The Roman writer and historian Pliny the Younger chronicled the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that buried Pompeii in rock and ash in 79 AD.
While hundreds of people tasted the Russian River Brewing Co.’s annual release of the beer that bears his name, 10 miles to the north, the Windsor brewery named after St. Florian, the patron saint of firefighters, was celebrating its second anniversary with the release of its first golden-bodied Belgian Style Flashover IPA.
Aaron Levin, a Windsor fire captain and chief operating officer of St. Florian’s Brewery, said the company’s newest of six beers “melds the richness of Belgian style ales with the hoppiness of the popular Indian pale Ale.”
“It’s another well balanced brew with complex flavors that fits right into our lineup,” he said.
St. Florian’s Brewery is in the process of nearly doubling its capacity. It just finished installing another set of 30-barrel tanks and a new bottling line to meet the demand for its beers — which are sold at more than 300 locations in Sonoma, Marin, Napa, Lake, Mendocino and San Francisco counties — and to add more styles of beer.
“It used to take one week to bottle a 30-barrel tank. Now it takes one day, or 3,000 bottles an hour,” Levin said.
St. Florian’s Brewery also is expecting a set of 60-barrel tanks from Europe late this month or early March.
“I look forward to what we’ll be releasing on our third anniversary next year,” CEO Amy Levin said.
Aaron Levin had been brewing beer for 20 years. Amy had a 10-year career in high tech sales and marketing in Silicon Valley. The married couple lived in Humboldt County before moving to Sonoma County in 2007.
“I wanted sunshine,” Amy said.
She stayed at home with their two children until they were in school. “I didn’t want to be left behind. I didn’t know what to do. I decided to open a brewery,” she said.
It reflected her passion for beer and business.
Aaron had the brewery experience, the engineering and mechanical skills and a knowledge of chemistry, she said. Soon after he suffered a minor burn in a fire, Amy drew up the company’s business plan.
“I said St. Florian must have been watching out for you,” she told him.
The company opened its 4,000-square-foot facility with a tap room and brewing and bottling area in December 2013 on Bell Road, an industrial area off Conde Lane that includes Tilted Shed Ciderworks.
Their friends who enjoy wine were not particularly enthusiastic, Amy said, “but everyone who tasted it handed their glass back and wanted more.”
Sonoma County has 20 craft beer breweries, and Amy Levin said she hopes the industrial area on Bell Road attracts more businesses and puts Windsor on the map.
St. Florian’s Brewery donates 5 percent of its profits to fire-related and community-based organizations. “It’s all about the beer, the people, loving our community and having a good time,” Levin said.
Find them at 7704A Bell Road, stfloriansbrewery.com and 838-BREW. The tap room is open 2-8 p.m. Friday and noon-8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Customers can fill a 2-liter bottle known as a “growler” to share with friends.
Changes under Judy Sakaki
Key actions were taken by SSU President Judy Sakaki during her first five months:
- Pulled the plug on plans for $10 million outdoor concert pavilion at the Green Music Center.
- Declared her intention to hire more full-time faculty.
- Began beefing up SSU’s Student Affairs division by consolidating services in multiple departments under one administrative umbrella. Brought in Michael Young as interim vice president for student affairs. Young recently retired as chief of student affairs at UC Santa Barbara. Matthew Lopez-Phillips, who held the job previously, was named as his associate.
- Brought in a new team of interim cabinet members with national reputations to help her in the transition. Created a new permanent chief of staff post filled by Bill Kidder, former associate provost at UC Riverside. Announced the retirement of Larry Furukawa-Schlereth as vice president of administration and finance and co-executive director for the Green Music Center. She replaced him with Stan Nosek, retired vice chancellor for administration at UC Davis.
- Announced plans to move graduation for the first time to Weill Hall in 2017 and to split up commencement ceremonies by departments.