Meet Adrian Barrera the Head Brewer at KRBC, Moo doubles its tap capacity, local podcasts join forces and Born Yesterday is still an infant. All this and more On Tap This Week.
Wednesday 10/26 – Moo Creamery may or may not be bringing us Flights and Bites this week. As of press time it is too close to call. See the reason below in the Short and Sweet (or Sour) section.
Sunday 10/30 – Kern River Brewing Company brings us their next beer pairing on Sunday and this time it’s the most important meal if the day: Breakfast. The event is at 10AM and will feature an amazing line up of delicious pairings. You can get your tickets at the brewery or by calling 760-376-2337 and paying over the phone. Check out the KRBC Facebook page for more info on the pairings. Here’s a list of the featured beers:
Class X Stout, Gravity Check Session IPA, Think Tank #11, Pumpkin Ale, Salted Caramel Roasted Pumpkin Seed Cask
“Because EVERY Breakfast should start with Class X…” – Brent David
This is the first iteration of a new feature series I’m going to be publishing throughout 2017. Once a month or every other month (depending on my level of laziness) I will focus on a different local, commercial or home brewer with a Brewer Profile. I’ll try to get a little insight on the brewer’s experiences, thoughts on the industry, current focus and other stuff that I come up with on the fly. I’ll ask the hard-hitting questions that I’m know for like: What’s your favorite hop or what are you working on now… So without further ado, here’s the first installment:
Episode 4: A New Hope
Adrian Barrera – Kern River Brewing Company Head Brewer
Adrian Barrera has been with Kern River Brewing Company for about a year. He was recently named head brewer of Kernville’s only brewery. His love for brewing and desire to hon his craft brought him to this sleepy town on the Kern River where the big events of the year are Whiskey Flat Days and Citra releases. Kern River Brewing Company, known for its GABF gold medal winning Citra DIPA, Just Outstanding IPA, Class V Stout, Hop Nookie IIPA and multiple other sought after brews is growing and changing. The venerable brewery expanded its footprint and brewing capacity by adding The Backyard and a new 20bbl brew system earlier this year. With the departure of long time brewer and co-founder Kyle Smith the position of head brewer was open and Adrian fit the bill nicely.
In 2013 after years of home brewing in his home town of Fresno, which Adrian credits with his attention to detail and perfectionism when it comes to recipe development, the opportunity to jump into the world of commercial brewing presented itself at Tioga Sequoia. Kevin Cox the head brewer for Tioga gave Adrian a shot, after a relentless wave of persistent convincing, to do what he loved professionally. Adrian’s tenure at TS saw a ton of growth as they progressed from 6 fermenters to 18. He had the opportunity to brew the first production batch of Tioga Sequoia’s Batch 250 a triple IPA (now known as Tecumseh Imperial IPA).
About a year into Adrian’s stent with Tioga Sequoia he got an offer from Todd Holder (previously with Tioga Sequoia) who was now brewing with Krebs brewing located in Krebs OK. Krebs did most of the contract brewing for Prairie Artisan Ales who is known for its selection of sour and barrel aged beers. This provided an opportunity for Adrian to learn some new skills, work in an even higher production output facility and gain a vast amount of knowledge in an area he was very interested in. Krebs came to be known affectionately as a bomb factory due to the fact that they brewed the extremely popular Prairie Bomb about 4 days a week. With hundreds of oak barrels in the facility at any given time this was the perfect place to learn about barrel aging and souring beers.
About a year later, the drive for new brewing experiences and the desire to get back to California brought Adrian to the Sacramento area. A small brewery in Rocklin CA named Boneshaker Community Brewery (now Black Vinyl Ale Project) was interested in starting a sour program and reached out to Adrian. He was there for a short time but it didn’t stick. This opened the door to Track 7 Brewing Company. Owner’s/Brewer’s Ryan Graham and Geoff Scott brought Adrian on and gave him an opportunity to showcase his sour and barrel age recipes with a well-known, large-volume brewery. Not unlike KRBC, Track 7 has two brew systems; a seven barrel system down town and a thirty barrel system in nearby Natomas. In addition to the sour and barrel programs, Track 7’s hoppy beer focus was similar to his beginnings at Tioga Sequoia. The beers did tend to have a more balanced approach with residual malt backgrounds and lots of dry hopping which he appreciated. Adrian was happy and comfortable at Track 7. He wasn’t looking for a change but it’s hard to pass up an opportunity brewing with KRBC when it presents itself. A chance meeting with Eric Giddens, owner of KRBC, at an event brought this opportunity to fruition last November.
Life in Kernville
The move to Kernville with his girlfriend and seven year old daughter was easier than expected. Eric and Rebecca helped them find a house and get familiar with the community, his daughter has made friends and the family oriented atmosphere of the brewery is welcoming and a huge plus. Brewery employees often get together with their families for a meal and a few beers; the kids play and adults discuss the day’s events over a pint. The town is small enough that a trip to the gas station or grocery store usually includes a run in with a fellow employee. These are the charms of small town life. Adrian’s family and in-laws are relatively nearby in Fresno and Visalia which is also a huge benefit; one of the reasons he wanted to move back to California in the first place.
Influences and Favorites
Adrian’s favorite hop is Nelson. No doubt unconventional to some, but spot on for others. He counts mix fermentation beers as his favorite type to brew, think tart Saisons and Berliner Weisse. It’s no surprise that Cellar Maker, Rare Barrel, Almanac, Shady Oak Barrel House, Highland Park and Phantom Carriage are all breweries that Adrian feels are putting out amazing beers right now. Some of his influences and mentors in the industry (Kevin Cox of Tioga-Sequoia, Todd Holder of krebs, Chase Healey of Prairie Artisan Ales and Bruce McPhee of Track 7) are people he got to work with and helped him learn and establish himself. This is an admirable quality and shines a positive light on the craft/indy beer industry. Most of the brewers and breweries are all about passing on knowledge and working together to put out a better product and help their fellow brewers reach the next level of proficiency.
In the Pipes: A Pale Ale, Collaborations and Mix Fermentations
The KRBC flagship beers are alive and well. Adrian is following the tried and true: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra. That doesn’t mean there won’t be some new and exciting stuff happening though. Just recently tapped is Wet Exit a wet hopped IPA that I had the chance to sample when I met Adrian. The insane amount of Simcoe and a touch of Mosaic wet hops put into the boil and secondary create a super fresh and dank flavor bomb. An absolute must try next time you’re in Kernville if it’s still available. Other new options currently available are: Pumpkin Ale (bottles on shelves now), Night Hike Amber Ale (on tap) and River Buddy Pale Ale (on tap). The future holds promise. In addition to KRBC starting a mix fermentation program and a barrel aging program (30 wine barrels to be filled with a yet to be named Brett project), there’s also: next month’s Citra release, their collaboration IPA, brewed with Tahoma and Amarillo hops, done with Nickel Beer Company for San Diego Beer week (available on tap at the brewery in November), an upcoming pair of collaborations with Mraz Brewing Company (an IPA and a sour) that will probably be available in bottles at the brewery 4-6 weeks after they brew in November and more unannounced collaborations in the future.
KRBC has always been a favorite brewery of mine. It has garnished the respect of better beer drinkers, industry insiders and brewers from across the country. With the expanded facility, steady leadership of Eric and Rebecca and new brewer in Adrian Barrera looking to venture into bold new directions while staying true to the roots and focus of the Kern River Brewing Company we all know and love, I think the coming years will give us even more reasons to take the trip up that windy canyon to get our hands their world class beers.
For Your Ears
Mash Time – A Brewing Podcast recently release episode 7 which features longtime home brewer, BJCP Judge and local blogger (The Local Mash) Craig Zubris. This episode is packed with home brew knowledge as Stuart, John and Craig delve into the intricacies of brewing.
IPA Today Podcast released episode 11 earlier this month where Kenny and Richie conduct a self-evaluation. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to these guys, give it a shot. The subject seems to bounce around but that’s what I like about it. I find myself laughing out loud sometimes and enjoy the not so serious look at craft beer and the local craft beer community.
In collaboration news… Mash Time and IPA Today podcasts recorded a joint session today. Keep an eye out for it to be posted later this week!
Things to Click
Click the links; you know you want to…
Short and Sweet (or Sour)
Lagunitas Born Yesterday fresh hopped Pale Ale is showing up all over town. It’s on tap at Eureka Burger and available in six packs at Save Mart, G.M. Liquor and Imbibe Wine and Spirits.
Moo Creamery is in the process of installing a new draft system. Due to compressor failure on their previous 9 tap system they decided to take this opportunity to upgrade. Once the new system is in place they will have 19 taps!
On tap this weekend over at Dionysus is Rest in Funk pt. 2, Boom or Bust and Barrel Aged Super Funkadelic as well as all the usual suspects. Sunday is Sour Sunday so go get your growlers filled with one of their delicious sours. They’ve also filled their newly acquired 30 barrel stainless fermenter for the first time.
In other Dio news, 2016 Olympus Society members will be able to pick up their 4th allotment of bottles at the November 19th membership bottle release which is Currantly Noir with Vanilla Beans aged in Oak barrels. The general public should be able to get a taste of this at the release party as was the case with past releases.
Save Mart has six packs of Lagunitas Brown Shugga Ale, bombers of Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin Bourbon Barrel Aged Oatmeal Stout (limit of one per customer) and six packs of Sierra Nevada Celebration Fresh Hop IPA.
Barrel House announced that the Central Valley (presumably that includes Bakersfield) will see some new stuff on shelves next month including: Mango IPA, Heidbanger Red Rye Scotch Ale aged in Rye Whiskey Barrels, Harvest Ale Spiced Brown Porter and Rosaline No. 1411 a two year Oak Barrel aged Sour.
If you like your beers with names that are hard to pronounce then Imbibe Wine and Spirits is your place. Adding to their list of beers with foreign words on their labels, they recently brought in two beers from Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! out of Quebec Canada: an American Porter called Chemin De Croix and a raspberry Berliner Weisse called Solstice D'été.
Also available at Imbibe: Anchorage Brewing Love and the Death of Damnation IPA, North Coast Brewing barrel aged Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, Fifty Fifty Brewing Old Conundrum Barley Wine and many more.
Local Craft Beer up in Tehachapi has their Coffee Stout back on tap. They just tapped a Bourbon Barrel aged Barleywine that was in Heaven Hill barrels for over 8 months. Currently in the fermenters are: 93561-D Double Local which is an 8.5% Imperial version of their Pale Ale, a new Snobs variant dubbed Double dry hopped rye Snobs and on deck to be brewed are: DDH Grain Man triple IPA and a session version of Nelson called Settle Down Nelson.
I’m sure there is plenty more to talk about that I missed. Comment below or send me a message if you have something that needs to be included next week or have a beer related event you want to promote.