FAIRFIELD — Jamil Zainasheff brought his Heretic Brewing Co. to Fairfield because Fairfield came to him.
He started the craft beer brewing venture in Pittsburg in 2011. When he outgrew his space there, he sent emails to Bay Area cities asking about possibly relocating there. He got only a few responses, most saying he could come talk to them.
Fairfield Economic Development Specialist Charles Ching had another response.
“Charles got in his car and drove out to see me the next day,” Zainasheff said.
Ching remembers the incident.
“I did come out to see him and invite him to come over and see Fairfield,” Ching said. “We toured several properties and the rest is history.”
Zainasheff opened Heretic Brewery earlier this year and started making beer inside a tilt-up concrete warehouse on Horizon Drive. He has four 1,000-gallon fermenters and three 5,000-gallon fermenters, each a gleaming silver.
Coming up with a name for his venture took some thinking. Some people name their brewing company after themselves. But, Zainasheff said, people would likely have trouble spelling his name.
He wanted an edgy name, one not already in use. He settled on “Heretic” for reasons that have nothing to do with religion, which some people associate the word with, Zainasheff said.
Ninety percent of beer drinkers in America drink light American lager, he said.
“That’s OK,” Zainasheff said. “But if you drink craft beer, you’re going against the conventional wisdom.”
Among Heretic Brewery’s beers is one called Evil Twin. It is blood-red ale.
Zainasheff described his beers as “bold, but balanced. It’s got a lot of malt character, a lot of hop character. When you have a balanced beer, people seem to love it. But they also want bold.”
He has Russian imperial stout in wooden bourbon barrels. He talks of using blackberries from Suisun Valley for beers.
In a sense, the warehouse space is a laboratory for coming up with flavors.
“People are tired of drinking the same-old, same-old,” Zainasheff said. “They want to explore new things.”
He recently opened a tasting room on Horizon Drive. The counter incorporates black-and-white photos of the brewery and the people who helped build it and who make it work.
One photo shows a car that crashed into the front of the brewery, its front crumpled against the concrete wall. Zainasheff said some teens were driving on Horizon Drive and lost control. It’s a story he can smile about now, given that no one was hurt.
Zainasheff got his start brewing beer in 1999, when his wife bought him a Mr. Beer brewing kit. He began brewing two gallons at a time as a hobby.
In 2009, he quit his career in software. He had made money, but had been in the field for about 15 years, he said.
“I had sort of reached my end with that,” Zainasheff said.
He made his hobby his career and entered the entrepreneurial world of craft beer. That in turn led him to Fairfield. He’s already been involved with a recent fundraiser for the Matt Garcia Police Activities League.
“I want to be a part of the community, a good part of the community, a benefit to Fairfield,” Zainasheff said.
Heretic Brewery is located at 1052 Horizon Drive. It has a tasting room open from 3 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Please call 925-526 6364 for more information on the brewery.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.