Garages and small business empires go hand in hand here in Silicon Valley: eBay, Facebook, HP, Apple, and many other tech companies got their starts in cramped car bedrooms.
So did lifelong Milpitas resident Dan Browne, although his craft is a bit different from tech…
“Craft beer,” said Browne. “IPAs, ales, lagers — anything you can think of.”
Browne is the founder of Browne Label Brewery, a Milpitas-based microbrewery he founded this past January out of his Milpitas home. He aims to be Milpitas’s first brick and mortar local beermaker.
If the Browne name sounds familiar, it’s another sign of how small the Milpitas family is. Dan is the grandson of former Milpitas mayor Robert E. Browne, who was appointed mayor in 1968 and then again in 1976. The park on Yellowstone Avenue bears Mayor Browne’s name.
“My grandpa is a great man,” Browne said. “Just like he did, we’re helping Milpitas. We’re a brother- and family-run business for everyone.”
Like those of many microbreweries, his products come with zany names and colorful labels to boot. Many of his beers carry a special meaning, including his Delirious and Destroyed IPA and his Dripping with Evil, a dark saison Browne said was inspired by his goth days as a kid at Milpitas High School.
Browne started his business purely through word-of-mouth after witnessing a friend juggle his day job and open his own small business. Browne, a teacher by trade, was inspired by what he saw.
“Brewing is sort of a hobby that anybody can do. It’s about creating great flavors,” Browne explained. “I like to make stuff. It’s another way to make art. My beer is my art.”
Browne gives away his beer for free to eagle-eyed social media followers in order to get his name out. He’ll soon charge for beer when he gets his own building, but for now he’s more than happy to give back to his community with his garage full of beer.
But Browne doesn’t give everything away — his brewing process is very secretive.
“People don’t like seeing how sausage is made,” Browne said, echoing the familiar saying.
Browne is just a bit more revealing of his operations, which fill his garage with “over 500” bottles of beer. He’s also thought about the future, wherein Browne plans to build his first brick and mortar somewhere along Main Street, a fitting place in the city where his grandfather once served as the top official.
“It’s been my dream to open Milpitas’s first brewery and help the economy of my hometown, my roots,” said Browne.
He said he’s committed to building a “cool spot” for locals and tourists, with beer made from locally-sourced hops and food from local small businesses.
For now, he’s more than happy to give his product away to residents looking to support his business. For the community-turned-family that gave him so much, he says it’s the least he can do.
And like with any neighbor-turned-friend, the invite to try some of his productions — right from his own garage — is gentle and familiar: “I have beer,” Browne said. “You’re more than welcome.”
For the latest on Browne Label beers and event information, follow Browne Label Brewing on Twitter at @BrowneLabelBrew, on Instagram at @BrowneLabelBrewing, and on Facebook at Facebook.com/BrowneLabelBrewing.