By Ami Ridling
Dunsmuir Brewery Works was packed with community supporters when the new business cut the ribbon and opened its doors to enthusiastic lunchtime customers on Dec. 18.
Co-owned by David Clarno and award-winning brewer Aaron Greener, the restaurant, pub and brewery is located at 5701 Dunsmuir Ave., right across the street from the library.
“Everybody has been so excited that we are finally open,” exclaimed Clarno. “People love the atmosphere and the ambiance of this place.”
With a selection of seven fine micro-brews on tap, an impressive wine selection available by the glass or bottle, and plans to begin brewing beer very soon, Dunsmuir Brewery Works is well on its way to becoming a city attraction.
Of course, the brewery’s selection of fresh and reasonably priced menu items is already putting the restaurant on the charts among locals.
Created in a collaborative effort between Clarno, Greener, and the restaurant’s master chef, “Scotty” Steven Gray, the menu features an array of delectable delicacies that already have customers raving.
“We are getting great compliments on the food,” said Gray, a 1983 graduate of the California Culinary Academy and a seasoned chef.
While the restaurant has not even been open for a week, the most popular menu item thus far is the Memphis Style Pulled Pork Sandwich, said Clarno. He attributes its popularity to the unique blend of spices and a special sauce that Gray created, which sets it apart from its barbecue-sauce smothered counterpart.
Along with a selection of appetizers, soups, and side dishes, other menu items include smoked bratwurst served with a red onion relish seasoned with beer to give it a twist, a grilled eggplant sandwich with roasted sweet peppers and portobello mushrooms, a fresh seafood dish with house greens, and a grilled chicken sandwich smothered with salsa fresca, chile cheese, and avocado.
“The food is excellent,” said repeat customer Debra Day, adding that the smoked bratwurst plate, garnished with whole grain mustard and caramelized onions, is a must-try.
“The warm potato salad is killer, and the lamb stew is tender and savory. I wanted to take some home with me,” she raved about the Dunsmuir Brewery Works’ tasty selections. “It is a very happening place and I am so excited for Dunsmuir to have this asset.”
The establishment will also feature daily specials, which will be phased into the menu depending on customer reviews. Furthermore, the menu will be adapted to meet clientele preferences.
“We wanted to put out a simple yet complex menu of easy to prepare dishes that are smooth, delicious, and consistent,” said Clarno. “We wanted to give people a taste of the direction that we are headed.”
“It’s all about simplicity and quality,” added Gray.
However simple, most of the menu items are made from scratch, and Dunsmuir Brewery Works wishes to incorporate seasonal local produce and fresh meat from local sources into its menu and daily specials as much as possible.
During the summer months, Gray will put the restaurant’s outside grill to use and serve specialty items such as steak, oysters, and slow-roasted pork.
As a pub and brewery, the kitchen serves some dishes that are seasoned and prepared with beer and hops. In addition, future plans include featuring dishes to be served with specially selected beer that will enhance the taste of both the brew and the meal.
Greener, a graduate of the American Brewers Guild in Davis and a 10 year brewing industry professional, has been busy preparing for the pub’s first batch of brewed ale.
First on the list of recipes to be brewed is Pusher Pale Ale, which will be Dunsmuir Brewery Works’ signature flagship beer, said Greener. Many other recipes will follow to create an ever evolving selection of ales for customers to enjoy.
“It has been my dream to own a brewery ever since I brewed my first batch of beer when I was 18,” said Greener. “We have been working on opening this place for a couple of years and now we are finally realizing the dream.”
Part of Greener and Clarno’s dream, which is now on the road to becoming a reality, is to bottle their beer to distribute to area retailers as well as keg distribution to local restaurants and bars. In addition, establishing a bottling line is part of the overall goal to move Dunsmuir’s brew into the national spotlight.
“The big difference between home brewing and professional brewing is consistency,” Greener stated.
While many aspiring brewers create ale at home, the hard part is duplicating that same recipe, explained Clarno, who has brewed beer as a hobby for years.
“We are alchemists. There is a magic and allure to beer making,” said Greener. “I look forward to collecting ribbons and awards for the beer produced here.”
Over the years, Greener has received hundreds of awards for his brewed creations. In fact, he received an award for the perfection of the first professional batch that he brewed upon graduating from the Brewers Guild.
His success continued during his employment at the Sacramento Brewing Company where Greener received over 20 awards in a one year period and broke a personal record by turning out  $1 million in beer sales in that same year.
“I love teaching and I love sharing everything that I know about this passion,” Greener said.
And in the spirit of sharing, he and Clarno will host guided tours of the brewery and will even host special sessions to introduce the public to a more hands-on, step-by-step brewing experience.
With great beer and great food must come great music, and Clarno is setting the wheels in motion to regularly feature bands at the pub.
The next major musical performance will be on New Year’s Eve. Dunsmuir Brewery Works will serve a special dinner at the event, after which attendees may enjoy the music while ringing in the New Year.
The meal will begin with a Sesame-crusted Ahi Tuna Sashimi appetizer, and a whole leaf Ceasar Salad with garlic croutons.
A choice of three entrees, Salmon Wellington with Scallop and Spinach Mousse, Roasted Fillet Minion with a Cabernet sauce and a mixture of fresh vegetables, and Roasted Chicken with fresh Artichoke, Portobello Mushroom and Sun Dried Tomatoes will be offered.
For dessert, Dark Chocolate Terrine will be served, along with fresh coffee.
The four-course meal will cost $40 per person. Dunsmuir Brewery Works is taking reservations for three serving time slots. Dinners will be served at 5, 7 and 9 p.m.
“I want to publicly thank the city of Dunsmuir for approving an economic development loan for us and for being so supportive, helpful, and encouraging through this whole process,” said Clarno. People who wish to open a new business should look toward Dunsmuir, whose city staff is extremely resourceful in helping out new businesses,” he said.
Clarno went on to share that when it became known around town that a brewery was to open in Dunsmuir, he and Greener received enormous community support. When opening a business, “it’s nice to know that you have people in the community behind you,” he said.
Opening the doors of Dunsmuir Brewery Works was no small feat. Clarno and Greener have been working for years to finally cut the ribbon at their new establishment.
The two men began renovation work on the building over two years ago. “We did the vast amount of work ourselves,” said Clarno.
With hard work, wise use of an economic development loan, and a lot of perseverance, the pub and restaurant now holds the soft lighting, knotty pine, and soothing charm of a classic pub and brewery. The business currently employs eight people.
The pub is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. until customers are ready to go home at night. The kitchen closes at 9 p.m. “We want people to have a good time here,” Clarno said. Pub, short for public house, “is a place for people to meet and visit with friends and family.”
For more information, call 235-1900 or visit dunsmuirbreweryworks.com