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Brewery plans to get Knee Deep in Auburn

Commission OKs tasting room, food trucks
By: BY JON SCHULTZ gold country news service
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Knee Deep Brewing Company is on the verge of making a big splash in the craft beer world and Auburn is going to be its jumping off point.

Getting approval Tuesday from the Auburn Planning Commission for a tasting room and periodic food truck events moved Knee Deep CEO Jerry Moore and his partner, Brewmaster Jeremy Warren, a step closer to relocating from behind Beermann’s in Lincoln.

“Obviously, the key to the operation is the beer itself, the beer that Jeremy creates, but for people to come to Auburn, try the beer there, sit down, relax, be inside the brewery, get a feel for the brewery, hear the sounds, see the sights,” Moore said, “then perhaps go to dinner someplace in Auburn or do something else in Auburn. So, it’s a good attraction for us as a company, and it’s a good attraction for the city as a whole.”

In coming months, they’ll be scaling up their recipes and building out their new 16,000-square-foot facility at the Auburn Airport Business Park with hopes of brewing its first Auburn batch in July.

In 2012, Knee Deep produced about 1,800 barrels in Lincoln, equaling about $1 million in sales for the year, but its current facility can’t keep up with the increasing demand.

“We’ve had to turn down, or put on hold, distributors in easily a dozen states so far,” Moore said. “And they’re waiting for us to expand so we can ship them beer.”

Knee Deep currently distributes its beer in six states.

Their new location, housed in the same 62,000-square-foot building as Ridgeline Entertainment and automotive controls company Intermotive, Inc., gives Knee Deep room to grow – and then some. By 2014, Warren said they’re expecting to be making 9,000-plus barrels a year.

Rich Anderson, president of TGH Aviation and the Auburn Airport Business Park Association, said he thinks Knee Deep’s move is a “great idea,” and the few people he spoke with from the airport park community leads him to believe the brewery will be “welcomed with open arms.”

“It’s going to bring jobs; it’s going to bring tax revenues,” Anderson said. “All of that is good for the city.”

Hours for the tasting room are proposed as 3 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 to 9 p.m. on the weekends, but those may change “slightly” after the brewery opens and it gets a feel for demand.

The brewery plans to coordinate with food trucks during higher traffic days and times. No more than 12 special food truck events are anticipated annually at the brewery, according to its application.

Knee Deep had considered a couple locations in Lincoln, and early on had weighed the idea of a potential move back to Reno, Nev., where it originated in 2010. Ultimately, Auburn landed the brewery because not only did it offer the space it needed, but the natural resources.

“The City of Auburn sells Lincoln their water, so it gets me closer to our water source, and, in brewing, water is everything when it comes to beer,” Warren said. “So it’s just the best thing for us.”

He explained that Auburn’s water, like other areas of the Sierra foothills, has a purity to it that cuts a step out of the brewing process, eliminating the need for a reverse osmosis filter.

Whatever is in – or not in – the water, it’s working.

To name a couple of its numerous awards, in 2012, Knee Deep’s Hoptologist Double IPA won a gold medal and just this month its Citra X Pale Ale won bronze at an annual festival in Hayward.

“We are very hop-centric, very hop-focused,” Warren said. “We make some of the cutting edge IPAs. We are very known for our hoppy beers. We are the only brewery in the United States that makes a year-round triple IPA, let alone that we do two year-round triple IPAs.”

Currently, more than 90 percent of Knee Deep’s beer is distributed in 22-ounce bottles, but once it moves to Auburn, it will be able to ramp up its draft beer operation, and Warren said that means its brews will be on tap in restaurants and bars, “all over.”

Warren, who began homebrewing in 2006 while attending the University of Nevada Reno, remembered driving past Auburn on his way to visit his parents in the East Bay and hoping to live there someday. He also trained with the university’s mountain biking team in Auburn.

“The fact that we’re going to open a brewery in Auburn and be that close to the river and all the trails,” Warren said, “sign me up.”

 

Jon Schultz can be reached at jons@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jon_AJNews