October 6, 2015 – As Santa Cruz becomes synonymous with craft beer and the roster of breweries and tap houses quickly grows, the beer community does not respond with complaints of saturation, but with a cry of solidarity of strength in numbers.
More impressive, each new brew venture seems to offer something different and unique to the scene. Through design, marketing, and storytelling on their attractive blog, Humble Sea Brewery—born in the Santa Cruz Mountains and soon to be building out a space on Porter St. in Soquel—invites you along for the ride and gives new depth to a craft beer community.
The seed for Humble Sea started in 2009 when brewer Nick Pavlina, a recent college graduate, started home brewing in his side yard in Pleasure Point. While working construction jobs, his brew hobby eventually took center stage and he attended the American Brewers Guild for an intensive course in brewing science and engineering.
After a few years of developing his craft, running a construction company, and trying to start a brewery, Pavlina joined forces with childhood friends Taylor West and Frank Scott Krueger to put his ideas into action. West, a bar manager at the West End Tap & Kitchen, and Krueger, a media and marketing creative with his own design studio, helped to form a skilled and energetic team and by March of 2015 the trio announced on their blog that, with no money in their pockets, they were going to start a brewery.
The past six months, Humble Sea has been sprinting towards their goal. They recently received a license to manufacture and distribute from their current Ben Lomond location. They are updating to a new 1BBL pilot system that will allow them to brew three times more than their current ½ barrel system allows. The Alcohol and Tobacco Trade Bureau is currently doing label name approval, but once that’s complete in 45-60 days, Humble Sea will be able to legally sell their beer to restaurants and tap houses.
In early September they announced on their blog that they were negotiating for a 3,400 square foot space in the heart of Soquel. The catch? They had to raise $150k by October 1st. Meeting with Taylor West shortly after this offer was made, he didn’t have a single line of stress on his face, but was all wide-eyed optimism. “Failing isn’t an option I can entertain right now,” he said. Through a combination of bank loans and investors, Humble Sea solidified only $110k by their deadline, but with verbal commitments of more money, the landlord has allowed the team to move in.
Without yet having the legal ability to share their beer with the public, Humble Sea has had to find other ways to garner support from the community. Although they haven’t run a kickstarter campaign or asked for donations from the general public, it’s still important that the craft beer community root for their success. Through impeccable design and impressive screen printing, Humble Sea has merchandise you’d wear even if a brewery were never built. They’ve been active in the craft scene of Santa Cruz by self-promoting with t-shirt sales at festivals and participating in a session of Event Santa Cruz. But it’s their blog that allows the public to be part of the process and watch the story unfold with all the trials, tribulations, and successes that have been met along the way.
Three young guys—Pavlina is 30, while West and Krueger are both 26—had a vision that they decided should become a reality. So they’re going for it. I think we can all raise a pint and drink to that.