In Need of a Little Discretion

Discretion logo

Image courtesy of Discretion Brewing

Post No Bills, which describes itself simply as a “craft beer house,” is within a twenty-minute drive of Monterey, California’s historic Cannery Row, Pebble Beach’s renowned golf courses and Carmel’s pricey cottage homes. Tourists from all over the world flock to restaurants on Fisherman’s Wharf and Carmel’s Ocean Avenue, but not so much to PNB, as regulars call the pub located in an industrial neighborhood in Seaside. And that suits locals just fine.

When I walked into PNB with some friends at 5:30 p.m. last Friday, we scored the last free table, a few feet from the door that let in an icy draft every time new customers came through. While one member of our party collected bar orders, I waved to Chris Nelson, aka The Beer Geek, standing a head above the crowd near the back wall. He was the guy who had arranged this evening’s tap takeover by Discretion Brewing out of Santa Cruz.

Post No Beers on a recent Sunday afternoon

Post No Beers on a recent Sunday afternoon

I chatted briefly with a couple of homebrewing acquaintances on their way out before my beer and another member of our party arrived. I’d ordered an Uncle Dave’s Rye IPA, one of the half dozen Discretion brews taking over the taps this evening. Depending on what mood my taste buds are in, Uncle Dave’s, with its 68 IBUs (=loaded with hoppy bitterness), can be my favorite of Discretion’s beers.

Last May, I’d been in the audience of several thousand at the prestigious World Beer Cup Awards in Philadelphia when Uncle Dave’s beat out 50 other rye beers to take a bronze medal and their Song in Your Heart (mild ale) took a gold. I’d watched a Discretion crew including owners Rob and Kathleen Genco on the Jumbotron screen as they hurried up the center aisle and climbed the stairs onto the stage where World Beer Cup founder Charlie Papazian fist-bumped medal winners.

I managed a few sips of my beer before the front door opened yet again. This whoosh of cold air brought in Discretion’s head brewer Michael Demers, both Gencos and their brewer son-in-law Dustin Vereker, who had driven the 40+ miles from Santa Cruz. We exchanged quick hellos before they worked their way toward Chris Nelson and his group at the back table.

This was set to be another memorable night for Discretion, the official launch of their brews in Monterey County. Four weeks ago, they hired Nelson, well-known in the area, as the brewery’s “Beer Ambassador” to handle sales and promotion in Monterey County.

PNB at the Discretion tap takeover

PNB early in the evening of  the Discretion tap takeover

When I did make it to the back table, there were lots of smiles and laughter. The brewery, which turns four in March, 2017, is on track to produce 2500 barrels this year, Demers said. “Does that mean we’ll be seeing fermenters in the parking lot before long?” I asked to more laughs. Not for a while, apparently. The Gencos wisely planned for growth, which has allowed them to add equipment within the existing building and still have room for more.

(left to right) Michael Demers, Rob Genco, Chris Nelson, Kathleen Genco, Dustin Vereker, Merideth Canham-Nelson

(Left to right) Michael Demers, Rob Genco, Chris Nelson, Kathleen Genco, Dustin Vereker, Merideth Canham-Nelson

Later, when Demers stopped by the table where I sat with homebrewing friends, I was sipping a Shimmer Pils—his favorite Discretion brew—and mine when my palate wants a bitterness break. We had a great conversation ranging from Demers’ brewing background (self-taught with lots of reading, conferences and practice) to water analysis and treatment for brewing.

At the end of the night, what impressed me most wasn’t the beer or the discussions or the turnout. It was knowing that we had all been part of something much larger. The phenomenal growth of craft beer in the United States has been due in no small way to the education of consumers through thousands of events like tap takeovers, beer festivals and pairing dinners all over the nation and beyond. As craft beer enthusiasts know, experiencing that success first-hand is genuinely a cool thing.


On Sunday, I touched base with Chris Nelson who was pleased with the launch and was already looking forward to more local tap takeovers in 2017. For now, in addition to Post No Bills, Discretions’ brews can be found at:

Monterey – Alvarado Street Brewery, Melville Tavern, Café Lumiere

Salinas- Farmers Union Pour House, Star Market

Carmel Valley – Trailside Café, Valley Greens

Via email, Michael Demers added that Discretion is currently selling 22-ounce bottles of their fall seasonal Accordion Man (Oktoberfest Lager). Their next bottled seasonal, Dublin Sunburn (Irish Red), is coming soon, along a limited release of Winter Circle Barleywine aged in whiskey barrels. And in February, Discretion will release its first canned beer. (No more details yet.)

(Left to right) Chris Nelson, John Cook, Loretta Cook, Steve Zmak, Tina Zmak, Merideth Canham-Nelson

(Left to right) Chris Nelson, John Cook, Loretta Cook, Steve Zmak, Tina Zmak, Merideth Canham-Nelson

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