Yes, that’s right! The brewery at Downtown Joe’s was built in 1988 by Chuck Ankeny: the great grandson of Theodore Hamms of Milwaukee. Chuck and brewmaster Brian Hunt aimed to re-establish the great beer brewing tradition of the City of Napa. Joe Peatman and Joe Ruffino bought the brewery in 1993 and re-christened it Downtown Joe’s. Joe Ruffino retired in 2004 and now Joe Peatman runs the business.
Brian Hunt stayed at the brewery through the transition and spent his days brewing here and his nights making Moonlight Brewery. In 1993 Lance McGlaughin started helping Brian and by 1999 Brian was mostly at Moonlight and Lance did the day to day brewing. Colin Kaminski started helping two days a week in the summers starting in 1999. In 2003 Lance left and Colin took over has the brewmaster.
Our brewery was built as an English Ale House and we produce mostly Ales. Some are very Brittish and others are very West Coast styled.
Napa Beer History!
During the early 1800’s Napa was home to two large scale breweries. Before the breweries were built, Napa’s agricultural community had already committed to growing barley and hops. The Gold Rush created the demand for these beer making ingredients in San Francisco, and the Napa River supplied the transportation route for these materials. With Napa’s water front piled high with fresh ingredients, the breweries were built in the 1850’s and 60’s. The population of Northern California was exploding with the Gold Rush, a navel shipyard in Vallejo, and silver mining in Calistoga. Napa’s Agricultural Committee and waterfront was bustling to meet the demand for beer, food and supplies.
The most popular of the beers created in Napa was named Golden Ribbon Beer. The Brewery owned by Edward Churchill was located just across the river and one block south of Downtown Joe’s. Mr. Churchill also owned Napa’s only bank and 700 acres of vineyard which today is the Robert Mondavi Winery.
The Napa City Brewery was operating on Route 29, supplying the cities of St. Helena, Calistoga, and Santa Rosa via wagon train. One of the original reverse-hand painted beer signs from Napa City Brewery now rests in Downtown Joe’s brew house. It was painted in 1861.
As the Governments of northern California changed from Spanish to Mexican to the USA, the men and women developing this region enjoyed the refreshing brews created in Napa.
Today Downtown Joes operates as a regional micro brewery. Brew master Colin Kaminski combines his passion for science and art to produce beers of high quality and satisfaction. We offer six special recipes year round and always an addition or two to celebrate the season. A tour of our brew House is always available.
All of our beers are brewed with the highest quality British malts utilizing traditional British methods by our Brewmaster Colin Kaminski.