Ron Chips

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What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started  in the craft brewing industry?

I’m the owner of Kelsey Creek Brewing Co. [in Kelseyville, Calif.]. I started homebrewing in 1991 while going through a divorce since I had lots of extra time. I was always fascinated with the science involved with brewing. I subscribed to Zymurgy and read every issue cover to cover. I brewed partial mash until we moved to Northern California and I started buying my supplies from The Beverage People. I attended one of Byron Burch’s all-grain brewing classes and immediately switched. In 2008, I decided it was time for a career change (I was 58) so I went back to school and earned an A.S. degree in business management, then I enrolled at the American Brewers Guild. I graduated from ABG in 2011 and apprenticed at Lagunitas Brewing for five weeks. I retired from my county job and my wife and I, with the help of lots of friends, opened our nanobrewery in July 2011.

What’s new at Kelsey Creek?

We’re currently purchasing a brew bike (a bicycle that holds 17 passengers to take people on tours of our town) that all must pedal.

What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?

Seeing the enjoyment that our patrons get from discovering the flavors in our beers, and having them appreciate what I do for a living.

What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?

My hobby is motorcycle riding to distant locations to try new beers. In 2009, my wife and I rode to Sturgis, S.D. to attend the motorcycle rally and we stopped at every brewery and quilt store we could find between home and South Dakota.

Name a favorite food and beer pairing.

Barbecued hanger steak and grilled veggies paired with my No’Na’Me Irish Red Ale.

What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?

In 1996, my wife and I quit our jobs in Southern California and moved to Lake County in Northern California. Neither one of us had jobs when we moved here and we moved to a county with an unemployment rate that averages around 18 percent. My wife is a registered nurse so she found work right away. I was a mechanic with an electrical background and was able to get a job with Lake County Special Districts in water and wastewater.

What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?

In 2009, we went to the National Homebrewers Conference in Bloomington, Minn. We rode a pedal pub and drank Brau Brothers Brewing’s beer. Dustin Brau, the brewer, was on board to tell us all about his beer and his family’s operation.

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