This winter, a brewer, a fisherman and a farmer illuminate their work
Interviews by Amber Turpin
Illustrations by Lucy Conklin
Do you ever have beer dreams? Can you describe one?
Nightmares or good dreams? Nightmares usually involve defending my brewery from a zombie apocalypse or a beer festival with really long lines (pretty much the same thing). A good dream is that I walk into my brewery and all of the equipment is copper and looks more like Sierra Nevada.
What beer did you dream up that was just too weird to actually sell?
You can pretty much sell anything. That’s a luxury of my job. Anything I can think of we can pretty much sell. Santa Cruz is weird. Beer lovers are weird. I’m in the right business for dreaming up weird stuff.
What kind of beers do you think we’ll be drinking in 2014?
IPA. I’m always expecting a trend shift from IPA to anything else, but the IPA just never seems to lose popularity. Sour beers and wild beers are increasing, as are choices for tasty pilsners and lagers. I’ll be drink ing everything, of course. But I’m a seasonal drinker. I love the dark beers on the colder days and the light beers when it is hot.
What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened to you while fishing?
Boats break down, the weather you can’t predict—like if you’re albacore fishing 80 miles out and weather comes up. There’s really nothing you can do… Seeing a gray whale breaching just a few feet from the boat is pretty spooky. When they breach and they come down and splash, that water can swamp the boat.
What would surprise people most about what you do?
Maybe how many hours are really involved. Like black cod fishing—you start two days before you go fishing, baiting up. Then you leave that night, set all your gear, sit there three or four hours, pull everything, come back on a 3- or 4-hour boat ride, sell everything, then you have to untangle all your lines. You don’t just run out, catch fish, then come home.
What’s your favorite fish?
I actually don’t eat fish! I’ll eat the albacore raw with some wasabi and soy sauce. On 3- or 4-day trips, you bring less food and just eat the raw fish. It’s definitely not going to get fresher than that.
What’s the most misunderstood thing about farming?
That it’s this romantic lifestyle or it’s always this idyllic pastoral world. In reality, it’s just a lot of work that never ends—a farmer’s job is never done. And it’s a very complex thing… Farming, and especially organic farming, is kind of a lifelong quest of understanding the complexities of how nature works… You’re trying to work with nature instead of against it, and limiting artificial inputs.
What do you like most about farming?
There’s always something new to discover. I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning new things about it. As we speak, I’m meeting this UC Davis professor who is digging up our dry-farmed tomatoes to see what kind of microbes are growing around their roots. The plants tend to attract different things in the soil if the soil is not irrigated or you’re fumigating it or adding chemicals and fertilizers as opposed to compost.
What’s an ideal day of farming?
It’s hard to pick one day over another, but I do enjoy when the weather combines with our past efforts and we are rewarded with the beauty and bounty… And being able to surf the same day—still having time to have fun and surf!
Amber Turpin is a food writer and baker who homesteads in Ben Lomond.