South Valley Beer Scene ...
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by Giovanni Albanese Main photo by Will Sundquist
What are your first thoughts when thinking of California ?
Chances are , the thoughts of rolling hills , beautiful landscape , coastal views and vineyards emerge .
Oft forgotten in the mix is the burgeoning craft beer scene , which is taking much of the state — the South County and its neighboring areas included — by storm .
Whether in Morgan Hill , Gilroy , Hollister or San Juan Bautista , the brewery and craft-beer options in each locale won ’ t disappoint . Each of the breweries in the area is brewing on a pico , nano or micro scale , indicating the number of barrels , or bbls , a brewing system can make in any given batch . Each barrel is the equivalent of 31 gallons , if the yield of the beer is perfect . However , it ’ s never perfect , especially with the hop-heavy beers such as single , double and triple IPAs .
• Microbreweries are defined as a brewery that produces less than 15,000bbls of craft beer annually . Additionally , microbreweries cannot be more than 24 % owned by another alcoholic beverage company that is not itself a craft brewery .
• Nanobreweries would be the next step down from that , though the definition of them isn ’ t clearly defined anywhere . It is generally understood that nanobreweries work in smaller systems and produce less than 2,000bbls annually .
• Pico breweries work in very small systems producing just over 500bbls a year .
In Morgan Hill , Kelly Brewing Company ( kellybrewco . com ; ( 669 ) 258-5900 ) is the lone microbrewery in town . Owned by Ross Kelly , a Morgan Hill native and classically-trained brewer , the brewery offers a wide variety of open-fermented brews that will please any palate .
A can ’ t-miss craft beer bar in Morgan Hill is the Running Shop and Hops ( therunningshopandhops . com ; ( 669 ) 258-5950 ). The family-and-dog-friendly environment , founded by Paul and Renee Rakitin , now owned by Evan Jaques , has a seemingly never-ending list of quality options from the far stretches of the state and beyond , as well as several refrigerators with a plethora of to-go options .
Other spots to check out in Morgan Hill include : Bubbles and Brew - bubblesandbrewmorganhill . com ; ( 408 ) 779-8800 , and Craft Roots Vegan Bar & Grill - craftroots-mh . com ; ( 408 ) 612-8297 .
Mosey on down to Gilroy , and you can enjoy the many offerings provided by Promised Land Brewing Company ( promisedlandbeerco . com ; ( 408 ) 337-5444 ). Established in 2019 , the Eric Ingram-owned 10bbl , 310-gallon brewery has made a name for themselves for their double and triple IPAs .
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