Elaine St. Clair likes to get her hands dirty. As co-founder, brewmaster, and winemaker at St. Clair Brown, an urban winery and brewery in Napa, Calif., she’s a woman of the land, whether it’s producing hops, grapes, or grains. She’s also devoted to her liquid.
St. Clair was the co-owner and head brewmaster of the former Napa Ale Works for 10 years. She also worked at various wineries for three decades. Finally, in February 2018, she and St. Clair Brown co-founder Lana Brown realized a dream: a brewery-winery hybrid.
Seven months in, VinePair had the chance to catch up with St. Clair about her favorite things to drink. Like the beers and wines she creates, St. Clair likes to keep things traditional and balanced.
1. What’s your desert-island beer?
A delicate Czech pilsner because it is refreshing and delicious.
2. What’s the beer that made you fall in love with beer?
The wheat ale that I made myself in college. Back then, the imports were stale, and the American beers were, let’s just say, not my favorite.
3. FMK (F*ck, Marry, Kill) three beer types: IPA, pilsner, sour.
F – Quadruple IPA. I really don’t care for unbalanced beers and especially thin, over-hopped beers.
M – Belgian [Pilsner]. I love the exotic subtle character.
K – Sour beers. I like them but not near the winemaking operation.
4. You’re on death row. What’s your last supper beer?
A black IPA because its rich malt and aromatic hop would be a flavor I would like to have linger with me to the end.
5. You can only drink one beer for the rest of your life. What is it?
A fresh saison with seasonal hops has everything I need in a beer.
6. What’s the best and worst beer in your fridge right now?
The best beer is a red IPA. Our assistant brewer came up with the recipe and it rocks! The worst is a can of old American lager we found in an ice chest from our last camping trip.
7. If you could no longer drink beer, what would be your beverage of choice?
Wine, of course!