Article and Photos By Laura Hunt Little
Coachella Valley Brewing Company, easily identified by their CVB emblazoned Interstate-sign-inspired logo, is operated by a group of local craft-beer enthusiasts who all believed in the vision of creating a locally inspired, premium crafted product.
The partnership came together about 2 ½ years ago when Brewer Chris Anderson met investor Dana Crosby. Dave and Jamie Humphrey, both craft beer connoisseurs, had been working on a business plan for a brewery. Anderson, coincidentally, had been investigating the possibility of buying into a brew pub operation. Anderson recalls his initial meeting with Crosby and the Humphreys, “we sat down to talk and everyone was finishing each other’s sentences. It was seamless, like everybody was on the same sheet of music.” At that point, Anderson realized he would need to switch tracks from his brew pub idea to join in on the creation of a production brewery.
Almost immediately following their initial meeting, Anderson and Dave Humphrey collaborated on a business plan to solidify their ideas. “It came together quickly and took off like wildfire from there.”
Coachella Valley Brewing Company has been operating with incredible success now for a year. In reflecting on the first twelve months of business meeting their expectations, “I went into this not knowing what to expect…with a blank slate and an open mind,” shared Dave Humphrey. “The question mark was always going to be whether the valley was ready for this or not, whether they were going to stand behind it and support it,” added Anderson. That question was answered relatively quickly.
From the beginning, the plan for the CVB brand was to create a product that was indigenous to the desert. “Creating something that people could really identify with was important,” states Anderson, “we knew as a production brewery, our focus was going to be on making the highest quality beer without cutting corners on ingredients or production.”
So create a fine local craft beer they did. But it was more than fine. And it became more than local. Not only did CVB explode onto the scene with great success in the Palm Springs area, but they quickly grew their distribution beyond the valley, with now more than 750 distribution locations in California outside of the desert. “There’s not any brewery from the Coachella Valley that has been able to distribute out of state,” says Humphrey, “and about three weeks from now we’ll have our statewide distribution of Arizona ready to go.”
In the first year of operations, Coachella Valley Brewing Company gained respect in the craft beer community where word of mouth travels fast. The products were embraced by craft beer enthusiasts and demand for the product grew quickly around the state.
Humphrey explains, “We were able to put a quality brand on the Coachella Valley in a way that was identifiable outside of the valley. The quality of the brand is what has made it possible to take the goodwill we have built up in this community and move it somewhere else. I am proud to say that we are the only brewery in the Coachella Valley that has been able to do that.”
Each member of the team behind CVB’s success has an area of operations that in which they are specialists. Dave Humphrey is Chief Executive Officer, handling all the legal/business. Chris Anderson is Chief Operating Office and Head Brew Master. Dana Crosby is Chief Financial Officer. Jamie Humphrey is Director of Special Events and Ryan Markley, Brewer & Quality Control Director. Each member of the CVB team is committed to the belief in the CVB brand.
That belief according to Humphrey, “is to use local ingredients, under the Coachella Valley Brewing Company logo in a premium way. We’re not going to move away from this equation, there’s so much opportunity within that equation to create different profiles and products but it all will be consistent with the branding. That’s very important because we want somebody who picks up this bottle in Eastern Arizona to say ‘Hey, I know these guys’ and know what they’re getting.”
The ingredients of Coachella Valley Brewing Company’s success are quite literally in the ingredients themselves. Just a few examples of some of the beer profiles are: Harvester, an imperial IPA, with fresh, local grapefruit; the popular Desert Swarm made with local coriander, local kumquats and killer bee honey extracted from local bee hives; Dubbel Date, a Belgian double made with world-renown dates from the valley; and Big Cat Brew that includes ingredients of locally grown desert sage, rosemary, lemon thyme, lemon verbena, and peppercorn-like paradise seed.
Coachella Valley Brewing Company’s philosophy is “farm to glass” as much as possible. Unfortunately, hops don’t grow in the desert. “There’s nothing we can do about that,” states Humphrey. However, Anderson has a very small crop of local hops that have made it into the production of one of the profiles. “We grow about 30 pounds of hops a year which is enough for one batch of beer. When we first opened, we used all local harvest hops and grapefruit from Dana Crosby’s backyard to make ‘Harvester’ which is where that recipe came from. It was such a hit with the people that we ended up brewing it on a big batch and that beer is really popular now.”
A new brew for CVB is ‘Phoenix,’ a Vienna -style lager with some local dates. It is the first of CVB’s beer that will be packaged in a 12oz can. The popular Kolschella will also be packaged soon in cans.
Coachella Valley Brewing Company currently produces 34 different beers. Only 11 brands are bottled; some are available only in the tap room, and some are exclusive to CVB’s private reserve club, “The Faultline Society.”
Anderson says the Faultline Society, although almost capped for this year, has a few spots left. The membership benefits include discounted tap room prices, special bottle offerings of time and labor intensive beers, special pre-release offerings and members-only pricing. Next year, the Faultline Society will be opened to another 100 members and will include more bottle offerings included in the cost of the membership, but the membership fee may increase as well.
Coachella Valley Brewing Company’s most popular beers are Desert Swarm (honey double, 7.8% alcohol), Monumentous (rye double IPA, 7.2% alcohol) and Kolschella (kolsch hybrid ale, 4.7% alcohol). “Swarm is our most popular beer outside of the valley,” states Humphrey. “It’s a big flavored Belgian beer. In the craft beer categories outside of the valley and in big craft beer markets like San Diego, there’s really nothing else out there like it. It’s very unique. It’s a perfect showcase to show off what we have here in the Coachella Valley.”
The tap room is open Tuesday through Sunday. Hours are 3:00 to 8:00 pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 1:00 to 9:00 pm on Friday; noon to 9 pm on Saturday and noon to 5:00 pm on Sunday. Public tours of the brew room are offered every Friday at 6:30 pm and at 2:00, 4:00 and 6:00 pm on Saturdays. Private tours can be arranged as well for large groups.
Currently, there are 21 beers on tap in CVB’s tap room from light to strong to suit nearly every palate. Beers are served in several formats, in four different glasses ranging from a 9 oz. brandy snifter to a 13 oz. Belgian style tulip glass to their British style pints. Prices of the various glasses of beers range from $5 to $9, with a flight of four beers averaging about $10.
Events, such as band performances, will reconvene when the weather cooperates so that the brew room is cool enough. Jamie Humphrey shares, “We have a band coming out from LA later in September and we will continue events monthly.” Also, ‘Philanthropic Tuesdays’ are another special event where the participating non-profit group receives a portion of the proceeds from the night.
When asked to describe where they see themselves in a year, the CVB principles all agree that their focus is growth, but with an eye on solidifying their foundation. “We are looking to push 5 to 6,000 barrels in the next year,” states Humphrey “and work on gaining more traction with the brand in the two states where we distribute.” Anderson adds, “We also want to make sure we have all the right equipment and staff to keep everything going. And pay back some of the investors.”
For this anniversary weekend, CVB is offering beer specials in their tap room and a food vendor on Saturday. They are putting a new beer on tap as well. For those looking for a celebration, keep your eyes open for October. Fans of CVB will be treated to a big party that takes over the brew room and parking lot with entertainment, food and other brewers.
CVB is located at 30640 Gunther St. in Thousand Palms, CA 92276. You can reach them at 760-343-5973 or go to www.cvbco.com.