Beer in Santa Cruz

Since we are done with our Santa Cruz adventure, I thought it would be time to tell you about the food+beer experiences in Santa Cruz.

The first thing I wanted to note was that Midtown Santa Cruz has an abundance of citrus trees available in every yard- including lemons, limes, blood oranges, and pomegranates.  What a wonderfully tasty bounty–I didn’t realize all of that grew so well down here!  We cooked a couple meals in the Midtown AirBNB rental utilizing these fruits, a local Shoppers market, and the Buttery bakery both down the street.

Starting with the food and beer.  It was about the third day Beth had to work that I was getting a little stir-crazy in the small apartment, so she sent me to “Husband Daycare”–I went to downtown Santa Cruz to get a few beers and watch the new Star Wars movie.  🙂  I was looking for a local brewery to start my daycare trip, and the closest one was my first choice- I tried Uncommon Brewery (  It lead me to an interesting small-business area near downtown.  I walked up to their door to see a burly bearded dude wearing a beer shirt and carrying a few Uncommon 6-packs.  I figured I got the right spot.  I asked him if they served beer inside and he told me they don’t serve at this location, but a taproom across the way was being built–FAIL!  He also informed me of a bar that serves their beers in cans and tap.  With that information, I was on my way to a local bar a mile down the road, 99 Bottles (

99 Bottles is a typical local bar in an upscale area, but with an extensive local and regional CA tap list.  After looking at the list and talking with the bartender for a few minutes, I was armed with new knowledge.  I started with a refreshing Uncommon Framboos raspberry ale (not usually to my liking, but it was hoppy and sweetness was not lingering).  I followed up with a buffalo chicken sandwich (ok) and delicious waffle fries paired with a Sante Adairius Chaves Porter which made a wonderful combination.  Word on the street is that Sante Adairius ( is a hot, regional brewer specializing in farmhouse ales, sour beers, and funky ales, and it is in Santa Cruz and I regret not making it to their brewery to try more, but make the trip if you’re in the area!  Solid choices, good buzz- now time to walk to the movie.

A few days later it was time for Beth and me to go out on a beer-venture.  We wanted good beer and good food–who doesn’t?  Well, we headed to West Santa Cruz to go to Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery ( for some suds.  It was located in the Santa Cruz West end a newer small business park with plenty of wine and food places.  It was a cool, rainy evening but we got a flight of everything they had to offer, at a bit of a high cost, and enjoyed the dog-friendly outside area–too bad the pup stayed at home.  The beer was pretty lackluster, there was a wheat that had a bit of flavor (which is the best I can say for it) and a porter that was ok.  Needless to say, we downed those fast and moved on to find some better beer and definitely some food!  Luckily for us, there was a nice, upscale restaurant just across the way.

West End Tap in Santa CruzWest End Tap & Kitchen
( was the next stop because we were hungry (hangry??) and ready for some satisfying beer.  This place was upscale with a modern layout, and at 5:30p Pacific time was already hopping–our stomachs were still on Eastern time so it suited us.  The food here was good, if a bit pricy; we split a flatbread pizza that had good bread and toppings and some delicious breaded/fried [Pacific??] calamari.  Ok, so that was the food which paired well with the delicious flights we ordered.  You can see from the attached photo the array of local (including beers made at/for this place) and regional beers, and they were all good.  We had a hoppy red ale that would appeal to the hop heads (thinking of you, Jake!).  However, the final beer on each flight was barrel-aged and were I found my favs.  Just to list a few- West End Stout (house beer, v. good), Corralitos Red, 2 Tun Imperial Stout.

Beer Thirty in Santa CruzThe final beer stop in Santa Cruz (Soquel) was, what better, a bottle shop and pour house[sic] called Beer Thirty (  I can’t say enough good things about this place!  Think Louisville Beer Store, but less pretentious with a better outdoor space.  The front area has corrugated steel enclosed dog-friendly front patio and a dedicated food stand–very nice look and feel to it.  The selection in the back looks good- you can see from the photo; in fact, I was surprised to see a barrel-aged Narwhal and some Against the Grain cans!  We dropped by this place after a nice 7-mi hike, so we didn’t partake in the taps, only grabbed a couple bottles.  Side note- had we been there just week earlier, we would have been there for a stout/barrel-aged tap takeover (argh- I want it!!).  We picked 2 CA barrel-aged beers to take with us. The first I already imbibed and it is a complex, beautiful Coronado Collection Barrel Aged Stupid Stout.  I am also going to rest a Fifty-Five Brewing Co. Imperial Eclipse Stout – Elijah Craig (12 Year), per the salesperson’s recommendation (said it was a bit hot).  I guess I am going to carry bottles on our trip the rest of the year (or until I get a craving and drink it!).

To summarize-

  • 99 Bottles- Do it; a bar worth a visit for local/regional taps
  • Uncommon Brewer- Do it late 2016(??); when their taproom opens go, but find it in most local bars
  • Sante Adairius- Do it now
  • Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery- Pass; nice outdoor area but lackluster beer
  • West End Tap & Kitchen- do it, it is a bit pricey, but beer flights are a great deal, and an outdoor area
  • Beer Thirty- DO IT, for taps or bottles, dog friendly and must do it- can do it after a hike in Land of Medicine Buddha