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Photograph by Nikki Bowen
How Convenient: There's a fresh-brewed beer to accompany every kind of dish on the Seabright Brewery's extensive menu.

Review: Seabright Brewery

For a beer and wings kind of night, there's no place better.

By Denise Vivar

It is said that beauty hurts and that no pain yields no gain, and there are a lot of pious folks who will tell you that happiness in the end is the big payoff for suffering now. I will admit to tolerating a pair of killer high heels for fashion's sake, but I'll pass on the hair shirt. Life shouldn't have to be a thing endured. I pondered this recently and will add that food shouldn't hurt either. For instance, I don't believe chili peppers were meant to be eaten. Nature has a way of protecting her children by making certain plants and animals distasteful or even inaccessible to would-be predators. And the body also has great built-in warning mechanisms to keep us from doing too much harm. So when you eat a pepper and it burns through a layer of mucosal tissue all the way down, the body is saying: "Danger! This is not food. Back away from the Tabasco."

Yet there I was, sitting in the Seabright Brewery ordering the Buffalo wings ($8.50). I don't really know how it happened, maybe it was all the men gathered together, quaffing brews and cheering at the many TV screens mounted around the brewery. It just felt like a wings-and-beer moment, and I seemed to recall that the wings here weren't so fierce.

As our waitress delivered the small plate of mini chicken parts, the heat from the sauce hit the back of my throat before she set them on the table. My mouth waters with the memory of that first bite, sans blue cheese dressing. The sauce is the recipe from the original wing purveyor in Buffalo, N.Y., and it's quite tasty. But the spice has a way of creeping up on you, so it wasn't until the second drumette that I started to feel the burn. The Patriots were pummeling the Redskins in surround sound as a fire was lit on my lips and tongue. I was armed with an oatmeal stout ($4.25), but no amount of smooth chocolaty coffee creaminess would put out the flame.

"Nonsense" was the look my friend Helayne gave me as she smiled and scooped up as much of the incendiary sauce as that little wing could hold. I'm aware that most people would agree that the sauce was not too spicy, but I waved the white flag over the fiery affair and waited for my burger to arrive. Then a wee monkey on my back started reaching for another piece. Flashbacks of an earlier fixation with heat came back and I recalled in another lifetime my tryst with the pepper. I think these wings have brought me back and now I may have a little addiction to deal with.

Thankfully I didn't have to face it for long, as my brewery burger ($8.95) arrived. This is one of my favorite burgers in town—eight ounces of juicy grilled perfection on a sesame seed bun. It comes with your choice of cheese and a side of salad, French fries or soup. Often I have had the salad with blue cheese dressing on the side, some of which I use on the burger (blue cheese is not one of the free cheese choices). This time I opted for the fries, which are the thick steak fry version. The few that I had were crunchy and meaty, but I tired of the heaviness and wished I had gone for the salad.

Helayne's barbecued pork sandwich ($8.95) was equally hefty and deliciously messy. Thin slices of pork were drenched in a sweet and tangy sauce and barely contained between slices of francese bread. Between bites she remarked that it definitely isn't date food, and she's right.

There's certainly more to the Brewery than just tasty wings and burgers and men and their games. I have yet to navigate around the menu of award-winning brews, plus a plethora of sandwiches, pastas and salads. This is so much more than your typical pub grub and it's all pain free. Which is exactly as it should be.

Seabright Brewery

Address: 519 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz

Phone: 831.426.2739

Hours: Open daily 11:30am-11:30pm; kitchen closes at 10pm.

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