I opened my Imperiale Beer Cafe last April. There had been a growing sense of anticipation for the business. Word of mouth and social media had been spreading the word, and we developed a lot of enthusiasm at the Brentwood Beer Festival that had occurred six months earlier.
The Imperiale Beer Cafe offers patrons an opportunity to sample beers from all over the world. We have 18 craft beers on tap. Last month, 14 of our 18 kegs were from California, but we have products in the back ready to go from breweries stretching from New York to Copenhagen.
We pour craft beers that are specific with additions and adjuncts geared to individual tastes. Each label will use various yeasts and combinations of yeasts, hops, and flavors to create unique drinking experiences. Craft beers are generally products of microbreweries. However, some major breweries are creating small-quantity boutique labels that qualify them as craft beers in all the ways that matter. I’m no beer snob. If a particular beer appeals to my taste, I don’t care what size the company might be that made it. Miller/Coors, for example, owns St. Archer Brewing Company that makes great craft beer. customers who enjoy variety. My tap list is different from the other bars in the area. We don’t have Shock Top or Blue Moon. We offer an adventure, which is why people drink craft beers to begin with. We rotate our 18 tap-beers every week and won’t repeat a label for six months. The weekly selections represent certain styles. Every week I go though my inventory, selecting a range of beers to appeal to a variety of styles. I also search for emerging microbreweries with craft beers that might prove worthy additions to our stock. I’ve developed a refined palate for flavors and aromas plus a connoisseur-level appreciation for excellence in taste and aroma whenever I find them.
Each pouring is tailored to the particular drink being served, with appropriate glassware and ideal temperatures. Discriminating customers appreciate the fact that their beer is not being served in a frozen shaker glass. Beer drunk from a frozen glass will never taste the way it should because ice dulls both flavors and aromas. We don’t serve all our beers in a single type of glass because different styles of beer taste better when served in appropriate glassware.
For example, an old ale, barley wine, or stout tastes best when consumed from a snifter. You hold the bowl in your hand in order to warm the drink affording you the opportunity of sampling the various flavors as they change during the rising temperature of the liquid. The small taper at the top of the glass permits the beer to maintain a head, which is where the aromas come from and directs the aroma towards your nose as you drink. We have an all-purpose drinking glass called a Belgium Tulip, which has a nice bowl that you can hold like a snifter and is connected by a stem to a tapered head.
I met Jessica Walsh nine years ago and she quickly came to share my passion for a good beer. A few years ago, she started her own online Hop Hearts business that provides a line of accessories specifically targeted to women who, like herself, enjoy a good beer. She and an East Coast partner have designed bracelets, stickers, necklaces, and t-shirts.
Jessica and I moved to Oakley six years ago and enjoyed living in East County. However, we would have to travel to places in Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco to satisfy our desire for craft beers.
I became a fan of excellent examples of the brewer’s art seven years ago. On the way back from a business meeting in Roseville, a co-worker and I stopped in Davis at his favorite drinking establishment, a small cafe called Davis Beer Shop. He ordered a 2009 Bourbon Barrel-aged Angel Share from The Lost Abbey brewing company. I’d never heard of such a thing and, as it turned out, had also never tasted anything as good as that beer. I began searching for other places that featured unfamiliar beers and styles of beer. I discovered some amazing flavors and met some good people who shared my growing interest in fine beers. I began collecting labels to keep in reserve for special occasions. Enjoying a magnificent beer while engaging in pleasant conversation with good people became a hobby that I enjoyed pursuing.
I decided to turn my hobby into a business and worked for two years at my car-painting job, putting all of my discretionary income as well as every bonus and tax return into a savings account. Jessica and I didn’t do anything that wasn’t free until we had finally saved enough money to get to start on moving the Imperiale Beer Cafe from dream to reality.
I’m living the dream. Life could hardly be better than earning an income by doing the very thing that you enjoy doing most of all.