SANTA CRUZ — A yellow warehouse with a bright green door off River Street in Santa Cruz is home to the world’s only dedicated brewing supply store.
Seven Bridges Cooperative Brewing Supply Shop is the only brewing supply shop in Santa Cruz and it is the only CCOF and USDA approved brewing supply store anywhere in the world.
Homebrew items aren’t the only thing that can be found in this shop; one can also find ingredients for wine, cider, and coffee as well as being able to rent equipment so expensive machinery isn’t needed.
Brewers aren’t just customers, but are employees as well, with a tap in one of their many back rooms it allows employees to brew at home and bring it to work for other employees to taste and give advise.
Organic brewing challenge
“The whole organic beer industry in general is a little bit more fragile than I would like,” said Tallula Preston, general manager of Seven Bridges.
“I want to see more people caring about homebrewing organic, I want to see more organic breweries on a commercial scale and in that sense more hop farmers being like, ‘Yay I want to grow organic hops,’ instead of not.”
Highlighting the uniqueness of organic brewing, Seven Bridges hosts a yearly National Organic Brewing Challenge, which allows homebrewers to submit their organic brews to go against other beers from organic brewers.
Preston spoke about why they call it the National Organic Brewing Challenge because brewing 100 percent organically can be a difficult.
This challenge brings in judges from BJCP along with other professional brewers to taste the beer entries.
In order to be apart of the competition, Preston talked about how all of the ingredients used in these brew submissions must be documented to be sure that all the beer is organic.
Being organic however is more difficult than one may think. Brewing organically was once thought of as inferior, Preston said.
Since one cannot taste the difference between organic beers and not, there isn’t many organic hop farmers, and some of the farmers they used to go through now are no longer considered organic.
Seven Bridges is however using new Imperial Yeast, which is the first time any yeast has been available organically.
Preston spoke about how they have been using this organic Imperial Yeast for about a year now and how great it is.
In order to be organic, a shop must pay to be inspected. Preston says this extra step takes time and money and that’s why there aren’t any other shops like them.
In addition to brewing beer, they also hold classes ocassionally to teach the community about brewing, although these classes don’t happen often without a consistent class schedule.
Looking forward for this Co-Op, they did talk about wanting to expand one day since their sales floor is so small.
Preston did however talk about the whole space they own and how huge their location is and most of it is behind the scenes.
Between the homebrew competitions, abundance of organic ingredients and educational support, Seven Bridges’s presence in the Bay Area provides homebrewers with a worker-owned establishment that supports organic farming in the beer world.