By Jacob Sykes
Glasses clink together and the din of conversation and laughter roars through the room. The concrete floors are scuffed from hundreds of shoes and stained with sticky liquid.
Just looking at some of these places from the outside, one may think it’s just another warehouse. Yet, hidden in industrial complexes and tucked away areas, meccas where intriguing and ingenious new beers are poured in good company.
There was a time when breweries were off-limits, keeping their secrets “bottled-up” from consumers. Now, these breweries have their bars nestled within the 50-100 gallon steel fermentation chambers that watch over the bar as if to make sure that their drink is being enjoyed. This offers a unique view into the life of a brewer, as one can see them walking along the catwalks checking levels, heat, and pressure to ensure a brew of the highest quality.
Craft beer is a booming business, and in California alone there are 980 breweries registered with the California Craft Brewers Association and in 2017 the breweries contributed a whopping $8.2 million to the California economy. Even more intriguing, the CCBA found that 95 percent of Californians live within 10 miles of a craft brewery. With all this buzz it’s no surprise that Santa Clarita is getting some breweries of their own.
Since 1997, Santa Clarita has seen the openings of five craft breweries: Wolf Creek Brewing Company, Pocock Brewing Company, Brewery Draconum, Telco Brewery and The Dudes Brewing Co. Each one of these places offers a large and unique menu of beers that some may have never heard of, even attracting patrons from all over the surrounding valleys. People like Jake Barabas from Granada Hills.
“I drove out to Santa Clarita twice last year to go to Pocock because they had a banana cream pie hef,” said Barabas, referring to a house made hefeweizen called Emma’s Clown Car.
Barabas is a craft beer enthusiast, even driving 70 miles just to try a brewery that he heard was interesting. He is also a strong advocate for craft breweries, believing them to be a positive force in the neighborhoods they spring up in. “I think a brewery locally is a nice alternative to a traditional bar because they don’t serve liquor so people are less likely to get inebriated just having beer,” said Barabas.
Breweries differ immensely from regular bars, as they allow anyone to enter, even those that are underage. “I do think children can have a place at Breweries,” said Barabas. “It can be fun for them to take a tour and In my experience many Breweries already have lots of board games for people to use. Children could be a much welcomed addition to that.” In addition to games of all sorts, local breweries offer food trucks and live entertainment to allow everyone to find something they enjoy.
Part of the draw to these spaces is their extravagant events. During Fall, Pocock closes their front parking lot for “PococktoberFest,” and all throughout the year Wolf Creek offers an outdoor concert space with plenty of room for all sorts of food and craft vendors. SCV also hosts different events that feature craft breweries from all over California, and local and traveling food trucks and restraunts.
While there are many differences between breweries and bars, one fact remains constant: both places sell libations and, with an influx of alternative drinking options, local dive bars like Drifters Cocktails have seen changes in its patronage. But, it isn’t seen as a hostile takeover.
“We might notice a slight dip in business when there are large events at local breweries like Pocock and Wolf Creek, or for the Boots and Brews festival in Central Park, but their increased exposure and the education of our customers and the expansion of their palate can also positively affect our bottom line in the long run,” said Drifters bartender Justin Yamauchi. “The brewery scene is our competition to a certain extent, but there is definitely space for us both to be successful.”
To cash in on the growing trend Drifters has also begun carrying craft beer, albeit not local. Its big seller is an Indian Pale Ale called Space Dust from Seattle’s Elysian Brewing Company, which is distributed by beer giant Anheuser-Busch. There was a time when Drifters carried local beer, but for an unspecified reason have discontinued.
“Drifters is a dive bar at heart so while we do have some craft beer enthusiasts, they’re just one part of our customer base. We want to cater to them but also have to work for people who drink mass produced beers and/or cocktails,” said Yamauchi.
California is flush with inventive beers, but SCV’s five local breweries have paved their own way in the craft scene with innovative and award winning beers. Regardless of whether or not you prefer a crisp lager or a skunky IPA, SCV has the extensive selection of brews to satisfy any palate.