Beer

Brandon Smith, a co-founder of the Hungry Pecker Brewing Company, holds a portrait of country music legend George Jones in Hungry Pecker's taproom.

A dozen years have passed since the Elk Grove Brewery and Restaurant closed its doors in Old Town Elk Grove. That neighborhood finally regained a brewery this month when the Hungry Pecker Brewing Company opened its taproom on Oct. 15.

This operation, located at the corner of Elk Grove Boulevard and Porto Rosa Drive, has a country music theme, a 10-barrel brewing system, and patio walls that resemble giant Lego blocks. Social distancing signs are also placed in the patio where most of the tables were set up.

“The neighborhood was very happy that we got it opened up,” co-founder Preston Hanford said. “We already had two or three employment inquiries, which is awesome.”

Hungry Pecker is Elk Grove’s fifth craft brewery to open in the past four years. The city is also home to the Dreaming Dog, Flatland, Tilted Mash, and Waterman breweries.

Last year, co-founder Brandon Smith told the Citizen that he doesn’t see the scene as a competition.

“Although business is business, and competition is competition – I don’t see it like that, I see it as a community,” the Elk Grove native said.  

As for Hungry Pecker’s name and woodpecker logo, Hanford said that the name stemmed from a running joke between Brandon and his brother Sean Smith. Those homebrewers enjoyed creating  brewery names on the spot.

The name, Hungry Pecker was inspired by the brothers’ hike near Hungry Packer Lake in the Sierras.

“(Sean) said, ‘Did you just say, ‘Hungry Pecker?’” Hanford said. “They thought that would be a great name for a brewery and it just stuck.”

The Smith brothers later created Hungry Pecker as a brand for their homemade beers they entered in competitions. Stickers that bore their woodpecker logo also turned up at businesses in Elk Grove, including Old Town Pizza and Taphouse.

The Hungry Pecker evolved into a commercial brewery last year after city officials approved their Old Town facility.

“Anybody can make good beer, but we feel like we’re going to make great beer with the process we’re setting up,” Brandon said.

He noted there will be a strong focus on the water during their brewing – each beer batch will have a different mineral concentration.

“Right now, we’re starting with a clean slate,” Brandon said, adding that the water’s natural mineral content will be removed and later added back in certain amounts.

During the Citizen’s visit, the brewery had three beers on tap – the staff said that an American-style lager and an India pale ale were in the works. Brandon said they ultimately plan to have 12 beers on tap.  

The brewery’s Possum Porter tap is decorated with a portrait of country music legend George Jones. Brandon pulled out a large portrait of Jones they also plan to display in their taproom. As part of the country motif, the taproom will also have a commissioned painting of other country icons Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, and Wayland Jennings playing poker and enjoying Hungry Pecker beer.  

Brandon said that the taproom will start as a family-run operation.

“We’re trying to do it ourselves to get legs on this baby, and when it’s time to grow, we’ll revamp a few things,” he said.

For more information on the Hungry Pecker Brewing Company, visit their website, https://HungryPecker.com. They are located at 9251 Elk Grove Blvd.