Behind the Beer – Coachella Valley Brewing’s Chris Anderson

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Chris Anderson has been behind the beer from Coachella Valley Brewing since the beginning.  Starting in 2006 he was working on a business plan for a brewery, at that time expecting it to be a brew pub and not solely a brewery.  After seven years, his dream became a reality when he teamed with a group of investors to form Coachella Valley Brewing Company.

IMG_20160503_082646 (1280x611)Anderson started his career in brewing as most professionals do, he was a successful homebrew.  When he was 18, he and a friend bought a homebrewing kit from a local store in Anchorage, Alaska and made a Scottish Wee Heavy in their bathroom.  Chris was hooked.  He worked his days in Anchorage as a registered dietician at a hospital, helping out where he could at Midnight Sun Brewing Company and Moose’s Tooth Brewing Company, along with Gabe Fletcher and Kevin Burton.  Taking a contract in Twentynine Palms, California with the Department of Defense, Anderson eventually moved his family south to Palm Springs after traveling back and forth for far too long.

Chris knew that his future lay in the frothy beverage that he was passionate about.  Transitioning from his original business plan for a brew pub, in August 2013, the Coachella Valley Brewing Company was opened with great success.

“The idea behind it was why is there not a real definitive craft brewery in an area that has this massive influx of tourism and just a really awesome name for itself.”

Resized_IMG_20160220_131401The Coachella Valley was long known for its music concerts, arts and golf but brewing was one of the things that the area was lacking.  As a family company, everyone had to put in work at the brewery.  His wife stained the fencing that is used as the wall furnishings in the tasting room!  But the end product seems to have been well worth it for the rising star in the brewing world.  One of the investors is very well connected with the local farmers and these connections allowed Anderson to focus on his brewing philosophy, which he calls “Farm to Glass”.  Farmers in the eastern Coachella Valley will call Anderson with their fresh harvests and Anderson will develop recipes to feature these local crops.  This close tie with the local community produces beers that have a distinct Coachella Valley flair from their Desert Swarm made with honey from locally raised killer bees to Dubbel Date which highlights local dates.

This brewery isn’t just about local ties though, their brew house is one of only five in the world manufactured specifically for the Coachella Valley Brewing Company.  The High Efficiency Brew House (HEBS) is unique in that the system doesn’t use a traditional sparge to rinse the sugar off the grain.  This system uses a series of filters to extract as much of the sugar as possible during the brew day, allowing for an increase in the mash efficiency exceeding theoretical yields.  The HEBS also utilizes 60% less water when compared to mash/lauter tun systems, which is essential when doing business in a desert climate.

“I’d like to think that we do stuff a little bit different than everybody else.”

Drawing his inspiration from the local fields and being driven to test the HEBS to the fullest, Anderson has created flavors that are unique in the craft beer world.  Of course there are the standard IPAs and stouts, but Anderson has created beers that are distinctly his own.  A good example of this is Bananarama, a German Hefeweizen with roasted plantains and bananas.  While the Reinheitsgebot would have a melt down with this approach, his customers embrace the uniqueness.
Relying on his culinary education, Chris finds flavor combinations that work and expands on them over time, starting with small pilot batches available only in the tasting room and finally moving forward to production size batches.

“I think all our flavors are their own, for sure.”

IMG_20160302_095908 (926x1280)Don’t think that Coachella Valley Brewing Company is only about adding fruit to beer; they have a standard line up of beers that are available throughout southern California that are tried and true standards.  Their Monumentous Rye Double IPA brings harmony between the spicy rye notes and their selection of New Zealand and Pacific Northwest hops named after the world famous national park located in their own backyard.  The delicate balance that this beer strikes is a homage to the delicate and extremely fragile ecosystem of the Joshua Tree National Park.
One of our favorite beers at Coachella Valley Brewing Company is their Windfarm, a saison style beer brewed with rye and spelt to add spice, dry hopped with Galaxy and fermented with seven different yeast strains.  How did Anderson get seven different saison yeast strains?  While backpacking through the Wallonia region of Belgium, he stopped in local breweries and asked for a slant of their house yeast.  As a result of his efforts, he eventually created a blend and had White Labs culture it in their vault.  Want to try this yeast strain?  There’s a rumor that it may be the White Labs Product yeast strain Saison Blend #5; just letting you know.  The beer finishes exceptionally dry, with a drinkability that is perfect for the sun baked sands of the valley that he calls home.

With numerous awards decorating the walls of the modest tasting room one thing is for sure, the future is looking up for Coachella Valley Brewing Company and Chris Anderson.  Follow Chris’s advice and when you first walk into a brewery, order a flight to get a tasting of everything that the brewery has to offer, and with as many beers as Coachella Valley Brewing Company has on tap, it’s going to be quite an afternoon of tasting!  Educate.Beer was happy to meet with Chris Anderson and get the inside scope on Coachella Valley Brewing Company.  The sky is the limit for these guys and we are pleased to have met them before they become as famous as they are going to become!

About Coachella Valley Brewing Company:

Started in 2013, Coachella Valley Brewing Company (CVBC) has put the Coachella Valley on the beer world’s radar.  With a local focus and the “Farm to Glass” mentality, CVBC is turning out exceptional beers that all have a distinct flair of the region.  Coachella Valley Brewing Company has a small tasting room located at the brewery in Thousand Palms, CA.  Their beers can be found throughout Southern California at craft beer retailers.  Visit their website at www.cvbco.com for more information including their tap list, hours and contact information.