New horizons on tap
An eighth-grade science teacher by day, Brad Liapis is a home brewer by night. And he's pretty into it—he has between seven and nine of his own beers and ciders on tap at any given time. Not one to bogart all the brew, Liapis intends to soon open Zythos Brewing Co., a new brewery in Chico that will offer alternatives in what he considers a limited local scene. The Chico State graduate has been brewing since 2005, when he lived in San Diego. A little more than a year ago, he helped open California Brewing Co. in Palo Cedro, outside of Redding. He and business partner Chris Chandler are only waiting on “like-minded investors” to open Zythos, he said, because opening up your own brewery is “insanely expensive.” Follow Liapis' progress on Facebook.
I'm Greek. I'm not really one for nationalism, but it's the Greek word for beer. It's also pretty catchy and sounds cool, so there you go.
Do you think the beer scene in Chico could use more variety?
You look at a place like Redding, and you'd like to think we're a little more progressive and beer-loving than the general demographic of Redding. But they've got California Brewing, Woody's [Brewing Co.], Wildcard [Brewing Co.] and Fall River Brewery. It's like, “Jeez, Redding has four breweries, and Chico only has one?” A lot of people here love beer, but there's only one brewery and two good beer bars, and that's it. So, there's a void. I think Chico wants something different; there's a big opportunity. Sierra Nevada makes the classics—it would be hard to beat them at that game—but they don't branch out a whole lot.
Was the beer culture in San Diego your inspiration?
That's where I got started, so I have to say that was a large part of it. There's so much great stuff coming out of there. The culture of craft beer was part of it, too. Most brewers are real laid-back and friendly. But it was kind of a challenge to myself, to see if I could make beer on par with the world-class stuff coming out of the San Diego area. And, of course, having gone to school here, there was Sierra Nevada, as well. So, setting my sights high and trying to make something as good or better than that was my inspiration.
So, is your beer on par with the big boys’?
Some of the stuff I'm making is as good or better than a lot of the beer you find on shelves. I have a black IPA I think is world-class; I've got a session IPA that I think is better than almost anything out there. I do a lot of Belgians that are pretty awesome. It would be a little arrogant to say they're as good as [beer from] world-class breweries, but it's definitely in that neighborhood.