When you peruse the beer lists on the L.A. Beer Blast you start to see some familiar beer names and breweries pop up. One of those is Ventura’s Surf Brewery. I recently visited the tap room and I also e-mailed questions to Salesman/Beer Geek Luke Barrett about this fairly new brewery just off the 101 freeway.
The brewery opened on June 8, 2011, so they are just over a year old. And they already have a healthy inflow of folks into their tap room. On my visit alone, I ran into people from San Diego and Seattle quaffing the many choices on draft which included a cask version of the Shaka XPA with Palisade hops and two blended beers. One was the Rye & Black which was a 50/50 combo of the County Line Rye pale and their Black IPA. They also had a shandy which is a mixture of beer and lemonade.
Los Angeles received beer from Surf almost right off the bat when “the first kegs were sent down in mid July 2011.” So we have been lucky enough to get supplied with Mondo’s Cream ale which Barrett calls “a great warm weather kind of beer. It’s crisp and refreshing with a good amount of flavor to it.” But despite being geographically close, L.A. has favored the South Swell Double IPA and the Oil Piers Porter though Mondo’s is still the best seller overall.
I finished my 1st visit to the brewery with a tour (two a day on the weekends) and the 1st Anniversary Imperial Brown Ale. The brewery tap room is open Tuesday-Thursday from 4pm – 9pm, Friday from 1pm – 9pm, and at noon on weekends. For those of you also in need of home brewing supplies they have that covered as well (classes too). Or if you are in a hurry, you can get a growler or some bottles to go.
According to their website (which is complete with the soothing sounds of waves crashing), “Surf Brewery wants “to continue the great tradition of California breweries, like Adam Schuppert Brewery, the first in California started in 1849, Anchor Brewing Co., considered the first craft beer in America and the New Albion Brewery, considered the first microbrewery in the U.S.” A new tradition of ordering the mini-surfboard / taster tray and working your way through the entire line-up of offerings while checking out the surfboards on the walls is the route to take. By the end you will be in a surfing state of mind.
That perfect wave may be a longshot to find but the Beer(s) of the Week are not. It is the 2012 edition of the Samuel Adams Longshot variety pack. Each sixer has two of the three winning beers in last year’s competition and this year you get three widely different styles. A dunkel, a sticke alt and an Imperial Stout. Home brewer Corey Martin crafted A Dark Night in Munich, an “amber, medium-bodied brew. With a nice malty backbone, this lager has roasty, slightly spicy notes and a traditional doughy character from the yeast.” Derf’s Secret Alt from a recipe by Samuel Adams Employee Fred Hessler is a “full-bodied ale has a big, malty character balanced by subtle orange and grapefruit notes from the hops. With a light amber color, this brew has a sweet finish.” Finally, (my favorite of the group) is Five Crown Imperial Stout by Joe Formanek. “This malt-forward brew has a rich complexity, with roasty and chocolate notes, yet enough hop bitterness to balance out the sweetness. This satisfying winter brew is full-bodied with an enjoyable velvety smoothness.”
Your Homework this week is to try out oysters. But not with the usual stout. No, this time tuck into some oysters while quaffing the always enjoyable Citra Pale Ale from El Segundo Brewing Co.. “Tonight, beginning at 5PM, at BLD restaurant enjoy fresh shucked or barbecued Pacific Gold oysters and a cold pint of Citra Pale Ale.” Craft beer has such versatility that you can pair more than just one beer style with a food as bold as oysters and still come up golden.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.