On Saturday, July 10, Santee finally came of age with the Grand Opening of its very first nano-brewery, Manzanita Brewing Company. Members of the Santee Chamber of Commerce, Miss Santee and part of her entourage, and friends both real and virtual showed up for the 1:00 pm ribbon cutting that marked the official opening of this new venture. The day was extremely well attended, in part because of an aggressive social marketing campaign by the brewery that included a Facebook page created when work was just starting. They regularly posted updates on the progress and had nearly 300 fans by the grand opening, many of whom dropped by for the festivities.
Owners Jeff Trevaskis and Garry Pitman got the idea for their business when they were both laid off from their work in software testing in December. Both had been home brewing for friends and family for some time, and they had received many compliments on their efforts. Having time on their hands, they decided to take the plunge. Because they live in Jamul and Temecula, the wanted to find a location somewhere in between, so the looked into both El Cajon and Santee. Jeff said that they tried several times to contact the planning department in El Cajon, but never got a response; on the other hand, Santee was very receptive to the idea and responsive to their questions and requests. The entrepreneurs were also impressed by the service they received from Padre Dam Water District. Jeff explained that they had contacted the District last year for information about water requirements for the brewery, then did not talk to anyone for almost three months. When they finally did recontact the District the response was, “Oh, yes, we have all your information right here.” When you are dealing with government agencies, this kind of attention is greatly appreciated.
To help keep everyone well fed, and perhaps prevent some empty-stomach drinking issues, Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse was there with their buckboard grill. The menu included tri tip, chicken, and hamburgers, with potato salad, cowboy beans, and tortilla chips. The food was outstanding, as always when Pinnacle Peak is involved. Just a side plug, if you haven’t stopped in at their restaurant on Mission Gorge Rd. west of SR-52, do yourself a favor and drop in for lunch or dinner soon.
Music was also on the menu, provided by a group from the Inland Empire, Soul of the River. The trio – bassist Steve Hansen, drummer Rene Felix, and guitarist Brett Dawson – has received numerous awards including Best Classic Rock at the 2009 Inland Empire Music Awards. The group has a funky rock style that has been compared to Pearl Jam and Red Hot Chili Peppers. The music was an energizing accompaniment to the food and drink.
And speaking of drink, the real stars of the day were the five different beers Manzanita brews: pale, brown, and red ales, IPA, and Riverwalk Blonde. All were well received, but it appeared that Riverwalk Blonde was the most popular, being described as “smooth” and with a pleasing feel on the palate. Even occasional beer drinkers appreciated the flavor of this light brew. Another favorite was the IPA, which was described as “zippy” but not bitter like some similar beers can be. Manzanita serves by the glass and in a growler (for those not into beer, a growler is a fancy jug you can fill and take home). They also have a tasting room where you can sample before going for the big order.
Cutting the Ribbon at Manzanita Brewing Company
(L-R) Santee Chamber of Commerce President John Olsen, Miss Teen Santee Taylor Shelton, Garry Pitman, Santee Princess Madison, Jeff Trevaskis, Miss Santee Kimberly Swank, Chamber Past President Rob McNelis
Owners of neighboring business Seaview Glass enjoying a Manzanita brew