Being a major beer geek, any vacation destination under discussion must have craft beer on the itinerary. Hence trips to Portland, Germany and Ireland in the past. Ojai passed beer muster this past weekend not for a brewery or famous beer bar but for a liquor store.
Now, I have been to quite a few craft beer stores. Especially in the Los Angeles area. All good in their different ways but none coming close to my gold standard for a beer store, Portland’s Belmont Station and Biercafe (which is a must visit for any true beer aficionado). Ojai Beverage Company, however, ranks in my Top 3 and comes as close as you can get to that # 1 spot, especially considering their location. How they get Lakefront from Wisconsin and the new bottles of Samichlaus to their inland Central Coast shop amazes me.
So why is the OBC worth the trip north? I would make the drive just for their selection. They have over 700 beers! I purchased beers that I have not seen in any other store to date. Two Redhook Brewing beers (eisbock and treblehook) from their special brewers series. And a special Fiesta lager from Telegraph Brewing of Santa Barbara. And I drooled over twice as many as I bought! A really good craft beer selection always includes a few items never seen before.
Secondly, they stock the locals like Island and Telegraph Brewing while also carrying a quality group of foreign offerings. They cover the gamut of beer styles and brewers. I purchased a fairly nice tropical lager from Carpinteria’s Island Brewing and a German Sticke beer from Uerige.
And that is not all. They have an outdoor patio and an indoor seating area where you can either pop open that bottle (or can) you just picked up. Or you can order from their taps.
This is what happens when people who truly dig the craft beer scene own the place. You get an owner who asks for a beer from his distributor every month until two kegs get delivered. Because of that persistence, I was lucky to have TroubadoUr Magma from Belgium on tap. A Belgian Double IPA that was a real balanced double. You could taste the malt, hops and feel the alcohol without being worn out like some West Coast doubles I have had. (OBC also had Troubador in bottles). Rasputin was on the tap list as well as nearby Ladyface and the new Okto from Widmer. You can hit up their website before you go to see the latest tap update as well.
Since I am not a big fan of Halloween, the Beer of the Week is not pumpkin but cherry-esque. Monstre Rouge is a collaboration between Terrapin Brewing of Georgia and De Proef of Belgium. A Flanders Red ale base is boosted by brettanomyces to create tartness and barnyard flavors in one beer. Expensive but well worth it.
I am a big fan of candy (who isn’t). But I have yet to find a beer that goes with the slightly less chocolaty chocolate of the Snickers and Milky Way’s that are commonly found in the trick or treat goodie bag. Let alone what to pair with Smarties. So, the homework is to locate a beer that complements the sugar overload of Halloween candy.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.
November 8, 2010 at 2:06 AM
Have you tried any of the chocolate beers?
November 8, 2010 at 11:04 AM
I have tried some chocolate beers, including Rogue Chocolate Stout, which wasn’t my favorite. Most recently, I had a chance to try Chocolate Rain and Cherry Chocolate Rain at The Bruery. This won’t help many people, since these were extremely limited edition variations on Black Tuesday. However, they were both very good, particularly the Chocolate Rain, which was brewed with cocoa nibs.
November 4, 2010 at 4:07 AM
They cover the gamut of beer styles and brewers. I purchased a fairly nice tropical lager from Carpinteria’s Island Brewing and a German Sticke beer from Uerige.
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October 28, 2010 at 11:28 PM
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