From barn to brewery
Rick Keith enjoys buddies, beer and barbecues in a barn he converted into his own pub
Published: Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 9:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 9:01 a.m.
Rick Keith has always had a penchant for dreaming up themes: themes that inspire people to get creative, themes that give them a chance to do new and original things, and themes that bring people together around a shared idea or event, much like performers and entertainers do.
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With a career that included many years in the restaurant business, he was able to use his imagination to come up with novel events and concepts — themes that involved his customers and made his restaurants unique.
When life took him down another path into the wine industry (with forays into real estate and construction), a move to Petaluma in 2007 allowed Keith to unleash his creative side again. This time it was to find a three-acre piece of land and build his version of a “man cave” on it, or in this case, a “man compound,” also known as “Bar 11” by its habitués.
Though a getaway, Keith sees it as a way to escape from the niggling parts of life and have a carefree time with friends. A naturally gregarious person, Keith welcomes people into his life. He feels that his father influenced him in this respect, “My dad was a very adventurous guy,” said Keith. “He wanted everybody to be happy.”
Like Father, like son; Keith puts people at ease and is the kind of guy that you feel you know after a 10-minute conversation.
Since acquiring the property in 2011, he has made improvements on the land, planting trees, putting in a bocce ball court, and restoring and reusing a former chicken house that also housed horses. Now the building is home to chickens again, just six laying hens this time, and storage space for his beer brewing operation.
After dabbling in making beer, Keith and his son, Timothy Keith, decided to get semi-serious about their brew. They bought the name Man Cave Beer, and the Internet address. Now they brew beer three to four times a year, trying different styles such as Hefeweizen and others. They produce about 10-12 gallons, which then goes into kegs, and finally into 22-oz. bottles, most of which is consumed at Bar 11 on the mainly male brew pub nights.
Bar 11 is the most prominent structure on the property. A medium-sized red barn that has been updated by Keith, it is the epicenter of the man cave/compound. “I had a vision of retaining all the historic and rustic qualities of the original barn, but utilizing the timber from the outside walls on the inside,” explains Keith. He reworked the interior with the reclaimed wood, keeping it “farm funky.”
The barn has a proper floor now and is weatherproofed, but not insulated, so it requires a stoic attitude to quaff some beers and watch football in the winter. As with many projects, the barn and landscaping progress “organically,” that is, as the whim or need arises.
Numerous parties — themed, of course — have taken place outdoors in the compound, including a whole pig roast and bocce tournament, barbecues and picnics enjoyed at handmade tables, and acoustic music by local musicians such as Larry Potts and Chris Samson.
Inside, the barn offers a more intimate venue where you might hear singer/songwriter Elaine Lucia performing in an entirely candlelit setting. And, to celebrate the vernal equinox, the upbeat tunes of the all-woman group Foxes in the Henhouse ushered in the spring season.
Keith is currently planning a special “Celebration of the Darkness,” an ode of sorts to the end of daylight-saving time and the long nights it brings. He’ll have to top last year’s theme, which involved tiki torches, drum circles and a bonfire.
Though he’s not ready to announce the theme for this year, he’s spending more time in the man cave to think, dream and wait for that “Eureka!” moment.
(Contact Dyann Espinosa at email@example.com)
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