A password will be e-mailed to you.
Advertisement

For a lot of us, 2016 was a hard year. From the horror-circus sideshow political campaign season to the loss of beloved heroes and friends near and far in the music and art scenes, to the Ghostship Fire at our sister city of Oakland – last year was a string of unmitigated existentially iniquitous shit storms.

Sacramento and her surrounding neighborhood’s local businesses and entrepreneurs have not been immune from dealing with their own bevy of bullshit – perhaps best encapsulated in J-E Paino and Ruhstaller Brewery and Taproom’s struggle against swaths of bureaucratic red-tape in Solano County.

Last year, things didn’t look good for Ruhstaller. As Paino describes it, facing an uncertain future and a mandate to close down parts of their operation at the Farm off I-80 near Dixon, the brand’s local beer growing tradition looked to be in deep jeopardy if not at an outright terminus. In April, Paino said, Ruhstaller hit rock bottom. The farm was closed, beer production went underground, and the future looked grim. But as 2016 drew to a welcome close, December brought with it a parting of the clouds for the beleaguered operation. The skies, as it were, are finally clearing.

“We’re back!” Paino said in a recent interview. “We got a near mortal blow and it almost took us out. It definitely shocked us – but you know, at the same time, it galvanized us and brought us together.” That near mortal blow had Ruhstaller’s iconic Farm Taproom shuttered and cleared. The Taproom in Sacramento, meanwhile, has done astonishingly well in the new downtown environment, bolstered partly by the Golden 1 Center’s crowds, and recently Paino’s beer found a home with their “Rapid Fire Research & Development” beer program in the form of The Shop in Dixon. Paino, who struggled with the county of Solano for so long, gives credit to the loyal customers of that county and of the cities of Sacramento and Dixon for their dedication to supporting local craft brewed beer.

Advertisement

“It’s not the farm, no one should be looking for the farm, but hopefully it’s something that can stand on its own two feet.”

“We made it, and we were able to put the pieces back together so to speak and move into the town of Dixon where we’ve been welcomed with open arms,” Paino said. “We didn’t have to deal with the same individuals at Solano County which was really helpful. We really worked our butts off and finally got all the permits and what not, the week after Thanksgiving. And we opened last week [final week of November, first week of December]. The main thing is [we’re] back and it feels great!”

And a long road it’s been. “We’re exhausted,” Paino said. “We all need a vacation or to drink a lot of beer. But we can breathe a little bit more.”

The Shop offers 12 beers on tap with a great deal of variety, that Paino hopes will, not replace the Farm, which he says is impossible to do, but to be a proper atmosphere for the enjoyment of craft beer and a connection to the community in its own right. Inspired by a wood workshop with an architectural feel and aesthetic, the design studio-like shop draws its inspiration into a warm atmosphere perfectly conducive to beer drinking.

“It’s not the farm, no one should be looking for the farm, but hopefully it’s something that can stand on its own two feet.”

For now, the farming is outsourced – though not far – to other local growers. The delectable hops that make Ruhstaller so successful are turned into beer at The Shop, and are then further available at the Taproom downtown in Sacramento.

The Shop holds a welcome space for beer lovers, as well as for their pets and their children. Production is underway and a new farm will eventually be on the horizon.

“Now that the shop is back up and running we’re set up there, we have our…small batch brewery set up,” Paino explained. “We’ve restored almost everything that we had at the farm except for the hop processing capability, which we’re now looking for a spot for that. When we find that spot we’ll also combine it with kind of a production brewery.”

Meanwhile, brewing continues at The Shop on a small but growing scale.

“Right now the brewing we do in the shop is small batch,” Paino said. “It’s kind of very experimental. We try a lot of different things. We rent space in existing breweries to scale our beer up, so our goal is – when we identify the location for the farm long term – that’s where the production brewing will also happen.”

Though, as Paino explains, that step is still ways down the road.

The focus on the search for a new farm space remains in Dixon because that’s where the hops are being grown.

“That hasn’t gone away,” Paino said of the dream of an expansive hop growing space with large processing capability. “It’s been put on pause for a little while. Long-term, the goal is still to create a unique place where people can learn and watch hops as they grow – and learn how they’re processed and then converted into beer in hopefully, a nice comfortable setting. So we kind of see the shop…as kind of the R&D shop, this is where the, if you will, kind of a snow courts, this is where we try a lot of stuff on a small scale and we experiment… scaling up is easy. The hard part is coming up with the good ideas so that was what we wanted to replace and get back up and running first so the shop kind of fit that bill.”

Now that Ruhstaller has a place for experimentation, the most important piece of the Beer growing fabric has been stitched into place.

“There’s excess capacity out there so we didn’t need [a new farm] immediately,” Paino said. “What we need to do is to experiment and try new things and be creative and we needed that as much for ourselves as for other people, just because it’s something we love to do and really it’s who we are to a great degree.”

Although 2016 was certainly a hard year, and there’s no way to guarantee what the future will hold in 2017, we can be happily certain that Ruhstaller is going to be a part of it.

Advertisement
Advertisement
X

Send this to friend

Hi, this may be interesting you: Ruhstaller is Back! This is the link: https://www.cityscoutmag.com/ruhstaller-renaissance-hitting-rock-bottom-ruhstaller-back/