Dining Reviews

Steel Bonnet

Foodie-GT1546Scotts Valley gets its own brewery

Scotts Valley finally has its own brewery: Steel Bonnet. It’s a small operation, but locals are already enjoying it, and there’s a tap room people can visit, which opened about a month ago. It has eight taps, six year-round and two for seasonal varieties. Owner Donald Cramb, who’s originally from Scotland, started out many years ago home-brewing. He and his son have been home-brewing the past eight years. Now they brew together at Steel Bonnet. Cramb gave us the lowdown on his new brewery.

What’s it like to be the only local brewery in Scotts Valley?

DONALD CRAMB: The reaction from town has been very supportive. People have been looking forward to having a brewery in town for a while. The city has really supported us in getting started. They made us feel like they wanted this to happen also.

What’s your specialty?

Our focus is on British and American ales. We do traditional British ales, which are more malty, less hoppy. And then at the other end we’ll do the highly hopped American ales, like the American IPAs. Then we’ll try to find a mixture in the middle to make some slightly different types of ales. But the focus is on British and American.

Any unusual blends?

Probably the most unusual beer is our peat smoked red ale. It’s basically an amber type beer or Irish red, and we use peat smoked malts. I don’t know if you are familiar with Irish whiskey. It’s a peaty, smoky flavor.

What’s the tap room like?

We’re trying to make it a place for people to try the beer, but at the same time play games—we have board games. We wanted to be kid friendly and dog friendly. We don’t have TVs. Never say never, but right now our plan is to not have TVs. We want to have people sitting around and talking. We’re always available to talk to people at the tap room if they have questions or if they want to try beer from the fermenter. We want to make it a learning experience. We also learn from people that come in. We have some very gifted home-brewers that come in. They come in with ideas and suggestions. It goes both ways.

What are your plans for the future?  

Our system is very small. It’s only three barrels. We’re learning that we’re going to have to go bigger quicker than we thought. So we’re looking to upgrade our fermenters to seven barrels. At the tap room, we have a space in the back that we’re going to develop into a patio, hopefully by spring time. In terms of the beer itself, we will be selling growlers in the near future, also kegs and then distribute our beer to local bars and restaurants.

20 Victor Square, Scotts Valley, 454-8429.


BREW CREW Kyle Foster, Sam Peacock, Donald Cramb, and Callum Cramb of Steel Bonnet. PHOTO: CHIP SCHEUER

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Aaron is a hard-working freelance writer with a focus on music, art, food, culture and travel. In addition to Good Times, he's a regular contributor to Sacramento News & Review, VIA Magazine and Playboy. When he's not working, he's either backpacking, arguing about music or working on his book about ska. One thing's for sure—he knows more about ska than you.

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