Maybe… but not necessarily when it comes to craft beer. You knew that was coming.
I visited Clandestine Brewing in San Jose yesterday and met with co-owner/brewer Adrian Kalaveshi and operations manager/assistant brewer Jane Wiseman. They gave me the lowdown on the brewery and let me try quite a few of their latest concoctions.
So what happens when a few friends/neighbors home-brew for several years and end up transforming their own garages into mini breweries? Well, they open an actual brewery, of course. Adrian and his teammates had won a few home brewing competitions and wanted to see if they could take their passion to the next level and turn it into a business. They started small. Real small. They started out of a garage they rented in a different part of San Jose in 2013. Back then, they would start brewing at 5 am, tuck away their rolling brewing equipment and set up shop for customers in the afternoon. That’s dedication!
After a few years, it was time to move into a legit spot. They did a soft opening at their current location in November of 2017 and a grand opening during SF Beer Week in February of 2018. Adrian , his wife Christine and his co-owners Rob Conticello, Colin Kelly, Liz Scandizzo, Dwight Mulcahy all still have day jobs in the tech industry but hope to, one day, leave that behind and dedicate a 100% of their time to Clandestine.
But why “Clandestine”? “It took us a long time to come up with our name,” Adrian said. “After weeks of coming up with names that didn’t work, we came upon Clandestine. We liked the covert theme and it worked well as we were planning the brewery since we all had day jobs and it was kind of a secret project.” The project is not so secret anymore and, as they put it, “the secret is out.”
Adrian and his team are definitely not shying away from expanding in the future by extending their business hours, getting bigger brewing equipment, and even offering food at some point. As he said, they are poised to grow. But in the meantime, they are happy with being small. Adrian said there are quite a few advantages to being on the smaller side. Think about it.
One, they are heavily involved in their community and are proud to be part of the San Jose beer scene as breweries are becoming the new “third place” for people to come together. Two, they have more room for experimentation and potential innovation because they make small batches. Three, they control their water quality themselves.
Let’s dive into all that a little more. Adrian said the SJ Beer community and the community as a whole are very close-knit. They have become an essential part of the neighborhood and believe in its authenticity.
As far as experimentation and creativity, they have free rein. That’s not the case when you have a bigger operation and have to follow certain restrictions linked to ingredient diversification, etc. They make three barrels for each beer they produce, allowing them to have a rotating menu and try out different recipes. Freakin’ awesome if you ask me. And it shows. I’ve been there twice within a week and the menu was drastically different both times! Additionally, they have a wide variety of brews ranging from all kinds of different style IPAs, Belgian-style beers, to sours. Oh and did I mention the water thing? As you may know, beer is closed to 90% water. So it goes without saying that its quality is extremely important. San Jose’s water is not very good quality, but they have built their own system to treat the water through reverse osmosis. This allows them to build the water from the ground up and mimic the different waters from different parts of the world. Pretty cool, huh? This way, an English-style beer may actually taste like the real deal! Nice work!
Now you probably want to know… What’s brewing?! Well, a ton of good stuff. They are releasing a double IPA called “These Boots Are Made for Brewing” in collaboration with the Pink Boots Society today! Yup, you read that right. You should probably already be on your way to the taproom. It’s bomb! What’s the Pink Boots Society, you ask. They are a non-profit organization geared towards assisting, inspiring and encouraging women beer professionals through education. Obviously, I am definitely all for that and so is Jane, their assistant brewer! I tried the IPA yesterday and I’m hooked. (I forgot to ask Jane yesterday, but I can’t help but wonder if this beer is the reason she dyed her hair pink. Kickass!)
Other than that, they will be releasing a Belgian Quad called Quad Agent (a sequel to their Triple Agent), which is also awesome and about to become Adrian’s favorite. He worked on this baby for quite some time and was inspired by the world-famous Westvleteren 12 for this one. It’s finally ready! Again, this one is definitely a winner. I’m embarrassed to say (as a Belgian) that I almost like Clandestine’s version better than its Belgian grandaddy. That’s saying a lot…
Last but not least, they have a whiskey barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout they call Faceplant in fermentation as we speak. They just got the barrel from their neighbor Haberdasher, and now we are waiting for the magic to happen. Stay tuned and make sure to follow Clandestine on Instagram for the latest news on can releases, draft releases and events.