Local suds lover opens a brewery
By Ralph Montaño
Something’s brewing on Broadway.
On a recent Friday night, I headed to the corner of Broadway and 18th Street to check it out. Inside a building that used to be a tortilla factory, something else is cooking. Hops, grains, yeast and water are the four ingredients. Put them all together in the right combination and you have beer.
On Dec. 6, his 39th birthday, Sacramento native and South Land Park resident David Gull opened New Helvetia Brewing Company. There was not a lot of fanfare to mark the occasion. It was a low-key event offering tastings of two brews: a lager and a pale ale.
Since then, word has been getting around. By the time I showed up in early January, the tasting room had a decent crowd of about 20 people filtering in and out. They tried the beer with the owner and watched as the brewmaster and assistants set up equipment to create the next batch, a Belgian farmhouse ale.
“Our goal is to grow organically and phase it in one piece at a time,” Gull said. He promised he will hold a formal grand opening at some point.
Owning a brewery is not what Gull envisioned he would be doing five years ago. At that time, he was in real estate.
“I’m a place-making person,” said Gull. “I want to make places that matter to people and to the community at large.” He’s a longtime member of Greater Broadway Partnership, a nonprofit organization that aims to foster new businesses and retain existing businesses in the Broadway corridor.
Previously, Gull worked on the Broadway Lofts project, a commercial and housing project on 19th and Broadway that was to be the new home of Freeport Bakery. Although the plan was approved by the city, the real estate market crashed and the project never happened. When Gull was laid off, he began working on the idea of a brewery.
He developed an interest in beer while attending college in Oregon in the 1990s. Beer making was undergoing a revolution of sorts at the time, and the college town of Eugene was at the center of it.
“I was surrounded by great beer,” Gull said. “It was everywhere you went up there. Then I came back here and couldn’t find any of that beer here.” The local beer scene has progressed since the 1990s, and Gull thought it was a good time to get into the brewery business.
Sacramento has a long heritage when it comes to beer. At one time, the county was filled with fields of hops that were used to make Buffalo Beer at a brewery where The Sacramento Bee is currently located, on Q Street at 21st.
New Helvetia’s tasting room features posters from Buffalo Beer. Some came from people who heard about his brewery, others from his uncle, who was a bartender at Buffalo Club, now a Wells Fargo bank at 19th and S streets.
“I’m here because I think Sacramento needs something like this,” Gull said. “I hope the community will embrace it.”
Best Friend Friday at Sierra 2
Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op and One Farm at a Time will host the Best Friend Friday monthly mixer at Sierra 2 Center for the Arts and Community on Friday, Feb. 22.
The event runs from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Admission costs $5. Appetizers will be served, and beer and wine will be available for purchase. Proceeds will go to the One Farm at a Time project, which works to save local farms.
Best Friend Friday is a monthly social mixer and networking event at which local nonprofits partner with Sierra 2 Center to bring awareness to their organizations. For more information, call 452-3005 or go to sierra2.org.
Free Museum Entry This Month
Thirty local museums will offer free or half-priced admission on Sacramento Museum Day, which takes place Saturday, Feb. 2, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sacramento Museum Day is a popular cultural tradition that encourages everyone to experience the city’s wealth of art, history, science and wildlife, said Roxanne Yonn, chair of Sacramento Association of Museums.
“We are thrilled to celebrate 15 years of this incredibly popular community event,” said Yonn. “With each passing year, more and more community members are introduced to the amazing array of arts, culture and museum offerings available in the Sacramento region.”
This year, 28 museums will offer free admission all day on Sacramento Museum Day. Two Land Park destinations, Sacramento Zoo and Fairytale Town, will offer half-priced admission.
On Feb. 2, admission to the zoo will cost $5.75 for adults, $3.75 for children 2 to 11 and nothing for children younger than 2. Admission to Fairytale Town is $2.50 for everyone and free for children 1 and younger.
Sacramento Museum Day is supported by Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau, Umpqua Bank and Chipotle Mexican Grill.
Many museums in downtown and Old Sacramento are within walking distance of each other and easily accessible using public transportation. Officials suggest visiting two or three museums in one day in order to allow adequate time to enjoy the experience and to travel between individual sites.
Due to the popularity of Sacramento Museum Day, some locations will limit the number of admissions for safety reasons. For a complete list of participating museums, go to sacmuseums.org.
Second Saturday Reception
Sacramento Poetry Center will hold a Second Saturday reception on Feb. 9 for a show called “The Writer’s Brush,” celebrating local poets who are also visual artists. Writer/artists including Jennifer O’Neill Pickering and Tim McHargue will read from their works. The reception is from 5 to 9 p.m. The show runs through February. The center is at 1719 25th St. For more information, call 240-1897 or go to sacramentopoetrycenter.com.