The owners of Santa Monica Brew Works weren’t necessarily planning on adding a tasting room to their production facility.
But as the brewery expanded its imprint in Southern California over the last two-plus years, it became clear to executives that the beer-drinking community was interested in sipping their suds straight from the source.
Pedestrians tried walking into the Colorado Avenue facility to sample beer, wondering aloud why a tasting room didn’t exist. Potential patrons emailed about their plans to visit Santa Monica and wanted to know the hours of a tasting space that didn’t exist yet.
“The public demanded it,” co-owner Scott Francis said. “I can’t begin to tell you how many phone calls we received from people asking if we have a tasting room. … Finally, the moment presented itself where we were able to actually do it. And so we did.”
Santa Monica Brew Works opened its doors to the public last month, a landmark moment for the city’s first brewery. The owners didn’t do much advertising aside from sharing the news with their followers on social media, allowing word of mouth to drive foot traffic.
The 112-seat tasting room will welcome beer enthusiasts on Wednesday and Thursday nights from 6 to 11 p.m., Fridays from 6 to midnight, Saturdays from noon to midnight and Sundays from noon to 8 p.m.
Francis and fellow co-owners Richard Super and Carl Sharpley envision the tasting room on Colorado Avenue between 19th and 20th streets as a gathering place for people who want to drink local beers and see where they’re made. Sharpley, a former bartender at Ye Olde King’s Head in Downtown Santa Monica, is overseeing the space.
In addition to its five core beers — a blonde ale, a witbier, an IPA, an extra pale ale and a golden porter — the brewery will serve up a rotating slate of seasonal beers. It’s currently offering a cucumber kolsch, a chili pepper pale ale a double IPA.
Two big-screen TVs accent the premises, and the executives plan to show iconic Los Angeles movies, surf documentaries and a Santa Monica history reel. They want the brewery to represent the beach city in which it’s located, and they’ve been grateful for the support of City officials.
“That’s been awesome,” said Francis, noting that Mayor Tony Vazquez recently came by for a visit. “Neighborhood people keep coming in, too.”
In addition to the beers on tap, the brewery is selling four-packs of 16-ounce cans of select beers and will also have snacks and merchandise available for purchase. Food trucks will stop outside the facility on the weekends.
Francis said the Expo Line didn’t influence the owners’ decision to establish a brewery on Colorado Avenue, but he said it’s an added bonus that patrons can easily access the tasting room from the 17th Street/Santa Monica College transit stop.
Santa Monica Brew Works now has the equivalent of 8.5 full-time employees, Francis said. The staff includes brewer Drew Pomatti, a Santa Monica native.
And the acquisition of an adjacent 4,300 square feet gave executives the space to create a tasting room at what was initially a 9,300-square-foot facility.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Francis said. “People are into artisan food, and they love to see and feel the experience firsthand. … It’s a sense of community, not only for Santa Monica but also the beer community.
“People are rooting for us. And we’re not going to do anything to stop them.”