Flat Fish Brewing Offers Beer for the "Halibut"
Mike and Chris Brown are making history with the opening of Flat Fish Brewing Company in Camarillo in June. The couple already run Cantara Cellars winery with their avid fisherman son, Jesse Johnson. Both guys will brew, with Mike taking the lead as head brewer and creating recipes.
But now that Flat Fish is opening the taps to a thirsty crowd, the next phase will be Cantara Distilling, making it the only commercial winery-brewery-distillery in California that they know of.
Why the trio? “I enjoy drinking wine, beer and spirits,” says Mike. “I’ve been homebrewing beer as long as I’ve been making wine. It didn’t seem like a big leap to begin brewing commercially. Once you have a winery and brewery, adding distillery operations is pretty straight-forward.”
For the distillery, there’s an aged Raspberry Brandy ready for bottling that was made from local fruit and distilled by Birdview Distillery in Camarillo in 2013. “We expect to bottle and begin selling it sometime this fall,” he says, adding that they expect to begin distilling wine for aged brandy- and wine-based gins in July.
Mike, who has always been the quintessential “wine geek,” proves his “beer geek” credentials as he talks about studying brewing at Oregon State University two years ago. With seven different styles of beer on tap, Mike earned his recipes the old-fashioned way: He experimented, home-brewed and followed the Brewers Association guidelines for beer styles. “I know how to brew and I find myself drinking more beer [in general] as beer has gotten better,” Mike says.
Tasting through three of the offerings, I enjoyed that the pale ale is a blended, citrusy and fresh-tasting beer that awakens the palate. It’s crisp, but it’s also deep and has a touch of sweetness. The IPA, too, was not as much “in your face,” as Mike says, and it had a deep, rich, fruity aroma with a clean finish and layers of flavor.
The one-stop alcoholic beverage location that they are creating has a unique, local profile that works on a lot of levels, sort of like the beverages they produce.
Flat Fish Brewing Company
126 Wood Rd., Suite 104, Camarillo