East Sac’s beer cluster

A baker’s dozen craft-brew-focused establishments thrive within walking distance of each other

Marcus Parker of One Speed Pizza pours a cold one.

Marcus Parker of One Speed Pizza pours a cold one.

photo by Karlos Rene Ayala

Hilltop Tavern and OneSpeed Pizza are perched across the street from each other on Folsom Boulevard in East Sacramento. It’s a quick crosswalk trek to transfer from one of Sacramento’s iconic neighborhood bars, well into its old age, to an 8-year-old upstart with a vibrant vibe.

The two establishments couldn’t seem more different, but they share similar traits and have a mutually beneficial relationship. Hilltop and OneSpeed both serve craft beers, with rotating options listed on chalkboards. The former doesn’t serve food, the latter does. Patrons from Hilltop can order food from OneSpeed; guests at OneSpeed might choose to dine and then visit the Hilltop for late-night drinking.

Much like automobile dealerships located in pods or big box retailers lumped together in malls, restaurants and bars in East Sacramento serving craft beers have embraced the “cluster” business model. It’s strength in numbers for suds.

“First and foremost, we’re food-centric, as opposed to a taproom” said Aaron Amaro, the bar manager at OneSpeed. “Beer is their thing. But we make quite a few walks across the street with orders. But it’s all good that people think of us for beer and wine and to try something new.”

Traveling east on Folsom from Alhambra Boulevard, nearly a dozen establishments offer craft beers. Cheaters Bar & Grill, 33rd Street Grill, Cafe Capricho and OBO’ are all within a few blocks of each other and all take craft beer seriously.

Farther east on Folsom Boulevard, Socal’s Tavern, The Shack and Hoppy Brewing Company have been mainstays for decades. Track 7 Brewing will soon join the East Sac craft beer brigade, with its first combined restaurant and taproom in the former location of Les Baux Bakery & Cafe.

Amaro equates the craft beer business to the coffee shop boom.

“Certain coffee and certain places speak to customers,” he said. “It could be the aesthetics of a place, even though there’s another one just down the street. It works because everyone has their niche.”

Dan Thebeau is co-owner of SacYard, the brand new taphouse opening on Saturday, February 10. It’s one block from Canon, the new upscale restaurant that also pours craft beers, and a short distance from Kru, the Japanese restaurant that also has a small selection of rotating craft beers. Hawks Public House also features local craft beers.

“We’re all very different establishments, but we are also part of the blossoming East Sac community,” said Thebeau. “We knew about the other places and it was a contributing factor to why we are here. Everyone has been supportive.”

In addition to West Coast-centric beers, SacYard will serve food-truck fare, and further build on the area’s dining and drinking synergy by offering sandwiches from another East Sac food institution—Corti Brothers.