It's a Fluid State
Fluid, as in dynamic and always changing, is exactly what owners Aaron Duncan and Jen Schwertman are seeking with the new Fluid State Beer Garden in downtown Ventura. Beyond the taproom’s name comes further proof in their logo and “spirit animal,” an octopus, noted for its graceful abilities to change.
With 24 rotating taps, the business and life partners are focusing on independent beer producers and ones they have relationships with. So you can order a pint from a familiar Ventura County craft brewery or one from a new-to-you discovery, like Corralitos Brewing Co. in Watsonville.
Duncan, who spent years in the Santa Cruz area and is a former home brewer, is friends with Corralitos owners Luke Taylor and Mike Smith. Plus, he really likes their beers and knows we will too. For her part, Schwertman is a longtime bartender, most recently at Ojai Beverage Co., and a beer-industry consultant.
Non-beer drinkers can order a cocktail or a glass of wine, which is nice when you’re in mixed company.
“About 90% of what we offer is from California,” says Duncan of the beverages and ingredients.
A former restaurant owner and caterer, Duncan designed the menu around his farm-to-table sensibilities. Inventive pizzas are front and center on the menu, made with sourdough starter Duncan started with Pinot Noir grapes he received after helping Whitcraft Winery in Santa Barbara with a 2016 harvest.
There are salads with local produce and housemade charcuterie (like pâté and rillettes). Duncan has a lot of ideas for changing up and expanding the menu, so stay tuned.
As “children of the ‘70s,” they look back nostalgically on this era. Which is why when you step inside the historic building, it’s 1970s rumpus room meets 2017. The beautiful large bar and all the inside dining tables are made from a 150-year-old fallen redwood tree. A “Laverne & Shirley” board game (from Schwertman’s private collection) accessorizes a shelf and there’s an RCA TV console in a corner with classic VHS tapes. Richard Simmons’ “Sweatin’ to the Oldies,” anyone?
Fluid State Beer Garden
692 E. Main St., Ventura