n TASTE Greg Baughman’s Gold River Distillery was the Sacramento area’s first distillery when it opened in 2013. Still, Norton believes there is enough variety among Rancho Cordova’s brewer- ies to offer something for everyone. “Ev- ery brewery really has their own unique stamp,” she says. “I kind of compare them to chefs, where they have their own pal- ates and vision for what they want to do and how to fill a niche.” Indeed, the brew- ing styles, themes and volumes vary wild- ly among the six breweries, and each tast- ing room has a unique vibe. There is extreme variance even among the city’s two craft distillers. Gold River is a small-batch distillery with a modest tasting room in a facility smaller than 3,000 square feet. J.J. Pfister has a 16,000 square-foot “factory” where one-ton grain bags are lifted into the mash with a crane, and a lavish tasting room that can be rent- ed out for private events. Greg Baughman opened Gold River Distillery in 2013, and even then he found an enthusiastic partner in Rancho Cordo- va. “The City was excited and welcomed the idea of having the first distillery in the Sacramento area with open arms,” 36 comstocksmag.com | February 2019 he says. “There was almost never a ‘no’ answer, there were no permitting issues, there was no pushback.” These distillery tasting rooms only ex- ist because of a recent change in state law that created a tied-house system much like the one that inspired an explosion of small, regional breweries across Califor- nia. “It’s called a Type 74 license,” says Kevin Keck, owner of J.J. Pfister. “It allows us to have a distribution point contiguous with a distillery.” The craft beer world’s preference for collaboration over competition has also influenced the expanding craft distillery scene, leading to a cooperative branding effort like The Barrel District. “With ev- eryone being so close together, it made sense to band together and put together a map and work on promoting each other’s brands,” Baughman says. “Having Pfister come on board allowed us to talk about another distillery, and it allows Pfister to talk about us as well.” Keck agrees: “It’s a rising-tide- lifts-all-boats situation,” he says. “It would be great for us if there were more distilleries.” There is some question whether Ran- cho Cordova has reached a craft beverage critical mass. Norton believes that there is “definitely more room” in Rancho Cordo- va, but Alexander thinks the city may have reached its brewery capacity: “I think that now we should just try to elevate the ones that we have.” However, Baughman is more bullish on the potential for growth in Rancho Cor- dova. “I know a lot of people say that the scene is in Sacramento, but then you’ve got Folsom doubling in size and Rancho keeps expanding,” he says. “There’s a lot of thirsty people out here.” n Daniel Barnes is a freelance writer, film critic, beer enthusiast and member of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle. His work has appeared in the Sacramento Bee, Sacramento News & Review, East Bay Ex- press, Philadelphia Weekly, San Antonio Current and elsewhere.