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Is a taproom a must for local breweries?

Published: Monday, Feb. 3, 2014 - 4:19 pm

We had a great discussion on Twitter the other day after I wrote about Ruhstaller’s proposed new taproom downtown (along with plans to build a brewery rather than rent temp space to brew at other sites).

I asked if having a local taproom is important and why? As I see it, a taproom is crucial. But it’s also complex, and Ruhstaller owner J-E Paino knows it.

He knows his taproom, once up and running at 630 K St. in Sacramento, can’t siphon away customers from restaurants and bars that sell his beer. He knows he can’t compete with his wholesale customers, and he knows he can’t undercut them on price.

He can’t make it more fun to drink Ruhstaller beer at his place. But he still has to use his taproom to inspire brand loyalty and get visitors to learn about the company and its mission.

In other words, he’s going to attempt the impossible. He’s going to have a taproom that doesn’t sell his regular year-round beers. Only experimental or limited release beers will be on tap. And if he does sell from his regular inventory, he’ll charge more so his restaurant and bar friends won’t be miffed.

On Twitter, we didn’t get into all that. But my followers, at least, made it clear they want to connect with the breweries on a personal level by drinking the beer from the source at the source. Here are a few of the many responses. If you want to be part of future conversations, please follow me on Twitter (though beware: you will also see photos of my dogs!).

Nick is right. I’ve been to a couple of events there (between Davis and Dixon along I-80) and the setting is lovely, lit by candles at night and with a great crowd.

Lots of people see a taproom as craft beer’s expression of farm to fork.

Then there are those who would enjoy the taproom experience but are content getting the beer retail.

I pretty much would second the following tweet:

Then there was Mike Costello, owner of the coming-soon Yolo Brewing Co. in West Sacramento. He missed the discussion but was happy to see all the enthusiasm for the topic.

No need to stop the conversation. We’ll be talking more about this and other beer issues here and on Twitter. I also encourage you to follow your favorite breweries to learn what’s new.

To read about Ruhstaller’s plans, click here.

Call The Bee’s Blair Anthony Robertson, (916) 321-1099. Follow him on Twitter @Blarob.

Read more articles by Blair Anthony Robertson

About Appetizers

Chris Macias has served as The Sacramento Bee's Food & Wine writer since 2008. His writing adventures have ranged from the kitchen at French Laundry to helping pick 10 tons of zinfandel grapes with migrant farm workers in Lodi. Chris also judges regularly at food, wine and cocktail competitions around Northern California. His profile of a former gangbanger-turned-pastry-chef was included in Da Capo's "Best Food Writing 2012."

Read his Wine Buzz columns here
(916) 321-1253
Twitter: @chris_macias

Allen Pierleoni writes about casual lunchtime restaurants in The Sacramento Bee's weekly "Counter Culture" column. He covers a broad range of topics, including food, travel, books and authors. In addition to writing the weekly column "Between the Lines," he oversees the Sacramento Bee Book Club, in which well-known authors give free presentations to the public.

Read his Counter Culture reviews here
(916) 321-1128
Twitter: @apierleonisacbe

Blair Anthony Robertson is The Sacramento Bee's food critic.

Read his restaurant reviews here
(916) 321-1099
Twitter: @Blarob

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