SAN JOSE, Calif. — Right outside of downtown San Jose, around the corner of Monterey Road and East Alma Avenue, a business park strip is situated across the street from where the 110-year old Southern Lumber used to stand. On the heels of that century-plus of business history, Santa Clara Valley Brewing Company‘s (SCV) taproom is creating a new tale, while also celebrating the rich history of San Jose.
A brewery that recently observed the one year anniversary of its taproom and brewery, SCV didn’t push for a huge anniversary celebration like many breweries jump at the chance of doing. Rather, in the tradition of how their taproom opened — subtly — the brewery has continued to expand its eclectic offerings of beers that pay homage to Silicon Valley.
Beers like their Reed Rye IPA, which was named after Reed Elementary School in San Jose and served as a reward for a school fundraiser, pushes tropical, fruity and pine IPA flavors into new territories, with the rye providing a biscuity seasoning underneath that deliciously hides its 7.9 percent alcohol rating.
“After we fired up the brewhouse we did a soft opening in June of last year,” said Tom Clark, CEO of SCV. “We kind of just rolled slowly into an opening, didn’t do a big splash, but it’s been growing ever since.”
Clark, an Apple veteran and long-time South Bay resident, said a large emphasis of SCV is on keeping things local: from the beer names (Umunhum Pale Ale), the ambiance of the bar, and the causes they support.
A beer like their iOS fits perfectly for a Silicon Valley-based brewery. The name is an abbreviation for Imperial Oatmeal Stout. Decadent, deep and dark-blackish-brown, the iOS has flavors of caramel, chocolate and creamy stout texture at 10 percent alcohol.
Establishing a place for beer drinkers to enjoy the sentiments of San Jose’s culture, while also giving the opportunity for people to learn about San Jose’s history, was a major aim of the taproom’s ambiance, according to Clark.
“We wanted to make the taproom feel like people might be in a cannery with an agricultural element. This is all reclaimed wood from San Martin,” said Clark, referring to the wood of the walls and tables in the taproom. The taproom itself is decorated with concert posters from the ’60s and ’70s, and a huge wall painting of San Jose’s famous Electric Light Tower is noticeable when you first walk in.
“We’ve talked to people who grew up in San Jose who had no clue what Electric Tower was,” said Clark. “That enlightenment is cool to see and they come in here and learn what it was like to grow up here.”