Podcast Episode 367: Humble Sea Sails the Calm, Clear Waters of Modern Lager Through the Fog of Today’s IPA

With characterful, medal-winning lagers and a decidedly West Coast approach to “foggy” IPA, Humble Sea is navigating craft beer’s choppy waters out of Santa Cruz, California, with quality as their North Star and an appetite for exploring new routes.

Jamie Bogner Jul 5, 2024 - 6 min read

Podcast Episode 367: Humble Sea Sails the Calm, Clear Waters of Modern Lager Through the Fog of Today’s IPA Primary Image

Nate Chesser and Nick Pavlina of Humble Sea

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The Humble Sea origin story told by cofounder and brewmaster Nick Pavlina is a common one: Avid homebrewer turns pro at the urging of family and friends. Yet that early experience with brewing, brewing, and brewing some more—on a one-barrel system—instilled a discipline for testing, evaluating, and adapting that stays with Humble Sea to this day.

A 2022 World Beer Cup silver medal for Munich-style helles gave them the validation they sought for the nascent lager program—but rather than anchor them in place, that success put more wind in their experimental sails. They continue to tinker with that beer, testing mash-step times and temperatures as well as fermentation parameters, in an ongoing quest to make it as perfect as possible.

Meanwhile, they’ve hitched a ride on the swift current of hazy IPA—or, in their lingo, “foggy IPA”—but they’ve done so in ways inspired by their West Coast locale. The result has been significant growth, and the brewery now has five different ports they call home.

In this episode, Pavlina and brewing operations director Nate Chesser discuss:

  • developing a house lager style by assembling pieces of various traditions and the practices of brewer peers
  • changing and adjusting their medal-winning helles despite its success
  • embracing decoction for both its tangible and intangible benefits
  • choosing and sourcing Noble hops for helles and pilsner
  • fermenting lagers with a less common yeast strain
  • building their initial “foggy” IPA out of a Pliny the Elder–inspired recipe
  • leaning into their unique water profile
  • spunding IPA for natural carbonation

And more.

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Jamie Bogner is the Cofounder and Editorial Director of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Email him at [email protected].