Folsom could be ‘starving’ for this brewery, entrepreneur says

Sure, aspiring brewery owners need to think about the quality of their beer. But don’t forget about “the atmosphere that you’re creating,” said Steve Mays, co-owner of Elk Grove-based Sauren Construction and Electric.

Sauren was the construction firm for Red Bus Brewing Co., which officially debuts Feb. 9 at 802A Reading St. in Folsom.

Atmosphere is key at the new locally owned business, which is likely to attract both beer lovers and car enthusiasts. The brewery is themed around a Volkswagen bus, and will regularly feature classic cars.

“It was actually a really fun job,” Mays said of the project, which the firm started in early October 2017. “I thought it was very cool to see someone who had kind of mastered their craft take it to the next level.”

He’s referring to Erik Schmid, who owns Red Bus with his wife, Lisa Schmid. The husband-and-wife team opened Red Bus in the same Folsom building as The Brewmeister, the retail business they own. The Brewmeister, which also has locations in Roseville and West Sacramento, sells supplies for making beer and wine at home.

The brewery and taproom at Red Bus collectively fill around 3,000 square feet.

Red Bus is the first commercial craft beer production brewery in Folsom’s recent history. Others could follow. Out of Bounds Brewing Co., known for its Rocklin location, already has a Folsom site in the works.

But brewery operators looking for space still face potential challenges in Folsom, according to Erik Schmid. He cited a relative lack of industrial space, as well as the high costs that could come with opening in a retail center or an older Historic Folsom building.

“I looked around a lot for space before I settled on mine,” he said. The brewery is expected to host food trucks.

The Schmids have invested between $350,000 and $400,000 into the brewery project, which was self-financed. Sauren Construction had an advantage in vying for the job. Its vice president, Frank Crain, previously had a brewery: the former Handcraft Brewing in Elk Grove.

Naturally, the firm recommends finding a construction company that’s familiar with the brewing process. That knowledge can impact decisions about everything from power to plumbing, co-owner Mays said.

Schmid expects to produce between 400 and 500 barrels of beer annually. “I think Folsom is kind of starving for something like this,” he said.

His advice for potential brewery owners goes beyond making good beer. Understand the laws, the investment, and the importance of being flexible, he said.

“Your initial plan’s probably not going to be the same by the time that you’re done,” he said. “We didn’t lock ourselves into something so specific that we couldn’t be flexible.”

Schmid expects Red Bus will open with five beers on tap, ranging from a West Coast red to a strong brown porter. Schmid will be co-brewing the beer with Nik Stevens. Here’s a look at the tap list we spotted earlier this week.