Devil’s Canyon Hospitality Hard to Beat

Entrance to Devil's Canyon“Hi, can I get a beer?” I asked the man fiddling with taps behind the patio bar. It was 3:00 on a warm, sunny Friday afternoon, perfect beer weather.

“Sure,” he replied with a grimace. In his defense, I’d screw up my face too if I were in charge of that tap spitting way more foam than beer. I studied the beers listed on board behind him and waited while he pulled another tap with the same results. He hardly glanced at the third tap when he pulled it, probably because he already knew nothing was going to come out of that one.

“I’ll get your beer when I come back,” he said, dashing into the taproom where my two girlfriends and I, along with a couple, had waited for several minutes at the unattended bar when we walked in the door. The couple had given up and left, passing a lone man sitting at the bar with his computer.

The girls and I were doing one of our periodic day trips up to the South (San Francisco) Bay Area, a two-hour drive from the Monterey Peninsula in good traffic. Neither of them drinks beer, but just for me, they insist on a brewpub or brewery visit each trip. So, I do my homework and find an interesting one near wherever our trips take us. This time it was Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company in San Carlos, four stars on Yelp, a 3.62 rating on Untappd and some interesting looking beers.

At the patio bar, a few more minutes ticked by. The girlfriends wandered back into the taproom. I watched another employee haul a keg over and work into place under the bar. “Hi,” I tried again, “you guys are open, aren’t you?”

He looked up, seemingly surprised to see me. “Not until 4:00.” Suddenly, I saw things in a new perspective.

Just then, my friend “J” came hurrying back. “A guy inside says he’ll get you a beer.”

By the time we returned to the taproom, the guy had disappeared. Eventually, another employee appeared. “So, you want a beer?”

California Sunshine sample

California Sunshine sample

After studying the Devil’s Canyon website, I’d planned to order a flight, starting with the Full Boar, a Scotch ale. It’s a style I’m not familiar enough with and over 7000 Untappd users had rated theirs a 3.74. Under the circumstances, I figured a flight was a bit much to ask for. “A sample of the California Sunshine would be nice,” I ventured.

Kyle Lewis turned out to be a really nice guy who seemed happy to chat and serve up another sample after the rye IPA, although I would have easily asked for a full pint if they’d been open. A fan of all things hoppy, I followed it with the beer at the next tap, Western IPA, a good beer itself, although I preferred the rye.

Kyle Lewis behind the bar

Kyle Lewis behind the bar

The tasting was so spontaneous that I wasn’t taking notes, but I think I was asking Kyle how he’d come to work at Devil’s Canyon (collecting data for a college class project) when he asked which beer I wanted to try next.

“How about the Belle Bière Brut?” I said, working my way across the taps. The website listed it as a California Sparkling Ale, a style neither I nor a couple of savvy beer friends I asked had heard of. It had been aged 16 months in cabernet barrels, though, a style I’m generally very fond of. There was a tartness that I hadn’t anticipated, but this was definitely a sophisticated beer.

Somewhere along the way, I mentioned that I homebrew, which caught the attention of a passing employee who asked what I’d brewed recently. I mentioned a mate blond ale. He was a daily mate drinker. The conversation took off from there.

Jesse James who, when asked, said he's lived up to his name "and then some"

Jesse James who, when asked, said he’s lived up to his name “and then some”

We were deep into homebrewing talk and I was on my sixth sample when the first 4;00 customers started lining up. I thanked my new friend Jesse James for all his and Kyle’s attention. “Your timing was actually really good,” he answered. “If you’d come when we were open, we wouldn’t have been able to talk like we did.”

I wanted some bottles to take home, so Jesse walked me to the cooler and made suggestions. The tab came to $65.00. “That includes all the samples at the bar, right?” I asked him and the cashier.

“Oh, no charge for those,” both replied.

After settling the tab, I looked around and found the girlfriends camped out on a sofa. This wasn’t the first time I’d abandoned them in a brewery. I don’t know why they still consider me a friend, but we’re already planning the next day trip.

Back in Monterey

Sharing the bounty back in Monterey

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Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company is located just off Highway 101, 12.5 miles south of San Francisco International Airport. They’re open to the public Fridays from “4:00 p.m.-varies,” offering craft beer, food trucks and live music. If you go, say “hi” to Kyle and Jesse.

Comments

  1. Talk about turning lemons into lemonade, Leslie. Sounds like you found another gem!

    • Leslie Patino says:

      The way things turned out, it really was one of the most unexpected and fun brewery visits in a long time.

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