Yes, a cool, crisp Autumn is still some weeks away, but quite a few of us South Bay Areans are taking full advantage of this Endless-Summer with blissful gulps of seasonal, craft beer and the events that celebrate it. Warm nights and spooky Blood Moons (there will be 4!) were made for the craft beer explorer.
Last week Hermitage Brewing graciously invited us to try their newly tapped Fruit Crate Pumpkin Ale and to take a tour of their facilities. We learned about the beer-making process while we sipped on cold glasses of fresh, IPA goodness, which made the balmy night all the more memorable to all our senses.
We are not beer experts, but Hermitage’s Fruit Crate Pumpkin Ale is seriously tasty. It is not what you would expect. There are no artificial flavors, nothing that remotely tastes of Pumpkin Spice Lattes or tacky- Fall-home- candle-scents. It is flavorful and refreshing, but not pungent. It is subtle, but not a light beer- it is a melding of brown/red. When you put your nose to it, it is deliciously fragrant. It is complex and malty. Upon our first try, we closed our eyes and said, “Mmmmm.” Whether is it a warm or a cold night, or you are eating a hearty German entree or a Fall-fruit-based dessert- the beer is incredibly adaptable. It has that perfect balanced taste- of not too dark and not too light. But be careful, after one glass- we could feel the relaxing effects.
Eight hundred pounds of heirloom pumpkins were brought in from a farm in Pajaro Dunes, which is owned by the owners of Hermitage Brewing. The brewers have developed a style that receives the pumpkin flavor well. “We roasted a good portion on site, ” Peter Estaniel, Hermitage’s Brand Manager told us during our tour. “Everywhere that we could add pumpkin in the process of making the beer, we did. There is no pumpkin spice. It is a real pumpkin beer.” This is a seasonal beer that will be around for about another six weeks, so make sure take a sip soon.
In addition to their Pumpkin Ale, we tasted their Oktoberfest Lager, which was brewed specifically for the Mountain View’s Second Annual Oktoberfest (which we attended several days later). This Oktoberfest was organized by Hermitage Brewing’s sister company, Tied House, and Steins Beer Garden. The lager was great paired with German sausages and sauerkraut. If you like sours, try their Hermiter Weisse. You can buy beer by the taster, glass, bottle, and growler.
Tonight, Hermitage Brewery is celebrating its one year anniversary. Join them in celebrating their success tonight in the tap room! Life is good in San Jose’s growing craft beer scene and we are excited to be celebrating its progress.There will be food from Tied House (house-made sausages are one of the items) and live jug-band music. There are not many places in the Bay Area or really anywhere for that matter, that is like Hermitage Brewing. It is a brewery that is making a name for itself while contracting out its equipment to many well known and respected companies. One person called it a “craft beer incubator.”
As we took the tour- we were impressed not only by the size of the place, but by its ability to still feel intimate and local. The bartenders smiled and talked with the patrons. The tap room’s atmosphere is relaxed and down-to-earth. Hermitage is somewhat hidden, so you do not have hustle, bustle, and noise to interrupt you. In case you need some time to relax with a great beer, quietly read a book, or have a long conversation with a friend- you can do it comfortably here.
As part of our tour, we stepped inside the chilly freezers. Peter showed us the incredible variety of the sweet smelling hops that are used to make the diverse, range of beers. Bags of hops were stacked to the top of the tall, warehouse ceiling. We really got a sense of the amount of experimentation and art that goes into the many different types of beers that are brewed here. Upstairs we got to touch for ourselves the barley grains that provide the base of beer.
However, if you get to step in the beer room floor- where all the beer is made- you cannot help but be impressed with the quality of the facilities and equipment and the sheer amount of beers that Hermitage Brewing produces. Hermitage brews five beers of their own consistently and have contracts to brew for companies from all over the Bay Area. Read about the full list of Hermitage’s beers here.
They brew a new single hop IPA every month (they use different hops each time). They are constantly rotating beers and experimenting. The massive, silver tanks and the hundreds of kegs in the gargantuan, quiet warehouse are beautiful to look at and fascinating to walk among. Many people of the Bay Area beer industry depend on this hidden craft beer factory in the South Bay. It makes one proud.
If you are going to visit Hermitage Brewing, they highly suggest you indulge in their single hop flight of all four of their IPAs that they have on draft. Citra Hops (which has been described as tasting like crushed fall leaves) and the Galaxy were both refreshing and smooth. The Polaris was not to our liking, it was a little too pungent for our taste, but still definitely a try. Hermitage always has their flagship beers: the Maltopia Double Scotch Ale and their Hoptopia Double IPA, which are true testaments to the growing South Bay Area craft beer scene and the talented brewers that are working their magic here.
Please support Hermitage Brewing’s one year anniversary tonight by coming to their celebratory event!
Buy Hermitage Beer at the Brewery at these stores.
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Review by Anna Bagirov