Rohit “Ro” Nayer, owner of RoCo Wine & Spirits, continues to evolve as a force in local craft beer.
Even though the word “beer” is not in the name, his West Sacramento store has one of the finest beer selections in the region. After opening RoCo six-plus years ago as a traditional liquor store, Nayer saw growing demand and jumped in to supply it. Then he learned he loved craft beer and got into it at a serious beer geek level. He is also a partner in a flourishing hop-growing business, United Hops Farm.
But Nayer is not stopping there. He recently got the OK from the city to move forward with plans to open a taproom. Yes, a liquor store/beer shop with 28 tap handles and a patio for folks to drink beer and chill. He’s counting on an Oct. 1 launch.
“I’m super excited. We started out as a liquor store. Then we turned to craft beer. Now we’re going to have a taproom. I don’t know of another liquor store that also has a taproom,” Nayer said. “I’m loving the whole (beer) scene. Everyone is so supportive.”
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The business will have about 1,200 square feet of seating, indoor and outside. In addition to the rotating tap handles, Nayer plans to host weekly beer tasting events, in part to introduce customers to new and/or pricey beers they might want to try before they buy.
“My whole thing is education. We want to have a variety of different beers and teach people without it being a beer snob environment,” he said.
RoCo is at 2220 Lake Washington Blvd. in West Sacramento.
Drake’s Brewing opening in West Sacramento
Speaking of West Sacramento, the little city across the river continues to thrive when it comes to beer. Sure, it recently lost out on Revision Brewing, Jeremy Warren’s start-up, due to lease issues, but now it’s getting Drake’s Brewing, a prominent Bay Area craft brewery. Drake’s was selected by Mark Friedman, president and founder of Fulcrum Property, to run the food and beverage program at The Barn, the new gathering spot/special events locale in the Bridge District near Raley Field.
That’s pretty big news and an impressive get by Friedman. But wait! Not everyone is happy.
“I definitely think Mark missed an opportunity to promote local,” said Troy Paski, founder of Hoppy Brewing. “John Martin (Drake’s owner) is a great guy. I have nothing against him or Drake’s. I just think if we are ‘Sacramento proud,’ why are we falling all over ourselves to bring in a brewery from outside the area?”
I wanted to ask Friedman about it, but he did not return my call by deadline.
I see Paski’s point, but I disagree in part. Here’s why. If Sacramento/West Sacramento wants to play in the big leagues, it has to embrace competition. Sure, there are still people here with an inferiority complex who think everything in the Bay Area must be better. But that’s changing and beer is part of that shift.
With Fieldwork coming soon to midtown and Drake’s arriving in 2017, these two first-rate Bay Area breweries will become part of the mix. This can only increase the profile and prestige of Sacramento. I’m convinced it will also show that several local breweries can go toe-to-toe with these guys when it comes to quality and creativity. Beyond that, competition will inspire the good breweries to get even better and the struggling breweries to take stock and recalibrate.
Claimstake co-founder goes full time
Brian Palmer, the co-founder/brewmaster of Claimstake Brewing in Rancho Cordova, just made a major statement about the vitality of local beer: He left his day job to become a full-time brewer and entrepreneur.
Like many craft beer start-ups, Claimstake was a part-time gig for Palmer, even if the hours were beyond full time. A regional supervisor at Comcast Business for the past eight years, Palmer worked his last day Friday, Aug. 5. No more paid vacations, sick days, health care for the 36-year-old husband and father of three kids. Oh, and he’s taking a pay cut by being his own boss, at least for now.
Claimstake is doing so well, Palmer told me, “that I can’t keep up doing it part time.”
“I’m terrified of the fact that I’m leaving my job. I’ve been there a long time, and it makes me nervous. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Brewing beer is something that I truly love doing. It’s like art to me – thinking up something in my head and then brewing up a recipe.”
Ever since Claimstake opened, Palmer was burning the candle at both ends – 50 hours a week at Comcast, 40 more at Claimstake. His wife, Tina, a stay-at-home mom, also helped out at the bustling tasting room.
Palmer will have more time to create and brew and prosper. But he probably won’t be working any less. “Now I’ll just have one job that will be 80-plus hours a week,” he said with a chuckle.
Claimstake is at 11366 Monier Park Place, Rancho Cordova. The tasting room is open Wednesdays through Sundays.