Updated: Aug 7, 2018
Innovation. Its right there in the name, and that's what this brewery is all about. Cal Poly Pomona students are given the opportunity to learn how to brew beer while operating a full-scale brewpub in a college setting – the first of its kind. And the beer they brew is good - really good. But don’t take my word for it; they've won numerous international awards won over the past four years, and they plan to keep on winning.
Located in Cal Poly’s Innovation Village, the brewery has a contemporary/industrial look, and feels light and open, with lots of glass, high ceilings, and polished cement floors. The bar top tables are equipped with charging stations for phones and laptops, and the outdoor patio is perfect for parties. Towards the back the tanks are in full view, and brewers are working their magic as local craft beer connoisseurs (aka college students) sip and watch. But don't think this brew pub is just for the studious type. Innovation Village is on a main thoroughfare and is a regular stop for locals and visitors of all ages.
Breakfast sandwiches on artisan ciabatta bread are available as soon as they open at 6:30 am. Yes, you read that right - this brewery serves breakfast. At 6:30 am.
Lunch and dinner feature a variety of gourmet house-made craft pizzas built as you watch, with ingredients like pesto, mushrooms, gouda, mozzarella, parmesan, and goat cheese (so good!). The menu also includes sandwiches, salads and appetizers. I'm told the Baked Jalapeno Poppers are delicious.
Sustainability is important to the brewery. The barley and other ingredients for brewing (including occasional oranges) are grown at Spadra Ranch, a nearby off-campus site used by the school. Spent grains from the brewing process are fed to cows through their College of Agriculture. Ah, the circle of life.
Then there’s the beer. They offer a wide variety of original recipes, changing them out as new beers are developed. On our visit Baron had the Bock to School – a nice malty Dunkles Bock (ABV 6.7, IBU 20). I tried the Storey’s Stout (ABV 7.5, IBU 45), rich in flavor with a hint of chocolate and just boozy-tasting enough to make it interesting. This American style stout is named after Paul Storey, the past executive director of the Cal Poly Foundation who came up with the idea of an educational brewery operating on a college campus – needless to say a brilliant man!
Crafting an Education is the official tagline for the brewery, and that’s what Innovation Brew Works is all about. Me, I’m just there for the beer – and its well worth it!