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Headbrewer and Co-Founder of Manzanita Brewing Co. Garry Pittman

It’s not often that I get to blog about the openings of two new breweries during the same week, but that’s happened this week. Wednesday saw the opening of Hess Brewing Company (click here for my post about it) and tomorrow marks the grand opening of Manzanita Brewing Company in Santee.

A day before their grand opening they had four beers on tap, with a fifth in the bright tank awaiting carbonation, hopefully ready in time for today’s festivities. I sampled a Blonde, Pale Ale, Brown Ale and an IPA, while their Red Ale was being prepped for tasting tomorrow. Head Brewer Garry Pitman gave me a tour and overview of the brewing operations while I sampled the beer. Manzanita Brewing Co. brewed their first batch of beer a little over a month ago, but he’s been homebrewing for about five years. They brew on a 3 barrel system while doing as much as possible to conserve and reuse water.

The tasting room is small, only three or four stools and a small counter, while I was there a couple other people stopped in and there were about 4 people working, we all ended up in the back of the building, in the brewing area chatting and sampling beer.
As for the beers, the Blonde, Pale and Brown were good. The IPA, 7.6% ABV, wasn’t a bad beer, but it seemed like there was something off about it. The Blonde, 5.5% ABV, a Kolsch was fairly light and citrusy, a good beer for a warm day. The Pale Ale, 6.3% ABV, had a good hop presence but wasn’t overpowering while the Brown Ale at 7.4% ABV could possibly be described as an Imperial Brown. I’m told they’ll have four year round beers, I’m not sure which one out of the five they have on now is not in the regular line up, and will have seasonals throughout the year. Pitman told me he’s hoping to brew a pumpkin beer as a fall seasonal, and would like to do one seasonal beer per month.

They offered five tasters for $5, and $7 would get you a Manzanita Brewing Co. pint glass full of beer, which can be brought back for $5 fills. Growlers and kegs are available also, but I didn’t get pricing on those. Manzanita has big plans, now that they’re off the ground and have some beer in kegs they’re planning to start bottling some beer soon, as well as starting to look for some draft accounts in local bars and restaurants.

One concern that did come up while chatting was heat, Manzanita Brewing Co. is located in a non-climate controlled warehouse in Santee, which can get extremely hot during the summer months, which could be bad for the beer as it is fermenting. Pittman assured us that they’re prepared for that with a glycol cooling system and they’re prepared to use an internal cooling system as well as a backup if necessary.

Manzanita Brewing Company’s grand opening is happening today (July 10th, 2010) from Noon to 6pm with music from Soul of the River and food from Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse. They’re located at 9962 Prospect Ave., Suite E. Santee, CA 92071. More information can also be found on their Facebook Page.
Click through for more pictures from Manzanita Brewing Co.