Brewery gets in on Tahoe’s beer rush
August 19, 2015
There's a new player in the craft beer/brew pub game in northern Nevada.
The Lake Tahoe Brewing Company recently opened its first brew pub in Carson City, but is already expanding.
The second shop is due to open in July in Fernley, occupying the building that formerly housed Bully's.
The third store in Truckee is scheduled for an opening later in the summer, and there is also a production facility in Reno underway.
The man behind this rapidly growing enterprise is Michael Candelario. The 32-year-old entrepreneur worked in a brew pub during college, and liked the business model.
After a seven-year stint in the Marine Corps, he studied the art of brewing beer in Germany and Belgium.
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He also spent time in Italy studying its cuisine. By 2012, he had opened a small brew pub in Austin, Texas.
Unfortunately, his plans to expand his business to off-site sales were stymied by the Texas liquor laws, so he decided to move his operation.
He had visited Lake Tahoe and Reno and liked the area. In 2014 he found the perfect opportunity in Carson City, taking over the building on Carson Street that had housed the recently-shuttered High Sierra Brewery.
"It was serendipity; the timing was perfect," said Candelario.
With the Carson City location open for business, Candelario has turned his attention to the two other target locations. The Truckee brew pub was originally intended to be the first to open, but licensing issues in California have caused some delays.
It will be the third store slated to open later this summer. The remodeling of the Fernley facility is proceeding on schedule. With equipment from Kentucky, New Hampshire, and Canada, the production facility located in the recently designated brewery district on East Fourth Street is ramping up.
"With Carson City and Reno both on line, we expect to produce about 700 barrels per year combined," said Candelario. Some of the product from those barrels will be going into cans, as part of Candelario's plans to sell his product through retail outlets. Introduction of the canned beer is expected in the near future. Although the Reno facility does not have the restaurant aspect of the other locations, there are plans to do food truck events there.
Candelario's business philosophy is to provide a quality product first and foremost. Traits he looks for in staff are loyalty and a passion for the business. Although he is very hands-on, he is not the only brewmaster.
"I have some extremely talented brewers, and we are constantly coming up with new beers," he said. The company recently produced a special double IPA called "Xtra Xtra" in honor of the Nevada Appeal's 150th birthday celebration.
The beer features ingredients sourced in Nevada and nearby counties in California. Candelario believes that his customers will welcome both traditional and specialty beers. Speaking of his ideal customer, he said "They are open-minded and want to learn about craft beers. Age doesn't seem to matter."
He feels that the improving economy and more discretionary income will also help his business. "The market is wide open for good craft beers, and people are willing to pay for quality," he continued. He is also positive about the other craft brewers and brew pubs, feeling that the more there are, the public will more easily patronize them.
Food is the other component of Candelario's business model, which typically accounts for 55-60 percent of a brew pub's business.
Although the menu has an Italian flavor, it is not the traditional Italian restaurant fare. "We feature Neapolitan pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven," he said. Wood-smoked wings and salmon are two other features, as is the signature appetizer: bacon fat popcorn. The team also bakes their breads on-site, and have traditional pub fare such as burgers and BLTs, along with gluten-free menu items.
Customers can pair their favorite dishes with a variety of beers for a unique dining experience. And they can fill a growler with their favorite brew for consumption at home.
When asked how the company's rapid expansion is being financed, Candelario stated that he didn't like to share that information, as the company is privately held.
After a moment's reflection, he said, "Let's just say that I don't believe in debt."
The Carson City location is at 302 North Carson Street.
Roll-up doors on the Proctor Street side give access to al fresco sidewalk dining during good weather. Both the Fernley and Truckee locations will have easy access from Interstate 80.