It’s been a decade since Chris Bowser first brewed a batch of Canadian lager with a store-bought home brewing kit in his father’s Santa Rosa garage.
His fascination with hand-crafted libations has since led him, his father and a friend on a path to opening a Petaluma-based “nanobrewery,” aptly named “Third Bay Brewing Company,” after their current garage-based operation. Bowser hopes the 1250 Petaluma Blvd. North location can capture a new swath of craft beer market with its unique business model, which he said will the first of its kind in the area.
The brewery, which could open as soon as April, will create custom beers for events, including weddings and nonprofit fundraisers. The concept first emerged when a friend asked the team to make a batch of beer for a party, and has led to requests for about 30 other events.
“I don’t want to toot our own horn, but I haven’t seen anyone else that does what we do,” said Bowser, 32.
The production facility will likely churn out about 1,000 barrels a year, and the owners will work with each customer to develop a beer for their specific needs. The business features an extensive list of beers, and for an event like a wedding, the crew will interview the bride and groom or planners to better understand their needs.
“We’ll take down a bunch of information during the interview and suggest or work with them on a beer that will most fit with their wedding,” he said. “Seasonal beers are a good thing for a spring wedding, or for fall something maybe amber or darker. On top of that, we let them name everything, and we’ll ask people things like where was your first date or how did he propose, how did the proposal happen or what’s an important memory between you two. The customization is a big deal for people and it really helps set the wedding or whatever the event is apart.”
Services include delivery and pickup within 50 miles of Petaluma, setup and breakdown of equipment, plastic drink-ware and bar tending services from the master brewer and an assistant for up to four hours. Excess brew can be donated or bought back for use in nonprofit fundraisers or other events, Bowser said.
Packages will range in price from $620 for 10 gallons of up to two styles of handmade beer to $2,100 for 80 gallons of up to eight individual styles of beer, according to the company’s website. The team has been in the process of planning the Petaluma brewery in a leased 1,600-square-foot space for more than a year, and hope to also feature a small tasting room where customers can sample about 10 beer options and purchase to-go growlers. The public areas will be decked out like a garage to channel the laid-back atmosphere the team has grown to love.
“We’re going to do a home brewer’s garage theme,” Bowser said. “My favorite part about brewing is that rule No. 1 is when you make beer, you’ve got to drink that beer. Then when you’re drinking a beer and hanging out and people come by and talk. The aspect of having that camaraderie between people hanging out and having a beer in someone’s garage is so cool.”
Bowser served in the Army for a decade, working mostly in a military police assignment at locations such as Guantanamo Bay. His father, Jason Brendmoen, formerly worked as an account manager at Petaluma-based Calix Inc., which offers telecommunications access equipment for service providers. Dan Collingwood, the third co-founder, is a Santa Rosa contractor and will help with the renovation of the space.
The group is waiting on necessary approvals from the city and other regulatory agencies before it launches the estimated $80,000 business, Browser said. The fledgling business recently hosted its first fundraiser at The Arlene Francis Center in Santa Rosa, where it earned $3,000 for the Redwood Empire Food Bank and the center, a nonprofit organization for spirit, art, and politics, Bowser said.
Once things are in full swing, the group hopes to host more regular fundraisers to give back to the community, the Sonoma County native said. The business will also hire several student interns that could later turn into employees as the enterprise grows, he said.
Boswer hopes the business model will give the small craft brewery an edge in an already-crowded beer landscape.
“Customization is key right now — everyone wants their thing their way to their specification, and we are going to meet their needs for customization, and that’s how we’ll end up being a success.”