Ladyface Ale Companie – Alehouse & Brasserie
29281 Agoura Road
Agoura Hills
(818) 477-4566

Institution Ale Company
438 Calle San Pablo

In the Taylor Swift song “Trouble,” Swift says “I think part of me knew the second I saw beer that this would happen.” I think that’s what she said. The moment I saw that American Craft Beer Week was upon us, I knew that I would be traveling from one end of the county to the other. ACBW is trouble in the best way.

All the way at the edge of Ventura County is Ladyface Alehouse in Agoura Hills. Some would say this is in Los Angeles County, but to them I say that I recognize no borders. Ladyface has made quite the name for itself in the craft beer scene and the short schlep from Ventura is well worth it when ACBW is in swing because of its willingness to tap special brews and host one-off events.

On tap last week were two versions of their trademarked Derailleur, a traditional bière de garde aged in mourvèdre wine barrels. Think the taste of spring — a bit of citrus and a little oak with a nice, fruity finish.

Ladyface’s Brett Blossom bière de mars is another example of the brewery’s willingness to reach into the depths of beer history, this time with a brettanomyces-inoculated sour that is equal parts pucker and spritzer, strong up front that blossoms into a cornucopia of fruit.

On the way back, at Institution Ale Company in Camarillo, an experimental keg of the award-winning Restraint maple brown Frantic oak-aged oatmeal stout infused with peanut butter went out midweek. With Elvis Presley on the mind, a pint of this is not unlike eating a PB&J with a bit of chocolate and maple drizzled over just for kicks.

ABCW meant experimentation at Institution. Friday saw the release of The Flue, a habanero-infused smoked porter; and on Sunday came the oak-aged Thai chili-infused White Walls wheat ale. Fans of capsaicin would do well to drop by in hopes that they haven’t run dry.

This year’s ABCW was toned-down compared to last year’s event-centric mania in Los Angeles and beyond, but what we lacked in beer dinners and demos we gained in new brews. I think that’s a fair trade.

Chris O’Neal is not afraid to drink a chili beer, but is afraid of the morning after. Follow him on Instagram @agentoneal.