February 20, 2018 by Ramona d'Viola

You may know Lake County for its amazing Sauvignon Blancs (among other terrific wines), but did you know about our handcrafted microbrews? No? You’re in luck! The Irish are here, and they brought the beer!

If you’re planning a visit to Lake County for some sightseeing and wine tasting, but prefer your adult beverage with a hoppy head over a big, robust red, we’ve got a detour off the “wine route” just for you.

Kelsey Creek Brewing – Handcrafted Microbrews

Step inside Kelseyville’s Kelsey Creek Brewing to the crunch of peanut shells and the heady aroma of hops. For some, that’s as intoxicating as freshly baked bread. With a litany of handcrafted beers on tap, (flanked by an impressive collection of SF Giants bobbleheads) owner and brewmaster Jason Chavez brings years of beer making chops to Lake County.

Jason Chavez - Kelsey Creek Brewing

Brewmaster Jason Chavez – Kelsey Creek Brewing

 

“I started making beer when I was in high school. There were no age restrictions on buying all the equipment and components,” says Chavez. “The first batch I ever made was pretty good! I was hooked.

“From there I taught myself the basics before heading to The American Brewers Guild and coursework at UC Davis to get the real science behind beer making.”

Chavez honed his brewing chops at the venerable Seabright Brewery, in Santa Cruz, before purchasing a home on Cobb Mountain – and commuting between the two. When the owner of Kelsey Creek Brewing wanted to retire, he offered the business to Chavez.

Kelsey Creek Brewing’s Irish Donkey

“And, here we are.”

So, with a name like Chavez, where’s the Irish connection?

“My wife Caroline is Irish – from Ireland Irish – County Mayo, to be exact, so I married into the clan! When her family came over for a visit, I wanted to surprise my father-in-law with his favorite beer, an Irish Red-style called Smithwicks.”

Malty and sweet, with notes of nuts and toffee, who says wine tasting gets all the adjectives? Kelsey Creek Brewing’s “Irish Donkey” (his wife’s nickname – you’ll have to ask him…) is the sincerest form of flattery. Copper colored, and redolent of toasted grain, this California-born 1st cousin will have you speaking with an Irish brogue.

So, did he like it?

“Yeah – he liked it,” says the brewmaster.

Cobb Mountain resident Isaac Hamilton enjoys a fresh IPA.

Cobb Mountain resident Isaac Hamilton enjoys a fresh IPA.

When a thirsty traveler knocked on the door before opening time, Chavez and assistant Keelan Hightower were busy making beer, but, they welcomed him in, locked the door, pulled him a fresh, frothy beer – and made a new friend.

Judging by the grin on his face, he liked it too.

Kelsey Creek Brewing
3945 Main Street
Kelseyville, CA 95451
707-279-2311
www.kelseycreekbrewing.com

Putting the O’ in Beer – O’Meara Brothers Brewing Company

Okay, so there’s no O’ in beer, but if you’re looking for another pot o’ gold (or pitcher of beer) you’ll still get lucky at Lakeport’s O’Meara Brothers Brewing. Stop by for some dinner, dancing, and a delicious handcrafted brew from the Brothers O’Meara.

Who knows, you might have some wine tasting converts among you before the month of March is through.

Come experience Lake County’s legendary hospitality – and a beer or two, too.

O’Meara Brothers Brewing Company
901 Bevins Street
Lakeport, CA 95453
707-262-1234
www.omearabros.com

photos: Ramona d’Viola – ilumus photography + marketing