Erik Ehn, Giovanni Albanese, Alex DeLeon, Sean and Fran Fitzharris. Photo by Robert Eliason.
Erik Ehn, Giovanni Albanese, Alex DeLeon, Sean and Fran Fitzharris. Photo by Robert Eliason.

Five local breweries are joining in the production of variations of a Hazy IPA created to celebrate the 2023 Poppy Jasper International Film Festival. With base ingredients developed by Sean Fitzharris of San Juan Bautista ‘s Brewery 25 and Alex DeLeon of Hollister’s Mad Pursuit Brewing Company, each brewer will add their own touches to create their own unique version of the beer.

Joined by Gilroy’s Promised Land Brewing Company and Settle Down Brewery, and Morgan Hill’s Kelly Brewing, the results will be featured at taprooms and special events throughout the festival. 

“This is our third year coming together to do a collaboration beer,” said Fran Fitzharris of Brewery 25. “We created a recipe with Mad Pursuit and shared it with the rest of the breweries. We will all do our version of the beer, and it will be fun for people to get them as flights that highlight the differences and what has been added to each.”

The first collaboration for the festival was planned for 2020 but could not be distributed as intended when the event was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had designed a red hoppy beer with Promised Land that year,” Fran said. “But we could not get that one off the ground. The next year things were still kind of iffy, so we took a pass on doing anything. Then in 2022, we added Mad Pursuit and Settle Down.”

The formula for this year’s festival beers, according to Sean, focuses on local ingredients as much as possible, including Admiral Malt from Alameda, Kelly Brewing’s yeast, and mash from Hollister Hopyard’s Cascade hops.

“We’ve come up with the same base ingredients and base recipe,” Sean said, “but then have allowed for each of the breweries to show their own color and flair in some of the hop choices that they utilize in the beer. But they will also have a commonality because they use the same amount of ingredients and hopping rates in each one.”

The choice of the type of beer they are brewing came down to the simple fact that all of the brewers make some form of Hazy IPA.

“Alex and I talked about it a little bit,” Sean said, “and we have been brewing long enough to have some idea of what we are looking for. It is fun for all of us to be getting together like this, but also fun as far as the creative process goes. One brewer might add just one kind of hops, and another may add a whole kitchen sink of them.”

Hopyard co-owner Erik Ehn, who is supplying two or three pounds of hops to each brewer, said he is excited to be part of the event.

“One of the neatest things is to see how they’re using the hops in different ways,” he said. “They each have their own twist on their beer, and, for us, it’s fulfilling to see that the ingredients that we’re putting time and effort into are going into really crafted beers.”

Giovanni Albanese, co-owner of Settle Down Brewery, has only been selling to the public since last month and said that this kind of collaboration is unique to the beer industry.

“We have not decided what our hops will be yet,” he said. “But this is the kind of thing that kind of keeps the passion burning and keeps the creative juices flowing. And if everything goes as planned, you are going to see tap takeover events for each of the festival’s participating cities, and I think those will be worth going to just to learn more about all of these local brewers.”

With the expansion of the local beer scene over the last few years, according to Fran, customers have come to appreciate what South Santa Clara and San Benito counties breweries offer.

“With a beer from Colorado,” Fran said, “there is no guarantee it will be the freshest one. And so people are becoming all about local beers because they want that freshness you can’t otherwise get. This festival is a great way to spread the word about what we are all doing and to showcase the kinds of quality beers this area is producing.”

While the beers are just being brewed and the events are just being planned, BenitoLink has been invited to taste all five beers when they are available, and information about events involving all five breweries will be detailed at that time.

 

Recommendations for future Eat, Drink, Savor articles can be emailed to roberteliason@benitolink.com.

BenitoLink thanks our underwriters, Hollister Super and Windmill Market, for helping to expand the Eat, Drink, Savor series and give our readers the stories that interest them. Hollister Super (two stores in Hollister) and Windmill Market (in San Juan Bautista) support reporting on the inspired and creative people behind the many delicious food and drink products made in San Benito County. All editorial decisions are made by BenitoLink.