It's beer week in Sacramento and many bars are celebrating the art of craft brew. You may not know it but Sacramento has a rich history of beer. Reporter John Bartell sat down with “beer historian” James Scott to ask him a few questions.
Bartell " I am here with James Scott a beer historian. James says Sacramento has a rich history of beer. "
Scott "It does and we can look all the way back to 1849 the genesis of this whole thing. Pietryk Caddell, he was a Swabian from Germany. He saw what was going on he saw people essentially mining the miners and making some money so he thought you know what I am a pretty decent brewer I will give it a go so he is responsible for Sacramento's first brewery. "
Bartell: "James you were telling me that even a member of the Donner Party was brewing beer."
Scott: "Yes and that fellow was Lewis Keseberg. And it turns out that one of Sacramento's greatest brewers of logger beer was also a cannibal."
Bartell: "You were also telling me that Sacramento had great soil to produce beer."
Scott: "It did. You can talk to folks as recent as the mid-century, the 20th century who talked longingly about the hops fields that stretched as far as the eye could see. Most were right along where Fair Oaks Boulevard is, east of the American River."
Bartell: "So if I was a miner? What would I be drinking back then?"
Scott: "You would most likely be drinking hey lager. Beer and booze had utility outside of making you feel good because you know there was a Cholera epidemic in 1850, in the fall of 1850 and a lot of people died."
Bartell: "Would it be fair to say that beer saved lives?"
Scott: "Well... I'm not sure that I would go that far, but the fermentation process makes liquor safer to drink. It kills all the bad stuff."
James Scott is a historian at the Sacramento library. He wrote a book on beer and alcohol. The book is called Sacramento's Gold Rush Saloons: El Dorado in a Shot Glass. It is in the library and available for checkout. It can be found online.