Cedar Crest Brewery, Tasting Room and Vineyards
By Melissa Mendonca
Riding the Crest
By Melissa Mendonca
Photos by Alexis LeClair
After many years as a connoisseur of the craft brew industry, Mark Livingston of Manton decided to follow his brother, Tim, of Portland, Ore. into the world of home brewing. A now 10-year endeavor, the hobby has grown into a small business as Cedar Crest Brewery, Tehama County’s only micro-brewery. It seems nobody could be more surprised at the success than Livingston himself.
“Certainly, we’ve had an explosion in the craft brewery industry in California in the last six or seven years,” he says, noting the value of Nor Cal Brewing Solutions in Redding as a source of his own learning. Still, he adds, “Initially, there wasn’t much of an expectation as far as building it (his brewery) into a small business.”
A victim of the recession, Livingston began helping out dad, Jim, and mom, Corey, at the couple’s winery when he was laid off from the retail marine industry. The extended family had moved to Redding and Manton from Santa Cruz in 2003.
“There was nothing on the radar about putting in a commercial brewery or winery or vineyard. It just wasn’t a thought,” he says of their arrival in the North State. Yet Jim and Corey began planting vines and Mark helped out while also perfecting his home brew. A wine tasting room opened in Manton to great success and Mark realized he could expand his brewing operation to the location, as well.
Then Brandon and Kate Grissom of Enjoy the Store Red Bluff came calling. “The vision five years ago was to create a gathering place,” Brandon says of the store that opened in 2013 and included a tasting room for Cedar Crest wines. Brandon created a stunning bar with his carpentry skills that locals and visitors alike quickly began flocking to for local wine and conversation in a beautiful setting. Wine Down Wednesdays have become important markers in the weeks of many professionals.
In 2015, Mark brought his brews to Red Bluff. Again, Brandon created a new bar, this time in rectangle form so people can sit at four sides in camaraderie. Again, people rushed to the location. “It became immediately apparent that two or three barrels wouldn’t be enough to keep up with demand. I was continually racing to get product out,” says Mark. “I personally have been overwhelmed by the reception we’ve gotten, the way the city of Red Bluff has embraced us.”
While he might feel harried, Mark has been able to double his capacity to meet the needs of his guests in both Red Bluff and Manton and offers between 12 and 14 beers. His Rocky Pond Blond, named for the pond from which the beer’s water is sourced, and Manton Hopper IPA are his most popular offerings, followed by a stout and hybrid red/amber. “I’m always trying every month to have a new beer coming out,” he says, noting that discovering new beers at craft breweries has been one of his great joys in exploring the industry. “It’s always fun to try something a little different.”
In the warmer months, raspberry and watermelon brews are added to the offerings. “It was a big hit,” Mark says of the watermelon brew debuted last year using fruit sourced from Julia’s Fruit Stand in Dairyville. “We went through a lot more than I expected.” When asked the secret of brewing consistently good beer, he answers without hesitation, “The process of brewing beer is really the process of cleaning everything constantly. It’s cleaning. That’s what brewing is.”
While there is great pride in the quality of product offered through Cedar Crest, it doesn’t take long in conversation with Livingston, the Grissoms or Enjoy team member Holly Coffman, often found tending the bar, that the real joy is in the realization of that five-year dream to create a gathering place in Red Bluff. “What we’ve seen is that a community has developed around us. It’s a fun place to hang out. The space that they’ve developed and the ambiance is comfortable, unique and a great place for friends to gather,” Livingston says.
First Fridays find the store pleasantly packed with friends coming together for live music, beer, wine and a food truck that will often be located just outside the store. “Part of healing our city will be delivered by literally gathering people together and sharing ideas,” Brandon says. “Maybe taking action, maybe not.”
Adds Kate, “The real story of the brewery coming to life in Red Bluff is really a story of partnership and trust. There’s definitely a void that was filled.”
Cedar Crest Brewery Tasting Rooms
Enjoy the Store • 615 Main St., Red Bluff • (530) 727-9016
Cedar Crest Vineyards
32505 Forward Road, Manton • (530) 474-4242