Artisanal brewery re-born with stylish taproom on South First Street

There are so many ways that Clandestine Brewing exemplifies San José entrepreneurship, not the least of which is its cheeky approach to naming itself and its products.

Branding yourself as “secret” is audacious, but solidly based in fact – the brewery’s first location, on Little Orchard in the Monterey Avenue manufacturing area, was notoriously hard to find, even with Google navigation. They continue to amuse with the names of some of the unusual beers they produce – for instance, Pils Off, Wicked Brick, Tipsy Hipster and Milky Way Stout.

Then there is the fine old tradition of hacking a new business while maintaining full-time technology jobs. Clandestine Brewing is owned by six Silicon Valley software professionals: Rob Conticello, Adrian Kalaveshi, Christine Kalaveshi, Colin Kelly, Elizabeth Scandizzo and Dwight Mulcahy. In 2012, they leveraged their award-winning homebrewing experience by working nights to design, construct and engineer the original Clandestine brewery location from scratch in a 1200 square foot space in a tucked away industrial area. In very little time and with no marketing, Clandestine Brewing developed a loyal following of beer lovers who found it and shared the secret.

Finally, Clandestine reflects San José’s commitment to seek the modern while cherishing the historical by exploring some of the oldest styles of brewing, offering Maibock, Gose or Roggenbier, along with IPAs, Lagers and Porters.

All this came together on Saturday, February 10, in the midst of the Bay Area’s Beer Week, as Clandestine Brewing held a Grand Opening in its new facility at 908 South First Street, supported by District 3 City Councilmember Raul Peralez, District 10 City Councilmember Johnny Khamis and City of San José Director of Economic Development, Kim Walesh. The ribbon was cut and toasts were made in many shades of beer to the cheers of the crowd gathered with kids and dogs on the patio of the new taproom.

Peralez, Khamis and Walesh all expressed pride at the brewery’s commitment to San José, and the value of having a start-up, artisanal brewer in out vibrant Downtown.  The agreed that the whole city was benefiting from a robust craft beverage industry, with five new breweries opening in the past few years and more to come.

And lest anyone think that wine connoisseurs have a lock on interesting descriptions of beverages – here’s how Clandestine describes its Milky Way Stout:

“This happens to be the very first beer brewed at our previous brewery. We wanted to really emphasize the flavors of caramel, chocolate & cream. Starting with a fairly standard stout mash bill, we amp up the caramel and toffee flavors, by boiling a portion of the first runnings from the Mash Tun to a thick, sugary syrup – almost a beer caramel! Combined with the Lactose added later in the brewing process, this is one big, highly flavorful beer — but without a high alcohol punch.”

Check out the ribbon-cutting on YouTube, and cheers!