Lager Weather

Camarillo’s Institution Ales has some serious art on their labels even for what they describe as “A simple lager”

Here are the details of this American lager, “brewed with American 2-row and hopped lightly with Cascade, Liberty and Willamette. It’s crisp and refreshing with a hint of sweet honey and fruity hops.”

CCBA Summit Brewery # 1 – Flat Fish Brewing

Our first California stop, in honor of the California Craft Beer Summit in Long Beach is Flat Fish Brewing Company of not-so far away Camarillo.

Here are some of their IPA choices with the last two scheduled to be on tap at the CCBA Fest.

Long Drift IPA – ” Get a fresh bite of peach fuzz out of this one as the Mosaic comes forward through the aroma and enhances its juicy palate. The Citra provides a refreshing citrus-forward, west coast signature. Don’t miss the Simcoe bittering addition that gives a hint of berry!”

Pelican Bay IPA – ” This beer is a showcase for Simcoe and Amarillo hops used throughout the brewing process. The combination delivers a clean light tropical profile with plenty of bitterness for a nice finish. The Pelican Bay malt bill is a little lighter than the Long Drift IPA.”

Turbot Charge Double Red IPA – ” Bite into the dense layered hops in this Red Double IPA. Clocking in at 95 IBUs of well-integrated hops and a solid malt backbone!”

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. 

Ventura Beer – Photos – Part 1

I made a trip slightly north with fellow beer afficionado Richard to catch up (as best we could) on the beers of Camarillo, Oxnard and primarily Ventura. Here are some of the photos:

The menu board at Topa Topa (plus flower) Tip: get Dozer Line if you see it.
The multi-hued taster tray at Topa Topa
Both sides of the Ventura Coast coaster.
Ready for packaging at Institution Ales in Camarillo

Institution Ale Company

No this isn’t the continuation of the popular American Horror Story series, but Institution Ale Company is named after an institution (former state psychiatric ) near where the brewery stands.


They are based in Camarillo and you will probably find them the easiest at Wades Wines in Agoura Hills, since the people behind it used to work there.

Here are some of the first beers rolling out:

Sedation – a Session Red Ale at 4.0% alc.
Ratched Rye Porter
Restraint – a Brown Ale Aged on Hard Maple Wood
IPA – with no special moniker but clocking in at 7.5% abv