After graphic designer Julie Peacock and carpenter/farmer Josh Monschke had a daughter in 2011, they looked for a way to make money and sustainably contribute to their community. With that ethos in mind, Gyppo Ale Mill was born.
Growing up in Bend, Oregon, Peacock was surrounded by breweries. “It’s kind of a cultural thing that I grew up in,” she says. “We thought it would be a good thing to bring a brewery in to the area.”
The word gyppo is usually associated with hand crafted or handmade, which goes along with keeping it local and keeping it family. According to their website, “What Gyppo Ale Mill wants to do is celebrate all the groups that make this place so dynamic, bringing the back-to-landers and loggers together over a great beer brewed in the hills of Southern Humboldt that we all love.”
Monschke has brewed home brews before, but is by no means an expert, Peacock says. What really drew them to the brewing industry is when Peacock went up to Oregon to visit her parents in 2012. Her parent’s neighbor, Paul Arney, had worked for Deschutes Brewery for more than 20 years in product development and production. He eventually started his own brewery, The Ale Apothecary. Peacock says that Arney takes things to an extreme when he brews, creating unique, in-depth flavors. The couple asked Arney if he wanted to get involved and he came up with all of their beer recipes and will help with the initial brewing processes until they can hire a brewer to follow his unique recipes.
“He makes really delicious beers,” Peacock says. “They have so much complexity to them, they are really different.” Gyppo Ale Mill has 8 different regular beer recipes. Descriptions can be found on their website.
Peacock and Monschke started market research for Gyppo Ale Mill in the summer of 2013. They traveled all around the Pacific Northwest checking out breweries and talking to people in the business. Peacock was impressed. “The brewing industry is an amazingly cooperative, sharing, lift everybody up kind of industry.” At a craft beer seminar in Oregon, she heard an idea to donate profits one day per month to a non-profit organization. With the cost of goods being inexpensive, about 40 cents a beer, it is a win-win. “The non-profit gets money and the brewery gets exposure to a whole new market.”
At this point, Gyppo Ale Mill is a brewery-in-planning, located between Garberville and Redway along the Eel River. The road to an opening has mostly been smooth, save obtaining water service permits. The couple first made contact with the Redway Community Service District (RCSD) on Dec. 13, 2013. A proposal to RCSD to accept brewery wastewater was submitted a few weeks later. A month after the proposal was submitted, RCSD said they will not support the project for lack of information. In March of 2014, RCSD required the couple to apply for an industrial wastewater permit. Because of nitpicky details these applications require, Peacock and Monschke submitted a total of four permit applications over a span of five months.
In September 2014, the couple went to a Garberville Sanitary District (GSD) board meeting and the board asked them to submit their wastewater information to their general manager. The next month GSD asked the couple to get approval from the Local Agency Formation Commission to transport their wastewater from the RCSD area to the GSD area. Peacock and Monschke then submitted an application to RCSD for water only for the brewery and regular water and wastewater services for the gastropub. At a RCSD board meeting in December 2014, the GSD general manager confirms that Garberville will take the wastewater, and RCSD wants a new service application that covers residential and commercial. By the end of January 2015 the RCSD board approves the new application and GSD agrees to take the brewery’s wastewater. The couple submitted the finalized version of the new service application to RCSD in February, but RCSD general manager John Rogers tells the couple via email there are “significant concerns” regarding their application.
After months of submitting and editing permit requests, the couple has not received service permits and they recently hired an attorney, Jeff Slack of Jansen Mandate. He is helping the couple put together a writ of mandate, defined as an order to a public agency or governmental body to perform an act required by law when it has neglected or refused to do so. A judge will look at their situation and determine if RCSD is following policy and procedure and not arbitrarily making decisions. Two California Public Record Act requests were filed in March and April pertaining to RCSD capacity issues, and RCSD policies and procedures. The couple has yet to receive information. “We do not have infinite time to sit around and wait for approval,” a blog post by Peacock says. “Isn’t a year and a half long enough?”
The property Peacock and her husband bought for the brewery is located in the Meadow Business Park, which was once a part of the Monschke Ranch that belonged to Josh’s family. The Monschkes were gyppo loggers, lumberjacks who ran small logging operations that were independent from the established saw mills or lumber companies.
The Mill is designed with solar panels, a storm water management system and wood fire biomass boiler fueled by pellets made from undergrowth cleared from roadsides and the forest floor. With help from a $2500 grant from The California State Wood Energy Team, the company determined they can brew three days a week and become financially and environmentally sustainable. For now they plan to open a gastro pub with hand crafted beers and locally grown food. “We will have some of the classic pub foods, but with a little lighter fare and more flavorful.” Peacock says. Once the brewery is up and running the couple plans to sell Gyppo in Southern Humboldt and expand north, eventually stretching distribution from the Oregon border to the San Francisco Bay. Gyppo Ale Mill currently sells non-alcoholic drinks, baked goods and merchandise at local farmer’s markets. Peacock tries to come up with items that are made with beer and says desserts like beer-a-misu, similar to tiramisu but with beer. seem to be the easiest. They are ready with a full line of hats, shirts and hoodies.
Some fun ideas Peacock has in store include; a park-to-pub-bike-kayak-run triathlon relay to the brewery finish line, meet the brewer night, costume parties, game nights, etc.. Peacock and Monschke currently sponsor beer pairing dinner/fundraisers where a collection of beers is paired with food. “It is mainly Josh and I doing volunteer work and using that to promote Gyppo,” Peacock says.
The original official grand opening was supposed to be in June of 2015. They’ll move forward once they get their utility service, Peacock says, “hopefully soon.” It could still be about a year until the official opening. The couple is not giving up, and hopefully we will see a new brewery looking over the Eel River soon. “Southern Humboldt is thirsty for craft beer,” Peacock says. “From here it’s just a waiting game.”