SAN RAMON -- The owners of Schubros Brewery envision their new taproom on Alcosta Boulevard as a place where beer connoisseurs can drop in, sample a pint of a new brew and then fill up a 64-ounce growler to take home.

The San Ramon Taproom is not intended to be a bar, but a place where customers can taste new beers that the company is developing.

"In a lot of ways, we're more like a winery than a brewery," Schubros President Ian Schuster said.

Much like wine, Schubros beers are meant to be paired with specific foods. Labels on the bottles inform imbibers which food goes best with the beer -- their Nico American Wheat goes well with a white fish, while their 680 IPA goes with food like pizza, Buffalo wings and burgers.

Schuster said the opening of the San Ramon Taproom on Jan. 19 is a watershed moment for Schubros, marking a transition from startup to fully functioning company. The taproom, at 12893 Alcosta Boulevard, Suite N, is in a warehouse and business complex. The company will operate a warehouse and research and development facility next to the taproom, where Schubros brewmaster Mike Johannsen will develop new beers.

Schuster, a former Navy officer, London Business School graduate and Philip Morris brand manager in East Asia, said he had long had a dream of opening a brewery and taproom. Three years ago, he met brewmaster Johannsen, who shared the same dream, and the two teamed up.

Schuster handled the business side while Johannsen did the brewing. Mike Hall was brought on to be the company's chief sales officer and Jon Piening to serve as chief infrastructure officer. After raising about $250,000 in startup capital from friends and family and getting all the numerous state and federal approvals, Schubros Brewery was born early last year.

The company sold its first keg on Father's Day at the Danville Street Fair and now sells its craft beers at about 100 bars, restaurants and stores mostly in the East Bay.

"We're meeting our expectations so far," Hall said.

Schubros beers are brewed at a brewery in Santa Cruz, but the company is firmly based in San Ramon, and its owners are committed to one day opening a full-fledged brewery here.

They give 1 percent of their revenues from their four core beers to various local charities and have raised thousands of dollars for local education via auctioned and raffled-off "Beer-Food Pairing Dinners." Schubros has also been active with the military community, partnering with the Blue Star Moms, Gold Star Moms and Sentinels of Freedom to assist military service members and their families.

Today, seven people are on the Schubros team, although all still have their day jobs, except Hall who works for the company full-time. Schuster and his team are hoping to see the company grow substantially in 2013.

"This is basically a hobby that's become larger than a hobby," Piening said.

Piening has been in charge of setting up the taproom, warehouse and research and development facility, painstakingly cutting the pieces of wood that line the taproom's walls that are meant to give it the feel of the inside of a beer barrel.

He said he's hoping the taproom will be a draw to San Ramon locals, the Bishop Ranch community and pedestrians from the nearby Iron Horse Trail.

Schuster said northern Alcosta Boulevard is seeing a surge in beer culture with the Hop Yard American Alehouse & Grill selling craft beer and the recent opening of beer-centric restaurants Firehouse No. 37 and Buffalo Wildwings, each with more than 30 beers on tap. He also said the country is seeing a surge in popularity for craft beers.

"There is demand out there," he said.

Contact Jason Sweeney at 925-847-2123. Follow him at Twitter.com/Jason_Sweeney.

---