Grass Valley’s Sierra Moonshine: who doesn’t love a good home brew? |

Grass Valley’s Sierra Moonshine: who doesn’t love a good home brew?

Justin Coyle, left, and Anthony Schoensee own Sierra Moonshine, a brewing supply store in Grass Valley.
Laura Mahaffy/ | The Union

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Sierra Moonshine

Home brew supplies

12535 Loma Rica Dr., Grass Valley



Instagram: Sierra_Moonshine

Facebook: Sierra Moonshine Homebrew Supply Store

Hours: Mon. through Sat., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Any time Sierra Moonshine owners Anthony Schoensee and Justin Coyle have a professional photo shoot scheduled, there is one strict requirement: they must be wearing their signature Afro wigs. That gesture alone seems to sum up the playful, celebratory business partnership Coyle and Schoensee have cultivated at their home brew supplies store, located on Loma Rica Drive in Grass Valley.

“I think people like our approach,” said Schoensee. “After all, throughout history brewing has always been about celebration and getting friends together. It’s a communal experience.”

But customers shouldn’t be fooled by the playful banter, as the pair are extremely well-versed in the science of brewing and fermentation. Customers from as far as Reno, Folsom, Chico, Auburn and Yuba City regularly make the trip to the Grass Valley store to seek out their expertise.

Sierra Moonshine focuses on three key components: selling the necessary ingredients, providing a vast array of “vessels” for brewing, and providing the education necessary for successful home batches. New classes are offered every two weeks on various topics, such as beer, wine, mead, cider and others. Most are taught by Robin Proffit, an assistant brewmaster at Knee Deep Brewing Company in Auburn. Plans to offer a cheese making class are also in the works, Schoensee said.

“We are a full-scale fermenting center,” he added. “We have all the equipment needed — the tools, additives, ingredients, etc., to make any fermented beverage from scratch. We’re open seven days a week and are on had to talk people through their fermenting crises. Education is such an important component — we want to be recognized statewide for this.”

The art of brewing seems to appeal to a broad range of personalities for different reasons. Chefs enjoy cultivating new flavors, the science-minded are fascinated by the fermentation process and the do-it-yourselfers, or homesteaders, enjoy the satisfaction of having created something at home from scratch.

A local brewing club, the Gold Country Mashers, has formed as a result of the growing interest in home brewing, likely inspired by the explosion of neighborhood breweries, said Coyle. They welcome new members.

Coyle had been brewing at home for many years before he met Schoensee. He had developed a friendship with Sierra Moonshine’s previous owners, who originally opened in 1999. When they considered selling the business, they told Coyle he’d be the “perfect person” to buy their beloved business.

That’s when Coyle called Schoensee, a good friend and fellow beer enthusiast.

“Justin called me and said, ‘We need to talk,’” said Schoensee, with a laugh. “I thought, ‘What — is our friendship breaking up?’”

Coyle and Schoensee took over Sierra Moonshine in April of 2014 and they’ve never looked back. Their personalities and strengths seem to complement one another, and they share a rare passion and determination to know everything there is about their field. Both are married with young children. They will provide information, resources and home brewed samples at Kitkitdizzi on Broad St. during Nevada City’s First Friday Art Walks through Oct. 2.

“The best part about this venture has been the new friends — real friends — we’ve made through our shared interests,” said Coyle. “We’d love to see our brew club grow and eventually move the store to a bigger location.”

Schoensee agrees.

“I love the sense of community here and we want to expand on the vision and dream the previous owners had,” he said. “We see ourselves thriving as we move into the future. We’re growing and hope to expand. That’s definitely where we’re headed — I’m confident we’ll get there.”

Community members are encouraged to drop by and learn more, said Schoensee. But don’t forget to ask them about the Afro wigs.

To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at

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