Scenes from Brewery Twenty Five

About a year ago, I ventured south to a small brewery outside of San Juan Bautista that I barely knew called Brewery Twenty Five. I was there to write a story on the brewery for Edible Monterey Bay magazine. Finding the brewery was a bit of a challenge. After driving around the narrow streets in the rugged farmland just west of town trying to find the place, I finally had to pull over to the side of the road and call for directions. Turns out I was pretty close and as I turned around a corner, at the top of a steep hill, I spied owners Fran and Sean Fitzharris standing in front of their bright yellow house, waving both hands in the air to get my attention.

At the time, their tap room was just an empty room and a plan. As they showed me the space at the southern end of downtown San Juan Bautista, they pointed out where everything would go in the small set of adjoining rooms. They were certain the place would open before the end of 2017.

It didn’t quite work out that way as the tap room didn’t open until mid-2018.  When I visited this past Labor Day weekend, it was a bit of a thrill to see the placed looked pretty much how Fran and Sean said it would. The highlight for me were the autographed growlers in the back room signed by craft brewing legends like Ken Grossman, Kim Jordan, and Matt Brynildson. And yes, it was a bit of an ego boost to see the Edible Monterey Bay article I wrote hanging on the wall. I always try to tell an objective story of each brewery, and it’s satisfying to see that story integrated into a brewery’s tap room.

As for the beer, my wife and I decided to just get four ounce pours of all six beers they had on tap and we enjoyed every one of them. My favorite was a copper-colored Double IPA called “Garza”, brewed in the classic West Coast tradition with a great blend of Cascade, Centennial, CTZ, Simcoe and Amarilo hops. Another brew I enjoyed was, believe it or not, their Hazy IPA called “25 ‘Til Infinity”. Out of the roughly twenty Hazy IPAs I’ve had, I liked maybe five of them. This one worked because the orange citrus flavors were particularly bright and vibrant, not getting muddled in the haze which sinks so many of these beers for me. We both enjoyed New Moon and Coconut Moon Oatmeal Stouts, the latter made with coconut and vanilla beams. Both had lots of complex, roasty and chocolate flavors with a moderate sweetness, yet remained light and smooth tasting with all that going on at a strong 7.7% abv.

Definitely worth the drive from South Bay and we’ll certainly be back. I’ll leave you with a few images from that afternoon.

Me at Brewery 25
Yours truly enjoying a Brewery Twenty Five brew while checking out the taproom
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Brewery Twenty Five’s collection of autographed growlers
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Sierra Nevada growler autographed by Ken Grossman
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Oatie, the dog Brewery Twenty Five’s Oatie Oats IPA is named after
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Yes, it is satisfying to see this article hanging on the tap room wall
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A look at downtown San Juan Bautista
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The San Juan Bautista Mission where filming of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Vertigo took place

Brewery Twenty Five in Edible Monterey Bay

cover-emb-winter-17The e-mailed request from Edible Monterey Bay editor Sarah Wood came out of the blue. “I’m writing to find out if you’d like to, and have time to do do a short profile of a new brewery in San Juan Bautista called Brewery Twenty Five for our magazine,” and she went on to apologize for the short notice, given a tight deadline. I didn’t know a whole lot about Brewery Twenty Five, other than sampling one of their beers earlier this year at a beer festival. I honestly don’t remember it other than liking it. I was already a little tied up with some other projects, but hey, I’ve been enjoying writing for the other “Edibles”- Edible East Bay and Edible Silicon Valley, so figured this was a good way to expand my geographic writing horizons a bit. I took on the project.

So one afternoon, I headed out to San Juan Bautista to gather material for the article. The brewery, located on owners Sean and Fran Fitzharris property, is nestled atop one of the hills on the outskirts of town and was a hard to find. I finally had to call Fran shortly before our appointed meeting and ask for directions.  Turns out, I was close, and when I told her my location, so told me to just go around the corner. As I drove into a small valley, I looked up and way on top of a hill, I saw the couple waving their hands at me, and figured that was where I needed to be. Taking a small winding road up to the top of the hill, I finally made it to the brewery.

What a neat little brewery it was, full of all sorts of jerry rigged equipment. Sean and Fran are pretty resourceful folks, using their local connections to pick up all sorts of used equipment on their shoestring operation. Yet, their beers, especially the two fruit infused wheat beers I sampled, have a lot of vibrant flavors and a certain sophistication. I’m looking forward to when their tap room opens in historic downtown San Juan Bautista when I can sample their full compliment of flavors.

For now, you can read their story I wrote for the latest issue of Edible Monterey Bay at the link below:

Edible Monterey Bay Notables: Brewery Twenty Five

 

Scenes from Brewery Twenty Five

In this era of crowd funding, corporate investment in craft breweries and ready-made brewing equipment, it’s refreshing to find a brewery like Brewery Twenty Five down in San Juan Bautista, CA.  The small brewery is a bit of a throw-back to the earliest days of craft beer, when people like Sierra Nevada’s Ken Grossman used their own money to patch together breweries from discarded junk and used dairy equipment.  The brewery itself is located in a large shed on a steep hill top behind the home of owners Fran and Sean Fitzharris on the outskirts of town.

I spent an afternoon with Fran and Sean checking out their brewery and tasting a few of their creations. We ended the day at Bear’s Hideaway in downtown San Juan Bautista, just chatting away about beer and enjoying their fresh, vibrant Fuzzy Jules Apricot Wheat Beer. The next big step for Brewery Twenty Five? They’ll be opening up a tasting room in downtown San Juan Bautista later this year as their small brewery continues to  expand its roots. I’ll leave you with a few pictures from the afternoon.

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Estate hops will be grown on the brewery property with those ladders serving as trellises
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On the left is a sour-ale aging in a Chardonnay barrel, a Bourbon barrel-aged stout in on the right
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Another brewery scene
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Twin fermenters, names after the Fitzharris’s Australian shepherds Thelma and Louis who passed away, but still live in spirit in the brewery
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Sean Fitzharris explains a sparging system he built out of copper piping.
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The Brewery Twenty Five taproom will be inside this small plaza
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Sean and Fran on their hill top property