Ventura, California is known for surfing. Thanks to Surf Brewery, it’s now known for amazing craft beer, too. The drafts are diverse, balanced, and unique. On my most current visit, Surf offered 10 varieties brewed on site, ranging from their Mondo’s Cream Ale to their Oil Piers Porter and beyond. I honestly can’t name a favorite – my order depends on my mood. Surfer’s Point Vienna Lager is described by them as balanced and clean, and I couldn’t have said it better. But some nights I want a County Line Rye, an American Pale Ale that is smooth enough not to scare off this girl who usually doesn’t care for the pale brews. In fact, I never knew pale ales could be so varied, as they usually offer several at a time.
The best way to taste the beers at Surf Brewery is to order a Short Board or Long Board, their samplers ranging in size from 4-10 5oz pours. If you can pick a favorite, add a leash (a pint after the sampler). Come by on a Friday night and enjoy a highlighted draft (Brewer’s choice) with a Hop Rocket®, where they pour the draft through whole hops when they serve it. Wow. Just wow. It amazes me how radically different that process can make a beer. My husband and I like to order two of the same beer, one with the Hop Rocket and one without, to compare. And don’t worry about cost; pints start at a reasonable $5.
You will find Surf Brewery at 4561 Market Street in Ventura, amid an office park. No valet parking or stuffy dark corners here. Floor-to-almost-ceiling windows flood polished concrete floors with sunshine. Surf Brewery approaches its surf décor with the same modern attitude as its beer crafting – with a passion for the essence without touristy fanfare. Longboards float from industrial beams and a full wall black and white pier mural covers the far end. Just inside the door is a well-stocked homebrew shop, should you decide to try your hand at the craft. Whether a first time brewer or a seasoned pro, Surf offers the products and guidance to make your home beer as delicious as theirs. Well, almost.
For seating, there are bar height tables, square kitchen size tables, and even a few picnic tables with benches. The mix of tables speaks well to their diverse patrons, from business men to couples to families and friends, kids in tow. Did I forget to mention the food? That’s because Surf Brewery doesn’t serve food. But they do cater to their patron’s appetites two ways. First, Surf staff keeps a thick binder at the bar filled with a diverse selection of delivery menus. Patrons are invited and encouraged to bring outside food or order in to have something delivered to them there. Or to fill your belly AND support other local businesses, Surf welcomes local food trucks to set up in their parking lot on the busier evenings, currently Fridays and Saturdays. Local bands often play Saturday nights, too.
Check their website www.surfbrewery.com for a current list of their beers on tap, hours, and So Cal stores and restaurants that carry their brew. Check them out on Facebook to know which beer will be on Hop Rocket this week, and who’s band will be there. And check the bar to find me.
[Hop Rocket ® is a registered trademark of Blichmann Engineering.]