The hunt for a good beer at the VC Fair
By Chris O'Neal 08/08/2013
Ventura County Fair
10 W. Harbor Blvd.
Now through Sunday, Aug. 11
If the fireworks haven’t kept you awake this past week in the midst of the Ventura County Fair, the thought of drinking a sub-par beer may have had you tossing and turning. The fair isn’t known for its quality food — deep-fried Twinkies, deep-fried cheese, deep-fried cheesecake and macro-brewed beer. A good brew is a rare sight, unless you know where to look, that is. There are a few prizes to be had, no tickets required.
Just beyond the gourmet grilled-cheese truck, next to one of the many barbecue stands is the Firestone Walker booth, hosting four taps of rather delicious (if not ubiquitous) brews. The ever-present (on California bar menus) Double Barrel Ale is available, as well as the not-so-subtly marketed 805 Honey Blonde Ale. A rarer brew is the Solace, an American pale wheat ale.
Solace is a light, refreshing brew with a hint of citrus. Though Blue Moon is available elsewhere, Solace is far more refined and balanced. Solace is a welcome reprieve for the drinker in a sea of Coors.
For something completely different, step inside the agricultural building. Just toward the back right is a pyramid-shaped table upon which sit award-winning homebrews. Blue and red ribbons adorn bottles — most unlabeled — of certified craft beers. The most stand-out awards went to Hayes Bros. Brewing’s Saison and to Bearcat Brewing’s Silent Giant West Coast Stout, both of which have labels that could easily be seen sitting next to your favorites in the cooler.
True, these homebrews aren’t on tap — at least not here — but it is nice to take a break from the gaudy lights of the midway and the made-for-TV salesmen in vendors lane to take a peek at the product of hard work and creativity. If the deep-fried Twinkie can make it big at a county fair, so can a homebrew.
Firestone Walker Solace – 4.8 percent ABV, available for $8 at the fair.
5 O’Clock Somewhere is a new column and will run every other week for the latest in tempting intoxication around Ventura County.