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By Kaleb Roedel
About 10 years ago, Philip Mountain, an avid craft beer drinker, received a Christmas present from his wife, Shannon, that got him buzzing with excitement: A “Mr. Beer” homebrewing kit.
Like any new homebrewer, Mountain endured a trial-and-error period before he produced suds that yielded a sip-and-smile rather than a sip-and-wince.
“I’ve got to admit, that first beer was horrible,” Mountain said with a laugh.
Added Shannon: “I don’t think the beer ever made it to a glass — it was that bad.”
Mountain has come a long way. A decade later, the Mountains, longtime Las Vegas residents who moved to Reno last summer, are making plans to open a family-owned nanobrewery in Reno.
Last year, they established Slieve Brewing Company — Slieve means “A Mountain” in Irish Gaelic, their family roots — after years of racking up medals at homebrewing competitions on both sides of the Silver State.
Mountain’s accolades were punctuated within the past two years. In March 2019, his Belgian Tripel, named “Trinity Tripel,” was named “Best of Show” at the Southern Nevada Ale Fermenters Union (SNAFU) Winterfest in Las Vegas. In July 2020, he won “Best of Show” with the same suds at BrewChatter’s Nevada BrewChallenge in Reno.
“For a short window there, I was the ‘state champion,’ because I held down both cities for ‘Best of Show,’” Mountain said.
The latter victory even earned him an opportunity to brew with a professional system at Pigeon Head Brewery in Reno. As such, for another short window last year, Mountain’s Trinity Tripel was on tap at both Pigeon Head and BrewChatter.
Those taps, he said, quickly ran dry.
“We had a lot of people come and drink it,” Mountain said. “I knew I was onto something.”
Mountain said he was encouraged to turn his homebrewing hobby into something bigger each time he visited the Biggest Little City, considering his sons, Mitch and Matt — graduates of the University of Nevada, Reno, now married with kids — each made Northern Nevada their home.
“Every time I visited the boys, we’d always go out and hit the local breweries and try different craft beers,” said Mountain, who felt his beers would fit right into the scene. “And we were like, man, we could do this. We could really make this happen.”
Philip Mountain, co-owner of Slieve Brewing Company, a new nano-brewery planned for Reno, poses with a collection of medals he won in homebrewing competitions. Courtesy photo
The Mountains’ biggest hurdle right now is finding a location in Reno to plant the Slieve Brewing flag.
Mountain said he’s been looking for a 2,000- to 5,000-square-foot building since February. Their business will be a small-batch operation that produces one-to-two barrels a week.
Plans include a tasting room with at least eight beers on tap to start, before eventually doubling that number. Slieve Brewing will offer a wide range of beer styles, including Irish Stouts, Irish Reds, IPAs, Blondes and more.
The Mountains were initially planning for Northwest Reno “because there’s nothing like that out there,” Mountain said. They came close to landing a property but couldn’t come to a price agreement with the owner.
They’ve since turned their attention to Reno’s downtown and midtown districts.
“We’re kind of waiting for something to open up that will fit our size requirements and our budget,” Mountain said. “It’s proven to be a little more difficult than we originally thought, but we are actively looking for a location.”
In the meantime, Mountain said they’ve invested more than $30,000 on equipment, including four fermenter tanks and two brite tanks, a glycol chilling system, a grain mill, and 80 kegs, which is all being stored in his garage.
Until that equipment finds a home, Mountain said he’s using his time to perfect his recipes and test some new ones.
“The research and development is not bad,” he said with a laugh. “This year is not only just dialing in some of the recipes we already have, but trying to come up with some new recipes as well. So that when we do open the doors, we’ve got a whole thing ready to go.”
noun, Irish A Mountain
[Irish Gaelic sliabh. from Old