Brewery Name: Shanty Shack Brewing
Type of Brewery: Retail Brewery
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Facebook: Shanty Shack Brewing
Background: Santa Cruz is among the long list of California beach towns with blossoming beer scenes. Many come with the laid back Cali style that is associated with the region, and Shanty Shack embodies it perfectly.
Shanty Shack was born from two friends who developed of a truly innovative way to get their brewery off the ground. When they started out, the partners took an approach similar to that of a food share or community supported agriculture system by brewing beer and delivering personally to customers' doorsteps. Along the way, they found ways to incorporate local produce and herbs into the beers and made friends with local chefs who helped with food pairings and pushing their flavors even further.
All this work was done in anticipation of opening a brick and mortar location in Santa Cruz, complete with a tasting room, a beer garden, and room for live music. It's a microbrewery for sure, but size matters not when the place is full of happy people enjoying good craft beer!
Growlers: Crowlers are offered as a to-go option, but it didn't look like growlers were sold or filled.
The Beers: This was a relatively tame stop as far as the number of beers goes (you know, the whole driving a car bit), but we happened to stop by on a day that they had a couple of extra-exciting beers on tap:
Vibe: You can just tell these guys like beer and everything about the craft beer industry. The shop is cozy, but still offers plenty of space to sit inside at hightops or outside at picnic tables, enjoy live music, play outdoor games, or enjoy the beer garden. They make really great use of the space they've got and they keep everything clean but not corporate.
It was nice and crowded (plus a live band) so I wasn’t able to catch our beertender's name, but she was awesome! She told us a bit about their barreling program and gave some suggestions for each flavor profile. Extremely attentive, responsive, and pleasant--definitely one of the better interactions I've had at a Santa Cruz brewery.
In addition to the litany of seating areas and options, the live music seems to be a semi-regular thing, as is partnering with the food trucks that hang near the beer garden. Cornhole (with a sweet Shanty Shack paintjob) is available, and board games are inside, too. The parking is a bit hit or miss since it's in a mostly permit-restricted area, but we visited on a Saturday when it was very busy and still found a space after a few passes.
Dogs: Shanty Shack is very dog-friendly, with tons of space for the pups to run around as well.
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$. Super fairly priced for craft beer. Full pours are 6 to 8 bucks and vary a bit in size if it's a barrel aged beer or the like. Food is at food truck prices, but since it's not Shanty Shacks, I didn't really factor that in. Crowlers (when available) go for about $12, which is in-line with pint prices--so all around, no complaints on the dollar bills.
Food: Mentioned it a few times already, but they've got a space outside for a food truck, and, from what I can tell, that's a pretty common setup. Based on their website, it looks like they do some tasting room-style food on the premises during lunchtime (cheese, hummus, sandos, the like) and a few weekly dinners. The popcorn machine in the tasting room is a nice touch as well.
Final Thoughts: Great spot to remind you that drinking a good craft beer should be done comfortably and with friends. The venue breeds relaxation and everyone there seems to soak it up. Absolutely full endorsement from me when in (or heading through) Santa Cruz.
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