Truckee Brewing Company brings the company’s vision of high quality beer to the Truckee-Tahoe
June 7, 2018
When Truckee Brewing Company Master Brewer Adam Lundy tasted his first batch of beer ahead of the brewery's soft opening last May, he knew he'd nailed it.
"It's always a little bit nerve wracking because it's like your baby," said Lundy on the company's first beer. "As soon as I tasted it off the fermenter, I'm like, 'It's right there, this is it.' And then I dry hopped it and everything worked out good."
Owner Dustin Hurley and Lundy teamed up last year to form the brewing company with a goal of creating high quality beer.
After months of work to procure licenses, a location in the Pioneer Commerce Center, and equipment, the two produced the brewery's first beer — a 5.3 percent alcohol by volume session ale.
“We’re just trying to focus on having the best beer.”
— Truckee Brewing Company owner Dustin Hurley
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Lundy, who's been brewing both professionally and at home for nearly three decades, used four different hops to create the clean, smooth ale, which would later be joined by a handful of other beers on the brewery's tap list.
"Our main goal is to put out quality drinkable beer," said Hurley. "We're just trying to focus on having the best beer. The goal is to make sure every beer that comes off the tap or that we sell, is well balanced and drinkable. If that's not happening then we're not happy."
From cooking to brewing
Hurley, a native of Maryland, moved to Truckee eight years ago after plans of attending culinary school in Napa didn't materialize.
Though school in Napa didn't work out, he said he still decided to move to California, keying in on the Truckee-Tahoe area because of its ski resorts and restaurants.
Later on, Hurley began researching ways of opening a restaurant of his own in Truckee, but came across a different business opportunity instead.
"It seemed like there was a bit of a demand for a brewery that would be able to distribute to local restaurants around Tahoe and Truckee," he said.
Finding the right beer chef
Having no experience in brewing, Hurley needed to find the right person if he was going turn his vision of a new brewery in Truckee into reality.
Hurley did, however, have a wealth of experience in the restaurant industry and knew that finding the right chef to run a kitchen was vital to the success of the business.
"It's sort of the same concept as opening a restaurant with hiring a chef, but this was opening a brewery and hiring a beer chef."
Through Chef Mark Estee, Hurley was put in touch with Lundy, and the two found a connection in creating high-quality beer without cutting corners.
"We had the same sort of vision of how we wanted the beers to come out," Hurley said.
A brewer's life
Lundy hadn't always planned on becoming a brewer.
He graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in geography and had aspirations of creating maps for a living. But after finding difficulty entering the field, he began down a radically different path.
"I was like, 'I'm going to make beer instead,'" said Lundy. "My wife bought me ingredients to make beer, because I hadn't in a few years, and I was like, 'This is it.'
"It's a labor of love for sure because it's not easy. There's a lot to think about."
With only home brewing as his experience, Lundy said at first he wasn't able to find work in any breweries around Reno. So he made his own in his backyard.
"I got kegs, started cutting them up, just doing the whole thing in my backyard," he said. "Then I got a job, and ever since then I'd take a little bit of what I learned, take it home and retrofit it … basically I got my master's degree in my backyard."
Lundy would go on to work at Virginia City Brewery & Taphouse, Great Basin Brewing, High Sierra Brewing and then later as an assistant brewer at Buckbean Brewing Company.
Stylistically, Lundy said he goes through phases in his preferences for both making and drinking beer. One thing that is consistent though is his desire to craft a well-balanced, clean beer.
"As long as it has that balance I'll go after anything," said Lundy. "As long as it's not one sided — not too malty, too hoppy, or anything like that."
Emphasis on quality
From the outset, Hurley's focus has been driven by the quality of his company's beer.
"We didn't go into it trying to take shortcuts," he said. "We weren't going to shortcut it. Just spend the money, get the proper gear, have it built right, and have a system that can put out quality beer consistently."
The brewery sports a five-barrel brewing system that can churn out 240 kegs a month. The company also uses steam boilers to keep precise temperatures during the brewing process.
"Having the boiler with the steam is definitely more expensive, a lot of them are gas fired," Hurley said. "The steam gives consistent heating throughout the whole process. That effects the consistency dramatically — having the same temps every rip, throughout the whole kettle and the mash time."
Truckee Brewing Company puts a large emphasis on the quality of water used in making its beers as well. The brewery uses water from Truckee, but added a filter, which, according to Hurley, isn't something a lot of breweries utilize.
"(Truckee's water is) clean, and it's probably some of the best public drinking water in the country, but the fact is, it still has impurities," said Hurley. "We (took) the extra step to put in a $3,500 water filter so that every gallon of water that's sent to the beer is filtered."
Truckee Brewing Company currently has seven beers on tap at the brewery. The company's beer can also be found at Rubicon Pizza, Yamakai Fish & Sushi, Copperlane Cafe, Philosophy, Truckee Tavern and Grill, Old Town Tap and Trokay.
Moving forward, Lundy said the brewery will be introducing a sour ale and brut IPA. "A brut IPA is a really dry, real hoppy, light IPA," he said. "It's not really a thing yet, at least around here."
The brewery also offers growlers to take beer home, and has specials throughout the week.
For more information visit TruckeeBrewCo.com.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.