TASTE News Service June 9, 2015 - Microbrews have hit Ventura County in a big way with more than a half dozen breweries and brew houses opening in the last few years. It only makes sense that area wine festivals now include beer tastings and craft beer events are growing in popularity.
The first microbrewery to take off was Anacapa Brewing Company. Open since 2000 in a beautiful 140-year old brick building in the City of Ventura’s downtown, it creates 33 seasonal varieties at different times through the year. Handcrafted ales and lagers are produced in a seven-barrel brewing system. Most popular are the Pierpont IPA, Santa Rosa Red and Seaward Golden Ale. An added bonus is Anacapa’s food menu, which is filled with locally grown vegetables and fresh seafood from just off the coast. “We’ve definitely seen new breweries pop up around the area, which is great for beer lovers,” says Danny Saldana, Anacapa’s owner. “As a small brewery, we’re always looking for new, local ingredients for flavor. Our quality products and staff of long-time employees make our company unique.”
Close to Ventura’s beaches, Surf Brewery is the only packaging microbrewery in the county, self-distributing in kegs and bottles. Bring your own food (or buy from food trucks on the weekends) and sip its award-winning pale ale, County Line Rye Ale, the South Swell Double IPA and specialty beer blends.
A newcomer to the scene is Institution Ale Company in Camarillo. As a family-owned microbrewery producing only 500 barrels of beer a year, their philosophy is definitely quality over quantity! Poseidon Brewing Company in Ventura is another newbie. Their brewmaster is known to get creative—such as charging the beer with nitrogen instead of the usual carbon dioxide or spiking the beer with fruits and spices. Topa Topa is scheduled to open in June in the City of Ventura.
For sheer quantity of choices, head to The Yard House in Oxnard, one of the hottest new brew houses in Ventura County. Or, try Barrelhouse 101 in Ventura and BJ’s in Oxnard. All three offer favorites, limited and seasonal drafts on tap—with plenty of savory pub grub.
Numerous wine tour packages and brewery tours are now available on the south Central Coast. Helping patrons get to and from breweries safely are two new brewery tour companies: Brew Bus 101 and Jump On The Brew Bus. Both offer general and private craft beer outings.
As a testimony to the growing brew culture in this western part of Ventura County, the first Surf ‘n’ Suds beer festival will be held at Ventura Harbor Village on Saturday, June 13, where 45 breweries will be pouring. Later this year the Ventura County Beer Week, celebrating all things beer, will be from September 13 to 20, culminating in the annual California Beer Festival, September 18 through 20 at Mission Park in Ventura.
Editor’s note: A good source of information on beer, wine and food events in the area is www.venturacountywest.com. If you’re thinking of visiting this part of California first check out the Central Coast listings of Taste California Travel’s Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to the sites of Wineries and Craft Beer Purveyors.