PICTURED: Rosé and cucumber ginger cider from Anna’s Cider in Santa Paula.
by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer
Summertime means hot weather, barbecues and working up a sweat. What better way to quench your thirst than with a cold brew? Ventura County has plenty of options for ales, IPAs, hard seltzers and more, and every brewery in the area is making the most of summer fruits and flavors. Due to the nature of craft brewing, some of these products are available in small-batch, limited edition quantities — and that means some of the best are likely to sell out. But don’t worry — there’s always something tantalizing on tap to provide a worthy alternative.
Anna’s Cider specializes in dry ciders. But that’s the beauty of these fruit-forward quaffs: dry enough for hopheads, and just sweet enough for those who prefer something a little lighter. The pineapple habanero is like a trip to the tropics — and don’t be scared off by the chile aspect, which adds a gentle touch of heat that plays off beautifully against the pineapple. For something crisper, try the zippy and fresh cucumber ginger or the Hazy Dry. Anna’s rosé cider is deliciously effervescent with a pale pink hue that’ll have you seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. Keep an eye out for Anna’s special, limited edition options, too, made with mango, lemon and Ojai Pixie tangerines. Quantities sell out quickly and change weekly, so be sure to check out the webpage first.
Anna’s Cider, 801 E. Main St., Santa Paula, annascider.com.
Casa Agria has made a name for itself far and wide with its farmhouse-style ales that bring wild yeast and lots of flavor. When it opened in 2015, it was one of the first breweries in the county to make sour ales. These days, it offers an impressive selection of Hazy IPAs and stouts as well. But Casa Agria remains the top spot for sour power. The Rerubus Saison is fermented with blackberries and raspberries, and the Dragon Glass is a barrel-aged beauty made with an ancient barley called Obsidian. Moorpark’s One Acre Blueberry Farm provides the organic berries used in the aptly named One Acre, an oak-aged saison. For something really special, try the cherry pineapple frutaleta — which might have been inspired by the fruity Mexican ice pops, but is actually an imperial sour ale with a whopping 8% ABV.
Casa Agria Specialty Ales, 701 N. Del Norte Blvd., Suite #360, Oxnard, 805-485-1454, www.casaagria.com.
LIGHT & CRISP
Kölsch is a warm-fermented German beer known for its crisp and slightly fruity flavor. Topa Topa Brewing (with locations in Camarillo, Ojai, Santa Barbara and Ventura) makes a fabulous one called Casey’s Kölsch with notes of honey, biscuits and flowers. Pilsners are another crisp, clean beer ideal for summer drinking, and Topa Topa’s herbaceous and floral Italian-style pilsner is a great option for something a little unique. Or, for something a little sweeter, try the hard seltzer — flavors vary by location, but yuzu is currently available in the Downtown Ventura and Ojai taprooms.
Topa Topa Brewing Company, topatopa.beer.
If you love a hoppy IPA . . . skip this entry. Because Berliner-style Weisse beers are the exact opposite. Low in both alcohol and bitterness, a proper Berliner Weisse is usually fruit forward, a bit acidic, carbonated and refreshingly tart. The fruits used often impart a distinctive color, and you’ll fall in love with Transmission Brewing’s gorgeous “Beery” Tarts, filled with summer fruits like plum, blackberry and raspberry. Like Topa Topa, Transmission also has some hard seltzers on tap: the citrusty and herbaceous Thom Collins, the snappy Blood Orange Mule and a deliciously summery Apricot Fizz.
Transmission Brewing, 1098 E. Front St., Ventura, 805-751-4075, transmissionbrewing.com.
I’m talking to the hopheads now. Powerful, usually high in alcohol and heavily hopped India Pale Ales are probably the area’s most popular style of beer. Great with spicy food, Mexican in particular, and offering a shiver-inducing bitterness, IPAs pack a punch. One of the hoppiest is Dive! Dive! Dive! IPA from Poseidon Brewing. “Bitter citrus hoppiness with each sip” is in the website’s tasting notes, and it’s no surprise — this heavy hitter is both boiled with Centennial hops and then dry-hopped twice with Chinook and Centennial hops. Another option: Poseidon’s Double IPA Dirty Diver. A local favorite, over three pounds of hops — Columbus, Cascade, Centennial and Mosaic — go into each barrel, delivering over 90 IBUs in the finished product. It’s not just a bitter bunch, though: Aromas of tropical fruit and tangerines add complexity and balance, and the mouthfeel is a little softer than you might expect.
Poseidon Brewing Co., 5777 Olivas Park Drive, Unit Q, 805-477-0239, www.poseidonbrewingco.com.