Harvest time at the Ruhstaller hop yard
Leaving its permitting woes in the rear-view mirror, Sacramento-based Ruhstaller Brewing has opened a new tasting room in Dixon, months after being forced to close the open-air beer bar at its hop yard along Interstate 80.
Best known for its “We Grow Beer” slogan and its embrace of local/regional ingredients, Ruhstaller hit a major roadblock last April when Solano County officials turned off electrical power to the hop yard facility and ordered it closed to the public amid permitting and safety concerns.
The ordeal triggered a social media response by owner J-E Paino, who argued that the violations were merely technical in nature and that the county was making it difficult for him to run his business. Paino was not available for comment Thursday.
Back in April in an interview with The Bee, Paino voiced his displeasure with what he suggested was an overreaction by county inspectors.
“The county is concerned that people will go over to the (power) cord, stab it with a knife and put their mouth on it. They are concerned that the shade structure will be picked up by hurricane-force winds, blow onto Interstate 80 and cause an accident,” he said.
“The county’s lawyers got involved and said if we think something is unsafe and we don’t shut it down, we could be liable.”
The original outdoor tasting area had a rustic, rural charm that stood out from the competition, complete with hay bales for seating and an expansive view of the setting sun over the rolling Vaca Mountains in the distance. The new facility opened quietly in December and had its grand opening in early February. It is more of a standard industrial park tasting room, though Paino, who studied architecture at Princeton, has brought some of his design flourishes to the equation, including furniture made of reclaimed food from the hop farm.
At one time, Paino had talked about building a brewery at the Dixon hop yard. For now, Ruhstaller is the only one of 60-plus craft breweries in the region that out-sources its brewing process in a practice known as contract brewing.
The Dixon tasting room is at 800 Business Park Drive, Suite G, Dixon. Hours: Thursday and Friday, 3-9 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 9 p.m.