The history of craft beer is impressive
Today’s Ruhstaller beer depicts itself as a revival of the Ruhstaller brewery of the late 1880s, both of which have a Sacramento beer and hop heritage. But the similarities between past and present continue with the strong commitment to locally sourced ingredients and quality. Today’s Ruhstaller’s has a California ingredient list that shows almost exclusively California sources. Ruhstaller Brewery of the past was also a highly regarded local ingredients brewery for several decades, beginning just after the California Gold Rush era (1849-1855) and had its demise due to Prohibition from 1920 to 1933.
Captain Frank Ruhstaller arrived in America at the age of 15, arriving in Sacramento in 1865. In Sacramento he began working in breweries and a few years later he bought his first brewery. After his death in 1907, the local newspaper wrote in his obituary: “Without doubt, no death has caused more grief in this city than that of Captain Frank J. Ruhstaller.” He was a beloved gentleman in every way.
The backstory on today’s Ruhstaller beer centers around Sacramento, as it was with the original Ruhstaller Brewery. Frank Ruhstaller built the largest brewery west of the Mississippi in Sacramento. That’s amazing because Sacramento, at one point, had 16 breweries in the city. Much of Sacramento’s economic success was based on population growth (due to the gold rush), agriculture, excellent water sources, the railroad, and access to the ocean. From 1870 to 1880, the Sacramento region became the hop capital of the world due to the success of quality beer. Regional hop producers were even exporting their hops to Europe.
An interesting fact of the time is that Adolphus Busch came to America in 1857. In 1861 he married the daughter of another German immigrant named Eberhard Anheuser. Mr. Anheuser had started a small brewery in St. Louis, MO in 1857. After the Civil War, Busch went to work for his father-in-law at the Anheuser Brewery located “west of the Mississippi.” Here’s what’s interesting: Frank Ruhstaller had built the Ruhstaller Brewery empire in Sacramento to be the largest west of the Mississippi in 1881. He did it on his own.
In an era in California where agriculture was king, it was the quantity, quality and variety of hops that was amazing for that time. Sacramento would eventually become the main supplier of hops to much of the breweries in the United States and around the world.
You could say that Ruhstaller Brewery (old) was one of the first premium craft breweries. They produced a steam beer 15 years before Anchor Steam was founded. According to Beer-FAQ, “Steamed beer is a style of beer that originated in California during the Gold Rush. They are usually clear and crisp like a lager, but also full-bodied like an ale. The taste is roasted and malty, but with quite aggressive hopping and carbonation. The brewing process is unique in that it uses lager yeast but brewed at warmer ale temperatures.“
Taking the banner of the original Rruhstaller brewery, in 2011 Ruhstaller Beer began operating. The culture of the first Ruhstaller Brewery is the foundation of today’s award-winning “Ruhstaller Beer • Sacramento”. The founder and leader of Ruhstaller Beer is Mr. JE Paino. JE, as he prefers to be called, graduated from UC Davis with a degree in business administration; the brewing career emerged later. He strikes me as a down-to-earth type of person who appreciates the team approach and is totally customer-focused. Like many business starters, he is driven by the quality of his ingredients, and that quality starts with the hops, which is Sacramento hops.
JE has been very methodical in building an award-winning craft beer company brand, building on Sacramento’s rich history of beer, grains, and hops. The company has invested a great deal of time and money to nurture the hop industry that remains today. From 3 local hop farms, enough hops are produced to supply Ruhstaller Beer with most of the hops they need, except for the 5% that comes from outside of California. Even barley comes from farmers in Northern California.
JE is not ashamed to believe that California offers the best environmental and terroir conditions for growing premium hops. “I’ve tested it with our own 10 acres of hops,” says Paino. When you drive west on I-80 in Dixon, CA, you can see their hop farm on the side of the road. “At Ruhstaller Beer, we believe that great beer begins with the best ingredients. Like our founder, Captain Frank Ruhstaller, we are partnering with California hop and barley producers to grow the best California ingredients for our beers.
To show how serious Ruhstaller Beer is about their commitment to ingredients, they started a hop school to teach the history of Ruhstaller, the techniques needed to grow premium hops, and help consumers understand the foundation of good beer. In fact, the class is not free, in 2019 they charged $ 30 per participant for 6 sessions and provided lunch and beer.
Interestingly, Sacramento was the hop capital of the world and it is generally recognized that that era began around 1850. A hop producer from that period started a hop farm located in what is now the University of Sacramento. In 1904, that producer was supplying hops to Guinness Brewery.
Research indicates that most people buy craft beer based on regional identity, a recommendation, a positive testing experience, label design, and brand loyalty. If a brewery owner and his employees are passionate about what they are doing, this will inherently drive quality and customer recognition. The value of quality, passion, and a recognizable corporate culture that is recognizable will drive consumer brand loyalty.
To paraphrase a legendary New York City advertising genius: If it doesn’t sell, everything else doesn’t matter. Ruhstaller Beer’s marketing approach has probably had a profound impact on the brand. As just noted, Ruhstaller Beer • Sacramento is built on a storied regional name known for its consistent quality, the support of local producers, and an identity that consumers can identify with. From faucet handles made from old farm implements to the stylized abstract silhouette of a man with a cigar and the name ‘Sacramento’ on their labels; They have created a brand that is easy to understand and creates affinity. Who doesn’t love a success story built on the early history of an upstart West brewery?
In the Yolo County News Article by Bret Johnson, JE Paino (founder of Ruhstaller Beer) says about beer marketing: “You can’t have a good story with a good name. You must have a good beer first. When Sacramento was the biggest In the growing region in In America before Prohibition, brewers competed for quality, not Super Bowl ads. Not for gimmicks. It had to be good beer. That’s why Ruhstaller (the namesake of today’s Ruhstaller) put a gold border on the rim of the glass because it was supposed to be better beer. ” The Ruhstaller family gave Paino one of the original gold-rimmed glasses as a gift.
In that same interview, Paino predicted that beers made with local hops will cost an additional 50 cents per bottle. To justify the cost, it is essential that the consumer is aware of the value and purpose of the quality ingredients that add aromas, flavor and mouthfeel to the quality craft beer experience.
It’s about the Ruhstaller beer. • Sacramento: Yes, the name matters. The resurrection of JE Paino’s iconic name comes with the best wishes of the surviving Frank Ruhstaller family. Today’s Ruhstaller beer is unique in the craft beer industry because of its history. This craft beer brand has roots dating back to 1881 in humble beginnings. The history of Ruhstaller Beer today is the documented history of Frank Ruhstaller, the history of Sacramento as the brewing capital of the western half of the USA, the history of sourcing ingredients, and a deep history of corporate culture. We can always learn from the masters of yesteryear. Mr. JE Paino adds to the Ruhstaller legacy / story by adding a deep understanding of building brand loyalty on the basis of true quality.
History can make good beer!