Though only a half-mile in length, Miramar’s Kenamar Drive is home to a trio of breweries: gluten-reduced outfit Duck Foot Brewing, and Brewery Igniter tenants Pure Project Brewing and Amplified Ale Works. And a fourth beer interest is in the works, Invoak Brewing and Blending. Located at 8860 Kenamar Drive, Suite 308, to the rear of the complex that houses the aforementioned Duck Foot, Invoak is the solo (for now) project of Alex Montelbano, who is familiar with Miramar through previous employment with nearby AleSmith Brewing and 32 North Brewing.
Montelbano’s work at both companies was limited to bartending and front-of-house management, while his brewing experience is made up of five years of recreational fermentation plus “unofficially” helping brew on commercial systems. While homebrewing, Montelbano started examining individual ingredients one-at-a-time, which led to him taking a major interest in yeast health. That focus extended to bacterial health and the mixed-culture and barrel-aged sub-genres. He says he likes to think of the path oak-aged beers take via the wine or spirit barrels they are aged in.
“It’s exciting to join the beer on its journey and help guide it to where I want it to be, while not having total control over the process,” says Montelbano, who says brewing a beer and barrel-aging it with influential microorganisms is like applying the first and last strokes to a painting. The wood, yeast and bacteria are primarily in charge of the brushstrokes in between. Hence the name Invoak. “Essentially, I’m saying the finished product is out of my hands until the last minute, and I have to call upon the oak and the many variables that have come into play along the way for help and guidance.”
In the coming months, Montelbano plans to install a 20-barrel conical foeder for primary fermentation. That vessel may eventually also be utilized as a blending tank. The rest of the Kenamar facility will be devoted to aging assorted beers in 125-to-150 oak barrels and puncheons. Wort-production will take place at various local breweries and he has no plans to open a tasting room. Instead, he intends to bottle Invoak’s beer, leaning toward smaller-format vessels holding less than 750 milliliters. He says he may also can individual releases when it suits a particular beer style.
“Right now, the plan is to launch the most unique membership out there,” says Montelbano. But memberships and packaging are on the far-off horizon. Montelbano believes he won’t have his first finished beers until at least a year from now and probably closer to 18 months. “One of the hardest things I must do is let go of a specific launch date. The nature of the beers we will make is completely dependent upon when they are ready, not when I project them to be.”