On an unseasonably warm November afternoon, I made my way to Santee to meet up with Manzanita President & CEO Jeff Trevaskis. When I found Jeff, he was in the middle of making tap handles in an under-construction room of Manzanita’s latest expansion. “There are thirty-five locations and counting that serve Manzanita beer,” he humbly declared while gesturing to the box of chopped Manzanita wood that will soon become the distinct tap handle that is spreading across the county.
Indeed, Manzanita has come far in the short time since its inception in mid-2009. Longtime friends Jeff & Garry Pitman, Head Brewer / Co-founder, cooked up the idea for a brewery last summer. In December of that year, Jeff & Garry, co-workers at the same software company, were fired from their respective jobs at the same time. Jeff recalls the moment, “That was when we said, ‘Let’s rock!’”
Since opening the doors in July 2010, Manzanita has done quite well. The brewery started off with little more than 3 fermenters from Turlock, CA’s Dustbowl Brewing Company and a modest tasting room. They’ve now set up 4 more fermenters and expanded into the adjacent industrial suite in their complex off Prospect Avenue in Santee. Currently in progress is the tasting room bar, which is now sitting in the middle of the also-in-progress five-hundred square foot cold room. All of the construction & fabrication work has been in-house, which is impressive at the rate things are getting done. “The timeline for the expansion into the neighboring suite was originally year, but we completed it in 2 ½ months.” The reason for the swift upgrade? “People are banging on the doors asking for the stuff.” Jeff hopes to have a twenty to thirty barrel system running within the year.
Manzanita has 5 staple beers that run a concise gamut of styles: Riverwalk Blonde, Rustic Horizon Red Ale, Pale Ale, IPA, and Gillispe Brown Ale. When asked about upcoming beers, Jeff responded “Now that we’re good on production, we’re playing around with specialty brews.” The October Pumpkin Ale was a recent big hit. For December, a Bourbon Vanilla Porter is in the works. January will see a Brown Porter that is currently being aged in oak barrels. Some time in the spring a Russian Imperial Stout will be released, and a Barley Wine is currently aging in oak barrels and will be ready in about a year.
Pending approval from the TTB on the labels, bombers of their staple beers will be made available in 4-6 weeks and can be bought in-house as well as twelve-plus locations. The labels themselves are designed by Ryan Burkhardt of artdamages.com.
In my humble opinion, Manzanita is the brewery to watch in the next couple of months.