Brewery Profile: Steelhead Brewing Company

by Steve on August 22, 2012

Steelhead Brewing Company

Location: Irvine, California / Eugene, Oregon / Burlingame, California
Founded: 1995

Brewery Description:

Five local far-sighted businessmen had the idea to open a brewpub in Eugene, Oregon. They came from diverse backgrounds: Two were commercial real estate developers, one was a shoe importer, one was in the hotel business, one had a lumber background, one was a banker, one was an accountant, and two were restauranteurs. I know that adds up to more than five, but their backgrounds were so diverse that several had experience in more than one kind of business. Having a broad variety of business experience in the ownership ranks can only help a fledgling business of any kind to survive and prosper. And indeed, Steelhead Brewing Company has done so.

These businessmen began working on their business plan in 1988. Their plan was to open in October of 1990, but as they say, “The best laid plans… ”

While the rest of the restaurant was still under construction, the brewers began brewing in December 1990. Their goal was to fill all the fermenters, plus all the serving tanks, with fresh cold ales before opening day.

Finally the bar was polished, the wingback chairs delivered, the antiques were hung on the walls, and the serving and kitchen staffs were fully trained. After a few “soft opening” nights with the staff waiting on local dignitaries including the mayor, other local brewers, and the construction crew, Steelhead Brewing Company offically opened it’s doors to the public at 11:00 am on January 22, 1991.

The brewers had achieved their goal of having every single tank full of beer by opening day, so the first few days they spent all of their time giving tours and educating the first-time brewpub customers about microbrewed beer and brewpubs. It was lucky that they’d had enough time to age the beer in the fermenters prior to opening, because the lines outside the doors ensured that the beer was consumed in record time. Soon the brewers were busily and happily filtering and transferring more beer into the serving tanks, and from then on it’s been go-go-go!

Those heady days from the early stages of the microbrewing industry are long gone, but the excitement about fresh beers with big flavors lingers on. Steelhead went on to open two more successful brewpubs in 1995; our locations in Burlingame, California (March 1995) and Irvine, California (September 1995).

However, it hasn’t always been a bed of roses: Steelhead also opened a location at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, and another location in Fresno, California. Both of those locations turned out to be a bust. A successful brewpub needs a reliable base of locals who are food- and beer-curious. With good service, a great brewpub experience, and a bit of luck, those locals will turn into regular customers, which is the bread and butter of any brewpub. Those two locations could not find that reliable base of food- and beer-curious locals, and the savvy owners of Steelhead became even more savvy when they had to close the doors to those locations forever.

Wiser and more experienced, Steelhead has redoubled its efforts at the original three locations. We are continually expanding the brewpub experience for our customers, always striving to make their experience as fresh as our beers, every single time a customer walks through the door. Our creative brewers are proud to continually craft new recipes, and we’ve been consistantly rewarded for our creativity with medals at the Great American Beer Festival. Our servers are proud to work for Steelhead, and it shows in their smiles and great service. Our kitchen staff reliably turns out great plate-filling pub food at affordable prices. If you haven’t enjoyed the Steelhead experience, we recommend that you stop by and see for yourself why we have been such a popular location since 1991.

Barracuda Blonde
Bombay Bomber IPA
Hairy Weasel Hefeweizen
Raging Rhino Red
U. C. I. P. A.

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