The little brewery that could – New Helvetia holds grand opening Friday

It’s gratifying how quickly Sacramento’s newest brewery has developed a regular customer base, and how instantaneous the feedback on its latest batch is given and received, said New Helvetia owner David Gull.

"Like clockwork they’re showing up, and it’s cool," he said. "And it’s an honest reaction – either they like it or not so much." 

After opening on a soft scale in December 2012, the brewery on Broadway and 18th Street is now in full production mode, and ready to share its latest craft creations with beer lovers, Gull said. The brewery/taste room is celebrating this Friday night with an official grand opening – from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. – and soon-to-be expanded hours, uust in time for Sacramento Beer Week. 

There will be six hand-crafted brews on tap, and even "Revive" kombucha, that fermented tea stuff all the hip kids are drinking these days.

"It’s an alternative offering – not everybody wants beer or alcohol," Gull said. "I don’t wanna do sodas or bottles and it fits with what we’re trying to accomplish."

Inspired by the region’s once-famous Buffalo Beer, New Helvetia’s walls are decorated with remnants of the past. Sacramento-based Buffalo Brewery once sat on the land now occupied by the Sacramento Bee, and serves as a reminder of beer’s rich local roots. The vintage signs can be found lining the brewery’s walls, along with frontier-era maps of the city.

For New Helvetia Brewmaster Brian Cofresi, the grand opening is an opportunity to celebrate what beer’s all about – bringing the locally brewed suds to the neighborhood. "We can make world-class beer in our little community, and people get it," he said.

The beer list includes: 

• Fresh hop lager
• Homeland stout
• ThunderBeast IPA
• Saison Solon
• Winter Marzen
• Red Wheat Ale

Gull, a Sacramento native, said while opening a brewery is certainly fun, there have been challenges along the way. As with any business, he’s still working out the kinks – getting all the equipment while maintaining the spirit of California’s early brewers who didn’t have such technology. Bench seating in the tasting room has been added, and the courtyard is being filled out, he said.

"It will be an evolution – if people come back in week after week, they should notice changes," Gull said. "It’s cool for a small brewery like us to hone our craft and make beer that people will come back for."

The brewery’s expanded hours, which are subject to change, are as follows: 

Wednesday and Thursday, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Saturday, 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.  

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February 12, 2013 | 8:53 AM

Great article. Looking forward to the new offerings and the expanded hours.

February 12, 2013 | 11:25 AM

Thanks! One other thing worth noting – the owner encourages people to bring in food if you want something tasty (other than the beer). There are restaurants all along that stretch of Broadway, and sometimes food trucks set up during weekend evenings.

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February 12, 2013 | 11:53 AM

We are regulars. It is really nice to walk over, meet friends or make new ones. It’s fun to watch Broadway happen. Now we just need to simply s l o w traffic down , put in bike lanes, put in more bike racks and outdoor cafe seating, planters and a corner gazebo/little plot of land for live music. We already have two good record stores, a bookstore, a great movie theatre. and some fine restaurants.

February 12, 2013 | 1:18 PM

Agreed. The owner has a huge love of that section of Broadway and New Hel is sure to bring a lot more customers who want exactly the kinds of things you’re talking about.

February 13, 2013 | 8:21 AM

Just from the early phases of the soft opening to the last couple weeks, you can taste the improvement of the beer (the stout is excellent) and feel a little buzz building, this is gonna be a great spot!

February 13, 2013 | 11:14 PM

Congrats, David and New Helvetia! We’ll be in to sample some suds!

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