Brewer Spotlight: Steel Bonnet

By Jimi T Hardee

Steel Bonnet’s charming motto is “California Brewed, Scottish Attitude” - but their friendly disposition can’t stop a water pain that hinders their growth. Steel Bonnet is one of the first brewers to become a part of our “game-changer” pilot program so we sat down with them to discuss the pain water creates on the brewing industry.


Recently we had the opportunity to sit down with the owners of Steel Bonnet Brewing Co. and talk to them about brewing, community, water, and more! Steel Bonnet was started three years ago as a family business, and their focus is on producing British and American style beers.

Walking into Steel Bonnet, the first thing you might notice is the lack of the screen and televisions you might expect to see in an American bar. Steel Bonnet is a brewery with an emphasis on friendships and community.


“We didn’t want TVs, we’re not a sports bar… we wanted it to be about friendships.” Say Sue and Donald, the owners and proprietors of Steel Bonnet. Both from Scotland originally, Sue and Donald wanted to model Steel Bonnet after a British style pub.

“A lot of the community life takes place around the pub [in Scotland]” Sue Explains “We wanted to create a pub type of feel.”

Steel Bonnet has certainly succeeded in this, there is a homey atmosphere where people can meet up, chat, enjoy some live music, and of course, have a beer. Still, even cozy, family-run operations like Steel Bonnet are affected by water pain.

Our reason for meeting with Donald and Sue was to discuss our pilot program, a service we offer where early adopters can purchase one of our NuTree’s at a discount before we roll out at scale. Their interest came from Scott’s Valley’s strict water regulations regarding what brewers could put down drains, and our pilot program was an elegant solution to this problem.

“We’ve always had to be very conscious about what we put down the drain.”

“[The program] seemed like a way to get rid of all our waste, from yeast to rinse water… it enables us to grow at the rate we need to grow.”

The simple truth is that for many smaller breweries, water regulations and ineffectual municipal treatment creates a major obstacle for growing the business.

“Water pain definitely hampers the ability to grow.” says Donald “We aren’t the only ones either if you look at Lagunitas, they originally started in the town of Lagunitas but, I believe for the same reasons, they had to move very quickly to Santa Rosa… if they had stayed in Lagunitas they would never have been able to grow to the size they are.”

This is a story we hear all too often from smaller craft breweries, as many small towns simply don’t have the resources to provide affordable water treatment solutions for brewers.

We hope we are able to help address this problem for Steel Bonnet, as their community-oriented atmosphere and delicious British and American style beers make them a welcome addition to the California craft beer scene.


If you happen to be in Scott’s Valley and you are in the mood for a good pint and a good conversation, we highly recommend you stop by.