By William Brand
Saturday, December 15th, 2007 at 7:05 pm in Uncategorized.
Got this from a reader, who lives in Felton. Haven’t checked the place yet. Has anyone else? Let me know. Post a comment here.
Hi William , I swapped some e-mail with you back in August about if you knew of any good beer retailers in Santa Cruz. Aside from what you mentioned…. not a lot to add. for Santa Cruz. There are a handful of places that seem to be on the same distribution routes, so you can find some non-disappointing beers, though little that’s particularly rare. The store with the curved brick front on 41st street in Capitola (Forty-First Avenue Liquors, 2155 41st Ave., Capitola, (831) 475-5117) specializes in Belgians and does have a pretty impressive selection.
What I’m actually writing to tell you about is a new brewery in Santa Cruz. Uncommon Brewers has been ramping up in the Sash Mill complex off of River Street, near where it hits Highway 1. I had the grand opportunity to go to their first tasting there last Sunday night – I was the guest of a friend who had won the tour/tasting at a benefit auction.
Anyhow – we got to taste two-and a half beers. The half is that they have their ‘Siamese Twin’ belgian, one batch of which had gone to ‘Trippel’ level at about 10.8% ABV, and another that was the expected dubbel, at about 6.5%. It was an unfiltered mineral amber color with a nice yeasty head. The Siamese part of it was accenting with lemon grass, Indian Coriander, and kaffir lime leaves.
Skot, the brewer giving the tour, clearly gets it – a lot of accent flavored/spiced beers are either homeopathic or so overdone that they’re more like malty schnapps, This had perfect balance on both the dubbel and tripel, giving a really exotic afterglow to a lovely beer. Hallertau and Saaz hops. All organic ingredients.
The other thing we tasted was a really luscious Baltic Porter. Obsidian black, though you could call it antique mahogany if you got it thin enough on the edge of the glass. Accented with licorice root and star anise, again with remarkable balance. More of a head than you typically get on a porter, for height and duration, but utterly slurpable. I think it ran about 7% ABV.
At any rate, I’ve been tasting lots of beers over the last years as part of Stuart Forman’s Yahoo group (he says you two have swapped beer notes a few times). I wanted to very much recommend to you to try to try these guys out when you’re in the Santa Cruz area.
Their logo says ‘uncommon beer for uncommon people’ and they really just nail it. They’re supposedly starting sales any day now – they’re going with Internet sales for pick-up at the brewery, and a micro-canning operation to avoid light skunking on the beer.
Their web link is www.uncommonbrewers.com , which is a not-terribly-up-to-date blog of them getting the brewery running.
If you want to contact the brewer I mentioned, it’s firstname.lastname@example.org
and the phone number at the brewery is 831-621-6270
I liked your review on Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing ( I get your columns in the Merc). I was at that brewery the first weekend that they were doing tastings and at-the-brewery bottle sales. I think that they’ve improved a lot since that time, and they seem to have found a decent niche – I see them on the shelves at BevMo, as well as most of the stores in greater Santa Cruz.
Also liked the Xmas beer review list that you just did. I very much look forward to the columns as they come out. I thimk they are a nice breath of fresh culinary air to compliment the restaurant and wine reviews.
Happy Holidays, Duff