As long-time Seabright Brewery brewmaster Jason Chavez prepared to hand over the reins to Cat Wiest, they spent a day driving around town so Wiest could meet other local brewers.
“He wanted to make sure that I knew I was part of a community, and that I could draw on them for support if I needed to,” explains Wiest. “I really appreciated that.”
Wiest became the new brewmaster at the 28-year-old brewery and restaurant last May, after stints at Pyramid Alehouse in Berkeley and Speakeasy Ales & Lagers in San Francisco. Although Wiest says she has no intention of changing the neighborhood pub’s beloved core recipes like Blur IPA and Pelican Pale Ale—“I think there would be a public outcry if I did,” she says—she’s been able to put forth a steady rotation of new brews. Customer requests for a wheat beer this summer led to the Roll In The Hay IPA, a bitter and aromatic hefeweizen laden with fruity Mosaic hops. The Prescription Pilsner is a crisp, clean, dry-hopped Czech lager that, weighing in at a sturdy 6.5 percent ABV, will definitely cure what ails you.
In contrast to these classic styles, some of Wiest’s new recipes are refreshingly adventurous. A recent collaboration with the Hollins House at Pasatiempo for the California Beer Festival in Aptos earlier this month led to the creation she’s most proud of: a red ale brewed with malt that her husband smoked in their backyard. The subtle smokiness rests on the tip of your tongue, followed by a wave of caramel and a dry finish.
“It went fast, but we’ll definitely be making it again. It’s a great October beer,” says Wiest.
Her most playful creation by far is the Mermaid Tail, a delicious golden ale fermented with beets and blood oranges and infused with edible glitter. Yes, glitter—although it has no taste or mouthfeel, it stays in suspension in the glass, creating a delightfully surreal visual experience. “I have so much freedom here to go in any direction,” says Wiest. “I said I wanted to make a glitter beer, and they said ‘OK.’” www.seabrightbrewery.com
BREW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
Keep your eye on the Westside—Shanty Shack Brewing hopes to open on Fern Street by the end of October. Brewers Nathan Van Zandt and Brandon Padilla will offer a variety of New World and Old World styles, plus a selection of farmhouse-style barrel-aged beers, which guests can enjoy on their fruit tree-filled outdoor patio. www. shantyshackbrewing.com