These boys do more than just throw their hands up in the air. Enegren Brewing Company based in Moorpark, CA is a nanobrewery created by three guys, all under the age of 30: brothers Chris Enegren, Matthew Enegren (pictured on the left) and friend Joe Nascenzi (pictured on the right). In fact, they are so small that they were able to brew a batch of beer with hops they grew in a communal garden in Santa Monica. We got together with little brother Matthew Enegren during brew day to discuss how they got started, high tech brewing and their day jobs.
Chris and Matthew planned their brewery for seven years. Like many professional brewers, brewing beer started out as a hobby. Matthew tells us “once our homebrew got some awards, we realized, we can make this happen.” The brewery officially opened in the summer of 2011 in an industrial warehouse. The dream started back when Chris was in college, “he got one of those Mr. Beer kits. He brewed it on a stove top in his dorm with a buddy,” Matthew says.
Once Chris grew out of his kit, he built a ten gallon homebrewing system. The crew started their brewing journey at homebrew shops, Matthew would ask them, “we want to make this beer, what do we do?”
All three team members currently hold full-time jobs and brew every other weekend. “This is what we do for fun,” Matthew says, who works as a tax consultant. Chris works as a mechanical engineer, a useful ability since nearly the entire brewing system is built by him, with help from Premier Stainless, an Escondido, CA based company that designs and manufactures brewing systems. “We’re lucky Chris knows how to do all this stuff. We don’t have to pay anyone. He does it himself.”
Matthew recalls a specific incident where they realized they needed to go commercial, “Chris and I were sitting in front of our sink in the kitchen cleaning out kegs 1 AM on a weekday. We had 50 gallons of beer in the garage and we’re talking about brewing more.”
They would throw themed parties for their friends while serving homebrews. “We were wasting so much money and time. At some point we started looking around talking to different companies who make breweries. Then we met the guys from Premier.” They found out Chris does PLC (project logic computer) work and commissioned him to program Premier’s keg washers for a deal on a brewing system.
The brewery is 100% paid for by Enegren, “Premier helped us a ton. Once we got a quote. We decided we can afford it with no debt.” The brewery is on a three-barrel system designed by Chris with each barrel brewing about 43 gallons. The system sitting in the brewery is fully automated with a 15 inch touch screen running off the PLC.
“We can get the same repeatability out of most batches, and we track everything on a computer. We have something called a ‘brewputer’ where we log every ten minutes during our mashes. We log temperature, pH and specific gravity,” Matthew explains.
He tells us the team is neurotic about making sure everything is clean, “even when we were homebrewing, we were doing the same level of testing and monitoring.”
For Enegren, consistency and brewing what they like is key, “we would have market research nights. We would go to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods to pick out bomber bottles and talk about them. Learning about different styles of beers, figure out what we like and what we don’t like.”
Plans for the future
The team continues to expand with the latest acquisitions of a keg washer from Premier Stainless and a pulley system for grain dumping. Matthew and company plan to go full time after they fill the current space with fermenters. Their next goal is a 15 barrel system. “Once we do that, we’ll go full time. So, probably within two years. We’re in no rush.”
Where to find Enegren Brewing Company beers:
- Wades Wines in Agoura Hills, CA
- LAB Brewing Co. in Agoura Hills, CA
- The Kitchen in Oxnard, CA
- Lemmo’s Grill in Moorpark, CA
- The Dugout in Moorpark, CA
- Buteras Billiards in Moorpark, CA
- Corrigans Irish Pub in Moorpark, CA
- Larsen’s Grill in Simi Valley, CA
- Limon Latin Grill in Simi Valley, CA
Enegren beers are available to-go in one and two liter growlers at the tasting room/brewery.
Watch Matthew present a selection of Enegren’s summer brews.