The craft beer movement along California’s Central Coast has a new destination to raise a pint to. Popular in the U.S. with the mountain bike crowd and other outdoor adventure-seekers, the craft beer scene in Santa Cruz is a leader in the artisan food and drink movement. This small, passionate community is in its infancy – but there’s no shortage of quality brew.
Here are five top spots to sip your suds:
Seabright Brewery – Seabright Brewery is the longest-running brewery in town. Their Pelican Pale and Seabright Amber — which have been on tap since day one — can be enjoyed in a thermos growler which keeps cold without ice, and the popular Blur IPA is only available at the brewery. A stone’s throw from Seabright State Beach in the neighborhood of the same name, locals blend effortlessly with visitors soaking up Santa Cruz’s midtown vibe.
99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall – 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall is a cozy pub offering 42 beers on draft and over 250 bottles in the cold case. Samplers enable beer fans to taste through an expansive selection. Located in the pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined streets of Downtown Santa Cruz, 99 Bottles is a local favorite.
Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing – On Santa Cruz’s hip, upcoming Westside, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing’s organic beers include the Dread Brown Ale and Devout Stout. Founded in 2005, they’re still small enough to experiment like they did with a one-off ale made with Smoked Pigs Ear from neighbors El Salchichero and their ode to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk’s Giant Dipper Roller Coaster’s 90th birthday in 2014 with a Giant DIPA – a citrusy, malty double IPA. An urban, industrial-designed beer garden is the hot spot to be on a sunny afternoon.
New Bohemia Brewing Company – Located in the surf community of Santa Cruz’s Pleasure Point, the newest brew house on the block – New Bohemia Brewing Company – offers a variety of craft lagers and ales inspired by years of experience with European brewing traditions and culture, especially those rooted in the Central European regions of Bohemia and Bavaria. The “NuBo” microbrewery serves light appetizers, meat & cheese boards, bread and butter, popcorn, and chocolate treats.
Brew Cruz – Tour more than a dozen microbreweries aboard a vintage 1989 Thomas International school bus. Completely renovated and retrofitted with a fresh, living-room-inspired interior giving off a cool, mid-Century modern vibe, “Betty Jane” – as the bus is affectionately called – can accommodate 15 passengers for private and public tours. The tours are designed to visit several microbreweries within Santa Cruz County. Cheers!
Santa Cruz County is located approximately 70 miles south of San Francisco and 349 miles from Los Angeles. Many visitors choose to take scenic Highway 1 along the California coastline to Santa Cruz, or Highway 17 through the Santa Cruz Mountains. The area is served by two international airports, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) or Mineta/San Jose International Airport (SJC).
Photo credit: jaumescar
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Mary Jo Manzanares is a founder and the editor-in-chief of The Traveler’s Way, an online travel magazine proving informational and inspirational travel recommendations for curious Baby Boomer travelers. She has been a speaker at various industry events and has a personal travel blog at Traveling with MJ. When she’s not traveling, Mary Jo likes lingering over a cup of coffee, wandering in a museum, sipping wine at a cafe, and sharing it all with friends and readers. Mary Jo’s top travel destinations are Italy, Portugal, and the Caribbean.