Jess and I finally made it back to Bradley Daniels, so she could talk to him a bit and do a proper write up about this incredible homebrewer. Bradley had added a couple new additions since my last visit including a new and improved Douple IPA that was absolutely delicious, a cozy fireplace and a fur ball named Barley that has reignited my quest for a puppy. Also, on tap was the Porter that Bradley brewed on my first visit. Enjoy.
Written by: Jessica Cartie
At the sound of his doorbell, Bradley Daniels opened the door and welcomed Brian and I into his home. Bradley was the first home-brewer Brian had met, and they hit it off right away. This, however, was my first introduction. “I have heard a lot about you,” he said to me. I had heard a lot about him too – all good and all seemingly true. From what I can tell, Bradley is the quintessential easy-going guy everyone wants to be friends with. He effortlessly draws you in with his fascinating stories and fresh outlook on life. The two and half hours we spent with him were over in a blink of the eye – they say time flies when you’re having fun – tried and true!
And here’s how it went…
Upon arrival, we quickly walked through his home to the backyard where we were greeted by Barley, a charismatic little dog Bradley found and later adopted from the pound. Barley seemed to fit right in with Bradley, the self-proclaimed hippie (we dig this).
Even Bradley’s backyard has a casual, laidback air to it, and is certainly one to envy. Not only is there a full bar setup outside for him and his guests to enjoy, but Bradley built an awesome backhouse bar fully loaded with everything needed to brew beer and enjoy it too. His brewing system is one of the most creative I have seen.
Many people would be thoroughly impressed by his setup, but Bradley just shrugs his shoulders. “The only reason I have what I have, is because I do what I do.” Fair enough.
It doesn’t take a mastermind to figure out that Bradley truly enjoys what he does.
“For me, I love the entire process,” he said. “I love the culture – beer people can be politically opposed, spiritually opposed… and it doesn’t matter. The beer community is very friendly and open.”
At 52 years old, Bradley has been brewing beer for 20 years. “I’m a young 52,”he added. He has brewed a lot of beer in that time – first because it was cheaper than buying it, but now because he enjoys it. Bradley can brew 10-gallon batches in 4-5 hours, and in a given year he brews 170 to 200 gallons.
“I brew a lot,” he said. “I built the brewery to be very user friendly… I would have quit a long time ago if I didn’t have a process.”
In the past Bradley had not hung around a lot of beer brewers, “they used to be freaks,” Bradley chuckled. He clearly doesn’t feel that way anymore, and in fact, he learned something new from a fellow brewer. A friend (much younger in age) who has only been brewing for a year taught this beer veteran a new trick – a simple step he was missing to get his double IPA just right.
Bradley exclaimed, “I’ve been trying for freaking years to make a double IPA… and dude, from the mouth of babes!”
Once he implemented this new step in the process, his double IPA could speak for itself. “It is the best beer I’ve ever brewed,” Bradley said.
It wasn’t long before we were poured a few tasters. First we sampled two meads, which I have never had the pleasure. Both of them had a refreshing, sweet taste and were smooth on the way down. The good thing about meads is they never stop fermenting – one of them was 15 years old. Next on to the beer – we tried the infamous double IPA (Brian’s top pick), a Rye (a little more subtle, a little less hop), a Scottish Ale (my personal favorite), and a Porter (impressive).
Though he has four taps in his backhouse bar, he doesn’t like to overindulge. “I’m not into getting hammered anymore, a nice rosy buzz is fine,” Bradley said. He and his wife are ‘foodies’ – so it makes sense to have something equally tasty to wash down that delectable cuisine, but too much and the food palette is lost.
Recap: Bradley Daniels is a foodie who enjoys brewing and drinking beer, but that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of who he is. Shockingly, Bradley sews – yes I said sews – with a vintage sewing machine and all. In fact, he sewed his wife’s wedding dress and his groomsmen’s vests. Less shocking, music was a favorite topic of his. Bradley’s love for music drew him to play guitar, the banjo and mandolin. He later encouraged his son to play guitar, because according to Bradley, guitar and food are the way to a lady’s heart (and other parts of her anatomy).
He lit up when he talked about his children. Behind the bar was a framed piece of paper with pencil scribbling, that of a small child. It was his son Noah’s writing which read over and over again, “I will not look under cheerleader’s skirts. I will respect girls.” Bradley laughed and thought it was cute, so he hung his son’s childhood punishment on the wall. Bradley said, “[My daughter] feels a little unrepresented [in the bar].”
There was a lack of female representation altogether in the backhouse bar. The bathroom with “Gentlemen” above the door only had a urinal. “Women enjoy beer too, you know,” I said to Bradley as I had to use the bathroom inside the house. He chuckled, “I know.” I suppose I am willing to look past this as I am sure his daughter and wife do as well.
Besides, being invited into the backhouse bar felt like we were let in on a little secret – Bradley was sharing a part of his life not just his house. The carefully-crafted room was adorned with beer glasses of all shapes and sizes, vintage bar signs and framed beer ads. One eye-catching sign was a lit up Pabst Blue Ribbon plug in. It came from the Covered Wagon (yet another memento from the 1970s Anaheim bar), where three generations of Bradley’s family, including himself, his dad and grandpa enjoyed a pint or two. Another stand-out sign was for a local Duluth, Minnesota beer.
Bradley was actually born in St. Paul, Minnesota but ended up in California, though for a short stint he and his wife lived near Pittsburg, Penn.
“I had my man bag with my camera… I documented the two years in Pennsylvania,” Bradley said.
Photography, or rather documenting life, is another passion of Bradley’s. He also used to surf and is looking into riding waves again now that he is semi-retired. From what I can gather, he is passionate about life in general.
“I’m living high on the hog right now,” he said. “I’m the happiest boy living my life.”
This “happy boy” doesn’t need an excuse for a good time. When it comes to parties he is ready to bring out all the stops. He already brews his own beer and wine, not to mention he has a barbeque, pretzel machine, popcorn popper, and pizza warmer. All we are missing is the piñata (and no one would be surprised if he had one of those lying around too).
Take advice from Bradley, enjoy your life. And if you want to brew your own beer while you’re at it, do it and don’t stress. Sure sometimes he misses the mark, but in 20 years Bradley has not made a beer he wasn’t able to drink or share with friends.
“Don’t share your recipes with everyone, so if you miss something no one will know the difference,” he advised.
Bradley Daniels: A laid-back, self-proclaimed hippie who enjoys life. What more is there?