Rail Trail IPA
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Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing Releases Rail Trail IPA

New beer raises funds and draws attention to rail trail’s uncertain path forward

The Santa Cruz Big Trees & Pacific Railway runs every summer to and from the Beach Boardwalk. Activists disagree about whether or not to fund a coastal commuter line.

Posters for the Rail Trail IPA release promised a party raging until 10 p.m. Rage it did, but cans ran out a few hours early. “It’s more turnout than we expected,” says Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing owner Emily Thomas.

Thomas is standing in the Swift Street courtyard, as Apple City Slough Band from Watsonville jams under a banner that reads “All organic hops.” Dancing patrons look unconcerned that the next batch of the slightly fruity libation—a fundraiser for plans to build a 32-mile trail along the train corridor—won’t be out until sometime next month.

Thomas, who has a friend on the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County board, wanted to develop a beer to support the Land Trust’s efforts to get the Rail Trail done, but it took a while to get the idea off the ground. “Originally, we were going to do a Rail Trail Pale Ale,” Thomas says. “No one wants a pale ale right now.”

She realizes the Rail Trail is “probably the most controversial project the Land Trust is working on,” but sees big possibilities for the corridor.

“It connects our kids to their schools. It connects our houses and businesses to downtown. I trust the Land Trust to make the right decisions. At this point, let’s just get the trail built, so we can all use it, whether it’s for bikes or pedestrians.”

Meanwhile, Greenway, a nonprofit started this year hoping to take a different path: pump the brakes, in order to get a better, wider trail. Dignity Health, which owns Dominican Hospital, came out in favor of Greenway’s plan, as did 150 doctors. The company, which isn’t doing interviews on the topic, said in a statement, “The Greenway project will protect the environment while promoting healthy activity.”

News Editor at |

Jacob, the news editor at Good Times, won the 2014 award for best local government coverage from the California Newspaper Publishers Association. A longtime basketball and football fanatic, Jacob has evolved into a shameless fair weather fan and band wagoner for hot West Coast sports teams. He also enjoys arguing with others about where to find the best burrito in town.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Ian A

    July 7, 2017 at 8:04 am

    I’m really happy to support a Rail with Trail. Greedy people like you complain and complain and cry about what you want. All you want is a trail. Open your eyes. Other people want the train. Work together and make it fair for everyone to use. Ride the train or ride your bike or do both. If you don’t like it then shut up and complain somewhere else. I support both Rails and Trails. I will always buy the IPA to support both.

  2. Mike c

    July 6, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    Nuts, all the comments above. Rail is one of the most environmentally friendly means of transport PERIOD, yet you all hate it, hypocrites, each and every one of you.

  3. Jack Brown

    June 30, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    I feel sorry for anyone who got duped into supporting the “Rai Trail” IPA campaign. This isn’t a fund raiser for a trail, it’s a fund raiser for a locomotive Trojan Horse that is pretending to be a trail initiative. Shame on the Land Trust for greenwashing this effort. We need a world-class quality trail for bikes and pedestrians, not a fenced off rail system.

    • Stephen Slade

      June 30, 2017 at 6:23 pm

      No funds raised by the Land Trust will be spent on locomotives or Trojan Horses. All funds provide local match for government grants to build the bike and pedestrian trail only. More than $40M has already been committed to work on a third of the 32-mile trail and the first segment, from the wharf to Natural Bridges will be open next year. That’s not greenwashing, it’s building the trail now.

      • Jack Brown

        July 1, 2017 at 4:49 pm

        The only reason the rail proponents are backing this compromised trail design is because it is built along a rail line and the rail takes precedence. When you get to a tressel, the trail is diverted back on the road where bikes and pedetrians are left unprotected. Should a train finally be built, riding a bike along the trail will be about as fun as riding along side a semi truck. The train will then require the trail to be fenced off dividing neighborhoods like Berlin in the cold war minus the sniper posts. The Land Trust sold out on this one and it is why I no longer support them.

        • Andrew Dawson

          July 16, 2017 at 9:32 pm

          Why screw over railroads? Trails can be next to railroads too! :$

  4. Howard Cohen

    June 30, 2017 at 12:33 am

    Dignity Health aligning with Greenway is not Human Kindness and will only support delaying the building of the trail by 10 years. I thought the first rule of medicine was to do no harm.

    http://www.landtrustsantacruz.org/two-rail-trail-choices

    • Jack Brown

      July 1, 2017 at 4:53 pm

      Trail only is a healthier option. It gets people walking and riding their bikes. Of course you are the only peson with a permit to walk the abandoned rail and the rest of us our trespassers which is a pity. The link you provided by the land trust is woefully incirrect. A trail can happen much faster than rail and trail. The Land Trust needs to support efforts that support the free space of Santa Cruz, not sell out to rail interests pretending they are providing a trail sooner.

      • Andrew Dawson

        July 16, 2017 at 9:36 pm

        Where are you sidewalks and traffic calming?

        Why screw over railroads? Trails can be next to railroads too! :$

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