma with a definitive earthy hop nose. The beer is clean, with crackery malt flavor, and a complimentary soft hop bitterness. Finishes dry.
  • Char Man Amber Ale: Caramel and chocolate aromas. The flavor follows the aroma, with a complex malt structure reminiscent of a caramel chocolate candy.
  • Neighborhood Session IPA: Moderate fruity hop aroma with a citrusy and sweet-tart candy flavor. Excellent body for a session IPA, as they tend to be thin and seltzer-like. Could be bit more bitter.
  • Resinite IPA: A fruity hop aroma entwined with a caramel malt nose. Flavor of berries, lemons, and a slightly too sweet malt balance. Not as dry as many west coast IPAs (and not billed as such), but very serviceable.
  • No Oats Porter: Roasty chocolate espresso aroma, reminiscent of milk chocolate. Taste follows the aroma, with a nice medium body and drying from the judicious use of roast malt.

I have been to a few brewery openings in the years, and the beer is usually OK;  I am seriously impressed with the high quality of these home openers. Each beer has its independent character, with expressive and complex flavors. The bar has been raised for Ventura County’s breweries!

Casa Agria: Bottle Release

Heading back south on the 101, passing the farm fields between Ventura and Camarillo, you drive through the north part of Oxnard. Oxnard is the home of Casa Agria Specialty Ales. The boys and girls at CASA dropped two new brews this weekend: Western Glow, a hazy-fruity IPA with Citra, Mosaic, Simcoe, and Columbus, and Guayaba de Oro, a guava sour wheat beer.

Western Glow: Explosive hop nose with notes of papaya, passionfruit and orange juice. Soft malt flavors and medium bitterness lay a foundation for layers of hop flavor.

Guayaba de Oro: You can smell the guava aroma many feet away from the glass. The flavor is balanced between the guava and the malt, with a light sourness brought by the base beer. The combination of fruit flavor and low alcohol keep this beer refreshing and leaves me wanting another glass.

Rumor has it that future bottle releases will include a peach blonde sour, and did I see tanks of wine grape must?

Five Threads Brewing Company: First Anniversary

Our last stop for the night was the Five Threads Anniversary Party. (Yes, we left technically left Ventura County. It happens.) They took over a good chunk of the parking lot for the event, complete with a dynamite burger food truck (The Tasty Truck) and rock cover band (Crosscut Band 805). The anniversary glass is sleek and served as your vessel for the night’s libations. To celebrate one year of business, Five Threads released Anniversary Cherenkov Stout. The base beer, already redolent of french roast coffee and bitter chocolate, has its flavors amplified by the addition of oak cubes, cocoa nibs, and vanilla beans.

Ventura County craft beer is maturing at a steady rate. The opening of Ventura Coast has been long-awaited, and, with the addition of top-tier talent like Dan White, the bar has been raised for everyone. Casa Agria keeps their bottle release pace up with Guayaba de Oro, delivering on the fresh fruit flavors CASA is known for.  Western Glow, in my opinion,  is their best hoppy beer release to-date. The 1st Anniversary milestone of Five Threads should come as no surprise to anyone who has had their beer. They have a solid lineup of classic styles, with a few twists thrown in, executed consistently.

Any Given Saturday is a column about Ventura County craft beer events on the weekend. From craft brewery openings, anniversaries, tap-takeovers, or new beer releases, we cover what’s exciting to us, Any Given Saturday.

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