By VIRGINIA STILL
Locally, there are those brews that have a little bit of history through original recipes that were created many years ago before the rise and popularity of craft beer. That’s what St. Stan’s is serving up once again.
The third group of owners for St. Stan’s has re-opened the brewery in a new location on 11th Street in downtown Modesto
The microbrewery was originally established in 1984 and was a regional brewery in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Chief Operating Officer Rich Hodder remembers St. Stan’s being his first craft beer experience when he turned of age and he fell in love with the brand. He felt compelled to keep its legacy alive and purchased the brand with his childhood friend Chad Rice.
“It has always been a great feeling of community and hard work and you felt like family when you went in there,” explained Hodder. “I always really appreciated that. The founders did it right and did an excellent job.”
The hometown brewery purchase included the recipes of six signature craft beers; the Graffiti Wheat, Red Sky Ale, the amber and dark Alt beer, winter and October fests and the Whistle Stop Pale Ale that were fan favorites in the past. Along with their core flavors they have 17 that are revolving and are brewed in house, plus a few guest handles. They also offer a variety of red and white wines and a few ciders.
“We started to reproduce those with the same recipes and being authentic to the brand was very important to me. We hired back one of the old brew masters named Bill Coffey,” said Hodder. “Bill has been brewing beer off and on, well more on than off, for over 30 years professionally. He is an extremely talented guy. And we would not be where we are at without Bill’s participation and his passion for beer and the business. We are very blessed.”
As a former almond farmer, Hodder found the beer business to be a natural transition and by producing the same quality of beer that was offered 30 years ago, has continued the legacy of St. Stan’s in Modesto.
“I get the same feeling out of seeing something made and watching people enjoy it,” stated Hodder. “That is what I actually really enjoy about this is that I get a similar feeling like I did from farming to this business because we are actually producing something. It is a very simple product, but yet it is complex and it is an art to do it right.”
Rice has since moved and Hodder has continued to produce the beer along with adding a commercial kitchen and a brick wood fired oven. The business opened in July last year serving only beverages including beer, wine and cider and in October they began serving food.
“We are very excited to be back in business making beer and selling it to locals here in Modesto,” added Hodder. “This was a big deal for us to get this place open and operating. Offering food has made a huge difference in our overall business and I think our customers are really happy.”
General Manager Jill Baker, Hodder and a few employees took an extensive training on the wood fired oven so they could serve up the best pizzas, calzones, flatbreads, and appetizers like their baked chicken wings. Upon the completion of their full commercial kitchen they will expand their menu to include hamburgers, fries, soups and sandwiches.
They have high tech digital menus from Digital Pour that shows information like each handle and its specific beer, how much beer is in the keg, the IBU (International Bitterness Units), and the ABV (alcohol by volume). Guests with Instagram and Facebook profiles will show up on the digital board.
Giving patrons an overall fun, memorable experience is important to Hodder and sharing his passion for beer with their revolving roster of beers on tap. He believes that beer is communal and he is all about community.
“The city of Modesto has been really supportive of our kind of revival of the business and our customers are really loyal,” said Hodder. “I think that is the key to this business is we need to respect and recognize what they have done in the past and carry that aspect of the business forward as well as progress into modern beers, new styles of beer.”
Although their brewery is in Turlock they are the only microbrewery in Modesto that produces their own styles and flavors of beer that are served in their taproom that are not served anywhere else. They have a vintage 1940 Dodge beer truck that they take to special events. At the taproom they host fundraisers and other special events to give back to the community.
“We have been very blessed to have the opportunity to be what I consider to be custodial of the brand,” stated Hodder. “Our hope and dream is that it lives on many generations past us.”