Two new brew pubs, Wolf House Brewing in Cloverdale and Corner Project Ales & Eats in Geyserville, have more in common than just crafting great beer.
Each was in the early stages of building renovations during last fall’s fires, mass evacuations and widespread blackouts. This year, each had to quickly shift gears to modify its grand opening and business plans because of the coronavirus pandemic.
When the former owners of the Cloverdale Ale Company decided to sell, 37-year old Kevin Lovett jumped at the chance to buy the business where he had been the Master Brewer for the past three years.
About the same time, his brother-in-law, 50-year old Dwayne Moran, owner of the Got Balls Meat Ball Factory food truck in Sonoma, was trying to open a brewpub and restaurant in Glen Ellen’s Jack London Village.
He had chosen the name, Wolf House Brewing, in honor of the late author. Two of the brews, Burning Daylight and Dutch Courage, are even named for two of London’s short stories. Although Moran still plans to eventually open a Glen Ellen location, it has been temporarily put on hold while he works on a number of building corrections required by the county’s environmental health and safety department.
Because the Cloverdale location already had brewing tanks and a kitchen set up, Lovett and Moran decided to become business partners, draw up a business plan, do some remodeling, and reopen the pub, also called Wolf House Brewing, early this year. While both locations will eventually house a full brewpub, the main production facility will be in Cloverdale.
Over in Geyserville, brothers Tom and Chris Adamian were close to realizing their dream of opening a brewpub and restaurant — a dream they had held since graduating college. A friend who had shared their goal at the time went on to become an executive chef in New York. Now, they felt it was finally their turn.
Before attending the culinary program at San Francisco City College and spending 10 years honing his cooking skills in restaurants throughout San Francisco and Sonoma County, 46-year old Tom Adamian had put his college degree in psychology to use as a social worker.
Chris Adamian, 45, worked as a software engineer for various tech and entertainment companies in the South Bay before moving north last year and buying a house next door to his brother in Geyserville.
The two began homebrewing in 2010. Chris started brewing partial batches on his stovetop burner before gradually upgrading his equipment and moving outdoors, where he could do the fermenting in stainless steel rather than glass or plastic carboys.
Their cousin taught him the basics of homebrewing and from there he learned through websites, discussion forums, YouTube videos, books and talking with friends. “Anywhere I can find knowledge, I will try to absorb it,” he says.
In 2018, Tom was laid off from a brewery restaurant job. He made up his mind right then that he no longer wanted to work for other people.
“Over time, I had become friends with Rian Rinn, owner of the Sonoma County Meat Company. When I shared my long-held dream with him and lamented about working for other people, he suggested I come check out this wine tasting room in Geyserville. My wife, Kate, and I fell instantly in love with the space and had an immediate vision for it.”
He says that having to hold down jobs to pay the bills, having two little boys demanding attention and being green to the process of opening a business, especially one of this nature, made the process arduous.
No one among he, his wife or his brother had ever started a business, so they first had to figure that out. Friends with experience helped them along the way.
“Everything people say about how hard it is to open a brewpub and restaurant is true. It’s been one of the hardest things we’ve ever done, but we’ve been lucky in many ways and a lot of things have fallen into place for us, as well.”
Wolf House’s Lovett, on the other hand, grew up in the microbrew industry in Ukiah. Shortly before he was born in 1983, his dad, Michael Lovett, and craft brewing legend Don Barkley were instrumental in starting the Mendocino Brewing Company and opening California’s first brewpub, the Hopland Brewery.
The younger Lovett began his brewing career by interning for Barkley at the Napa Smith Brewery, followed by a five-year stint at Moonlight Brewing Company in Santa Rosa. He went on to become the head brewer for Stumptown Brewery for two years before being hired as the master brewer at Cloverdale Ale.
Moran developed his passion for home cooking while working at the Honda R&D Proving Center in the Mojave Desert, where he ran the kitchen and trained under several great chefs who worked there.