The blog was invited back for a tour of the brewery and a meeting with one of the managing partners after our initial review below. We honestly went in to our tour thinking our minds could not be changed. Well, after tasting some of their fresh beer and given an in-depth tour by new managing partner Aaron, our minds have been changed. We'll be writing a longer blog post about what we learned. But my bad experience can be explained by the fact that the restaurant and brewery are separately owned. I recommend visiting the Dock Store, which is right next to the restaurant. Will write more soon...
Sudwerk, which can be translated to "liquid factory", has been a popular local brewery in Davis, Ca since its opening in 1989. There is also a location in Folsom, CA. Their brews focus on German beers in the tradition of the Reinheitsgebot, or German beer purity laws.
Sudwerk sits right behind the post office in Davis. The once infamous Toad Tunnel has its entrance right near the entrance to Sudwerks. There are two entrances, one off of Pole Line right before the over pass and another on 2nd street right under the under pass. There is usually plenty of parking. There is a huge gravel parking lot, which can get ugly during the winter and a smaller paved one under the bridge.
As a Davis native, Sudwerk was a bragging right. They were an award winning micro brewery that became fairly popular. In the Sacramento area for quite some time it was easy to find packs and cases of Sudwerk beers at many grocery and corner stores. In the late 90's early 2000's Sierra Nevada and Sudwerk were the micro brands of choice for the people I knew.
Sudwerk is a great space. It has a huge out door patio, big indoor seating area, and a banquet room.The simple wooden decor reminds you of a German beer hall. It looks like they still do their "dollar pint night" every Wednesday from 9pm to 12:30am. When I went to these, the place was usually packed, the lines long, but you always, always got really drunk and had fun.
The food at Sudwerk has been hit or miss over the years. But in 2006 the restaurant changed ownership and fresher ingredients and a re-vamped menu were brought in. The meal we had in 2011, was still okay. I had the lemon chicken piccata, the chicken was moist, but bland, the squash bland, and the orzo bland. My girlfriend had the sausage platter with potato pancakes. The sausages were good the pancakes dry.
Sudwerk is also home to the UC Davis Brew Master program.
They have 4 year-round beers which are picture to the left - Pilsner, Heffeweizen, Marzen and Lager. When I went there recently, I skipped these and tried they're newer and seasonal beers below.
A light lager. Clear yellow, high carbonation, very little aroma, bready, subtle pale malt flavor. Skip It.
An Imperial Pilsner with slightly less than double the ABV of your typical pilsner - 7%. Clear, light amber, very little aroma, high carbonation, pilsner malt flavor. Skip It.
Is probably not a dry stout but an extra stout due to its ABV of 6%. Very dark color, very little aroma, smoky taste, high carbonation. Skip It.
Is an Oktoberfest beer which is slightly bigger in ABV than their regular Marzen due to an addition of honey. Coppery reddish in color, high carbonation, slight honey taste. Skip It.
Is a traditional German Maibock/ Helles Bock. Sudwerk's calls this the world's most dangerous beer, because its so smooth with a high ABV of 7.5%. I guess they've never had a barley wine or any type of Imperial beer. Skip It.
India Pale Ale
This is a traditional IPA. Malty and bitter. Not a lot of hops. Skip It.
I really, really want to like Sudwerks. It's a mile from where I grew up. But I did not like any of their beers.
The Aggie Lager was decent, but its easy to find better lagers. The rest of the beers had NO flavor or aroma worth mentioning. Sure the stout had a signature smokiness, the Marzen a honey taste, the Pilsner a pilsner malt taste and the IPA a hops taste. But, nothing more than what an amateur home brewer could get. And the beers are over carbonated. A stout, IPA, and Pilsner should not have the same level of carbonation as a soda.
I was disappointed. Sudwerk has not caught up with the rest of the craft brew world. Taste a few German beers and then go to Sudwerks. Not even close. Taste any micro brew found in the Nugget just down the street, not even close.