Dining Reviews

Creative passions invigorate

dining aleworksSanta Cruz Aleworks

A tantalizing smoky smell was carried by the breeze through the brewing room’s open door, drawing me zombie-like toward the source of the aroma. In the parking lot behind Santa Cruz Aleworks, Executive Chef Jeff Greer was just finishing up the day’s batch of smoked meats. Facing Pogonip in an industrial park in the Harvey West neighborhood since 2007, the brewery has recently added a delicatessen which is open daily.

In the Craft Bar, the brewery’s three flagship brews were on tap along with seasonal selections. I was familiar with the Hefeweizen, a refreshing, unfiltered wheat beer which is perfect for summertime quaffing, the velvety Dark Night Oatmeal Stout with the smoky essence of roasted barley, and my favorite, the India Pale Ale, whose recipe calls for two pounds of hops per barrel, giving it a lovely bitterness.
The seasonal Kolsch is the lightest beer, and very drinkable. The English Pale Ale, which Sierra Pale Ale drinkers would appreciate, was more copper in color than the IPA, and less-hopped. The guest beverage was from Sacramento’s Two Rivers Cider Company; a rose petal-colored, tart and dry pomegranate cider.

The Hot Sandos were lightly pressed on fresh French rolls from Aldo’s Bakery and served with a spicy spear of house-made pickle. The Buena Vista ($8.25), a Cuban-style sandwich, was layered with roasted pork loin, smoked ham, and Swiss cheese with pickled vegetable giardiniera and Dijon-cilantro aioli.

Holy Smokes! ($8.25) was stuffed with shaved pastrami with a heck-of-a smoky kick. The meat was joined by roasted green chilies, pepper Jack cheese, and crisp bacon, with just a hint of chipotle aioli.

Other hot sandwiches ($5.50 to $8.25) include the Mouse Trap with three kinds of cheeses on white bread, the Squat and Gobble with hickory-smoked turkey breast, Brie, and red pepper jelly, and a Banh Mi Vietnamese-style sandwich with roasted pork loin, sriracha hot sauce, pickled daikon, and jalapeños. House corned beef with homemade sauerkraut are featured in the Reuben. Inspired by the Monte Cristo, the Franco Un-American is filled with smoked turkey and ham and Swiss cheese with red pepper jelly. A grilled portobello mushroom joins mozzarella,  spinach and rosemary aioli in the Gatherer.

Cold sandwiches ($7.75 to $10.25) are equally intriguing. The Slump Buster is akin to a triple-decker club with smoked turkey, ham, bacon, and avocado with lemon-garlic aioli. The Lazy Hunter features cherry-smoked tofu with grilled vegetables and red pepper hummus. You’ll find chicken salad in the Chicken Hawk, with dried cranberries, red onions and sprouts in tarragon-Dijon dressing. Loads of salumi and cheese fill the Italian Job, including mortadella, mozzarella, and capicolla with giardiniera and ham.

Recently added to the menu are a couple of wraps on tortillas ($6.50 to $6.95). A Thai-inspired version with chicken includes both sweet Thai chili and peanut sauces and jerk-rubbed chicken with fresh mango relish.

A trio of children’s sandwiches ($3 and $4) include peanut butter, Nutella and ham or turkey with Cheddar cheese.

Chef Salad ($7.25) and Spinach Salad ($6.50) are joined by three smaller picnic-style salads. The Orzo Salad ($3.50 or $2 with a sandwich) included pebbles of pasta with a lightly acidic creamy dressing, fresh tomatoes, and salted with capers and bits of Kalamata olives.
If you’re in the mood for a snack, choose from deviled and pickled eggs, chips and salsa or a house-made pickle.


Santa Cruz Aleworks and Delicatessen, 150 Dubois St. Ste E, Santa Cruz, 425-1182.


Speaking of craft beers, the annual Hop’n Barley Beer and BBQ Festival returns to Scotts Valley’s Skypark on Saturday June 29, promising speedier entry lines and early admission. Ticket sales ($39 advance or $45 at the door) benefit the Community Housing Land Trust of Santa Cruz County.
The event offers beverages from 60 portals, and non-tasters will be admitted at no cost.
Hop’n Barley Beer and BBQ Festival, Saturday June 29th at noon, Skypark, Scotts Valley. Visit hopnbarley.org


In South County, enjoy a vintage picnic on Saturday June 29 at the Pajaro Valley Historical Association with a buffet catered by Monterey Bay Caterers and no-host bar. The celebration will include historical anecdotes, presentation of the Young Historian Awards and a raffle.

332 E. Beach St., Watsonville, Saturday June 29 from 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Tickets $20 adults, $10 kids 12 and under. Visit pajarovalleyhistory.org.


Return to Scotts Valley on Sunday June 30 for Music at Skypark, a free concert presented by the Scotts Valley Kiwanis. It’s an opportunity for music lovers to fund the next generation of musicians, as all profits benefit the music programs at four Scotts Valley public schools.
Headlining is the Houserockers, a 10-piece rock and soul group. Also playing will be Back to Nowhere, with Rock and Blues to Move your Shoes.

Food concessions include local vendors; and beer, local wine and sodas will be offered by the Kiwanis.

Music at Skypark, a free concert on Sunday June 30 from 3:30 until 7 p.m. Visit svkiwanis.org/MusicAtPark2.htm.

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