But back in the 1980s, things were different. Americans didn't have much of a taste for stouts or IPAs, you couldn't buy Sierra Nevada at 7-Eleven and eating at a restaurant that brewed its own beer was unheard of. All of that has changed, of course, and Mountain View's Tied House, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this weekend, helped spur that change.
The Villa Street brew pub poured its first pint in January 1988, according to Carolyn Hopkins, marketing director for Tied House — beating Gordon Biersch to the punch by a few months.
"We're the oldest Silicon Valley micro-brewery still in existence," Hopkins claims, explaining that others began brewing before Tied House, but none have stood the test of time.
To celebrate the milestone year, Tied House is sponsoring a "beer walk" through downtown Mountain View. Beer enthusiasts who purchase tickets will receive a special commemorative mug and get the chance to taste more than 20 beers as they walk up and down Castro Street visiting shops, restaurants and art galleries.
The event was organized with the help of SJbeerwalk.com and the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce. A portion of the proceeds will go to benefit Student Outreach and Advancement Resource program (SOAR) — a Chamber program for mentoring, counseling and supporting at-risk and underachieving community college students.
As is the case for so many bright ideas, the concept for Tied House was the result of being in the right place at the right time.
Co-founder Lou Jemison took a trip to Germany around the time when the so-called "tied house" law was being relaxed in California. The law prohibited brewers from selling their product directly to consumers, but California's AB3610 changed that, making it so that beer makers could sell suds directly to consumers, so long as they also served food.
In Germany Jemison encountered bold beers he had never tasted in the states and also found that many restaurants brewed their own beer. These brew pubs were sometimes called "tied houses," as they were only allowed to sell the beer they brewed themselves, or were tied contractually to selling the beer of a certain brewer. He returned with the germ of an idea that would ultimately turn into Tied House.
Jemison partnered with Ronald Manabe and began looking for a place to set up shop. Though the men were living in the Watsonville-Santa Cruz area at the time, the city wooed them. According to Hopkins, the city manager at the time, Bruce Liedstrand, worked hard to convince the pair to set up shop downtown.
It was a good move for Mountain View, according to Oscar Garcia, president of the Chamber of Commerce. Tied House has become a community hub of sorts, Garcia said, and as locals have given to the restaurant, the restaurant has given back through philanthropy.
"What is unique about the Tied House is that they have really embedded themselves into the Mountain View community," Garcia said, noting that the restaurant has a strong customer base for both the lunch crowd and the dinner crowd — meaning they serve a large proportion of those who commute into the city for work as well as Mountain View residents.
In addition to their loyal customer base, Garcia said, the Tied House is known as a meeting place — for sports events, office parties and election night celebrations.