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Brewmaster brews up a tall, refreshing one
by Krystal Bick
Jul 24, 2008 | 1447 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Krystal Bick- Dan Kahn, brewmaster at Buckbean Brewing Company, begins cleaning out one of his smaller fermentation tanks.
Tribune/Krystal Bick- Dan Kahn, brewmaster at Buckbean Brewing Company, begins cleaning out one of his smaller fermentation tanks.
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When Dan Kahn lived in Southern California, he used to shake orange blossom trees to knock off the flowers — the key ingredient in his Orange Blossom Pale Ale beer.

Kahn, now a Sparks resident, has since opened his own brewery, Buckbean Brewing Company, located at the intersection of McCarran and Rock boulevards, with co-owner Doug Booth. Kahn said the orange blossom beer is just the beginning.

As head brewer, or "brewmaster," Kahn oversees and runs the entire brewing process, having studied brewing at the University of California, Davis. Kahn combines all malts, hopps and extra ingredients, like the orange blossom, in addition to the running of fermentation and brewing procedures, making for an all-day ordeal.

“A lot of people think that wine is more complicated to make,” Kahn said with a laugh. “But really, with beer, there’s a lot more things that can go wrong.”

Buckbean, which opened last month, has already been well received, its beer now being offered for sale in nearly 80 businesses, including most local Scolari’s stores, Blind Onion pizzeria and Whole Foods Market.

Both Booth and Kahn, though, have been planning for this brewery for the past two and a half years and incurring expenses totaling near $1 million for building costs, brewing machinery and a canning assembly line.

But the unique thing about Buckbean, Kahn said, which made the $1 million worthwhile, is that there are few brewing companies in Nevada.

“We have brewing companies all around us in other states,” Kahn said. “That includes Oregon, Washington, Idaho … nothing in Nevada though. We definitely want to become the regional western brewery.”

What sets Buckbean apart, Kahn explained, is that Nevada has no independent brewing distributors. While breweries like Silver Peak and BJ’s Brewery do brew their own beer in house, the brew itself is not sold for mass distribution for retail, unlike Buckbean Brewing. Buckbean is not a restaurant or bar, but a 7,600 square foot brew house with capacity room for brewing 1,800 to 1,900 gallons of beer if needed.

“We want to expand (in this area of mass distribution),” Kahn said. “But we want to get established really well locally first.”

One way of establishing themselves locally, Kahn explained, is that all leftover grain is donated to the University of Nevada, Reno agriculture department for food for local cows. Buckbean owners also donate money to the UNR cycling team and produce sponsored beers such as the new seasonal Vienna Lager for Artown.

And while most ingredients are not grown locally because of the climate, Kahn said the entire process is local. All beer is brewed in his warehouse, fermented in his warehouse and canned in his warehouse.

“We brew up to about 900 gallons a day,” Kahn said. He further explained that he decided to use only cans to protect the beer from exposure to light and oxygen, the two biggest threats to altering taste. “And we brew lagers here as well, which traditionally, smaller breweries do not brew because it takes much longer to ferment. We’re a local beer in the community and we want to be in the community.”

Now producing nearly 40 barrels, or 80 kegs a week, Kahn said he has started to feel the demand and he’s happy for it.

“Brewing beer is an art,” Kahn said. “We just wanted to make some money, make some beer and have fun while doing it.”

And having relied mainly on grassroots advertising and word of mouth, Kahn said he feels confident that people will enjoy their beer and accept it into the beer community.

“The one thing that’s unique about brewing is that it’s a community of brewers,” Kahn said of his competitors. “Brewers are very supportive of each other and will often help each other out. It makes it nice to be in.”

Buckbean Brewing brews two staple beers: Orange Blossom Pale Ale and Black Noddy Lager. Seasonal brews are not available for sale at retail locations except at the Buckbean Brewing Company brew house.

For more information, visit the Buckbean Brewing Company Web site at www.buckbeanbeer.com. The brewery is located at 1155 S. Rock Blvd., Suite 490, in Reno. Hours are Tuesday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., closed Sunday and Monday.
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