Santa Cruz remains a thriving — and growing — craft beer destination. New breweries continue to sprout up while existing spots always have something new to offer on tap. Here’s a quick round-up of what’s new in our local beer scene:
One of Santa Cruz’s newest breweries is New Bohemia Brewing Company, opened in March by two UC Santa Cruz alums. NuBo — as it’s known — specializes in Czech and German style lagers, a rarity on the IPA-crazed West Coast. Brewmaster Dan Satterthwaite spent time brewing in Germany as well as Bay Area spots like Trumer Pils and Gordon Biersch. NuBo keeps roughly 7 beers on tap that are complemented by a small menu of quality local charcuterie, cheeses and chocolates. The flagship brew, On Point, is a balanced, easy-drinking Czech lager with a clever nod to the brewery’s Pleasure Point locale. The tasting room and on-site brewery is housed in a striking, modern building decked out in metal and polished redwood. Grab a seat on the upstairs deck that looks out over 41st Avenue’s thriving street scene.
This pioneering craft beer pub has been a downtown fixture since 1992. It got a breath of fresh air three years ago when it was bought by passionate homebrewers David and Mia Bossie. The new owners cleaned up the extensive beer list by adding local breweries and a great selection of rare beers. Don’t let the name fool you: there’s 45 beers on tap and over 200 more in bottles (and cans)! And it’s not just for so-called beer snobs either: they find room for your favorite “lawnmower” beers too. You’ll also find local Santa Cruz producers represented on their food menu, like El Salchichero’s cured meats on the great Ploughman’s platter and Farmhouse Culture sauerkraut on the sausages. Pop in during the week for happy hour (4-6pm) and a featured brewery on tap every Tuesday.
This Westside hotspot is celebrating 10 years of brewing organic beer. To help celebrate the landmark anniversary, the brewery has been abuzz with activity. They expanded their popular beer garden and strung overhead lights to create one of the more pleasant outdoor spaces in town. In May, they released their second annual DIPA, a cleverly named Double IPA that celebrates the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk’s historic Giant Dipper rollercoaster. They also premiered a low-octane Little DIPA (ABV 4%) and a full-throttle, full-flavored Barrel Aged Apricot DIPA (ABV 8.9%), both only available at the brewery’s tasting room. And late last year, brewery owner Emily Thomas helped open The Cremer House, an atmospheric beer-tastic restaurant in nearby Felton.
The next time you head to a local brewery, keep an eye out for the bus above parked out front. Santa Cruz native Annie Pautsch shuttles an intimate group of 15 guests to local craft beer spots around town in a refurbished, vintage school bus. She converted the interior into a comfortable, mobile living room with maple floors, Doug Fir benches, mounted vintage chairs and hanging succulents. Annie highlights points of interest — like the site of an old beer garden with subterranean caves — as the bus skirts the scenic coastline of the Pacific and Monterey Bay. Annie provides chips and water but encourages guests to bring as many snacks as they want — cheese, meats, bread — as well as beer that can be kept in refrigerated cooler onboard. You can check the Brew Cruz website for upcoming tours, or better yet, work with Annie to customize a private tour for you and your friends!