Peter B’s Brewpub expanding to quench thirst for craft beer
Monterey’s popular craft brewery Peter B’s is expanding for the second time in a year to meet growing public demand for craft beer.
The brewpub—located behind the Portola Hotel just off Custom House Plaza—first opened in 1978 and remains the only craft brewery in Monterey. It is also the only artisan brewery in the United States located inside an independent hotel.
Award-winning beers and ales, combined with delicious coastal cuisine in a fun, friendly atmosphere have made Peter B’s brewpub a locals’ favorite for decades. But to quench our growing thirst for locally-made craft beer, Peter B’s is stepping up production and about to start bottling its beers for the first time.
What’s on tap?
Peter B’s brewmaster Kevin Clark just returned from the national Craft Brewer’s Conference in Washington DC with some encouraging news: there are now more breweries in the United States than before prohibition.
“It’s due to the locavore movement,” he says. “People are really enjoying their local coffee, local foods and their local beers.”
“National brands are the same everywhere you go, but if I make an IPA it’s going to taste different from a guy making it in Delaware, because we have different interpretations,” Clark adds.
Last spring Peter B’s added a new cooler room so that beer can be streamed directly from cold 500-gallon brite tanks to the bar taps and they doubled production. “We are moving so much beer that it’s always fresh,” says Clark. Now he is putting in a fourth 450-gallon fermenter that will allow him to ramp up production again and brew an American-style lager for the first time. Lagers require cooler temperatures and longer fermentation times, but the brewer thinks customers will really go for the crisp, clean lager style.
By the end of April, Clark hopes to begin bottling Peter B’s beers and ales for sale in local shops, including Whole Foods. “We feel it will be a good way to promote visits to the pub,” he says.
The energetic 31-year-old brewer has a long list of projects in the works. Five varieties are always available on tap, supplemented by a rotating selection of seasonal beers. Alvarado Street Raspberry Wheat beer is being readied for release during National Craft Beer Week in May. One wall of the pub is stacked with wooden barrels used to age some of the specialty brews, like Stout aged in Chardonnay barrels, a Belgian Dubbel aged in Port barrels, and the one he’s most proud of—a Scottish style amber ale aged in Jack Daniels barrels. It was recently awarded a gold medal by the Beverage Tasting Institute (BTI) and will be released to the public by mid-summer.
Peter B’s always-available craft brews include: Belly up Blond Ale; Inclusion Amber Ale; Stout Resistance; Fort Ord Wheat; and Legend of Laguna IPA—which won a silver medal from BTI.
Clark meets monthly to exchange ideas with 13 brewers who form the Bay Brewers Guild. Peter B’s hosts the group each fall for the Monterey Beer Garden, which gives the public a chance to enjoy beers from all the local breweries and chat with the brewmasters. This year the Beer Garden will be held in the Customs House Plaza from noon to 4pm on September 27th. Proceeds go to benefit Save Our Shores and tickets are already available for $40 online.
Another project Clark is looking forward to repeating this fall is a batch of beer made with farm-fresh organic Cascade hops grown by students at Rancho Cielo in Salinas, a vocational school for at-risk youth. The resulting beer had a fresher aroma and flavor than beers brewed with dried hops. It was named Otto pale ale, after the dog of Rancho Cielo founder Judge John Phillips, and was a quick sell out.
What’s on the menu?
The other secret to Peter B’s success is Executive Chef Jason Giles, who is devoted to fresh local cuisine both in the hotel’s fine dining restaurant as well as in the Brewpub. The chef and the brewmaster team up once a month for a popular Beer Pairing dinner at the pub that features dishes like St. Louis Ribs with chipotle BBQ sauce to go with Legend of Laguna IPA and even desserts like Expresso Chocolate Ice Cream Torte paired with coffee-infused Stouts. In between courses, Giles and Clark hold forth on complexities of taste and their love for beer and food.
The Brewpub menu features locally inspired appetizers, such as: beer-battered Castroville artichoke hearts; Monterey calamari; and sweet potato garlic fries. Salads, sandwiches and the big Portola Burger are available, as are pizzas, fish tacos and fish and chips.
It’s Happy Hour at Peter B’s from 4-6:30 pm daily, with $4 beers and margaritas along with a selection of 10 appetizer plates. On evenings when the Giants or the 49ers are playing the pub is filled with sports fans, who enjoy watching the game on 21 HD screens placed strategically around the room. On quieter nights, families come in to enjoy dining in the cozy round booths and play buzztime—a trivia game on the TV screens that allows you to test wits with other customers.
On Wednesday nights the “Beer Geeks” take over Peter B’s with KRML radio’s Pub Talk show, broadcast live starting at 5pm. In addition to lots of giveaways, host Chris Nelson chats about beer with Kevin Clark, reminiscing about the places they’ve been and the beers they’ve tasted.
With all the buzz, it’s not surprising that Peter B’s has legions of fans. More than 1,200 of the most loyal fans belong to Peter B’s Mug Club, which for an initial $50 membership fee entitles members to hang their own 25oz beer stein on the wall. Mug Club members also get special discounts and invites to tastings for new releases.
Peter B’s brews are served on tap at Del Monte Bar & Grill, East Village Coffee Lounge, Forge in the Forest, Montrio Bistro, Mucky Duck and Post No Bills. For those who would rather drink at home, growlers and growlettes are available at the pub. Five-gallon kegs can be purchased at Bottle N Bins in Monterey.
Peter B’s Brewpub, 2 Portola Plaza, Monterey. Open M-Th 4-11pm; F-Sa 11am-1am; Su 11am-11pm. Happy hour everyday 4-6:30pm.