Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Dec 20th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

A Carnival of Delights

dining TwistTasteSurprising flavors and budding beer culture on display at The Twisted Tasting

After several exciting but exhausting years of participating in San Francisco Beer Week, Emily Thomas, owner and brewer at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, was struck by inspiration: “Instead of hosting and attending multiple events for San Francisco Beer Week, why not have one gala event showcasing the local breweries and food artisans in a unique way?”

The result is The Twisted Tasting, an exhibition of unique and unusual flavors that hit the Top of the Ritt in Downtown Santa Cruz for the third year on Saturday, Feb. 15.

“I wanted to inspire brewers and food artisans to stretch their imagination, play with flavors and styles and, in return, I would provide a setting to rival and showcase their creativity,” says Thomas.

Souvenir glasses in hand, 400 revelers navigated the dimly lit landscape of beer and food stands, henna and psychic stations, and other diversions. The “twisted” theme permeated the decor and work uniforms of those serving, as well, lending the event a Mad Hatter-meets-zombies-meets-circus troupe look.

For Emilio Hawley, director of sales for Uncommon Brewers, Twisted Tasting came at the end of a whirlwind tour of three Beer Week events in a 24-hour period. He says the Santa Cruz outpost outshines its big city counterparts. “This is my favorite event by far,” he says.

In addition to Uncommon Brewers and hosts Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, local breweries on hand included Discretion Brewing, Boulder Creek Brewery and Sante Adairius. The sold-out event transpired amidst a swelling local beer scene and captured the energy of this ballooning interest into one unforgettable, tasty affair. It also highlighted the camaraderie between the area’s beer makers. 

“It’s a community,” says Hawley. “The Santa Cruz breweries are all friends. It’s not necessarily competition. We’re all in this together and are proud of each other’s products.”

With around 50 tempting libations to choose from—including a few ciders and beer-inspired cocktails—the task of sampling them all proved an unmanageable feat. The darker and more sultry of the concoctions were most memorable for this reporter, including several barrel-aged varieties like Discretion Brewing’s Barrel-Aged Good Faith Strong Ale, a whopper worth trying that owner Kathleen Genco says will soon be bottled and sold in the brewery’s 41st Avenue taproom. But perhaps the best of these bold brews, to this taster, at least, was Donna’s Blend from Sante Adairius. A flaked wheat stout with Verve coffee and serrano chiles, it pulled off the combination of dark, sweet and heat gracefully. The full-bodied beer went perfectly with its designated food pairing, the “Brewer’s Loaf” from Companion Bakeshop. The soft brown bread—a sourdough made with chocolate malt, serrano chiles and cayenne pepper—was a triumph of the experimentation expected of purveyors at The Twisted Tasting.

Several sweet brews generated buzz, including an uncanny Peanut Butter and Jelly Porter from Brewery 25, a cotton candy-infused porter from Napa Smith Brewery, and—a smashing hit of the night—the Cocoa Puff Porter from Discretion Brewing, which came garnished with actual Cocoa Puffs.

Boulder Creek Brewery brewer David Purgason, found sampling at the Brewery 25 table, crowned sour ales as the evening’s star. “Tonight, sour beers are definitely dominating,” Purgason said. “We only brought five gallons of our Apricot Sour and people keep coming back and saying ‘I hear you have a Sour Apricot beer.’ For a long time, IPA was the dominant player in the industry. People were searching for hoppier and hoppier beers, but I think sours are the new hot stuff.”

The adventurous bites that complemented the beers rounded out the evening’s sensory experience. Taste buds were tickled with fare like spiced calamari and kimchi on a sesame cracker dished up with Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing’s Kombucha IPA, and a slow egg, brown butter, hollandaise and porchetta cotto botarga from el Salchichero served with a Belgian-style Tripel from Uncommon Brewers.

Through The Twisted Tasting, Santa Cruz has put a large and undeniable mark on San Francisco Beer Week. The event also drives home the emerging reality, due to a number of new breweries and taprooms, that Santa Cruz is a beer destination in its own right.   

“Twisted Tasting brings a focus to Santa Cruz as a brewing destination,” says Thomas. “We, as brewers in Santa Cruz, each have our unique style and appeal but together we work to create [a] local economy with beer. … Twisted Tasting brings us together and makes that statement to the larger Bay Area.”  

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire