The Meaning of Community

As 2018 draws to a close, we have been reflecting a lot here at 7Sisters Brewing Co. We have now been open for a bit over a year, and we have been having a really great time getting to know our customers as we provide you with delicious beer and food, live music, and other fun community-oriented events.

In particular, we have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a part of a community. All of us lucky enough to live on the California Central Coast know that we live in a wonderful community full of great people, outdoor activities, family-friendly events, wineries & breweries, and more. Until opening 7Sisters Brewing Co, that was mainly what we focused on: how great it is that we get to live here. But now, after running 7Sisters for the past year, community has really taken on a new meaning for us.

To cut to the chase, we realized recently that by owning a business where people gather, we have more power to do good for our community than we did simply as citizens in that community. So we rolled up our sleeves and got to work harnessing that power.

It started with providing a space for candidates running for office to meet with constituents. Then we started hosting small fundraisers for student groups at Cal Poly, including our infamous chicken bingo events. Two incredible humanitarian student groups, Engineers Without Borders and Global Medical Brigade, were able to raise money to help fund their trips to provide clean water in Thailand and a medical clinic in Honduras.

7Sisters Brewing Co. helped Cal Poly student humanitarian groups help over $1000 with fun Chicken bingo events

7Sisters Brewing Co. helped Cal Poly student humanitarian groups help over $1000 with fun Chicken bingo events

These events were a win-win-win for us because we helped out these worthy causes, new people came to the brewery to try out our beers, and we felt really darn good about what we were doing.

So we upped the ante. We realized that we could do even more to help those causes that we believed in.

First, we organized a fundraiser for Woods Humane Society where pets could have their photos taken with Santa. Fifty-nine of our fabulous community members brought your pets (mostly dogs, several cats, and even a Betta fish!) to this event, and we raised over $500 for our no-kill shelter.

Bella, Woody, & Bebe get their photos taken with Santa and their parents

Bella, Woody, & Bebe get their photos taken with Santa and their parents

High from doggy kisses, our event coordinator immediately got to work organizing two fundraisers for another cause that is dear to us, the Women’s March. We saw a Facebook post saying that the costs of the SLO event were skyrocketing in 2019 because it is growing so much, and we decided to help. We organized an all-day concert featuring local, woman-led musical acts called Truth to Power: A Fundraiser for the SLO Women’s March for Sunday, January 13 from 1-9pm. Then we contacted our friends at the SLOQueerdos, who quite literally embody community and inclusivity, and asked them to put on a drag show at 7Sisters. On Friday, January 18 from 9-11pm we will host GagaAgain: A Fundraiser for the SLO Women’s March, which will be a raucous all-ages event featuring many of our talented local drag performers. 100% of ticket sales for these events will go to the SLO Women’s March to offset the cost of road closures, safety personnel, sound system, permit and insurance, and other expenses. We are incredibly jazzed to support his worthy cause and can’t wait to see what the new year brings.

All participating musicians are volunteering their time so that 100% of the ticket sales can go to the SLO Women's March

All participating musicians are volunteering their time so that 100% of the ticket sales can go to the SLO Women's March

We can’t stop! Our brewer recently brewed Sierra Nevada’s recipe for Resilience IPA, and when it goes on tap we will donate 100% of proceeds to the Camp Fire fund. We regularly donate beer to charitable fundraising events, ranging from the Family Care Network to the Central Coast Aquarium and many more. Each one of these organizations performs valuable services that match the values that we embrace as members of the SLO community.

Last but certainly not least, hundreds of thousands of federal employees are currently not receiving their paychecks due to the government shutdown. We decided to help by offering our famous gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches FREE to federal employees who have been affected by the shutdown. Given that both the owners of 7Sisters Brewing Co. are government employees who have been impacted in the past by furloughs, we felt that this was an easy way for us to help our fellow workers in some small way.  Hopefully, by the time you read this blog, the government will be back in business and these employees will have received their back pay. Until then, we want to help fill up their bellies.

Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches are free to furloughed federal employees for as long as the 2018-19 government shutdown lasts

Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches are free to furloughed federal employees for as long as the 2018-19 government shutdown lasts

What else will 2019 have in store for us? We will continue making our sustainably brewed beers, and organizing wonderful events. The specifics remain to be seen, but we can tell you that we will continue to embrace our community to the best of our extent. We don’t have the power that massive corporations do, but we believe that every bit helps in our community.

To be honest, before we owned a brewery and restaurant, we didn’t think all that much about the values of the place and its owners when choosing where to spend our dollars. We will be forever changed by our new perspective, and will choose to support small businesses that harness their power to do good in their community. We hope that you will, too.

 Happy New Year!

 Emily & Steve

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Vegan Beers?

You might be wondering: aren't all beers vegan? They aren't made from meat or dairy, right?

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Well, beers obviously don't have meat or dairy in them. But some beers are made with animal products.

Beer becomes non-vegan during the fining process when gelatin is used to "flocculate" yeast and other suspended particles that make the beer cloudy, so that they settle out. The gelatin may be the kind you buy at the store to make jello, which is made from the bones and skin of pigs and cows. Or it could be isinglass, an especially pure gelatin made from the swim bladders of fish. 

It turns out that making vegan beer is very simple. It's just a matter of substituting one ingredient for another. The vegan-friendly alternative for very small breweries like 7Sisters is a product called Biofine Clear. Because Biofine Clear is used in much the same way as gelatin, the decision to make the substitution is normally based on cost. Biofine Clear is about 7 times the cost of gelatin (depending on your dosing rate). 

Biofine Clear is a vegan-friendly product used to remove particles from beer to make it clear. Image: BSG Craft Brewing 

Biofine Clear is a vegan-friendly product used to remove particles from beer to make it clear. Image: BSG Craft Brewing 

Members of our local vegan community, including customers and the wonderful people from SLO Vegan Guide, convinced us that making vegan beers was the way to go. SLO Vegan Guide recently interviewed brewmaster Steve about making vegan beer. We have switched over to Biofine Clear, and now all of our beers are 100% vegan! 

Not only that, but we explicitly advertise our beer (along with any guest beers, ciders, wines, and craft sodas) as being vegan. Brewing with Biofine Clear isn't what makes us unique-- a lot of small breweries brew with it! But we don't think vegan customers should constantly have to wonder and ask. So we make it clear: Anything you drink here at 7Sisters is vegan. 

We also worked really hard to create yummy vegan menu items, including grilled cheese and chili! These recipes took quite a bit of experimentation to find the perfect melty "cheese" (made from cashews), and to make the chili have that rich texture (the trick is lots of mushrooms and walnuts). We are expanding our vegan menu items soon!

One of our lovely customers enjoying a vegan grilled cheese sandwich and michelada. ( Look at her cool avocado tattoo! )

One of our lovely customers enjoying a vegan grilled cheese sandwich and michelada. (Look at her cool avocado tattoo!)

With our commitment to vegan-friendly beverages and a selection of vegan menu items, we are proud to be SLO's most vegan-friendly brewery!

Steve & Emily

Sustainable Scouts

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We talk a lot about sustainability at 7Sisters, but that's only one way we want to make a difference. We also want to support causes that we believe in, by providing a free meeting space (just contact us if you're interested!), sharing resources, and promoting groups and causes. All with a delicious beer in hand.

The Girl Scouts of America are an organization that helps empower women from a young age. With Girl Scout Cookie season just beginning, we thought this would be a great opportunity to help an organization that has helped so many others. On Tues, Feb 6 we are having a Beer & Girl Scout Cookie Pairing event at the brewery. For $5, we will pair Girl Scout Cookies with your flight of beers.  

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During the event we will also be selling boxes of all your favorite cookies on behalf of a local scout through our Point of Sale system (credit and debit cards accepted!). All box proceeds go to the Girl Scouts, and we will also donate a portion of the cookie/beer pairing proceeds to the scouts.  

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Ever wonder where all that cookie money goes? Girl Scouts of America contracts directly with two bakers in the US, so no middlepeople. After paying 20% to the baker for making and transporting the cookies, about 20% goes to the local troop, and the rest goes to the national program for campground upgrades, volunteer training, low income assistance, program development, and organizational administration.

So come by and try our cookie/beer pairings and pick up a bunch of boxes for friends (you know, the ones that can't wait for the Samoas to come back every year), and help out an organization truly worthy of your assistance.

- Steve

More about the Beer & Girl Scout Cookie Pairing Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/2097151290514489/

Sustainably Brewed

It's on our logo glasses, and it's becoming our mantra. We live it every day.

At 7Sisters Brewing, we are committed to sustainability in every component of our business, from the brewing process to our kitchen to the tasting room. Over the past week we have provided daily blurbs about how we put sustainability into action at 7Sisters Brewing. These blurbs are compiled here.

Sustainability [suh-stey-nuh-bil-i-tee]: the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance

#1: COMPOST-CRAZY

Image from Tufts University Composting Program

Image from Tufts University Composting Program

We are crazy for compost here, composting everything from our spent grain to our kitchen scraps to our palm leaf plates. We even use compostable straws instead of plastic! Our waste goes to SLO's community compost program, where it will eventually nourish locally grown crops.

 

 

 

#2: SLOCAL SLOCAL #SLOCAL! 

Image is painting of SLO in 1868 by Leon Trousett

Image is painting of SLO in 1868 by Leon Trousett

We source almost everything for the brewery locally, supporting our community and cutting out the waste inherent in long-distance shipping. Here is an exciting list of some of the local businesses we work with directly.

Our food is house-made from scratch and sourced from our amazing community of artisan food producers, including:
-cheeses from Central Coast Creamery in SLO
-salumi from Alle-Pia Fine Cured Meats in Atascadero
-bread from Back Porch Bakery in Atascadero and Edna’s Bakery in SLO
-spices and herbs from Spice of Life in Paso Robles
 

 

We proudly showcase local cideries and breweries as guest taps (current features include Two Broads Ciderworks in SLO and Naughty Oak Brewing Co. in Orcutt). Local wines are coming in January!

Local artist Amanda McClellan's  The Nine Sisters .   Click here  to find this on her Etsy shop.

Local artist Amanda McClellan's The Nine Sisters.  Click here to find this on her Etsy shop.

The décor in the brewery is hyper-local: we landscaped our patio with drought-tolerant plants from Native Sons Nursery in Arroyo Grande; local artist Isaac Yorke (@imyorke) installed our spray paint mural; we feature and sell the work of local artists (currently on display is the work of Amanda and Skylar McClellan). Even our T-shirts and hats are made by JCarroll, a stone’s throw from the brewery’s front door.

We are proud members of the SLO Chamber of Commerce and the Central Coast Brewer’s Guild, and we are thrilled to be approved as SLO’s first vegan-friendly brewery by SLOVegan Guide.
Last but certainly not least, all of our servers are Cal Poly alumni or current graduate students. That’s about as SLOCAL as it gets!

#3: REPURPOSED Materials! 

Photo by Kathleen Gerber

Photo by Kathleen Gerber

Next time you're in the brewery take a look around and you'll notice that the tasting room is built from repurposed materials. Our bar, shown here, is built from school lockers topped with zinc-wrapped wood from the shipping crate in which the lockers arrived!

Other repurposed features include our lighting (made from Cal Poly lab lamps), our patio bars (made from the wood forms used when pouring the concrete patio), and our tables (shop benches from LA Technical College). This is another way that we are working to reduce waste to help shrink our footprint as we produce our beers.

 

 

 

#4: WATER CONSERVATION

Photo by Matthew Pierson

Photo by Matthew Pierson

Water is a subject near and dear to the heart of Californians, and the brewing industry is a thirsty consumer.  On average, they consume between 4 and 6 pints of water for every pint produced, most of it in the cleaning process. Our brewer at 7Sisters is an environmental engineer, and he looked at every aspect of the brewing process, from brewing to cooling to cleaning, and re-engineered it to use far less water- about 2 pints per pint. As we expand to packaging, you can be sure we will be working hard to keep our water footprint as small as possible, without compromising quality.

 

#5: ENERGY EFFICIENCY

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Using energy inefficiently depletes our natural resources and releases pollutants into our environment unnecessarily. At 7Sisters, we have designed our hybrid natural gas and electric brewing system to take advantage of the most efficient properties of each system while minimizing the less efficient aspects. It costs a little more, but we think it's worth it. Additionally, every light bulb in our brewery is a dimmable LED. When you walk into the well-lit tasting room, all those lights combined use about as much electricity as two 60-watt light bulbs. The three bright patio lights use as much electricity as just one 60-watt bulb.

Think outside the barrel!

Thank you for supporting sustainable brewing practices. If you haven't checked out our tasting room and restaurant yet, we hope to see you soon. Here are a few highlights to get your mouth watering.
- Our kitchen features gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and other bar fare, with vegan and gluten free options available.
- We are family-friendly, with games and craft root beer for your kiddos, and our patio is pet-friendly.
- Check out our Event Calendar for fun, free happenings at the brewery, including Friday Pint Night ($8 logo glass with $2 off refills every Friday, forever), Sunday Open Mic Night (performers get a free beer), monthly Comedy Night, Wednesday live Irish music, and many other live music events.

Cheers! Photo by Kyle Nessen

Cheers! Photo by Kyle Nessen