From Home Brewing to Heretic

By Delayna Fitzgerald

Ok, so…when you think of home brewing it’s easy to have visions of bathtubs full of fermenting liquid. But what we found instead was a discipline that requires a lot of research, along with a lot of passion. And passion was one of the things that led Brew Master and founder of Heretic Brewery, Jamil Zainasheff to take what started out as a hobby, and build it into an empire.


If you’ve never heard of Heretic Brewery, it’s a Sacramento based brewing company that can be found pretty much anywhere within a fifty-mile radius. In stores and on tap in local drinking establishments throughout the region as well. The other really cool thing is that it started out as a home brewing project. So to get more insight on the art of home brewing, we spoke with Jamil, who is also the 2016 California Craft Beer Summit’s (September 8th-10th) – Advanced Home Brewing teacher. We wanted to find out more about how home brewing took him to where he is now, so we asked him to tell us his tale.

Let’s start at the beginning. Heretic’s origin story and unique brew, all started with Zainasheff ‘s former neighbor and long time beer lover, Steve. “Back in 1999, my neighbor Steve handed me a beer over the fence. I took one sip and was amazed. It was the best beer I had ever tried,” says Jamil. “I asked where it came from, he smiled and told me he made it himself.” It wasn’t long after that, Jamil went totally BIY, got his first home brew kit for Christmas and took a crack at it himself.

Unfortunately Jamils first brew wasn’t quite up to par with Steve’s unforgettable brew but he knew it could be achieved. That passion we mentioned earlier took on a life of its own and drove him to refine and then redefine his craft. He soon found himself on a quest of epic proportions to make the “Perfect” beer. Twelve years later, Heretic Brewery was born in 2011.

What really sets Heretic apart from the rest is once again…passion. “Many people are unaware that two breweries could have the same process, equipment, and ingredients, but if you change the brewer the beer is different,” Jamil explains.


That brings us to their secret ingredient. The people. At Heretic there are employees with varying types of academic degrees and disciplines, from microbiology to 3D rendering, oddly enough. But weather you have a degree in something or not, it doesn’t really matter to this scrappy brewery with the brash name. Being a part of something special, like Heretic, is really in your ability to learn and grow. That’s what makes the difference to them.

So the character and flavor comes from the commitment of every person involved with every step of this very delicate dance known as brew making. And it’s certainly reassuring to know that some of the Sacramento region’s finest and most passionate individuals; are on a quest to carry the mantel of craft beer excellence through to the Heretic label. Every single one of them, committed to producing some amazing, one-of-a-kind, flavor profiles along the way.

Not sure about you, but we here at Eat Farm-to-Fork are definitely feeling the passion stirring in our taste buds. We might even go out and get our very own kit and give it a try in the Eat Farm-to-Fork break room. Mmmmmmmmm…donuts and beer! Homer would be soooooo jealous.

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If you are on your own epic quest to make the perfect beer; we highly suggest you take advantage of the years of knowledge and experience that await you at the 2016 California Craft Beer Summit and Jamil’s Home Brewing 101 classes. This could be the next step in taking your home brew from basic to bombastic.

To find out where Heretic Brewery lives, or more about the 2016 California Craft Beer Summit, along with more local brewers that live and breathe great beer in the Sacramento region, check out our directories here on The newest way to find, connect with and share all things local and drinkable in America’s Farm-To-Fork capital.

Bottoms up brewers and see you at the summit!