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Drive just 50 miles north of Los Angeles, you’ll not only find sprawling farmland, beautiful beaches and gorgeous oak trees, but a county experiencing its craft beer hockey stick moment. Four to five years ago, you wouldn’t find many craft beer breweries in Ventura County. It’s now a full-fledged beer destination.

In May, Joby M. Yobe and the rest of the Barrelhouse 101 team will be celebrating their 6th Anniversary. The “OG” Ventura beer bar and restaurant has been educating Ventura on craft beer through their 107 taps. They rotate twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays. When they opened, Surf Brewing, Island Brewing and Anacapa Brewing were the only local breweries.

“Forever, this was known as Corona, Coors Light territory. When we got rid of any Corona, Coors Light macro, people were pissed.”

Jobe even got flack for serving beers in the proper glassware.

“I’m not drinking beer out of a fucking tulip!”

Ojai Beverage Company opened in 2007, back when the available beers were Red Hook, Pyramid and Firestone DBA, to name a few. Jobe and his cousin, Jorge Alem, own OBC and often work together to offer great craft beers. And they typically will host classes or small brewery specific events monthly.

Casa Agria Specialty Ales is a boutique brewery, focusing on mixed fermentation farmhouse style ales, barrel aged wild ales, and Northeast style India pale ales. Their beers uses fruit direct from the local farms and is expressive of the Ventura County culture. Try their outstanding American Wild Ale, Pinot de la Casa, which ages their Saison de la Casa in freshly dumped Pinot Noir wine barrels from Casa Baranca Organic Winery in Ojai, CA.

Concrete Jungle Brewing Project is a brewery and tasting room in Ventura on Market Street. The grand opening was October 14, 2017. Concrete Jungle bought the Surf Brewery facility. Surf Brewery was the first packaging craft microbrewery in Ventura County CA, when opened June 2011. Formerly located in Los Angeles, Concrete Jungle moved into the former Surf Brewery location and have expanded their beer style offerings.

Darryl Levi is a friend of mine that I asked to write an article for me in my blog, www.TheBeerGoddess.com. I sent him to the Orange County Beer Festival in 2010 and he got the bug for craft, which led him to homebrewing, then buying a bar in Camarillo. “Darryl’s Couch” was born.

Darryl’s Couch was the first craft beer pub in the county, having opened in Sept of 2012. Levi offers 11 taps including one nitro, focusing on designated craft as determined by the Brewers Association, which includes breweries like Firestone, Five Threads, Made West and Three Weavers. He’s currently holding an IPA competition every Wednesday with three single IPAs from local Ventura County breweries.

Enegren Brewing is not out to chase beer trends. Since 2011, the Moorpark brewery has been focusing on German style lagers. They were the second packaging brewery in Ventura County by just a month. Chris loves the style because of their versatility and complexity.

Enegren Feb2018

“I want to push the boundaries in craft beer and not just offer the same thing everyone else is doing.”

Enegren started homebrewing in 2014, as an engineering major at Loyala Marymont. Enegren took his knowledge about control systems and programming and built his own automated 15-barrel, European style homebrew system. Chris has installed brewing systems at Garage Project in New Zealand, Fremont Brewing in Seattle and Fall Brewing in San Diego, to name just a few. And he’s applied the best of his engineering and brewing knowledge in his own brewery. Their tanks are named after the breweries moms, wives and daughters. And their custom brewing system is named after a Viking shieldmaiden and ruler from what is now Norway. This ”Lagertha” will have produced a Maibock and single hop pilsner by the time this article is published. And all of their beers are brewed with natural carbonation. The smart brewery gets 100% of their carbonation through spunding. Enegren produced 2,000 barrels last year and will be installing a canning machine in mid-April.

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.'s Westlake Village taproom features a rotating list of specialty and cask beers and an artisanal menu featuring fresh gastropub fare. Try their Agua Santa Negra, a 5.1% ABV Mexican-Style Dark Lager, their Deisui Suru, an 8.0% ABV Japanese Imperial Lager or their English style India Pale Ale, a 2017 GABF silver medal winner, Hoppy Poppy IPA.

Did you know that a “thread” is a term sometimes used when blending two or more beers together? Located on Via Colinas in Westlake Village, Five Threads Brewing Company has been brewing since October 2015. You’ll find various styles like Heidi, their Bavarian Hefeweizen, Red, a Nelson Red Rye IPA and High Gear, their Mocha Oatmeal Stout.

Fluid State is already making waves with their awesome selection of craft beer and craft, organic pizzas. Since May of 2017, the restaurant/beer bar has impressed locals and beach town visitors alike with their authentic offerings.

Fluid State Feb2018

“We feel like there’s something to be said for having a business that’s based on friendships and relationships, not based on what is trendy. A lot of the beer that we have here tends to be – it just so happens to be breweries that are on the cutting edge – but that’s not the main reason we have them on tap. The main reason we have them on tap is because we have relationships with these guys. We’ve known them for years.”

Aaron Duncan and Jen Schwertman want to support those authentic breweries in the industry.

Some of the beers offered are the smaller, independent breweries that don’t yet distribute. Jen has been in the beer and bar world since the fall of 1992, having started at Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver. Aaron started homebrewing about 15 years ago in Santa Cruz and then opened a craft centric restaurant in 2007. He then started working for Ninkasi Brewing, helping to launch Ninkasi down the coast from Santa Cruz to north Los Angeles, which eventually brought him to Santa Barbara. Jen and Aaron met at the Great American Beer Festival in 2010, and eventually joined forces to create Fluid State.

The redwood bar, Chicago made steakhouse barstools and the big horseshoe bar help make Fluid State casual, social and meaningful. You won’t find tv’s, but you’ll find a fantastic deck and 24 taps.

14 Cannons is a production brewery and showroom, which opened in October 2017. Located in Westlake Village, the brewery features nine taps with beers like Spice Island Chai Tea Brown Ale and Slippery Deck Imperial IPA.

Institution Ale Company opened in 2014 and is producing excellent, clean beers like their 7.5% ABV West Coast IPA, Institution IPA. Or, try their new Double Dry Hopped Institution IPA, their flagship IPA double dry hopped with Columbus, Mosaic, Simcoe and Centennial hops. Restraint is a 6.0% ABV Maple Brown Ale with notes of nuttiness, chocolate, roasted coffee, maple sweetness and woodsy dryness. Institution recently expanded from 12,800 sq./ft to nearly 29,000 sq. ft. proving the quality of their brews.

Ladyface Alehouse is the first microbrewery in the Conejo Valley and produces award-winning Belgian, French and American style ales, on site. Since late 2009, they’ve been serving beautiful Biere de Garde’s like their 7.5% ABV Dérailleur®.

Ladyface2

Try their divine Golden Farmhouse ale, Trébuchet®, which was created with Ladyface’s Chaparral Saison brewed with honey from bees foraging on the local mountain sage scrub habitat and then ages in California Sauvignon Blanc barrels with Lactobacillus for over a year. Their seasonally-inspired European bistro-style menu - featuring its ales in many recipes - is also not to be missed.

Ladyface-Feb2018

Leashless Brewing is an eight month old certified organic brewery located on Thompson Blvd. in a 1930s-era building. Their V-Town IPA shines with navel orange and mangos. Their Tri-Fin Tripel is a classic Trappist with hints of black pepper and fruity yeast giving off notes of citrus and apricot.

MadeWest Brewing Co. is run by Ventura natives, which shows through their community involvement and mindedness. Founded in 2014, in the heart of Ventura, you may find some exceptional beers like their On The Juice, a hazy double IPA loaded with Galaxy, Citra and Ekuanot hops or Prospect, a Vanilla Coffee Porter, dosed with whole Madagascar Vanilla beans and 100 lbs. of single origin coffee beans roasted by Prospect Coffee Roasters, also in Ventura.

Head over to Davy Jones' Locker where Brian Oliver has been serving quality beers since 2014. Poseidon Brewing Company has been serving tasty DIPA’s, Brown and Cascadian dark ales and Imperial Chocolate Oatmeal Stouts since 2014. They quickly lived up to their mantra, “Ales With Depth.”

Smoke Mountain is a boutique farm brewery located on top of Rincon Mountain, bordering Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. The hops, barley, produce and herbs are all grown locally, on their farm. While they have no taproom, the beer club is popular among locals – which can be mailed or enjoyed at their “Pick Up Parties.” You may also find some distributed locally, by visiting their social media pages.

Founder & CEO, Ali Zia is bringing is beer background and expertise from Newbury Park’s Bottle & Pint to the future Thousand Oaks brewery, Tarantula Hill Brewery. Bottle & Pint is a craft beer exclusive bottle shop, taproom and retail shop that opened in Newbury Park three years ago.

Tarantula Hill Brewery will be opening likely in two phases, with the brew-side of the building opening first – around October. They will start with festivals and select tastings. Around December, they will start serving not just the beer, but artisan pizzas and small batch ice-cream. Speaking of deliciousness, keep a look out for guest chef beer dinners, beer & ice-cream pairings and artisan coffee, all with the idea of pairing and enjoying together.

John Edney will be managing the restaurant, including the super-premium ice-cream. The first brewery in Thousand Oaks will appropriately be located on Thousand Oaks Blvd., exact location to be announced March 1st. The Thousand Oaks High School, class of ’91 natives want to incorporate the town as much as possible, using local ingredients and naming beers after local landmarks. The brewer – who’s yet to be revealed – has a over a decade of experience at one of the biggest breweries in the country. Ali and the team at Tarantula Hill know what craft beers the locals are gravitating to from serving them at Bottle & Pint, and so you likely see some IPAs, big stouts and some crisp lagers – among other styles.


Twisted Oak Tavern has made some awesome contributions to the VC beer scene since 2015, featuring beer from their in-house brewery, The LAB Brewing Co. Located in Agoura Hills, it was even voted best beer bar in California in 2016 by CraftBeer.com. Brewmaster, Roger Bott has been brewing beer for over 20 years and has taken the gold in two Casa Pacifica Beer Festivals. With a heavier focus on IPAs and Belgian ales, Twisted Oak features 32 taps showcasing around six of their own award-winning beer.


Topa Topa opened in June 2015 and has built their brewery on three core values; quality, craftsmanship and community spirit. They make beer that they like to drink. Jack is CEO & cofounder of Topa Topa, Kyle Thomson is CFO/COO and cofounder and cofounder Casey Harris brews their delicious brews. They typically have about 12-18 beers on tap, where 70% of production is Chief Peak IPA. Look for double IPAs, barrel aged beers and their “Solitude Series,” their single hop series, which is a taproom special that showcases a new hop every two months. And they’re doing so well, they opened their second taproom in Santa Barbara in October 2017. And look out for a third location in Ojai, adding a food element to the mix.

“As new breweries open, I think it’s human nature for people to think, ‘oh man, is that going to hurt your business?’ and we’ve just gotten busier and busier with every single brewery that’s opened. We love it…we think that spirit kinda’ sets us up for success.”

Jack also credits the newer craft beer drinkers in the area and their culinary curiosity.

“People just sort of skipped over Ventura and Santa Barbara area, and I think that’s changed now. We hope to change it with such a diverse, stylistically group of breweries.”

Their goals for 2018 are expanding, to simply make more beer and increase efficiency.

Many of the breweries in the county – including Topa Topa – have recently joined the Central Coast Brewers Guild, where Dyer sits on the board. The guild has expanded to include Ventura County, now with over 50 members. There is a Southcoast Chapter and the Northcoast Chapter.

Ventura Coast Brewing Company is proving that a taproom model with approachable beer, a nice patio in a great downtown location just works. They opened October 2016 and is selling a good number of lagers, hoppy pilsner and increasingly their new sours. Kyle thinks the beer culture has changed and grown even in just the past two-three years.

VCBC-Feb 2018

“I don’t think anyone really directly looks at anybody as a direct competitor. Even in distribution, where handles are getting a little bit tighter, it’s all culture growth at this point…the more the merrier,” said Kyle Thille, founder of VCBC.

Kyle and head brewer, Dan White (former head brewer at Smog City) wants to introduce new styles to the community, on an elevated and balanced level. They’ve started a tiered barrel program, separating those entry level sours and also offering wood-aged beers.

Westlake Brewing Company serves craft beers and live music on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Play on their old-school pinball machines and a regulation shuffle board table.

Published in The Beer Goddess Blog

Topa Topa Brewing Company celebrated three years on June 9th. I spoke with owner and co-founder, Jack Dyer about their rapid growth and success.


EP: So tell me about celebrating three years. What have you done to make it such a success?


JD: It's been a very humbling and fun three years. That’s for sure. I think for us, just turning three and being able to grow with the community and really try and focus on that, supporting the community both with the craft beer community and our local nonprofits. It's just a really fun experience for us. It’s had some ups and downs. But we came to market really knowing who we are and what we, what we'd like to brew, what we like to make at the company, who we want to be. I think that's the difference. It's made us successful to just really, really, focus on making the highest quality product we can, doing things ourselves and at the end, supporting the community.

So we have three core values that we follow, to make every decision and they’re quality, craftsmanship and community spirit. So we try and instill that in everything that we do from the tap room to making beer to the projects and nonprofits that we support. I think that that's what's helped us be successful and grow to the point where now we've outgrown our facility and we're making, we're building a new, larger facility to be able to make some more beer. We have grown our company from three employees to, now we have 35. So it's a blessing. It's super fun.


EP: Go into more of who you are, you are the other founders. As far as beer trends, do you follow those?

JD: There’s three founders. It’s myself and Kyle Thompson and Casey Harris, who's our head brewer, but he also an owner in the company which, which, Kyle and I really think is important. And you know, we want him – Casey - invested financially in the success of the company. The key for us in really the three of us. I can't speak highly enough of my business partners. They truly are like two of the smartest guys I know. And you know, we've built a nice kind of family culture and that’s been really important and really key for us, having the three of them to be able to focus on. Casey handles pretty much the entirety of the beer program.

Kyle handles a lot of the finances and special projects and I'm able to do more sales and marketing. So having the three of us I think has also played into our our ability to grow somewhat quickly because we kind of all take our pieces of puzzle and just do ‘em, do what we do. So as far as beer trends and things, we almost pride ourselves on not being trendy. We make beers that we like to drink and that we think our customers will enjoy and that's always been a focus for us since we started. So it seemed to work so far. So yeah, we really focused on keeping all our beer super, super fresh, as well, which is a very important piece of the puzzle. And I think within the market, the craft market's growing so crazy.

That's probably the most fun aspect of it - is that there's so much great local fresh beer available now. So we just try to capitalize on that. In particular, our Chief Peek IPA, that’s our flagship. Just keep it as fresh as possible. So you pull up to a bar in Santa Barbara County or Ventura County, it’s probably less than three weeks old. That didn’t used to happen in the beer game. So, now that’s the reality.


EP: So what, what do you think your hardcore Topa Topa fans who've been there since the beginning would say about you guys?


JD: Well, I hope that they love us. We really appreciate our customers and we try and take the time and effort to really give them a great experience every time they have one of our beers, whether having one at an account and a retail partner or at one of our tap rooms – we really want them to feel welcomed and at home and give them a space where they can come and converse and talk about beer and really engage with their community.

I like to think that, you know, our hardcore customers, and partners don’t just like us, they love us. We love them right back. I think a lot of our customers that have heard of over the years, they value our consistency that we're consistently putting out a high quality product. We don't run out of our flagship beers, you know. So I think that's a big thing that they really enjoy. We have great customers, regulars, that that's been a fun thing that - quite frankly I didn't really expect to have as many regulars. We know them by name. They’re part of the Topa family as well. So that’s been a fun thing as well, something that I didn't really anticipate when we undertook this starting a brewery thing.

EP: Right. Awesome. What’s been the most surprising thing in the past three years?


JD: Just been the pace at which we've been able to grow. We wrote the business plan based on kind of a set pace that we thought we'd be able to sell beer and grow our tasting room model. But the fact that we're working on our third location and that we're close to 5,000 barrels of production is, is pretty wild. But that was like year seven, eight, nine of our business plan and here we are in year three and we’re already there. So that's the most surprising thing and just the general support that we got from the community and to see the overall growth of Ventura County and Santa Barbara County and craft beer in general. That's the most surprising thing for me for sure. It's wonderful to see.

EP: And when do you guys have going on in July?


JD: Community spirit is always the forefront. We just dropped a collaboration beer with our friends at El Segundo Brewing Company. A group that, always, we just love those guys. We love their beer. They came to us. They really wanted to do something to benefit the Thomas fire. They are down in L.A. and they wanted to do something to help. So, we did a beer, it’s called Hat’s Off. We’ll probably have a few fun events. We already launched the beer down in L.A., but it's now hitting stores in the area, in Ventura and Santa Barbara County. But we're planning some fun event at Fluid State. That’s going to be one of them for sure. We don't have the date locked down yet, but we're working on that right now.
We brewed in down in El Segundo. El Segundo’s committed to a dollar of every beer going to two different nonprofits that help Thomas fire recovery efforts. Jen and Aaron have already committed that they’ll be donating some proceeds from that night…It will be in the next few weeks. Otherwise, we’re working hard, keeping our tasting rooms busy. I'm keeping up with our production. We're currently, we have two construction projects going on at Topa Topa right now. We have a third one and we're building a larger production facility so we're a little busy with that.


EP: Which leads me to my next related question, goals for the next three years?


JD: So we've always loved the taproom model, so are adding a couple more taprooms. That Ojai one should be open by late summer and that'll be a really fun project. We're partnering with a really great food provider in the region as well. So we'll have some fun food to pair with the beer there, we think it will be a nice enhancement. And the production facility is going to enable us to make beer to satisfy our network of draft accounts and also we're finally going to be able to get into the traditional packaging, cans. So that's going to be really exciting to see our beer getting into that format so that people can enjoy it, because currently right now, if you want a Chief Peak, find a draft account in Ventura or Santa Barbara County. So we're excited to do that. That'll be kind of what we focus on here for the next little bit.

We hope to have packaging by sometime before the end of the year. A lot of it has to do with timelines and permits, all the fun stuff that goes with building a new brewery. But yeah, we've already bought a canning line, so it's going to happen. We’re really excited to do it and provide some more beers out in the market as well.


Apparently we really only distribute Chief Peak, so we're excited to get a few more options out there for people. We make a lot of great beers, but a lot of people just know us for Chief Peak.


EP: Speaking of Chief Peak, congratulations on the Casa Pacifica win.


JD: Yeah, that was a fun win. We don't really measure ourselves by medals. But it’s always fun to be voted in by your peers. People tasting our beer. People get consistently surprised that Chief Peak is such a flagship beer, people are actually surprised when they're doing a blind tasting. It’s a really great beer. Casey and our team did a great job with that recipe. It's always so, so freaking fresh. It’s difference maker when you drink it, when you drink a week old IPA, that's pretty nice.


EP: What are your thoughts on the county now and how it's grown and versus three or five years ago.


JD: It's pretty amazing. I was just talking about this last night with Jason, the head brewer here at Allagash, where we're at. Just, the landscape and the diversity and the styles of beer is - in our region - is really fun and to see every business model working, I think that's the most compelling part is that whether you're a nano brewer, big production, distribution from day one. All these models are working.


That's a really fun thing to see. I find myself talking about the guys at Enegren a lot because I love that ]they're focusing on these German, real clean beer styles. You know, [you have] the guys at Casa Agria and their sour program. It's just really cool to see people succeeding and focusing on quality.


So that's the number one thing. I think that no longer is Ventura County a skip over spot when people pass through. You gotta’ stop and try the beers. There’s incredible diversity right here. And all those guys are friends of ours. They're good guys and they make good beer and they’re really committed to making the best product they can. We love it and when we decided to open in Ventura County, it was something we really focused on and really wanted to build a greater sense of community amongst the brewers and even like with our friends, with our retail accounts. Just really focusing on getting things going.

Published in The Beer Goddess Blog

Press Release May 18, 2018:

 Tarantula Hill Brewing Company is proud to announce that Mike Richmond will be our Brewmaster.

 

Mike spent the last 10 years honing his skils at Stone Brewing in San Diego under the tutelage of legendary Brewmaster, Mitch Steele. We are so excited to have a brewmaster of this caliber join the family.

 

As an added bonus, Mike is also locally grown, born and raised in Newbury Park.

 

Mike Richmond’s Bio: 

Mike was born in Thousand Oaks in 1980. After graduating from Newbury Park High School in 1998 he attended UCSB and graduated in 2002 with a degree in Biological Sciences. After a few years in Santa Barbara working as an Agricultural Technician for the State of California, he moved to Washington DC where he supervised DC’s largest 24/7 Veterinary Hospital for 6 years. During this time is when began home brewing. Mike’s love of brewing grew so much that he moved to Davis, CA in 2009 to complete the Master Brewing Program at UCD where he successfully passed the Institute of Brewing & Distilling, Diploma in Brewing Examination.

 

Weeks after completion of the program, Mike landed a position working under Master brewer Mitch Steele at Stone Brewing in San Diego, where he was for nearly 10 years.

 

Mike took full advantage of his time at Stone to learn how to run every piece of brewing equipment and to gain valuable managerial & operational experience. As Brewing Manager of a brewery the magnitude of Stone, the knowledge and experience he gained was invaluable for his next venture.

 

In May 2018, Mike headed back to his hometown in the Conejo Valley to become the Brewmaster for the first Thousand Oaks brewery, Tarantula Hill Brewing Company.  

Quote from Mike: 

“Hello Thousand Oaks and Newbury Park. Tarantula Hill Brewing Co. has been in planning for quite some time and I’m beyond excited to finally let our community and friends know that I’ll be returning with my fiancé Katie, as Brewmaster of our first brewery. This is an amazing ‘first of its kind’ project in T.O. created and run by a phenomenal group of local people. It’s great to be back in my hometown! I was born and raised here, graduated from Newbury Park High School (Go Panthers!) and my parents still live here. It feels great to have this opportunity to come back to my

roots. Along with our own families and the Tarantula Hill family we simply can’t wait to share this vision and hang out with some great craft beers together. See you soon. Cheers!” -Mike

 

Published in Beer News

What’s just as important as making good craft beer? Making sure it’s available to as many people as possible. 

The three-tier system was established after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 and not much has changed. An organization called Liberation Distribution (LibDib) is offering what it calls the first three-tier compliant web-based platform. LibDib creates an opportunity where makers and buyers can work directly together, thus giving restaurants, bars and retailers access to a larger variety of boutique craft libations.

Launched on March 22, the San Jose based company has over 250 accounts in California so far, and have moved onto New York.

I spoke with Cheryl Murphy, LibDib’s founder and CEO:

What prompted you to start LibDib?

It’s really crazy, just all of the industry consolidation that’s happening across all three, ya know, wine, beer and spirits; on the distributor side, that’s kind of what got me into doing what I’m doing here. I spent 20 years in the wine business; managing wholesalers…could never get their share of mind. And understandably so, they, especially when consolidation happens, they gotta’ pay attention to where their money is coming from and my winery was not big enough to really matter. 

So, every year I would make numbers or a distributor of mine would go out of business or they’d get acquired and then we would be at the bottom of the wrung at a giant distributor. It was like pulling teeth and I kind of had a little too much to drink one night when I was with my dad, who was my boss at the time. I was working at our family’s winery. 

And I said, ‘ya know, I cannot – you can’t do this based on the industry’s conditions. How can we be successful?’

When you take control of your own destiny, as a sales person, as a brand, is when you can be successful. But the problem is when you have a distributor, in between is beholden to larger companies, you can often, even though go out and get your own places and get your own sales, sometimes the distributor is beholden to other people so it’s not going to be top of mind to keep those placements or take those orders. 

NP ImageKeg

My whole goal is how can we facilitate legal three tier sales, I want to make sure that’s really important, we are part of the three tier system…But how can we enable small breweries, wineries, distilleries to do business with other small businesses, grocery stores, bars, restaurants, where there’s thousands and thousands of them, without a giant company in-between. 

The way my model works is that we built a two-sided web platform for the maker, what we call our supplier, where they can go in, put all their materials online, sales materials, POS, videos, social media links, everything about their brand…then they can buy right then and there. 

As a distributor, we collect the money. We pay the maker. We pay the taxes. We do all the things we have to do as a distributor.  We take half the margin. So, that’s anywhere from 15-20% of whatever product you’re talking about. And the maker is responsible for delivery. 

It’s been really interesting so far. A couple of the breweries that we have, they were self-distribution. But now we’ve kind of brought them back into the three-tier system because we’re taking care of a lot of the things that they don’t want to do. 

They want to go out and sell their brand. They want to make their beer. But they don’t want to collect. And they don’t want to invoice. And they don’t want to do all the things that are just a pain to do. So, we’re trying to make it easier for those guys, and we’re making it easier for the account side, cause the accounts like to carry small production craft products. But they don’t want to write 100 checks every month….

Small craft products don’t necessarily fit with the distribution, the current model of distributors. They’re not going to make enough money on your brand, so why would they care?

In working with us, you can have that direct fulfillment, but then still have the backend of the distributor with one invoice and one check.

So, in essence, they are saving money and able to get into more locations easier without having to do the self-distribution work. 

Exactly. A lot of breweries want to fulfill because they want to have that complete control, over the temperature, over everything. But they don’t necessarily want to do all the other stuff that the distributor does.

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How many craft breweries are on your system?

Well so far, there’s some compliant stuff, so it takes longer, but so far we have two breweries that are local around here. We have one from Alaska coming on…

What’s your biggest group so far? Would it be restaurants, or bars, or retailers?

So far, it’s bars and bottle shops. We’re working on a couple big deals. There’s a stadium that’s interested in working with us and having us get 15 or 20 taps, just totally unique, small craft beer stuff…

Have distribution companies taken notice yet?

Yes! I was very nervous about the wine and spirits folks, if they not be happy about this. But for the most part, they’ve been pretty accepting. They recognize that with this consolidation, that they need – their bread and butter is their bigger suppliers. And some of these folks, some of these little guys take away their time and effort from where they really make their money, so they like the idea maybe I can be like a incubator model for them…so far so good…the way that I’m starting to see trends happening on the spirits side too, and I think it will come with wine eventually, out of all of these giant companies, that they’re buying craft breweries. They know they need that to keep their market share. It’s going to happen in spirits too…

How do you think you’ll ultimately affect the big beer buyouts?

There’s so many small companies that need help with their distribution. I’m going after what I call the long tail of the industry. The  people that couldn’t get distribution, even if they wanted it…if you want to pick up and leave, you can go, pick up and leave.

This is a totally different vertical, but do you consider yourself to be in any way similar to AirBnB?

In terms of posting your things once, and having people from all over the world, and having hundreds of thousands of people be able to see it, yes. It’s definitely like the AirBNB of alcohol distribution.  It’s funny, VC’s around here will tell us, don’t tell us you’re the Airbnb of anything. But it gives people an idea. You can go in, you post your product, buyers from our legal market can see it and purchase it legally. 

Shotgun cover photo: @thebeerhiker
Published in The Beer Goddess Blog

Just when you thought the beer offerings at the annual music festival couldn’t get any more awesome, this year proved to be the most refreshing and abundant yet.

Published in The Beer Goddess Blog

Some beerand wine drinkers have the silly idea that you must be loyal to one beverage or style. Let me introduce myself. My name is Erin Peters, and I am a cross drinker.  

And I’m not the only one. 

A visit to California’s Central Coast is a perfect time to compare some of the world’s best artisan beers and wines. I recently took a drive up to Paso Robles and further north to the Monterey area to find out what craft beers wine experts turn to. 

Published in The Beer Goddess Blog

Technically summer was still two weeks away, but in Southern California the seasons are mostly irrelevant, and so it was under a sunny sky and with temperatures in the 80s that the Casa Pacifica Wine, Food, and Brew Festival opened. This annual event, now in its 22nd year, brings together restaurants, caterers, wineries, brewers, and hedonists ready to indulge their appetites with a clear conscience. Casa Pacifica provides services to families and children in crisis, including abused and neglected children and families dealing with emotional and behavioral problems, with programs serving the Central Coast region. In one day this event would raise almost half a million dollars to support this worthy cause.

Published in The Beer Goddess Blog
Wednesday, 09 September 2015 00:00

Mad River Brewing Announces New CEO

Blue Lake, CA – Mad River Brewing Company is excited to announce that Tom Del Sarto has joined their team as CEO. Del Sarto comes to Mad River with over 35 years of experience in the beer business. He began his career at Coors West Distributing on the San Francisco peninsula working his way up to Vice President/Managing Partner before transitioning his team to South Bay Beverage, the Miller/Coors distributorship in Santa Clara County.

Del Sarto is replacing Charlie Jordan, who has accepted a leadership position with a virtually located company that allows her more flexibility to spend time with family. “It is a very exciting time at Mad River right now,” said Ms. Jordan. “I am grateful to the owners for trusting me to lead the company through several changes including the completion of a brand refresh.”

For the past eight years, Del Sarto has provided consulting services to the beverage industry with a focus on the craft beer segment and distribution. On his decision to take the helm at one of California’s first craft breweries, Del Sarto states, “Mad River has a great product and great people. I feel that my experience on both the distributor and supplier side can help grow the business in the evolving craft beer market.”

Recent growth at the award-winning brewery also includes the addition of a kitchen to the Mad River Tap Room. The popular brew pub offers a family friendly environment with a variety of tasty cuisine for all ages, and local bands are featured on most nights. The outside beer garden welcomes pets and offers plenty of sunshine to enjoy your Mad River brew with family and friends.

About Mad River Brewing Company:

Built in Humboldt County in 1989, Mad River is an award-winning craft brewery and one of the first in California. Their distinct ales are renowned for their unique flavor profile and consistent quality. Their flagship brand, Steelhead Extra Pale Ale, and their John Barleycorn Barleywine have received gold medals at The Great American Beer Festival (GABF), the industry’s most prominent award. In 2010, Mad River Brewery was select as the “Small Brewery of the Year” by the GABF. The brewery produces a broad array of beer styles and flavor profiles.

Published in Beer News

(Thousand Palms, CA) – Locally owned and operated Coachella Valley Brewing Co (CVB) will celebrate its second anniversary of craft beer brewing at its Thousand Palms brewery in October. The first two years of business have brought the company numerous accomplishments, including increased distribution, multiple industry awards, and doubled sales from the previous year.

To celebrate its second anniversary with devoted fans and the community, CVB will hold a beer festival-style party at its brewery with live music and food vendors on Saturday, October 17, 2015 from 2 – 9 p.m.

David Humphrey, CVB Co-founder and CEO, said: “I’m so proud of what the brewery has been able to accomplish in just two short years. We have positioned ourselves for growth without compromising our core values – producing beer that reflects our valley and all that makes it special. The past two years have been an amazing journey and our upcoming celebration is about great beer and the great Coachella community that we live in.”

Since opening its doors in August 2013, CVB has achieved significant success:

  • Became the first fully-dedicated ABC license ‘Type 23’ brewery in the region;
  • Secured statewide distribution with Young’s Market Company of California and Arizona;
  • Earned a 2014 silver medal for Monumentous IPA in CVB’s first competition at the Los Angeles International Commercial Beer Competition; and earned a 2015 gold medal for Monumentous IPA;
  • Earned 2015 gold medals for Monument on Fire and Phoenix at the Los Angeles International Commercial Beer Competition;
  • Secured more than 100 tap handles in the Coachella Valley;
  • Featured in more than 900 out-of-valley accounts;
  • Featured on draught in key accounts, including Downtown Disney, LA Live/Staples Center, and locations in downtown Los Angeles and San Jose;
  • Featured at the world-renowned Coachella Music and Arts Festival for two years in a row;
  • Transitioned three core brands into 6-pack long necks for greater distribution;
  • Selected to pour at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado two years in a row; and selected as a presenter at the Great American Beer Festival on the topic of brewery efficiency;
  • Started extensive small batch barrel aging and sour program using local ingredients from farmers within the Coachella Valley.
  • Voted the “Best Brewery” in the Coachella Valley by CV Weekly;
  • Named as a top 12 brewery in the California by the Culturetrip.com
  • Awarded most commercial water-friendly business in the Coachella Valley by the Coachella Valley Water District.

Chris Anderson, CVB’s Head Brewer and Chief Operating Officer, said: “We attribute the brewery’s success to quality beer matched with a quality brand. But most importantly, the hardworking team at the brewery is what really makes CVB great.”

Martin Wadley, Vice President, Beer, Young’s Market Company, said: “Young’s Market Company is proud to represent Coachella Valley Brewing Co and congratulates the brewery as they celebrate their second anniversary. Over the past two years, CVB has proven to be a strong and valued addition to Young’s portfolio. CVB is doing a great job competing in California – one of the most competitive beer markets in the country – and CVB is winning by offering consistent, creative and award-winning beers.”

The anniversary celebration will be held at Coachella Valley Brewing Co at 30650 Gunther St., Thousand Palms, from 2 – 9 p.m. Attendees will receive a free souvenir tasting glass, along with 12 beer tastings for the $20 admission price. Coachella Valley Brewing Co promises great fun and most of all great, local craft beer at the event. For more information, visit www.cvbco.com or call the brewery at 760.343.5973.

About Coachella Valley Brewing Co
Since opening its doors on August 30, 2013, Coachella Valley Brewing Co has grown from a small lofty notion into a full-fledged reality. Locally owned and operated in Thousand Palms, California, Coachella Valley Brewing Co is committed to crafting beer that showcases the agriculture and attitudes of the desert. Locally grown, quality ingredients are used to create expertly crafted beers that deliver exceptional taste and a ‘farm to glass’ experience.

Published in Beer News

For Immediate Release: Contact: Matt Turner
Phone: 805-448-3358

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

SB Hustlers to host Shakes'Beer Festival at SB Historical Museum

Santa Barbara, CA · July 21, 2015––On Friday September 18, 2015, from 6:00 – 10:00 pm the SB Historical Museum will be hosting Shakes'Beer, a Shakespeare in the Park meets a beer festival pairing beers with different Shakespearean characters and themes. This event will feature a cast of fifteen actors and actresses who will be directed by David Holmes. Scenes, monologues, and lines from a wide range of Shakespeare's plays will be featured. Interpretive ballet and an Elizabethan dance session will be directed by Cecily Stewart. Waters Rising, a three-person acoustic band, will play theme music throughout the evening. The beers will be curated by local Certified Cicerone, Zachary Rosen, who is working with local brewers to craft unique beers that match the different characters and themes being shown. Snacks will be provided by Whole Foods Market and meals will be available for purchase. All profits will be donated to the SB Hustlers, who have commissioned this project. Tickets are available at SBHustlers.org

This festival is a benefit for, and the brainchild of, the Santa Barbara Hustlers for Peace and Prosperity, a new volunteering community in Santa Barbara. The SB Hustlers are an approved project of the Share The Wealth Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. This new organization provides volunteering opportunities for those interested in becoming more engaged with their local community. The SB Hustlers promotes positive social change through personal commitment and volunteering. “We hope to positively impact every single resident in Santa Barbara by the year 2020,” says Matt Turner, co-founder of the SB Hustlers. Only in their first year of operation, this blossoming non-profit has already provided support for such organizations as A Year Without War, Earth Day SB and SB Open Streets.

Shakes'Beer is being curated by Zachary Rosen, Certified Cicerone (beer Sommelier), a specialist in abstract beer pairing events whose work combines beer with music and art in both artificial and natural environments. Rosen has worked with eight breweries to custom design ten different beers for the evening. “It has been incredible to see how the brewers have gotten behind this project. With cask beers, barrel-aged barleywines and spiced beers, this is one of the most exciting beer lists that I've seen at a festival,” says Rosen. Each beer has been custom designed to reflect a different Shakespearean character and was made just for Shakes'Beer.

The performances will be directed by David Holmes, who brings over thirty years of experience directing plays and musicals including eight fully staged Shakespeare productions. “David's dedication to this production and his insight on Shakespeare's works have been critical for Shakes'Beer, says Rosen. “David has produced a script that takes the audience through a lighthearted and whimsical selection of popular scenes and monologues,” Rosen continues. Cecily Stewart of State Street Ballet and Library Moves has directed interpretive ballet performances of literary works including Shakespearean plays. Stewart will be choreographing traditional Elizabethan dances alongside era-themed music from Waters Rising, a 3-piece acoustic band who will use a range of instruments including an accordion, cello, guitars and other stringed instruments.

# # #

To Arrange Interviews and More Information, Please Contact:

Contact: Matt Turner
Phone: 805-448-3358

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Shakes'Beer Tentative Beer List

1. brewLAB: Romeo (Romeo & Juliet) Red Purl-Saison with Perle hops, Wormwood, Orange Peel, & Licorice Root

2. Rincon Brewery: Juliet (Romeo & Juliet) Belgian IPA with Falconer's Flight hops, Hibiscus, Vanilla Beans, & Orange Peel

3. Telegraph Brewing: Gingered Julia & Bonny Kate (Two Gentlemen of Verona & Taming of the Shrew) White Ale with Fresh Ginger, Pineapple, and Scotch Bonnets

4. CARP Brewers: Benedick (Much Ado About Nothing) Blonde Robust Porter with cacao nibs and coffee

5. Captain Fatty's: Beatrice (Much Ado About Nothing) Black Witbier with citrus peels, white pepper, chamomile and honeysuckle

6. CARP Brewers: Falstaff (Henry IV & The Merry Wives of Windsor) Imperial Mild Ale

7. CARP Brewers: Mistress Page & Mistress Ford (The Merry Wives of Windsor) Scotch Ale & Scottish Ale produced by parti-gyle technique

8. Island Brewing: Bottom (A Midsummer Night's Dream) Paradise Pale Ale on Cask with Dandelion Blossoms, Wildflower Honey, and Meyer Lemon

9. Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.: Queen Titania (A Midsummer Night's Dream) Lizard's Mouth Double IPA on Cask with Dragon Fruit, Jasmine, and Cardamom

10. Pure Order Brewing Co.: King Oberon (A Midsummer Night's Dream) Montecito Peak Barleywine aged on French White Oak Bordeaux Barrels

Note: Parti-gyle brewing is where you load a large amount of grain in the mash. A first stronger beer is brewed from the mash and then a second batch of beer is made from the same grain, producing a weaker beer than the first.

Published in Beer News
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