Business & Real Estate

Southern California craft brewer entering Sacramento market in February

With annual beer events drawing enormous crowds and craft brewpubs and bottle shops continually springing up throughout the region, others outside Northern California are taking notice.
With annual beer events drawing enormous crowds and craft brewpubs and bottle shops continually springing up throughout the region, others outside Northern California are taking notice. rbenton@sacbee.com

Craft beers keep flowing in the Sacramento area, where brew drinkers can’t seem to get enough.

With annual beer events drawing enormous crowds and craft brewpubs and bottle shops continually springing up throughout the region, others outside Northern California are taking notice.

That includes Pizza Port Brewing Co., a Southern California craft brewer whose products are scheduled to hit local store shelves in February.

The company is partnering with Auburn-based Mussetter Distributing to put product on the shelves of area stores that include Raley’s, BevMo and Whole Foods.

“Our official launch events begin on Feb. 11 and will feature not only our core brands but specialty offerings from each of our five brewpubs,” said Pizza Port spokesman Joe Arguello.

In 2014, the most recent year in which full statistics are available, U.S. craft beer sales soared 17.6 percent over the prior year to nearly 21.8 million barrels, according to the Boulder, Colo.-based Brewers Association. In an overall U.S. beer market of $101.5 billion in 2014, craft sales totaled $19.6 billion.

Through 2014, the Brewers Association said California ranked first nationally in the number of craft breweries with 431, or about 12.5 percent of the U.S. total. The Golden State’s production of 3.42 million barrels of craft beer produced in 2014 ranked second to Pennsylvania. The craft beer industry’s overall economic impact in California in 2014 was estimated at a nation-leading $6.88 billion.

The Sacramento-based California Craft Brewers Association says the number of craft breweries statewide recently passed the 600 threshold, up 18 percent over 2014. In recent years, on average, two breweries open every week in California, according to the CCBA. The CCBA’s online map shows 14 breweries currently operating within the borders of Sacramento and West Sacramento alone.

“We have seen a remarkable and growing demand for neighborhood-supported craft breweries and handcrafted, locally produced beers,” said Tom McCormick, CCBA executive director.

The CCBA also pointed to wide-ranging economic impacts, including Golden State breweries planting their own hops and barley or looking to local farms for their brewing ingredients.

Carlsbad-based Pizza Port’s roots go back to 1987, when 20-something siblings Gina and Vince Marsaglia bought a struggling pizza joint in Solana Beachthe coastal community north of San Diego. Shortly after opening, Vince Marsaglia started to dabble in home brewing in the restaurant’s storage area.

Those brews caught on, and by 1992, they were being offered to restaurant patrons.

A lot has happened since then.

Today, Pizza Port operates five brewpubs in Southern California. In 2008, the brewer opened a Carlsbad bottle shop stocked with more than 600 craft beers.

Honors won along the way included nine medals handed out to Pizza Port at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

The Sacramento-area introduction is just part of a rollout that also includes the Central Valley and Bay Area.

“We’ve been working hard to expand our beers to markets in Northern California for a long time,” said Jesse Cardella, Pizza Port’s director of sales. “We doubled our capacity in late 2015, mainly to fuel growth throughout the rest of the state, and now we are stoked to start the new year by expanding our beers to exciting markets in the northern part of California.”

Arguello said “there are no immediate plans” to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant/brewery in the Sacramento area.

Anthony Dyer, associate category manager for beer with West Sacramento-based Raley’s, said the chain will initially stock Pizza Port’s Ponto Sessionable India Pale Ale, Chronic Amber Ale and Pick Six Pilsner labels.

Dyer had high praise for Pizza Port’s brews and noted that the region’s craft brew market “is still doing really well. It’s one of those things that is constantly expanding.”

Raley’s started a chainwide push into craft brews in 2012. Today, the grocer stocks dozens of craft labels, and Dyer said “probably 50 to 60 percent” of all beer sales in the grocery store chain are craft brews.

Dyer noted that the local market for sweet/spiced/hard ciders and beers also is heating up with the introduction of various products composed of ginger, root beer and orange.

“Ciders are becoming more popular. We’re seeing some interesting changes in the sweet and hard (products),” Dyer said.

Mark Glover: 916-321-1184, @markhglover

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