Bullmastiff Brewing opens in Penn Valley | TheUnion.com

Bullmastiff Brewing opens in Penn Valley


What: Bullmastiff Brewing

Where: 10183 Commercial Ave., Penn Valley

Hours of operation: noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday; Friday, Saturday noon to 9 p.m.

Contact: 530-802-0099

Bullmastiff Brewing is open for business.

Owners Tina Harland and Dave Nelson, who named the brewery after their own two bullmastiffs, began the process of opening this business over two years ago. Harland said construction, started during last year’s power outages and finished this year amid the pandemic, brought its fair share of challenges, from delays to unavailable materials.

In the early summer, she said they really started to worry.

“We thought, ‘Can we do this?’ but our take was we can’t stop now,” said Harland. “We knew that we were up against an obstacle, but we also knew that as long as we adhere by COVID (guidelines), we can still open, we can still be successful, but we may have to approach it differently.”

She said a brewery was a good fit as counterpart to Nelson’s other Penn Valley business, Players Pizza, which she has helped run for the past five years.

“Pizza and beer go hand-in-hand,” she said, adding, however, that the motivation to open this business also came from Nelson’s independent interest in beer. “If you know Dave, you know he loves beer.”

The brewery opened Oct. 10. Harland said the brewery’s first month open went well, and had drawn an “exciting” mix of customers.

“We’ve seen our regulars we have down at Players … but we’ve also seen people come from maybe Grass Valley and Nevada City who love to drink beer,” she said. “It’s nice to see community support, but it’s also nice to see that we can draw people into Penn Valley from other towns or cities.”


Bullmastiff’s brewmaster, Scott Helmus, said he sees their product continuing to grow in western Nevada County, as well as into the Tahoe and Sacramento areas in the long term.

“We hope to be small and sustainable, and kind of grow responsibly,” said Helmus, elaborating that their current set-up was equipped for making 20 kegs at a time, “nothing huge but nothing small.”

On the brewery’s future, Harland said canning and distribution of beer to local grocery stores and other businesses is in their plans for the next couple of months. “We want to first ensure that we have enough beer for our customers, and so now we are really getting serious about starting distribution with some (businesses) who have already expressed interest,” she said.

Several types of beer are represented in the eight-beer selection Bullmastiff Brewing opened with, but Helmus said a large part of his vision includes “lighter, easier-drinking beer,” lower in alcohol content and thereby made for having two or three in one visit. On the other hand, he described some of this original beer selection as “hop-forward,” showcasing hop flavors in “big kind of fruity, tropical hazy beers.” They also offer a few darker beers, which Helmus said appeal to people especially “as the months get a little cooler.”

The biggest hit since opening, he said, has been his sugar-free hard seltzer, a drink which is “trending pretty heavy right now.”

After five years in a head brewer position for Ol’ Republic Brewery, Helmus connected with Harland and Nelson through a beer consultant the couple had hired. “We kind of just started talking about a vision for a brewery here in Penn Valley, and my passion and knowledge for beer melded really well with (theirs) … at running a business,” he said.

Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at vpenate@theunion.com.

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