Napa Smith Brewing Company

WineCountryBEER

 
 

Founded in 2008, Napa Smith succeeds in making great food-friendly beer up to the standards of the “Napa” name.

Napa Smith also knows wine well, since it operates a winery too. It understands the distinct roles and strengths of wine and beer when it comes to complementing food. And that’s what Napa Smith is all about, producing distinctive artisan beers that pair so well with the great foods of the region (or anywhere).

To assist them in this mission Napa Smith brought in veteran wine country brewer Don Barkley, who began his career in the 1970s working for the legendary New Albion Brewery. Barkley’s skill has propelled Napa Smith to quickly becoming recognized as a top quality beer producer.

While definitely top quality, the brewery doesn’t get caught up in the snobbier end of Napa Valley culture. Each Napa Smith bottle has a light-hearted quote on the back label. Read these for your entertainment.

The Brews

Napa Smith primarily produces fine ales. They began with a group of essential, über food-friendly varieties including Amber Ale, Pale Ale, and Wheat Beer. They have quickly branched out into less well-traveled territories. Brewing successes include the luscious Bonfire Imperial Porter, hot-selling Organic I.P.A. and super-summer seasonal Cool Brew Hop Ale.

Some of the beers to look for:

Amber Ale Complex aroma and taste from the blending of seven malts. Reminds of fruits like peach with some earthiness. Ample toasty malt taste with a low hop bitterness. Very nice. ABV 5.7%

Pale Ale Pale amber color. Aromas are a whiff of lemon, honey and grass. Light hop bitterness. Mellow taste pairs well with food. Refreshing. ABV 5.2%

Organic IPA Certified organic brew. Nicely hopped, moderately bitter. Super balanced taste; a touch of fruit with a nice savoriness too. Might be the best organic beer anywhere. ABV 7.1%

Bonfire Imperial Porter Aromatic, rich flavors of chocolate and coffee. Hints of smoke with sweet notes. Medium body with a lengthy finish. ABV 8.0%

Lost Dog Red Ale – Rich toasted malt aroma. Evident hop flavors to balance rich caramel malt. Sweet cherry notes, maybe some apricot. ABV 7.2%

Cool Brew Hop Ale – Summer seasonal. A big dose of hops provides an earthy aroma and taste. Flavorful and refreshing for a backyard BBQ. ABV 6.5%


This unique bottling line is filling 22 ounce bottles of Napa Smith ale. They also do 12 oz bottles and kegs.


Napa Smith has an impressive collection of high quality craft brewing equipment and is adding more as they grow. It takes quite an investment even for a small brewery.

 

Craft beer blooms in south Napa


Location

The brewery is located in an impressive facility originally built as the Hakusan Sake brewery at a modern commercial-industrial park on the southern side of Napa County. The brewery building is actually visible from Hwy. 29, at the corner where Hwy 12 (Jameson Canyon Rd.) splits off to the east. Plenty of parking is available beside the brewery building.

Address: 1 Executive Way, Napa, CA 94558

Phone: (707) 255-2912

Tours: Offered on weekdays during normal business hours and is  a most informative tour. The cost is $10 and includes samples and a signature pint glass. Please call ahead to schedule.

Tasting Room: The new brewery tasting room is now open open daily with eight beers on tap.

Business Hours: Daily, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Also sample NSB beers at local establishments in Napa County. Best bets: Billco’s at 1234 3rd St., Napa; Silo’s Jazz Club, 530 Main St., Napa; and Norman Rose Tavern, 1401 1st St., Napa. Bottles are available at local beer retailers.

Go To: Napa Smith Brewing Company Web Site


The brew house in action. Spent grain has been removed from the mash tun (left), while the sweet wort has been sent to the brew kettle where it is boiled with the hops. The brewing process is fairly straight-forward but balancing out all the ingredients and process steps is a true art.


Fermenters lined up like soldiers in the main fermentation room. A boutique brewery like Napa Smith needs a lot of of smaller fermenters to produce the wider variety of specialty beers that they keep in their book. You will see this and whole lot more on a brewery tour.


Napa Smith beer labels are works of art. Several of the specialty beer labels have stories behind the illustrations as in the Lost Dog Red Ale and Bonfire Imperial Porter. This brewery demonstrates how a beer can please all the senses.

 

The Wine Country Beer flag marks Napa Smith Brewery and Winery along Highway 29, approximately 8 miles south of the city of Napa. From Hwy. 29, follow Hwy.12 when it splits off to the east. Go to next intersection and turn left onto N. Kelly Rd. Then take first left (Executive Way) into the industrial park.

Drive straight down Executive Way and turn into the last driveway on the left. Tons of open parking will be found around the brewery building. The office is in a separate building at the rear of the lot. The building and its entrance are not well marked (no large signs). Stick your head in one of the open doors and ask.


Napa Smith master brewer Don Barkley’s roots reach deep into California’s craft beer history. And he’s one of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. One of Barkley’s quotes, “if wine is the nectar of the gods, then beer is the mother’s milk of humanity.”


Because Napa Smith is also a winery, you’ll find lots of oak barrels full of maturing wine. They make wine once a year, but they brew every day.