Pioneer in Sacramento’s craft beer movement closing its doors

Rubicon Brewery announced on Facebook that it will be shutting down in August.
Rubicon Brewery announced on Facebook that it will be shutting down in August.

Rubicon, a pioneer in Sacramento’s craft-brewing movement, announced Monday that it would be shutting down after nearly 30 years in business.

“It is with a heavy heart that I share that Rubicon Brewing Company will be closing its doors this month,” Rubicon owner Glynn Phillips wrote in a note to patrons on the company’s Facebook page. “For nearly 30 years, you all have been part of the Rubicon family – an amazing, dedicated group of beer lovers who made our pub a home away from home.”

Reached by phone Monday evening, Phillips said the closure came down to “cash flow.”

“I think the (wet) winter hurt us, and the competition in midtown and the extensive opening of breweries throughout Sacramento has been a challenge for us,” he said. “Years ago, when you wanted to get a craft beer, and you lived in Auburn, you would come to the Rubicon. And now there are five or six world-class breweries in Auburn.”

Phillips bought the business in 2005 from Ed Brown, who had opened Rubicon – then the only brewpub in town – on Nov. 1, 1987 at 2004 Capitol Ave. Four years ago, Phillips expanded the business into West Sacramento, with a brewing facility and tasting room at 855 Stillwater Road.

The last days for the West Sacramento tasting room will be Aug. 17 and 18, according to the Facebook post. The midtown brewpub will be serving food through Wednesday, and beer through the end of the month “or until we run out.”

The brewpub long has been known for its excellent fish and chips and cadre of boisterous loyal patrons standing two or three deep in the bar area. In recent years, it also was known for its popular Monkey Knife Fight Pale Ale, which made its way to the taps of other bars and restaurants and, in bottle form, to liquor and grocery stores.

Rubicon Brewing Company pub brewer Chris Keeton and hop grower Dean Peckham discuss brewing with hops and how to bring hops back to California.

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