Kern River Brewing Company was started nearly five years ago by brewer Kyle Smith, husband and wife combo Olympic Silver Medalist Rebecca Giddens and Olympic athlete Eric Giddens. The brewpub sits at the base of the Sequoia National Forest in Kernville, CA serving locals and visitors alike with American style food and four standard beers (Class V Stout, Isabella Blond, Sequoia Red, and Just Outstanding IPA). We took a tour of the cozy brewpub with brewmaster Kyle Smith and learned about his seven barrel-system brewhouse. [info]
All about the beers baby!
Kyle told us that the most popular beers KRBC offer are Just Outstanding IPA and the Class V Stout, but during the summer people love the Isabella Blond. Kyle brews exceptionally popular special edition and seasonal beers like the Holiday Ale, Pumpkin Ale, Bourbon Barrel Stout and Citra DIPA. When we asked why don’t they make more Citra, Kyle replied, “The problem with the Citra is that it holds the tank for too long.”
KRBC currently sells their beers in 22 oz glass bottles. All of them are hand labeled. “Imagine doing 240 cases of 12 bottles per case. It’s time consuming,” said Kyle.
Kyle plans to switch to cans in the future, “Especially for our beers, it only makes sense.” He stated that cans are not going to get light struck, and the oxygen levels are better. “The biggest thing for me is the environmental impact, especially in Kernville. You don’t want people taking glass down to the river.”
What’s the story?
Kyle has been living in Kernville for about 19 years. He is a Sacramento transplant that fell in love with the area and never looked back. We don’t blame him, it’s easy to fall for a place like Kernville. He was a firefighter for 15 years, and a homebrewer for ten. When we asked him if this was a dream come true, he said with a smile, “It’s stressful. At first you don’t have a chance to say, ‘This is so much fun.’ It’s more like, ‘I have to figure this out quick.’ I went from brewing ten-gallon batches to 210-gallon batches, but after a few years you can sit back and say, ‘This is great.'”
Kyle and business partner Rebecca met months before she left for the Olympics to compete in kayaking where she won a silver medal in Athens in 2004. Kyle would bring his homebrew to parties and Rebecca eventually found out and approached him. They both had similar ideas and after a year and a half the brewpub was born. “When we were building the place people would show up and volunteer, most of this place is built by volunteers,” said Kyle.
Most of the equipment was purchased from Alesmith Brewing Co. in San Diego, “They were thinking about doing a brewpub at the time, and they decided not to. So they never brewed on any of these systems.”
Before the brewpub building was complete Kyle had the system sitting out on his drive way, “One of my neighbors came and told me, ‘This is getting out of control.’ He thought I was going to start brewing and blow up the neighborhood.”