The Thanksgiving break was the perfect time to make a drive up to Ventura to visit new Bright Spark Brewing and since I was there, the nearby Colt HQ of Topa Topa Brewing.
Bright Spark is the classic industrial park locale. They had (4) beers on tap from them and (3) guest taps as well. Pale, red, IPA and porter on the menu, all that is missing is an amber for truly old school vibes.
Twilight Porter was the beertenders fav and was mine as well with the pale coming in second from the taster tray with the IPA your typical new brewery hoppy beer.
Quite a big amount of seating but from barstools to larger tables, to couches the place is airy and warm with games on one side of the L shaped space. The furniture seemed a bit better than the usual as well.
They have pizza and small bites as well as some cool and unusual salads like the one that I had with golden coconut dressing and pomegranate.
Topa Topa HQ is a beautiful, bucolic garden spot for a beer that even has a little free library. Just needs hop or malt fields to complete the picture.
There are 13 beers on tap with 2 Single hop beers and a Patagonia test beer too. There is a built in crowler machine. Lots of video and non-video games in a blank-ish event space. They even TT soccer jerseys.
This Colt Street space is an oasis for beer, dogs, kids and nature. Just a wonderful location inside and out.
I like a beer that has the one of these things is not like the other ingredient. In the case of Winter Stout from Institution Ales, you have vanilla, cocao and …. pecan wood.
You’ve at least ordered the Anchor Brewing Story, if not devoured it by now, so let’s dive into their 2022 Our Special Ale.
Right off the bat, the 2022 smells really malt. Just opened malt bag, malty. There is a bit of spice and a bit of apple cider here. To be honest, it tastes a little under done to me. I notice a little black licorice note as well. It doesn’t not say Christmas but it seems tilted to, dare I say, pastry stout? Apple cider and a yeasty bread roll version.
There is a subculture that likes to mash up the horror of Halloween with Christmas, if that is your jam, then Three Floyds has the Santa for you…
“Alpha King’s festive cousin. A big American Xmas Porter brewed with English chocolate malt, Mexican sugar and, of course, tons of strange American hops.”
There is quite the extensive line-up of Yeti’s in the Great Divide Brewing multiverse. There is the year-round just the Imperial Stout Yeti, Mexican Chocolate, Pumpkin Spice, Peanut Butter, Horchata and today’s holiday seasonal Gingerbread, to round out the clan.
“When Yeti is not busy brewing big, bold imperial stouts, he can often be found in the kitchen baking up a batch of his preferred seasonal treat…gingerbread cookies. Recently, Yeti had an aha moment—why not combine the two!? With an expertly blended mix of spices, honey and vanilla, the end result is smooth and aromatic and sure to have you nostalgic for gingerbread houses and cookie characters with icing features.“
Collaboration is not just for breweries, Broken Barrel, who I have written about on this very blog and this month the L.A. whiskey maker has released a new whiskey with the Los Angeles Distillery.
Here are the details…
“These 5.5 year single barrels culminate the five years the two whiskey brands have known each other, and also mark the five years since Seth bought his first barrel of whiskey to tinker with. The team selected three wheated single barrels – all partnered with Total Wine California where these limited edition releases will go next week.”
If there is something I love more than a collaboration beer, it is a two-way collaboration beer. Brouwerij West and Common Space bring you Maximum Decline (the BW half) “is a West Coast Double IPA loaded with citrus flavors of tangerine and grapefruit, and piney dankness from copious use of Cryo Amarillo, Amarillo, Galaxy, and Nelson hops. We used malted barley, malted wheat, and flaked rice to keep this hoppy brew crisp and clean for maximum enjoyment this holiday season.”
And Minimum Incline IPA (from CS) is releasing Friday, December 9th.
Not all holiday celebrations go swimmingly, if you feel like you are turning sour, remember Polite Conversations. The cranberry sour from Inglewood’s Three Weavers. It may not help a conversation into fun but it will pair with both food and walking away.
A sour ale “overflowing with cranberries and buzzing with the perfect hint of pomegranate.”
The corporate beer crew love a good piece of misdirection. Like a Vegas magician, they want you to look anywhere but AT the beer and Christmas is a time of magic so of course Miller Lite is selling…
….the limited-edition keg stand sells for $49.99 and is the latest addition to the Miller Lite holiday lineup, and shows that they would much rather market then buy good ingredients and improve their beer.
Needed? – Unless you want an intervention on the 26th of December, not. But at least it is better than an ugly Christmas sweater.
One of the most highly regarded of the British styled breweries is Machine House Brewery in Washington State and they have a seasonal that I wish I could get my hands on here in SoCal…
“This lovely full-bodied ale was brewed with lots of Rye and Crystal Rye Malt for a rich, boozy sweetness and a complex, tasty finish.”