SAN JOSE, Calif. –
“Hermitage” — noun. 1) the habitation of a hermit. 2) any secluded place of residence or habitation; retreat; hideaway.
It’s an apt name for this gem of a taproom and brewery nestled away in an unassuming industrial area just a few miles south of downtown San Jose. The friendly little utilitarian taproom sits in the shade of a huge grain silo alongside an ever-expanding brewery. You pleasantly feel as if you are sitting at the head of a ship (or tip of an iceberg) with the activity and infrastructure just behind the taps. Whether you are just stopping by to fill up your growler, or if you are with a friend allowing a conversation to reach its full conclusion — it exudes a welcoming vibe that instantly draws you in.
Hermitage Brewing Company has enjoyed a steady 30-to-40 percent growth each year since its establishment in the fall of 2009. Primarily a contract brewery making some of the area’s most popular beers, 20 percent of the brewery is dedicated to the creation of their own special recipes.
“The last year has been particularly explosive for us,” said Joel Wind, tap room manager of Hermitage. New bottling equipment, much larger capacity and refrigeration areas, combined with new distribution agreements mean you should be seeing Hermitage at more of your favorite retailers and watering holes. As a pillar in the community of South Bay brewers, Hermitage is uniquely positioned to help this brotherhood of craftspeople evolve and grow.
“Our size has allowed us to really be an incubator for the craft beer scene in the South bay,” Wind said.
With an intelligently selected wide spectrum of beers to choose from, there’s sure to be a brew to satisfy all palettes — while leaving true beer enthusiasts with hard decisions of “what to try next.” From session beers, to richer malts, lower and higher alcohol content, special sours and Belgian releases — not to mention their IPAs — all are well represented.
The Hoptopia and Maltopia represent two of their year round flagship beers along with their perennial favorite Citra IPA (2011 and 2012 Gold Medal winner at the California State Fair Commercial Craft Beer Competition). The Ale of the Imp IPA and Ale of the 2 Tun Stout complete the year-round selections. I found the Maltopia Scotch ale to be particularly nice. Next time you are at a game in Levi Stadium, seek out a Maltopia which they are proudly pouring there. This beer won first place in 2011 at the California State Fair and is darn near the perfect beer to make the stadium parking not seem so bad.
“We brew the beer we want to drink,” said Greg Filippi, head brewer of Hermitage. “Our general lineup is experimental with big, bold flavors. We use a lot hops… We like playing around with new ideas and ingredients, as well as twists on old ideas.”
This is obvious in some of their special brews, like my particular favorite — the Sour Pumpernickel Rye. This type of barleywine is usually not my style, but the residual malt sweetness balances out the sour, making this 11 percent alcohol dry and dangerously drinkable. They only make this in small runs of 25-30 barrels at a time aging it in bourbon barrels, and when it’s gone — it’s gone.