Last April, more than 80 breweries across the Sacramento region could do little but operate like bottle shops.
Customers could only visit to purchase beer in bottles or cans to take home. During the COVID-19 pandemic’s early months, state and county public health officials ordered taprooms to remain closed. Annuals festivities like Sacramento Beer Week and the Elk Grove BrewFest were canceled.
Regulations on what breweries can and cannot do often changed that year, depending on their local county’s status in the state’s color-coded “tier” system. They were eventually allowed to reopen their taprooms as long as customers were seated outside and they purchased a meal with their beer.
“We were not sure what to do on a day-by-day basis,” Andrew Mohsenzadegan, co-owner of Elk Grove’s Flatland Brewing Company, recalled about when the pandemic first impacted local breweries.
He is also the president of the Sacramento Area Brewers Guild, a nonprofit that provides resources and legal answers to breweries during uncertain times.
“On a brewery level, there is so much information but there is no information,” Mohsenzadegan said about the high volume of state regulations for breweries. “You have to read through the gray to see what you can do now – the Brewers Guild filters through that information.”
This month, 22 breweries concocted the “Rising Together” ale as a fundraiser for the guild and to boost business for the return of Sacramento Beer Week. This year’s Beer Week started on April 23 and will end on May 2. Most of the proceeds from sales of Rising Together will benefit the participating breweries while a small portion will support the guild.
“(The breweries) can distribute the funds to their hospitality,” Mohsenzadegan said.
Flatland and other Elk Grove breweries Tilted Mash and Waterman are hosting events such as beer release parties, trivia games, concerts, and dinners. Flatland and Tilted Mash will have five-course dinners paired with their beers.
Jared Nelson, a chef who worked at restaurants in Midtown and Downtown Sacramento, recently joined Flatland. In the works for their new menu are burgers topped with brie and bacon jam, “Cuban Reuben” sandwiches, and housemade kimchi.
“We’re keeping the hamster wheel spinning,” the chef joked about his staff’s brainstormed ideas.
Nelson will organize Flatland’s five-course, ticketed dinner for May 2.
The brewery tends to have dessert-inspired beers, and this week they’re offering “And Bananas,” which is a sour ale that’s flavored with Nilla Wafers and bananas.
That weekend, Waterman will host a May 1 concert by Chance McCauley and they will also feature beers such as El Guapo Mexican Lager and Belgian Rapture Tripel.
As for the Rising Together project, participating breweries were asked to brew their unique version of an India Pale Ale (IPA) recipe provided by Mohsenzadegan.
“You can get as creative as you want with it,” he said about the project. “You can do a little bit of bittering with simcoe (hops) in the kettle and the rest is yours – if you want to dry-hop it or add fruit, add milk sugar, add cocoa nibs, whatever you want.”
His brewery opted to concoct a West Coast-style IPA while their friends at the nearby Tilted Mash brewery chose an unfiltered version that co-owner Jonathan Martinez described as “very tropical and a little bit of dank.”
Martinez and Mohsenzadegan told the Citizen their breweries have been advancing after the pandemic hit their businesses last year.
“We’ve done very well for ourselves and, with the help of the community we’ve been staying ahead of the pandemic,” Martinez said.
He said that his breweries mainly sold beers in cans, which attracted new customers from out of town. Tilted Mash is now moving back into the keg business and Martinez hopes their business can evenly sell cans and kegs.
Mohsenzadegan said that his Flatland company plans to expand its tasting room into a next-door suite and they want to quadruple their beer production.
“It’s just going to be working our tails off, and staying creative and innovative,” he said.
For information on Sacramento Beer Week events, visit www.SacramentoBeerWeek.com. Here are the locations of local, participating breweries: Flatland Brewing Company, 9183 Survey Road; Tilted Mash Brewing, 9175 Union Park Way; and Waterman Brewing Company, 9824 Dino Drive.