Truckee Brewing Company creating community one pour at a time
For Truckee locals Dustin Hurley and Nick Chmell, conversations about starting up a brewery while on snowmobiling trips fueled the friend’s desire to open up one of their own. At the time, Alibi’s Public House had not been open for very long and the two felt like it was doing well, but there was also room to grow the local beer scene. In May of 2018 Truckee Brewing Company was launched.
Neither had brewery or brewing experience, but both had plenty of experience in the food and beverage industry, and Hurley was equipped with a business management degree.
“We didn’t know what size to scale to when opening, so we had to start small not knowing what the market would be,” said Hurley. “But we realized Truckee had a lack of a brewing scene and saw an opportunity to capitalize on that with the intent of opening a brewery and (eventually) a sister restaurant to compliment the beer.”
Hurley added, “We worked well together and we wanted to see how we could grow this thing. But the brewery has so many variables.”
One variable that not just breweries had to deal with was the COVID year of 2020. Chmell, who started out as the taproom manager, had to pivot his role during this time.
“Basically when the pandemic hit, we closed. We didn’t know what was going on,” said Chmell. “As we grew we had established a lot of whole sale, along with the taproom. So when we reopened and went back to production, we picked it back up in mid-summer of 2020.”
Chmell, now head of operations for the brewery, also serves as the head brewer and has for about the past three years – something that he had learn as the brewery got back to full operation.
“I did lots of research, read books, listened to podcasts and was super fortunate to meet other brewers in the area,” added Chmell. “The brewing community is tight-nit but friendly and willing to share info. I’ve come to meet some great people that have inspired me and shown me some cool tricks.”
As far as types of beers being created at Truckee Brewing Company, varieties are wide-ranging. With IPAs and sours still in high demand, the brewery is constantly creating new options for their customers. Whether that’s west coast style IPA variations, or kettle sours like their blackberry margarita sour, the business is always looking at new technology and techniques to improve – while still keeping their flagship beers (Palisades Pilsner and Truckee IPA) fully stocked.
With the brewery back in full swing, the idea of having good bar food paired with beer never left their minds and when the opportunity opened up for a second location, they jumped at the chance.
“When the Raley’s spot when came about, we knew if we were going to do it, we needed to do it now,” said Hurley. “We knew finding another retail outlet that we own, that there’s high profitability in that – along with being able to serve food to compliment the beer where people in Truckee can hang out with a family vibe.”
The restaurant location opened in June of 2022 and what started out with a pizza oven and additional beer taps, slowly grew to include additional food options like tacos, staple salads, wraps, and sandwiches.
Looking back on what they would have done differently when they first opened up, Hurley said that he wished he would had built a larger brewing system.
Inversely, if there were one thing that neither of the friends would have thought would have happened when they started, it’s the sense of community they have created.
“I never would have expected the community we created. We have customers that are now like family,” said Chmell.
“We like being the face of the place and not absentee owners,” added Hurley. “We’ve established relationships with people in this town that are now good friends. We’ve connected people who would have never known each other and it’s cool to see those relationships develop and we had some hand in that. People come in and say there’s a really good vibe here – and that’s how a ski town should be.”
As far as what’s next for the brewery, they plan to continue focusing on efforts in their brewing techniques and exploring new options, while also giving the local community price conscious options to not only drink their beer (happy hour) but also try out their food and continue that sense of community. And while they are in no rush to expand and add another location, they are looking for the right fit if one comes along.
To find out more information about Truckee Brewing Company, location directions, their beers, or their food menu, visit them online at truckeebrewco.com.
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