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Craft brewers bristle at BUD-owned beer garden. We're 'just like they are,' Golden Road says

Golden Road Brewing comes to midtown

Golden Road Brewing will finally open the doors of its new Sacramento restaurant and beer garden to the public this Thursday at the corner of 19th and L streets in midtown.
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Golden Road Brewing will finally open the doors of its new Sacramento restaurant and beer garden to the public this Thursday at the corner of 19th and L streets in midtown.

Golden Road Brewing will open the doors of its new Sacramento restaurant and beer garden to the public this Thursday at the corner of 19th and L streets in midtown. But it may not receive the reception it's hoping for from the city's craft beer community.

Fans of small, local breweries in Sacramento have been less than enthusiastic about the Los Angeles-based brewery opening an outpost in Sacramento.

The Sacramento Area Brewers Guild denounced Golden Road in a statement redistributed by Claimstake Brewing, Mraz Brewing Company and others Tuesday for being what the guild called a "faux" craft beer brand "that has infiltrated our neighborhood."

Golden Road was purchased in 2015 by industry giant Anheuser-Busch InBev, which produces the Budweiser brand and has been buying craft breweries in recent years, including Chicago’s Goose Island and 10 Barrel in Portland.

"Nobody wants to not be liked," Golden Road's director of restaurant operations, Adam Levoe, said of local craft beer fans. "My hope would be that they would come by and at least give us a try before they, you know, make their determination about who we are and what we are about."

Levoe has been with Golden Road since before it was purchased three years ago and said that he was initially worried, too, when the deal went through. But the only negative that thing has happened, said Levoe, is that he had to change his email from Gmail to Outlook.

Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) has largely left Golden Road's day-to-day operations alone and allows its brewers to be creative and innovative, Levoe said. The brewery still has control over the food it serves and the beer it makes.

"We are just like they are," Levoe said of other craft brewers. "We just have a bigger parent company."

Some local brewers disagree and say Anheuser-Busch is trying to sneak into Sacramento's thriving craft-beer market.

"Our local craft beer scene is where it is today because of the passion, creativity and ingenuity of small, independently owned and operated breweries," the Sacramento Area Brewers Guild wrote. "Golden Road, and their parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, owners of Budweiser and other 'Big Beer' brands, is the antithesis of local, slow, craft and independent."

The guild also criticized the timing of Golden Road's opening and encouraged local beer drinkers to protest the new restaurant and beer garden with their wallets.

"The planned grand opening of Golden Road is intentionally set for the same day that local, independent Sacramento area brewers will be having their kickoff event for Sacramento Beer Week, a celebration of craft beer in Sacramento," the guild wrote. "We all have a vote in where we spend our dollars. Please vote wisely."

But Mark Kamarauskas, general manager of all things Golden Road, says he is not ashamed of the brewery's relationship to a brewing giant.

“We pride ourselves on supporting the local communities we enter and making great beer in an awesome environment," Kamarauskas said in response to the guild's statement. "We are proud of adding 40 new jobs and another small brewery dedicated to innovation that continues to broaden the scope of what beer can be. We welcome beer drinkers of all walks of life, to come together — with their dogs and kids, and have a pint on or after May 10.”

Golden Road's new midtown location will feature an on-site brewmaster and nano-brewery that will start to produce beer in June for its ten tap handles. There will be "zero" Anheuser-Busch beers on tap, said Kamarauskas.

Both the bar and kitchen are housed in shipping containers painted blue, and the menu will feature items that are either "tacos" or "not tacos" along with house-made brownies and churros for dessert.

Levoe said half of the menu items are vegan and most can be made vegan.

The new location in midtown is a completely outdoor venue that is family and dog friendly, with a fire pit and game area, and it will be available for events.

"We want everybody to come here," said Levoe. "To feel welcome."

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