Golden State Brewery Grand Opening in Santa Clara, Plus Q & A with Owners Seth Hendrickson and Brian Gomez

Golden State Brewery owners Brian Gomez (l) and Seth Hendrickson (r) a week before their brewery grand opening
Golden State Brewery owners Brian Gomez (l) and Seth Hendrickson (r) a week before their brewery grand opening

Santa Clara has been without a brewery for over 90 years, but that will no longer be the case as Golden State Brewery celebrates the grand opening of its taproom and brewery (1252 Memorex Drive) on Saturday, Feb. 13 from 12pm-8pm.

Three food trucks – Smoked Out BBQ, Gold Rush Eatery (4pm-close) and Treatbot (cookie ice cream sandwiches) – will be on hand, as well as music and, of course, beer – Heritage Honey Ale, Poppy Pale Ale, Eureka! IPA and Cold Brew Coffee Stout. Look for the release and reveal of Golden State Brewery’s fifth beer at the grand opening.

Guests will have the option of purchasing a grand opening special: For $30, guests will receive a wristband, a glass with the Golden State Brewery logo and unlimited pours throughout the event. For those forgoing the $30 special, separate beer tickets will be available for purchase.

As expected, there was a lot of hustle and bustle during a recent visit to the new taproom and brewery. With less than a week until the grand opening celebration, owners and founders Seth Hendrickson and Brian Gomez were gracious with their time as they answered some questions about themselves and the brewery. I sincerely thank them for inviting me and taking time out of their hectic schedules to show me around and to answer my questions.

Who are the folks behind Golden State Brewery?

SH: Golden State Brewery is just the two of us. My background is in restaurants. I’ve been a GM in restaurants for 12 years. I got into homebrewing about a decade ago and decided to put the two together. And here we are today. Brian and I met about a year ago.

BG: Right. We just hit it off and joined the venture.

What are your ties, if any, to the South Bay?

SH: I went to Cupertino High. I’m from Chicago originally but moved out here to the San Jose area when I was seven. I’ve been out here ever since.

BG: I was born and raised in Mountain View, so I’ve been here my whole life. I went to Mountain View High School and the local elementary and middle school just blocks from where I grew up.

When did you develop your interest in craft beer?

SH: I started in the craft beer scene about ten years ago, and I started brewing every Sunday with a good friend of mine in his garage – he’d been homebrewing for 20 years. And every week we’d buy a new piece of equipment, try new styles, and I fell in love with it. I knew I wanted to merge my experience in restaurants with beer production.

BG: I’ve been drinking IPAs, Pale Ales and now I just drink what we have.

What is the mission for Golden State Brewery?

SH: We’re striving to be California’s official beer brand. There are certain parts of California where beer is huge – San Diego, San Francisco – where you think of certain breweries. We’re focusing on being California’s official beer. Everything is California based. For instance, the labels for our beers – the Heritage Honey Ale, the Poppy Pale Ale, the Eureka! IPA – the bear’s on there, the stars are on there, everything is California-centric.

How did you come up with your name and logo?

SH: We thought about the name and wondered if anyone had the name. We looked it up, and it was available. Our artist Dan Stuckey helped create the logo with us, all the stickers, the different tap handles, all the bottle labels. He’s been a huge part of all of this. Our official logo has the star, the grains, the hops, the bear, the barrel and Golden State Brewery, Santa Clara, CA.

Speaking of Santa Clara, why select Santa Clara?

SH: Santa Clara is huge and upcoming. We’re in Santa Clara County. Levi’s Stadium is right here. The Quakes stadium is right here. We are the first brewery in Santa Clara since 1925, since Prohibition kicked out the only brewery in Santa Clara. It’s a huge opportunity to say it’s time to come to the city. We’re probably the only city in the area that doesn’t have a downtown, but I’m confident that’s going to change soon. There are breweries in San Jose, a couple in Sunnyvale, so we figured let’s start building up in a place where there’s no brewery yet. And I think that there’s really a hunger for one around here.

Please share your thoughts on the local beer scene.

SH: The whole Santa Clara County beer scene is really growing. San Francisco has got a ton of breweries, and everybody goes up there for those. But now they’re starting to do beer trips down here, like in Santa Cruz and at Hermitage Brewing, Santa Clara Valley Brewing and Strike – they’re all close to one another. There’s so much room to grow still down here, and there are so many people looking for great craft beer here. I know some good friends who will be opening up beer bars in the local area, and our brewery can really add to the beer scene.

Please share some details of your taproom and brewery.

SH: We’re a 7,000 square-foot taproom and brewery. The taproom expands to our game room which has two dart boards and a pool table. We have a whole side patio where everybody can enjoy eating from food trucks outside. The occupancy is 64 inside, not including our side patio.

We’ll be open Tuesdays through Sundays: Tuesdays through Fridays from 4pm-9pm; Saturdays from 12pm-8pm; and Sundays from 10am-5pm. We’re excited about getting the place open, getting some food trucks out here and having a good time.

We’ll eventually have 12 taps. We’re opening with five, and we’ll have our sixth one out in March and we’ll gradually go up from there.

Brewhouse specs.?

SH: It’s a 20-barrel brewhouse all created by Alpha Brewing Operations in Lincoln, Nebraska. We have a boiler in the corner that’s all steam – 1.2 million BTU output – 30-barrel hot liquor tank, 20-barrel cold liquor tank, 20-barrel bright tank, four 20-barrel fermenters, mill, grain case and the brewhouse. We do own a 100-barrel fermenter at Hermitage; they’ll be doing the majority of our bottling. We’ll do the kegging here. We’re trying to make sure that we have enough beer for all of California. Between the two facilities, our goal is to produce roughly 3,500 barrels in the next year.

Congrats on the grand opening. How does it feel to finally reach this point?

BG: It’s incredible. It’s surreal. We started with nothing, and it’s evolved to what you see behind you and in front of us. When we walked through those doors for the first time, it was a shell. You’re looking at hundreds and hundreds of hours of painstaking, hard work. And now we’re here. It’s goosebump quality.

SH: I haven’t even had time to think about it. We’re so busy putting the final touches on everything. A bunch of final inspections are happening this week, so my mind’s really focused on that. But to see the vision come from a little seedling to what it is now is really cool.

I encourage people who both like beer and don’t know about beer to come out and give us a shot. All of our beers are meant to be extremely drinkable. None of them is going to be over-the-top where you can’t have more than one – that’s our goal. Enjoy yourself, and we hope to see everybody.

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]