Sean Suggests for February 2024

As much as I enjoy a good themed beer shopping list, sometimes you just want to go around the style horn and end up with a wide variety of beers. Here are three to try…

Highland Park Brewery Bird Bier – 5.2% – “Witbier brewed with locally grown Buddha’s Hand plus Purple Sage & Pink Peppercorn foraged from The Audubon Center at Debs Park!”

Topa Topa Brewing Pava Rosa Sangria-style Kettle Sour – 6.5% – “Brewed in collaboration with Carhartt Family Wines.” 

MadeWest 8th Anniversary DIPA – 8% – “West Coast Double IPA with notes of pink grapefruit, blueberry and pine. Hopped with Nelson, Simcoe Cryo and Mosaic Incognito in the whirlpool followed by a generous dry hop of Vista, Mosaic, Ekuanot & Columbus Cryo.”

Double 1st Visit – Bright Spark & Topa Topa HQ

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.

KQ Express

Sometimes you miss a beer the first (even second time) around the horn. Such is the case for KQ Express from Topa Topa Brewing.

Since SoCal receives extra weeks of sun while others get autumn temperatures, this could be that bridge from summer to fall beers.

At the Moon

Topa Topa is my favorite Ventura brewery. No dis to others. So I will be interested to see how they spin a coffee IPA. Like the Black IPA, the balancing act of hops and coffee is tricky. I will also need to try Beacon Coffee too.

Go Back

Now, if a delivery truck could go back in time think of the possibilities. For now, just be aware that two cool Ventura County breweries have teamed up on an IPA that is not hazy or West Coast. Maybe East Coast Clear is the next thing. And we would have Topa Topa and Casa Agria to thank.

1% Party

I am reduced to talking about events far, far later in the year, knowing that those are probably OK, and here is a really good one…

It may be a small invite list but those are some fine outside if Los Angeles breweries, so I recommend marking this Smog City event down on your Aftermath calendar.

Ventura 101

Usually on the drive southward and home from Paso Robles, I will stop in Santa Barbara for beer and a leg stretch. This time, since I am so far behind when it comes to my Ventura County beers, I decided to make a double stop in Ventura at Topa Topa Brewing and the nearby Fluid State Beer Garden.

On a corner of Main Street, you can see the design ethos of Fluid State with their wrap-around name on the building. This is a great spot with a well-curated tap list and some pizza by the slice that isn’t too fussy. I had the Dr. Pepperoni which had both sliced and chunked pepperoni on top. I love the wood used for the bar and tables with mermaid blue chairs at the bar. This is a perfect summer patio spot. I sampled Corralitos Hot Tip IPA and Central Coast’s Fresh Kicks Hazy IPA.

A nice brisk walk in the vicinity of the Mission brings you towards Topa Topa. It is a small-ish space with another nice (enclosed) patio. They were quite a few style options on tap but I was most excited to try the Sespe Pilsner and Dos Topas Mexican Lager. Both were really nice entrants into their respective categories.

I then made a third (unplanned) stop at Leashless Brewing which is just down the street from TT. They are organic, Belgian and when possible, gluten-reduced beers. Since it was near the end of my long beer weekend, I settled on 1618. A Belgian Red IPA. The menu is neatly split amongst Belgian standards and IPA’s and again, they have a lovely patio that faces a park to calm your nerves as you drink.