He’s the laid-back yet hardworking senior engineering manager with a giving personality, and his partner is a popular yet humble brewer with a bundle of accolades to go with a quick wit. Tom Clark and Steve Donohue, respectively, joined forces in early 2012 to start Santa Clara Valley Brewing with the goal of opening their own brewery in San Jose, which would include a production facility and tap room. They hope for a late 2014 opening.
But first—based on the advice of craft beer pioneer Pete Slosberg of Pete’s Wicked Ale fame—Clark and Donohue took steps to establish their brand, as well as earn revenue sooner than later, by releasing contract-brewed beers to the public, through a relationship with San Jose’s Hermitage Brewing Company.
Santa Clara Valley Brewing’s first offering is an IPA—Electric Tower India Pale Ale—that debuted in May on tap at a number of local establishments and in 22-oz. bottles sold at Bay Area bottle shops. “The response has been really good, and we’ve been receiving a lot of positive feedback,” says Donohue on the IPA’s reception. Indeed, there’s a steady stream of positive reviews, all variations on the same theme: “Hoppy. Piney. Intense. Great West Coast IPA. When can we have the next beer?”
The much-anticipated second beer is a porter—Peralta Porter—that is highly drinkable with a pleasant bitter roast character, along with chocolate and coffee notes. The release party was held recently at Market Beer Co., and former San Jose mayor Tom McEnery helped to introduce the beer by providing a brief overview of the historical Peralta Adobe site. The Peralta Porter is also available in bottles and at select taps.
As for their third offering? According to Donohue, their third beer will be draft only and a seasonal offering, likely to be a Belgian style brew.
The text and the artwork on both bottles focuses on local history. For instance, the beer label for the IPA says, in part: “Built in 1881 to showcase the electrification of the west, San Jose’s Electric Light Tower stood for over 30 years as a shining star above the Santa Clara Valley. Our Electric Tower India Pale Ale reimagines this icon as an intensely West Coast style IPA.”
Clark and Donohue wrote the text, and the artwork was done by their friend Chris Canote. Canote also designed the Peralta Porter label and will help launch the Santa Clara Valley Brewing website soon.
Fans of local history might especially appreciate the connection between the brewing company name incorporating Santa Clara Valley and the names of their inaugural and second beers.
Clark says, “We wanted to identify the company with the region, so we kicked around a lot of possibilities. We are proud of the heritage of the area, from the early settlements through its agricultural past and up to today’s Silicon Valley, so we liked the idea of using ‘Santa Clara Valley’ to encompass all of that.”
And in regards to the names of their beers going forward? Clark adds, “All of our beers will pay homage to the valley’s history. We’re both very much interested in the rich history, and I don’t think we’re in danger of running out of inspiration.”
[This post was shared on SanJose.com.]