Q and A with Mr. Sacramento, Walt Gray

Walt Gray. Photo courtesy News 10

Walt Gray. Photo courtesy News 10

Popular local TV news anchor Walt Gray could be called Mr. Sacramento. He’s been a TV news fixture in this town covering stories for more than 25 years. On the air and in person he’s friendly, affable, and makes you feel at ease. He can also throw out some zingers that might sting! (He had a few in our Q & A. )
Walt started off at KCRA doing sports and then moved on over to the anchor chair. He left the cozy confines of KCRA to host a morning radio show at KSEG-FM. It was a really bold move. After his brief encounter at the Eagle, he’s back in the anchor chair of his new home, KXTV News 10, where he “has the keys to the 5 p.m. newscast” as Walt put it.
He also gets to work with his wife, meteorologist Monica Woods, who’s a popular TV personality in her own right. Walt and Monica reside in Land Park with their three children.
Wanna know Walt’s favorite craft beer, most memorable story, and who should join the Deadbeat Club? Check out the Land Park News Q & A with Walt Gray.
Q. Let’s get to the important stuff first. You seem to enjoy a refreshing adult beverage. I’ve run into you at Track 7 in City Farms and I saw you tipping back a pint at New Helvetia on Broadway with some co-workers. What is your go-to local craft beer?
A. New Helvetia’s Buffalo Lager is my favorite. I like the location and I’d been talking to David Gull about his “project” before the doors opened. I can walk home from there if I have too many. It doesn’t take much anymore. I like lagers and avoid light beer. Light beer is like flavored yellow water.
Q. How long have you lived in Land Park and what are some of the things you enjoy about the neighborhood?
A. Seven years in LP. I like our friends…the schools…the zoo/golf course… everything. The Broadway vibe with the ethnic restaurants is great too. Plus, we’re five minutes from News10!
Q. Lots of great places to grab a bit in Land Park; Tower Café, Jaime’s, Willie’s Hamburgers to name a few. When you get the hungries where does Walt go?
A. The kids order Famous Pizza on Freeport every Friday night, so I get what they don’t finish. Iron Restaurant for a bite and Riverside Clubhouse too. I used to live in India so I hit the Katmandu Kitchen on Broadway for some tandoori and a Kingfisher or Taj Mahal lager.
Q. You were at KCRA for over 25 years. Then you transitioned to Morning Radio on the Eagle with the Walt Gray Show. What made you decide to leave KCRA and do mornings at KSEG besides getting to wear shorts and a t-shirt?
A. I had been at KCRA for 25 years and would have been fine dying there. I’d always been part of their current and future plans and didn’t feel that was the case anymore. That’s not acceptable, at least to me. Being relevant to a station is relevant to me.
Q. Seemed like they pulled the plug a bit early on the Morning Show. Did you see the handwriting on the wall or were you completely blind-sided?
A. I was surprised, sure. The show was highly rated for men 54-plus, but the other demographics needed work. The big boss who hired me retired shortly after I came in…and my immediate boss was let go a week before my show was canceled.
It went from handwriting on the wall to blaring, flashing neon lights. The new big boss was brought in to be a *^%*, and he did perform his role quite well. Had I known the two guys that hired me would have departed so quickly, I’d have stayed at KCRA.
Q. What music are you listening to these days?
A. Current pop (100.5 FM) and New Country (105.1). When James Taylor passes away, I may have to take the day off. I did when Sinatra died.
Q. You’re an avid biker. What kind of motorcycle do you have and what are some of the rides you like to go on?
A. I am in-between bikes right now. I’ve had a Harley Softtail and Dyna wide glide. It’s tough to ride on weekends when the kids have soccer, theater, play dates and sleepovers. I just can’t take off for five hours on the bike and tell Mom “good luck.”
Q. Now you’re back at it with News 10. How is News 10 different than KCRA?
A. As of today, I have the keys to the 5 p.m. newscast and a mandate of “go out and be myself.” That’s very unusual for a newscast anchor. They want me to opine and guide viewers through the newscast with my experiences. I’ve often said I think I’ve been to every tavern on every road within a two hour drive from Sacramento. I’ve met lots of good and real people. They want me to tell those stories.
Q. What is it like working so closely with your wife meteorologist Monica Woods? “Lets go to Monica in the weather center and yes I forgot to pick up a gallon of milk.”
A. We drink vanilla almond milk to be specific! She’s very passionate about everything she does and keeps me on my toes during the newscast. We don’t see much of each other during the day…She’s in her “weather zone” and doing KFBK radio hits.
It’s not much different for us getting the kids off to school or making dinner. We’ve known each other for 17 years so familiarity helps on TV.
Q. Do you ever keep in touch with the old school Sacramento TV broadcasters like Dave and Lois, Stan Atkinson, or Bette Vasquez?
A. I see Stan Atkinson on a semi-regular basis. He really was my mentor. He taught me about community service and giving back. He didn’t do it because he had to. He was in a position to help those who needed it and he chose to go all in. I served 11 years on the Mercy Foundation All-Star Weekend board with him, and then I transitioned to my own charity for 12 years, the “Walt Gray Ride for Make a Wish.” I was lucky to clear $600,000 for kids. I follow Dave and Lois’ retirement travels on Facebook. They’re an amazing couple on and off the air.
Q. How is local TV news different today than it was back in the “Stan and Margaret Era”?
A. It’s not all that different, except people have many more choices of how they get news. As recently as the mid-80s, you didn’t have cable or satellite. It was just the local stations. Budgets are tighter now because the ad dollars are smaller (but still good). We, like all businesses, try to do more with less.
Q. Which broadcasters do you look up to and admire?
A. Colin Cowherd on ESPN radio is incredibly gifted with the word. I love listening to him but wonder why couldn’t I be like that! I think ABC World News Tonight anchor David Muir is what the future face of network news. Young guy who gets out of the studio a lot.
Q. You’ve covered many stories over your career, but I’m sure the Jaycee Dugard kidnapping case must have been the most memorable. I remember convicted rapist/kidnapper Phil Garrido contacted you at KCRA. He even wrote several letters to you personally. That must have been strange and creepy. How did you feel about that?
A. I don’t know why he contacted me, except that he lived in Antioch which meant he did get Sacramento TV. Once we talked on the phone, I became his media contact to the outside world. I wasn’t opposed to that because it was a huge story which I was on top of. I was live on CNN, MSNBC, the Today Show and national radio. It was surreal, but the only upside was my folks got to watch me more on TV back in Rhode Island.
Q. Way back when you were the sports anchor on KCRA you had an entertaining feature called “The Deadbeat Club.” You’d call out a sports figure for being a deadbeat underneath the song of the same name from the B-52’s. Who would make the Deadbeat Club these days?
A. I think I’d put the Sacramento Kings in it today for retiring too many players’ jerseys these days in order to promote those nights to sell tickets. The Kings have more retired jerseys than the Lakers now. That’s just silly.
Q. What do you think of the Sacramento River Cats switching AAA affiliates from the Oakland A’s to the San Francisco Giants?
A. I can see why the River Cats made the switch, but I feel bad for the A’s organization that was nothing but loyal to the River Cats ownership and moved the team her from Vancouver. Once again, another defeat for the A’s organization versus the Giants. It’s the tackle of those two cities. Everybody loves San Francisco.
Q. I read where your Dad was a Rhode Island State Senator. There were actually some rumblings and whispers that you might run for public office in Sacramento. Was that just a rumor or are you still considering running for office?
A. I talked to my Dad and he was actually angry it even came up. Serving in public office is difficult…you actually can’t win. I’m not in a position right now with a young family to be spending time in Washington and flying back and forth. I wouldn’t want to miss Land Park Soccer games. Time goes by quickly with the kids and I don’t want to miss that.
Q. Okay, last question. Vic’s Ice Cream or Gunther’s?
A. Vic’s is down the street. Love it. I’ve had lots of grilled cheese sandwiches. Plus, they give you a ton of potato chips!

Greg@valcomnews.com

OVER THE FENCE: The WPA Rock Garden in Land Park is in jeopardy

Daisy Mah, who has transformed the garden into a Sacramento Shangri-la, is retiring in October. All of the beauty and uniqueness of the WPA Rock Garden is in jeopardy if the City Of Sacramento doesn’t replace Daisy with somebody who has similar expertise. It will be tough to fill her shoes. Too bad cloning is out of the question.

There needs to be someone who can step in and not miss a beat. Another horticulture genius with the same amount of passion and intricate knowledge of what makes the garden so special. Daisy is an encyclopedia of knowledge when it comes to plants, trees and flowers, not to mention the butterflies and bees. They’re all connected.

When I visited the lush rock garden, Daisy was giving a tour to 17 local residents interested in learning more about the unique garden that she has been tirelessly tending since 1986. “Sometimes I feel like Mrs. Winchester…planting and planting and planting …”

Daisy knows her stuff. The day I visited, the hummingbirds were humming, the carpenter bees were buzzing, and the pipevine swallowtails were wafting overhead enjoying the garden. In fact, I think I heard one of them whisper, “Don’t go, Daisy.”

Candace Espinosa, one of the park workers said, “I don’t think 10 people could do what she does.” There are approximately 22 volunteers who help Daisy in the garden. Bill Leddy, one of the volunteers, “loves the chaos of the garden” and thinks the “right sort of noises are coming out of the City.”

Lets hope so.

Daisy told me she’s fatigued and ready to retire and pursue other interests even though she added, “the garden is my child.” At the end of the tour, everybody applauded.

There is an online petition that was started by Jeff Weir to support the WPA Rock Garden. They want Parks and Rec to know the depth and admiration people have for the garden and their heartfelt desire that the garden be maintained as Daisy designed it. They want somebody with the horticulture knowledge to continue maintaining the Land Park Gem. Here is a link to the petition. http://www.change.org/petitions/support-the-wpa-rock-garden <http://www.change.org/petitions/support-the-wpa-rock-garden>

One of the petition signers, Mary Chilcote, wrote:

“Please don’t be short sighted about this gem in the midst of our city. It would be a tragedy to see all of the work Daisy has done over the years just go to seed. PLEASE, PLEASE hire someone with the knowledge base to keep this little oasis going.”

Holly Holt of Fair Oaks added, “When people create beauty in the world, it is worth saving.” Sign the petition and help continue the beauty that is the WPA Rock Garden.

* * * * * *

Kids will no longer be heard singing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” or the “ABC Song” at Brick Oven Pizza in South Land Park. The long-standing pizza joint in the South Land Park Hills Shopping Center has decided to end their monthly Family Karaoke Nights. They have had Family Karaoke for over five years every first Friday of the month and just decided “it was time to end it“.

It was a pleasure to see families sing songs, eat pizza and do something the whole family could enjoy. Wendy Reynolds said this would “leave a big void in the family karaoke market.” They even had a big box of children’s toys the kids would play with while waiting their turn at the karaoke mic.

Gary, the owner, said, “it was time to move on.” He also mentioned the high cost of the entertainment license and how they would have “more dart nights at the BOP.” So I guess look for Family Dart Throwing Night at Brick Oven Pizza.

Bethy Evans, the karaoke host, mentioned she’d love to do Family Karaoke on Saturday nights. Perhaps another local area pizzeria will take it over and make it a success. It would be as simple as ABC.

* * * * *

I hate to pit business owner against business owner but I received a juicy gossip item about a couple of business owners that had an “unpleasant exchange” as one of the owners described it. The other business owner mentioned, “it was ugly.”

You’ve heard of the Rumble in the Jungle right? This was more like the Rumble On Riverside. “In this corner…weighing in at…” OK, you get the picture.

It all started when one business owner visited the store of another business owner, just to have a look see and maybe get some new ideas. It went downhill from there with one owner threatening to call the cops if the visiting owner didn’t “get the H out of her store.”

When the visiting owner mentioned there were a few more items she’d like to look at, that’s when the shop owner went ballistic. A call to the cops was threatened. I spoke to both ladies on the phone and neither of them wanted to go on record about the “Rumble On Riverside.”

One of the business owners mentioned a summit where they could share appetizers at the Riverside Clubhouse and come to an understanding about the incident. If Gorbachev and Reagan could do it, maybe there is hope.

* * * * *

Two things that go great together are bowling and beer. Am I right or am I right? Nobody has a glass of tea when they bowl. Land Park Lanes is still serving up the bowling and the beer. It’s Americana. It also helps you forget the fact you’re wearing funny looking rental shoes that were just doused with anti-fungal spray.

The pitchers of beer at Land Park Lanes have one little problem. They have a metal compartment that stores ice cubes inside the actual pitcher. I love ice-cold beer, but not if it’s going to take up valuable beer space. They should ditch the cheater pitchers of beer and go with regular pitchers. That’s a full glass of beer we’re losing out on!

* * * * *

I recently solicited community suggestions for the vacant capital Nursery site in Freeport Boulevard. One reader wrote he’d like to see a venue for beer and wine festivals.

This prompted Land Park resident Pinki Cockrell to send me an e-mail stating she was “alarmed by the notion.” She further stated: “A festival venue would more often compete with, and detract from efforts of established charities and community events. It is already difficult to coordinate dates for so many galas to ensure that none compromises the success of another–I know, I’m a volunteer!”

Pinki’s suggestions for the former Capital Nursery site? A skating rink, pee-wee golf, and an indoor fitness center to name a few. Then she said “wait, I know…how about a fabulous nursery!!?”

If you have any gossip, or items of interest, feel free to send them my way. Greg@valcomnews.com

Sacramento’s annual ‘Juneteenth’ celebration comes to William Land Park, June 14-16

12th Annual Sacramento Juneteenth Celebration will be held on June 14-16 at William Land Park. Seen at center is 2012 Juneteenth Talent Contest winner, Reyna Armour.

12th Annual Sacramento Juneteenth Celebration will be held on June 14-16 at William Land Park. Seen at center is 2012 Juneteenth Talent Contest winner, Reyna Armour.

Hundreds of attendees will grace the grounds of William Land Park on June 14-16 when the 12th Annual Sacramento Juneteenth Celebration of Freedom comes to town.
Also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, Juneteenth is the annual observance of the end of slavery in the United States.
Specifically, the observance marks the date of June 19, 1868 that Union soldiers adhered to President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation; freeing all remaining slaves in Galveston, Texas.
The festive Sacramento celebration will include a host of live music, activities, and a plethora of good eats cooked up by some of the best local restaurants and independent proprietors.
The event also features the popular “Juneteenth Talent Show,” where the best of the best in dance, spoken word, and song compete for prizes.
The inception of the event was the brainchild of the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Multicultural Affairs division, which focuses on supporting and creating the community’s cultural and ethnic festivals.
The department decided to coordinate an occasion to commemorate Juneteenth, as there wasn’t one of its kind being held locally.
“We originally put it together as a show of love to the community,” said department director Gary Simon. “It’s now grown to be ‘the’ festival to celebrate Juneteenth in the Sacramento area.”
The family orientated event will include children’s activities, such as face painting, magic shows, and water slides.
Attendees will be able to enjoy a fishing derby, the Juneteenth Educational Theater that will focus on the historical time-line representing the African slave trade, a health and wellness area providing on-site health screenings and healthy cooking demonstrations, and plenty of vendors offering arts and crafts throughout the weekend.
Local soldiers will also be honored with awards at the event.
Simon noted that the multifaceted celebration aims to feature something for everyone, as it was created for all people to enjoy.
“Juneteenth is a part of American history not just ‘African American history,’” Simon said. “Defeating the confederacy gained freedom not just for African Americans, but for Americans in general.”
The spacious, shady park will be filled with festive fun on June 14, when several of the Sacramento area’s best gospel artists perform at the celebration’s official kick-off event, Gospel Under the Stars.

Seen are children enjoying the fishing derby at last year’s Juneteenth celebration.

Seen are children enjoying the fishing derby at last year’s Juneteenth celebration.

The soiree will take place from 7:30-9 p.m.
Activities on June 15 will run from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. beginning with the Freedom Walk fundraiser.
The one-mile walk will benefit St. Hope public schools; participants from age 8 and up can take part in the event.
Registration is open at  www.RunRSA.org.
The Emancipation Proclamation Parade will follow the walk at 11 a.m.
Attendees can groove to local jazz and R&B artists, including Prophecy, Ayanna Charlene, Jackie Bryant, Shawn Raiford and Saxual Chocolate, and Karla Fleming, will perform on the Main Stage throughout the evening.
The big weekend will conclude on June 16 with a golf tournament at 7:30 a.m.; team registrations will begin at 6 a.m.
Golf enthusiasts will be awarded with trophies and prizes at the event.
William Land Park is located at 3800 Land Park Drive.
For more information about the Sacramento Juneteenth Celebration, visit www.SacramentoJuneteenth.com.

Buffalo Brewery men were interred at East Lawn Memorial Park

Editor’s Note: This is part 10 in a series about the rich history of and associated with East Sacramento’s award-winning East Lawn Memorial Park.

Sacramento has been known as a political city, a city of trees and many other things during a large portion of its existence. And among its greatest achievements was becoming a city of breweries, which included the Buffalo Brewing Company.
In the previous article of this series, Philip Scheld, who was interred at East Lawn Cemetery (today’s East Lawn Memorial Park), was celebrated for his proprietorship of the Sacramento Brewery, which was established a short distance from Sutter’s Fort in 1849.
Many other breweries were opened in the capital city during the 19th century.
An example of the production of local breweries during the 19th century was recorded in the county assessment books for 1872.
This source notes that in that year, Sacramento had eight breweries that produced 252,000 gallons of beer.
Furthermore, according to the 1880 book, “The History of Sacramento County, California,” the area’s eight local breweries in 1878 “made, in aggregate, 530,200 gallons of beer, and in 1879, 560,000 (gallons of beer).”
With a walk around East Lawn Memorial Park, one can find the final resting places of several men who were associated with the Buffalo Brewing Company, which was also known as the Buffalo Brewery, and was for many years under the direction of Buffalo Brewery, Inc.
Certainly the most notable of these brewery men were the German-born Herman H. Grau (1846-1915) and William E. Gerber (1852-1928), who were both interred at East Lawn Cemetery.
Herman, a former East Coast brewer who came to Sacramento from Buffalo, N.Y. in about 1886, was the man who organized the Buffalo Brewery, which would eventually become the largest brewery west of the Mississippi.
At the age of 12, Herman came to America and settled in Buffalo, N.Y.
Along with his wife, New York native J.F. Bertha (Ziegele) Grau (1848-1915), who he married in Buffalo prior to coming to Sacramento, Herman had nine children.
Herman’s association with William became an important part of the city’s brewery history, as these men laid out the plans for the Buffalo Brewery.
In addition to his involvement with the Buffalo Brewery, William, a New York native who came to Sacramento in 1860 and was eventually the secretary of the Buffalo Brewery, served, at different times during his life, as president of the California National Bank and chairman of that bank’s board.
William, who studied in Sacramento schools and the St. Louis Academy and at a business school in Buffalo, was also, at a various times, a bookkeeper and co-owner of a grocery store, state fish and game commissioner, auditor of Sacramento County and the city treasurer of Sacramento.
Also interred at the cemetery was Hattie A. Gerber (1857-1928), who was the mother of his five children.
Construction on the Buffalo Brewery, which was located on the block bounded by 21st, 22nd, Q and R streets, began in 1888.
In being that this section of Sacramento was many years away from being built out at that time, upon its completion, the large brewery structure could be seen from a considerable distance within the city.
With the opening of the Buffalo Brewery in 1890, Herman became the company’s first general manager and Adolph Heilbron (1833-1913) served as the brewery’s first president. Heilbron’s final resting place is located at the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery at 1000 Broadway.
Also interred at East Lawn were Henry Gerber (1851-1928), one of the brewery’s first stockholders, and Henry I. Seymour (1861-1913).
Seymour was among the prominent men of the brewery, as he replaced Grau as the company’s general manager in 1896 and continued to serve in that role for 17 years.
But Seymour was not new to the brewery when he became its general manager, as he had been working for the brewery since 1890.
Another well-known person in local brewery history was Sacramento native Frank J. Ruhstaller (1872-1943), whose father was Swiss native Frank Ruhstaller (1846-1907), who was an original officer of the Buffalo Brewery.
The brewery resume of Frank Ruhstaller, who was interred at today’s Sacramento Historic City Cemetery, also included serving as the proprietor of the City Brewery at the northeast corner of 12th and H streets and the superintendent of the Sacramento Brewing Co.
As for the resume of Frank J. Ruhstaller, he became the president of the Buffalo Brewery in 1913, following the death of Heilbron. He retired from that position in April 1939.
Additionally, the younger Ruhstaller served as the assistant manager of the City Brewery and superintendent of the Sacramento Brewing Co., and was a member of the city’s war rationing board during World War II.
In speaking about Frank J. Ruhstaller during his retirement dinner at the old Elks Temple at 11th and J streets, Superior Court Judge Peter J. Shields said, “Charities, kindnesses and justices have characterized his whole existence. The aroma of good deeds during his life has perfumed the entire community. He has been modest, never seeking the limelight nor the vanities of life.”
Frank J. Ruhstaller’s wife, Alice Marie (Root) Ruhstaller (1871-1969), was also interred at East Lawn. The couple, who was married in Sacramento on Nov. 22, 1899, was residents of East Sacramento, residing in the Fabulous Forties neighborhood at 1301 44th St.
Much has been said and written about the Buffalo Brewery, which created beer that was popular well beyond Sacramento.
During its pre-Prohibition days, the Buffalo Brewery distributed its beer great distances.
In addition to shipping this beverage to many parts of Northern California, including San Francisco, the brewery also sent its beer to the Hawaiian Islands, Alaska, Central America, along the Mediterranean, Russia, Japan and China.
A summary about the brewery in the Feb. 2, 1907 edition of The Union included the following words: “Sacramento boasts of many large manufacturing enterprises, but none are more in keeping with the general progress of this section than (the Buffalo Brewery). It is known by the excellence of its product. New Brew and Bohemian, its special brands, are known throughout the Pacific Coast. Ask any dealer and he will tell you there are none superior to them.”
The brewery, which experienced much physical growth at its local plant, returned to full, post-Prohibition production in December 1933 and continued its operations at its historic site until 1949.
The brewery buildings were razed in 1949 and 1950 in preparation for the construction of the newspaper, radio and television operations of McClatchy Newspapers – publishers of The Sacramento Bee – which was then headed by its president, Eleanor McClatchy.

Lance@valcomnews.com

New Helvetia Brewing Company open for beer tastings, grand opening in January

Land Park's newly-opened New Helvetia Brewing Company, located at 1730 Broadway began its soft opening month in December, having first opened its doors on Dec. 6. The site will be part bar, part brewery and part history. // Photo by Benn Hodapp

Land Park's newly-opened New Helvetia Brewing Company, located at 1730 Broadway began its soft opening month in December, having first opened its doors on Dec. 6. The site will be part bar, part brewery and part history. // Photo by Benn Hodapp

Those who like to unwind with a tall, cold one at the end of the day have innumerable locations from which to buy their beer, but none of those places are steeped in Sacramento beer-making history like Land Park’s newly-opened New Helvetia Brewing Company.

The brewery, located at 1730 Broadway began its soft opening month in December, having first  opened its doors on Dec. 6. The site will be part bar, part brewery and part history as founder David Gull plans to pay homage to legendary Sacramento-based Buffalo Beer, which began brewing in the late 1800s.

The beer, which won’t be called Buffalo Beer to avoid possible copyright issues, will be brewed in-house and sold to patrons at the bar under the name of Buffalo Craft Lager. Gull, a former real estate broker who was part of the team that built the 19th and Broadway lofts, hopes to find enough success selling the beer to bar patrons to expand and sell kegs to bars and restaurants and perhaps even begin bottling it and selling it in stores.

The opening of the brewing company comes after four long years of research and hard work.

In 2008, after being laid off from his real estate job, Gull began to formulate his idea for the brewery/bar. He began to research old Buffalo Beer and come up with a plan.

“There was a family history with (Buffalo Beer), Gull said. “I recall being at an uncle’s house and he had all kinds of Buffalo Beer stuff.”

He started looking for locations in 2011, knowing that if he had his way the shop would end up on Broadway. Gull graduated from McClatchy High School in 1992 and currently resides in Land Park with his wife and children.

The lease for the Broadway location was signed in July of 2011 and got approval to open its doors in November 2012. But in the time between the lease and final approval, there was some work that needed doing. The site, which Gull said is recognized by most as the former site of the Casa Grande tortilla factory, went under construction in August 2012.

Along with the expected work such as painting and adding new light fixtures, Gull added a wall with large windows where people can peek in at the brewing equipment that will soon whip up the New Helvetia spirits. In addition to the wall, new plumbing was added as well as new heating and air conditioning.

And though the spot has yet to hold its grand opening, those looking for a cold beer can come in and try one of the two locally-brewed beers on tap. Currently available are what Gull described as a fresh hop lager and a fresh hop IPA made with locally-grown ingredients by the brewery’s brewmaster. Gull hopes to have the grand opening sometime in January and expects the in-house brewing to begin soon.

New Helvetia Brewing Company will open as strictly a brewery/bar, but Gull hopes to expand it into a

restaurant as well in the coming years. He cited that the lot is large enough to handle such future expansions as a fully-functional kitchen.

For more information on New Helvetia Brewing Company and its upcoming grand opening, you can call (916) 501-7622 or e-mail David Gull at dave@newhelvetiabrew.com.

Sacramento braumeister makes award-winning brews

Many people fantasize about having an endless supply of beer on tap. It’s one of those dreams some seem to have. But for Land Park braumeister Aaron Callahan, the dream has become a reality. He has an endless supply because he brews it himself. And he doesn’t just brew any beer. He brews an award-winning bock and Baltic porter, and also brews Belgian ales, stouts and American IPAs (India pale ales) among many others.

Land Park resident Aaron Callahan has received many awards for his home-brewed beers and ales. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Robert Ossa

Land Park resident Aaron Callahan has received many awards for his home-brewed beers and ales. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Robert Ossa

An electrical engineer by day, Callahan got into brewing in his college years, because it was “a cheap and easy way to drink beer,” he said. According to him, in the early days, his beer was “horrible.”

Needless to say, things have changed quite a bit since then.

Callahan was so intent on making his beer better that he modified a software program from work that helped him calculate how to balance the bitterness and “hoppy-ness” for each specific type of beer that he brewed. Knowing all of the formulas helped him to be able to better customize his beers to become exactly what he envisioned.

“I like that home brewing allows for more variety, more choice and the possibility of a vast array of outcomes,” Callahan said.

On the day of the interview for this newspaper, he was brewing a Belgian ale. He started out with Saaz hops, then added a combination of unique ingredients, such as grapefruit zest, coriander and chamomile. When asked why he chose to add this particular blend of ingredients, he said, “Unlike a lot of other countries, spices are actually quite common in Belgian-style beers. Coriander especially. A witbier almost always has some kind of slight orangey flavor to it, and most people use orange zest, but I like to mix it up and use the grapefruit zest instead.”

It occurred to this writer that a braumeister is not just a braumeister, but also an alchemist of sorts. Always experimenting, throwing in a pinch of this, a dash of that – and seeing what results.

Callahan’s favorite beers to brew – and drink – are the Belgian ales and American IPAS.

He likes brewing American IPAs for their fresh, hoppy flavor. Often by the time that IPAs get bottled, they lose a lot of their hoppy taste. Callahan loves that he can improve on that by growing his own hops – he grows American, German, and English hops. In addition, he has fine-tuned the brewing formula to really bring out the freshness of the hops.

One of the reasons Callahan began entering competitions was to get some feedback on how to make his beers better. When he began entering competitions, it

Home brewing is considerably different from an old-fashioned “macro-brew.” / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Robert Ossa

Home brewing is considerably different from an old-fashioned “macro-brew.” / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Robert Ossa

was less about winning and more about learning how he could improve his craft with a variety of different kinds of beer. Winning first place for some of his brews was just an added bonus.

The appeal to Callahan seems to be more in the actual brewing of the beer than anything, though. It is clear that this is a true passion for him, and that he loves not just the outcome, but the process.

“It’s a math and science kind of thing, but (it) also has an artistic and creative element to it,” he said. “I like to compare it to making a really nice meal for someone.”

Another added benefit: It also always provides a good time with friends.

“His beers taste great. They are strong, flavorful, malty and bitter,” said Robert Ossa, a buddy. “His beers always seem to have the perfect combination of flavors, and are super tasty.”

Callahan is always generous, sharing his brews with friends at every opportunity. His beers are considered famously good among all who know him, and he would definitely have a bright future in the micro-brewing if he chose to go that

Hops locally grown in Land Park. Braumeister Aaron Callahan grows many of the varieties of hops that he uses in his unique micro-brews. He grows American, German, and English hops in his garden. These plants are functional as well as beautiful. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Robert Ossa

Hops locally grown in Land Park. Braumeister Aaron Callahan grows many of the varieties of hops that he uses in his unique micro-brews. He grows American, German, and English hops in his garden. These plants are functional as well as beautiful. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Robert Ossa

route. But for now, he seems happy just to keep it low key, and enjoy the ride.

Setzer Forest Products: A fixture of the Broadway district since 1927

Editor’s Note: This is the first article in a two-part series regarding the Setzer family’s history in the lumber industry.

As the face of the Broadway district has changed throughout the years, no business has been a part of the area for longer than Setzer Forest Products.

The company is so old, in fact, that not only did it change its name about 43 years ago, but it predates the actual name of Broadway itself.

Three generations of Setzers: Jeff Setzer (left) and Cal Setzer stand alongside a painting of Setzer Forest Products’ founder Curt Setzer. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

Three generations of Setzers: Jeff Setzer (left) and Cal Setzer stand alongside a painting of Setzer Forest Products’ founder Curt Setzer. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

On the first page of a three-page petition, which was dated July 15, 1938, a request was made to change the name of the street, as follows: “We the undersigned are greatly in favor of changing the name of Y Street to Broadway and would appreciate your cooperation in making this change.”

The petition was signed by 44 Sacramento area residents, including R.F. Setzer, and sent to the City Council.

The letterhead on page one of the document reads: “Setzer Box Company, Factory and Warehouse, 2570-2810 Third St., Sacramento, California.”

Considering that the Setzer Box Co. – the original name of Setzer Forest Products – was established at its aforementioned address, just south of Y Street, 11 years prior to the date of the petition, R.F. Setzer was certainly a person who was quite worthy to sign this now-vintage document.

Jeff Setzer, one of the owners of the business, said that despite the fact that the company has been a part of the Broadway district for 84 years, as a commercial business, there are still many people in the Sacramento area who know little to nothing about Setzer Forest Products.

And it is for this reason that Jeff and his father, Cal, who will turn 90 years old later this month, agreed to meet and share information about their business’s history with The Land Park News last week.

Cal explained that although the Setzer Box Co.’s history begins in 1927, it is important to mention the year, 1921.

The Setzer Box Co. – known today as Setzer Forest Products – is shown in this 1934 photograph. The driver of the front lift machine is Claude Chastain, who resided in the Land Park area. / Photo courtesy, Setzer Forest Products

The Setzer Box Co. – known today as Setzer Forest Products – is shown in this 1934 photograph. The driver of the front lift machine is Claude Chastain, who resided in the Land Park area. / Photo courtesy, Setzer Forest Products

It was in this year that his father, Curt Setzer, went into a partnership with three other men to establish the Sacramento Box and Lumber Co. on about nine acres at 65th and R streets.

Although he did not produce any document to verify the year, 1921, as the year that the Sacramento Box Co. was founded, Cal said, “The reason I say (1921) is because I was six months old (when the company was founded).”

Cal added, however, that prior to working in Sacramento, his father, who served as the president and general manager of the Sacramento Box Co., had already gained much experience in the lumber industry.

Curt was born in 1883, the year that his father, Otto Friedrich Setzer, who was a successful brewery owner in Germany, decided to move part of his family to America.

After establishing a brewery in St. Paul, Minn., Otto had the rest of his family reunite with him and two of his sons. The success of Otto’s brewery led him to establish another brewery in Bismark, N.D.

In his memoirs, Curt, who was the last of 13 children, noted that the breweries continued to be successful, and he emphasized “as long as people drank beer – and there didn’t seem to be much indication of their giving up the habit – we were set.”

Shown counter clockwise, top left to right, in this 1923 photograph are members of the Setzer family – Curt, Yvonne, Cal, Hazel and Hardie./ Photo courtesy, Setzer Forest Products

Shown counter clockwise, top left to right, in this 1923 photograph are members of the Setzer family – Curt, Yvonne, Cal, Hazel and Hardie./ Photo courtesy, Setzer Forest Products

The existence of these breweries ended quickly, however, as within a few years, fires destroyed both breweries and Otto and part of his family moved to Red Bluff, Calif. in the late 1880s.

After an unsuccessful venture with his own, small brewery behind his Red Bluff home, Otto began to work in a lumber mill in the area.

In 1893, the Setzers moved to Klamathon, a small town on the Klamath River, where a new mill operation was being constructed.

However, the mill did not maintain Otto’s attention for much time.

With hopes of better providing for his family, Otto left his family to seek gold in the Mount Lassen area in about 1894.

Otto’s dream of achieving wealth through California gold began while he was still residing in St. Paul.

Around the time of the Bismark fire, the Setzers provided living quarters in their home for an old German miner, who was ill, had no money and was not expected to live.

Desiring to present some sort of payment for the Setzers kind-hearted assistance to him, the old miner gifted Otto a map of a mine at Mount Lassen.

The miner told Otto that the mine consisted of rich, gold-bearing quartz, but that the mine had been covered up by a slide or earthquake and that it was his understanding that no one had been able to locate the mine since it went missing.

The map, which included several prominent landmarks such as Scorpions Gulch and a rock chimney, is no longer in the possession of the Setzer family and is likely no longer in existence.

Being that the Setzer family was left without an income upon Otto’s departure to search for gold, Curt went to work in a local box factory at the age of 11.

Details about the Sacramento Box and Lumber Co. are shown in this 1926 advertisement. / Photo courtesy, the Lance Armstrong Collection

Details about the Sacramento Box and Lumber Co. are shown in this 1926 advertisement. / Photo courtesy, the Lance Armstrong Collection

Curt proved himself as such a quality worker that by the time he was 18 years old, he was made a foreman in charge of more than 50 people.

Cal, who was named in honor of his grandmother, who was a “California baby,” said that his father became an operating manager of a mill at the age of 21.

After proving himself as a successful manager, Curt worked in other mills as a manager and became respected in the industry, which led to his aforementioned involvement with the Sacramento Box and Lumber Co. and the Setzer Box Co.

The Otto Setzer family resided in this house in the now-lost city of Klamathon, Calif., which was lost to a great fire in 1902./ Photo courtesy, Setzer Forest Products

The Otto Setzer family resided in this house in the now-lost city of Klamathon, Calif., which was lost to a great fire in 1902./ Photo courtesy, Setzer Forest Products

The Setzers’ 3rd Street property, which was located next to the old Y Street levee, was acquired through the local real estate and insurance company, Wright and Kimbrough.

After the property was purchased, the first project performed at the site was laying railroad spurs, which proved to be more time consuming than had been imagined due to the site’s soft ground.

The establishment of the new company included the Setzers’ purchase of the LaMoine Box and Lumber Co., a complete box factory that was acquired from the Rosenburg Brothers in San Francisco.

In his previously mentioned memoirs, Curt described the Setzer Box Co. as “a complete, modern, four-cut-off box factory with a brick-lined steel burner for shavings, sawdust and any scrap shook (a set of parts for assembling a packing box) we wanted to burn.”