Story and photos by Kelly Newsom
David Towne, owner of Blue Note Brewing Company is a self professed introvert. You’d never know it when you get him talking about his passion for brewing beer. He welcomes kids and dogs and has provided enough space for small and large groups. You can also enjoy a game of darts, jenga or cornhole. He encourages patrons to bring in food or to enjoy food from a chosen food truck that is parked out front.
Blue Note is located in what was the Daily Democrat printing press warehouse, directly behind the Post Office drive-thru mail drop boxes. David has turned this unusual location and space into one of the coolest hangouts in Downtown Woodland.
“We are kid friendly and dog friendly and people really like that.” – David Towne
CHOOSING A WAREHOUSE
David: I looked at a lot of different places and one of the most important things about picking your location is having a good landlord. Location and landlord are so important. Ron Caceres has been a wonder to work with. The space was barren, the old printing press of the Democrat was here. Everything was covered in ink, dust and dirt. It had been sealed up for so long. It was one big space. Ron came in with a laser measure and said, “Don’t choose too small.” So we put the footprint on the floor, signed the lease and away we went.
WHAT IS A NANO BREWERY
David: There is no clear cut definition of a nano brewery. It’s a smaller version of a micro brewery. Typically a micro brewery starts at a 7 barrel systems and goes up. We’re a five barrel system. I’d like to emphasize small batch craft brewing rather than those that are regional who push out a lot of beer to the masses.
CREATION OF A NEW BEER AND A CAREER
David: First thing I do is talk to the customers – what do they like, what would they like to see. I also look at the boards – what is selling the best. When we first started out the Raspberry Wheat was number one, now IPA is hands down our best seller. So I was thinking that a double IPA in conjuction with National IPA day would be a good fit. At that point I bring out my brewing books, I pull from experience (I’ve brewed for 8 years before this) and formulate a recipe. I run it by some colleagues I trust and we go for it. From the brew day itself to serving is about two weeks, that doesn’t include any lead time to order hops and such.
Kelly: What’s the process to ensure it’s on the right track? David: Scientitfic measurements are used. You test the gravity which is basically your sugar concentration and water, check before and after your boil, check the pH of your mash, make sure your adding the right amount of yeast and oxygen, and then you taste it everyday while it is fermenting.
Kelly: Wow, science…How did you get into this? David: I studied under UC Davis Professor Dr. Michael Lewis 20 years ago. He created the American Brewer’s Guild and classes were here in Woodland. It was an 11 week/50 hours a week accelerated class that included an internship at St. Stans Brewing Company in Modesto. I did that and was the head brewer at Anderson Valley Brewing Company, in Boonville, for about three years. I also built and ran a place in Cancun Mexico and Fayetteville, North Carolina.
LISTEN UP NEW BEER DRINKERS
David: Just because a beer is darker does not mean it has more alcohol.
Kelly: Why do my eyes get puffy when I drink certain beers? David: Uh…
Kelly: You’ve never heard that one, huh? David: No. All beers have basically the same ingredients; barley, water, yeast, and hops. Each beer has different quantities or maybe they roast the grain, use different hops or yeast. But it’s pretty much the same four ingredients in all types of beers.
Kelly: So it’s the measurements of these ingredients that makes each of them different from each other? David: Amounts, types (versions) of the ingredients. All beers are either lagers or ales, then there are subcategories.
FUNNIEST MEMORIES SINCE OPENING
David: We purchased the bar from a company on the corner of First and Bush Streets. Dustin and I took a couple of carpet dollies over there and wheeled the entire bar down Main street. The bar is 800 pounds! We were getting honked at as we were pushing it down the street. People were getting mad, while others thought is was funny. Dustin then spend a week making it into a really nice bar.
WHAT DO YOU WANT WOODLAND TO KNOW
David: That you have to come off the alley to visit us! Kelly: What do people say the most often about the entrance? David: I’ve taken so many phone calls – I say, “Have you ever dropped off mail from your car at the post office? Look to the right, that’s where we are.” We are very happy to be here with the positive feedback and attention so far. I like the fact that when people walk through the door they just look around (in amazement). I think we’re a bit unique to Woodland. We are kid friendly and dog friendly and people really like that.
Shop local. Stay local.
Blue Note Brewing Company
750 Dead Cat Alley
Woodland, CA 95695
Check out Blue Note’s website here