San Leandro’s Cleophus Quealy Beer Co. opened in November 2014 in a light industrial neighborhood not far from Drake’s Brewing Co. and has produced 48 batches of unique craft beers on its seven-barrel system in the past eight months. In fact, Cleophus Quealy beers are not named other than being given a batch number and a style descriptor, such as Batch 36 Cherry Sour.
Co-founders Dan Watson (whose great-great-great-grandfather was named Cleophus) and Peter Baker (whose mother’s maiden name is Quealy) met in 2005 when they were both software engineers at Google Inc.
“The road to us brewing together started over some amazing pints of cask English ale in London at a pub called the Windsor Palace,” said Baker, describing their decision to open a brewery. “After brewing for a couple years together, we headed down to the 2012 Craft Brewers Conference in San Diego. It was during this event that we were able to chat with others doing smaller breweries and confirm that we had a good plan.”
Cleophus Quealy has been collaborating with local food-truck chefs on beer-pairing brunches the last Sunday of each month. A recent three-course brunch with John Reyna from the Sliders food truck included four different main-course options with specific beer pairings, in addition to a starter and dessert with brews for all attendees.
Brew and chew
To start, fresh burrata was served with toasted bread and a salad of fresh greens with cucumber, fennel and apples in a light vinaigrette. The Batch 20 Berliner Weisse pairing provided a well-carbonated, mildly tart contrast to the creaminess of the burrata, and the purplish tinge from aging in Cabernet barrels offered a visual treat as well. As a palate cleanser between courses, Batch 29 Hoppy Brown Ale balanced nutty and slightly roasty malt with a firm but mild hop bitterness that carried through from the initial sip to the finish.
I tried two of the main dishes and their respective pairings. Savory pork belly porchetta with perfectly runny eggs over a creamy white polenta was paired with Batch 32 Dark Lager. The beer was flavorful and crisp, with a dry finish and hints of cocoa and caramel that nicely complemented the sweet and savory Maillard goodness of the crispy pork.
Fried chicken and waffles were served with a Batch 33 Brett Tripel, with relatively high alcohol, moderate residual sweetness, a touch of vanilla and mild spicy clove esters that balanced the richness of crispy yet moist fried chicken served over waffles with a cream gravy and a side of bacon. Because Brettanomyces yeast was used in primary fermentation, it produced a very clean beer rather than the funky notes more commonly associated with Brett used in secondary fermentation.
For dessert, a very light and fluffy yet surprisingly rich chocolate mousse cake was paired with Batch 19 Coffee Milk Stout, which provided a pleasant balance of mildly sweet lactose and bitter espresso. I also chose to get a Batch 28 Framboos with dessert, and the intensely fresh raspberry aroma and flavor, slight pilsner malt sweetness, mild alcohol bite and fruity Belgian yeast esters all got to be good friends with the rich chocolate.
Baker discussed future plans for Cleophus Quealy.
“We are currently focused on establishing our community and are planning to stay the same size for now,” he said. “We do plan on offering more, though. We are starting to do monthly bottle releases, beer brunches and musical events.”
Cleophus Quealy is scheduled to join with Canasta Kitchen Food Truck to celebrate Kua Body Studio’s first anniversary, 4-8 p.m. Saturday at 106 First St., Los Altos. Their next brunch is scheduled in October, with details available on the brewery’s website at cleoph.us.
Derek Wolfgram is chief operating officer for the Silicon Valley Sudzers Homebrew Club, which welcomes new and experienced beer enthusiasts. For more information, visit sudzers.org.