Taking Back the Old and Making it New

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Often the smells and bells of California call me back, and I return to my native land. On all such trips when with friends I always ask, “What local beer do you all (catch that?) have?” And my friend Emmett was quick to point me to Ruhstaller.

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Ruhstaller was the largest brewery west of the Mississippi before prohibition. After prohibition ran it into the ground it was bought by Budweiser and they henceforth shut it down. But they only bought the rights to Ruhstallers not Ruhstaller. And in lieu of this historic brewery calling from the land of Sierra Nevada Brewery some gents decided that it was time for Sacramento to have Ruhstaller back in our era of craft beer renaissance. And these gentlemen have decided to use all fresh California products to create their historic synthesis of beers.

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The aesthetics at Ruhstaller are very austere and simple reflecting the life of a farmer and his straightforward and quiet life. And in a world fully of people trying to be like Miley Cyrus this is a welcome relief. A real, genuine, welcome relief, just like their good beer. It is real, genuine, and welcome in this world of over saturation to have something simple, strong, and sure.

Over the course of a fall afternoon we imbibed three of their beers: 1881 Red Ale, California Blonde Ale, and the California Tripel. These beers bleed out themes of John Stienbecks Grapes of Wrath with tastes and aromas calling forth themes from modern art to simple canvas.

If your fingers happen to be dancing to clasp a glass bottle and you come across this beer, be sure to grab it for you will not be let down but taken like the wind through the beauty of the American dream.

Until next time, pour proper my friends…

Craft Beer Is Not Enough

I recently had an interaction with an owner of a craft beer store. This is a local vendor in our small town. Little did I know this would become an attitude revealing experience. This person, who shall remained unnamed, had commented on a photo of one of my beer hauls saying, “Hey, we have those beers locally, you should come look at our selection.” I replied with glee and excitement. Now the beers I had purchased in a town a distance away from my house when my wife and I had an appointment there for another reason. Point being, we did not drive just for beer, but ended getting beer when we drove to our appointment. And we make it a point to usually buy our craft beer locally, but when out of town curiosity kills the cat!

So when I had the occasion I went into this unnamed establishment to peruse their so called “selection.” When I walked in I was in the middle of a conversation with my friend and we greeted the clerk on duty before he greeted us. When we asked him, in a nice fashion, “Hows your day?” He replied, “Depends on how much you buy.” I do not know this person from hell or high water. And to me, as someone who has worked in customer service all his life, this was not an appropriate answer to give a customer. My boss, the owner of small retail shop, even confirmed the clerks reply as an inappropriate option of communication.

To boil this story off a little more I then let the owner of the store know that I thought the customer service was lacking that day, to which this person then replied, “I was told the clerk could not get a word in edgewise?” Yes because I was in the middle of a conversation already. To which the owner replied, “Your apparently not the sharpest tool in the shed because you buy beer out of town that you could buy at my shop.” Hum… I thought that’s why I took the initiative to go into your shop?

To this I reply to my community reminding them that “craft beer is not enough” it takes good customer service, a knowledgeable staff, friendliness, and good old fashioned normal behavior to create an environment where people want to spend their hard earned money on the luxury item that craft beer is. Remember that. Respect that.

Usually this is not the problem because craft beer is so easy to get excited about. But not this day. Apparently this vendor is making so much money in our small town of hicks who drink Budweiser that they don’t need my money.

To those of you who have good customer service and strive to give it I commend you and raise my pint to you because with today’s grouchy customers, myself included (sometimes!) It is rare skill to be able to navigate the minefield of customers peculiar desires. Its not enough to have an item. Having something does not make you “cool” or “grandfather” you in. Being in this market is difficult and we dont have something that appeals to the mass community even though it should. And the cost of good craft beer makes it become a luxury item so it limits the people you can sell it to.

You only get one chance with customers the first time, fight to make a good reputation because first encounters can tarnish your reputation for years to come.

You can be sure, I wont be supporting this store anymore, even if they have craft beer, because its not enough. Let this be a sobering reminder to love our neighbors and let the craft beer that brings us together be the reason that we stay together.

Until next time, pour proper my friends.