Scientists Launch Riverside’s First Brewery Incubator
(Reproduced from an article written by Laurie Lucas and originally published in The Press Enterprise on July 14, 2014)
Three Inland Empire entrepreneurs with enough chops and hops to go pro have tapped into an unusual business model to keep their home drafts flowing.
Brad McCauley, 31, Jason Castonguay, 38, and Philip Vieira, 29, are exceptionally bright science and computer geeks with a thirst for creating innovative beers and ales. But they lack the big bucks for a startup. Each of them is now rolling out the barrels, housed under one roof at Brew Crew, a new business in Riverside. Brew Crew, which calls itself a “brewery incubator,” is part of a rising trend that’s bubbled up around the country, especially in large cities, over the past year.
The concept is to help nanobrewing neophytes shed their amateur status by allowing them to work in a collaborative space where they can share equipment, develop recipes in a commercial setting and test-market directly to the public.
Brew Crew, an 1,800-square-foot manufacturing and retail facility at Suite G, 11626 Sterling Ave., contains two brewing systems, a walk-in cooler to store kegs and a bar with 16 taps. There’s seating for 50, 25 in the store front and 25 in the warehouse when brewing isn’t happening.
The trio of brewers are contract laborers working under the umbrella of a single corporation, Brew Crew, which leases the building. Its co-founders, CEO McCauley and Vince Pileggi, chief business officer, scrambled for 18 months to obtain all of the licensing and permits before opening the brewery and tap room six weeks ago. Depending on drink sizes, prices run from $1.50 to $7. There’s no food served, but customers may bring their own.
“There are a lot of home brew clubs in this area that have amazing brewers,” Pileggi said. The goal is to provide the resources “to incubate” fledgling brewers who hope to eventually take wing on their own. “We’re finding the best talent we can and courting others who can benefit and grow,” he said.
What defines a pint-size brewery? One yardstick is that nanobreweries make beer on a system that’s three barrels or smaller. That’s fewer than 93 gallons at a time, a teensy amount that allows brewers to think outside the barrel, take creative risks and encourage feedback in an intimate environment.
The brewmasters would love their steins to runneth over and are trying Brew Crew as an experiment to see if they can strike liquid gold.
McCauley, of Riverside, owner of Delicious Science Brewery, works for Apple Computer in Ontario but is equally passionate about beer. “It’s incredible how many different things you can play with,” he said. Among his food-centric concoctions are Raisin’ Hell, an American pale ale, Hazel Not-Blonde, an American pale wheat ale and Maple Heaven, a wheat wine.
His wife, a doctoral student at UC Riverside, introduced him to her colleague, Philip Vieira, who’s finishing his Ph.D. in molecular neuroscience. Four years ago, Vieira and his six brothers began Seven Brothers Brewery as a hobby, which turned serious and won seven home brew medals.
“This is a good opportunity to see if our brewery is short-lived or we can make a living doing it,” Vieira said. As contract laborers, the brewers at Brew Crew earn money from sales in the tap room.
“We’re constantly rotating brews,” Castonguay said. Besides easing the demand on one brewer, sharing equipment keeps the production fresh and novel, he said.
Castonguay lives in Chino with Steve Lewis, co-founder and assistant brewmaster of Polymath, which means a person with wide-ranging knowledge in many fields. The brewery’s logo features a famous pen-and-ink drawing, “Vitruvian Man,” by one of their polymath icons, Leonardo Da Vinci.
“We’re all about research and development. We’re all scientists at heart,” Castonguay said of himself and his brew mates.
To read the full article originally published in The Press Enterprise, click here.