In summer 2015, BNS Brewing and Distilling Co. won a gold medal at the California State Fair for its Gatling Gun Imperial Stout. That regional win inspired the nanobrewery to submit its stout to a much more prestigious competition, the Great American Beer Festival. Since they were undertaking the submission process already, they figured — why not? — and also entered their Revolver IPA.
10960 Wheatlands Avenue #101, Santee
Revolver wound up beating more than 300 entries to win the gold medal for best American-Style India Pale Ale of 2015. Not only is that one of the competition's most competitive categories, it's the craft-beer industry's top-selling and fasted-growing style.
"It's amazing that a nanobrewery like this won that award," says owner Gene Chaffin. "Amazing."
The three-year-old brewery did not attend the Great American Beer Festival. Head brewer Dan Jensen was at the Adams Avenue Street Fair when he started getting texts and calls of congratulations from friends attending the awards ceremony. That was Saturday. By Monday, he was buying up all the Simcoe and Citra hops he could find, anticipating demand for his IPA was about to increase dramatically. "Just to make sure, because those hops go pretty quick," he says, “we basically bought a car worth of hops."
"That that does not bankrupt you makes you richer," Chaffin adds, "is the new saying around here." The BNS tasting room is currently closed until April for what the company is calling a "Revolver Remodel." They'll spruce up the bar a little bit, lay down pavers, and add new seating and a fire pit to their patio.
Another part of the remodel has been adding two new fermenters intended to increase production capacity from 2000 barrels a year to 3000. That was fortuitous timing, Chaffin says, because that surge in demand for the gold-medal winner hit fast.
"We ordered these fermenters before he won that award," he says, “but now that we have these two new fermenters in, we wish we had three more. Because out of the seven fermenters we have, five of them are dedicated to Revolver right now. And, he adds, "It's sold pretty much before it's even in the kegs!"
Prior to remodel, BNS saw an increase in visitors to its tasting room. "I feel like a lot of people that wouldn't normally come to Santee or East County have been coming in," Jensen ventures, including one beer fan who drove from Bakersfield just to drink a pint of Revolver, then leave.
And while BNS had already begun the process of canning two of the beers it deemed most popular prior to the gold medal — Lawmaker IPA and Gunfighter Golden Ale — it released 22-ounce bottles of Revolver for the first time in February, issuing only to local bottle shops until its higher volume hop contracts take effect later this year.
"We're just going to do small little runs for now," says Jensen. "Not try to flood the market right away, just get some shelf space."