DUNSMUIR BREWERY BORN ON THE MOUNTAIN
Mighty Mt. Shasta has done a lot of things for a lot of people. For thirsty travelers on Interstate 5 and locals in Dunsmuir, it can boast of one more: it made Dunsmuir Brewery Works possible.
It was at the Mt. Shasta Ski Park in 2001 where Aaron Greener, a craft brewer looking for a place to call home and set up shop, befriended David Clarno, a veteran ski instructor looking to get off the mountain and do something to jumpstart Dunsmuir’s business district.
“It was kind of serendipity,” says Greener. “It had always been my idea to open a brewpub and I fell in love with the water here, and I thought Dave and (wife) Andrea were friends I’d like to be in business with.”
For his part, Clarno says a nagging knee injury from high school football had him thinking about ending his days as a ski instructor in the winter and a U.S. Forest Service fire lookout in the summer. The idea of opening a pub appealed to both Clarno and his wife. Making the eatery stand out by combining it with an on-site brewery was an idea that appealed to all three. “We knew a pub and brewery would be a bigger draw,” Greener says.
The result is Dunsmuir Brewery Works, a hip and friendly establishment that quickly became the place t o hang out after opening in December 2009 on Dunsmuir Avenue, across from the Dunsmuir Library. “It took three years to get this place open,” Clarno says. “Folks had high expectations. The locals sustained us during the first winter. They referred to us as ‘their’ brewery.”
News of a brewpub in Dunsmuir spread quickly, and vacationers, tourists, fishermen and others began stopping by. The brewpub has done more than provide a comfortable spot to enjoy a meal and a pint of handcrafted beer. “When we opened, this town was dead and dying,” says Clarno, who also serves as president of the Dunsmuir Chamber of Commerce.
“Since then, there have been more businesses moving in, and we take pride in that,” Clarno says. “We brought some excitement and some energy. When we started, downtown was deserted.”
Greener’s work as brewmaster is contributing to that energy. His ales, porters and stouts continue to draw raves from regulars and customers from afar. One couple on an extended tour of West Coast brewpubs called Greener late last year to tell that of the 100-plus pubs they visited, his Blood, Sweat & Tears IPA was the best they had tasted.
The only complaint likely to be heard is that the relatively small tank system and refrigeration unit make it hard to keep all seven taps going at once, but the proprietors are working on expansion projects to remedy the supply-and-demand issues.
A graduate of the American Brewers Guild, Greener says his brew-quest took him to both coasts while he added stints at Nevada City’s Stonehouse Old Brewery and the Sacramento Brewing Co. to his resume. After helping outfit Vaune Dillman’s Mt. Shasta Brewing Co. in Weed, Greener drifted down to Dunsmuir. After tasting that small city’s legendary water, he knew his traveling days were over. When it comes to brewing, Greener considers himself a bit of a purist. “I shy away from ‘niche’ beers and try to make really good, solid stock beers with layers and depth to their flavor,” he says. “The porter is a very classic London style, and the IPA is more western. I’m not trying to out-hop my neighbors.”
Dunsmuir Brewery Works’ approach to meals is to keep things fresh, local, healthy and simple, but with a little flair as well. “We don’t advertise as organic, but we buy organic whenever possible. We’ve found it will keep better and taste better,” Clarno says.
Norman Harrison runs the kitchen and comes up with the daily specials in addition to menu staples like smoked salmon BLTs, house-made nut burgers, brewery tacos, salads and sandwiches.
“Because of our size, we get to change specials a lot—and that forces us to use fresh ingredients,” Harrison says. The specials also serve as a good way to test out dishes that will highlight a new menu to be unveiled this month. The revamped menu was made possible with the addition of a new range that doubled the kitchen’s capabilities, he adds.
With fall bringing a nip in the air, diners will be less inclined to take advantage of the patio seating, but people seem happy to adapt. “We get so many tourists in the summer that the locals look forward to the fall and winter when it’s easier to get a table,” Clarno says with a smile that suggests there are worse problems a restaurateur could face.
www.dunsmuirbreweryworks.com 5701 Dunsmuir Ave. (530) 235-1900 Open daily for lunch and dinner
dining Brewski Dunsmuir Brewery Born on the Mountain Dunsmuir Brewery Works Aaron Greener David Clarno Dunsmuir Chamber of Commerce Blood, Sweat & Tears IPA American Brewers Guild Nevada City's Stonehouse Old Brewery Sacramento Brewing Co. Vaune Dillman's Mt. Shasta Brewing Co. Norman Harrison