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.“
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.”
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.”
The U.S. does not have a monopoly on Christmas beers and today we have a sparkling beer with a twist on the Lambic spelling from Belgium’s Oud Beersel.
“Winterlambiek Oud Beersel” is infused with pine buds. The incredible aroma takes you to the evergreen trees of the pine forest. The earthy pine buds give a spicy flavor to the smooth and complex Lambic, which offers a mild, slightly dry finish that will have you looking for the next sip as soon as possible!
“Winterlambiek Oud Beersel” is also very unique because it does not follow the traditional path of a winter beer. lt drinks like a light beer, has a refreshing carbonation and focuses more on the complexity of Lambic to drive the flavour forward instead of the sweetness that typically prevails in a winter beer.”
The space formerly known as Liberation Brewing has been given a Beachwood make-over and will house, in the future, distilling operations.
I made a weekend visit to get a Beachwood beer fix and here are my thoughts…
Obviously the beer is great, a dry hopped Knucklehead Red was hoppy with a great spice malt background. Two barrel-aged tasters were cool to compare as well so this visit was more an interior decoration review.
The trophy tap handles are great, the space can be loud but there is outdoor seating out back and enough space to have a quiet conversation or a party as needed. The bar stools are comfortable despite no back to them and the artwork on the wall was bright and colorful and unique.
Other than that though, the space is not super different from the previous brewery. Maybe that will change when distilling fires up operations but as of now, it looks Beachwood for sure and is as of now, I nice counterpoint to Ambitious Ales up the street.