More local brews on the way

Is Chico finally adding some new craft breweries to its beer scene?

Charlie Barrett, Secret Trail Brewing Co.

Charlie Barrett, Secret Trail Brewing Co.

In recent years, Chico’s seen the addition of some excellent beer bars and ever-expanding shelf space for craft beers at local bottle shops and grocery stores, elevating our status as a diversified beer town. Of course, to fully arrive, Chico needs the kind of influx of new craft breweries that has helped cities like Reno, Sacramento and Bend, Ore., become beer destinations.

Today, Chico has Sierra Nevada plus the malted-rice beers of 2-year-old Eckert Malting & Brewing (not to mention the just-opened Lassen Traditional Cidery—see “All in the apple,” page 16). But there are others on the cusp. In addition to British Bulldog, at least two more brewers are in the process of opening breweries in Chico.

Secret Trail Brewing Co.

Charlie Barrett has been brewing for more than eight years. And last year, after retiring as a building inspector in Yolo County, he and his wife, Michelle, decided to turn his hobby into a business. The couple came up with a business plan and started looking for investors for Secret Trail Brewing last January. Now, more than halfway through their goal of raising $400,000, they are actively searching for a building to set up a 10-barrel system. “We are just waiting to find the right building,” Barrett said.

In the meantime, Barrett has been sharing his beer with fellow beer enthusiasts, pouring samples at community events and winning first place at several home-brew competitions. Follow Secret Trail’s progress at

Zythos Brewing Co.

Zythos Brewing brewmaster Brad Liapis knows what it takes to open a brewery from scratch. He helped start California Brewing Co. in Palo Cedro a couple of years ago. Now he has designs on opening a brewery and taproom in Chico. While he is still trying to find a suitable building for Zythos, Liapis continues brewing (he recently upgraded to a six-barrel system), keeping his nine home taps stocked with IPAs, saisons, stouts and ciders.

Follow Zythos’ progress at

Brad Liapis, Zythos Brewing Co.

Photo by Howard Hardee