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.
â€œHe 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,â€ explains Wiest. â€œI really appreciated that.â€
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 pubâ€™s beloved core recipes like Blur IPA and Pelican Pale Aleâ€”â€œI think there would be a public outcry if I did,â€ she saysâ€”sheâ€™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 Wiestâ€™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 sheâ€™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.
â€œIt went fast, but weâ€™ll definitely be making it again. Itâ€™s a great October beer,â€ 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, glitterâ€”although it has no taste or mouthfeel, it stays in suspension in the glass, creating a delightfully surreal visual experience. â€œI have so much freedom here to go in any direction,â€ says Wiest. â€œI said I wanted to make a glitter beer, and they said â€˜OK.â€™â€ www.seabrightbrewery.com
BREW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
Keep your eye on the Westsideâ€”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