Saturday, November 1, 2008

Monterey Coast Brewing

Salinas has a brew pub!
I took the time today to head over to Salinas for a sampling of beers at Monterey Coast Brewing. I entered the historic brick building on Main Street in the 'Old Town' part of Salinas and immediately approached the copper mash tun and boil kettle that are situated near the entrance. The warm atmosphere of the pub was enhanced by the rising steam coming off the kettle.

I sat down at the redwood plank bar and set into tasting the nine different beers on tap beginning with an American wheat that was true to style and very refreshing. I tasted my way through the lighter beers, a Pilsner, Hefeweizen, and an Octoberfest style of lager. Each very drinkable and a little low on the bitterness scale for my taste. I continued my samplings with a nicely balanced 'Scottish Red Ale', a toasty Nut Brown, a Porter and finally a Stout that had a distinctive caramel assertiveness and a sweet finish. The food is your standard pub fare with the added element of the deep fried artichoke hearts that are grown locally on the enormous farms that stretch out across the Salinas valley.
After careful consideration I elected to enjoy a full pint of the Scottish Red while I watched the owner and brewmaster Charles Lloyd go about prepping a bright tank in order to transfer a fresh batch of pale ale. Charles Lloyd, a modest man, opened his doors for business six years ago and said Salinas was the perfect location for his brewpub. Doing business in Salinas is relatively inexpensive compared to other cities in the Monterey Bay area and Salinas didn't have a brewery. To this day, MCB is the only brewery in Salinas. The next closest is in nearby Marina So, the clientele are loyal locals thirsty for fresh made beer. Lloyd confided that the new cineplex that opened next door didn't hurt his business either as there is nothing better than a pint before the show. Also, just half a block away is the Steinbeck museum that usually draws a crowd. I can only assume that those literary types are thirsty for beer along with Steinbeck's rich legacy.
Previous to starting his brewery in Salinas Lloyd brewed in the Pacific Northwest after having a past in English brewing.
I asked about the mash tun. I noticed that there was no grain auger. He smiled and pointed out that that equipment will come when the funds are available so in the mean time the grain is hoisted up and in by hand, an average of a thousand pounds per batch.
Oh, and the steam rising from the boil kettle that I noticed coming in, that will be a Belgian Double.

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