Crossing the Rubicon

Posted on February 4, 2011 – 2:00 AM | by OldManFoster
  • Share

By Niki Kangas, Photo by Scott Duncan

Many Midtowners have tossed back copious happy pints at Sacramento’s favorite brewpub, The Rubicon, but most of us don’t have a clue about the brains behind the brew. These days the taps belong to quite a nice chap, Glynn Phillips. I sat down with Glynn on a bottling day for their winter seasonal, and so was able to enjoy a conversation paired with a freshly bottled 22 oz. Capricorn Black, all before noon. Says Glynn, “It’s not a beginning conversation and an ending conversation here, it’s a conversation over a pint of beer that’s been going on for six years now.”

How did you get into the beer business?

I started brewing beer because I was in high school, and my parents wouldn’t let me drink. Both of them worked, and my neighbor and I would go to the home brewing shop and buy all the stuff we needed to make beer, and make a batch of beer, then put it in the shed, and let it ferment out there. My parents would come home and be like, “You cleaned the kitchen!” and we’d be like, “Yeah, we cleaned the kitchen!” and none of the beer was any good.

I’m actually not a brewer, I work with the brewers, but I have people who work for me who are renowned, who are exceptional, both Scott Cramlet and Aldred Griffin are truly gifted brewers, and they’re the ones that do it all. I’m just, you know the owner, chief paper pusher, and counselor.

How did you become associated with Scott and Aldred?

They came with the business. I started brewing when I was in high school, and I worked in restaurants all through college; when I graduated college I started working for corporations, because that’s kind of what everyone was thinking I should do… but I just hated it! I was working for Campbell’s Soup, and they moved me to Reno, where I didn’t know a soul, and I [got a job at the] brewery in town, Great Basin Brewing Co. in Sparks. I’d work for Campbell’s during the day, and the restaurant at night, and that’s kind of how I got started in the beer business; after about 3 or 4 years of doing that, I quit Campbell’s and was working at Great Basin solely, and was recruited by Brendan Moylan, the owner of Marin and Moylan’s Brewing Co. to be the general manager of Marin Brewing Co. where I worked for seven years before I bought the Rubicon from a good friend of mine, Ed Brown, in June of 2005.

Why, given the higher expense, do you emphasize sourcing locally?

Most of the products we buy locally are fresher, we can get them more often, and I feel as though it’s supporting the local economy; let’s say you’re the owner of Grateful Bread Company and we’re one of your good customers, you say to yourself, “You know, I should stop by there,” and it’s a nice synergy we really try to use here, in Midtown, in Sacramento, and in California.

Why do you put on the annual Midtown Community Festival event?

Well, it all started because I have a special needs son. The state of California has given me a tremendous amount of support in terms of a whole host of things of things that they do for people who have special needs children; I don’t like taking anything for free… I went and toured the Boys and Girls Club facility and just was so impressed with what they were doing over there and how they managed the kids, and just the whole program… We wanted to do a street festival right in front of the Rubicon where every single penny goes to a charity. I help organize it, but it’s really the Boys and Girls Club that does that event, and I’m one of the main sponsors of it, but there are SO many people that donate to that event.

Folks seem to fantasize that owning a business is a lucrative cakewalk, but I know from experience that it’s actually incredibly tough. What keeps you going?

I was driving home one day, and there’s the guy that runs the California Small Brewer’s Association, his name’s Tom McCormick, and he is an advocate for the industry at the Capitol. I was having one of those days where I had to yell at a cook, and fire a vendor, I stubbed my toe, and the whole day was just awful. And I’m driving home, I’m white-knuckled, and Tom calls me, so I tell him I’m having this terrible day, and he says, “Well, Glynn, think about it this way; at least you’re in the beer business!”

Tags: , ,

  1. 4 Responses to “Crossing the Rubicon”

  2. avatar

    By Brent Ainsworth on Feb 5, 2011 | Reply

    I grew up with Glynn in Moraga and have worked with him a little bit in the beer industry. I think the reason why the Rubicon is such a great place is because Glynn is such a great guy. He works his butt off and makes sure everything is done with quality in mind. The brewers do a fantastic job and those of us who live further away from the brewpub wish we had greater access to those killer brews. It’s awesome to find Rubicon ales in stores down here, though. Anyway, three cheers to Glynn and his crew.

  3. avatar

    By Tom Nunes on Feb 6, 2011 | Reply

    The Rubicon is great because the staff is a reflection of it’s owner. Glynn is a super guy putting out fantastic beer as well as food. He gives back to the community and is a great father and role model. As I type this right now, I’m drinking a Rubicon IPA. My favorite Rubicon brew. Thanks Glynn for all you do!

  4. avatar

    By mike on Mar 21, 2011 | Reply

    Tom whats up man

  1. 1 Trackback(s)

  2. Oct 20, 2011: Crossing the Rubicon article by Midtown Monthly | Rubicon Brewing Company

Post a Comment