Between the four of them, the Bike Dog Brewery guys own nine bikes (not counting the vintage cycles that decorate their space), five dogs and now one brew house that designated social media guy A.J. Tendick referred to as West Sacramento’s first “hyperlocal” brewery.
“Those are our favorite things in the world,” said Sage Smith (graphics, Surly Cross Check, labradoodle), the creative mind behind all of the establishment’s design work – from the logo to the interior of the space itself.
Smith and Tendick, along with Pete Atwood (brewmaster, Soma Double Cross, husky/shepherd mix) and Raef Porter (money man, Kona Cruiser, dog-in-planning), are executing a model similar to that of Curtis Park’s Track 7.
Both establishments are family and dog-friendly, are located in industrial areas and have plenty of room to park a food truck. Though Bike Dog’s more polished spot lacks the deconstructed charm of Track 7 – you’ll sit at a concrete bar they sanded themselves instead of a picnic table – the place has a clean, comfortable feel.
It’s like hanging out in your friend’s basement, if your friend’s mother were a small-scale commercial brewer and father a vintage bicycle collector.
Like Track 7, Bike Dog wants to attract a clientele looking for more than a brew. It wants customers to see the space as a place to connect with neighbors, to bring a picnic lunch.
The four met working at Sacramento Area Council of Governments, where Porter and Tendick’s wife, Jen (who also helps out at Bike Dog when she can), spent years bouncing ideas around about opening a business. It was Atwood, one of the Gold Country Brewing Association’s home brewers of the year in 2010, who suggested they make it not a bar, but a brewery.
“And so Raef’s like, ‘OK, let’s do it,’” said Atwood, “And I was like, ‘OK, whatever.’ And then it turned out he was serious.”
Porter chimed in, “And so was Pete, and so was A.J., and so was Sage.”
Tendick (marketing/brew assistant, hand-made Milwaukee Bike Co., pound puppy mutt), the only West Sacramento resident of the bunch, pushed to open the brewery in his own backyard. It wasn’t a hard sell.
From the ease and efficiency of communication during the permit process to the public support from West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, the partners say the city has been kind to them.
For Porter, a project manager with a background in housing, the residential range was also a selling point.
“If you look at the housing stock in West Sacramento,” he said, “you’ve got the suburbs in South Port, you’ve got the older inner-ring suburbs, and then you’ve got the new development happening in the River District.
“I think that housing diversity is reflected in the diversity we have coming into the bar. You’ve got the families, the older crowd and the young hipsters. It’s great, because they’re all here for craft beer, and they love it.”
The guys intend to distribute locally in the future, but right now they’re focused on their product and also on their community. Bike Dog’s Kickstarter campaign topped the $15,000 goal by nearly half. It now boasts 50 members of “The League,” whose members enjoy in-house perks in exchange for their donations.
“It wasn’t purely financial,” said Tendick. “It was definitely also about making a connection with people. We wanted to get them in on the ground floor so they felt like they owned the place a little bit.”
High-speed Industrial Boulevard might not seem inviting to anyone seeking a destination for a relaxed evening bike ride or stroll, but customers can reach the brewery through a residential area less than a quarter-mile away and a back route.
Bike Dog held its soft opening earlier this month, featuring an American wheat and an India pale ale. It will add to that the double IPA, a saison and a milk stout on nitro tap for Saturday’s grand opening.