Catching up with SCV’s craft beer scene

Telco Brewery co-owners Jaime Hernandez, left, and Tony Santa Cruz check the tank temperature to ensure they add pounds of grain at the right moment.

Walk into Telco Brewery on a Tuesday or Wednesday after work hours and you’d think co-owners Jaime Hernandez and Tony Santa Cruz were preparing the Santa Clarita Valley’s largest oatmeal breakfast.

In a large tank, water, grain, oats and other essential ingredients swirl toward becoming one of the brewery’s most popular beers, the Static Haze IPA.

“We thought it was just going to be a trend just like most beers are kind of like trends and then they kind of go away,” Hernandez said of the IPA — one of the three on the microbrewery’s opening menu in 2017. “The hazy IPA trend is still here.”

Beers like the Static Haze IPA and others on tap at Telco can trace their origins to the days when Hernandez and Santa Cruz — AT&T employees by day — were homebrewers.

“As a homebrew, you’re not even making the beer once,” said Santa Cruz. “I would make beers three or four times before I actually got it to where I was like, ‘Alright, this is the way I want it.’”

Since opening Telco, the duo has tweaked their beers to ensure each one is true to its style and meeting the tastes of their Santa Clarita customers who helped them survive the pandemic.

With their industrial home in Valencia closed, canning was the only way to get their beer out during the pandemic.

“One of us was filling the beers, passing on to the next person. The next person was weighing it to make sure it had enough liquid. The next person was putting a lid on it. The next person was labeling it. It was like our little production,” Hernandez said of his team, including Santa Cruz and their spouses, which also hosted “Zoom parties” during the pandemic.

As COVID-19 restrictions ease up, Telco has rolled up their garage door to welcome back customers to a safe environment.

“We want to make sure we’re in compliance so we took the time to make,” said Hernandez, pointing out signage, facemasks, distancing and an online ordering system. “It’s important to make people feel safe.”

And now that things are safer, events are coming back. Hernandez and Santa Cruz will also pour at Cars Under the Stars in July and several other festivals across the state in the coming year.

Telco is located at 27825 Fremont Court, Suite 13, Santa Clarita.

Pocock Brewery

Events are returning to all of Santa Clarita’s breweries, including Pocock Brewery, founded in Valencia nearly six years ago by Todd Tisdell and Geoff Pocock, which currently serves 23 different beers spanning from a specialty double IPA called “Sign Yeah” to a series of fruited beers, including a new one dropping in mid-June called “Despicable.”

Tisdell said he hopes to bring back Pococktoberfest and the brewery’s annual beer festival to celebrate its anniversary in December as long as COVID restrictions allow it.

“We tend to have brewers and decision makers or brewery owners that are there, participating in pouring beer. So, you actually get some really neat interaction with all the different breweries that show up,” he said, noting 25 breweries from all over Southern California join in the celebration.

Despite restrictions, the pandemic wasn’t all bad for Pocock Brewery, which installed a pizzeria last April and introduced new food options.

“We have Neapolitan-style pizzas, we have salads and we have a great huge pretzel that’s served with house-made beer cheese and house-made mustard,” said Tisdell, of Castaic. “It was something that we wanted to do anyway, it’s just the pandemic kind of forced our hands a little faster.”

And new options like that are helping to fuel the growth of the craft brew scene in Santa Clarita.

“Now that there’s four different entities producing beer in Santa Clarita, I think that the craft beer scene is finally starting to take a nice foothold here in Santa Clarita and people are really starting to embrace the whole local beer scene,” Tisdell said. “As long as the four of us continue to make the good, quality beers that we’re making, I think the craft beer scene will continue to expand in Santa Clarita.”

Pocock is located at 24907 Ave. Tibbitts B, Santa Clarita.

Wolf Creek Brewery

Founded by Rob and Laina McFerren in 1997, Wolf Creek was the city’s first brewery.

Navigating the local health restrictions were tricky, but Wolf Creek, which brews all of their beers at their Valencia location, was very fortunate, according to Laina.

“We are 97% outside with a really big space that is very easy to social distance,” said McFerren, who is optimistic about the future.

Wolf Creek installed three new big screen TVs in addition to expanding their daily snack offerings, bringing back live music and welcoming more food trucks, including a vegan food truck every Thursday night.

“As things are opening up, I believe that we will see a lot of pent-up demand, once we’re finally allowed to do the things that we used to do,” she said.

Wolf Creek recently released its white IPA, which had been made with blood orange, now with pineapple. In the coming weeks, McFerren will release two Belgian-style beers, including one in memory of her late husband, who passed away earlier this year.

A founding brewery of the Los Angeles Brewers Guild, the McFerrens have helped shape the growth of craft beer in Santa Clarita.

“We are fortunate, I think craft beer in general and particularly the breweries out here, we have a really great relationship with one another. We help each other out,” McFerren said.

The four Santa Clarita breweries, including Draconum in Newhall, have even floated the idea of a Brew Hop Bus that would safely ferry people between all the local breweries.

“We have started talking to the city about that, prior to the pandemic, and would love to get something like that,” she said.

Wolf Creek’s brewery is located at 25108 Rye Canyon Loop, Santa Clarita.

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