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  1. TopTop #1
    Barry's Avatar
    Founder & Moderator

    PD: Brewpub pioneer buys Sebastopol Brewing

    Brewpub pioneer buys Sebastopol Brewing
    Historic railroad powerhouse building to be renovated

    Published Oct 31, 2007

    The beer visionary who helped launch the U.S. brewpub craze will test his latest concept in Sebastopol, where he's buying the local taproom.

    Dean Biersch, co-founder of Gordon Biersch Brewing Co., will open Hopmonk Tavern next year in the historic building now occupied by Sebastopol Brewing Co.

    Although Biersch is keeping quiet about the details, his new business is expected to be a European-inspired tavern and restaurant, possibly the first of a national chain.

    Gordon Biersch brewpubs, sold to a Tennessee company in 1999, are open in 17 locations across the United States.

    The beer industry will be closely watching Biersch's new venture, said Harry Schuhmacher, editor of Beer Business Daily, an online trade publication based in San Antonio, Texas.

    Biersch pioneered the art of matching craft-brewed beers with food, Schuhmacher said. "Beer pairs with a lot more foods than wine," he said. "He was one of the first to recognize that."

    Gordon Biersch, founded in Palo Alto in 1988, was the original chain of gourmet brewpubs, Schuhmacher said. Today there are about 1,000 brewpubs in the United States.

    While sales remain flat for the giant U.S. beer makers, microbrewers saw business grow 16 percent last year.

    Sebastopol Brewing will close Thursday after a blowout Halloween party, said Lisa Sanchez, who owns the downtown pub with her husband, Steve, and another couple, Steve and Tammy Martin.

    They decided to sell the brewery to Biersch after nearly two years, Sanchez said.

    "We just got a good offer," she said.

    The couples continue to own the building, the former powerhouse for the Petaluma & Santa Rosa Railway, an electric railroad that once served Sebastopol.

    The 100-year-old stone landmark was converted to a brewery in 1995. Powerhouse Brewing Co. closed in 2004 and was briefly replaced by the Stone Elephant, a restaurant and wine tasting room that featured the skeleton of a 3 million-year-old mastodon.

    Sebastopol Brewing opened early in 2006.

    Biersch, who now lives in Sonoma, was looking for a Sonoma County location for his new brewpub. He plans to reopen the Sebastopol business after extensive renovations, according to a spokesman.

    Biersch and partner Dan Gordon built 12 brewpubs before selling selling the restaurant chain to Big River Brewing Co. in 1999.

    They continued to co-own Gordon Biersch brewery in San Jose, which distributes in California, Hawaii, Nevada and Arizona.

    Biersch, a restaurant veteran who developed the company's brewpub strategy, left his executive post at the brewery last year but remains a consultant there.
    Last edited by Barry; 11-15-2007 at 11:28 AM.

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  2. TopTop #2
    Tars's Avatar

    Re: PD: Brewpub pioneer buys Sebastopol Brewing

    I have to admit I have mixed feelings about this news. OK, I'm interested to see what Biersch does with the place, if in fact it is some revolutionary change. On the other hand, if it's just another corporate-feeling outlet, it will be a real disappointment. He's going to do "extensive renovations", which I hope will maintain some of the current atmosphere. Hope it remains a brewery.

    I've been known to stop in there for a pint on an afternoon, although not much lately. I always appreciated the very high level of service I received - attentive, but not intrusive bar staff, and a chef who was always willing to customize house dishes for my tastes. Since the business will be closed for several weeks, I imagine they will all be gone. Good luck to them!
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  3. TopTop #3

    Lousy Beer Coming

    My wife (who I met when she was 'pulling pints' at the venerable 20 Tank Brewery in SF), advises me that the beer at his first brewpub in Palo Alto (circa 1988?) was terrible, and the decor "brass and glass"... with the general feel of a yuppie pick-up spot.

    The bottled beer, to my taste, is light swill. Me fears another outsider's folly, a la West County Grill.

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  4. TopTop #4
    nicofrog's Avatar

    Re: PD: Brewpub pioneer buys Sebastopol Brewing

    I just hope they keep the DANCE venue open...the "juke Joint" was and hopefully will still be a good happin' place for young people(and us brave older ones) to shake out the day and get DOWN tonight!
    I hope these people are smart enough to feel out the locals
    and keep the goods good,as the elephant proved, you can't make it on tourists alone in this town.
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  5. TopTop #5
    loi's Avatar
    Supporting Member

    Re: PD: Brewpub pioneer buys Sebastopol Brewing

    just fyi - juke joint has moved to jaspers for now on thursdays and there's also great music (talented dj's) at the forestville club same night.
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