North Bay Business Journal

Monday, February 10, 2014, 5:55 am

Spotlight on North Coast craft brewing


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    Business Journal SpotlightThis is the Business Journal‘s inaugural spotlight on the leaders in the North Coast’s rapidly growing craft beer industry.

    According to the standard definition from the Brewers Association, a craft brewery is “small,” producing less than 6 million barrels annually; “independent,” at least three-quarters owned by craft brewers; and “traditional,” in that at least half the volume is from all-malt beer or uses brewing adjuncts that don’t “lighten” the flavor.

    Breweries featured are listed in alphabetical order by company name and were selected from the Business Journal’s 2013 list of largest North Coasts craft breweries. They are: 101 North Brewing, Anderson Valley Brewing, Bear Republic Brewing, Healdsburg Beer Comapny, Lagunitas Brewing, Marin Brewing, Mendocino Brewing, Moonlight Brewing, Napa Point, North Coast Brewing, Petaluma Hills Brewing, Russian River Brewing, St. Florian’s Brewery and Third Street Aleworks.

    Joel Johnson

    101 North Brewing Co., 1304 Scott St., Petaluma 94954, 707-778-8384, 101northbeer.com

    Joel Johnson of 101 North Brewing

    Joel Johnson

    Joel Johnson is owner of and brewmaster at 101 North Brewing Co., started about three years ago in Petaluma but first reaching production in 2012.

    Mr. Johnson said he brewed his first beer back in 1990 or 1991. He’s been involved with brewing elsewhere around the North Bay, including a previous stint as head brewer at Bear Republic Brewing Co. in Healdsburg and Cloverdale and Mount St. Helena Brewing Co. in Middletown. He also was a restaurant and bar manager in Chico and had myriad construction jobs before that.

    He earned an associate’s degree from Santa Rosa Junior College and was considering attending University of California, Davis. Instead, he opted to go straight into brewing, enrolling in the Craft Brewer’s Apprenticeship Program by American Brewer’s Guild in 1996.

    His favorite beer: “This is always a tough question, but I’d have to say that the beer that started it all for me is Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale.”

    Trey White

    Anderson Valley Brewing Co., 17700 Highway 253, Boonville 95415, 707-895-2337, avbc.com

    Trey White is president and owner of Anderson Valley Brewing Company, located in Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley community of Boonville. He’s been in his current role for nearly four years. He came on as president at the craft brewery after longtime owner and founder Ken Allen sold the company to him in 2010.

    Mr. White previously was an executive vice president with Stamford, Conn.-based United States Beverage. Prior to that, he managed corporate groups for National Wine & Spirits, based in Indianapolis. He has a BS from University of Indiana’s Kelley School of Business and an MBA from Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management.

    Richard Norgrove Jr.

    Bear Republic Brewing Co., 110 Sandholm Ln., Ste. 10, Cloverdale 95425, 707-894-2722, bearrepublic.com

    Richard Norgrove Jr.

    Richard Norgrove Jr.

    Richard Norgrove Jr. is one of the founders and owners of Bear Republic Brewing, a family-owned brewery known for its “hoppy” Indial pale ales (IPAs). It’s the North Bay’s second-biggest brewery.

    Mr. Norgrove has been brewmaster since the brewery was founded in Healdsburg in 1995. He first began brewing beer during college, 1988-1989, and was formally introduced to commercial brewing while serving in the Army.

    After his military service and brewing training, his first industry job was as an apprentice brewer for Marin Brewing in 1995. He then enlisted his family in helping to establish Bear Republic. It now operates a brewery and brewpub in downtown Healdsburg and a production facility in Cloverdale that produced more than 67,600 barrels of beer in 2012. That production is expected to double.

    He attended California State University, Sacramento, and after the Army attended the oldest American brewing school, The Siebel Institute of Technology. In between schooling, he worked as a production manager for a small, custom mountain bike company, Salsa Cycles.

    “By night, I was home-brewing and fabricating homebrew structures for the Beverage People Homebrew Shop,” he said.

    In 2006, he was awarded the Small Brewing Company and Brewmaster of the Year award from the Great American Beer Festival. To date, Bear Republic has won 19 medals at that festival.

    Kevin McGee

    Healdsburg Beer Company, 1670 Stirrup Loop, Healdsburg 95448, 707-385-9385, healdsburbeercompany.com

    Kevin McGee

    Kevin McGee

    Kevin McGee is proprietor and brewmaster for Healdsburg Beer Company, which he launched in 2007. It has earned multiple medals at the U.S. Open Beer Championship.

    Mr. McGee is also chief executive officer and founder of Tradecraft and Tradecraft Strategic Holdings, LLC, a strategic advisory firm and law practice dealing with cooperate and business development, restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, complex and multibusiness enterprise development and operations.

    He holds an executive certificate from Stanford University Graduate School of Business, a JD from Golden Gate University School of Law and a BA in English from Boston University.

    Tony Magee

    Lagunitas Brewing Co., 1280 N. McDowell Blvd., Petaluma 94954, 707-769-4495, lagunitas.com

    Tony Magee

    Tony Magee

    Tony Magee is chief executive officer and president of Lagunitas Brewing Co., which he founded in 1993 in west Marin County. It has since grown into the largest brewery in the North Bay and the sixth-largest craft brewery in the U.S. in sales volume, according to the Brewers Association.

    The company is currently in the works of opening a $25 million plant in Chicago and produced 265,420 barrels of beer in 2012.

    Mr. Magee, a Chicago native, brewed his first home batch in January 1993, and Lagunitas brewed its first in December that same year. Before brewing, Mr. Magee studied music composition and worked in sales, ranging from luggage to commercial printing.

    “I graduated from high school in the bottom one-fourth of my class and later dropped out of college after four years when they told me I had three years left to go,” he said.

    The brewery is renowned for its IPAs.

    His favorite beer: “Lagunitas IPA, of course, with Anchor Steam a close second.”

    Brendan Moylan

    Marin Brewing Co., 1809 Larkspur Landing Cir., Larkspur 94939, 415-461-4677, marinbrewing.com

    Moylan’s Brewery & Restaurant, 15 Rowland Way, Novato 94945, 415-898-4677, moylans.com

    Brendan Moylan

    Brendan Moylan

    Brendan Moylan is the top executive at Marin Brewing Co. and Moylan’s Brewery & Restaurant in Novato. The San Francisco native has been a longtime homebrewer and was a member of San Francisco’s homebrew club, The San Andreas Malts, for six years before becoming president of the club in 1986.

    In 1989, he and his late partner, Craig Tasley, opened Marin Brewing as a small brewpub on the edge of Larkspur. Mr. Moylan opened Moylan’s Brewery & Restaurant in Novato in 1995 and Stillwater Spirits/Moylan’s Distilling in 2004. The latter was one of the first microdistilleries in the region.

    He graduated from St. Mary’s College in Moraga with a BS in accounting. His interest in brewing stemmed from his experience working as beer manager at Jug Shop Liquors, one of San Francisco’s largest beer assortments, from 1978–1983. He also worked as sales manager for five years with Wolfgang Morandell Imports, one of the largest specialty beer importers and distributors in the U.S. He eventually ended up at U.C. Davis, where he took classes to further his beermaking skills.

    Vijay Mallya

    Mendocino Brewing Co., 1601 Airport Rd., Ukiah 95482, 707-463-2627, mendobrew.com

    Vijay Mallya is chairman of the board at Mendocino Brewing Co., the North Coast’s only publicly traded beer company. He’s held that role since 1997 and has also served as the company’s chief executive officer from 1997–2005. Gary O’Flanagan is brewmaster.

    Brian Hunt

    Moonlight Brewing Co., PO Box 6, Fulton 95439, 707-528-2537, moonlightbrewing.com

    Brian Hunt

    Brian Hunt

    Brian Hunt is the owner of Moonlight Brewing Co. in Santa Rosa. Started in 1992, it’s a small but influential veteran of the North Bay’s beer offerings. He first started fermenting things in high school, eventually graduating to beer in college.

    “It sure tasted bad even as a starving student,” he said.

    His first commercial job was in 1980 for Schlitz Brewing Co. in Milwaukee. There were only 43 brewing companies left in the U.S. at that point, he noted. He’s worked primarily in the brewing world, with a few brief stints at wineries and for wine barrel stave producer Innerstave between brewery jobs. He received a BS in fermentation science from U.C., Davis, in 1980.

    The brewery’s Death and Taxes, a dark lager, is one of its well-known brews. The brewery produces 2,000 barrels a year.

    Robert Dahl

    Napa Point Brewing, 388 Devlin Rd., Napa 94558, 707- 266-7344, napapointbrewing.com

    Robert Dahl is chief executive officer of Napa Point Brewing, one of the latest entrants into the North Bay’s beer market. It opened as a gastro- and brewpub late last year.

    Mr. Dahl moved to Napa from Minnesota in 2011 with his family. He founded California Shiners, a contract-bottling winery and acquired a vineyard in Yountville, starting Napa Point Winery.

    Mark Ruedrich

    North Coast Brewing Co., 455 N. Main St., Fort Bragg 95437, 707-964-2739, northcoastbrewing.com

    Mark Ruedrich is the top executive at North Coast Brewing Co., which has been in operation in Mendocino Count since 1988. It started as a restaurant and brewpub and has evolved into the North Coast’s third-largest brewery, producing 52,000 barrels of beer per year.

    Among its offerings, Scrimshaw Pilsner, Red Seal Ale and Blue Star Wheat Beer are widely recognizable brands.

    Jeffrey “JJ” Jay

    Petaluma Hills Brewing Company, 1333 N. McDowell Blvd., Ste. A, Petaluma 94954, 707-484-6911, petalumahills.com

    Jeffrey “JJ” Jay is the owner and founder of Petaluma Hills Brewing Company, a recently started brewery that plans to expand. Mr. Jay, a homebrewer for 20 years, decided to pursue brewing more regularly. He realized in 2008 that demand for his homebrew was high enough to sustain a business.

    Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo

    Russian River Brewing Company, 725 Fourth St., Santa Rosa 95404, 707-545-2337, russianriverbrewing.com

    Natalie Cilurzo

    Natalie Cilurzo

    Natalie Cilurzo and her husband, Vinnie, are co-owners of Russian River Brewing Company, arguably the North Bay’s best-known and highly sought-after brewery. It has earned a cult-like following, particularly after its seasonal brew Pliny the Younger was named “Best Beer in the World” by trade publication Beer Advocate.

    The brewpub was started by Mr. and Mrs. Cilurzo in 2004. Korbel decided to get out of the beer business and offered then-brewmaster Mr. Cilurzo and his wife the rights to the brand in 2003.

    Mr. Cilurzo grew up in a wine family in Temecula. He grew interested in in brewing and in 1994 was a business partner and investor in Bling Pig Brewing Company in Temecula. In 1997, the Cilurzos moved to Sonoma County after Mr. Cilurzo took the job with Korbel. While at Korbel, Mr. Ciluzro created the brewery’s flagship brand, Pliny the Elder.

    He has earned dozens of awards for his beers at the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup. But his most prestigious professional accolade came when he received the Brewer’s Association Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Craft Brewing in 2008.

    Ms. Cilurzo has held a number of positions in the wine industry before working with her husband full-time.

    Amy and Aron Levin

    St. Florian’s Brewery, 7704A Bell Rd., Windsor 95492, 707-838-2739, stfloriansbrewery.com

    Amy and Aron Levin

    Amy and Aron Levin

    Amy Levin is chief executive officer and co-owner of St. Florian’s Brewery in Windsor, and her husband, Aron, is chief operating officer and a co-owner.

    Mr. Levin, currently full-time fire captain for Windsor, had been a home brewer dating back about 20 years, getting his start as an assistant to his cousins who introduced him to hops and barley. As he honed his fire science skills, his brewing aptitude also came into its own. His fire career inspired Ms. Levin to name the brewery in honor of the patron saint of firefighters, St. Florian.

    Ms. Levin handles sales and marketing while juggling most other administrative facets of the brewery. She is a former Silicon Valley high-tech company sales andmarketing manager. 

    Mr. Levin handles all technical aspects of the brewery, including brewing, bottling and cellar management.

    The couple donates a minimum of 5 percent of profits to fire-related and community-based organizations.

    Both owners feel that picking a favorite beer changes depending on the ambiance of the day.

    Randy Gremp

    Third Street Aleworks, 610 Third St., Santa Rosa 95404, 707-523-3060, thirdstreetaleworks.com

    Randy Gremp is brewmaster for Third Street Aleworks, a brewpub that opened in 2005 in downtown Santa Rosa. Mr. Gremp, a veteran of the early days of the craft brewing industry, began his professional brewing career in 1992 at The Calistoga Brewing Co., based at the Calistoga Inn.

    Before brewing professionally he was an active member of the “Sonoma Beerocrats” Homebrew Club.

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    1 Comment

    1. February 10, 2014, 8:17 pm

      by Ed Chainey

      Nice assortment of beer fellows. Well written article.

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