Teresa Psuty of Crooked Lane Brewing
Crooked Lane Brewing has a unique setting and is one of the most respected breweries in the Sacramento, CA area. Its home was initially built as a duplex movie theater, and then has seen life as a German auto dealership, a motorcycle dealer and then a mixed martial arts studio.
Since the fall of 2016, co-owner and brewmaster Teresa Psuty has been leading the charge. I got a chance to ask her a few questions about her brewing history, the beer industry and Crooked Lane Brewing.
Located in Auburn California, about 30 minutes from downtown Sacramento. Crooked Lane has always had one of the most diverse tap lists; 20 beers on tap that range from an American Lager to Doppelbock to Rauchbier to a White Stout. And of course, a handful of Pale Ales or IPAs. Check out this tap list.
What is your goal in building a tap list?
Psuty says, “I love the diversity of beers we brew, and we’ve become known for that. Our brewery is a great place for craft beer geeks and locals alike, I can say with confidence that we have a beer for everyone.”
Crooked Lane was Psuty’s first experience brewing commercially, but as she explains, brewing was a pretty good fit.
Psuty says, “I’m a chemist, and my first career was working for scientific instrument companies supporting research in environmental, pharmaceutical and university laboratories. This career pretty well translated to brewing as it turns out.”
Teresa considers herself a “master troubleshooter.”
How did this help you in brewing?
“Pretty skilled at managing and refining a process, as well as finding a leak. My husband and I love craft beer, loved to homebrew. I became a devotee of The Brewing Network podcasts, especially Brew Strong and Brewing with Style, where some valuable information for aspiring brewers such as myself delivers in easy pieces. Once we decided we wanted to build a brewery in 2012 or 2013, I began home brewing as if it were my job, and worked to implement some of the process controls used in a commercial brewery (such as yeast count and viability). In the year leading up to opening Crooked Lane, I spent some very valuable time in breweries around NorCal, who graciously let me attend a brew day and watch the magic happen in person.”
Psuty and Crooked Lane hit it big right from the start. They won a gold medal at GABF in 2017 for Wobblor, a Doppelbock; you can still find this beer on tap today. Psuty has always put an emphasis on quality, but she understood the necessity to surround herself with people who could help Crooked Lane grow.
Psuty says, “I began to hire people in leadership with experience in the brewing industry, and haven’t looked back. I am a glorified homebrewer, but I’m so happy to work alongside people leading Crooked Lane to greater efficiency and production volume!”
How has the Pink Boots Society impacted your brewing and brewery management?
“I am very grateful for the existence and advocacy of the Pink Boots Society, they do amazing work and have brought me together personally with many people I’ve either hired, contracted with, or do business with. I have seen our local chapter grow to 70+ women.”
“About five years ago, (Head Brewer) Ellen Sherrill was awarded a particularly wonderful scholarship, a tour of German Breweries, where she got to experience in person all these styles she knows in depth from her training as a beer judge. She was subsequently elected to the Pink Boots board, and is serving as President, presently!”
“For myself, I’ve always felt accepted and welcomed into the industry. However, we know that is not the case for everyone, and the revelations starting this time last year brought into the light by Brienne @ratmagnet were staggering and really important”, Psuty continues. “I wrote a blog post about this, and I feel there have been some important changes both locally and nationally. I see Becca Scott from Oak Park Brewing spearheading the Craft Equity Collective, a local working group centered around making craft beer an inclusive space. I see the Brewers Association making Diversity, Equity and Inclusion a core tenet of their mission, bravely led by the talented Dr. J Nikol Jackson-Beckam. Just weeks ago, the online symposium WIBS, the Women’s International Beer Summit, celebrated its second anniversary and produced two days of content by and for women in beer. Melissa McCann, local beer judge and beer superhero, is the mastermind behind the Women’s Craft Fermentation Alliance, the creator of WIBS. I believe the beer industry has awoken to these concepts and is on a good path to achieving a lot more diversity than it currently has.”
Crooked Lane has been brewing award-winning beers from the start, and they just picked up another Gold for their Belgian Blonde at the 2022 World Beer Cup. So how does Teresa feel about competitions?
“I’m not gonna lie, I love to win medals. There’s nothing better you can do in brewing that helps you to know your beer is on the mark for that beer style. At Crooked Lane, we delight in bringing classic Continental beer styles to our customers. It does give me joy to have lots of beers on tap that take people to different places and educate them about a flavor that was forged in its native region over time. These awards we have earned just cement the notion these beers showcase some authenticity.”
How does your community impact your approach?
“Helping our community is super important to us, and we love to find creative ways to work with local people and businesses. I feel like this tells our story better than anything. I actually spoke on this topic at the Craft Brewers Conference earlier this month. When someone approaches me with a fundraising request, I like to try to find a way to make it bigger and better for both of us- like brew a special beer, host a fundraising party at the brewery, etc.”
So what about Auburn makes it so special?
Psuty says, “Our physical location is a big part of our community focus too. Auburn is the self-proclaimed Endurance Capital of the World, and we love the outdoor enthusiast culture that comes along with that. Beer brings joy, so let’s pair that up with all the excitement of getting outside, and enjoying our rivers, trails and mountains!”
Do you have a favorite style of beer to brew?
“This is a tough question to answer because all beers brewed well on the hot side are equally wonderful in my eyes! I would have to say I most like to brew the Kolsch, a beer that we have made tiny but important changes to over the years. It’s a delicate beer and I know it so well, it’s one I could do with my eyes closed and also never get tired of making.”
So what will we find in your glass?
Psuty says, “I love Lager so much, but if I drop in a place I’ve never been, I’ll most often order a West Coast IPA. My favorite style of beer to drink is fresh and beer-flavored!”
You can also find Teresa on the Brewing Network, as a co-host on the Session podcast. This has given her the chance to meet some of her beer heroes and the ability to collaborate with some incredible breweries. They have an upcoming project with Brix Factory, and her good friend John Gillooly’s new brewery in planning, Grains of Virtue, and our new neighbors Mindscape Fermentations. Cooked Lane has won more than 40 medals and should be on your short list of breweries to visit.