New generation of Bear Republic Brewing in Sonoma County wins Wine, Beer + Spirits Industry Awards for 2018
In the past quarter-century, Richard G. “Ricardo” Norgrove has turned his after-hours hobby into one of the largest craft brewing businesses in the United States and a multigenerational family operation.
Bear Republic Brewing Company today has about 200 employees in Sonoma County, working at restaurants in Healdsburg and Rohnert Park and at the 14,136-square-foot production brewery in Cloverdale. Led by the Racer 5 IPA brand, Bear Republic ranks 42nd on Brewers Association’s list of independent craft producers. Other brands include Hop Shovel, Thru the Haze, Grand-Am and Pace Car Racer.
The latest release continues the car-racing theme. Drift Racer is a New England-style double IPA with tamer hops bitterness.
Norgrove had developed his eye for the brewery’s packaging while studying graphic design at Sacramento State University. After Army service, he worked as production manager for Salsa Cycles and at night made home beermaking kits for The Beverage People of Santa Rosa.
His father, Richard R., and he took that passion into production with the launch of Bear Republic in 1995 with the Healdsburg brewpub. A decade ago, the Cloverdale brewery was set up. In the past few years, the company opened a pondside brewpub in Rohnert Park.
In October, Ricardo Norgrove became CEO of Bear Republic.
Also a volunteer firefighter, Ricardo Norgrove teamed up with St. Florian’s Brewing Co. of Windsor to create a benefit label, Sonoma Pride, after the October 2017 wildfires in the North Bay. The product of that was a beer called Mutual Aid, a play on the firefighting term for help coming from multiple firefighting agencies to battle a blaze. St. Florian brewmaster Aaron Levin also is a Windsor fire captain, and Bear Republic helped with St. Florian production while Levin was involved in the wildfires. Bear Republic also donated $172,000 to local fire-relief funds.