‘Another Beer’ on tap

Oroville distributor unveils new microbrew

LET IT FLOW <br>Kevin Larsen monitors the fermentation of Another Beer. He produces 1,000 gallons of his beer each week using two bronze tanks.

Kevin Larsen monitors the fermentation of Another Beer. He produces 1,000 gallons of his beer each week using two bronze tanks.

Photo by Tom Angel

Calling all beer-drinkers: The Oroville Beer and Wine Company is located off Olive Drive in Oroville, but you can’t buy it there. Call Kevin Larsen at 589-SUDS for more information.

Chico partiers may be reaching for Another Beer to quench their thirst for a local microbrew.

Oroville Beer and Wine Company, a new microbrewery, is now distributing the beer, which won a bronze award for pale ale at the California State Fair Commercial Brewing Competition in 1999.

“I know it’s bold calling our pale ale ‘Another Beer,’ but the beer quality is good enough to pull it off,” said Kevin Larsen, owner of the company. “A lot of people tell me it’s the best beer they’ve ever had.”

Larsen, a resident of Oroville for 13 years, said he received lots of compliments when he started home brewing in 1998. He had his business license by the end of that year.

“My first batch of beer was so good, I had to run with it,” said Larsen, who credits his good cooking skills with helping him develop his beer recipes. Before this venture Larsen, 40, owned a business making hardwood stereo speakers for home stereo systems.

Larsen quickly found a way to boost his burgeoning business and keep a day job at the same time: He became a distributor.

Oroville Beer and Wine Company is also a distributor for seven other brands of beer, three wines and a hard cider. The offerings include Steel Head, Mad River, Anderson Valley and others.

The company is now distributing across 200 miles, from Yuba City to Yreka, in 10 counties total, but hopes eventually to expand into Sacramento and the Bay Area, Larsen said.

“Our brand is really starting to take off,” said Larsen, who recently bought licensing rights from Coors Light to use the “party ball,” a 5-gallon cage and ice chest in a compact package. In fact, Another Beer is available only in cages and party balls—until next month, when Larsen plans to start packaging it in bottles.

Oroville Beer and Wine Company is currently producing 1,000 gallons of Another Beer per week, using two 500-gallon bronze tanks.

Price is also a selling point: Larsen said Another Beer is 30 percent less expensive than most domestic beers, with cages at $60 each and free local home delivery for all the company’s products.

“In today’s society everything is so expensive, so we don’t spend money advertising. We keep the cost down for consumers,” Larsen said.

In the fall, the company will release its dark beer, called Barley Legal. And the company also has plans to release a house wine and home wine kits under its own private label, Larsen said.

For now, Another Beer is available in Chico at Ray’s Liquor.

“We try to sell most microbrewery beers, especially those that are local,” said Steve Palmer, owner of Ray’s Liquor, who’s been selling Another Beer since it started being distributed.

"[Another Beer] does pretty well, about 10 cages a week on average,” he said. “[Larsen] has a following of students and locals who buy cages regularly, but he needs to start packaging [in bottles] to gain a big following.

"[Larsen] just needs to get his consistency down, and then I think he’ll do well,” Palmer said.

Steve Mosher, of much-larger Chico-based distributor Stash Distributing, said, “Larsen has an interesting twist on the industry as a manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer. … He’s is in a unique situation because he produces his own product and can sell it to both the retailer and consumer.”

Larsen is using big brands that are already established in the market to get in the door and sell his beer, he said.

“He’s a creative guy, but I think he’s got a very steep uphill battle," Mosher said. "It’s going to be really hard, considering microbreweries aren’t doing that well right now."