Tag Archives: Hermitage Brewing Company

8th Annual Meet the Brewers Beer Festival at Hermitage Brewing Company

Photo from last year's Meet the Brewers beer fest
Photo from last year’s Meet the Brewers beer fest

This year’s Meet the Brewers beer fest is just around the corner, taking place Saturday, Feb. 18 from 1pm-5pm at Hermitage Brewing Company (1627 South 7th St.).

Now in its 8th year, the beer fest is well run, attracts the greatest number of local breweries to the South Bay and continues to elevate the status of the local beer scene.

I’ve said it before – I believe the Meet the Brewers is the crown jewel of local beer events.

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed comparing notes with other attendees and keeping track of which breweries, brewers and beers generated the loudest buzz.

The current list of scheduled breweries indicates that this year’s event will be the biggest one yet:

  • Almanac Beer Co.
  • Bison Brewing
  • Brewery Twenty Five
  • Calicraft
  • Camino Brewing
  • Corralitos Brewing
  • Devil’s Canyon
  • Discretion Brewing
  • Eight Bridges
  • Elkhorn Slough Brewing
  • Faultline
  • FireHouse Grill & Brewery
  • Freewheel Brewing
  • GearTooth Alewerks
  • Golden State Brewery
  • Gordon Biersch
  • Half Moon Bay Brewing Company
  • Hermitage Brewing
  • Highwater Brewing
  • Hop Dogma Brewing Company
  • Loma Brewing Company
  • New Bohemia Brewing Company
  • Palo Alto Brewing
  • Peter B’s Brewpub
  • Rabbit’s Foot/ Red Branch
  • Santa Clara Valley Brewing
  • Seabright Brewery
  • South City Ciderworks
  • Steel Bonnet Brewing
  • Strike Brewing
  • Tied House
  • Two Coast Brewing Company
  • Umunhum Brewing
  • Uncommon Brewers
  • WildCide Hard Cider

Tickets are $45 and available at the Meet the Brewer’s Eventbrite page.

There’ll be good eats available for purchase courtesy of El Burrito Loco , Brother’s Baby BBQ, Sarah’s Latin Taste, SweetDragon Baking Company and Mission Hill Creamery.

About a dozen SJ Made vendors will be on hand to sell their handmade crafts.

For additional info. – and to purchase tickets – check out the event page.

On a last note, credit to the successful growth of Meet the Brewers goes to Carolyn Hopkins-Vasquez, former director of marketing for Hermitage Brewing and Tied House. She recently shared that her family is moving out of the area. She has done much for the local beer scene, and her departure is a big loss for the community. I – along with many others – will miss her (and her lovely family) greatly. Cheers, Carolyn!


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


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.


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).









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











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!

Scenes from Scott’s Seafood Fall Beer Dinner Featuring Hermitage Brewing Company

Scott’s Seafood in downtown San Jose held another successful beer dinner last week. It was their best one yet in my opinion, a sentiment shared by several others who had also attended previous beer dinners there.

Many aspects were stellar – the organization and service, the outdoor space, the views from the sixth floor, the company, the weather, the informative previews of each course by the restaurant and brewery reps and the food-and-beer pairings themselves.

The sold-out dinner – 55 attendees – showcased a seafood-centric menu and a variety of beer styles courtesy of the featured brewery Hermitage Brewing Company. The beer styles included IPA, Scotch Ale, Sour, Session IPA and Saison.

Below are some pictures and notes from the memorable evening.


Hermitage Brewing Company Citra Single Hop IPA.


Hermitage Brewing Company brand manager Nicole Marquez, Scott’s Seafood marketing director Joann Vaega, Hermitage Brewing Company head brewer and cellarmaster Greg Filippi.


Some of the sold-out crowd, including friends Mike and Lisa Pitsker (front and center).



Welcome and introductions from Nicole, Joann and Scott’s Seafood Food and Beverage Director Sammy Reyes.


Opening Reception: Oysters on the half shell with blood orange champagne foam, paired with Hermitage Brewing Citra Single Hop IPA.


The citrus notes – plus hints of caramel – from the beer nicely complemented the foam while the hoppiness cut through the fresh, buttery oysters.

Scott’s Seafood managing partner Dave Buhagiar topping off glasses with more Citra IPA.


Greg and Victoria Hatch enjoying the dinner.


Scott’s Seafood public relations manager Trinidad Pena and Joann.



Greg and Victoria.


Course One: Classic Greek salad tossed in a lemon vinaigrette dressing, paired with Hermitage Brewing Maltopia Scotch Ale.


The malty notes of toasted grain and caramel coming from Maltopia complemented the fresh salad and dressing.



Next up: Hermitage Brewing Strawberry Rhubarb Sour.



Course Two: Blackened Red Snapper Tacos with strawberry slaw and housemade potato chips, paired with Hermitage Brewing Strawberry Rhubarb Sour.


The tart and sour notes – along with hints of of strawberry and wood from the barrel aging – from Strawberry Rhubarb Sour provided varying contrasts to the spicy red snapper, strawberry and cantaloupe slaw and the chips.

Greg sharing a bit of his vast knowledge of sour beers and their production while introducing Strawberry Rhubarb Sour.


Hermitage Brewing 408 Session IPA from the tap.


Course Three: Mahi Mahi with a tropical relish, new potatoes, spinach and champagne sauce, paired with Hermitage Brewing 408 Session IPA.


The hoppy, tropical fruit notes – guava, in particular – of 408 Session IPA matched the mango and kiwi relish, while the flavors plus the body of the beer held up well to the meaty Mahi Mahi.


Friends Noreen and Jim Helvie.


Course Four: Poached “Myles Perry” Pear with French Vanilla ice cream, paired with Hermitage Brewing Myles Perry Saison.


There was only a mild sweetness from the Saison, enabling the beer to stand up well to the dessert course.

Newfound friends – siblings Z and Susan were awesome tablemates.



The last pic of the night: Wifey Andrea, Victoria, Greg, Nicole and Jim.


‘For Pete’s Sake’ Brewfest at CEFCU Stadium in San Jose, Plus Q & A with Peter Cogan

Peter Cogan, photo courtesy of Hermitage Brewing Company
Peter Cogan, photo courtesy of Hermitage Brewing Company

The local brewing community – about 20 breweries at last count – will be coming together Saturday, Nov. 19 at CEFCU Stadium (aka Spartan Stadium at 1257 S. 10th St., San Jose) to rally support for a good person and a good cause – Peter Cogan, the longtime distribution manager for Tied House and Hermitage Brewing Company, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Presented by Hermitage Brewing Company in partnership with the San Jose State University Spartan Athletics Department, “For Pete’s Sake” Craft Brewfest will take place from 2:30pm to 6:30pm – in effect an epic tailgate party to be followed by the 7:30pm game time kickoff between the San Jose State Spartans and Air Force football teams. It’s the final home game of the season for the Spartans.

Tickets – $40 if purchased in advance and $50 for any remaining on the day of the event – include a 5-oz. taster to sample brewery offerings, unlimited tastings and a 50 to 30 yard line game ticket. You’ll need code “FORPETESSAKE16” to purchase tickets.

Below is the current list of participating breweries:

  • Hermitage Brewing Company
  • Tied House Microbrewery
  • Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
  • Santa Clara Valley Brewing
  • Strike Brewing Co.
  • Red Branch Cider Company
  • Rabbit’s Foot Meadery
  • High Water Brewing
  • Uncommon Brewers
  • Almanac Beer Co.
  • Santa Cruz Ale Works
  • Discretion Brewing
  • El Toro Brewpub
  • Bison Organic Beer
  • Faultline Brewing Company
  • Gordon Biersch Brewing Company
  • Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
  • Seabright Brewery
  • Sactown Union Brewery

Hermitage Brewing and Tied House Brewery & Cafe national market manager Carolyn Hopkins-Vasquez shares how this one-of-a-kind event came about:

“As soon as we heard the news of Peter’s lymphoma, we knew we had to do something, and a beer festival seemed like the perfect fit. SJSU Spartan Athletics has been wanting to work on a beer fest for a while, so it was perfect timing.

“Less than 24 hours after putting the word out about the festival, we had 20 breweries signed up and also had every volunteer position filled. Everything seemed to click easily.”

As for the quick response from the local brewing community, Carolyn shares:

“Do I really have to put in writing that Peter Cogan is special? Ugh. Okay, but don’t tell him I said anything nice about him. Ha!

“Peter has been around the South Bay brewing scene for almost as long as Tied House. He is the first to volunteer when a brewery needs help with something, whether it be an event, a delivery, anything.

“What’s the saying about 90% of life is showing up? Well, Peter always shows up, and when he does, he’s on time and brings along his British wit and charming accent.

“He and his signature “Brew Crew” t-shirt and khaki shorts have been working tirelessly to support the local brewing scene for years. After years of Peter helping everyone else out, it’s our turn to give back. There are very few people in the area more well-known or well-liked in our profession.”

I recently caught up with Peter to get an update on his health; he also graciously took the time to share a bit of his background and to answer some beery questions, including his thoughts about the upcoming beerfest.

Can you share a bit of your background?

I was born in London but raised in the West Country of England, specifically Plymouth, Bristol and Torquay where I lived from age 11 to 18. Sixteen days after my 18th birthday, I left home and moved back to London to work as a chef at the Savoy Hotel.

How did you get into craft beer? Any craft beer “Aha!” moment/experience?

After moving to California in late 1986, I was drinking the typical beers back then – MGD, Corona and stuff like that. I guess my “Aha!” moment came when I heard about a brewery opening just down the street from where I lived. I went there a day or two after it opened and was awed at how crazy busy it was. Eight beers on tap of varying styles? Amazing! I think for the next couple of months I didn’t drink anywhere else.

You’ve told me before your story of how you became a part of the Tied House team. Can you please share the story with me again?

As a regular customer they found out I used to be a chef back in England, so I was “recruited” to help them with events like New Orleans By The Bay at Shoreline where I would grill catfish and alligator sausage all day and be paid in Hurricanes.

Then I worked an event at Squaw Valley as a fundraiser for MS (the Tied House has been sponsoring this event for more than 25 years), and while I was on a chairlift with one of the owners and the GM, they asked if I would be interested in selling beer for them because I was very outgoing and had the English accent. How could I refuse them with a job interview like that?

How’s it been working with Tied House (and Hermitage) all these years?

Fantastic. I realized many years ago that one of the secrets to a good life is to be happy at work, and the owners and staff at both places have been instrumental in my happiness.

They have always encouraged me in whatever aspect of the business I happened to be in at the time and have always listened to me with any suggestions or criticisms I might have.

I will never be a millionaire, but I will be happy.

How has it been seeing the growth of the local beer scene these past years?

It’s almost like a runaway train. The movement has gathered so much momentum that I can’t keep up anymore. I could try 5 new beers a day for a year and barely make a dent in what is available out there.

As much as I love my IPAs, I grew up drinking European Pilsners, and when I find a good one (or Kolsch), I am like a kid in a candy store.

What does the upcoming beerfest mean for you? How is it seeing all the support from the local brewing community?

I used to run the beer side of the Small Brewers Festival of California in Mountain View from the early 90s until its last year in 2004, so I understand what it takes to put on a festival – the organization, the coordination between brewers, volunteers, equipment rental companies, cities to pull permits, charities…

I am humbled by how quickly all of these breweries offered their time and beer to support me and the LLS. Some brewers I have known more than 20 years, some only a few, but each and every one of them agreed to help no questions asked. I am going to be giving out a lot of hugs on the 19th.

Special thanks to Carolyn for putting this together.

How are you doing, Peter?

Overall, pretty damn good. I feel fortunate that so far chemotherapy hasn’t been too hard on me, although the third round has been a bit tougher.

I have a PET scan scheduled for the 16th to see how things are progressing, followed by another three rounds of chemo.

I didn’t want to see my hair fall out so before I started chemo, I had my signature ponytail cut off and donated it to Pantene so they could use it to make wigs for women with breast cancer.

I have been able to work part time so I am not sitting at home feeling sorry for myself. My brother Dave supplied my mantra for this adventure, and it is simply: “Kick Cancer In The Balls!”

Trust me. With the support I have from everyone, cancer has no chance.


For details about ‘For Pete’s Sake’ Brewfest and to purchase tickets, visit www.sjsuspartans.com/ot/petes-sake-brewfest.html.

Scott’s Seafood San Jose Presents Fall Beer Dinner Featuring Hermitage Brewing Company

Previous beer dinners at Scott’s Seafood in downtown San Jose (185 Park Ave.) have been successful endeavors filled with excellent food, beer and service, all the more elevated <ahem> by the picturesque backdrop provided by the spacious, outdoor rooftop patio located on the sixth floor of the City View Plaza.

I’ve been eagerly waiting for any news about their next beer dinner. Thanks to a recent announcement, the wait is over.

Scott’s Seafood presents their fall beer dinner Monday, Nov. 7 starting at 6pm, featuring offerings from nearby Hermitage Brewing Company (1627 S. 7th St.).

The dinner will be a truly local, San Jose affair. The featured beers from Hermitage Brewing will have been crafted at the brewery just 2 1/2 miles south of Scott’s Seafood.

Food and beverage director Sammy Reyes and the culinary team have created a special, five-course dinner menu – including oysters on the half shell, grilled blackened red snapper tacos and Mahi Mahi – to complement the variety of Hermitage Brewing’s offerings, including IPA, Scotch Ale, Sour and Pear Saison.

The Menu

  • Opening Reception: Oysters on the half shell, served with blood orange champagne foam.
    • Beer Pairing: Citra Single Hop IPA
  • First Course: Classic Greek Salad, Cucumbers, tomatoes, feta cheese, Kalamata olives, red onions, tossed in a lemon vinaigrette dressing.
    • Beer Pairing: Maltopia Scotch Ale
  • Second Course: Grilled Blackened Red Snapper tacos with Strawberry Slaw and Housemade potato chips
    • Beer Pairing: Strawberry Rhubarb Sour
  • Third Course: Mahi Mahi with a tropical relish with new potatoes, warm spinach salad, and a champagne sauce.
    • Beer Pairing: 408 Session IPA
  • Dessert: Poached “Myles Perry” Pear, Served with French Vanilla ice cream and blackberries.
    • Beer Pairing: Myles Perry Saison

Dinner Tickets

Tickets for the dinner are $45 dollars per person available for purchase at the dinner’s Eventbright page. Consider getting tickets sooner than later as previous beer dinners sold out.

As is the case with any good beer dinner, brewery representatives – including head brewer and cellarmaster Greg Filippi and territory manager Nicole Marquez – will be on hand to answer any questions about Hermitage Brewing and their beers.

About Scott’s Seafood

Scott’s Seafood San Jose is a Bay Area tradition in the heart of Downtown San Jose since 1986, offering a diverse dining destination in both cuisine and setting. Experience a friendly and relaxed environment to enjoy an intimate meal or a group gathering. With their modern lounge, stunning patio views, unique menu, and true hospitality, their American regional cuisine features the freshest seafood, pasta, chicken dishes, and USDA prime, aged steaks. Scott’s Seafood offers parking validation for its guests.

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.”

Catching Up with Hermitage Brewing Company

HBC 01

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.

HBC 01a
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.

HBC 1b
This area is where the annual Meet the Brewers beer festivals used to be held
HBC 01c
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.

HBC 03

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

HBC 05
Hermitage Brewing Company brewhouse

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

HBC 05a

HBC 04

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

HBC 06

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

HBC 07

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.

HBC 07a

HBC 07b

HBC 07c
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… :)

HBC 07d

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

HBC 08

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.

HBC 09

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

HBC 02

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.

HBC 10

HBC 10a

HBC 10ab

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

HBC 10g

HBC 10h

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.

Palo Alto Brewing Company and Hermitage Brewing Company to Release Collaboration Beer – My Name is Mud IPA

Palo Alto Brewing Company and Hermitage Brewing Company are set to release their next collaboration beer – My Name Is Mud IPA – first in Palo Alto on Thursday – July 28 – at Palo Alto Tap Room (233 University Ave.) and then in San Jose the following day, Friday – July 29 – at Hermitage Brewing Company (1627 S. 7th St.).

The beer follows their previous collaboration beer released earlier in the spring of this year – Clean Spin Triple IPA, a super smooth, citrusy Triple IPA coming in at 9.5% ABV.

About the new collaborative beer, Palo Alto Brewing brewer Kasim Sayed says:

My Name is Mud is an ‘East Coast IPA.’ Where clarity – or lack-thereof – is a hallmark for a beer, we collaborated to create a cloudy, juicy and satisfying IPA.

“Entirely unfiltered and ‘muddy,’ rolled oats and English yeast contribute to the haze as well as the malty complexity and velvety mouthfeel. Late hopping with Centennial, Cascade and Citra hops in the kettle supply hop flavor. Dry hopping with Galaxy, Mosaic and more Citra to make this one a juicy treat.”

Hermitage Brewing head brewer Greg Filippi recently posted a photo of the beer on social media:

My Name is Mud IPA

Greg added, “Sneak peek of our latest collaboration with our good friends at Palo Alto Brewing: ‘My Name is Mud’ is a big, fruity IPA that borders on ridiculously cloudy. Sweet and juicy like they do back East. Look for it in Palo Alto Thursday and at the Hermitage Tap Room Friday.”

The brewing teams from both Palo Alto Brewing and Hermitage Brewing will be at the Tap Room in Palo Alto at 2pm on Thursday for the new release.

Look for more collaborations down the road. Kasim shares, “After we brewed the delicious Clean Spin Triple IPA in the spring, we decided that we had to keep this collaborative effort to make the fun beers going. This is just the latest of beers that we will be creating together.”

Hermitage Brewing Company Sour Cherry Sour Wins 1st Place, New Sour Beers to be Released this Year

Hermitage Brewing Company Sour Cherry Sour
Enjoying Hermitage Brewing Company Sour Cherry Sour during its public debut at the San Francisco Beer Week Opening Gala held earlier this year

Not only have the sour beers coming out of San Jose’s Hermitage Brewing Company been generating tasty results and a growing buzz, but they’ve also garnered recognition at major beer competitions in the state.

Case in point: Sour Cherry Sour, released in January, bested 39 other breweries at the California State Fair Commercial Craft Brew Competition held last month to win 1st place in the Sour Ale category. Incidentally, offerings from venerable Drake’s Brewing Company and Alvarado Street Brewery won 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in the category.

Sour Cherry Sour also took home the bronze medal in April at the Los Angeles International Beer Competition in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer category.

More about Sour Cherry Sour from Brewmaster Peter Licht

How did this beer come about?

Hermitage Brewing Company brewmaster Peter Licht explains, “I started brewing sours 20 years ago at Coast Range. The Sour Cherry is only my 4th American Sour Series release under my Hermitage brand. I brewed Sour Cherry and nurtured it in the cellar for a couple of years. We selected from several ages of sour beer fermented and aged with various wild yeasts and bacteria.

“I have to share [the awards] with my partner in crime, cellarmaster Greg Filippi, who conducted the final blending with sensory input from the palate of our entire brewing team.

“We are all pretty proud of how much a pleasure this one is to drink. They are expensive to produce but worth it!”

Hermitage Brewing Company brewmaster Peter Licht (right) and head brewer and cellarmaster Greg Filippi
Hermitage Brewing Company brewmaster Peter Licht (left) and head brewer and cellarmaster Greg Filippi

Sour Cherry Sour Tasting Notes

Sour Cherry Sour is blended from more than 30 American wine barrels cellared between 1 and 2 1/2 years. According to notes from the brewery, more than 5,000 pounds of sour cherries – Montmorency cherries, to be exact – were added to make the beer, about 5 1/2 pounds per gallon.

The beer pours crimson red with a moderate, pink head. A slight acidic sharpness on the nose quickly gives way to a bright cherry aroma. The flavor is initially sharp tartness followed by a sweeter tartness from the sour cherries.

Adding to the complexity of the beer are the background traces of tannins and funk from the long Brettanomyces fermentation and maturation in oak. A mild acid level further helps to mask the 6.5% ABV. The finish is fairly dry.

Hermitage Brewing Company Sour Cherry Sour
Enjoying the special Sour Cherry Sour Pairing Menu at Tied House earlier this year

Where You Can Get It, Plus Future Bottled Sour Beers

Sour Cherry Sour can be found in 750-ml. champagne-size bottles at a number of local beer stores and retails for approximately $29.99. It is also available on draft in limited quantities, including among other locations at the Hermitage Brewing Company Tap Room (1627 S. 7th St.) and Taplands in Santa Clara (1171 Homestead Rd.).

Future releases of Hermitage’s American Sour Series, starting with Strawberry Rhubarb, will be bottled in single-serve 375-ml. bottles and retail for $12.99.

More about the American Sour Series from Head Brewer and Cellarmaster Greg Filippi, Plus Upcoming Sour Beer Releases

Cherry Sour Cherry is the fourth release from Hermitage Brewing’s American Sour Series, following Sour Pumpernickel Rye, Sour Peach Ale and their first sour project Boysenberry American Sour Ale.

Hermitage Brewing Company head brewer and cellarmaster Greg Filippi shares more about Hermitage’s sour beer production. “We call our technique American Sour. It’s a product of intent, not “wild” or “spontaneous” mysterious fermentations. The acidity is from organic acids produced during fermentation first in stainless steel, then in the barrel.

“We have a new 5,000-barrel capacity sour beer annex adjacent to the production brewery and tap room, and I have a dozen sour beers in the works for the next couple years.

“I’ve just finished my final blend on Strawberry Rhubard, and we’ll package it early July.

“Then French Blackberry and Blood Orange will finish out 2016.”

In offering a sneak peek to the upcoming Strawberry Rhubarb release, Greg quips, “Be careful with this one, it’s dangerously good.”

About Hermitage Brewing Company

Hermitage Brewing Company was founded in 2009 as a production facility. It is part of the MJC Group’s family of companies comprising the pioneering Tied House Brewery & Cafe founded in 1987 in Mountain View, and more recently, West End Tap & Kitchen in Santa Cruz and East End Gastropub in Capitola.

Owner and brewmaster Peter Licht, along with the MJC Group, opened and launched Hermitage Brewing for his own line of beer and to supplement Tied House’s 20-barrel brewery. Peter graduated from the Master Brewers Program at UC Davis in 1994 and worked at Coast Range Brewing from 1995 to 2008. He has an English Literature degree from Columbia and named his brewery after an obscure passage from the epic tome, Don Quixote.

Hermitage produces nearly two-dozen beers annually under its own label, including Hoptopia, Maltopia, 408 Session IPA, Citra Single Hop IPA and their monthly Single Hop IPA Series. The brewery has recently been modernized from grain to glass, including a new brewing system, packaging line, centrifuge, fermentation tank farm and a 5,000-barrel capacity sour beer annex for Hermitage to grow into. The annex – or the “sour” side – is required to separate the funky yeasts and bacteria used to brew sour beers from the more traditional brewery yeast strains used on the “sweet” side.

Virtual Tasting (Video) of Sour Cherry Sour