Jason Chavez, owner of Kelsey Creek Brewing Company, stands behind the bar, pulls on a tap, and begins filling a two-liter growler with a Mixed Berry Sour. Behind him, a sign sits on a shelf. “Don’t cry over spilled milk,” it says. “It could have been beer.” Over the speakers, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and The Highwaymen sing, “The road goes on forever and the party never ends.”
Jason chats about his beers as he pours, tilting the growler to the side as it fills. His long dark hair, pulled back in a ponytail, hides under an old New York Giants hat flipped backward on his head. A long, spiraling dragon tattoo winds down his arm. It’s been four years since Jason and his wife Caroline took over Kelsey Creek Brewing. Since then, Jason has used his creativity to craft unique, tasty beers that cover the spectrum of brewing tastes, from dark, malty stouts to ultra-light, crisp lagers.
Right now, one of his most popular beers is the S. I. P. A., designed for times like we’re living in now. A collaborative brew with Wolf House Brewing Company in Cloverdale, it’s filled with Amarillo and Citra hops, and “an experimental hop.” It serves as a perfect at-home beer; it’s not heavy-handed like many IPAs, but rather gentle, light and smooth, perfect for pajamas and a home-cooked meal.
Jason then pours some Storybrook Stout, his long, Van Dyke goatee framing his face. “I added coffee to this beer but wasn’t heavy-handed. I’ve had ones where the coffee’s too much and it overpowers the beer.” It’s a delightful stout; the coffee hits first, then the sweet smoothness takes over. “I didn’t use any oats with this one,” he says, “So it’s not as creamy, but it’s got a nice mouthfeel.” If you’re in the mood to be classy, drink this beer with some tiramisu. If you’re not, it’s perfect with a bacon-and-eggs brunch.
But that’s not all. If you can’t handle beers that also serve as a meal, try the What’s Your Lightest, a beer so light, it’s barely colored. Jason used Hallertau hops, the king of German hops, to make a beer that’s both smooth and tart, bright and clean. At 4% alcohol, it’s perfect for a sunny afternoon or a barbecue dinner.
But my personal favorite is the Mixed Berry Sour. Sours aren’t easy to make, and Jason does them with skill. However, they aren’t for everyone. Do you like candy with names like Sour Explosion or Super Pucker? Do you enjoy eating lemons straight? If your answer is yes, you’ll probably love Kelsey Creek’s Mixed Berry Sour. It sits in the glass pink-rose, and eases across the palate with a tang and pucker that don’t linger, but rather encourage another sip, then just one more.
Of course, Jason’s got more beers nearly ready to sell; a super light, smooth Maibock, with hints of honey that tastes so good, you’ll never know it’s 8% alcohol content. “That should be out in a week or so,” he says. “And when this is all over, I’m going to try my hand at hard seltzers.” Knowing his skills, they’ll be incredible.
Right now, Kelsey Creek Brewing is open from 2 to 4, Thursday through Sunday, for growler fills. Because of the SIP (Stay in Place) restrictions, you can call ahead and pay, then swing by to pick up your growler. If you prefer to stay at home and happen to live on Cobb, Caroline is picking up growlers and returning them full. Get in touch with her, and she’ll tell you where to meet up.
Kelsey Creek Brewing
3945 Main St, Kelseyville, CA 95451
A special thanks to Helena Welsh and the Lake County Winery Association for permission to use the “SIP and Sip” title for this column. Over the next few weeks we’ll be promoting more local wines and wineries, so keep your eyes peeled.