According to a new report released by the Brewers Association, roughly 6,000 craft breweries operate in the United States, with more than 900 of them calling California home.
Those ever-increasing numbers can be felt in the Sacramento region, where at least 10 new breweries opened in 2017. That figure includes Waterman in Elk Grove and Thin Line in Rancho Cordova, which started welcoming customers earlier this month.
And while a half dozen local breweries closed over the past year, another half dozen are slated to open in early 2018. We had to put together this rookie scouting report just to keep them all straight.
Opening: 3 p.m. Dec. 22
Four years in the making, Cong Nguyen’s passion project debuts just under the wire for calendar year 2017. King Cong will pour four beers out of the gate, concentrating on session-able, lower-alcohol styles such as pale ales and a milk stout.
“My focus at the beginning is to create the more drinkable beers,” said Nguyen, who attended UC Davis’ master brewer program. “I’m trying to cater to the general public versus just beer drinkers.” (1709 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento; 916-514-8041; kingcongbrewing.com)
Target opening: January
This farm brewery in Lincoln also has taken several years to open, partially because married owners Earl and Adriana Stephens performed most of the labor themselves, and partially because they brew more than just beer.
In addition to a rotating lineup of craft beers brewed by Earl, Dueling Dogs plans to offer meads and ciders made by Adriana, resulting in a business plan that required two separate sets of licenses and permits. It was an arduous process, but the beverages intended for the January opening already are fermenting. (3030 Barrett Park Lane, Lincoln; 916-434-8141; www.duelingdogsbrewing.com)
Sacrament/Burgers and Brewhouse
Target opening: Late January
After years of working with contract brewers, the Burgers and Brew empire (with pubs in Sacramento, West Sacramento, Davis and Chico) officially enters the craft brewery game with the launch of Sacrament Brewing Company.
The new brewing enterprise is located in a former J Street nightclub, which has been extensively refurbished. Exposed brick and reclaimed wood set the urban-brewpub vibe on the street level, while an open concept and extensive use of glass make the basement brewery visible from anywhere in the building, even the rooftop bar.
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Co-owner Derar Zawaydeh said the new business, called Burgers and Brewhouse, should be up and running within weeks, starting with an IPA-heavy lineup and expanding its profile from there. (1616 J St., Sacramento; www.burgersbrew.com)
Target opening: February
Rocklin’s Moksa comes with some promising pedigrees: Head brewer Derek Gallanosa used to run Abnormal Beer Company in San Diego, and his fellow brewer Cory Meyer was the head brewer at New Glory.
Moksa will pour eight brews at the outset, focusing largely on IPAs and stouts, and eventually filling out their 24 taps with barrel-aged beers. “We want to get that process going as soon as possible,” Gallanosa said. “We already have some whiskey barrels on order.” (5860 Pacific St., Rocklin; 916-824-1366; moksabrewing.com)
Target opening: February
An avid homebrewer since 1990, Erik Schmid is opening his brewery in the same Folsom location as his brewing supply store The Brewmeister. Red Bus will highlight the classic European styles Schmid loves, while also offering popular styles such as IPAs and eventually sours.
Red Bus will be the first production brewery in Folsom, but Schmid said he didn’t run into many roadblocks. “I spent over a year putting the concept together, finding the engineer and architect, working with the city, working with the landlord,” he said. “We haven’t hit a lot of bumps.” (802A Reading St., Folsom; www.redbusbrew.com)
Target opening: February or March
Peter Hoey is being secretive about the all-star collaborations he and partner Rob Archie have lined up for the opening of their brewery and smokehouse, only teasing that they have been working with “some of the world’s best breweries.”
Those collaborations were brewed outside of Sacramento, but Hoey said he hopes to begin brewing at Urban Roots in January, targeting an eight-beer opening day lineup of lagers, IPAs and saisons. (1322 V St., Sacramento; www.urbanrootsbrewing.com)
Luck & Courage
Target opening: February or March
When Jonathan St. James first started brewing, he turned his grandmother’s honey into mead, and eventually became a prolific homebrewer. “I fell in love with the science, and I’ve been firing toward the brewery ever since,” he said
A penchant for subverting style standards often kept St. James off the homebrew competition medal stand, but that spirit of experimentation should serve him well with Luck & Courage. “We don’t stick to any international standards,” he said. “We like playing with everything.” (201 Lathrop Way, Suite M, Sacramento; www.luckandcouragebrewing.com)
SacYard Community Tap House
It’s not just breweries swelling the ranks of the Sacramento beer scene in early 2018. Husband-and-wife team Dan and Melody Thebeau plan to open SacYard Community Tap House in January, having transformed a rundown East Sacramento auto garage into an “industrial-themed tap house” and beer garden.
They will have 24 taps pouring craft beer and cider, as well as communal tables, a fire pit and food from Compton’s Market. (1725 33rd St., Sacramento; sacyard.com)
Here are five of the best breweries to open in the Sacramento region since 2016, according to critic Daniel Barnes.
Daniel Barnes is a freelance writer, film critic, beer enthusiast and one half of the blog “His & Her Beer Notes.” He can be reached at email@example.com.