Lately, I’ve been on a bit of a craft brew kick. Actually, that’s an outright lie. I’ve been obsessed. Since leaving San Diego, I have been searching for the camaraderie and creativity that only craft brewing has been able to give me. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of useful pursuits out there. But not many are as interesting as the purposeful brewing and joyful consumption of my beloved beer.
My buddy Dave and had I brewed our own Double IPA. I guess what I’d like to say about it (because the wound is still a little open) is that it was a learning experience. Looking to increase my knowledge in local beers, as well as a way to drown my sorrows, I decided to go find a small brewery in Moorpark called Enegren Brewing Company.
Enegren Brewing Company – Flinn Avenue in Moorkpark
The idea of being able to visit a brewery is a fairly new development in the beer world. It has only been with the explosion in home brewing, that the concept of beer as science and craft has been made available to the masses. There are ancient breweries in Germany, Belgium, and Ireland that had been painstakingly crafting the same beer for hundreds of years protected by rows of razor wire, explosive ordinance and monkeys packing Clint Eastwood-like Colt .45s. All that changed when the common man rose up against such tyranny and began the crusade for free beer. (Well, you still have to pay for it, but you get what I mean…)
The people of Enegren embrace this counter-culture approach to beer. When you walk into their tasting room, the smell of a fresh batch of grain, boiling with anticipation of its destiny, often hangs in the air. On the wall, displayed like a work of art, is the schematic for their brewing operation. Rather than hiding their process from “the competition,” they seek to educate and inform on how this nectar of the gods is made.
Anyway, enough soliloquy on the freedom of beer. Here’s what I think about the brewery that is Enegren.
Like many breweries of this size, Enegren is situated in a commercial or industrial complex. It is located off the main drag in Moorpark, and you’ll actually pass the Moorpark PD building on the way to the brewery. Needless to say, this is enough to remind most of us about “drinking responsibly.”
The inside of the brewery is simple yet inviting. There’s a nice little bar that seats about 5-6 people and several bar tables accommodating 4 each. Hung on the wall is a LMU flag that represents the eden in which Enegren beer making dreams took root. Above the door, a huge public notice sign sits, prompting Chris to tell me about how hours and hours of research for a presentation before the Moorpark City Counsel was ultimately in vain when their application for a license breezed through. Beyond the tasting area is where the magic happens, and if the guys aren’t busy working on their latest batch they are more than happy to give you a tour.
Enegren specializes in beers that are a little higher in alcohol content than your typical bud or coors. They produce a variety of styles to choose from, including an altbier on the lighter side and an oatmeal stout on the darker. All of the beers are available as 4oz tasters, glasses and growlers. For such great quality the prices are amazing two. A taster will run you $1.25, a glass $5-6, 1L growlers $8-9 and 2L growlers $15-16. I recommend the tasting flight for anyone who hasn’t been before. Here’s what it looks like:
In addition to the 4 regular brews, the guys at Enegren usually have a special beer, and sometimes a less carbonated cask ale as well. Since I’ve been going, the special beer has been a chile infused red rye saison which is one of the most unusual and interesting brews I’ve had in a long while. They call it the Le Fleur de Mars (the flower of mars, for those like me who don’t know french) and it was inspired by a nightmare one of the owner/brewers had once upon a time. If only my nightmares were so productive…
My take on their other beers is as follows:
The “Valkyrie” Alt is light and fruity but well-balanced and not too sweet. I’m told this is their most popular beer.
The “Protector” IPA is hoppy and complex. It stands up against some of the best I’ve had from SD.
The “Contradiction” Black IPA was interesting and took some getting used to. I didn’t get the hop notes at first (probably because my palate had been blown away by the Fleur de Mars) On subsequent passes, the hop came through nicely and the smoothness belies the 7.7% alcohol this bad boy is packing.
Then there is the Oatmeal Stout. They call it the “Daniel Irons” and it is my favorite of the group. It has delicious notes of chocolate and a mouthfeel that bathes your tongue in what could only be described as a decadent adult milkshake. I prefer it a little colder than the typical stout, so having it right out of the tap at the brewery is perfect for me. If I could affix my lips directly to the tap, I would.
As I mentioned before, Enegren allows you to purchase growlers to take home. They come in 1L and 2L varieties and, due to California law, they can only fill their own glass. It’s okay though, because a 1L glass will run ya eight bucks and a 2L fifteen. Basically you pay the 2x the cost of a normal fill, but you keep the glass and can refill it as many times as possible. Honestly, these things pay for themselves.
I currently have two 1L growlers (because I like variety and hate sharing) and I usually take them in once a week to be filled with Daniel Irons and whatever else I’m in the mood for. That reminds me, the brewery keeps some odd hours due to the fact that all of the owners also have day-jobs. They are open from 11-8 on Saturday and 12-5 Sunday. If you need a fix during the week, they are open from 6-9 on Wednesday and 7-9 on Friday.
By this point I’m sure many of you are wondering why a brewery is appearing on a food blog. Well, thanks for bearing with my gushing over the beer for this long. The reason I decided to include Enegren in this post isn’t because of the epic food they serve (they don’t serve any), but because of their recent collaboration with a gourmet grilled cheese shop across town called Custom Melt.
Aside from their awesome beer making skills, the good people of Enegren are hiding a delicious secret. Brianne (wife of Chris) is as adroit at using Enegren beer in her home cooking as the guys are in making it. Her short rib recipe (found here) was re-imagined by Custom Melt and turned into a brioche bread, brie and short rib melt. Here’s what it looked like:
Along with the short rib melt, they offered mac & cheese, grilled cheese and a hot dog topped with mac & cheese on a bun. The price for each was $5 and the value was tremendous. Granted, I only ate the sandwich, but I found the meat to be tender and juicy and the combination of the brie and an interesting horseradish aioli was a good pairing. One bite had a bit too much horseradish, but it’s cool because I needed my sinuses cleared out anyway.
The above photo was taken after the crowd died down a little, but if Enegren keeps brewing great beers (and bringing in delicious food) then people will eventually flood the place and allow these guys to focus on their beer pursuits full time.
In the meantime, I think I’ll enjoy my hidden little local brewery for just a little while longer.