NAPA, Calif. — St. Clair Brown, the first of its kind urban winery in Napa, California is announcing the launch of their nano-brewery, just four years after opening. Napa locals and co-founders Elaine St. Clair and Laina Brown proudly announced today that beer is now on tap in their Wine & Beer Garden two blocks from Main Street in downtown Napa.
To kick off the release of their new beer selections, St. Clair Brown is hosting a Grand Opening Celebration of their nano-brewery, scheduled for Sunday, February 11, 2018. The celebration will take place in their Greenhouse and will be open to the public. There will be live music and a food truck where all beers will be available for $5.
In a valley of palatial estate wineries, an urban winery is not a common occurrence. A winery and brewery is even less common. Add a greenhouse turned into a tasting room within a culinary garden in the middle of the city and you have the unique vision of co-owners Elaine St. Clair and Laina Brown. As an urban winery and brewery, St. Clair Brown is uniquely able to circumvent many of the county regulations put into place in the early 90’s. They are able to stay open later, serve their wine and beer by the glass alongside a food menu, and most importantly be open to the public without requiring a prior appointment.
“For me it was about integrating all of the things we wanted to do into one vision and creating a space that brought it all under one roof,” says President Laina Brown. “I wanted the space to inspire people to come and enjoy time together without the fear of someone trying to turn your table,” she adds. “It was also important that the setting allow us to incorporate all kinds of creativity: wine, beer, food, music, arts, etc.”
For award-winning Winemaker/Brewmaster Elaine St. Clair, the opportunity to make both wine and beer was always at the top of her list. “I’ve always wanted to get back to beer. If we were going to be here for the rest of our lives I really wanted to be able to do both again,” she shares.
Elaine St. Clair has been making wine in the Napa Valley for over 30 years. As a UC Davis graduate, she attended both their winemaking and brewing programs and holds a degree in Fermentation Science. Shortly after graduating she joined the winemaking team at Domaine Chandon where she started making beer on the side with co-worker, Dwayne Matthews. For 10 years, Elaine St. Clair was Head Brewer and Co-Owner of Napa Ale Works, one of Napa Valley’s original breweries, while continuing to make wine full time. After 21 years, St. Clair is brewing once again, albeit on a much smaller scale. St. Clair Brown is a boutique direct-to-consumer winery with under a 1,000 case wine production, and a two-barrel system that brews just 60 gallons of beer a batch. Their program includes eleven wines and now ten beers, with more developing all the time.
They currently pour three beers on tap in their small Greenhouse Tasting Room. The selection rotates weekly to ensure there is always something new for their predominantly local customer base. St. Clair Brown’s current line-up includes a Pilsner, Honey Wheat Ale, Farmhouse Saison, Pale Ale, Red Ale, Scottish Ale, Brown Ale, Black IPA, Porter, and Oatmeal Stout with recipe trials for more underway.
Elaine St. Clair is reluctant to call her beers overly ‘craft’. “I’m a traditionalist in my palate choices. I want to make beers that are just wonderfully balanced,” says St. Clair. Her desire is to elevate classic recipes rather than focus on exotic infusions or anything exceedingly experimental. Bringing a winemaker’s approach to beer, St. Clair strives to build layers of flavor. The beer is unfiltered, naturally carbonated, and more malt-driven, favoring a less bitter or heavily ‘hopped’ profile. “Like tannins in wine, hop character should frame the flavors not dominate them,” states St. Clair. “Balanced wines and beers naturally pair better with food, being in the Napa Valley, you can’t help but be influenced by the culinary world around us.”
Also pulling from their background in wine, St. Clair and Brown bottle all of their beer in re-sealable 750mL champagne bottles. “Our goal was that people would take bottles of our beer to pair with dinner the same way you would a bottle of wine,” says Laina Brown. Their beer is currently hand-bottled and hand-labeled by Elaine St. Clair, and Laina Brown’s son, Bren Westerland, who assists St. Clair in the production. As for the future of the program, Elaine St. Clair smiles, “I just want to make the best beer anyone has ever had.”
St. Clair Brown’s beers are currently available only on location in the Greenhouse Tasting Room. Beers are available in 750mL bottles for $20, tasting flights of three beers for $15, glasses, half glasses, and growlers. Beers are available for purchase online, or through their monthly Beer Club. For more information about St. Clair Brown and their current selection, visit: www.stclairbrown.com
About St. Clair Brown
St. Clair Brown Winery & Brewery is located at 816 Vallejo Street, Napa, CA 94559. They are open to the public from Thursday through Saturday, 12 pm – 8 pm, Sunday and Monday, 12 pm – 6 pm.