Miners in the hey day of the 1850s picked and panned their way along the American River near Cool in search of gold. Today the region has discovered a new gold with much more ease in the hues of a pint full of ale.
Steve and Rochelle Robello opened Cool Beerwerks in the summer of 2013. Steve, a craft beer aficionado and home brewer, teamed with his wife Rochelle and her infectious smile, thought a brewery in a community named Cool would be, well, cool.
“We live in the coolest town in the coolest state,” Steve said explaining the marketability of the name of the community.
Cool Beerwerks was as much an educated business decision as an act inspired by the boom in craft beer for these big city-turned-country entrepreneurs.
Rochelle manages the brewery restaurant and Steve designs beer recipes while also running a machine shop in Auburn, AMC Manufacturing.
“I love the brewing process but I learned pretty quickly it requires a professional,” Steve said.
Cool Beerwerk’s Brewmaster Mike Sutherland hails from Lincoln’s Beerman’s Beerwerks Brewery. Sutherland has more than 12 years of brewing experience.
“I’m there when we mash and I’m there when we do the recipes. Mike’s brewing really good, clean beers,” Steve said.
Cool Beerwerks has a seven-barrel system and is currently producing 400 to 500 barrels a year.
“We are going to continually develop new styles and new flavors of our beers,” Steve said.
The two most popular beers at Cool Beerwerks are the Steampunk Ale and a honey wheat. The Steampunk Ale is an amber steam beer, the predominant style of beer enjoyed by the gold miners of California in the 1800s and early 1900s. Steampunk — an aesthetic subculture — also references the vintage industrial chic style of the brewery restaurant’s interior design.
The oatmeal stout is one of Rochelle’s favorites.
“It’s tall, dark and sexy. It’s delicious, creamy and has a touch of coffee flavor,” Rochelle said.
The Robellos plan to enter that beer in the California Exposition and State Fair’s commercial beer competition.
Other craft beer offerings at Cool Beerwerks include a blonde IPA, imperial blonde IPA, American Pale IPA, California Common, Scottish Ale and a guest brewery’s beer is also often part of the line-up.
In another sort of line-up, Cool Beerwerks hosts live bands nearly every weekend. Steve, who happens to play guitar in thrash metal group Dublin Death Patrol, designed the stage and the sound system at Cool Beerwerks.
“We’ve got a great stage and great bands. We made an extra effort to make it sound good here,” Steve said.
At Cool Beerwerks you’ll also find pool tables, dart boards and outdoor patio seating. The brewery has a full menu that will soon see the addition of gourmet burgers, fish and chips and more. One of the burgers Steve and Rochelle are excited about is sure to be hot, not only in popularity but with ghost pepper cheese, onion and jalapeño straws, and a spicy chipotle sauce.
Steve and Rochelle moved from the Bay Area to Greenwood more than 13 years ago where they have raised their two sons.
“Local people helped us build the business. They voted on our logo and our slogan: ‘That’s so cool’,” Rochelle said. “Cool Beerwerks is not bar-like and not restaurant-like but a place where everyone feels welcome.”