Fluid State Beer Garden
692 E. Main St.

From my office, I can see Fluid State Beer Garden, which sits on the corner of Main and Fir Streets in downtown Ventura. Over the course of several months, crews removed what remained of Ragsdale with the efficiency of carpenter ants. Now that Fluid State is in full swing, the effort, from my point of view, seems to have been well worth it.

Stepping into Fluid State is kind of like walking down the stairs into your cool older brother’s basement room, or the basement from That 70s Show. An old box television and red sofa makes up a lounge of sorts near the entrance, and picnic-style tables fill out the rest of the bare cement, industrial space. The centerpiece is a large, U-shaped bar that wraps around the center of the room, with a hand-written beer list on transparent plaques in a neat row overhead and various board games from yesteryear below, plus a smattering of Star Wars art just for the hell of it. The wood design stands out, a unique work of craftsmanship.

On tap are offerings far beyond the standard for Ventura County, and as is the name, they are fluid. Meaning, don’t expect them to always be there. I chose the Melvin IPA ($9, 16 ounce) from Melvin brewery. Aside from the nerd that used to take my lunch money in high school, I’d never heard of Melvin before; it was pointed out to me that Melvin is from Wyoming. Go figure, and the IPA was exceedingly good.

My wife chose the Alpha Galactic pale ale ($8, 16 ounce) from Long Beach stalwart Beachwood Brewing, another fine choice. There were 24 beers available and without a doubt in my mind I could spin a wheel and end up with a great beer, which speaks to the mindfulness that goes into curating Fluid State’s lineup.

A generous amount of homemade pickles ($5) and roasted Marcona almonds ($4) rounded out the afternoon, with an extra 8-ounce pour of Highwater Brewing Campfire Stout ($5), which smells and tastes like s’mores.

Peering out at Fluid State, I’m content knowing that the dedication shown in its construction transferred into the kitchen and behind the bar, but in a selfish kind of way, I have to ask: How lucky can I be?

Chris O’Neal will probably walk over to Fluid State after finishing this sentence. Follow him on Instagram @atchrisoneal.