Thinking of Santa Cruz typically conjures images of the Boardwalk, towering redwood trees, and crashing waves but did you know the Santa Cruz area is famous for its breweries? Our area is home to an astonishing number of microbreweries all run by passionate locals dedicated to churning out the best brews possible, full of flavor and love. Breweries like Humble Sea and Sante Adairius have garnered national attention and bring crowds of beer-lovers flocking to the Santa Cruz area. The only thing better than masterly crafted beers is perfectly paired meals to go with your brews! If you’re looking to escape the crowds and still find the best beers paired with food in area, here’s a guide to the best hidden gem brews and bites in the county.
Steel Bonnet Brewing Company, a true hidden gem microbrewery you don’t want to miss, calls the quiet town of Scotts Valley home. Steel Bonnet specializes in English and Scottish Ales but has a constantly rotating tap of their latest passion-fueled creations. This small but mighty operation features live music, food trucks like Scrumptious Fish and Chips, and even Thursday Trivia Nights. The friendly service and lively atmosphere paired with delicious brews and bites make Steel Bonnet a must-visit hidden gem for all beer lovers and fun-seekers.
If you blink, you might just miss this hidden gem brewery as you drive down Pacific Avenue towards Downtown Santa Cruz. Woodhouse Blending and Brewing is tucked away down Madrone Street in an expansive warehouse building that houses their gorgeous brewery space and outdoor seating area. Woodhouse also serves out some of the best Brazilian food in the county at Sampa Kitchen and on Tuesday’s becomes a Taco Tuesday hot spot featuring the food truck, Tacos El Chuy. Their massive interior space is the perfect undiscovered hang-out spot where they also have comedy shows, musical artists, and other events happening nearly every weekend.
Sante Adairius has been recognized for several years in a row as one of the top ten breweries in the world! While their beer has international recognition, their Santa Cruz Portal Taproom remains a hidden gem serving up their famous Belgian style ales and mixed-fermentation saisons alongside Bookies Pizza. Bookies’ “inauthentic” Detroit-style pizza packs just as much flavor as Sante Adairius’ beers and makes a perfect pairing every time.
Humble Sea Brewery has become synonymous with the beachy vibes, laid-back attitude, and surfer spirit of Santa Cruz all while brewing up their iconic foggy IPAs. Their home taproom on Santa Cruz’s westside is well-known and well-loved, but the founders recently returned to their roots in the Santa Cruz Mountains where they opened up the Humble Sea Tavern. The Tavern, located in the heart of Felton, is a full-fledged restaurant serving brunch, lunch, and dinner alongside its famous beers and impressive cocktail menu. Grab a beer with a delicious pulled-pork sandwich loaded with pickles, slaw, and tamarind BBQ sauce or a mushroom melt full of gooey gruyere and wild mushrooms. If you’re looking to experience one of Santa Cruz’s best breweries in an entirely new way, definitely check out the Humble Sea Tavern!