AMERICA’S 7TH OLDEST MICROBREWERY = YOUR LOCAL MODESTO HANGOUT
BY CRYSTAL NAY
They feature a wall of 17 beers on tap, 15 of which are their own brew. They used to have disposable, floating kegs called beer balls. Over 70 countries have carried their beer. They cook exclusively in a wood-fired oven, and feature trivia nights. It’s time for you to get in on the St. Stan’s action.
St. Stan’s modern flare is catching, but misleading. As the seventh oldest microbrewery in the country, St. Stan’s holds a lot of history, both in and out of Stanislaus County. It was the first to bring traditional German-style alt beer to the U.S. It has been in Modesto for several decades, seeing its rowdiest days in the 1970’s and 80’s. All of St. Stan’s beer recipes are the original recipes, created by the original brewmasters. There’s history here, nestled beneath its quality, local hang out vibe.
There are three things that lie in the heart and soul of St. Stan’s: extremely high quality beer, amazing food, and a great sense of community.
For starters, all five of St. Stan’s alt beers are their flagship beers and staples of the beer lineup. Unfamiliar patrons often ask what kind of beer the restaurant carries, looking for the bigger brand names. “But, people don’t really know what type of beer they’re actually drinking,” says Katie Smith, assistant general manager at St. Stan’s.
That’s where a little education and a lot of tasting come into play. St. Stan’s dedicated staff is incredibly knowledgeable about beer, the brewing process, and so passionate about it all that quality remains prominent. Brewing fewer than 1,000 barrels annually, St. Stan’s crew is able to carefully manage the quality of every barrel, every brew.
“Big brewers are focusing on quantity. They practice quality control, but only to the law, not to taste. Microbrews, such as ourselves, focus on quality first and foremost, and make sure that it’s right every step of the way,” says general manager Jill Baker. “We rotate our beers, and we sell out. We know we have great beer.”
We have a unique connection to our food…it’s our pizza, our bear, our operations, so we know exactly what’s in our food.
– KATIE SMITH, ST. STAN’S ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER
St. Stan’s special recipes are in more than just their beer. Having historically been known only for beer and not offering food, the new incarnation of St. Stan’s offers some of the best food in town. The kitchen cooks exclusively in a wood-fired oven. There is no freezer, so the ingredients are always the freshest possible. Also known for their amazing pizzas and calzones, the dough is made in-house, infused with St. Stan’s own beer.
“We have a unique connection to our food,” says Smith. “It’s our pizza, our beer, our operation, so we know exactly what’s in our food. It also allows us to accommodate different dietary requirements, where we can make suggestions for substitutions.”
In decades past, St. Stan’s was always known as that funky place where you could get a great beer, but had to bring your own food. St. Stan’s changed its own history a year ago this past October when it added a food menu. It been a much-welcomed addition from the St. Stan’s of the past, and has stirred the question of why not more food?
“We want to first master what we have. We want to be sure everything we add complements our current menu and our environment,” says Smith.
The menu is humble as far as selection, but the quality and flavors of the food are unparalleled. Recent additions to the menu, such as a giant, soft pub pretzel with cheese, churro doughnuts with homemade whipped cream, gourmet sausage, cauliflower pizza crust, and a caprese salad are garnering grassroots attention and gaining popularity in the community.
And St. Stan’s is all about community. While there are a number of breweries in the county, with more popping up, St. Stan’s takes the helm as Modesto’s first and only.
“We might not always be the only one, but we’ll always be the first,” laughs Smith.
Staying community-oriented and tapping into local resources is part of the core of St. Stan’s mission. For example, if using lavender in a special brew, the flowers come from Turlock, and the lavender hops from Knights Ferry. The two featured ciders come from brewers in Sonora and Salida. St. Stan’s is also a proponent of local nonprofit opportunities, donating kegs to fundraising events and related for every keg purchased for the event.
St. Stan’s stays connected to its community, and the community stays connected to St. Stan’s. The variety of people in the place speaks to its mellow, laid back vibe, and the fact that the locals are making it their hang out.
“We close at a certain time, but if you’re hanging out, we’ll stay longer. Our environment is more fluid. This is your place, too,” says Smith. The ultimate culmination of the St. Stan’s vibe is during trivia nights. “It’s cool to see the mix of people. There are not a lot of places where you see a mesh of it all.”
You can visit St. Stan’s Brewing Co. at 1028 11TH ST., Modesto or call 209-248-0170.