701 N Del Norte Blvd., #310
It took me a while to rediscover my taste for sours after I went full-throttle a few years ago at Stone Brewing Company’s sour festival in Escondido. There really is no coming back from consuming your weight in sour ales, or so I thought. Thankfully, Casa Agria has shown me the light with a recent expansion and a slew of new brews.
On a Saturday night, Oxnard’s Casa Agria was bumping. Prior to its tasting room expansion, which gave the brewery two times the amount of space in its tasting room and an entirely new room for the barrel aging program, one would have been standing elbow to elbow. Not now. The tasting room is spacious, replete with tables and a beautiful view of the industrial parking lot off Del Norte Boulevard.
On tap: a selection of nine with varying degrees of sour — some, like the new Mirror Flexin’ unfiltered double IPA and the quad-hopped Rough and Tumble unfiltered IPA, play to the palates of the non-sour drinkers. But sours are the name of the game at Casa Agria, and so I dove in headfirst with a pour of the El Fuerte, a sour wheat beer aged on black currants.
If there were such a thing as a gateway sour, the El Fuerte would be it. Fruity, but not overly so, with just enough sweet residual to cut through the tart lemony acidity, and by appearance it looked as though it had ripened on the vine. El Fuerte, sadly, had not been bottled on the day of our arrival, but I did not leave empty handed.
Three new bottle releases meant that my rekindled love affair with sours didn’t have to end at the door: El Rio oak-aged rye saison with brettanomyces (a much sought-after strain of yeast that gives beer a unique flavor); Grisita oak-aged farmhouse table beer; and my personal choice, Saison de la Casa, the brewery’s flagship oak-aged saison. Each could be had for $16-18.
If any brewery were to rekindle my passion for sours, I’m happy it could be a local one.
Chris O’Neal does not want to share the story of why it took two years for him to enjoy sours again. Follow him on Instagram @atchrisoneal.