By Mike Blaesser
Santa Cruz Sentinel
SANTA CRUZ — It wasn’t a dream or too many tastings when the idea came to Emily Thomas. It was at a beer festival. Not any beer festival, either, but the Great American Beer Festival.
It was there that Thomas, after sampling a wide variety of outrageous brews, got the idea that her brewery’s February nod to San Francisco Beer Week could be something different, something better, something twisted even.
And such began Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing’s Twisted Tasting, a night dedicated to bold and experimental beers that are paired with fine dishes from a plethora of Santa Cruz eateries.
This year’s Tasting Twisted — the third annual — is Feb. 15 atop the Rittenhouse Building in downtown Santa Cruz. And like the previous two, the evening at the Top of the Ritt will offer something a little different. Such as Freigeist Peated Porter (porter with heavily peated malt, very Scotch like). And, of course, the Bayrischer Bahnhof Pineus Leipziger Gose (Leipziger Gose “lautered” through dried pine needles). Obviously, this is not your ordinary beer night.
The idea of a Santa Cruz beer celebration dates back six years when San Francisco Beer Week was born. Thomas, co-owner of SCMB, was quick to become a sponsor and in conjunction with Beer Week held nightly activities in Santa Cruz. That annual celebration continued for three years and the result was always the same.
“By the end of the week, we were exhausted,” she recalled during an afternoon break at the Swift Street brewery.
After the Denver Great American Beer Festival experience Thomas came away with the idea of one big event “with crazy experimental beers.” How crazy? That first year they brewed a beer with a smoked pig’s ear as one of the ingredients.
Twisted Tasting has grown to include local breweries such as Sante Adairius, Discretion Brewing, Boulder Creek Brewery, Uncommon Brewers and Highway 1 Brewing Company.