Hours after receiving their final approval from the city to open on St. Patrick’s Day, it was standing room only at Humble Sea. Santa Cruz’s newest brewery and taproom had intended for their first weekend to be a soft opening for family and friends so they could get their sea legs, so to speak, but co-owners and San Lorenzo Valley natives Nick Pavlina, Taylor West and Frank Scott Krueger quickly discovered that they have a lot of friends.
Anticipation for the opening has mounted over the last year as Humble Sea began releasing a steady stream of IPAs, saisons and lagers with quirky sea-themed names—like Toy Boat, Walk the Dank, and Socks and Sandals—to Santa Cruz taprooms and restaurants. Hopheads fell for their juicy renditions of trendy lupulin-heavy styles. While Pavlina didn’t originally plan for Humble Sea to be known as a hoppy brewery—he prefers brewing slower-fermenting lagers—he admits they’re fun to brew and allow the brewery to keep up with the growing demand.
As realized by Stripe Design Group, the new, light-filled taproom on Swift Street carries the nautical theme with a crisp Aegean blue-and-white color scheme and thick ropes rigged across the ceiling. Most of the gathering area is outside around picnic tables and upturned barrels, the briny scent of nearby waves hanging in the air.
While the taproom is now open five days a week, Humble Sea’s journey is far from over. Stalled by much-needed PG&E upgrades for their custom-built 10-barrel brew house, Pavlina and assistant brewer Ben Ward are making do on a one-barrel system. While this means they’re able to frequently try new recipes, they’re unable to fill growlers or crowlers at this time, and for now their largest pour is 12 ounces. Further build-outs in the beer garden and a second story event space are also in the works.
So far, visitors don’t seem to mind. The garden and taproom were packed on a warm Wednesday afternoon, and more than 15 beers in a range of styles were on draft. A selection of hot-pressed sandwiches and snacks are also available. “The first weekend was hectic,” admits Ward. “But it feels good to be open. We already have some repeat customers.”
820 Swift St., Santa Cruz, 200-3732. humblesea.com.