PDX Visit – Ruse Brewing

Located on 17th Street near the Max Line that leads to Milwaukie is new Portland darling, Ruse Brewing. The brewery is one tenant in this new development and despite my misgivings about their logo not really conveying much, I do like the space. If you sit in the center of the bar, instead of staring at taps and a cold box, you have a view into the brewery. I noticed that it is one of the few taprooms where the bartenders had more elbow room.

Beer wise, I had one of the prettiest beers in recent memory. Love & Lore was a lovely rose color and this tasted of cherry pie with a small touch of Pinot tannin. The base was a golden sour so it led with fruit and followed with a gentle sour. The Grizzly porter was quite nice, it cut the November chill and was my second favorite. I had two IPAs. One hazy and one that they describe as bright. The Bright or West-Coast Facts of Identity was my preference due to a pineapple taste that was really nice.

Keep Up

Not to toot my own beer horn or to impose my L.A. brewery bona fides but I recently did a little Excel work to keep track of the breweries that I have visited of the Official (currently) 90 breweries in the L.A. County Brewers Guild orbit.

Here are the statistical takeaways…

As Los Angeles draws closer to the century mark in breweries, it will probably mean an increase in the “just once” category and I expect the not visited yet total to stay around the 10 mark since many will probably head the way of selling from their taproom only. Of course this does not count the breweries not part of the guild that I have been to or the bottle shops frequented. There is room for improvement. I hope to knock off a couple from the unvisited list before summer is over.

Ventura Beer – Words

Now that you have seen some photos, here are my impressions of the beers and the trip north to Ventura from Los Angeles.

The weekend trip was split between Ventura and then breweries on the way back to Los Angeles.  After pizza and a beer at the wonderful Fluid State on Main Street it was time to walk the streets. 

Topa Topa is at the far edge of the Downtown area near the Patagonia compound and this trip was much like the last.  I love the little space and the beers were solid.  In fact, my favorite beer of the trip was their dark lager, Dozer Line.  It had a snap to it and a mix of malt tastes with a little spice touch that maybe only I noticed.  The Tux Nitro Milk Stout was a beauty even in a taster glass.  It was good to learn that they are canning now too with distribution to Los Angeles part of the plan. 

Second up was Ventura Coast Brewing.  On a corner of Santa Clara, this is a lovely space separated out into outdoor patio and indoor spaces.  While the servers had a skosh bit of attitude and were a bit free in their banter in front of customers, the space was still welcoming.  Dominated by white with a splash of indoor plant greenery and a “barrel room” to reserve for parties.  The beers sampled were a little disappointing.  Alphabet DIPA was strong but the hops were a bit muddled.  The Saazbier was nice and bright but the finish was a little metallic.  Their Mexican amber, Cinco de Quatro was fine and probably my overall favorite but it didn’t have the pizazz of the earlier Topa Topa beer.

On the next day, first stop was MadeWest.  It was a bit déjà vu with Ventura Coast.  White building with big pieces of wall art.  There were empty cans aplenty waiting for their Standard beer.  A great big image of a can on one wall and a really cool menu board.  The taster tray had one dud.  A Red IPA that was bland but the Brut IPA, effervescent was bone dry and really champagne like but with a big fruity taste.  The Short Lived Hazy IPA with Fieldwork was excellent as well.  I was impressed enough that I bought a 4-pack of their Ventura Light to compare with the other beers that I tasted.

Next up was Oxnard and Casa Agria.  They had been on my list for years.  My high expectations left me a little disappointed here.  There was no taster flight which is not good for acid averse people like myself.  I ended up with three half pours and though the Tres Casas honey meets sour was my 2nd favorite beer of the trip the Gose was a touch too acidic for me though blessedly free of fruit.  The Saison de la Casa was supposed to be a balance but it was way sour for what I expected.  The tap room was weirdly mixed with old-school video games and barrels.  Conflicting ideas to me.

I would write about the quick stop at Institution Ales in Camarillo but I think I need to do a full regular visit there to get a better handle on the beers they make.