Beer 511

Exploring the Craft Beer and Homebrew Scenes in Peru (Country Code 51) and the USA (Country Code 1)

Category: Brewpubs (Page 1 of 3)

Five Suns Brewing (Martinez, CA)

Last weekend I had the opportunity to check out the digs for Five Suns Brewing in downtown Martinez (California).

Five Suns is the brainchild of five friends (though I think a couple of ’em might be brothers) who decided to open a brewery together. By putting in a great deal of “sweat equity” into their space they’ve managed to put together what is already a pleasant, welcoming, comfy-feeling place, with a nice bar, vintage sofas paired with modern tables, set in a modern “industrial” space with pleasing interplay between cement, wood, old brick work, and exposed pipes.

They are set up as a 3-bbl. nano brewery, and the plan is to initially be open only on weekends (I presume that means Fri. evening through Sunday), until they can develop enough of a following to be able to afford to increase their brewing capacity.

 A big regulatory hurdle has been surpassed with the granting of their ABC license this week, which clears the way for Five Suns to produce and sell beer on premises. Other local and state permits still need to be cleared, however.  Thus, an opening date has not been set –they won’t even speculate on it– but the owners told me they expect to launch some soft-opening events for friends and backer early in the coming year.

 

Five Suns Brewing
701 Escobar St Unit C
Martinez, CA

www.fivesunsbrewing.com

 

Black Diamond Brewing Co.

Well, it has been quite a while since I posted anything.   I got sick and then busy, what with Thanksgiving thrown in there and a few other things. Pretty much all fun (except for the being sick part) but they kept me busy.

I did have a couple of posts in mind, both on beer fests. One, noting that the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), America’s largest commercial beer festival, had taken place in Colorado. Though I didn’t go, I was enthused because my friend Matt Sager won a bronze medal for the Danville Brewing Co. with Chux DIPA. The other was a note on Lima Beer Week, which was taking place at the same time.

In any case, I missed the window of opportunity and both events are now long over and done.

What is not done and over with is that Concord’s Black Diamond Brewing Company remains shuttered. Apparently for good.

An October 17th post (since deleted) on their Facebook page showed an image taken of a sign taped to their door, which employees reportedly found when they showed up to work that morning:

Due to unfortunate circumstances the locks have been changed and Black Diamond Brewery is closed for the foreseeable future. Thank you to everyone who supported us during our 23 year run!

Naturally, that led to speculation -since confirmed- that the company was bankrupt.

As things stand now, the doors remain shut and the website is gone.

I had a bit of a soft spot for Black Diamond.  Not only was it a longstanding local brewery, but it was, in fact, the first brewpub I ever went to.  That was back in their original location at the former Cadillac dealership building in Walnut Creek, with it’s long curving bank of huge windows, which beautifully framed the brewhouse.  The food was good as well and it became an early favorite spot for a “date night” without the kids.

After a bit, the restaurant and brewpub closed, and though I started to see Black Diamond beers in stores, I lost track of the brewery for a number of years.

Then, through friends in my home brewing club, I found out that the brewery was in Concord and that it had an attached tap room. Since then, I enjoyed many an event there and got to see how much Black Diamond gave back to the community.

Everyone I met who worked there was really nice and generous. It sucks how the closure went down, and I just hope that they were all taken care of and were able to land back on their feet.

 

Brewpub Wicks (Lima, Peru)

In July I visited Brewpub Wicks for the first time.  Wicks, which is located in Barranco district,  kept turning up on Untappd, so I’ve known about its existence for a year or two, and that it seemed to be a beer pub oriented primarily at English-speaking expats.

Well, it turns out that Wicks also makes and serves its own beer, and that it is rather good beer.

Wicks’ lineup of house beers includes IPA, stout, best bitter, and golden ale.  On the night we visited, however, they only had the golden and the stout on hand.

The golden was slightly bitter and a bit floral or fruity.  It was nice, but none of us were “wowed” by it.

On the other hand, the stout was very easy to like and very easy to drink. It was tasty and robust but without any burnt astringency.   It was also really smooth.  One might think that it was dispensed with nitrogen, but –at least according to the pub’s website– all their beers are dispensed via hand-pulled beer engines.

Since 2014, Wicks has been quietly doing its thing. which makes it one of the pioneer brewpubs in Lima, but without the attention garnered by other craft breweries.

According to the pub’s website,

The story begins across the ocean, in England, where the idea of ‘Wicks’ was developed, by a young couple, Vanessa and William. When Vanessa and William met, she was a Peruvian student and he was a bar manager who wanted to start his own business. They both knew the ambience of a traditional British pub and they wanted to take that feeling to Lima. The ‘Brew Pub Wicks’ was born.

The formula seems to have worked.  The place was definitely packed, with expats and Peruvians alike, on the night we visited.

 

 

Brewpub Wicks
Av. Pedro de Osma 210, Barranco
Lima, Peru

www.brewpubwicks.com

Monterey Coast Brewing Co. (Salinas, CA)

Monterey Coast Brewing Co., is located about 10 miles inland, in downtown Salinas, and has been around for at least a dozen years. Until recently it was Salinas’ only brew-on-premises establishment open to the public. (Monterey’s Alvarado Street Brewery now has a production facility in Salinas with an attached tap room.) The brewpub is actually located in what was originally a bank, and later was a gun smith’s and armory, below the studios of a now long-defunct public radio station that I worked at while in high school. Thus, I have a fondness for the place, and have lunched there on several occasions.

The restaurant has a simple, old-fashioned wood bar with a over a dozen taps, backed up by what looks like four or five 10-bbl fermenters.

A curious detail I noticed on my latest visit is that the mash tun has two manways. It appears that the orientation of the original one must not have allowed enough space for comfortably removing the spent grain given its proximity to the nearby wall, and thus a second manway was cut into the tun.

I’ve always enjoyed the food there, and when they say on their website that it is “where the locals eat”, it is no mere marketing or exaggeration.

Of course, the main reason I chose to dine there when I’m in Salinas is to support a local, independent brewer.  Which, brings us to the beer:

Monterey Coast Brewing has a modest lineup of eight house beers, ranging from a pale ale to a stout. Given that they only sell the beer on premises ($7 32-oz growler refill on Thursdays!), it is probably prudent that they keep the number manageable.

From L to R: Scottish Red, IPA, Belgian Ale

On this visit, I ordered a flight for the first time, tasting five of their beers. This horizontal sampling allowed me to discern a notably similar character in their brews.  I expect that the brew staff has perhaps been harvesting  the yeast from one brew for use in the next, and that, over time, it may have evolved into “house” strain.

I’ve never found their beers to be outstanding, but always enjoyable, albeit with a few allowances –for example, the IPA doesn’t fully deliver on the “heavily hopped…intense and complex” character promised in the description.  One’s most solid bets, I think, are the pale ale, the porter, and the stout.

 

Monterey Coast Brewing Company
165 Main St.
Salinas, California

montereycoastbrewing.com

Danville Brewing Company

Last Tuesday, the Danville Brewing Company opened the doors to its taproom and brewpub in downtown Danville, and lines have been around the block to get in since day one.

The location the pub -Danville’s first brewery- prime and the space is large, but friendly. The owners have done a very nice job in designing the place. There is a variety of seating options, including at the cool horseshoe-shaped bar with the wrap-around beer tap column.

I had a chance to view some project images for it when the pub was still in its design stages, and if it looked cool then, it is even cooler in person.

The food is good and nicely presented.  The wait staff knows their stuff, and one thing that we particularly appreciated was that our server had a list handy of all the menu items that were gluten-free.

Despite the crowds, the food was delivered promptly.  The restaurant is designed with an open kitchen as well as an open brewery.  What that means, in fact, is that the brewery is behind a glass wall, and is fully viewable by the public.

The brewery runs on a 10 barrel system, where head brewer Matt Sager has already begun to produce the pubs’ first run of on-site produced beers (what is being served now was contract brewed for opening day in accordance to Sager’s recipes and specifications).

Of the five beers on tap right now, most noteworthy are the CHUX Double IPA and the Coconut Stout.   The stout is smooth, and very subtly flavored with coconut, which makes it a very nice either-way stout -it has something for regular stout drinkers and for those who like flavoured beers.

The CHUX, despite being a DIPA, does not hit one in the face with hop bitterness, although it is definitely there, as befits an IPA.  Matt has done a nice job at crafting a recipe that packs a lot of hop aroma, flavor. and character in a tidy, smooth package. The servers are selling it as a beer that “will change your view of double IPAs.”  It’s marketting, but for the average beer drinker it may well be true.

For me the bottom line came when I was tasting the flight, and I exclaimed that the beers were “nice”, and immediately thought to myself “duh, of course they’re good. They’re Matt’s beers!”

 

 

Danville Brewing Company
200 Railroad Ave Suite A
Danville, CA 94526

www.danvillebrewing.com 

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