Ask Alfred Lee who brews all 110 beers at his Auburn pub, and he’ll tell you about the oompa loompas – little orange men with green hair boiling malt and hops, dragging kegs around and getting tangled in hoses.
It almost sounds plausible, considering Lee’s incredible true-life story, which includes emigrating from Cuba, becoming a multimillionaire and now – potentially – setting a world-record as a microbrewer.
Stop by his Power Club Brewery in downtown Auburn and he’ll introduce you to TapZilla, his patent-pending dispenser with 110 taps. And those taps pour 110 beers, all brewed by Lee. He’s confident it’s never been done before.
“It’s not that complicated,” he says. “It’s just cool that I’m the first guy to do it.”
Guinness World Records is in the process of verifying his application for “Most handcrafted microbrewed beers brewed on premises by a single master brewer and served on tap.” Guinness confirmed that no one has attempted to set this record before.
There is, however, a record for “Most varieties of beer commercially available,” which is 2,004 at Delirium Cafe in Belgium. At Delirium, taps line multiple bars on three levels, with a hefty number of brews available bottle-only. At Power Club, Lee has all 110 beers rigged to TapZilla, a many-headed monster that he’s still learning to tame.
When asked if he has a West Coast IPA, Lee hesitates. “I probably do,” he says, scanning the matrix of beer names behind the bar. “Where did it go?”
Clean-shaven and sporting a suit, Lee, 53, counters the typical bearded, plaid shirt-wearing image of the California microbrewer. Maybe that’s because he’s relatively new to the brewing world, an engineer by trade who has also found success in business.
Lee said his parents fled China in 1948, led lives as successful entrepreneurs in Cuba and had Lee in 1960. Eleven years later, they immigrated to the U.S. and California eventually became home.
Lee graduated from the UCLA School of Engineering in 1983. Five years later, he came to the foothills while working as a contractor for the U.S. Department of Defense at the now-shuttered McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento. He fell in love with Auburn, with its hills and trees that starkly contrasted with urban Los Angeles.
Work for electronics companies and the government would later take him to different parts of the world, but it was a side business that allowed him return to Northern California and purchase a 16-bedroom Queen Anne-style mansion in downtown Auburn in 2004. Years before, Lee had patented modular Italian charm bracelets, which he said made him millions.
Now, Lee and his wife Peggy run the century-old mansion, called the Power’s Mansion Inn, as a bed-and-breakfast. Lee also purchased an adjacent 40,000-square-foot office complex and the surrounding parking lots, unveiled a 3,000-square-foot event center with a wedding gazebo, and opened the pub, a certified brewery since 2010.
It’s an awful lot to manage, and he knows it.
He manically recites his mountain of duties as a wedding planner, which notably includes catering – he somehow also found the time to go to Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Academy – and officiating as a Christian minister.
“And since I’m Cuban and I know how to dance, I mix the music,” he adds.