If you’re tempted to roll your eyes at the idea of yet another craft brewery opening in Santa Cruz County, brewer Ben Ward agrees with you. That’s why his Effigy Brewing is a “nomadic brewery,” without its own production facility.
Rather, Ward partners with other local breweries to use their production systems to make Effigy branded beers, which are then available at the breweries that he partnered with, as well as local taphouses.
Although he hopes one day to establish his own agriculturally focused farmhouse brewery, with the entry rate at more than a million dollars, he’s not rushing to open a brick-and-mortar.
“I’ve gone from having the same idea as most other people, which is [that] I like homebrewing and I want to see what I can do commercially. The standard way to do that is finding a warehouse and doing what you can to get open,” says Ward. “But somewhere along the way, I realized that it doesn’t make sense to keep doing that, and I don’t think the community needs or wants that.”
As he finds his place in the beer community, Effigy has begun brewing a wave of collaboration beers with local breweries—a Berliner Weisse with Elkhorn Slough Brewing, a Double IPA with Seabright Brewery and a cask-friendly Brown Ale with East Cliff Brewing. Although most of these beers have already been enjoyed by thirsty customers, Ward says the next wave is coming in late November.
Having drank many Effigy beers over the years while working with Ward at the now-closed Seven Bridges Organic Homebrewing Supply, I can say his brews have earned their reputation for being well-crafted, balanced and delicious. With over a decade of homebrewing under his belt, Ward has honed his skills working on commercial systems at Humble Sea, Shanty Shack and Elkhorn Slough, and others.
Now, he wants his own brewery to focus on “California beer that’s sourced as locally as I possibly can. Right now, that means malts from Admiral Malting in Alameda, hops from Akiyama Hopyard in Watsonville and other California hop yards, and as much wild yeast and bacteria as I can capture. I want to lean heavily on relationships with farms and seasonality.”
Look for Effigy’s beers at local breweries, Lupulo and Beer Thirty later this month.