Category Archives: Breweries

Golden State Brewery Opens San Diego Tap Room

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Image courtesy of Golden State Brewery

Friday the 13th has turned out to be quite the day for Santa Clara’s Golden State Brewery.

Last week, the brewery shared some big news via social media – they would be opening a tap room in San Diego’s Ocean Beach neighborhood. And earlier this evening, they offered up the following notice:

“Golden State Brewery is officially flowing in San Diego! Come celebrate the opening weekend with us at Voltaire Beach House, 4934 Voltaire Street, Ocean Beach.”

From the Voltaire Beach House website:

“With the opening of Voltaire Beach House we’re excited to announce the opening of our ‘Tap Room’ where we’ll exclusively be pouring Golden State Brewing from Santa Clara, California. The Tap Room offers (12) Golden State craft beers on tap in addition to a selection of San Diego’s finest including ciders and sours, a selection of fine wine and fresh squeezed crafted cocktails with a limited Voltaire Beach House dining menu with favorites like the Golden State beer battered ‘Fish & Chips’!

“Golden State Brewery and their farm-to-draft offerings are made using only premium quality organic produce and botanicals from the Golden State. The result is a beautiful crafted beer that taste uniquely California – authentic, fresh and adventurous…perfect for the coastal community of Ocean Beach!”

When Golden State Brewery’s Seth Hendrickson first told me about this development in November, it sounded like such a unique opportunity, and I was very excited for him and the Golden State Brewery team. He was well aware that his beers would be joining the thriving San Diego beer scene and couldn’t wait to be a part of the community.

Voltaire Beach House is headed up by San Diego restaurateur David Schiffman who tapped consulting chef Abe Botello to design the restaurant menu. More info. about the restaurant below (from their website):

“Enjoy New Americans eats in the coastal escape paradise otherwise known as Voltaire Beach House. Consulting Chef Abe Botello designed the Voltaire Beach House menu to offer California-inspired eats for all San Diegans to enjoy – with vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options dotting the menu. Options range from your classic options, like burgers, sandwiches and salads, to more unique offerings, such as fried oysters & shrimp, avocado toast and more.”



Tickets to 8th Annual Meet the Brewers Beer Festival Currently Available at Special Early Bird Prices

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Just a quick note that tickets to the 8th annual “Meet the Brewers” beer festival are currently available at the early bird price of $40 until Jan. 1 and go up to $45 afterwards.

The popular event takes place Saturday, Feb. 18 from 1pm-5pm at Hermitage Brewing Company (1627 S. 7th St., San Jose).

There’ll be 30+ breweries, all within 150 miles of San Jose, plus live music and mobile eats.

I’ve had the good fortune of attending most of the previous Meet the Brewers beer fests and have greatly enjoyed each of them thanks to the good beers, good food, excellent organization and great people and vibe.

I’ll post again with additional info., including the names of the participating breweries, as such information becomes available.



Winter Release Party at Hermitage Brewing Company, Plus Scenes from Blood Orange American Sour Barrel Tasting

Hermitage Brewing Company will release three new beers Wednesday, Dec. 7 at its Winter Release Party, starting at 4pm at their Tap Room (1627 S. 7th St.). El Burrito Loco will be on hand to serve up Mexican eats.

The Winter Release Party will feature the following three beers (with notes from the brewery):

  • Blood Orange American Sour: “The blood orange is the darling of the citrus world with its trademark sweet and tart citrus flavors and a richer, berry-like sweetness. The beer pours a deep ruby red color in the glass and explodes with an amazing aroma of 35,000 fresh cut oranges.”
  • That 70s Beer (a collaboration beer between Hermitage Brewing and Palo Alto Brewing brewed with Comet, Cascade and Cluster Hops): “That 70s IPA is our homage to a much simpler time, like, 45 years ago. We used only malts and hops (Bullion, Comet, Cluster and Cascade hops) that were readily available in the 1970s, and combined them with a modern brewing approach.”
  • Half Tun Milk Stout Nitro: “To make the Half Tun, we collected the second runnings off a recent batch of Two Tun, a technique knows as “Parti Gyle” brewing. The result is smooth, sweet, and easy drinking, with notes of dark chocolate and a hint of coffee. Served on Nitro, it’s like chocolate milk for adults.”

Cellarmaster Greg Filippi is particularly enthused about his latest sour beer offering and can’t wait for it to be tapped and shared:

“We blended beautiful blood oranges into a tart and refreshing blonde ale and aged it in our cellar for 18 months, creating a juicy sour with lots of citrus and a hint of sweet raspberry.”

I had the good fortune of sampling the contents of the barrels used to make the Blood Orange when Greg took me on an impromptu barrel tasting a little while back. So I’m extra excited to taste the final blended creation.

Below are some pictures from the barrel tasting, which took place in late October.

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First, a bonus tasting of the base beers from the two 100-BBL foeders that Hermitage acquired earlier this year (excellent starts to both foeder-aged beers, of which I’ll write more about in a future post).

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Greg drawing samples from the aforementioned barrels that were used to make Blood Orange American Sour.

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I had originally stopped by Hermitage to simply enjoy their latest Single Hop IPA, but I fortuitously bumped into Greg and his lovely family. After catching up, Greg asked if I had some time to taste the progress of his latest projects. And what ensued was a tasty, educational and memorable tasting experience. Thank you, Greg, for being so gracious with your time!



Santa Clara Valley Brewing Hosts San Jose Founding Party, Plus Upcoming Loma Prieta Imperial Stout Release

San Jose is turning 239 years old on Tuesday, Nov. 29, and the fine folks at Santa Clara Valley Brewing (101 E. Alma Ave., San Jose) are celebrating with a San Jose Founding Party.

San Jose Founding Party

Currently closed on Tuesdays, Santa Clara Valley Brewing will make an exception for this event and open their doors on Nov. 29 starting at 3pm. From their event page:

“239 years ago the beautiful city of San Jose was founded, and we are going to celebrate that birthday in the traditional way – with beer! With the help of History San Jose, we are going to bring you a unique night at the brewery.

“We are going to have an historical demonstration on brewing and leather working, a brief lecture on the history of beer in the city, historical artifacts, and photos to check out. Also Beer! Don’t miss out on this night at Santa Clara Valley Brewing!”

During a recent visit to the brewery, I got word that Santa Clara Valley Brewing will be releasing their first-ever imperial stout – Loma Prieta Imperial Stout – next month. Look below for additional release information as well as some photos from recent visits.

Co-founder and CEO Tom Clark.

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Co-founder and brewmaster Steve Donohue.

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Sales manager Peter Estaniel.

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The brewery.

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Assistant brewer Adam Nanni filling kegs with Alviso Mills Hefeweizen.

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New taproom manager Gavin Goodman.

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About to sample soon-to-be-released Loma Prieta Imperial Stout.

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Loma Prieta Imperial Stout

Loma Prieta Imperial Stout – coming in at 10.2% ABV – is set to be released in mid-December.

Look for special flights of the beer and its variants to be available then – straight-up Loma Prieta, Loma Prieta on nitro, barrel-aged Loma Prieta in bourbon barrels and barrel-aged Loma Prieta in rye barrels.

Additional photos from a prior visit below:

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Steve voguing to the music and with taproom employee Christian.

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Dairy Hill Milk Stout on nitro.

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Peter and COO Coleen Clark.

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Peter, Peter’s wife Sammy and fellow beer enthusiast Steve.

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Half Moon Bay Brewing Updates: Coastside Brewfest, Pacific Standard Grand Opening

Visiting Half Moon Bay is always a treat, providing a wonderful opportunity for a quick coastal getaway to soak in the fresh, crisp air and help recharge our bodies and minds.

Visiting the area typically means an enjoyable stop at Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. And though I’ve been seeing more of their beers available throughout the South Bay, nothing rarely beats enjoying a beer at the source.

As I enjoy keeping tabs on Half Moon Bay Brewing (including writing about a previous visit), I’ve rounded up some of their latest beer-centric news and developments.

Recent Beers

Brewmaster James Costa has crafted award-winning beers since his arrival at Half Moon Bay Brewing in 2013.

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In addition to the regular beer lineup, this fall has seen the releases of seasonal favorites and one-offs:

  • Pumpkin Harvest Ale – A seasonal favorite amber ale made with locally-grown organic, roasted and spiced Sugar Pie pumpkins, which are added to the brew kettle  resulting in a subtle pumpkin pie flavor balanced by a biscuit maltiness. 6.3% ABV.
  • Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Well-spiced, rich and malty, this beer is brewed with fresh local organic Sugar Pie pumpkins and pumpkin puree. 10.2% ABV.
  • Take it to the Limit Barleywine – The biggest beer the brewery has ever made, the beer displays a deep amber color with the Crystal and Munich malts presenting strong fruity-esters in the aroma, while the American hops identify this offering as an American take on a classic. The high alcohol is evident, adding to the complexity of this smooth barleywine. With two months aging in stainless and six months in bourbon barrels, the result is a smooth, dark and strong beer. 14.5% ABV.
  • Damage, Inc. – Inspired by brewers in the 1800s who were attempting to win over the Russian Czar, this beer is the king of stouts, boasting a high alcohol content and plenty of malt character, with huge roasted, chocolate and burnt malt flavors. It’s the second beer in their Bourbon Barrel Aged Series. A chewy malt sweetness with suggestions of dark fruit and flavors of higher alcohols is quite evident. Hop character from Columbus, Chinook and Ahtanum round out the attack on the senses. 10% ABV.
  • Presidential Alection – Known for their passion for politics, craft beer and sustainable coastal cuisine, Half Moon Bay Brewing has unveiled commemorative bottles of their popular IPA in honor of this year’s election. While the Alection IPAs are available individually on-site, guests can also create their own “SuperPACK” of two Alection IPAs for $12, which includes a set of two collectable Alection coasters and a ballot. ABV 6.1% and 80 IBUs.

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These fall beers follow the launch earlier this year of the Ocho Barril sour beer series:
  • Ocho Barril Series No. 1: The first in the long-anticipated Ocho Barril series, the Magic Beer Genie is a Belgian Dark Sour with strong acidity and plenty of funky flavors and aromas. 10.7% ABV.

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The Ocho Barril Series was named after the batch sizes in which the unique sour ale is produced. A batch of 420 gallons fills eight oak barrels while leaving room for the addition of fruits and spices. The beer is then fermented with a combination of Saccharomyces, Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, and Pedioccocus and aged between 12-24 months to create a melange of bright acidity and a funky barnyard finish.

Coastside Brewfest

The third annual Coastside Brewfest is set for this Saturday, Oct. 22 from 1pm to 5pm in the expansive waterfront parking lot of Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. There’ll be live music and food trucks.

The current list of participating breweries includes:

  • Alpine
  • Alvarado Street
  • Berryessa
  • Deschutes Brewery
  • Discretion
  • E.J. Phair
  • Faction Brewing
  • Farm Creek
  • Fieldwork
  • Fort Point
  • Green Flash
  • High Water
  • Highway 1 Brewing
  • Hop Dogma Brewing
  • Magnolia
  • Marin Brewing Company
  • Morgan Territory
  • Moylan’s
  • New Bohemia
  • Santa Clara Valley
  • Santa Cruz Ale Works
  • Sudwerk Restaurant & Brewery
  • Temescal
  • Track 7

Tickets are $30 ($35 at the door) and include a keepsake tasting jar and unlimited tastings. Designated driver tickets are $10.

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For additional information and to purchase tickets, visit www.coastsidebrewfest.com.

This is a benefit for Mavericks Coastside Foundation; a portion of the evening’s proceeds will be donated to Coastside Hope.

Pacific Standard Taproom & Growler Station

Congratulations are in order! Half Moon Bay Brewing Company officially opens its first outpost today in Berkeley (Go Bears!).

Pacific Standard Taproom & Growler Station aims to become the premier local destination for craft beer, offering a wide variety of 16 to 24 local and regional beers on tap, including, of course, Half Moon Bay Brewing’s own beers.

Pacific Standard also features a rotating assortment of ciders and Northern California wines, as well as growlers and bottles of Half Moon Bay Brewing beers.

To complement the taproom’s local beer, wine and cider, chef Federico Godinez – the executive chef at Half Moon Bay Brewing – has crafted a small, eclectic menu featuring locally sourced meats, cheeses and produce. Opening menu items include:

  • Seasonal Salad
  • Prawns
  • Local Pretzels
  • Ceviche
  • Hummus
  • Charcuterie Board
  • Panini (Vegeterian, Andouille or PLT)

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To develop the concept for Pacific Standard, Half Moon Bay Brewing Company general manager Nate Rey enlisted the expertise of Joel DiGiorgio, a Berkeley-based food and beverage consultant with Farm League Design & Management Group, and promoted Half Moon Bay Brewing manager Kyle McCarthy to director of business development.

With custom decor, eclectic elements and an urban location, the atmosphere at Pacific Standard Taproom & Growler Station seeks to achieve the balance between refined, cool and approachable. Additional features include natural wood colors, large, communal tables, recessed lighting and pin lights that illuminate the bar.

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“We’re excited to expand our footprint beyond Half Moon Bay and introduce a new community to our extensive selection of top-quality, hand-crafted beers, and feature brews made by other West Coast breweries,” said Rey. “At Pacific Standard, we want our guests to experience the very best elements of the Coastside in an urban, casual environment.”

Pacific Standard Taproom & Growler Station is located at 2055 Center Street in Berkeley, CA. Starting today – October 19, 2016 – the taproom will be open Sunday through Thursday from 11am to 11pm and Friday and Saturday from 11am to midnight.

Additional information is available at pacificstandardtaproom.com. Photos courtesy of HMB Brewing Co.



Beers in Hell Fest 2016

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Heavy San Jose recently reached out regarding their upcoming Beers in Hell Fest taking place on Saturday, September 24, 5pm to 2am in downtown San Jose at Johnny V’s Bar (31 E. Santa Clara St.).

Beers in Hell Fest is presented by Heavy San Jose, Ripple Music and Doomed and Stoned, with participating breweries Firestone Walker, Lagunitas, Ballast Point and Santa Clara Valley Brewing.

As Heavy San Jose’s JD Norton puts it, Beers in Hell Fest is the “first event of its kind in the Bay Area, at least according to [their] not-so-exhaustive research.” :)

The event combines craft beer and heavy music. A 12-tap takeover features the aforementioned breweries – brewery representatives will be on hand – along with 11 underground bands that all fall in the genre of metal and heavy rock.

The band lineup features: Blackwülf (Oakland), Zed (San Jose), Crimson Eye (Sacramento), Great Electric Quest (Oceanside), KOOK (San Jose), Mesmer (Oakland), Red Wizard (San Diego), Smoke (Santa Cruz), Supernaut (Santa Cruz), TVSK (Oakland), and War Cloud (Oakland).

Tickets ($20) can be purchased at the event, but presale tickets purchased via the Beers in Hell Heavy Music Fest Indiegogo campaign – which ends Friday, Sep. 16 – include tickets plus a variety of special merchandise options and add-on perks to enhance the festival experience.

These Indiegogo presale ticket and merchandise campaign deals are only available on the website, and 100% of the proceeds will go directly to the bands.

At last check, the Dark Lord’s Cellar presale package was still available at the Indiegogo page. That package ($150) is good for tickets, event poster, shirt, pint glass and the following 6 beers:

  • 2002 Rogue XS Old Crustacean Barleywine (are you brave enough to drink a 14 year old beer?)
  • 2009 Alaskan Barley Wine Ale (one of the best ever made)
  • 2012 Deschutes The Abyss Imperial Stout (the standard by which all are measured)
  • 2013 Fifty Fifty Eclipse Black Wax (Evan Williams Bourbon Barrel aged… made by one of the pioneers of modern barrel-aged beer)
  • 2014 The Bruery Black Tuesday Imperial Stout (at almost 20% alcohol, this is the gnarliest of the bunch)
  • 2015 The Bruery/Three Floyds Collaboration-Floyd D’Rue Imperial Porter (Three Floyds is the original heavy metal brewery… and originator of Dark Lord Day)

The beers listed above, including the parenthetical beer notes, are courtesy of Jeff Wilson, the other half of Heavy San Jose. In addition to being the bass player for the band KOOK, he’s a craft beer enthusiast. Jeff’s the craft beer buyer at Kukar’s House of Pizza and for a few of Johnny V’s taps as well. He’s the reason Kukar’s started getting 5-6 rotating taps of great craft choices in the past couple years.

Look for the “Hell Brew” firkin from Santa Clara Valley Brewing – 10 gallons of their Electric Tower IPA with blood orange, mixed with locally grown hot peppers and dry hopped with citra and cascade hops.

JD adds: “Our hope is that this first event will be a huge success and will turn into something we continue to do right here in San Jose year after year going forward.”



Hermitage Brewing Company Release Party – Wild Blackberry Sour and Admiral Single Hop IPA – Plus Unveiling of New Tap Room Mural

Hermitage Brewing Company is hosting an early fall release party at their Tap Room – 1627 S. 7th St. – on Wednesday, September 14 from 4pm to 9pm.

The event celebrates the releases of their next two beers – Wild Blackberry American Sour and Admiral Single Hop IPA.

Hermitage Brewing will also formally unveil the Tap Room’s new mural by San Jose artist Erin Salazar, who’ll be in attendance.

Mexican eats and wild blackberry pie will be available from El Burrito Loco and Sweetdragon Baking Company, respectively.

Hermitage Brewing Company Wild Blackberry American Sour
Hermitage Brewing Wild Blackberry American Sour, photo by Hermitage Brewing Company

Wild Blackberry Sour: 6.5% ABV

Wild Blackberry Sour is the fifth release from Hermitage Brewing’s American Sour series. The beer was aged for up to two years in their oak cellar. This release also serves as a tribute to brewmaster Peter Licht’s first ever sour brewed 10 years ago – Mure Sauvage.

I was fortunate to have had a taste recently, and what a treat! With a mouth-puckering goodness with intriguing notes from the barrel aging, I expect this offering to quickly become a favorite among fans of well-crafted, super tart sours.

Additional insights provided by cellarmaster Greg Filippi:

“Our Wild Blackberry American Sour pours a lovely deep purple with a pinkish foam stand, with a slight haze that lets enough light through to beautifully illuminate your glass.
Aromas of oak, vanilla, light smoke, and dark fruits remind you of long aging in oak. The blackberries are noticeable on the nose but not overpowering, hinting at a jammy sweetness.

“The first sip, although puckering, softens quickly as the sweet and tart blackberries commingle with the complexity of the barrel maturation — notes of tannic oak, dark stone fruit, tobacco, vanilla, and a little horsey funk. The flavors continue to develop and change with each sip.

“The finish is fast and very dry, leaving your taste buds as aggressively as it arrived.  Only the slightest blackberry sweetness remains between sips, reminding you to take another.”

Single Hop IPA, Admiral: 7% ABV, 70 IBUs

Admiral is the latest hop varietal to be featured in Hermitage Brewing’s ongoing Single Hop IPA series. More information about the beer from brewmaster Peter Licht:

“English hops (and English beers) are subtle and elegant. English hops can be reminiscent of a country meadow — light floral notes on top, some woodsy background, all supported by an earthy foundation.

“Of course our single hop series is not really about subtlety. We tend to feature the big, bold ‘high impact’ hops in prodigious quantities (2 lbs per barrel in the kettle with another 2 lbs per barrel dry hopped). So we were pleased to discover a relatively new English hop that fits the bill. Admiral has all the lovely qualities of the typical English hop, but has them in spades! Powerfully subtle! Is that a thing?

“The Single Hop Admiral features a profound earthiness with notes of pine resin and a hint of spring flowers — all supported by a satisfying chewy bitterness. Cheers!”

Hermitage Brewing Admiral Single Hop IPA, photo from Hermitage Brewing Company
Hermitage Brewing Admiral Single Hop IPA, photo from Hermitage Brewing Company

New Taproom Mural

The always affable Joel Wind – Tap Room manager – was pivotal in having the mural project come to fruition.

After months of researching Bay Area muralists, Joel found Erin Salazar of San Jose’s Exhibition District. She was eventually commissioned to complete the project.

Joel had this to say about the project:

“The Hermitage Tap Room is adorned with an epic mural designed and painted by Erin Salazar, a renowned and prolific San Jose muralist.

“The piece exists in two parts illustrating the growth of the valley and the flourishing of the brewery within and beyond the valley. The warm, vibrant imagery welcomes all to take a true retreat from the ordinary.”



Introducing Bellpenny Brewing Company, Congrats on Inaugural Beer Release

Congratulations are in order for Bellpenny Brewing Company and co-owners Char Boger (self-described “head paper pusher”) and Jim Turturici (brewmaster). Bellpenny just released their first-ever beer and becomes the latest brewing company to join the local beer landscape.

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Bellpenny’s inaugural beer – Bellpenny ESB, 5.8% ABV – was brewed last month in San Jose and kegged this past Thursday. A number of local beer-centric establishments now have the kegs, and among the first to be currently serving the beer are Taplands in Santa Clara and ISO: Beers in downtown San Jose.

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Kegs of Bellpenny’s inaugural beer – Bellpenny ESB (Batch No. 1), photo courtesy of Bellpenny Brewing

“I wanted our first beer to be a special offering, one that I haven’t really seen around lately,” Jim recently told me. “And the ESB makes for an excellent year-round beer.”

ESB, or Extra Special Bitter, is a beer style known for a balanced malt and hop flavor profile, and Bellpenny’s ESB is a traditional take on the style.

Indeed – having recently enjoyed a glass at Taplands – Bellpenny ESB is a smooth-drinking beer with slightly roasty and sweet, malty elements that nicely complement a mildly earthy, hoppy bitterness.

Enjoying Bellpenny ESB at Taplands in Santa Clara
Enjoying Bellpenny ESB at Taplands in Santa Clara

Like some San Jose breweries before them, including Santa Clara Valley Brewing (SCV Brewing) and Strike Brewing Company, Bellpenny will brew at other breweries while continuing to plan for their own San Jose brewery. Jim and Char brewed Bellpenny ESB at SCV Brewing with brewmaster – and good friend – Steve Donohue.

Look for Bellpenny’s next release to be an IPA.

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Bellpenny co-founders Jim Turturici and Char Boger, photo courtesy of Bellpenny Brewing Company

More about Bellpenny from their website, which recently went live.

“Bellpenny Brewing Company is a small, local craft brewery born from 24 years of brewing experience and a lot of heart. Adhering to the techniques and principles that have not changed over centuries, we strive to bring these respected traditions to the present.

“Fierce in spirit and stubborn in nature, Bellpenny could have only come to life by the support from our friends and colleagues.”

And more – in part – about co-owners Jim and Char, who are familiar faces among the local beer community.

“Jim was born and raised in the California Bay Area and was professionally brewing beer before he was legally allowed to drink it. Since Jim began his brewing career in 1992 at the Santa Cruz Brewing Company, he has transformed his passion in brewing into a lifelong respect for the industry. Jim has brewed for Santa Cruz Brewing Company, Rock Bottom, Campbell Brewing Company, Uncommon Brewers and Uproar Brewery. It was at Campbell that Jim decided to enter his first beers into the GABF and came home with a gold medal for his Scottish Ale in 2013. That same year, his Imperial Stout took home the silver medal at the World Beer Cup. Then in 2014, his Barley Wine won a silver medal at the GABF. Soon after, Jim and his Assistant Brewer, Char, decided it was time to do their own thing. After much hard work, Bellpenny was born.”

“Char began her career in the craft beer industry in 2013, managing media for Dipsomania Inc., a well known craft beer restaurant group in the South Bay Area. As part of her role she managed ticket sales and media for The Beerwalk. In 2014 she met Jim at Campbell Brewing Company. They became fast friends and within a few months he put her on the payroll as an assistant brewer and the rest is a craft beer fueled history.”



Catching Up with Hermitage Brewing Company

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Here’s some of what I know about San Jose’s Hermitage Brewing Company as of late:

  • Expansion of warehouse space at 1627 South 7th St., plus new signage off 7th St.
  • New brewing system, packaging line, centrifuge, fermentation tank farm and a 5,000-BBL capacity sour beer annex (1 BBL or barrel is equivalent to 31 gallons).
  • Busy sales team and a growing number of team members from all sides of the house
  • Busy Tap Room with plenty of online reviews raving about their customer service and vibe
  • Recent beer awards and accolades, including the bronze medal for Maltopia Scotch Ale in the Scottish-Style Ale category at the prestigious World Beer Cup held earlier this year, 1st place in the Sour Ale category for Sour Cherry Sour at this year’s California State Fair Commercial Craft Brew Competition and inclusion in this year’s top 50 (out of 247) of Paste Magazine’s popular American IPA blind tasting for Citra Single Hop IPA, coming in at #35
  • Greater social media presence with an updated website
  • Well-crafted, variety of offerings – including new releases – that are tapped on an ongoing basis and receive consistently positive reviews

All factors that help point to the continuing growth of – and demand for – Hermitage beers as well as their brewing services. Their successes are a credit to the entire Hermitage team and also reflect the vision set by brewmaster Peter Licht and the day-to-day leadership provided by head brewer and cellarmaster Greg Filippi.

I recently had the chance to meet up with Peter and Greg – both down-to-earth, lead-by-example types – and Hermitage communications assistant Mark Fazzio for a tour of their expanding warehouse spaces.

Many folks will recognize the Hermitage Tap Room, the walls of which are currently undergoing an artwork makeover.

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Hermitage Brewing Company Tap Room walls are currently undergoing an artwork makeover

Behind the Tap Room is the original warehouse space, which is now used for cellaring, packaging and storing hops.

It’s hard to believe that the first several Meet the Brewers beer festivals took place mostly within this space. The epic, annual beer festival is now held mostly in the much larger outdoor area outside the Tap Room.

Some will also remember the old brewhouse – which has since been sold and replaced by a bigger, more efficient brewing system – that was brought over from the old Tied House in San Pedro Square. It used to reside in the back left corner area.

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This area is where the annual Meet the Brewers beer festivals used to be held
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From left to right: me, Peter Licht, Mark Fazzio and Greg Filippi

The first warehouse is connected to an adjacent room where the new brewhouse is located.

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The brewhouse is a 25-BBL system capable of making 30,000 BBL annually (again, 1 BBL or barrel is equivalent to 31 gallons).

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Hermitage Brewing Company brewhouse

Hermitage brewed 16,000 BBL last year, of which nearly 3,000 BBL was Hermitage’s own beers.

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You’ll see white sliding doors in the next open space. They’re the entrance to Hermitage’s huge cooler.

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You’ll see an Offices and Sour Annex sign at the next building over.

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Past racks of barrels in the front warehouse space, you’ll find the offices for a number of Hermitage personnel to the left.

Towards the back of the building is where you’ll find the 5,000-BBL capacity Sour Annex.

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Hermitage brewmaster Peter Licht and head brewer and cellarmaster Greg Filippi

The Sour Annex is a one-stop shop for all things sour at Hermitage and will soon incorporate packaging as well.

Greg is looking forward to the two 100-BBL foeders Hermitage will be receiving in the near future. That makes at least the two of us, though I suspect that there’ll be many more looking forward to the end results. No pressure or anything… :)

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Finally, there’s the building on the other side of the lot.

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The front area surrounded by red fencing under the overhang houses a machine shop.

Inside the enclosed building is a room for dry goods, while a lab occupies the back section of the building.

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In total, Hermitage has increased their physical space fivefold, from approximately 9,500 sq. ft. to approximately 50,000 sq. ft.

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With the tour over, there was time to head back to the Tap Room for some Hermitage beer tasting.

The 16 beers on tap included a wide variety of styles, including Golden Ale, Scotch Ale, Pear Saison, Belgian Grapefruit Ale, American Red Ale, Imperial Stout, American Sour, Session IPA, Brett IPA, East Coast IPA, Single Hop IPA, Double IPA and Triple IPA.

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I opted to sample Hermitage’s newer offerings.

HBC 10b Strawberry Rhubarb American Sour
Strawberry Rhubarb American Sour
HBC 10c Pamplemousse Belgian Grapefruit Ale
Pamplemousse Belgian Grapefruit Ale
HBC 10d Myles Perry's Pear Saison
Myles Perry’s Pear Saison
HBC 10e SJSBA Collaboration Brett IPA
SJSBA Collaboration Brett IPA
HBC 10f My Name is Mud East Coast IPA
My Name is Mud East Coast IPA

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HBC 10i Nelson Sauvin Single Hop IPA
Nelson Sauvin Single Hop IPA
HBC 10j No Spin Triple IPA
No Spin Triple IPA

Each beer was exquisite. All were new to me, and I was particularly impressed with how flavorful, smooth and well balanced each was per their respective style. For instance, No Spin Triple IPA was super smooth with a clean, citrus-forward hoppy flavor profile. It was also well balanced and belied its ABV mark of 9.5%.

Because of a busy schedule earlier in the spring, followed by summer trips out of town (including Germany for close to a month!), I’ve missed out on visiting many local beer places. I’ve especially missed the local breweries.

So I’m very grateful to have had the chance to visit Hermitage and catch up on recent developments along with their latest beers.

For more information about Hermitage and for the scoop on their sour beer program, check out this previous post from early July.



Q & A with Strike Brewing Company Brewer Ryan Bridge, Plus Bullpen Series Origins and 2nd Anniversary Celebration

Strike Cherry Bonds, the latest release from Strike's Bullpen Series
Strike Cherry Bonds, the latest release from Strike’s Bullpen Series

San Jose’s Strike Brewing Company recently tapped the latest offering from their Bullpen Series – Cherry Bonds, a kettle soured blonde ale conditioned on tart cherries.

Cherry Bonds – their 14th Bullpen release for those keeping count – was tart (naturally), crisp, refreshing and very tasty.

Previous Bullpen Series beers from earlier this year have included – to name a few – Berliner Weisse with blueberries and pomegranate, Rained Out Pale Ale with pineapple and toasted coconut, Bergamot Breakfast Pale Ale with local lemon zest and Earl Grey tea, Milk Stout and Big Wall Imperial Stout with Madagascar Vanilla Beans.

Because of the growing popularity of the Bullpen Series and the consistently positive feedback on these beers – combined with the fact that they’re brewed in micro-batch quantities – a Bullpen beer is consumed quickly and then, in most cases, gone forever.

Indeed, Strike co-founder and brewmaster Drew Ehrlich confirmed that the Bullpen beers – released periodically throughout the year and available only at the taproom – rarely last past a couple days.

The Bullpen Series is an excellent complement to their regular beer lineup and is the brainchild of Strike brewer Ryan Bridge. A South Bay native, he joined Strike about two years ago and has been quickly making his mark as a professional brewer.

Strike Brewing Company's Drew Ehrlich (left) and Ryan Bridge
Strike Brewing Company’s Drew Ehrlich (left) and Ryan Bridge pouring Strike’s Shoeless Joe Imperial Coffee Brown and Double IPA at the SF Beer Week Opening Gala held earlier this year

Ryan recently took the time to share a bit about his background, how the Bullpen Series came about and upcoming beers to look forward to from the Series.

Can you share a bit about your background? Where are you from/where did you grow up? College/major?

I grew up in Mountain View and Sunnyvale, so I’m originally from the South Bay. After high school I moved down to San Diego to study History and Literature/Writing at UCSD. In August 2014, I moved back up to the Bay Area and started working at Strike.

What’s been your experience with brewing?

I began brewing in college, experimenting first with mead and wine until eventually my dad bought me a homebrew starter kit for one of my birthdays. From that point on I homebrewed regularly.

I spent a lot of time visiting local breweries and usually attempted to clone the recipes of beers that I liked.

How did you go about joining the Strike team? When did you start at Strike?

When I moved back up to the Bay Area in 2014, I knew I wanted to commit to becoming a part of the beer industry. I got in touch with [Strike co-founder and CEO] Jenny [Lewis] and began helping out by pouring beer at events and in the taproom.

Eventually I worked my way into the production side, learning to work the bottling line as well as the cellar. After assisting Drew in the brewhouse for a while, I began brewing full time in early 2015.

How has it been working at Strike?

Working at Strike has been an awesome experience. Since we are such a small operation, we all wear many hats and inevitably learn something new every day.

I’ve grown tremendously as a brewer, and it has been really fun to see Strike expand and become a bigger part of the San Jose community.

Can you share how the Bullpen Series started? What were the goals?

We began the Bullpen Series beers with a couple of goals in mind. First, we wanted to bring a wider variety of styles into the taproom for our regulars and those visiting the brewery.

We also needed an outlet to develop new recipes in the hopes of eventually scaling them up into full production (Shoeless Joe Imperial Coffee Brown, for example).

Ultimately, brewing the Bullpen beers has been a great way for me to practice with fun, new ingredients, as well as brewing techniques.

Can you share more about the brewing system for the Bullpen Series?

When we first started the Bullpen Series, we were brewing on a 10 gallon homebrew system – our mashtun was an Igloo cooler and our kettle was a 15.5 gallon keg with the top cut off.

Once we realized all of the benefits of a dedicated pilot system, we upgraded to a two-tiered K-RIMS system that allows us to brew up to 20 gallons at a time.

How often do you try to release a new Bullpen Series beer?

Our goal is to release two Bullpen beers a month, but it is really dependent on our production schedule.

Just curious – what’s been your favorite one so far?

My favorite so far was probably the barleywine we brewed for our first anniversary party. I think I still have a couple of bottles of that one stashed away somewhere…

Any beers and/or beer ideas coming up for the Bullpen Series?

We have a long list of beer styles ready to be brewed. There is a cucumber/lime Kolsch conditioning in our walk-in cooler currently, and we have some experimental single-hop pale ales in the works as well.

I plan on brewing at least one (hopefully two) for our Second Anniversary party on October 8th at Strike.

Cheers to 2 Years!

The Second Anniversary party on Saturday, Oct. 8 – from 1pm to 9pm – commemorates the 2-year mark for Strike’s South 10th Street brewery and taproom location.

And as demand for Strike beers continues to climb – both Jenny and Drew recently confirmed that Strike’s never been busier – the party will also be an occasion to celebrate their accomplishments to date.

$20 gets you a special glass that’s yours to keep and 3 pints of your choosing. Everything is a pint that day.

There will be a band, a raffle, a Sports Gallery Silent Auction and more.

On hand will be food trucks Gow Chow (1pm-5pm) and Kushi Yaki (5pm-9pm).

Tickets are on sale now.

Below are several additional photos from the recent Bullpen Series: Cherry Bonds release day.

Strike's Jenny Lewis
Strike’s Jenny Lewis
Strike brewer Tyler Rusten with 1 of the 4 recently filled barrels
Strike assistant brewer Tyler Rusten with 1 of the 4 recently filled barrels containing the first-ever barrel-aged beers for Strike
Strike's Drew Ehrlich
Strike’s Drew Ehrlich