FORT BRAGG, CA, 1/22/23 —North Coast Brewing’s longtime co-brewmaster has purchased a building in Fort Bragg’s historic downtown to brew and sell his own beer, surprising his coworkers and local beer aficionados.
“This will be beer you can’t get anywhere else. “Taprooms are big in other parts of California, there is like one on every block in San Diego,” said Patrick Broderick, who bought 362 North Franklin Street in August for $640,000 from Peterson and Sons, county records show.
Broderick was among the most recognized and longest serving employees at North Coast when he left last August after thirty years and one week. He has nothing but great feelings for North Coast and says he isn’t competing with the nation’s 46th largest craft brewery by selling fresh beer by the glass at his new taproom, to be called Tall Guy Brewing. North Coast is a production brewery/restaurant, Tall Guy Brewing is a taproom.
Chuck Martins, who started just two weeks after Broderick at North Coast and was co-brewmaster with him, took over as brewmaster when Broderick left.
“They have Chuck as brewmaster, they are in good shape,” Broderick said.
Tap rooms focused on beer are a hot trend that have eclipsed brewpubs in growth, according to beer industry publications and numerous YouTube videos. Tall Guy Brewing is undergoing remodeling for a hoped-for April opening in what was a Sears store until 2020. The place will have a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy beer, with vintage couches, and lots of effort being made on the design and comfort.
Broderick plans an ever-changing cast of 6 or 7 original beers as well as a hard seltzer and a non-alcoholic seltzer. People will be able to see the entire brewing process from a viewing area of his custom-made brewhouse. He purchased recycled pressure tanks from the fruit industry and they are converted to beer serving tanks at Woody’s Weld All.
Broderick said the tap room model, as opposed to a brewpub, does not include a full kitchen and relies on partnerships with local restaurants and food trucks to provide food-to-go which can be consumed on the premises. Fort Bragg Bakery next door, and Cucina Verona just down the street, offer possibilities for partnerships. “It’s a symbiotic relationship where the brewery benefits by having food for its consumers and the food vendors get to use the dining area and the draw of beer customers for its food sales,” said Broderick.
Broderick sees Mendocino as up and coming beer destination
He hopes to promote other local breweries to help make Mendocino County more of a beer destination. Fort Bragg has not just North Coast Brewing but also the brew pub Overtime Brewing, located a few blocks down Franklin Street. The county’s brewers include Anderson Valley Brewing, the Ukiah Brewing company, Northspur Brewing in Willits and The New Museum Brewers+Blenders in Point Arena.
“It’s really a case of the more the merrier, to get people who enjoy great beer to come here,” Broderick said.
In college, Broderick focused on what was then something of a pipe dream — spending a life making great beer. At that time the giant but not so great beer makers like Coors, Miller and Budweiser were still pretty much all anyone could get. Sure enough, after he graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Opisbo, he got a job working the graveyard shift working in quality control at Anheuser-Busch plant in the Los Angeles area. But he dreamed bigger and sent resumes to the pioneers like Ken Grossman at Sierra Nevada. He has saved a fun rejection letter he got from Fritz Maytag. Maytag is considered the father of microbreweries, starting with his rescue of the dying 1896 Anchor Brewing in San Francisco. Maytag used his vacuum cleaner company heir fortune to also launch many Northern California culinary exploits from York Creek Vineyards to innovative dairies and cheese operations.
Broderick’s life changed in the summer of 1992. He had gotten off the graveyard shift and was sitting in 7 a.m. traffic on the 405 freeway when his pager beeped. When he realized a call back had come from North Coast co-founder and chief brewer Mark Ruedrich, he started to imagine living in Fort Bragg. Born in San Francisco and raised in the East Bay, he hadn’t been sure about living in such a remote place.
“But that day, sitting in traffic, it sounded really great.”
Before that call, he had been unsure what to do with his life after spending six years going through school. He only picked biology as his major because it was a broad subject and made it easier to get into Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. But then he became fascinated by microorganisms, bacteria and microbiology.
“We had a weekly gathering to watch Star Trek the Next Generation, and I brought bottles of my home brew for everyone who came. I got really popular,” Broderick said with a laugh.
Broderick remembers his dad making beer at home when Patrick was a kid. His father had a similar life profession, although it was never planned that way. His dad, also a microbiology grad, was manager at the Gerber baby food factory in Oakland where his father faced the challenge of making food for a different kind of fickle public.
He dug out his dad’s old home brewing equipment to get started making that sink beer that would change his life.
Broderick rode the wave for better beer that North Coast help create
When he graduated from college there were only about 30 breweries on the entire West Coast, all listed in The Celebrator beer periodical. Broderick contacted every one of them to find out who made their beer and how. When he called North Coast, Ruedrich, co-founder and original brewmaster of North Coast Brewing Company, answered the phone and demanded to know who was asking.
Broderick told Ruedrich he was a microbiology college student who made beer at home seeking an apprenticeship at a brewery. Ruedrich gave him an impromptu phone interview and told him a job might open later that year. Broderick didn’t know that job would start at minimum wage or that it would be the most important job of his life.
Broderick is known as much for providing humor and fun in his adopted hometown as for being the student and then the teacher of how to make great craft beers.
He hired designer Michael Delaney to create a vintage 1970s look for the building that he says will be like nothing in town.
He can’t wait to get back to making beer both for himself and his new customers.
“I got spoiled at North Coast Brewing. I had great fresh beer anytime I wanted. Now I go to the store and buy my beer,” he said. He can recognize beer that has begun to go a bit stale both by the expiration date and the look of the beer, which becomes murkier.
While North Coast brews involved a lot of science in the making, there was a final step in the process that fell into the “tough job” category.
“Mark (Ruedrich) said the best way to test a new batch was to pour a glass and taste it,” Broderick said. He said there is no test better than to taste that fresh glass of beer to determine its quality. Beer freshness is the concept for Broderick’s new business. He said the profit margin for beer sales is greatest when sold-by-the-glass, not needing all the special equipment for storage, bottling, crating and shipping.
Ruedrich told this reporter two decades ago that Budweiser spilled more beer than North Coast made in a day. That has not been true for many years, as North Coast and dozens of other craft brewers have grown into giants of their own rights. Petaluma’s world-renowned microbrew, Lagunitas, lost some of its local luster after it was purchased by Heineken and did layoffs and made lots more beer. Was this the experience people sought from craft beers? Craft beers growing gave fuel to the brewpub movement, such as Overtime Brewing in Fort Bragg.
The name on the corporate ledger is Tall Man Brewing Inc. but Broderick had to change that to Tall Guy Brewing because it turned out Tallman Brewing in Oregon considered the name too similar. Broderick, at 6’8”, is CEO and will own 45 percent of the company with investors buying up shares of the new venture.
Bar down the street also gets new start
Bars, pubs, brewpubs, tap rooms and breweries all have existed in various forms dating back thousands of years. The old-fashioned bar is still a popular business model, with many bars in Fort Bragg having upgraded since the pandemic shutdowns. Fort Bragg was once famous for its “dive” bars. Down the street at 321 N. Franklin Street, one of the oldest dive bars in town, the Tip Top Lounge, has closed. Owners Stela Teresa Beer, Terri Duarte and Emily Duarte sold that building to Peter Martin and the Martin Trust in November. The building has been closed, and tenants reportedly evicted as a remodel is underway.
Fort Bragg history buffs enthused
Broderick has been having fun with the history of the building on North Franklin, learning from peeling back the walls during the model and his own research. He found names scrawled into the walls or concrete in 1910 and 1956. “It just said 11-8-10 but it had to be 1910 from where we found it.”
Fort Bragg’s entire downtown on the east side of Franklin Street between Laurel and Redwood was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fire. Broderick’s building was built in 1907 by the Dixon Brothers, Broderick said. For many years it had two full stories, with people living upstairs and even a dental office. It suffered another fire in the 1930s or 1940s that destroyed the upper floor, which was never rebuilt. The building’s best known historical incarnation was probably as the Golden Rule Market, a longtime grocery store and renowned butcher shop that opened at the start of World War II and lasted for three decades. The Golden Rule Market in Fort Bragg was memorialized in a folk song by the Babysitters that included Alan Arkin. Betty from the Golden Rule. After that it became Montgomery Ward, which was replaced by Sears in the early 1970s. Broderick has found some Montgomery Ward’s leftovers during the full restoration of the 7000-square-foot structure. He said maintenance and upkeep had been long neglected.
A post by this reporter in the Facebook Group “Fort Bragg Is in my Roots” brought over 175 responses about the history of the building.
People remembered a different world when locally owned businesses provided all the shopping regular people needed.
Tina Carson Parker was one of several who remembered the thrill of dill pickle barrels at Golden Rule.
Rus Jewett answered the post with a description of the old days: “This is how I remember Franklin Street between Redwood Avenue and Laurel Street in the ‘50s: South to North- East side – Purity, Jackson Shoes, Polly Cleaners, Dornan Hardware, Racines, Sprouse-Ritz, Fort Bragg Bakery, Golden Rule. West side – Safeway, Sherlocks Drugs, Tip Top, Coast Cleaners, Makela Shoes, Kemppe Hardware, Reynolds Men’s Wear, Alton Candies, Spudnuts, Shattuck Shanty. Across Laurel was Hardells.”
Praised by his fellow history buffs for his memory, Jewett retorted:
“Please don’t ask me what I had for lunch yesterday.”
This all brought dozens of responses about a bygone town where people could buy anything they needed and opportunities were many.
Beer and coffee are economic lifeline to a dying Fort Bragg
On his first day at North Coast in 1992, Broderick got to work the bottling line. This was a five-spout manual filler designed and built by Ruedrich. He did everything else at the three-man operation including cleaning the tanks, weighing the malt and hops, and polishing the copper brew kettle. That kettle was saved as the centerpiece of the garden at the restaurant operated by North Coast Brewing, used to show how the craft brewery started.
Broderick’s story of living his beer-making dream in remote Fort Bragg came at a time when the hopes of many locals were slipping away of securing jobs in the fishing and timber industries that would give them the ability to have a family and home. Mills closed, fishing boats were sold off. But local people innovated, in some ways back to the days when businesses like the Golden Rule created lifetime opportunities. Thanksgiving Coffee and North Coast Brewing have been the giants among a dozen or so coast businesses that recognized people’s desire for quality food and drink. Both companies are known around the globe.
It was through North Coast that Broderick met his wife, Lisa. The couple have three grown daughters, Olivia, Gwendolyn and Gretchen.