Like many rock bands, it all began years ago in a local garage, but instead of guitars and cow bells, there were hops, thermometers and a fierce passion for crafting beer.
Refuge Brewery is the brainchild of longtime Temecula Valley residents Glenn Wichert and Curt Kucera.
Wichert and his wife moved to the region 22 years ago and soon after Kucera’s family followed.
Kucera toiled in his garage perfecting the art of craft brewing and Wichert was right there to taste and experiment alongside his brewing neighbor.
“Curt and I both share a passion for making beer and after years of home brewing we decided to take our love of beer making to another level,” Wichert explained.
On December 15, 2012 after a year of navigating the rigors of opening a new business, Kucera and Wichert, along with the help of their families and friends opened Temecula’s newest micro-brewery, Refuge Brewery.
The new beer lovers’ delight specializes in handcrafted Belgian ales and is a welcome addition to the rapidly growing craft brew scene in the region.
Situated across the street from Wiens Brewery, the newest alehouse is quickly gaining steam as word spreads about their unique tasting room and masterful beer.
“This is by far my favorite brewery in the area,” local resident Sean Doles said. “My friends and I have been visiting craft breweries in Southern California for years and it is obvious these guys know what they are doing.”
The tasting room is sleek and modern with an industrial edge. Currently they have six beers on tap with four more on the way in the next couple of months.
Patrons get to savor beers while getting a glimpse of brewmaster Kucera checking the large stainless steel tanks making sure the amber liquid is perfected.
“We designed the tasting room with the customers comfort in mind,” Wichert explained. “We want people to enjoy the whole process of craft brewing.”
Many customers order a beer ‘flight’ so they can sample all of the beers ranging from milder hefeweizens to the popular ‘Refuge Tripel.’
“This is an incredible beer,” Allison Haley said as she sipped a glass of the Tripel. “My boyfriend and I love a great Belgian, and this one is superb.”
A steady stream of customers keeps the atmosphere humming while Wichert’s wife, Christine tends bar and keeps glasses full.
“Being behind the bar is my favorite part of the experience,” Christine said. “With social media being such a big part of everyday life, it is refreshing to talk to people face to face and get to know our customers.”
Refuge Brewery is located at 43040 Rancho Way in Temecula. They are open Wednesday through Sunday.
To learn more visit www.refugebrew.com.
Stephanie D. Schulte is a writer/photographer with SWRNN. She can be reached at email@example.com.