Downtown's Power Club now a fully certified brewery

By: Gloria Young, Journal Staff Writer
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ADowntown Auburn business owner’s solution to the slow economy was to bring in the brews. Alfred Lee, owner of The Power Club, recently received full brewery certification from the state Department of Alcohol Beverage Control Department. “We have incredible recipes we’ve been brewing since I was at the Department of Defense,” said Lee, who is also the brewmaster. “We felt like it would be a great thing to introduce our specialty beers into Placer County.” Lee, who also owns Downtown’s Power’s Mansion Inn, opened the Harrison Street restaurant and bar in March 2009. “Even at that time, we were brewing small batches and doing taste tests, handing them out and selling it,” he said. “But we had to set up a facility for larger-capacity production.” His selection of microbrews includes pilsner, stout, nut brown, red ale and boch dark. There’s also a hefeweizen and IPA (India pale ale) in production. A longtime foodie, Lee is a graduate of the Cordon Bleu cooking school. An engineer by profession, he had high-level jobs with Hughes Electronics in El Segundo and Science Application International Corporation in San Francisco. He became acquainted with the foothills and Auburn when he was tapped by then-Vice President Al Gore to help with the closure of McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento — “a horrible task,” he said. “I’d go up to Edelweiss (in Auburn),” he said. “I’ve been going there for better than 20 years. (At the time) I never thought I’d buy the building Edelweiss was in, but I did. It was really cool.” Lee has taken an engineer’s approach to brewing. “I looked at demographics, customer service, did taste samplings, set a whole metric chart,” he said. “We have variables and permutations of everything you can do to beer — documentation across decades of books.” The decision to make the bar an Irish pub was a tribute to his best friend, James Visel Power, who died of cancer in 2008. Power’s great grandfather built the Power’s Mansion Inn, which presides over Downtown from its perch above Cleveland Avenue. “The family found gold on the Foresthill Divide and (made their fortune) at the Hidden Treasure Mine,” Lee said. “People told us we should build a Western saloon. But (Power) was an Irishman. His family came from Waterford, Ireland. So I decided to call it the James Visel Power Fan Club.” Initially the restaurant offered a breakfast and lunch menu, but has since switched to dinner only, opening at 4 p.m. With the brewing now up to full speed, Lee plans to make a few changes to the menu, although he’ll continue to offer the classic bangers and mash and corned beef and cabbage. He recently added “Papas and beer,” featuring a variety of toppings on potato skins. Newlywed Shannon Thrower of Fair Oaks, a big fan of the pub, married at the Power’s Mansion Inn on Oct. 10. “A lot of the reason I got married there was because of Alfred’s brews,” she said by phone from her honeymoon in Hawaii. “My favorite part is you can mix them up and make up to 10 different flavors from three beers he brews. I’m a pale ale drinker, but I love (Lee’s) Stout. There’s something special about it that’s really good.” Lee is planning a celebration for the brewery today with $2 beers and blue grass band “Down Home” performing at 6:30 p.m. For Friday, he’s booked country band, “Branded,” which will play at 9 p.m. “We have 100 kegs produced and we can do that three times a month easily,” he said. The brews are also an option for the weddings and special events at the Power’s Mansion Inn. In addition to the pub restaurant, the Power Club Brewery includes a ballroom and two banquet rooms. Reach Gloria Young at ------------ The Power Club Brewery 195 Harrison Ave., Downtown Auburn Phone: (530) 888-1888 Hours: 4 p.m. to close, Monday-Saturday Brewery opening celebration 4 p.m. to close today