(Photo Courtesy: American River Brewing Company)
RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. - David Mathis worked in the brewing industry for 18 years before launching American River Brewing with partner and head brewer Andy Armstrong.
David offered a little insight into the Rancho Cordova brewery, their complete range of craft beers, and the brewery's plans for the future.
Can you tell us a little bit about the history of American River?
Me and Andy Armstrong were brewing for BJ's in Roseville and our philosophies really tied together. We started putting the business model together in 2010 and started brewing in November of 2011. Our first beer left the brewery on Friday, January 13, 2012. So Friday the 13th is actually a lucky day for us.
What made you decide on the name American River Brewing?
Well, being in Rancho Cordova, our obvious proximity to the river made it a good fit. But aside from that, the name fits with the community and Sacramento's image. The name will hopefully bring attention to Sacramento as a place for great beer.
How did you get into brewing?
I was 7 years old visiting relatives in Denmark. I tasted a Carlsberg and as soon as I experienced it, I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Years later, I quit my job, went to a local brewery and said, "I'll work for free."
What is American River's approach to brewing?
It's all about balance, enjoyment, social awareness and cultural awareness. Beer is such a unifying element of society. We wanted to make sure we made beers people could enjoy over great conversation.
What beers do you brew?
Our year-round beers are our "Golden Ale", "Coloma Brown", "Sac Special Bitter" California IPA, and our "Firebreak Red Ale". What's cool about our "Firebreak" is that for every keg sold, a donation is made to firefighters burn institute.
Our seasonal beers are our "Deep Six Stout", "Watusi Winter Warmer", "Pumpkin Falls" Ale, "Honey Britches" made with local honey, and our "Incinerator" which was a habanero-based beer that we did for fun.
What is American River's flagship beer?
I'd say it's our "Coloma Brown"
What is your most popular beer right now?
Again, the "Coloma Brown".
What are your tasting room hours?
Wednesday - Friday from 4 p.m. - 8 p.m.
What's your personal favorite of all your beers?
I love everyone of our beers equally. I enjoy different beers at different times of the year.
In regards to that, can you talk a little bit about the "seasonality" of beer and which of your beers work well at what time of the year?
Weather definitely plays a part. The warmer the weather the lighter the beer.
Our Golden Ale is a really good summer beer, very refreshing. Same thing can be said about the SSB.
Our Firebreak is a great later evening, sunset ale that's perfect for year-round easy drinking.
Coloma's also a year-round beer.
Our "Deep Six Stout" is great for late fall, or winter, and our "Watusi" is definitely a winter beer.
We do a "Pumpkin Falls" ale is a great fall beer. It's a beer that brings to mind nostalgic flavors of the season and images of sitting around the table with family.
Are you releasing any special beers for Beer Week?
Our "Morning Wood", English style IPA. It's aged in French oak cabernet barrels from Apple Hill. We aged it for 10 months, special for Sac Beer Week
Besides your beer, what sets you apart?
I know every brewer probably says this, but it's our dedication, passion and absolute love affair with beer. Everything we do in the brewery and in the brewing process is taken so seriously, from the selection of ingredients to the moment it hits the glass. I can't put into words how affected we are by it.
In addition to the tap room, where is your beer currently available?
I'm so appreciative to everyone who's helped us out that I don't want to mention any specific locations and forget another. We're available on tap and bottle throughout Sacramento and the surrounding areas at hotels, restaurants, liquor stores and bars.
Do you plan to distribute out of state?
Yes. We have plans to do so in the future. But we don't want to rush anything. We want to establish our presence in Sacramento first. For every market we move into, I want to make sure everything is perfect. I want to ensure our dedication to quality beer remains priority number one, ahead of expansion. Expanding too quickly can easily result in losing control of quality.
Do you think Sacramento has the potential to reach the likes of craft beer hubs like Portland?
I think Sacramento is poised to be a destination for beer. It has everything you'd want in a local market. I think we can easily compete against the likes of Portland or Seattle - we're just waiting for the spark to ignite it. I wouldn't be here if I didn't believe that.
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