Tag Archives: Steve Donohue

Santa Clara Valley Brewing Hosts San Jose Founding Party, Plus Upcoming Loma Prieta Imperial Stout Release

San Jose is turning 239 years old on Tuesday, Nov. 29, and the fine folks at Santa Clara Valley Brewing (101 E. Alma Ave., San Jose) are celebrating with a San Jose Founding Party.

San Jose Founding Party

Currently closed on Tuesdays, Santa Clara Valley Brewing will make an exception for this event and open their doors on Nov. 29 starting at 3pm. From their event page:

“239 years ago the beautiful city of San Jose was founded, and we are going to celebrate that birthday in the traditional way – with beer! With the help of History San Jose, we are going to bring you a unique night at the brewery.

“We are going to have an historical demonstration on brewing and leather working, a brief lecture on the history of beer in the city, historical artifacts, and photos to check out. Also Beer! Don’t miss out on this night at Santa Clara Valley Brewing!”

During a recent visit to the brewery, I got word that Santa Clara Valley Brewing will be releasing their first-ever imperial stout – Loma Prieta Imperial Stout – next month. Look below for additional release information as well as some photos from recent visits.

Co-founder and CEO Tom Clark.

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Co-founder and brewmaster Steve Donohue.

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Sales manager Peter Estaniel.

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The brewery.

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Assistant brewer Adam Nanni filling kegs with Alviso Mills Hefeweizen.

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New taproom manager Gavin Goodman.

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About to sample soon-to-be-released Loma Prieta Imperial Stout.

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Loma Prieta Imperial Stout

Loma Prieta Imperial Stout – coming in at 10.2% ABV – is set to be released in mid-December.

Look for special flights of the beer and its variants to be available then – straight-up Loma Prieta, Loma Prieta on nitro, barrel-aged Loma Prieta in bourbon barrels and barrel-aged Loma Prieta in rye barrels.

Additional photos from a prior visit below:

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Steve voguing to the music and with taproom employee Christian.

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Dairy Hill Milk Stout on nitro.

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Peter and COO Coleen Clark.

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Peter, Peter’s wife Sammy and fellow beer enthusiast Steve.

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Santa Clara Valley Brewing Hosts Inaugural Beer Dinner

Santa Clara Valley Brewing to host inaugural beer dinner Jan. 27, 2016
Santa Clara Valley Brewing to host inaugural beer dinner Jan. 27, 2016

Santa Clara Valley Brewing will host their first ever beer-and-food pairing dinner at their brewery (101 East Alma Ave., San Jose) on Wed., Jan. 27, 6:30pm-9:30pm.

Guests will dine inside the brewery area, next to the stainless steel tanks, kegs and barrels. In addition to the views inside the brewery, co-founder Tom Clark adds that the brewery aroma will be amazing thanks to a fresh brewed batch of the popular Electric Tower IPA.

Brewmaster Steve Donohue shares that the idea for the dinner – an official SF Beer Week event – came about on a whim during a visit from friend Ryan McTighe, chef and owner of Handheld Catering. Ensuing discussions eventually led to the carefully constructed dinner menu.

The Menu

Appetizer
Beef Slider with Caramelized Onions and Sauteed Mushrooms
Paired with Dry Creek Blonde Ale

First Course
Electric Tower Beer Cheese Soup
Paired with Electric Tower IPA

Second Course
Seared Local Halibut with Cardamom and Coriander Scents, Wilted Spinach, Butter Braised Baby Carrots, Meyer Lemon Oil
Paired with Saison

Third Course
Pot De Creme
Paired with Peralta Porter

Tickets are $70 and limited to 40 guests. Tickets are available for purchase at the beer dinner’s Eventbrite page. Event sponsor Maps & Taps will also be on hand to discuss their new social media platform for beer enthusiasts.

According to Clark, the dinner will be the first of many to take place at the brewery: “We have a great space, and we fully anticipate doing more of these.”

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

Scenes from Santa Clara Valley Brewing Inaugural Brew Day

Santa Clara Valley Brewing inaugural brew day 01

Friday, April 17, 2015 marked a significant milestone in the South Bay beer scene. Santa Clara Valley Brewing – founded in 2012 by co-founders Steve Donohue (brewmaster) and Tom Clark (CEO) – held their inaugural brew day at their new brewery and soon-to-open taproom (101 E. Alma Ave., San Jose) located inside the Spartan Business Center within two blocks of Municipal Stadium and Spartan Stadium.

“It’s been a very long road,” Donohue said on the inaugural brew day. His subsequent focus and actions made it clear that he did not want to lose another single minute.

The inaugural beer is a pale ale, a style that Donohue is brewing professionally for the first time. The second batch – brewed the next day – is a West Coast style IPA followed by an imperial red ale.

As congratulatory notes have come pouring in throughout social media, many now eagerly await for the opportunity to enjoy the first offerings to come out of the brewery.

Another important development took place just a couple of days ago for SCV Brewing. Sales and marketing manager Stephanie Santolo shared with me that the city approved their taproom plans, assuring that the taproom will open sooner rather than later in the coming weeks.

Cheers to the Santa Clara Valley Brewing team!

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Some pictures from the inaugural brew day by Arie Litman and yours truly below. Thanks, Arie!

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For video of a chat with Steve Donohue during a visit to SCV Brewing earlier this year in January, click here.

Jan. 16, 2015: Visit to Soon-to-Open Santa Clara Valley Brewing Brewery and Taproom

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

Strike Brewing Company Launches Kickstarter Campaign to Open Taproom

Strike Brewing's Jenny Lewis (c) and Drew Ehrlich (r) with Santa Clara Valley Brewing's Steve Donohue (l)
Strike Brewing’s Jenny Lewis (c) and Drew Ehrlich (r) with Santa Clara Valley Brewing’s Steve Donohue (l)

One of this year’s top South Bay beer stories is Strike Brewing Company’s new production brewery set to open this June in San Jose at 2099 South 10th Street. With their capital tied up in building the brewery, Strike has turned to a Kickstarter campaign to raise $20,000 to help fund their taproom.

From the Strike Kickstarter page:

“We plan to have a spacious open seating area with tables, chairs and benches. This concept gives customers a wide open view of the entire brewery so they can watch the creative process behind the beer they are enjoying. The benches will also allow the folks drinking to get to know each other better, whether they came together or not. An eight tap bar will allow us to pour our four year round beers (Blonde, Brown, IPA and Imperial Red) as well as all seasonal and specialty beers Drew comes up with.”

Visit the Strike Kickstarter page to get the whole taproom story, as well as learn about the various rewards offered at different contribution levels. The most popular reward, with 39 backers so far, has been the Mug Club (“The Sixtel”), offered at a pledge of $100 or more. There is also a video featuring Strike co-founder and brewmaster Drew Ehrlich on the Kickstarter page.

Many folks have enjoyed Strike beers ever since the first Strike bottles and kegs made their debuts back in December 2011. Strike has continued to experience sales growth but is now counting on the support of the community, especially San Jose locals and South Bay beer fans, to get the taproom up and running as soon as possible.

Don’t wait too long to consider making a contribution, as the Kickstarter campaign closes on Saturday, April 26.

Stay up to date on their progress through their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

Upcoming Beerwalk Takes Place in Downtown Campbell, Plus Pics from Last Year’s Event

Downtown Campbell Beerwalk 2013
Downtown Campbell Beerwalk 2013

According to a recent Facebook update, there have been 10 Beerwalks so far, representing over 7,000 attendees, over 500 volunteers, over 200 different beers, and perhaps most importantly, over $30,000 raised for local non-profit organizations.

For those still unaware, Beerwalks take place every few months throughout various South Bay communities (so far: Japantown, Willow Glen, downtown Campbell, and Santana Row) and provide opportunities for “beerwalkers” to visit local shops and businesses while sampling good beer.

The Beerwalks have proven to be a quadruple win strategy involving South Bay communities, local shops and businesses, beer fans, and local non-profits. The successes are what led the Metro Silicon Valley newspaper to single out the Beerwalks as the “Best Community Showcase” in last year’s “The Best of Silicon Valley” issue.

The next Beerwalk is upon us, as the third annual Downtown Campbell Beerwalk takes place on Wednesday, April 23 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The following is the current list of participating breweries:

  • Drakes
  • Firestone Walker
  • Lagunitas
  • Hangar 24
  • Anchor
  • Speakeasy
  • Anderson Valley
  • Strike
  • Hermitage
  • Santa Clara Valley
  • Campbell
  • Rock Bottom, Campbell
  • 21st Amendment
  • Gordon Biersch
  • Almanac
  • FireHouse
  • Calicraft
  • Sierra Nevada
  • Karl Strauss
  • Stone
  • St. Florian
  • Santa Cruz Ale Works
  • Faultline
  • Lost Coast
  • Headlands Brewing Company
  • Six Rivers
  • Deschutes
  • Oskar Blues

The following is the list of tasting locations:

  • Frost Cupcake Factory
  • Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop
  • Snake & Butterfly
  • Khartoum Lounge
  • Liquid Bread Gastropub
  • Tessora’s Barra di Vino
  • Steepers
  • Blue Line Pizza
  • Brown Chicken Brown Cow
  • Ciano’s Modern Latin Flavors
  • Mo’s
  • Sonoma Chicken Coop
  • Spread Deli & Bottles
  • The Socialight
  • Cali Muscle Sports Nutrition & Apparel
  • Embellish Hair & Lash Lounge
  • Pro Martial Arts
  • Bela La Vie Boutique & Gallery
  • The Cruiser Shop
  • Bombshell Boutique
  • In Style Shoes
  • The European Cobblery
  • Urban Girl
  • The Olive Bar
  • The Jewel Box
  • Toys Toys Toys
  • MarKey Capital
  • Bozzuto & Associates Insurance Services
  • Celtic Shoppe
  • Sushi Confidential

Tickets can be purchased in advance for $30 online at www.thebeerwalk.com. Last year’s Beerwalk in downtown Campbell sold out, and with the weather expected to be pleasant this upcoming Wednesday, the Beerwalk will again be a popular draw. In case the event does not sell out, tickets can be purchased day of for $35 at check-in locations.

For additional information, including check-in time and locations, visit the Beerwalk website.

More pics from last year’s Downtown Campbell Beerwalk 2013:

Beerwalk co-founder Charlie Mann
Beerwalk co-founder Charlie Mann
Beerwalk co-founder Jordan Trigg, Hermitage Brewing's Larry Hoang, and Campbell Brewing's Jim Turturici
Beerwalk co-founder Jordan Trigg, Hermitage Brewing’s Larry Hoang, and Campbell Brewing’s Jim Turturici
Great turnout at the Campbell Beerwalk 2013
Great turnout at the Campbell Beerwalk 2013

Great crowd at the Campbell Beerwalk 2013

Campbell Beerwalk 2013

Beerwalkers at the Campbell Beerwalk 2013
Beerwalkers at the Campbell Beerwalk 2013
Lost Coast Brewery's Jack Van Stone and Beerwalk volunteers
Lost Coast Brewery’s Jack Van Stone and Beerwalk volunteers
Hermitage Brewing Company's Peter Estaniel and Carolyn Hopkins-Vasquez
Hermitage Brewing Company’s Peter Estaniel and Carolyn Hopkins-Vasquez
Yours truly and Santa Clara Valley Brewing's Steve Donohue
Yours truly and Santa Clara Valley Brewing’s Steve Donohue
Good eats at one of the Beerwalk tasting locations, Spread Deli & Bottles
Good eats at one of the Beerwalk tasting locations, Spread Deli & Bottles
Ending the Beerwalk with a nice view of the Campbell water tower
Ending the Beerwalk with a nice view of the Campbell water tower

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

Santa Clara Valley Brewing Tap Takeover at Kukar’s House of Pizza

Kukar's House of Pizza

Kukar’s House of Pizza (527 South Almaden Blvd.), the downtown San Jose pizza restaurant that has been in business for 63 years—and counting—hosts a Santa Clara Valley Brewing Company tap takeover event on Wednesday, Feb. 12 starting at 6 p.m to 11:30 p.m.

There beer lineup consists of the following:

  • Electric Tower IPA
  • Peralta Porter
  • Little Orchard Saison
  • New Almaden Imperial Red
  • A one-off 8-gallon Woodinville Rye whiskey barrel-aged Peralta Porter

This tap takeover event marks the first time that House of Pizza is participating in SF Beer Week.The event will also provide a meet-and-greet opportunity as Santa Clara Valley Brewing founders CEO Tom Clark and Brewmaster Steve Donohue will be in attendance to answer any questions about their beers and their company. Steve recently shared, “Tom and I hope to see a bunch of South Bay beer fans coming out and enjoying the night with us.”

It should be noted that the beer selector for House of Pizza is Jeff Wilson, a high-tech professional, avid homebrewer, and a family friend of second-generation owner George Kukar.

It was at Jeff’s urging that several of the dozen taps are now devoted to craft, and he intends to keep these taps for local breweries. Helping to curate the craft beer offerings and to coordinate special beer-related events is more than just a labor of love for Jeff, who has been dining at House of Pizza ever since he was a youngster. He says, “It’s self-serving for me; I want good beer with my pizza.”

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

Santa Clara Valley Brewing Beer Release Party – New Almaden Imperial Red Ale

Beer Label for Santa Clara Valley Brewing Company New Almaden Imperial Red Ale
Beer Label for Santa Clara Valley Brewing Company New Almaden Imperial Red Ale

The next offering from Santa Clara Valley Brewing is upon us with the release of New Almaden Imperial Red Ale. To commemorate its debut, there is a launch party taking place at 6 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 23 at Original Gravity Public House in downtown San Jose (66 South First St.).

The beer comes in at a whopping 10% ABV, and those enjoying the imperial red will receive glassware with the Santa Clara Valley Brewing logo while supplies last. Attending this event will be the brewery team – brewmaster Steve Donohue and CEO Tom Clark. They will be available to answer any questions folks might have about the beer and their brewing company. Also on tap will be the well-regarded Electric Tower IPA, Santa Clara Valley Brewing’s first ever beer.

The beer label provides the insights for those curious about the name behind this particular beer as well as the beer’s flavor profile:

“During the California Gold Rush the foothills just south of San Jose were mined for their red cinnabar, which contained the quicksilver essential for extracting gold from its encasing rock. The historic town that is home to the oldest and richest mine in the state is called New Almaden and is the inspiration for our Imperial Red Ale.

“New Almaden Red pours an exquisite cinnabar color. It is brewed with a combination of pale and crystal malts to create a complex malt profile, while copious amounts of hops are added to balance the malt sweetness and create a piney, citrusy aroma and flavor. Enjoy!”

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

The Beer Lover’s Gift Guide to the South Bay

Magnum IPA and Ale of the Imp from Hermitage Brewing Company
Magnum IPA and Ale of the Imp from Hermitage Brewing Company

Good beer in the South Bay continues its ascent, with many locally made, quality offerings available in bottles to give—or to get together and share.

San Jose’s Hermitage Brewing Company opened their tap room this past July, offering visitors the chance to taste well-crafted beer while connecting with the down-to-earth Hermitage vibe. Bottles of Hermitage beers are for sale at the Tap Room and can also be found in stores throughout the area, such as Saratoga Bottle Shop and local markets. Bottles of their Single Hop IPA Series continue to be popular items. For the colder weather season, the Ale of the 2 Tun Imperial Stout is a good choice. There’s also limited release, Ryetopia, a rye barley wine aged for a year in Kentucky bourbon barrels. It’s the first product of Hermitage’s barrel-aging program. The brew sounds like its own self-contained holiday confection with notes of chocolate, caramel, toffee, licorice, vanilla oak and—of course—bourbon. Another gift possibility: make a present of tickets—and maybe even offer to drive?— to Hermitage’s fifth annual Meet the Brewers Festival, Feb. 15 at their tap room ($35 per person/$5 designated driver).

Continuing its growth since the launch of their first beer in late 2011, Strike Brewing Company recently made a huge announcement—the construction of its own brick-and-mortar facility in San Jose at 2099 S. Tenth Street. Founders Jenny Lewis, Ben Lewis and Drew Ehrlich expect to open their brewery in early 2014. In the meantime, Strike bottles, such as their Brown, along with their IPA and Imperial Red (all $4-$5 per bottle), can be found at Cask & Flask in San Jose, and local markets such as Zanotto’s and Sprouts. And their seasonal stout, a Russian Imperial style with its deep chocolate and coffee notes coming in at 9 percent ABV, is back in a limited release, due out next month.

Santa Clara Valley Brewing Company proprietors Tom Clark and Steve Donohue possess great pride for the local area, as evidenced by their namesake brewery, as well as the names of their first series of beers brewed earlier this year—Electric Tower IPA ($6-$8 per bottle) with its hoppy, citrusy flavors and the chocolaty Peralta Porter ($5.50-$7 per bottle), both available at local bottle shops, including Jane’s Beer Store in Mountain View and Market Beer Company in downtown San Jose’s San Pedro Square. The bottles have artwork and write-ups on the labels that pay homage to this region’s history. The next beer to be made available in bottles will be an Imperial Red—ready just a couple weeks into 2014. Brewmaster Donohue says, “I was just looking at the final five label mockups. We’ll be brewing the red, probably late December. It should be bottled and available in mid-January.”

Rabbit’s Foot Meadery was founded in 1995 by Mike and Maria Faul, and business has never been busier according to Mike, no doubt fueled by the growing interest in ciders in conjunction with the increased demand for locally made, artisanal products. Rabbit’s Foot offers a diverse selection of meads (wine made out of honey), ciders and honey ales. Flavors range from light and dry to the sweeter profiles. Visitors can sample Mike’s creations at the Meadery, where the tasting fee is $5.50 and no appointment is needed. Both beer and wine drinkers often appreciate and enjoy meads and ciders; plus they make for tasty gluten-free gifts. Bottles of Hard Peach and Apple Honey cider are $5.99 (500 ml.) and a 750 ml. bottle of Sweet Mead goes for $16.99. Most of the meadery’s offerings are available in bottles under the Red Branch Cider Company label and can be found, in addition to their tasting room, at many local locations that sell quality beer.

Owner and brewer Kasim Syed of Palo Alto Brewing Company has been diligently brewing well-regarded beers since 2009. Most of his ales are available in bottles, and many of them are punnily-named: including his Hoppy Ending Pale Ale and the Barley Legal Coconut Porter—with a flavor profile of roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate and a hint of coconut milk—and Cool Beanz Coffee Porter, brewed with Philz Coffee. Kasim’s beers are available in bottles ($5-$7 per bottle)  at a growing number of locations throughout the valley, including Ava’s Downtown Market & Deli in Mountain View and Boynton Liquors in San Jose.

[This post was shared on SanJose.com.]

Little Orchard Saison: Latest Release from Santa Clara Valley Brewing

Photo from Peralta Porter release party in early July 2013: Santa Clara Valley Brewing CEO Tom Clark (left), SCVB brewmaster Steve Donohue (third from right), Sal Pizarro of the Mercury News (second from right) & former San Jose mayor Tom McEnery (right)
Photo from Peralta Porter release party in early July 2013: Santa Clara Valley Brewing CEO Tom Clark (left), SCVB brewmaster Steve Donohue (third from right), Sal Pizarro of the Mercury News (second from right) & former San Jose mayor Tom McEnery (right)

The third beer offering from Santa Clara Valley Brewing will be Little Orchard Saison, joining Peralta Porter and Electric Tower IPA.

To commemorate its debut, there will be a Little Orchard Saison Release Party taking place Tues., Aug. 27 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at O’Faherty’s Irish Pub in downtown San Jose, with brewmaster Steve Donohue scheduled to be there.

Those attending the release party can meet the friendly brewmaster and learn more about the brewing company. Those interested can also learn more about the significance of the name of the saison – Little Orchard. As with the previous beers, the name itself reflects an important piece of Santa Clara Valley history.

There aren’t plans to bottle the saison this go around, so expect to see this latest offering on tap at your local beer spot.

Little Orchard Saison Release Party
When: 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m., Tues., Aug. 27, 2013
Where: O’Flaherty’s Irish Pub, 25 North San Pedro Street, San Jose
SCVB website: www.scvbrewing.com

[This post was shared on Examiner.com.]

Santa Clara Valley Brewing

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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.]