New brew in town

Dragas Brewing opens in Rocklin

Owners brew beer for all palates
By: Andrew Westrope,
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Rocklin’s growing craft beer industry added another player last month as Dragas Brewing, locally owned and operated by a family of home-brew hobbyists, opened its doors Feb. 14 at the corner of Pacific Street and Sunset Boulevard.

Co-owned by Virginia Beach native Dan Acuff with his wife, Diana, and brother, Shane, the business grew from a pipe dream to a tangible enterprise after Acuff retired from service at Beale Air Force Base and moved to Rocklin in 2009. Looking for a base of operations for a new project, he said he moved his family to Rocklin “for the schools.”

“We went to Napa to find out what it took to do a winery and a vineyard, and we found out that it takes about 15 years to go from seeds to good wine, and we weren’t happy about that, because in 15 days I can make good beer,” he said. “We’d been home brewers (for close to seven years), so we decided, let’s just do a brewery.”

Shortly thereafter Acuff met Dylan Clark, an Antelope resident, at the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and discovered in conversation that he held a master’s degree in brewing sciences, so he brought Clark on board as his brewer.

Their vision for the business was a comfortable, community-friendly taproom not just for connoisseurs, “hop heads” and college students, but anyone with a passing curiosity.

“We wanted to have a beer for whoever came through the door next,” he said. “I think I’ve got that.”

Dragas Brewing, so designated for one of the names of the last Roman emperor, has 10 taps and six brews so far – a light, neutral ale, a wheat apple ale, an amber pale ale, an IPA, a porter and a stout. Acuff said he’s aiming for seven regular beers on tap, reserving another two for seasonal brews, and the 10th for whatever special concoction Clark devises.

He said he chose the location at 5860 Pacific Street for its visibility, size and lighting – a former car dealership, spacious and brightly lit with tall windows and a view of the intersection, and it seems to have paid off.

“Everyone coming home off of Interstate 80, coming from Sacramento or down that way, sees my sign,” Acuff said. “We’re doing a lot better than we thought we would do. I kind of feel like the kid brother. Everyone else is really well-established, they have good customer bases, and I’m totally new and didn’t have a lot of commercial experience.”

Acuff thinks there is more than enough room in Rocklin for the other brewers, too, and he’s candid with his recommendations; he doesn’t mind referring more hops-obsessed palates to try Out of Bounds down the road, for example; but Dragas is already accruing regulars, including neighborhood passers-by and employees of nearby businesses.

Stopping in for a cold glass after hiking at the American River Confluence, Orangevale resident Lorie Billeci said Sunday was her third visit but not her last.

“I like the atmosphere. It’s open, light, friendly, the owners are really nice, and the beer is good,” she said. “And I like that they have food trucks (outside).”

Acuff also said he intends to bottle his Kölsch, amber and IPA styles for distribution on St. Patrick’s Day, and he’s exploring options for wider distribution.