Owned, and operated, by brothers Justin and Tyler Catalana, Mill Valley Beerworks offers a new breed of gathering place to the people of Marin. A modern day tavern, the intimately charged environment of Beerworks is ideal for spending quality time with friends and family. The staff at Beerworks are all well versed in the 120 plus available beer options and happily assist customers select a beer that fits their taste and mood. While the vast selection of imported and craft microbrews is impressive, the in house brewed beers are what really set Mill Valley Beerworks apart from other beer cafes. Four open fermentation tanks, along with a mash-lauter tun, and a kettle located in the rear of the cafe serve as the brewery for the brothers. Beerworks has released nine in house made beers so far, which are brewed at least once a week. In addition to beer, they also offer house-made kombucha, ginger ale and root beer as well as gourmet snacks and dishes (see their menu here). Beerworks is open seven days a week from 11am to midnight. Food is served until 10pm, and children are welcome before 9pm. Learn more about Beerworks and the brothers behind it in the interview below:
How long have you wanted to own your own bar/restaurant?
Tyler: It was more that we wanted to open our own brewery.
Justin: Yeah, originally we were just going to sell our beer to restaurants, but that was a difficult route, so the Café/bar aspect kind of grew. We realized that if we wanted to be successful, we would have to have a public side to our brewery.
Do you brew your own beers in-house?
Justin: Yeah, that is the entire brewery (Points to four fermentation tanks located in the back end of the bar).
So do you only serve in-house brewed beers?
Justin: No, we have a large selection of other beers. We have over 120 bottles of beer, from all over the world, but they are primarily Belgium and American craft brewery stuff.
Tyler: We’re just really starting to roll out our own beers as well.
How do you select your beers?
Justin: Just a lot of trial and error (laughter). We do a lot of market research.
Tyler: We look at what is new, what is rare, and what is popular.
Was it difficult to start your own business?
Tyler: Yeah, it definitely took a ton of work. We had to do a lot of research, and asked a ton of questions to the various agencies involved in making this happen. It was lucky there were two of us working on this.
Justin: I think it was about 14 or 15 months from the initial bottling to us fully opening.
How did you settle on this location?
Tyler: To be in downtown Mill Valley was pretty important to us. And this building just worked for what we wanted to do.
Justin: We liked that we were kind of on the outskirts of the downtown area, but we were still downtown.
How has business been since your opening?
Tyler: Pretty good, we have been busy most nights.
What do you believe has been the key to your popularity?
Tyler: Mill Valley really lacked a good hangout spot; there are not many bars in town. Most of the bars that are in town are located in restaurants, except for one. I think Mill Valley just really needed a different kind of gathering place.
Justin: In addition to that, beer right now is having a renaissance, people are really getting into craft beer, and there are not many craft beer places like ours in the Bay Area.
What type of beer are you into at the moment?
Tyler: It is really hard to say, there are just so many that are so good, and that is the fun thing about beer; there are hundreds of varieties, which makes it so you can never really kind of pinpoint which is the best. It is fun to just explore all of the different varieties
Justin: I think we are pretty into the sour beers though, which are becoming more and more popular right now.
Tyler: Yeah, specifically a style from the Flanders region of Belgium, it is a very tart, almost vinegar like beer style.
How has Marin influenced your entrepreneurial style?
Justin: We got a lot of the ideas for this place outside of Marin, which we believed helped make it successful. This place is pretty different from other Marin bars/restaurants, in how it is operated, but also just the design of the space. We hear from patrons a lot that this place feels like it’s from the East Coast or it’s European.
Tyler: But we tried to bring the warmness of Mill Valley to the space.
Justin: We wanted to make this place a nice place to hang out, versus just worrying about turning over tables like a restaurant.
Where did you conduct your research when you were conceptualizing your bar?
Tyler: My background is that of an architect, so that is what I do, laying out spaces. Our bar is a combination of the things we’ve seen in bars throughout America and Europe. We just took what we saw, and the pieces we really liked, and pulled them together.
So what is the next step for Mill Valley Beerworks?
Justin: We just feel like the next step is refining our own house beer, and getting more of that out, and eventually potentially selling that to other restaurants to serve in their establishments,
Tyler: We have some styles that we brew, that hopefully other places will pick up, that we can then begin to brew for them on a regular basis.
Anything else you would like to say to the thirsty people of Marin?
Tyler: Try more beer; if there is something that you don’t know, try it; don’t be afraid, don’t stick to the same beer you always drink, try something different. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of styles of beers out there, from all over the world, which are real fun to drink.