We’ve made a couple recent trips to the Sacramento area and visited 6 breweries. Here’s a rundown on what to expect at each one.
Sudwerk (Folsom & Davis)
Sudwerk is somewhat unique among California breweries in that they mostly stick to traditional German styles. You probably won’t find a triple IPA or a sour here. Both the Folsom and Davis restaurants are nice, but I prefer the atmosphere of the Davis location where they actually brew the beer. The Davis restaurant sports a bar that surrounds old school brass brewing equipment that the brewery still uses for smaller batches. They also a have nice spacious patio.
While we found some of the beers to be overly perfumey, overall Sudwerk makes some excellent brews. If you want a taste of pilsners and marzens made the way they’re supposed to be made Sudwerk is one of your best bets anywhere short of a trip to Germany. The food here is great and we received good service at both locations.
River City is located in the K Street Mall (aka Sacramento Downtown Plaza). You would think being in a shopping mall would ruin the atmosphere but it’s not too bad and definitely convenient within walking distance of downtown and Old Sacramento. The food here is good but overpriced. The beer is good, but not excellent. My favorite is the Woodenhead Ale, a hoppy and flavorful amber.
Hoppy is a weird place. One half of the restaurant is a swanky bar with a nice view of the brewing facility. The other half looks like a crappy strip mall diner. Their lame label art doesn’t help the situation. Hoppy’s flagship Amber is good and the other beers aren’t terrible, but they’re nothing to get excited about. The food was also mediocre. While the beer and food aren’t bad, and the service was good, you can do better for quality and atmosphere elsewhere in Sacramento.
New Helvetia (not the font, that’s Helvetica) is a fantastic neighborhood nano-brewery. We really enjoyed the casual atmosphere. It’s a small place with some indoor seating and patio seating. They don’t serve food (aside from pretzels) but there is a weekly schedule of food trucks that park right outside serving up delicious food that you are welcome to bring inside. People brought their kids and there were a couple dogs hanging out on the patio. The beer was mostly excellent. Their saison, red wheat, and Harvest Thunderbeast IPA were very good. We liked the Thunderbeast so much we bought a growler full. The only beer we didn’t like was their Fresh Hop Double IPA. It was overly sweet and grassy.
Track 7 is similar to New Helvetia in a lot of ways. They look to operate on about the same scale, and they also have a food truck schedule to compensate for the lack of a kitchen. The atmosphere is a bit different in that they’re in a warehouse near the freeway instead of a more residential area, but once you step inside the vibe is similar. We got a sampler and all the beers we tried were excellent.
We saved the best for last. Rubicon is the best mix of great beer, good food, and good atmosphere. We’ve visited Rubicon more often than any of the other Sacramento breweries. Rubicon is so awesome they recently had to open a new brewing facility to keep up with demand, but the restaurant is still in the same location just down the street from the state capitol. It’s a fun neighborhood with a mix of nice restaurants, funky bars, and gay nightclubs. Every beer we’ve had at Rubicon is good. Recently we enjoyed a cask conditioned Hopsauce double IPA and Devil’s Revolt, a blonde fermented with apple cider and aged in chardonnay barrels. Both are excellent, as are their IPA, Red Ale, and bitter. The food at Rubicon is very tasty. We’ve enjoyed everything we’ve ordered including the Rubi-Q Burger and steak sandwich. We’ve always received good service from the friendly staff.