History of OPBCO
We didn't start brewing with the idea it would be a commercial venture. We started because of curiosity, we started because of a desire to create something, and we started for the love of great beer. Like many of the great craft breweries, our first venture into making beer was as homebrewers. Like many homebrewers, our first attempts were from kits purchased at a local homebrew shop.
It wasn’t long before we all wanted to do more, to have more control of the process. Dave Estis and Tom Karvonen began augmenting the kits with extra hops and extra malt extract to get more flavor and, frankly, more alcohol. Not too much time had passed before Dave ran out of things to tinker with and determined we should do “all-grain” batches. Dave built a stand with three propane burners and the pumps that would be necessary for the process at his home in Oak Park.
The Oak Park Brewing Company – essentially Dave’s garage at this point – had arrived. We jokingly called our little brewery that, as we were working through process, equipment, and recipe formulation. In addition, many of our homebrew friends would bring equipment over and brew with us, and happily embraced the Oak Park Brewing Company moniker. This is how our identity was initially created.
It was through brew days that we were “nudged” into the idea of opening a commercial brewery. Our brew days would host 50+ people with six or more beers on tap, ranging from easy drinking pales to Stouts, Sours, and Belgian Ales. Many of our attendees encouraged us to take the plunge. We were skeptical at first, these are our friends after all, and they’re biased. We just wanted to make great beer and share it with friends.
We entered our first competition to gain feedback and guidance on how to make better beer, not really expecting a ribbon. But our Belgian-Style Monk’s Brown Ale, Bliss, won third place in the Belgian Specialty category at Celebrewtion, a local homebrew competition. Then our Robust Porter won 2nd place at the 2012 California State Fair. And our Citra IPA won 3rd place at the Napa Homebrew Challenge. Our friends were right, we can make great beer.
For our production batches we have a beautiful copper-clad 7bbl brewhouse that will be visible to everyone in the pub. We all can’t wait until we can share our beers with the rest of Oak Park, Northern California, and beyond.
We were fortunate enough to receive generous support from many people including those that joined us on our crowdfunding campaigns. A huge thank you from all of us at Oak Park Brewing Company, we can't wait to have you over for a beer.
Dawn and Rick Costa
Scott Thorne Environmental
Tom has extensive experience helping companies expand in a variety of industries for companies as diverse as Ford Motor Company, Wingcast, LLC, Toll Brothers, and SunCal Companies. In these roles Tom has successfully managed sales, marketing, finance, and production while increasing profitability and efficiency of the organization with projects and budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars. In addition, Tom holds an MBA from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, one of the top- ranked business schools in the nation. Tom has successfully completed the Beer Judge Certification Program and has been brewing award winning beers for over 4 years. He has a keen attention to detail which carries through from recipe formulation through the brewing process. In addition to creating our award-winning pilot brand recipes from scratch, Tom will be handling overall strategy, finance and investor relations, business development, marketing, and sales.
David has over 15 years of construction management and facility maintenance experience. His skill in estimating costs, scheduling staff, equipment maintenance, trouble shooting, employee education, as well as maintaining compliance with state and federal documentation for a commercial electrical contractor demonstrates his experience with the skills necessary to manage the operational and staffing needs of a production brewery facility. David will be responsible for daily operations, maintenance, staff management, facility safety policy, and regulatory compliance documentation. He has been home brewing since 1999, and enjoys the challenges associated with modifying or constructing equipment and designing systems to maximizing brewing efficiency to produce consistent high quality beers.
Christopher Davis-Murai is from Sacramento and is a professional chef. He has worked his way up from dishwasher to Executive Chef in over 28 years of restaurant experience. He is well traveled working in a number of restaurants and other cities and states, taught cooking in San Francisco, had a cooking show on KSEE 24 Fresno, and was a personal Chef for the Henry Cabot-Lodge family of Maine. He has worked in the top restaurants in Sacramento, raced bicycles for 20 years, and owned the community favorite “BicycleChef Bicycles” bike shop before closing to start the present project.
Robert Stoddard will function as our Head Brewer. Robert holds an International Diploma in Brewing Technology from the Seibel Institute in Chicago, IL and Doemans Academy in Munich Germany along with a Biology degree from the University of Oregon in Eugene. At the Doemans Academy Robert gained real world experience brewing on an automated six hectoliter pilot system. At the Seibel Institute he learned the business side of brewing, including quality control, beer styles, packaging and distribution, and marketing. After his graduation from brewing school Robert volunteered as a brewer at the Kodiak Brewing Company in Kodiak, Alaska, while also holding a job as a fisheries biologist for the National Marine Fisheries Service. Due to these experiences Robert has a real world understanding of day to day brewery operations and business. In addition to his brewery experience Robert has been home brewing for 12 years.