Craft Beer Exploding In Santa Cruz
If you like a tasty brew, you will enjoy exploring the craft beer taprooms in Santa Cruz County. There are some sixteen craft breweries and fifteen taprooms and counting in the county where you can enjoy flavorful, refreshing brews. You will discover that these small, unique businesses are creating outstanding artisanal brews that reflect their local personality.
Michael Demers, the brewer at Discretion Brewing in Soquel, CA, says people like the idea of going to their local brewery and the feeling of community that fosters, and this is fueling the expansion of the industry. The brewery makes dozens of different styles and features 12 unique beers on tap at their tap room located at 2703 41st Ave, Ste A, Soquel, CA. Several of their most popular are available year-round. Styles run the gamut from traditional European styles including a German-style Pilsner to modern, evolving American craft beers including several IPAs (India Pale Ales). The tasting room has a restaurant onsite, The Kitchen at Discretion serves creative and delicious beer-focused, farm-to-table comfort food made in-house.
IPA: Still the King of Craft Beers
Reflecting the national trend, hoppy IPAs continue to be the most popular craft beer in the Santa Cruz area. Most of the local breweries have their own unique take on the style that is loved for its hop flavor, aroma, and bitterness. A popular example is Discretion Brewing’s “Uncle Dave’s Rye IPA,” which has a more malt-forward balance than many IPAs. Demers says the key to the popularity of their IPAs is the combination of different varieties of hops. A leader in sustainable practices, Discretion was the first Santa Cruz brewery to use solar power to brew their beer. They conserve water, and 100% of their spent grain goes to local farms where it is fed to happy, grain-loving pigs, rather than into landfills.
There will be plenty of IPAs to be enjoyed in Santa Cruz for years to come, but local brewers are tapping into new trends: hazier (less filtered), less bitter IPAs, sour beers, fruit beers, and beer in cans.
Santa Cruz brewers are at the forefront of creativity. Just to highlight a few… Discretion Brewing‘s Woodland Critters Series of wild and sour barrel-aged beers are aged for months or years before being re-fermented in the bottle for limited release. New Bohemia Brewing Company’s Captain F.G.S. is a Baltic Porter that is brewed with Patagonia chocolate malt and fermented for over a month. The result is a porter with a slight roast, dark body, and warm sensation; it finishes smooth with notes of vanilla and anise. Sante Adarius Rustic Ales’ Lady in Grey is a grisette fermented entirely in French oak, with a high percentage of malted and flaked wheat. Discover for yourself what Shanty Shack, Corralitos Brewing Co., Humble Sea, and other local craft breweries have to offer!
Hop on the Brew Cruz
A fun way to learn about and sample local craft brews is the Brew Cruz, Santa Cruz’s “original brewery tour.” Aboard a 1989 Thomas International school bus, your host will talk about beer and local brewery history and take you to several different breweries. As you cruise around Santa Cruz, you’ll get plenty of spectacular coastal and mountain views.
Brew Cruz offers public tours that follow participant preferences, with some guidance from owner Annie Pautsch, and private tours that visit three tap houses of the guests’ choosing. For more information visit scbrewcruz.com/brewery-list.