|Owner/Brewmaster Chris Miller|
Chris Miller, brewmaster for the Berryessa Brewing Company, invited me out to one of Northern California’s newest breweries and a sneak peak at it’s future.
Chris, a native of Seattle, Washington landed his first brewery gig in 2004 working for Pacfic Rim Brewing, where he learned the basics and then some. It was the “then some” that landed him at Snipes Mountain Brewery as their brewmaster in 2008. Snipes was located right in the middle of Washington’s Yakima Valley, the famous hop growing region. Given control over recipe development Chris began leaving his own mark.
Chris won bronze with his Coyote Moon British Mild, which he had changed from the original recipe. He also won the Yakima Fresh Hop Ale Festival with his own fresh hop beer, "Harvest". In a state with many established breweries and accomplished brewmasters, this is no fall feat. The Fresh Hop then went on to win Silver at the 2010 World Beer Cup.
With this success, Chris looked to open his own brewery and continue to develop his award winning styles and new ones. In March 2011, Chris left Snipes Mountain and started up the Berryessa Brewing Company. The brewery shares a large, former fruit packing facility with the established Berryessa Gap Vineyards.
If you have never had the pleasure of driving route 128 through Winters, around Lake Berryessa and down into Napa, it’s a beautiful drive. Orchards and farms line the route until you begin to climb the low mountains to Napa County’s largest lake and Monticello Dam that created it.
In my conversation and time talking and tasting his creative brews, its easy to see not only the passion, but the creativity and intelligence Chris has for brewing: from discussing the different types of obscure brettanomyces he is excited to use, to his methodical approach to trying new ingredients.
Chris is your northwesterner; short, scruffy beard; down-to-earth; a good storyteller; and a love for the band Phish.
The brews I’ve tasted in local watering holes and at the brewery, introduce a brewing style that strikes a balance between the new, the experimental and the familiar.
Common Sense, Berryessa’s take on the California Common beer, has the familiar flavors and feel of the common or steam beer (think a fresher Anchor Steam), but the use of Pilsner malts takes the beer in a different yet enjoyable direction.
Fresh Hop IPA, this IPA has HUGE fruit hop aroma and flavor with a subtle bite and maltiness. If you've had Deschutes Hop Trip, you will love this.
|Sunset Over Berryessa Brew Co.|
Lucca's, the Shack, Dad's Kitchen, Davis Beer Shoppe, Village Bakery and Restaurant (Davis), usually have the Fresh Hop on tap. The Davis Beer Shoppe also has cask nights and the Common on tap.