Our Economic Vitality Committee Chair, Candice Gliatto, had the opportunity to sit down with Luis Castro, Owner of Del Cielo Brewing, the newest addition to the Downtown Martinez business community. We are thrilled to welcome Del Cielo to the nieghborhood! So here's the scoop:
CG: “Tell us a little bit about your brewing history. You’re home brewing now right?”
LC: “I’ve been home brewing about three years. I got really into brewing when I moved from Colombia to the U.S. You know, they don't have these kind of beers in Colombia. They only have things like Bud Light. So when I got into the US and got to start trying thinks like Stone, Lagunitas, Dogfish, I was like, ‘Wow! What have I been missing for the past 20 years.’”
CG: “When did you move to the U.S.?
LC: “I moved from Colombia to Cleveland, Ohio in 2006 to do my MBA in business and finance and then I stayed there about 5 years. That’s where I met my wife, Cielomar. We got married there and then yeah, the winter got to us. Like, what’s a Puerto Rican and a Colombian doing in Ohio? So we started looking for other places to move and we ended up in California.
"When I was in Ohio I was just drinking the beer. I never thought about making it. So then when we moved to California we got to experience this massive selection of beers. Way more than in Ohio. They had more East coast beers and here on the West coast we were able to experience more beers with unique fruits and spices. There is such a strong craft beer culture here and everyone is very passionate and willing to share information about brewing. So then I started home brewing myself."
CG: “I hear you’ve won some awards for your beers. Tell me about that.”
LC: “Yeah I got about 10 or 15 local awards last year as well as a couple county and state competition awards. Mostly for my IPA’s, spice beers and porters. I do a lot of IPA’s. That’s my go-to. I like hoppy stuff. The ones I do are lower bitterness and more hop aroma and flavors compared to ones that are overly bitter and they’re less malty too. I do a lot of things with spices and fruits, especially in the summer. I just started doing some Barrel Aging too."
CG: “What made you choose Downtown Martinez to start your brewery?”
LC: “Actually, I was looking at some places in Concord at the time and I came here for the Zombie Brew Crawl and I thought to myself ‘this could be a nice place for the brewery’. Then I got to talking with Matt Peterson, Leanne’s (director of Main Street Martinez) husband and he suggested I come look into it more and I started talking with other business owners down here and I just fell in love with the community. I love the exteriors of the buildings too.”
CG: “Tell me a little about your project. How many beers will you be serving?”
LC: “The goal is to open the brewery with about 6-8 beers and then grow from there. Again, this project actually started about two years ago. I just started from home brewing 5 gallon batches and then I started doing 15 gallons and improving my recipes and then I got really serious about it and decided to make a business plan to see how the numbers would work. People already knew me for my beer as a home brewer. I was ready for big career change. I was a finance director for about 6 years for a large company here in California and before that I was working for a private equity company in Ohio. So yeah, I like numbers but I wanted to have something that I could hold in my hand and say ‘this is what I do’. A craft. I love to see the face of the person trying my beer for the first time.”
CG: “What kind of food will be on the menu?”
LC: “We are going to have around 8 different small plate choices. We’ll have a few different panini and flat breads. For example, fresh flat bread with smoked salmon, arugula, capers and garlic. All things that go with great with our beers. We are also going to do some really great empanadas that are baked instead of fried.”
CG: “Can you give us a hint of what the look and feel of the space will be like?”
LC: “Yeah, so our branding is mostly black, white and grey so, we’ll have a lot of that but then we are going to add some pops of color that are cohesive with some of our different labels. We’ll have some big ass community tables that seat 10-12 people. We want you to forget about your phone, forget about your social media and just talk to the person next to you. That’s what we want to create here. We’re going to have some high tables all along the windows and we are trying to figure out an area for kids where they can color and play. We are also going to do some tributes to the history of the building and Downtown Martinez. I’ve talked to the owner of ‘The Bow Rack’, that was here before and he’s going to give us some bows and arrows to hang up. We are trying to limit the amount of TV’s but will be installing a projector so we can screen big games or even host movie nights.”
CG: “I know you’ve got some really cool, unique concepts for the community element of your business. Want to share some with me?
LC: “One of the key things for us is going to be collaborating with other businesses. I have already worked with States and I want to work with Corey at Bar Cava. I’ve been riding with Chris at Pegasus Bikes. I want all my fellow Downtown businesses to know that Del Cielo is for them to feel at home at. That’s what I’ve been getting from everyone here so far so I want them to feel the same here. Also, our tables are going to be on castors so we can move them out of the way for special events such as ‘Sunday Yoga at Del Cielo’.
CG: "Tell me about the name Del Cielo"
LC: “So we wanted to use a word that represents our background. So my wife's name is Cielomar. A lot of the best idea’s I get for my beers come from my her! Cielo means ‘the sky’, but when you add the word Del in front it means ‘from heaven’. Heaven for us is the things we enjoy. It’s not religious but just like, ‘this beer tastes like it from heaven cause its so good’. All of that reflects the quality ingredients that we use. Everything is fresh and we try to source everything as local as we can. We hold the highest standards to our beers. I will never release a beer thats not to my highest standard.”
-Candice Gliatto, Economic Vitality Committee Chair