If you need proof that the 21st century brewer is ever-evolving, look no further than Peter Baker and Dan Watson. Technologists by trade and both products of Google, the duo have traveled the world tasting beer and are bringing their sophisticated approach to brewing their own beer.
Owners of San Leandro’s Cleophus Quealy Beer Company, the two are fueled by a fusion of tradition and technology. They are true beer nerds at heart, geeking out together inside a new 3900 square-foot brewery to serve thirsty beer heads who fancy a delicious glass of Belgian style American ale.
Both of the owners have tasted beers while traveling in France, Belgium and England. Combined, they have over 25 years of craft brewing experience. Baker had brewed for roughly twenty years on his own and in around 2009 began to encourage Watson to brew his first batches.
“We think people are ready to not have the same flagship beer all the time,” said co-owner Dan Watson. “Our goal is to give someone a different experience every time they come in.”
Their story aside, the name Cleophus Quealy says enough about what kind of approach they are taking with their work. A combination of both of their names — “Cleophus,” coming from a great-grandfather of Watson’s, “Quealy” being an old family name of Baker’s — the partners have chosen to entwine as much of an idea of tradition and family into their new brewery.
Inspired by a month long trip to Belgium in 2007 in which he drank his way through the country’s ales, Watson left with a new found love for big-bodied, effervescent beers like Duvel and Rodenbach, sour red beers, bright golden ales, and Trappist beers from the monasteries.
Around the same time, Baker also found himself discovering new tastes in the United Kingdom, meeting up with Watson there occasionally to clink glasses and pick one another’s brain about what they had discovered.
Upon their return home, the duo couldn’t ignore the urge to begin brewing together. They met on weekends for a few years, experimenting and trying to imitate the styles of beer that both had fallen in love with.
“For us, our goal is to build something that has a tight community for people who want to geek out on beer,” said Baker. “The kind of beer that you can walk in off the street and enjoy.”
Guided by a hand-crafted, old world tradition, their idea is to take a small batch approach while producing beers that follow the seasons on a heavy rotation. With the help of a few dozen oak Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir barrels courtesy of some friends from Napa Valley, they have begun brewing a dubbel, Belgian pale ale and rye, a blonde and a sour berliner weisse.
Although in its infancy, the Cleophus Quealy will sport a roomy 1600 square-foot tasting room, seating roughly 40 to 50 people when completed, allowing the brewery to serve their beers in an intimate setting.
“We will make some small, experimental stuff, where we make maybe 15 gallons of something and have it on tap, so there will be a lot of beers moving throughout,” said Watson.
To drink a Cleophus Quealy beer is to not only support a brewery in its infancy, but to support the growth of the craft brew movement into San Leandro. Fueled by a burning passion for extremely fresh beer, Baker and Watson have settled in and are ready to serve a thirsty city.
“There are a lot of breweries out there trying to make something different that no one’s seen before,” said Watson. “For me, a lot of the classic styles of beers that you don’t see a lot of is what we are really going to try to make. We want to have something special to connect with the locals.”
As they look to begin manufacturing in the next few weeks, Cleophus Quealy is set up to officially open for business sometime in late November. For more information on the brewery and beer, visit www.cleoph.us.