We flew out to the West Coast to throw the second iteration of our Juicy Brews WestFest beer festival and budgeted a couple days leading up to the festival to explore the Bay Area. Ostensibly, we went to Santa Cruz to brew a collab beer with Humble Sea Brewing Co., but the beer had already been brewed –without us ever touching a mash paddle or hops. We did contribute the name “Worldpool,” a reference to an inside joke established the last time we hung out with the Humble Sea crew, and we dubbed the beer style a “teeny IPA.” The end result was excellent and we were happy to sample. But why did we drive an hour and a half south of Oakland, where we’d be throwing a festival in a couple of days if the beer had already been brewed?

Ours was a fast friendship with Humble Sea. We invited them to our most recent New York Juicy Brews festival after sampling a few of their beers and hearing compliments from mutual friends. Then, we reconnected in San Diego for the Horus HOOTenanny and established the hilarious (if only to us) “worldpool” saga. I believe it was then that we promised we’d brew a collaboration beer, visit them in Santa Cruz, and have a sleepover in their brewery. After inflating a few air mattresses in Humble Sea’s loft last Wednesday, that last part was complete.

But, like I said, the work was over. A collaboration beer had been brewed. This trip to Santa Cruz wasn’t about business — it was about friendship. After much texting back and forth, surfboards and wetsuits were acquired for the Hop Culture team and, soon after arriving, we loaded up Humble Sea Creative Director and Co-Founder Frank Scott Krueger’s Prius and went surfing at Cowell Beach. After a brief instruction from Frank, all of us were in the water and managed to catch a few (teeny) waves. We returned to the brewery ready to hit the town but decided to just enjoy pizza and beers at the brewery until we all crashed.

To be honest, other than sleeping in the brewery and eating delicious burritos, our trip wasn’t all that eventful. Maybe the 24 hours we spent in Santa Cruz doesn’t even merit a story. This trip wasn’t to establish new business opportunities. I didn’t come away with a profile about Humble Sea. But we left Santa Cruz feeling like we’d started a tradition.

We’ve met a lot of wonderful people in the industry and many have gone from colleagues to friends. With Humble Sea, that change was almost instantaneous. What other brewery has kendama, an obscure Japanese toy that I happened to play with quite a bit thanks to my freshman year roommate? Where else can you borrow the co-founder’s skateboard after sleeping in his brewery to head to an amazing coffee shop (Verve, go check it out)? Who else will draw tattoo designs for you on a napkin after you hazily describe an illustration you’ve been thinking about?

The Humble Sea crew uses the term “kook” pretty liberally. It can be used derogatorily to describe anyone with bad vibes. But I think “kook” was the official word of the 24 hours we spent in Santa Cruz, California. We like to think of “kooks” as just goofy folks worth hanging out with. Under that definition, this trip was about embracing our inner kook.

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