FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — MARCH 20, 2013 —
By Steve Marschke
After going many decades without a local brewery in West Sacramento, 2013 looks like a good year for beer:
Sacramento’s Rubicon Brewery continues to assemble its new production facility near Ikea. It will start producing styles perhaps including its “Monkey Knife Fight Pale Ale” sometime this summer, reports majority owner Glynn Phillips.
And at least two more craft brewers plan to start on a smaller scale, artfully combining water, malted grain, hops and yeast in smaller breweries in the city’s Industrial Boulevard area.
On tap for one of those locations is Jackrabbit Brewing Co., courtesy of Ed Esten and partners. Edsten has some experience with microbrews.
“I had a small brewery back in 2000-2001 in Woodland,” he said. “The other (partners) are all avid homebrewers and beer aficionados. We’re hoping and planning to open in mid-summer. We’re all bringing our skills.”
Edsten’s Woodland operation was called Edsten Brewing Company.
The new brewery will be a bit bigger, with “five barrel” capacity (about 155 gallons at a time).
“We intend to focus on Belgian, British and German styles. We plan to be a brewery only, without any beer served on premises.”
Partly for that reason, he asked to keep the exact location confidential for the moment.
Elsewhere in the same neighborhood, though, is the new “Bike Dog” brewery, already with an avid following on Facebook and with plans to have a tasting room as well as on-site brewery.
Co-owner A.J. Tendick met with the News-Ledger recently at Bike Dog’s space at 2534 Industrial Boulevard, near Stone Blvd. The warehouse-like unit was still largely empty and unfinished. Blue tape marked the planned locations of the cooler (to hold kegs), brewing equipment and other gear.
“By state and local statute, a brewery is allowed to sell their own brew directly, so we plan to have a tasting room up front, with a small production facility in back.” said Tendick, standing next to a “temporary” plywood bar. He’s a homebrewer who has dabbled in helping out some acquaintances in the industry.
“One of the other partners and I have been brewing together for about five years, and he was brewing for years beyond that,” he said.
“We’re sort of in this newer wave of breweries. . . that have started calling themselves ‘nanobrewers.’ We’re going to be at the small end of that, with six kegs, or three barrels or about 90 gallons (of capacity),” said Tendick.
He expects Bike Dog to emphasize kegs rather than bottles.
“On a scale this small, we won’t have any trouble selling a few kegs. The craft beer scene is getting pretty good in Sacramento. If the brewer is any good, the best beer is local beer, because it doesn’t always travel well. One of the other things we can do here is sell beer to go in a half-gallon ‘growler.’”
There are four partners, who know each other through their workplace, a regional government agency. Pete Atwood will probably be the primary brewer, although others will help, said Tendick.
“At this kind of scale, we all are assuming we’re going to keep our day jobs for many a year,” he added.
Some of the funding is coming from “crowd sourcing”:
“We’re funded well to get open and to do the bare minimum of a tasting room, but we really would like to make it a much nicer space, and we’d like to do that without waiting for beer sales to pay for it.”
So they’ve created a “Founders Union” to bring in small investments.
“You get some free beer on Fridays, and some schwag, and at higher levels you get your name on one of the seats that will eventually be here.”
What kind of beer will they brew?
“Pete and I are kind of unrepentant ‘hop heads,’” answered Tendick, referring to some purposely aggressive brews now in fashion. “We’re a fan of West Coast IPAs (India Pale Ales) and variations of that. It’s definitely the fastest-growing style and that bodes well for us. Pete’s a big fan of the Belgians, English beer, Irish stouts, that kind of thing. We’re going to plan to open with two, to keep it simple and get our feet underneath us.”
Tendick said Bike Dog chose West Sacramento partly because some properties are zoned by the city specifically to be friendly to breweries.
Where did the name “Bike Dog” come from?
“One of our partners is kind of an outlier, but the rest of us own dogs and ride bikes – before I had a baby, I rode fanatically. If you look around, a lot of beer names have something to do with bikes or something to do with dogs. We just looked at each other and said ‘let’s put them together! Bike Dog!’”
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