The Barrel District Experience

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG)  |  Story by Shaunna Boyd; Photos by Matt Van Donsel
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Enjoy Samples of Craft Brews, Fine Spirits, and “Nectar of the Gods”

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - Rancho Cordova’s Barrel District is comprised of six breweries, two distilleries, and the only meadery in the area. On Saturday, October 6, the Rancho Cordova Chamber of Commerce is hosting the Barrel District Experience, a fundraising event from noon to 6 p.m. that will allow ticketholders to not only sample each venue’s product, but also to experience the culture and atmosphere of each unique location.

The Chamber of Commerce was looking for a new fundraising event, so Sheryl Smith, Rancho Cordova Chamber of Commerce board member, initiated the idea of the Barrel District Experience. “I thought it would be awesome to do an inaugural event in the Barrel District, since it’s such an asset to the City,” said Smith. As the Chairwoman of the Barrel District Experience, she really wanted to showcase everything these businesses have to offer local connoisseurs—and anyone looking for a fun evening out. Smith said, “There is not another district like this in the United States, due to the combination of distilleries, breweries, and the meadery all together in one area of the city.”  

Smith knew that the Barrel District Experience would be enhanced by introducing the right foods to pair with the tastings. The Chamber of Commerce worked with each of the nine businesses to identify what types of food would best complement their craft brews and spirits. The participating food vendors are donating substantial “bites” to accompany the libations at each location.

In addition to craft brews, fine spirits, and fabulous food, the venues will also be offering activities and games that emphasize their distinct character. The Barrel District businesses will not be closed to the public during the event, but the Barrel District Experience will give ticketholders access to private parties held at each location. The work of local artists will also be on display, loaned to the Barrel District Experience by the Cordova Art Council.

The two distilleries in the Barrel District are Gold River Distillery and J.J. PFister Distilling Company. The six breweries are Thin Line Brewing Company, ol’ Republic Brewery, Old Hangtown Beer Works, Fort Rock Brewing, Claimstake Brewing, and Burning Barrel Brewing Company.

The meadery is a major selling point of the event, because there are very few meaderies in California. Strad Meadery in the Barrel District is the only local venue where you can sample this unique honey wine, which ancient people called “Nectar of the Gods.”

The businesses within the Barrel District are not within easy walking distance of each other, so that did present a safety issue when coordinating this event. The Chamber of Commerce wanted to ensure that ticketholders are able to travel safely between the nine locations. Rancho Cordova Chief of Police Chris Pittman shared that concern and worked with the Chamber to find workable solutions. The Chamber was originally planning to offer $15 tickets for designated drivers, but that ticket price has been reduced to only $5; designated drivers will have access to the food, games, and activities at all locations. The Chamber is partnering with Lyft, which is offering $10 off of two rides within nine miles of the Barrel District. Some of the venues are also located near Light Rail stations.

Smith expressed gratitude to the event’s social media strategists, beer enthusiasts Maggie Huss and Matt Van Donsel, who helped spread the word online. Smith also acknowledged the sponsors who help make the event possible: Rancho Cordova Travel and Tourism, California American Water, Smith Real Estate Services, Councilmember Garrett Gatewood, Graphics and More, and Grand Stand.  

Tickets to the Barrel District Experience are limited and could sell out before the day of the event. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased online at