Monday, December 19, 2011

A TRIP TO SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAIN BREWING

Well, it wasn’t quite “The Lost Weekend”. More of a popover while we traveled through Santa Cruz yesterday on our way back from a weekend in Monterey & Carmel. I played the “I sure need a beer after all that driving” card – and for once it worked. SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINBREWING have been making organic (ewww!) beer now for at least five years, starting small and growing to be something of a regional dynamo, with their 22-ounce beers starting to show up all over the Bay Area and even in some restaurants and draft accounts. I’ve had nothing of theirs in those five years that wasn’t at least “pretty good”, and had heard that their establishment on Santa Cruz’s west side, right as the city limits start to give way again to the wild untrammeled coastline, was pretty right-on.

They’ve got a heat-lamped, dog-friendly, kid-friendly patio in the middle of the funky redesigned warehouse area they’re located in, so we were all aboard. Surrounding this organic brewery are several wineries, a bake shop, mountain biking clothing shops, boutiques etc. – a perfect microcosm of modern non-hippie Santa Cruz, circa late 2011. I only allowed myself one pint so I had to choose well, so after sorting through the normal (and a little too pedestrian) pale ale, amber, IPA, stout, porter choices I spied their holiday ale – GINGER’S WINTER WARMER, which I reckoned would only be around another couple of weeks. Sipped on the patio with a loaf of bread from the bakeshop around the way, it was just short of invigorating – but good nonetheless. It’s an herbal, malty ale with strong ginger and tea tastes. The ginger is especially strong in the finish – and yet you can totally see why this has been dubbed their “winter warmer” as well, since despite its thin body, it has that chest-heating maltiness that’s characteristic of ales much darker in color. Beer Samizdat thought it was totally worth another pint. Beer Samizdat’s ready-to-go-home car passengers did not. 7/10.

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