Christian August Comes Home
What’s Brewing at 2 Tread in Santa Rosa
Text and Photos by Ken Weaver
As craft brewer origin stories go, Christian August’s background starts to take its first turn in Prague.
August is currently both a partner and the brewmaster of 2 Tread Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, which opened this past fall and started brewing operations in December. He’d home-brewed throughout college, but it was shortly afterwards, while teaching English in the early 90s in what’s now the Czech Republic, that August made a fortuitous beer connection.
Like most English teachers he knew in Prague, he’d been taking on private clients in addition to his university gig. “I ended up getting connected with a professor of brewing science from the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague,” August reflected. “He would give lectures in international symposiums on brewing, and he needed to practice his English so he could lecture better. And so basically, I got paid to go out with this guy who was a renowned brewing scientist, and we would go to a pub, and drink beer, and talk about beer.”
That’ll do it.
August soon returned to the States and headed straight into a three-month brewing program at the newly-formed American Brewers Guild, and then started work at the Tied House Café and Brewery’s Alameda location. When his mentor there headed out to assist a brewery called Firestone Walker Brewing Company getting off the ground, August eventually headed down to join him. He signed on as the fledgling brewery’s assistant brewmaster, and later served as head brewer after his mentor departed. “I brewed the very first batch of Double Barrel Ale,” August recalled of the experience. “I was there a month or two before we went to market.”
He headed the brewing side of Firestone Walker, then left shortly before his four-year anniversary there. “I was burnt out,” August explained. “It was time for a change.” He departed brewing to focus on building an IT consulting business in Oakland, his birthplace. “The last batch of beer I made was October 1999. I had an 18-year hiatus.”
Which gets us most of the way back to the present moment: 2 Tread Brewing, in Santa Rosa Plaza, is one of the most recent additions to Santa Rosa’s gradually growing beer scene, and it’s also been the first opportunity to drink anything brewed by Christian August in almost two decades. Through a childhood friend who resides locally, August was connected with 2 Tread co-founders Bill Drury and Tracy Heydorn, who provide deep restaurant and business experiences to the partnership. Their brewery and restaurant celebrated its grand opening on September 20, 2017, while 2 Tread-brewed beers debuted near the end of the year.
Their location in downtown Santa Rosa is substantial, with indoor and comfy patio options, in addition to significant central bar seating. 2 Tread offers a full bar (which, unfortunately, means no growlers), and their pub-fare-focused menu, overseen by executive chef Melissa Claros, highlights sandwiches, salads, comfort-food-inclined starters (from poutine to chili fries), and flatbread pizzas. Particularly relevant for locals are the $9 weekday lunch specials. The 2 Tread core theme (stare carefully at 2 Tread’s logo for hidden visuals) gives a nod to the local Sonoma County biking culture and the vibe’s pretty darn clear given all the bike parking out front.
August is brewing the 2 Tread beers on a 15-barrel system located to the left of the main inside seating area, filling four 15-barrel fermenters and, subsequently, four 15-barrel serving tanks, the latter directly feeding the brewery’s main draft lines. The brewery currently has six of their own beers pouring, with El Citdorado — a 5.3%-ABV unfiltered session IPA — being the frequent bestseller. It’s hopped with (you guessed it...) Citra and El Dorado hops, and it features modest overall haze while being packed with fresh, pithy citrus and lime notes amplified by a pinpoint mouthfeel. There’s just a whisper of honeyed sweetness for balance.
All three of the house beers sampled — El Citdorado, a California Golden Ale, and the latest rendition of their IPA—were exceptionally precise, if El Citdorado was the only of the three to prove particularly distinct. The golden ale (4.7% ABV) is a toasty, lightly spicy pleaser that lands a bit sweeter than, say, Russian River’s Aud Blonde a few blocks down the road. But, it finishes with authority and a pop of soft malt. The IPA feels almost English-style in today’s climate, fluidly hopped with seven different varieties, but lean and quite smooth overall. The brewery had six house beers on tap, including a nitro version of that IPA, plus guest taps like Barrel Brothers’ local porter, a Seismic seasonal, and (appropriately) Firestone Walker Lager.
2 Tread, like many area breweries, ended up being significantly affected by the wildfires this past fall. The brewery opened (to repeat) on September 20 last year: “twenty-one days, three weeks to the day, before the firestorms, which took 5,000 structures up here,” August reflected.
Many of 2 Tread’s employees were directly impacted, as were many of their customers. Since then, fire recovery has been the largest challenge for the brewery. However, they’re continuing with key business milestones: they just went to distribution in April, through local Eagle Distributing, heading to Marin, Sonoma, Lake, and Mendocino counties.
El Citdorado will be the first of their beers seeing significant distribution, and August mentioned that he’s hoping to launch some canned beers in the near term. Maybe a pilot brewing system this summer?
August also noted an eagerness to get back into brewing lagers — hoping to eventually have a pair in their serving tanks. Asked what he was most excited about, given a context of finally being back to commercial brewing (I made a Rip Van Winkle reference), he replied, “Twenty years ago, I probably had a choice of maybe twenty malts total at my disposal. And maybe twenty hops.” August adds, in proper Sonoma-County fashion: “There are so many new hops out there.” ABV
2 tread brewing
1018 Santa Rosa Plaza, Santa Rosa