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With The Hop Grenade, Home Brewing Gets Its Own Radio Studio

By S. Mathur

It all began in 2005, but the founders didn't realize that it would become quite so big. Kevin Callahan, General Manager, says that "It started in a garage in Pacheco, CA rented by Justin Crossley. He was a beginning home brewer who, like many beginning home brewers, had a lot of questions. With his communication background and a little radio experience he decided to start an internet radio show out of his garage."

Eleven years later, The Hop Grenade is a craft beer taproom and bottle shop, as well as The Brewing Network live radio studio. The radio show began with home brewing experts talking about their craft. Listeners could call in on the open phone lines and ask questions. It was the listeners who chose the logo and the name The Hop Grenade. Over the years, studio moved up from the garage into an empty guest bedroom, and still later, to a real studio in Martinez, CA.

The flagship show of the studio has always been the Session, says Callahan, and the show's format led to further growth. He explains that "The Session as it is today brings professional brewers into the studio for interviews to discuss their brand and brewing process. Most, if not all of the time the brewers would bring several samplings of their beer. Justin thought it would be cool if other people, not just his now crew of 5 or so people, were able to try some of the amazing beer that they were talking about on air."

The Hop Grenade Taproom added a craft beer bar to the entire operation and the studio moved to the back. The location is family-friendly and dog-friendly. There are twenty-one beers on tap and Callahan says that "We try to bring the best beer on the market to our community and make it accessible. Our beer list is always changing and I think a lot of people like to come in and try new things." His favorite beers and food change all the time, too.

The food includes flatbreads and sandwiches from a variety of different vendors, since there isn't a full kitchen. The smoked brisket, corned beef, and chicken from Slow Hand BBQ are an excellent accompaniment to the beer. Montibella sausages are used for the sausage bites, and the flatbreads come from the owners of Raviolis restaurant, which used to be next door.

The Hop Grenade connects to the community in a number of ways, including by providing jobs that are fun and creative. With the motto "Drink Beer Do Good", the Hop Grenade supports local non-profit organizations. On one Sunday each month, between noon and 4pm, 15% of all proceeds are donated; local organizations can apply online to be selected for a month.

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