Ventura is important to California surf history: The city hosted the state’s first professional surf contest in 1965 and Tom Morey—inventor of the Boogie board—shaped surfboards here, too. But at the turn of the millennium, long-time surfer and homebrewer Bill Riegler noticed that among a population of 1 million people, Ventura had no commercial breweries. So in 2011, he corrected that by co-founding Surf Brewery 10 minutes from Surfer’s Point Beach.
The tasting room is a museum to Ventura’s surf history. More than a dozen boards from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s adorn the walls and many of the beer names use surfing vernacular. Foam Board Cherry Tart is an entry-level kettle sour named after the neophyte’s ride. Some of the beers are even a testament to extinct waves. Oil Piers nitro Porter, for instance, was named after a prime spot north of town where locals surfed and partied during the second half of the 20th century. But in 1998, the oil rigs were ripped out, the contours of the ocean floor changed, and the waves stopped breaking.
In order to prevent erosion at another top break, Surfer’s Point, and to avoid having to make a beer for another lost wave, Surf Brewery has donated more than $35,000 to the Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting waves and beaches worldwide.