Image courtesy of Lost Coast Brewery
After gaining inspiration from a visit to California’s first micro brewery, Mendocino Brewing back in 1984, the stars aligned for Barbara Gloom. After 20 years of hating her profession, she left her career as a pharmacist, had a few different business ventures in between (cabinet making school and owning a blueberry farm, to be exact) took up home brewing and was on a quest to find some financial partners. Five years later, the pieces fell into place and Lost Coast Brewery was launched in 1989, when Barbara was 40 years old.
This brewery was born at a time when craft brewing was not the thing that it is today. Many micro brewers were brewing on old dairy equipment that they had converted to brewing equipment. Barbara lucked out and scored an actual brewing system from a small brewery in Mexico that was going out of business and hauled all the equipment back up to Eureka to Lost Coast’s first location, a 10 bbl brew house with a restaurant out front, which they outgrew 3 years later.
Lost Coast spent the next 20 years at their new location, an upgraded 35 bbl system with a bottle and can line. In 2014, they expanded to an even bigger location, but experienced a lack of enthusiasm, for the market was beginning to become saturated.
Fun fact about LC’s current location: In a conscious effort of efficiency, they invested in a state-of-the-art vapor condenser, which collects the steam from boiling the wort and returns it to the hot water tank, which is used for the next brew. Genius!
Downtown Brown, a smooth, full-bodied nut brown ale, was the most popular beer LC brewed when they first opened their doors. “People just don’t drink dark beers anymore” says Barbara. So, I asked what is LC’s current best seller? It’s the Great White, a Belgian White inspired ale, brewed with American yeast, rather than Belgian, and lime leaves, rather than orange peel. Want to try Barbara’s favorite? Go with Fogcutter, a delicious American DIPA which has a nice balance of bitterness and malt. Dry hopped with Cascade, Centennial, Citra, Crystal and Chinook hops, it’s sure to please the classic hop lover’s palette. Want to get your hands on some Lost Coast? No problemo! They distribute all over the world, including most of the US, and are really popular in China, Japan and Korea!
The fact that Barbara took a risk in opening a brewery at her age, at a time when microbreweries were few and far between, is incredibly empowering! “People would say, ‘How did you do it?’ and I’d say, ‘I dont know how I did it, I just did it!'” It goes to show, if you want something, you just gotta go for it and make it happen!
Raise a glass to Barbara and the Lost Coast team!