The Return of Ruhstaller


Stop. Before you drink that Ruhstaller brew, raise a toast to the legend behind it.

That’s the message J-E Paino, proprietor of the recently revived Ruhstaller beer brand, wants to send out. “This is not about a brewery,” he says, “but about a person. Ruhstaller was a real guy: Capt. Ruhstaller.”

Long story short: A Swiss immigrant named Capt. Frank Ruhstaller came to Sacramento in 1865 and went on to become the city’s unofficial King of Beer. His business ventures were many, including purchasing City Brewery in 1881 and co-founding Buffalo Brewery, which put Sacramento on the map, beerwise.

“It was the city’s largest brewery, and the largest west of the Mississippi,” says Paino. “We were naturally a great beer capital, and Ruhstaller was the leader of that industry.”

The brewery went belly-up in 1942. But now, thanks to Paino and his beer-brewing buddy Peter Hoey, the Ruhstaller brand has come back to Sac. Brewing takes place in three different facilities, according to Paino, and an equal number of brews are on the market: 1881 Red Ale, Captain Black IPA and Hop Sac ’11. “I think it’s a sophisticated beer,” he says. “It goes really well with food, so we’ve had a lot of success with the Mulvaneys, the Granges and the Cortis.”

His goal, he says, is threefold but simple. “I want to make great beer,” says Paino. “This is about great beer. It’s about shining a light on Sacramento’s past, but also about what’s great about Sacramento today.”

Sip yourself a cold one.