Lead Dog Brewing is the first new Reno brewery and taphouse to open in more than a year. On top of that, the head brewer-owner-operator is the youngest in the state and probably the country.
Ryan Gaumer, 22, started homebrewing with his dad about eight years ago while growing up in Reno. He attended Pepperdine University where he continued to homebrew with his friends.
When he turned 21, he started spending a lot of time at California breweries. He said he fell in love with the fun, busy environment. In the summer of his sophomore year, he said he started thinking more seriously about starting a brewery instead of pursuing a career in financial advising.
Before graduating, Gaumer made regular trips back to Reno to look for buildings. He originally wanted the current building, but at the time, Lake Tahoe Brewing set up plans to operate a barrel house in it. When Lake Tahoe Brewing lost its lease and closed around the region, Gaumer immediately leased half the building for himself. The other half is being turned into a new winery.
Gaumer said the warehouse started out in terrible shape. He spent about $500,000 cleaning it, resurfacing and sealing the floors, installing a 15-barrel (500 gallons) brew system, insulating the ceiling, installing a cold room, tap system, bar and game area in the front for customers. Now the warehouse looks like that’s all it’s ever been.
Gaumer started out with classic styles on tap: a regular and nitro beers, coffee stout, brown ale, India Pale Ale, blonde and a wheat ale. He said he wants to cycle through a few styles, produce consistent flavors and soon develop flagships and seasonal beers. He also uses a tiny fermenter for experimental flavors and put two Wicked Ciders on tap.
Later in the year, he will consider canning — not bottling — and begin distribution. He also fills growlers now and already ran out in the first two weeks.