Santa Clara Valley Brewing: Tap into Your Heart’s Delight

By Derrick Peterman / Photography By Derrick Peterman | October 12, 2015
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santa clara valley brewing

Apple Engineering Manager Tom Clark wanted to do something about the fact that the craft brewing revolution seemed to be passing Silicon Valley by. “Being a beer lover and a home brewer I got tired of the lack of craft beer in the South Bay … Then I met somebody who put me in touch with Steve Donohue.” 

That was January 2012, when Donohue was brewing at Sunnyvale’s Firehouse Grill and Brewery where he won four Great American Beer Festival (GABF) medals, craft brewing’s equivalent to Academy Awards. Quickly thereafter, Clark and Donohue launched Santa Clara Valley Brewing (SCVB).

Their first brew was an IPA called Electric Tower after a late 19th century San Jose lighting tower. “Recipes aren’t that hard for me, I guess,” remarked Donohue. “To make what we wanted, I knew certain malts would take me here,” gesturing with his hands, “and these hops would take me here, and the yeast would take me here.”, After tapping the keg in May 2013, the fresh, piney and tropical mango flavors became a hit all over the South Bay.

Recently opening their own SCVB brewery and tap room in San Jose, the casual meeting space features a full spectrum of beers, including special releases such as Heart’s Delight Apricot Sour Ale. Named after the Valley of Heart’s Delight, the sour ale was brewed with 500 pounds of apricots and aged in white and red wine barrels. Lactobacillus bacteria was added to the barrels to create sour flavors. Aged sour ales are notoriously difficult to master. “With barrel-aged beers, the best thing to do is just leave it alone,” says Donohue. 

After maturing a full year in barrels, Heart’s Delight is now ready and worth the wait—the soft yellow liquid full of fruity depth is accentuated by apricot and balanced by a refreshing light sourness. Other upcoming releases include an Imperial Oatmeal Stout, a Belgian Dubbel and a Barleywine.

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