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Father-and-son team opens Loomis brewery

Hand-crafted beers pay homage to Loomis' heritage
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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Loomis now has its own brewery – the Loomis Basin Brewing Company. A father-and-son team recently opened the microbrewery that features five handcrafted beers named to celebrate Loomis heritage. The beers range from the mild Swetzer Pale Ale to the dark Old Route 40 Stout. Vindicator IPA, Red Robin Ale and Buxom Blonde Pils are all named after fruit-packing company brands, an homage to Loomis’ agricultural history. Golden Eagle Mandarin Wheat beer, available seasonally, is made with mandarin juice concentrate purchased from a Newcastle mandarin ranch. Brewmaster Jim Gowan, 58, and his son, Kenny, 33, spent months readying the Swetzer Road facility and have opened a tasting room where visitors can purchase a sampler of all five of their beers or try them by the glass. The brews are available to take home by the growler, which holds a half-gallon, or by the keg. Growlers can be returned and refilled. No individual bottles are sold at this time. Besides the tasting room, their beer is available locally at Café Zoro and the Valencia Club. Gowan said he is working with other local restaurants to offer the Loomis Basin beers or to create their own private label beers. Matt Williams, owner of Café Zorro, said he’s just received his first delivery of Vindicator IPA, which he describes as “hoppy.” “Everyone who’s tried it really likes it,” Williams said. Jim’s wife, JoDee Gowan, who handles the administrative needs of the brewery, said, “With a private label, the beer is made to their specifications and is uniquely theirs.” “Predominantly, we are a plant for manufacturing beer,” Jim Gowan said. He said he developed a taste for good beer when he lived in Bitburg, West Germany while serving in the military in the 1970s. He started home-brewing beer 20 years ago after his wife gave him a kit for Christmas. A few hundred batches and 7 years later, he decided to take a leave of absence from his job at UPS and enrolled in the American Brewers Guild Apprentice program in Woodland. After completing the program, Gowan became the apprentice of Sam Peterson, owner of Sacramento Brewing Company and later worked with Peterson on the design and upgrade of his system. Gowan said he helped start up a number of other microbreweries and brewed for Auburn Ale House before coming to the realization that he wanted to open his own brewery. “It’s been a dream come true to finally be making my own beer,” Jim Gowan said. He said working with his son, Kenny, has been “fantastic.” “It’s the greatest working with my son. That part is more satisfying than anything. He’s a great person,” he added. Kenny Gowan, an Oakmont High School graduate, said he’s been helping his father brew beer since he was in junior high. He graduated from California State University, Fresno with a degree in communications and business and has opened and owned two restaurants. He is currently the general manager of food and beverage at Sugarbowl Resort. “I was raised with a European attitude about alcohol. You treat it with respect and it’s a part of your everyday life, not something to abuse,” Kenny Gowan said. The brewery has large stainless steel tanks where the various stages of beer-making occur. To make beer, malted barley and water are combined, heated and strained. Hops are added as the liquid boils, when finished the liquid is transferred and cooled to the fermentation tank where the yeast is added. Here the beer is allowed to ferment over a 2-week period. Upon completion, the beer is then filtered, carbonated and kegged. Outside, a large grain silo holds barley used in the brewing process. Loomis Basin Brewing Company will produce 200 kegs of their beers per month. Another tank has been ordered that will bring their brewing capacity up to 320 kegs per month. JoDee Gowan is not the only family member investing time at the brewery. Kenny’s wife, Linda, and JoDee’s sister, Robin Gray, and her husband, Dan, also help out on a regular basis. JoDee Gowan said the Red Robin Ale, besides being the name of a fruit packer, also honors her sister. ----------------------------- LOOMIS BASIN BREWING COMPANY What: Brewery and tasting room. Produces five types of handcrafted premium ales and lagers. Facility available for private parties. Where: 3277 Swetzer Rd., Loomis Tasting room: 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday Owners: Jim and Kenny Gowan Phone: 259-2739