When firefighter Aron Levin suffered minor burns battling a blaze more than a year ago, his wife, Amy, knew immediately what they should call the new craft brewery they were in the process of planning.
“Our family is very blessed; my husband was blessed in the situation here he didn't get hurt worse,” she said, “and we felt St. Florian, the patron saint of firefighters, was watching over him, and so: St. Florian's Brewery.”
The couple also pledged to give at least 5 percent of their proceeds to community causes, including fire-related charities.
“My whole goal in putting together the business plan, I wanted to do something philanthropic,” she said. The firefighter connection “gave us the outlet.”
The couple opened their new brewery in January in Windsor. Their first brew, an India pale ale, has so far met with a warm reception, said Matt Fenn, co-owner of Beercraft in Rohnert Park.
The beer is fresh and well-balanced, he said, and customers seem to like the firefighter angle.
“People like a good story behind everything they buy, and beer is no exception,” he said. “They like to support that.”
St. Florian was an officer in the Roman army in the third century. He was executed for being a Christian, first by being set on fire and then by drowning, according to various Catholic sources.
Firefighters adopted him as their patron, and the St. Florian's Cross, also known as the Maltese Cross, is a commonly used symbol in fire departments worldwide. A small version of the cross is the centerpiece of the brewery's logo.
Aron Levin, 37, began brewing about 20 years ago, helping his cousins in their homebrewing hobby. He stuck with it, becoming a proficient and well-equipped amateur. The Levins' home is packed with equipment and beer left over from his experiments on the recipes.
“I didn't want to turn a hobby into a job,” he admitted as he was hand-filling kegs from a towering steel tank last week. “I could decide to do this when I wanted to do it at home, but here I have a schedule to keep.”