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.

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