My Bay Area brewery tours recently took me to Gilroy, long known for its fragrant garlic and many small wineries. Now a few locals are trying to put it on the map for beer, as well. It’s a good fit, too. The city was founded in 1870 and named for John Gilroy, who was a cooper or barrel-maker, a trade that’s as important to brewing, as it is to winemaking.
For the last several years, the city’s only brewery has been Eric Ingram’s Promised Land Brewing. Like so many professional brewers, Ingram began as a home brewer more than a decade ago. But his love and knowledge of beer grew as he developed a distinctive craft beer portfolio at his Morgan Hill restaurant, Trail Dust Barbeque.
By 2014, he had rented a warehouse and begun scouting for locations to put a brewery. Promised Land opened in March of 2019 — and a year later, well, you know. A pandemic pivot to packaging its beer soon outstripped the capabilities of the brewery’s mobile canner, but Ingram bought a canning line early last year.
Today, the brewery offers outdoor seating in front and out back and limited indoor seating, where you can enjoy fare from the food trucks that often park out front, as well as, of course, some great beer.
The taproom keeps about a dozen beers on tap, including its two best-sellers, Bread and Circus, a pale ale, and Diamond Blonde, a refreshing blonde ale. You’ll find single, double and triple IPAs, along with West Coast and hazy varieties and several other options, such as Ride Immortal, an imperial stout brewed with vanilla, hazelnuts and toasted coconut.
The big news? Promised Land hopes to open a second location — one that’s four or five times the size of the original in the old Yamaha dealership down the road — with a full kitchen to churn out pizza and such. Hopes are high for a March 2023 opening.
Settle Down Brewery
Gilroy’s newest brewery is so new it isn’t even open yet, but it will be — fingers crossed — by the end of September. Settle Down Brewery is the work of two homebrewers, Giovanni Albanese and Robert Anderson, who have pursued that hobby together for 14 years. The duo met when Albanese began dating Anderson’s sister. Now they’re brothers-in-law — and their plans to open a brewery had reached business partnership stage two weeks before the pandemic lockdowns began in 2020. Undaunted, they found a location in the downtown area and began turning it into a brewery.
The licensing required to sell beer and most of their other approvals are all locked down, with the notable exception of PG&E, which has been slow to approve the additional power requirements of running a brewery. Until that hiccup is resolved, Settle Down can only do small batches of beer. The taproom will have limited hours — one day a week plus private events — to start, with more days to follow. No food, apart from free popcorn, but you’re welcome to bring in outside food from one of the many nearby restaurants, and kitchen plans are in the offing.
Settle Down’s beer list will emphasize hoppy ales to begin with — blondes, reds, stouts and West Coast and other IPAs — along with kettle sours and some lagers. Expect to see a rotating portfolio of at least a dozen brews plus a seltzer and a non-alcoholic offering.
As for the name, it’s the brewery’s hospitality philosophy: to create a comfortable space for people to relax, enjoy themselves and settle down with a beer.
Downtown Gilroy Beer Crawl
Taste the brews from Promised Land, Settle Down and more than 40 other breweries at the seventh annual Downtown Gilroy Pub Crawl, which will run from 1 to 5 p.m. Oct. 15. Tasting tickets ($30) can be purchased via Eventbrite at bit.ly/gilroycrawl. Downtown businesses will be decorated for Halloween, and costumes are encouraged.
Know a local brewery or brewpub that’s knocking it out of the park but isn’t getting the recognition they deserve? Drop me a line at [email protected] and tell me why you love them.
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