Tuesday, April 13, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 6

Santa Maria Sun / Eats

Naughty Oak Brewing Company unveils newly designed line of beer cans in Old Town Orcutt


Cannery whoa!
The Naughty Oak Brewing Company is located at 165 S. Broadway St., suite 102, Orcutt. Call (805) 314-2368 or visit naughtyoak.com for more info.

Don’t let the release date fool you; April 1 marked the for-real debut of Naughty Oak Brewing Company’s newly designed line of to-go cans. It was fabulous news for fans of the popular Orcutt brewery, but imagine if said occasion was an elaborate April Fools’ Day prank in disguise? Patrons would have come home with their new cans only to get buzzed off of either cream soda or root beer—but of course that’s not what happened. 

Missed opportunities aside, Naughty Oak wasn’t joking when the company announced its newest canned libations. The first two to-go cans to be released in the series were the Chela, a Mexican lager; and the Able, a Central Coast IPA. 

For Naughty Oak Brewing Company’s new line of to-go cans, the brewery’s graphic designer Andrea Rockwell created a variety of new label artworks.

Regardless of what kind of beer is inside, the cans just look cool in general, and that’s thanks to the unique art designs found on each one. Naughty Oak’s graphic designer, Andrea Rockwell, clearly wasn’t just thinking outside the box, she was thinking outside the can.

“We wanted the cans to look fresh and colorful so they would stand out on the shelves,” said Steve Kitts. He and his wife, Emily, co-own Naughty Oak Brewing Company, which they opened in 2015. “Andrea keeps us eye-catching and on-brand with all digital material, labels, logos, and merchandise branding. She has been with us since the first moment we realized we needed help, and we are lucky to have a first-class graphic artist on the team.”

In terms of can production, Naughty Oak Brewing Company has an arrangement with Mercenary Canning Solutions in San Luis Obispo, a mobile canning facilitator offering its services to craft beverage producers located throughout the Central Coast. 

Husband and wife Steve (pictured, left) and Emily Kitts (right) own and operate Naughty Oak Brewing Company, which they established in Old Town Orcutt in 2015.

Canning their beers was something the Kitts couple had been wanting to try for a while, Steve explained.

“We’ve been talking about canning since we bought our bottler four years ago,” he said. “At that point in time, the equipment cost was out of our reach, and there weren’t mobile canners like Mercenary Canning to come in and fill the gap.”

For the brewery’s latest can launch, Rockwell spent a few months designing new label artwork for each to-go can.

“[Andrea] pulled out all the stops and we couldn’t be happier with the way the labels turned out,” Steve said.

The fact that Naughty Oak Brewing Company is owned and operated by a husband-and-wife team isn’t the only reason it’s locally known as a true family-run brewery. Rockwell is Emily’s sister-in-law, and Janis Rockwell, the artist responsible for the various murals that adorn the walls of Naughty Oak Brewing Company’s taproom, is Emily’s mother. 

Naughty Oak Brewing Company has a wide selection of year-round beers on tap, including ales, blondes, hard seltzers, lagers, IPAs, double IPAs, and more.

“She is a saint with paint,” Steve said of his mother-in-law. “She always finds a way to help get the job done and finds a way to make beer and squirrels beautiful.”

From nutty to naughty, the brewery’s squirrel mascot has been a beacon of hope for local beer enthusiasts since Naughty Oak first opened in Old Town Orcutt more than half a decade ago. With year-round beers on tap—including ales, blondes, hard seltzers, lagers, IPAs, double IPAs, and more—and a lively calendar of weekly specials and food vendor events (upcoming collabs include Barbecue in the Stix on Friday, April 9, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., and Feed My Seoul on Saturday, April 10, from 5 to 8 p.m.), Naughty Oak has become a town staple. 

Even the turbulence of 2020 couldn’t shake that reputation, but the COVID-19 pandemic did bring about several complications for the brewery, as expected, Steve explained.

“This last year hasn’t been easy on anyone. We have been fortunate that we have a great team in our staff and in our community,” he said, recalling the difficult circumstances the company faced in sales, staffing, and other areas over the past year, since the first pandemic shutdown last March.  

The fact that Naughty Oak Brewing Company is owned and operated by a husband-and-wife team isn’t the only reason it’s well known as a true family-run brewery. Emily Kitts’ mother, Janis Rockwell, is the artist responsible for the various murals that adorn the Orcutt taproom’s walls.

Through thick and thin though, Steve said Naughty Oak Brewing Company’s staff, even at its most minimal, was willing “to help get the job done, whatever that meant at the time,” he explained.

“Sometimes, it was helping with a canning or bottling day, some days it’s tending the bar, or a hodgepodge of cleaning, unloading grain, and keg washing. They were there and we’re so appreciative that their dedication kept the brewery going,” Steve said.

Loyal patrons of Naughty Oak within the Orcutt community and beyond also played a huge role in keeping the brewery up and running during the COVID-19 crisis, he emphasized.

“The community had an outpouring of support for the brewery throughout the pandemic, and it has been a main source of motivation for us to persevere,” Steve said. “Through many of the shutdowns, we were minimally staffed and only able to sell beer to-go. Despite that, customers were right there at the door when we opened. And we want to thank all of them for that.

“This wouldn’t have been survivable for us without their ongoing support,” he added. “We know they’re able to buy practically any beer at the chain stores, but for them to make a special trip to the brewery to show support, means the world to us.”

If Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood started his own beer label, it would be called ‘I can’t believe it’s not butter beer.’ Send feedback to cwiseblood@santamariasun.com.

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