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Ruhstaller, a local brewery in operation for about eight months, launched its newest beer this week, called Captain California Black IPA, and owner J-E Paino said Friday that the company is working on another brew, which should be available by summer.
Bottles went on sale in local stores by early December, after a launch party for the brewery in November, Paino said. To read more about the launch party and the story behind the beer – which recalls Sacramento’s pre-Prohibition-era history, click here.
The brewery, which produces its flagship 1881 Red Ale and seasonal Hop Sac, originally offered its beers on tap at local restaurants such as Mulvaney’s B&L and Selland’s Market-Cafe. The expansion to bottles allows them to be purchased at local markets including Whole Foods, Nugget Markets, Taylor’s Market and Corti Brothers.
“That’s gotten us into Roseville, Folsom, El Dorado Hills and Elk Grove, even Vacaville and Woodland,” Paino said.
Captain California Black IPA is a cross between a dark beer and a traditional India pale ale, Paino said, but the beer isn’t heavy, as some would expect traditionally dark beers such as porters and stouts to be, and unlike most IPAs, it doesn’t rely on bitter hops, but mixes bitter and aromatic hops.
Paino said India pale ales get their name from the times when India was a colony of Great Britain. The beer was brewed in England and loaded up with hops to preserve it on the long voyage to India, after which the hops had become bitter.
“The history of the beer is really that they made it to keep the (British) soldiers happy,” he said.
One quirk in bottling the beers that Paino said was unexpected was that sales went up when a piece of burlap was added around the necks of the bottles for character.
“I think it’s because the burlap calls out to (beer buyers), and they take it off the shelf because they want to touch it, and it ends up in their cart,” he said.
Paino and a friend initially glued the burlap to the bottles themselves, but realizing that they needed a larger workforce, they turned to Pride Industries, which employs people with developmental disabilities.
“They’re great to work with,” he said. “They come by once or twice a week and put the burlap on the bottles for us.”
Paino declined to give details about the next beer in the works, saying only that it will be good for drinking in the summer and will round out the brewery’s portfolio.
Ruhstaller is also looking for a home in the city, and whether it will be solely a production facility or a tap room and brewing facility is yet to be seen.
With Sacramento Beer Week starting Feb. 24, Ruhstaller will be taking part, and Paino said events will include a three-course dinner at Grange with a Q-and-A session, an event at Kupros Bistro and others. For a full list, click here.
One of the events will be a brunch Feb. 26 at Bows & Arrows in Midtown, which is one of the places Ruhstaller is served.
“The response (to Ruhstaller) has been really positive,” said Bows & Arrows co-owner Olivia Coelho. “They have their flagship 1881 red ale, and it’s really good. People love it. I think they have a really captivating story behind the beer, which is really exciting for people.”
The brunch event on Feb. 26 will run from 11 a.m. - 1 or 2 p.m., with the Fat Face Cafe mobile food vendor on the back patio at Bows & Arrows, along with the 1950s truck from Ruhstaller with beer taps on the side.
Coelho said that, with limited space of six taps and 12 bottles at the cafe in the back of the business, the on-tap beers are rotated, but Ruhstaller will remain for sale.
“We want to keep them around,” she said. “If we did take it off draft, we would definitely get the bottles. It’s nice to be able to support the local breweries, especially the ones that are just starting out.”
Brandon Darnell is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow him on Twitter @Brandon_Darnell.