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David and Liz Brown, the owners of the Dreaming Dog Brewery, pose before photographs of their customers’ dogs.

David Brown sat next to a fireplace and a wall that’s covered with more than a hundred framed photographs of dogs. Customers gave these pictures of their pets to his staff at the Dreaming Dog Brewery since they opened their Elk Grove taproom in 2017.

At the center of the wall is a large photograph of Brown’s pet, Mason. The Belgian Malinois was the model for his brewery’s logo of a dog that’s sound asleep.

When Brown first spoke to the Citizen nearly five years ago, he emphasized the German  gemütlichkeit ethic of providing a cozy place for customers to relax with friends and enjoy the craft beer that was brewed next to the taproom.

During his Jan. 7 interview with the Citizen, he said that a regular customer recently visited him outside business hours.  He simply wanted to thank him and his staff.

“’I never felt anything other than welcomed here,’” Brown recalled him saying. “’You welcomed my kids here, you allowed us to come in and have family time together – we always felt this was a welcoming place.’ That’s what we always strived for.”

Last week, the Dreaming Dog staff announced they are closing their doors. Brown and his wife, Liz will run their taproom until the end of January. Their staff will then finish up their operations next month and vacate. Brown currently does not have plans for what to do with his brewing equipment.

The owners were unable to renew their lease for their spot at 2501 West Taron Court in the Stonelake neighborhood. They long had a contentious relationship with the property owner, California Northstate University (CNU), which owns a medical school next to the brewery.

The CNU administration had plans to build a 13-story teaching hospital, which would have forced Dreaming Dog to relocate. Last year, the college canceled its Elk Grove plans after facing opposition from neighbors and environmentalists. They are instead focusing on the former Sleep Train Arena site in Sacramento for their new hospital.

In 2020, Dreaming Dog filed a civil suit against CNU for allegedly breaching its contract, not making needed foundation repairs for the brewery’s building as well as not following up on their promise to move the brewery. The lawsuit remains in court.

A CNU spokesperson could not be reached for comment, as of press time.

Brown told the Citizen there is a possibility that his brewery could relocate, but he noted the financial and licensing challenges.

“The whole licensing and permitting process is not inconsequential, and the cost is not inconsequential as well,” he said.  

Dreaming Dog was Elk Grove’s fourth craft brewery and they were the first to open in an Elk Grove neighborhood that’s west of Highway 99. Brown was a retired Frontier Communications engineer who brewed beer at home for 20 years before he entered the brewing business.  

They specialize in a variety of European beer styles rather than just focusing on a few. Each beer is named after a dog breed such as the Dickens English Chocolate Lab Porter and the Xoloitzcuintli Mexican Lager, which was a hit at the taproom.

“Some people think that’s a good thing and some people think that’s weird,” Brown said about the diverse beer styles. “I don’t care because our customers love what we produce.”

He mentioned his brewery’s participation in fundraisers such as a benefit for the victims of the 2017 wildfire in Santa Rosa, and a collaboration with the Elk Grove Police K9 Association to host a classic car show. That 2019 car show raised more than $10,000 for the memorial fund of fallen Sacramento Police Officer Tara O’Sullivan.

Elk Grove police spokesperson Jeremy Banks said that Dreaming Dog was a valuable partner of the Elk Grove Police K9 Association.

“We are proud to call them friends and wish the entire family nothing but success in their future endeavors,” he said.

Brown reflected on the good times held in the past four and a half years at his taproom.

“There has not been a person who walked through that door that hasn’t become friends of ours,” he said. “We’ve enjoyed all of the relationships, and quite frankly, it’s breaking our hearts.”

For more information on the Dreaming Dog Brewery, visit www.DreamingDogBrewery.com/.