A Prophecy Decades in the Making: O’Meara Bros. Brewing Company
May 21, 2021
“It was inevitable that Alex and I would end up running a brewery,” Tim O’Meara, one half of the O’Meara Bros. Brewing Company, says. A pump hums in the background, pushing a batch of Elk Mountain IPA into the fermenter. “When we were kids, we always pretended we were bartenders. We had bottles all over the place filled with concoctions we had created.” He laughs. “Mom told us, ‘Someday you’re going to run your own business together.’ Can you give me a second?” he stops, listening to his brewer’s intuition. “I need to go check on that batch.” While Tim heads off to look things over, Trudy and I sip on a flight of his beers. It turns out his mom was right. Decades after her prophecy, and nearly seven years into business together, brothers Tim and Alex are still at it, creating quality, drinkable beverages.
There’s a reason the Elk Mountain IPA is one of their best sellers. It’s a balanced beer with a hint of bite that lingers, at least until the next sip. Tim calls it an “easy drinkin’ IPA.” A pint of it always disappears quickly. Just as drinkable is the Bottle Rock Blonde, whose dry, light notes make it the perfect summer beer.
“Sorry about that,” Tim says, sliding back behind the bar, the tree tattoo on his inner wrist momentarily appearing as he grabs the soda gun and fills up a glass of water. “I’ve got to keep a close eye on it.”
“What did you put in the Midnight Oil Stout?” Trudy asks. “I taste licorice.”
Tim smiles, pulls back his mask to reveal his full beard, and takes a sip of his water. “It’s star anise,” he replies. “It brings out the licorice notes.”
“It’s almost a root beer flavor you’ve got going,” I add.
“You know,” Tim says. “I’ve got plans for a hard root beer.” He takes a step back from the bar. Behind him, a high mirror rises, etched with the O’Meara Bros. logo that Tim, a graphic designer as well as a brewer, created. “I’ve also been talking with Jason Chavez over at Kelsey Creek Brewing, and he’s been giving me tips on hard seltzers.
“Do you like tomatoes?” he asks, turning to the computer. “We’ve got a great heirloom tomato salad with burrata cheese. I love the creaminess of burrata. And,” he continues. “I’ll put in a couple of other appetizers you might like.” He pokes at the screen for a few seconds, then turns back to us.
“We really got into this to make beer,” Tim continues. “We started in homebrewing in 2007 and learned in the school of hard knocks. But the restaurant became a big part of it. Plus,” he gestures to the brewing tanks to his left, “the food brings people here to eat, and they drink our beer.”
As Trudy and I continue to taste, I notice the unique tray holding the glasses. “Where did you get the wood for this?” I ask.
Tim lights up. “I grew up on a walnut farm in Upper Lake,” he begins. “And this is wood from the orchard.” He brushes it with his fingertips, then moves his hand to the bar. “And the bar is all walnut from the farm. My grandfather was taking down a tree, and he asked us if we wanted it. Of course, I said yes.” He turns and looks down the lengthy bar. “The barback, the bar, it’s all walnut from our orchard.”
The glossed wood shimmers, reflecting the lights overhead. Just then, the salad comes out, and Tim excuses himself once again to check on his beer. Trudy and I take a few bites. The pesto and balsamic draw out the flavors of the tomato, while the burrata balances the bright notes with creaminess. But it’s all brought together by the grilled crostini, whose charred notes give the whole salad depth.
Tim pops back behind the bar and gets himself a second glass of water. “We usually have six to ten beers on tap,” he says. “Since Covid, we cut back, but we’re ramping back up again.”
“You’ve gotten a great outdoor seating area since then,” Trudy remarks, referring to the newly created covered concrete patio.
“That was part of our original plan,” Tim says, “But we accelerated it when Covid came. But I had nothing to do with the design. Fossa Excavating did the concrete, and Bridges Construction did all the woodwork. They told me, ‘Let us take care of this for you.’ And they did. It looks amazing.” Far from a popup awning on uneven ground, the patio is created for spring brunches and summer evenings. They created an oasis, a place meant to hang out with some friends, a beer, and an order of Irish Eggrolls.
“These are uniquely ours,” Tim says as he places the plate of eggrolls on the counter. “Our original cook, who has retired, created them. We were just getting the business started and wanted to hire him, but we didn’t have the restaurant open yet. So we put him to work on the building with us. He’d bring in something every day and ask us, ‘What do you think about this?’ One day he brought these in, and I knew they were a fit. We’ve got Irish heritage, and it’s a fun food that everybody likes.”
I take a bite; the tang of corned beef and cabbage, the creaminess of the swiss cheese, and the crunch of the eggroll filling make it incredible; dip it in some of their sauce, and it’s spectacular. It’s finger food at its best.
“We’re going to be having more live music, now,” Tim adds as Trudy and I pick at the last of the Big Boy Tots, little bundles of juicy, creamy, cheesy, bacony goodness. “We stopped completely for a while, but now we’re planning on having it weekly. Right now, we have music Saturdays from six to eight or so.”
Tim’s got his beer to check on, so we say our goodbyes. Trudy and I, filled with good conversation and food, walk out through the patio, stepping into the shaded area, our feet pressed against the stamped concrete.
Here’s my suggestion:
To enjoy the best of O’Meara Bros., get a friend and find a seat on the patio. Order some eggrolls and a batch of Big Boy Tater Tots or McTavish Wings. IMPORTANT: Make sure you’ve got a couple of pints to wash the food down. Then kick back, have a good conversation, and let the day pass. If you plan it right, you can also enjoy live music as you sip on your beer, laugh, and watch the sky slowly turn purple.
901 Bevins St.
Lakeport, CA 95453
HOURS OF OPERATION:
Tuesday through Thursday: 4-8 PM
Friday and Saturday: Noon – 9 PM
Sunday: Noon – 8 PM