Originally published in The California Aggie
It’s 2 p.m. on a Friday and the bars of downtown Davis are, for the most part, quiet. But at the new Davis Beer Shoppe on G Street, a steady stream of customers strolls up to the wide wood counter to order a pint, which they sip leisurely to the tune of Irish folk music.
Owner Taylor Ramos keeps an eye on the proceedings, appropriately distracted for a guy who just opened the shop in March and found himself with a near immediate fan base.
“Right now we’re just trying to get what we have under control,” Ramos said in between greeting customers.
What he has is a bar, lounge and tasting room all rolled into one, with a focus on high quality beers for every palate. Ramos, who grew up in Chico and graduated from Sacramento State University four years ago, was a self-described beer enthusiast with a lot of visits to beer stores under his belt when he decided to open one of his own.
“I tried to piece together all the different things I liked about different stores all in one spot,” Ramos said.
The shop landed in Davis after he considered fellow pedestrian-friendly college towns Chico and San Luis Obispo as potential locations. Davis ended up being the logical choice after opening a beer store in Chico turned out to be more difficult than he thought.
“Chico has more or less decided that they don’t want any more alcohol. Davis wasn’t easy but it definitely was easier than Chico,” Ramos said. “Downtown Davis is fantastic. I love it. It’s kind of inconvenient to drive a car, which is actually kind of nice because everyone is on bicycles or on foot. It’s just a really cool downtown atmosphere.”
The menu features a large selection of bottled beer in addition to a rotating assortment of beers on tap.
Ramos’ philosophy on beer is twofold. First, he makes sure to offer beers that are popular with customers. Then, he brings in what he thinks are the best versions of those styles.
Even if customers see a beer they don’t recognize, it’s probably pretty good.
“If I bring in a brown ale, it’s going to be the best brown ale there is. Or if I bring in a stout, it’s going to be the best stout,” Ramos said. “We bring in beers that are really good at whatever they are trying to be.”
Though customers so far have skewed on the older side, they represent a wide diversity of beer knowledge. Those with experienced palates can enjoy the darker, more extreme beers, while newcomers can still order lighter beers or even cider.
Still, Ramos is keen on educating his customers, and uses the tasting room to help them refine their taste for beer. For example, tasters can sample porters made by five different breweries to learn how to distinguish the differences between companies.
“We get a lot of beer enthusiasts but a lot [of other customers] don’t like any, or they just like Bud Light. So we try to take them into the next stage of the journey,” Ramos said.
Senior managerial economics major John Stanley dropped in on Friday afternoon to enjoy a Green Flash West Coast IPA and said he had already been to the shop a few times.
“I like good beers, and I like what they have on tap,” Stanley said. “I think there’s a market for higher quality beers [in Davis].” Future plans for the shop include home-brewing and offering food that pairs well with beer, such as cheese, meats, nuts and chocolate. For the time being, though, Ramos intends to focus on the beer.
The shop’s focus on offering a quality selection is what drew civil engineering graduate student Tarra Avants and senior international relations major Ashley Thomas to the packed lounge on Friday night. Besides the “cool atmosphere,” the Davis Beer Shoppe’s offerings already had them in awe.
“There’s a beer called a Portland Upright. It’s made in a really small brewery that’s like in someone’s basement,” Avants said. “And they had it on tap.”