Clandestine Brewing, the newest brewery in the South Bay, opened May 30 in an industrial neighborhood just a couple of blocks north of The Plant shopping center in San Jose. As its spy-themed logo proclaims, “The secret is out.”
Founded by partners Rob Conticello, Adrian Kalaveshi, Christine Kalaveshi, Colin Kelly and Dwight Mulcahy, Clandestine Brewing represents a unique niche emerging in the craft beer industry – the nanobrewery. Loosely defined as an enterprise with a brewing system of three barrels (93 gallons) or less in capacity, a nanobrewery minimizes the capital outlay required to start a brewery while maximizing opportunities for creativity and experimentation due to the small batch size.
Adrian Kalaveshi, Conticello, Kelly and Mulcahy are all award-winning homebrewers who decided to take the leap into professional brewing.
“I think all of us feel a passion for brewing – and helping Silicon Valley to become the beer destination that it can and should be with its population base,” Conticello said, “We love to bring the experimentation and creativity of homebrewing to our nanobrewery.”
At the moment, Clandestine is brewing batches of less than one barrel, but they have purchased a three-barrel system, which they are working to get up and running.
With a team of four brewers, Clandestine has been able to produce a tremendous variety of beer styles in a short period of time. The dozen taps in their tasting room/brewery at 1805 Little Orchard St. reflect a constantly changing array of German, English, Belgian and American brews. Currently, the tasting room is open only 4-9 p.m. Fridays and 2-9 p.m. Saturdays, but so far, Conticello said, visitor response has been “amazingly positive.”
“We have had a number of repeat customers already, and they have been enthusiastic about bringing along friends and spreading the word,” he said.
Following are a few highlights from the tap list during Clandestine’s first month.
• VW Helles Weizenbock is a light-colored, full-bodied brew featuring big fruity maltiness and prominent but not overwhelming banana esters from the German yeast strain. VW strikes a pleasant balance of sweetness and dryness on the palate simultaneously.
• The Hopothetical Series uses a simple malt bill that allows the flavors of new and experimental hops to shine. The first installment featured Caliente hops, a new Pacific Northwest variety with a distinctive apricot/peach aroma and flavor. The second Hopothetical brew showcased Azacca hops, with a prevailing aroma of sweet Meyer lemon, and tasted like lemon, citrus, tropical pineapple and a hint of berry.
• Murph’s Shenanigans is an American brown ale with coffee, vanilla beans, cocoa nibs and oak cubes added, and each of those flavors and aromas builds on the last. It tastes like the best vanilla latte you’ve ever had, but with chocolate. And it’s beer.
Other excellent brews have included ICA India Cream Ale, Broken Bitter, Kölsch I Could, Fail Bear Scotch Ale and Southern Accents IPA. Several of these are no longer available but may return in the future. You can view the current tap list at clandestinebrewing.com and on Facebook.
According to the brewers, upcoming releases include an American IPA fermented with wild Brettanomyces yeast, a Polish Grodziskie made from oak-smoked wheat malt, a Belgian Blonde and a double IPA.
When asked about the future of Clandestine, Conticello explained, “We have had very little time to catch our breath so far, but there are small things in the near future like serving beer to go (growlers) or finding a few select bars to have events. However, our most important task is to plan out the brewery of our dreams and to move beyond nanobrewery scale.”
Derek Wolfgram is chief communications officer for the Silicon Valley Sudzers Homebrew Club, which meets in Los Altos Hills. For more information, visit sudzers.org.