You may recall the formerly wonderful beers of Valley Brewing in Stockton, California. That was due to one singular reason, their longtime brewmaster, Steve Altimari. Steve’s beers have became some of the most creative, innovative and diverse of any brewer. He perfected one style after another and brewed some truly experimental gems. His Uber Hoppy Imperial IPA was one of the best and his London Tavern Ale, a delicate English-style mild was a great session beer. But back on June 12th of last year, Steve was summarily dismissed under circumstances that could charitably be termed “odd.” I got the full story a couple of days after that, when I spoke to Steve in New York, where he was vacationing with his family. The owners initially told him that they’d sold the brewery (something he himself had been trying to do at that same time) and that the new bosses no longer needed his services. That tuned out to be not true in the least, and they instead brought in a scab brewer who flew in from Bend, Oregon, apparently, to do the brewing. I’m told they also locked Steve out of the brewery and refused to return his personal property that was there, including beer, barrels, etc. The good news was that since he’d been trying to buy Valley brewery, he already had investors and a management team in place.
So it’s six or so months later, and I’m pleased to announce that Steve’s new brewery — High Water Brewing — has begun brewing. They’ve set up offices and cold storage in San Leandro, California, near Drake’s Brewing, whose brewing equipment they’ll be using to make High Water’s beer. They’re also installing their own fermenters on site but will store the finished beer in their separate offices nearby.
Initially, they’ll be offering three regular beers:
- Hop Riot IPA (7.3% a.b.v. / 73 IBUs)
- Retribution Imperial IPA (9.5% a.b.v. / 95 IBUs)
- Old and In the Way Barleywine (11% a.b.v. / 95 IBUs)
The beers will debut on draft — 5 & 15.5 gallon kegs — in February during SF Beer Week (yet another reason I can’t wait for SF Beer Week!). Packaged beer, in 22 oz. bottles, will follow in early Spring, most likely in April. You can see the new labels on the website. They’re also still seeking additional investors, and if you’re interested, you can read about High Water’s investment opportunities.
In the interest of full disclosure, the name High Water Brewing was suggested by me in a post back in June when this all went down, and after an exhaustive search, my suggestion turned out to be the one they liked best. The founders of the brewery were kind enough to thank me by awarding me some shares in the company, giving me a very teeny tiny interest in the company, essentially a symbolic, but very much appreciated gesture.