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Jeremy Sowers is one of the Bay Area's best small-batch brewers, and he raises the bar a notch every time he creates a new brew.

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Jack's Jazzes Fremont

Jack's Brewing Company Celebrates Three Years

by Mike Pitsker with Lisa Pitsker

     Friday night is usually busy anyway, but this Friday evening, January 24, 2003, was busier than most. Jack's Brewing is located behind the popular Fremont Hub shopping center near downtown Fremont, Calif. Between regular customers and walk-in traffic from the mall, the brewpub does a lively amount of business. On this particular evening, a jazz quartet had set up near the polished copper brewing tanks at the entrance. Groups waited for tables to become available while the host scurried back and forth, clearing tables, moving chairs and seating folks as fast as he could. Conversation was loud; when the quartet began with its version of the theme from "Cheers," the place grew raucous. Jack's Brewing Company's third anniversary celebration had begun.

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     Jeremy Sowers, Jack's head brewer, joined us for beer and snacks. We had a pint of his Third Anniversary Ale, a dark and malty holiday-style ale with strong caramel overtones derived from Munich, caramel and honey malts, and an interesting hop bite at the finish furnished by Northern Brewer bittering hops. The Willamette, Liberty and Fuggles hops gave the brew a strong, aromatic nose. Jeremy never ceases to impress with his brewing skills; he is one of the Bay Area's best small-batch brewers, and he raises the bar a notch every time he creates a new brew.

     Jeremy's everyday beers include a delightful amber ale, a balanced pale and a malty-strong porter. "Try a Hemorrhage," he offered. "It's a pint of pale with a dollop of porter added as it sets up." The porter floats through the pale, darkening the blend as it progresses. The result is a mixture lighter in texture than the porter but retaining its malty, lip-smacking initial sweetness; the pale lends a slightly muted hop bite to the finish. "People are used to a black and tan but don't often think of blending other beers," Jeremy said. "It's fun to experiment; that's one of the reasons I love brewing."

     It's easy to tell he loves his job. His whole face lights up when he speaks of hops and malt and fermentation schedules. "I love to go to the [malt warehouse] and smell and taste different roasts and imagine different combinations. And I don't like to use Cascade hops; there are more flavorful and aromatic strains that aren't featured enough." His pale ale gets by just fine without the overpowering Cascade hops. His blend of Liberty and U.S. Golding hops grants the beer a terrific aroma, while the bittering is well taken care of with Simcoe -- hops rarely used in West Coast pales.

     Jeremy's background includes a stint as assistant brewer at Gordon Biersch and a job as a start-up head brewer at Carson City Brewing Company. Then Kurt Steadman and Krissy Wallace, owners of Jack's, found Jeremy while they were looking for a replacement head brewer shortly after their first anniversary. He's been there ever since. "I like the equipment here," Jeremy said, "and the regulars are knowledgeable. They couldn't wait for the Anniversary Ale."

     Who could blame them?

Jack's Brewing Co.
39176 Argonaut Way
Fremont, CA 94538

Mike Pitsker is an associate editor of the Celebrator Beer News and BeerWeek. He is sales director for Golden Pacific Brewing Company. He and his wife, Lisa, are beer buffs who make San Leandro, Calif., their home.

Copyright 2003, Celebrator No material herein may be reprinted without permission of the Celebrator Distributed On the W3 For personal, non-commercial enjoyment and use only. Cheers!

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