On Sat, Feb. 14th, my girlfriend and I got a chance to attend the Annual Meet the Brewers beer festival in San Jose. A gathering of local shops and businesses were there to help liven the occasion. I’ve been to many festivals but San Jose’s "Meet The Brewer's" event struck a chord given its friendly atmosphere and digestible format. As an attendee, you won’t feel rushed to try every beer or cheated for not making it to every stand before it runs out of ale or you run out of soberness. Don’t get me wrong, the beer did run out but we luckily had the chance to try most of them.
Hermitage Brewery was born in 2009 from the everyday workings of Tied House Brewing. The longtime San Jose Pedro Square brewpub split from its Tied House subsidiaries and turned to focus its efforts solely on beer, opening its current facility on 7th Street.
Over the years, Hermitage has become its own legend and an incubator for many local brewers. How does this work? Contract brewing is a very popular technique for incoming head brewers who rent and work with established facilities to concoct their beers. It makes sense for those not carrying the sufficient equipment, capital, storage for barrel aging, or simply don’t want to deal with the hassle of managing a large-scale operation. Many industry names (most of which I cannot name due to NDAs) currently contract here to create the beers you've tasted. Case in point, Strike Brewing, a local San Jose favorite for good-tasting session beers, first started their rise to success contracting here. And they just opened their own taproom on 10th St. too - what a shining example of collaborative success!
The Hermitage facility - a whooping 13,000 sqft beer-making space - was picked not only as an ideal infrastructure to support large-scale brewing and also for its storage and expansionary potential. At the end of the day, it not only provides Hermitage with the necessary income to fund their own ventures, but has become a collaborative stomping ground for budding brewers and entrepreneurs. It was such a pleasure to be standing and conversing with the very founders and head brewers of Hermitage as they make history happen.
History. The brewery started this festival shortly after their establishment. Growing each year, it has become a signature event that commemorates their achievements and celebrates an anniversary of sorts. This year’s festival, the 6th Annual Meet the Brewers, was hosted at the facility itself where participants enjoyed a wide variety of local libations, live music, and artisanal food stalls/ shops. Additionally, proceeds directly benefitted two non-profits (Can Do MS organization and the Bay Brewers Guild), which made me feel that much better!
Personally, the Sour Pumpernickel Rye was a memorable ale that day simply because it stood out from the sea of IPAs, Stouts, and ciders. This dark, strong, and tart ale with notes of sour dough, dark berry, and oaky vanila finish was the perfect refreshment for a sunny day. So perfect that I should have picked up a couple bottles to go. An honorable mention goes to the homemade root beer they served inside the taproom (possibly not alcoholic but it was difficult to tell at that point), which in itself is worth going back for more.
*UPDATE: I re-visited the brewery and was graciously treated to my favorite Sour Pumpernickel Rye on tap. The 2 Tun was an amazing rare release (Barrel Aged for 3 yrs)!
Big thanks to the hosts, coordinators, and volunteers who made this happen. Shout out to Trinidad Pena - Community Relations Manager for Tied House and Hermitage Brewery - for the invitation. It’s a great home-y event that’s beginning to grow into something wonderful. What will it be next year? Surely even bigger and more successful, so come and find out!
Please check out their taproom and their website for releases/ updates @ Hermitage Brewery.