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What's Brewing

Carolyn Jung | March 27, 2018 | Food & Drink Story Eat and Drink National

At The Oxford gastropub in downtown Sunnyvale, the food is imbued with the headiness of saffron, kaffir lime, cardamom, coriander, peppercorns and cloves. Now, the beer is too. Owner Narender “Neil” Ramarapu, who also runs a cloud-based software company, started selling four of his own Oxford Artisan Ales on tap in January at the restaurant. These days, some regulars come in just for those beers ($7 per glass), which are all brewed with different spice blends and possess an uncanny smoothness.

Beer has always been Ramarapu’s go-to drink. He started making his own 20 years ago in a kettle in his garage. The former information technology professor also brewed batches whenever his work travels took him to the former Czech Republic to visit a friend, an IT faculty dean. “We had to throw away the first few batches we made there,” Ramarapu says with a chuckle. “It was either too sweet or too bitter. We liked them because we had made them. But really, they were not good.” He’s come a long way since then: His recipes are currently produced to his specifications by Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka. While his beers are available only at The Oxford right now, he hopes to expand production to eventually supply other local restaurants and bars.

Ramarapu’s Oxford Lager is now the best-seller among the dozen beers on tap at the restaurant. With its easy-drinking style, it’s not surprising that this classic, crisp, dry German lager with honey notes has captured everyone’s fancy. His Oxford Saffron White IPA marries an American India Pale Ale with a wheat-based Belgian Wit, and incorporates saffron for a twist. His unfiltered White Rhino Spice Wit is a take on his favorite beer, Tripel Karmeliet. Like that golden Belgian ale, his White Rhino is brewed from three grains: oats, barley and wheat. A pinch of orange peel and coriander is added for nuance. “It not only has the lightness and freshness of wheat,” he says, “but also the creaminess of oats, and a spicy, lemony dryness almost reminiscent of quinine.”

Finally, there is his clever black IPA, which is brewed twice by doubling the hops to create a bold beer with pronounced coffee and dark chocolate flavors. Ramarapu was at a loss for a moniker for it—until his 8-year-old son intervened. “He named it R2Brew2,” Ramarapu says. “Now, he wants a royalty.” 195 S. Murphy Ave., Sunnyvale, 408.245.8503

Originally published in the April issue of Silicon Valley

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