VENTURA COUNTY WEEKEND : TIDBITS : Upstart Microbrewery Takes 2 Top Honors : Joe-Joe’s Brewing Co. of Simi Valley earns gold medals for red amber ale and porter/stout entries.


Joe-Joe’s Brewing Co. of Simi Valley, a baby in the beer business at 8 months old, beat out some of its more established elders recently, to take home two gold medals at the Orange County Oktoberfest Carnival of Beers.

The local microbrewery’s Simi Simply Red took top honors in the red amber ale category, and its Stoney Mt. Stout won in the porter/stout division. Top beer-makers such as Coors and Anchor Steam were among the 19 breweries that entered 40 different beers into the two-day competition last month.

“We went in with a lot of confidence,” said Joe Vogel, who co-owns the beer house/restaurant with Joe Tremonti. “A lot of people who come into our brewery travel all over the country drinking microbrewed beer, and they tell us ours is the best beer they’ve ever had.”

Vogel brews the Joe-Joe’s beers himself, but continues to be trained and guided by Bob Mueller, a former brew master at Anheuser-Busch. Vogel’s father, another Joe who plays a large role in Joe-Joe’s, is also a brewer at Anheuser-Busch.


“We were confident because of the people who have helped us,” said Vogel. We cut no corners.”

Joe-Joe’s Brewing Co. is located at 1397-A Los Angeles Ave.


During the next couple of weeks, several Ventura County restaurants will be the chosen meeting and eating spots for members of the California Coast & Valleys chapter of The Single Gourmet.


First up is an Oct. 26 dinner at Fabrizio’s Ristorante in Westlake, at 6:30 p.m. The menu will include, in part, a calamaretti friti (french-fried squid) appetizer, a salmon or sliced lamb entree, and a dessert choice of layered chocolate cake filled with liqueur or custard-filled Napoleon topped with chocolate. Today is the last day for early reservations at $59 per person. After today it will be $64.

On Oct. 29, the singles group will hop on a bus at the Hyatt Westlake Plaza at 10:15 a.m. and head over to the Ranch House Restaurant in Ojai for a gourmet brunch. The meal will begin with Alaskan sockeye salmon, chicken liver pate and Greek antipasto appetizers. Entree choices will include sour cream pancakes, cheese blintzes with lemon and pineapple juice, and a tarragon chicken salad. Dessert will be a choice of fudge pie, rum truffle or sorbet.

Following the brunch, the bus will cart diners to downtown Ojai for a shopping excursion, arriving back at the Hyatt at about 3:30 p.m. Cost is $66 if reservations are made by this Monday, $72 thereafter.

For more information or reservations call (818) 884-3219.



Like salt and pepper, ham and cheese, Laverne and Shirley, and other dynamic duos, Martin Duran is hoping computers and coffee will become a permanent pair.

Duran, owner of the Computer Idiot Training Centers in Ventura, is adding a cappuccino machine to his array of high-tech equipment, and for certain hours of the week will turn his place into the Internet Cruising & Coffee Joint.

“People will actually be able to sit at a computer, have a cup of cappuccino, and cruise on the Internet as long as they want,” said Duran. “You’re marrying two things that are extremely popular right now, and probably will be for some time. If I thought this was just a fad, I wouldn’t be putting out the expense for the coffee bar.”


The Joint is scheduled to open Friday, sporting a cappuccino machine, with a full cappuccino bar scheduled for completion by late November. Duran said coffee, tea, cold drinks and some pre-packaged snacks will also be available.

“There’s a lot of this going on in Europe, a lot of places were cafes first and then brought in computers,” he said. “But we’re coming from the technical side. We have higher tech and faster [Internet] action.”

Computer and cappuccino hours will be 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Cost for computer time is $6 per hour. The training center is at 2734 Johnson Drive.