Good news for fresh beer fans in Napa Valley – after almost a year of repairs and upgrades following a fire last summer, the Calistoga Inn will reopen its bar and restaurant in the first week in August. That means fresh brewed beer in the area for the first time since last fall, when the area’s other brewery – St. Helena’s Silverado Brewing Company – closed. The only other breweries in Napa County are in the city of Napa, which is quite a long way to go for a beer from Calistoga or Lake County.

Owner Michael Dunsford – that’s the guy in the picture holding a beer – and his mother Rosie – with the wine – are planning some upgrades to the food, going for a more upscale vibe. But what won’t change is the beer. Brewmaster Brad Smisloff cranked up his 7 barrel brewhouse a few weeks ago and he plans to open with a lineup of six Inn favorites: the year-round American Wheat, Red Ale, Porter, and Pilsner, and the seasonals Kolsch and Rye IPA.

Michael and Brad took advantage of the downtime to spruce up the brewhouse, which is housed in an old water tower next to  the outside dining area, and they scrubbed down the equipment. Brad says he got a new glycol jacket for the fermenter to replace the cranky old unit and he installed a new hot water system. The beer won’t change, he said, but the new equipment will help him keep it more consistent.

Once they reopen, they will be doing growler fillups again and selling a selection of beer in 22 oz bottles, which Brad and his staff hand bottle using an old homebrewing-type filler.

They’re hoping to reopen the bar on Aug. 5, though that’s subject to the uncertainties of construction work, which is still under way in the century-old Inn. We’ll keep you posted on the actual day.

-Sean Scully