Scoop: ol’ Republic Brewery in escrow to buy Old Five Mile House

Photo: Jim Beckett, Sugar Pine Studios

From the blog of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine:

Ol’ Republic Brewery is in escrow to buy the historic Old Five Mile House five miles east of Nevada City on Hwy. 20, Sierra FoodWineArt magazine has learned. The ol’ Republic Roadhouse & Brewery would mark another milestone in the stellar growth of this popular, award-winning brewery, which celebrated its fifth anniversary in March.

This is the latest example of the boom in the foothills’ craft beer business, which includes Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co. in Nevada City and two new breweries that are in the works in Grass Valley: Grass Valley Brewing Co. and 1849 Brewing Co. Others include Knee Deep Brewing Co. and Auburn Alehouse in Auburn, as well as pubs such as Matteo’s Public and Jernigan’s in Nevada City. Western Nevada County also is home to craft beer veterans such as Tom McCormick, executive director of the California Craft Beer Association, and Tom Dalldorf, publisher of Celebrator Beer News.

This week we were asked about rumors of ol’ Republic buying Old Five Mile House from a few locals on our magazine’s Facebook page. All of them were excited about the prospects. We met with founders-brewers-owners Jim Harte and Simon Olney at the brewery today, and they confirmed the plans in an interview, standing among bags of German brewing malt that were piled high in front of us.  “The rumors are true,” Jim said cheerfully, adding that the existing taproom in Nevada City would remain open. He and Simon cautioned, however, that the sale of the Old Five Mile House building on Hwy. 20 is not yet complete.

We appreciate the caution, but remain optimistic the brewery can complete its latest expansion, based on our knowledge of the deal, and the will of the principals and real-estate brokers.

Ol’ Republic is being represented by Lance Amaral, a local business legend who is the brewery’s landlord in the Seven Hills business district in Nevada City. The owner of Old Five Mile House is represented by Jon Blinder of Coldwell Banker Grass Roots Realty. Both are pros who are motivated to close such a high-profile local deal, along with the principals. Citing a longstanding policy, Jon would not comment, except to confirm the Old Five Mile House was in escrow. We appreciated that, and contacted Jim and Simon directly.

The 5,500-square-foot ground floor restaurant and kitchen, with an additional upstairs apartment and storage area for a total of 7,300-square feet, has been listed for $739,000. The indoor area seats up to 145 people, and the patio can seat 90 more. The building — originally built in 1890 —  is located at the corner of Hwy. 20 and Scotts Flat Road.

It had been the popular Old Five Mile House under the late Robert Smith, an enterprising restaurateur who leased the space. Robert, whom we miss, relied on a motto of “roadhouse food from around the world,” offering monthly specials from different countries. We are glad to see the likelihood of the Old Five Mile House reopening as a brewpub, along with the Stone House opening as a restaurant and event center — another local historic building that has been vacant.

Fresh pub food, a beer garden, and barley-malt ice cream

If the deal goes through, ol’ Republic hopes to open a brewpub at the Old Five Mile House at 18851 State Highway 20 in late summer, according to Jim and Simon. Plans call for a “pilot” brewery (producing small batches), a beer garden, bocce ball court, a children’s playground, a meeting place for beer club members, and a restaurant. Jim and Simon have been working with county inspectors, whom they praised for being helpful.

Ol’ Republic has tapped a chef and a baker with impressive credentials at restaurants such as the Hog’s Apothecary, a popular American-style beer hall in Oakland, and Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in Yountville.

An imaginative menu is in the works. Items being discussed include homemade pizza from a top-of-the-line pizza oven, snacks such as homemade Bavarian pretzels, steamed mussels, burgers, wings, mac ‘n’ cheese, homemade sausages, seasonal barbecue, and fresh salads — all with culinary flair. The proposed prices are reasonable.

The dishes will be made from scratch using fresh local ingredients from local farms whenever possible. Beer pairings are recommended, such as a proposed “burger with bacon jam, lettuce, onion and provolone” paired with “Celtic Red,” or a tomato sauce pizza with “Sierra Lightening.” Creative homemade desserts, including barley malt ice cream, also are planned.

A take-out menu also is in the works, geared toward picnicking and camping in the surrounding area, including Scotts Flat Lake. The area has a new bike path too.

All told, we find this to be a sound business plan, well suited for the historic building on Hwy. 20, which also benefits from ski and summer recreation traffic to and from Truckee-Tahoe. Jim also has extensive restaurant experience.

We’ve written regularly about ol’ Republic in our magazine and were the first to report that the brewery would open in March 2011, and then that it would quadruple production in May 2013. Now it offers beer on tap, in bottles, and in cans throughout Northern California. The brewery also offers popular growlers “to go.” Its honors include a prestigious “Best of Show” award at the State Fair in 2016. The brewery was our magazine’s cover story in Fall 2014.

We look forward to writing more about ol’ Republic Roadhouse & Brewery in our summer issue, which begins circulating in July. Our spring issue is now being distributed as a full-color, glossy magazine and in an enhanced digital format with features on local food and culinary businesses such as Polly’s Paladar, the Bottrells’ organic grocery stores, and Alice Waters’ local relationships with Tess’ Kitchen Store and the James Ranch. Our theme is “local food from local people.”

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Celebrating our 26th wedding anniversary

Twenty six ago today Shannon and I were married here: St. Theresa of Avila Church in Bodega, California. The white, wooden church with a steeple sits on a hilltop above the small, rural coastal town.

Jasper O’Farrell, for whom O’Farrell Street in San Francisco is named, donated the redwood lumber and a lot from his 1843 Mexican Land Grant, Rancho Estero Americano, to construct the church. It was built by shipbuilders around 1860 and is the oldest church in continuous use in Sonoma County.

Ansel Adams made the church the subject of a black and white photograph in 1953 titled “Church and Road,” and we have hung a copy on the wall in the living room wherever we’ve lived over the years — San Francisco’s North Beach, San Anselmo in Marin County and Nevada City. The church is located next to Potter School, which was the setting for the schoolhouse scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s film, “The Birds.” Hitchcock attended services there during its filming.

The town carries a special meaning for our family: My parents lived in Bodega Bay for years, and my father was born in nearby Sebastopol. His father came to the area from the Ticino region of Switzerland and was among the immigrants who helped establish the Italian Swiss Colony winery. They bought some Gravenstein apple orchards.

My parents are buried in the cemetery in Bodega. (Cartoonist and Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz also is buried there. A memorial bench honors the beloved characters he created). At our wedding reception, near the water in Bodega Bay, my Chronicle coworker Don Clark (now retired from the Wall Street Journal), his wife and friends played classic Irish music. Our life-long friend Anita Minard was the caterer. We kept it small, about 60 people. It was a very memorable day.

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California WorldFest on July 13-16: Celebrating World Cultures

From the current issue of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine:

AMERICA IS HOME TO SOME ICONIC MUSIC festivals: Lollapalooza in Chicago, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Telluride Bluegrass in Colorado and Norfolk Folk Festival in Virginia, among others.

In the West, the annual California WorldFest in historic Grass Valley has built a loyal following and is growing in stature. Last November, WorldFest received the 2016 “innovation in music” award for U.S. festivals from FestForums. Music industry magazine Pollstar calls WorldFest “a festival of discovery.”

This year, the 21st annual WorldFest is July 13-16 at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. Performers include Michael Franti & Spearhead; guitar legend Tommy Emmanuel; and folk icon Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary. Others are Jamaican-born reggae singer Etana; Nigerian Seun Kuti, the youngest son of AfroBeat pioneer Fela Kuti; Alash Ensemble from Tuva central Asia; Australian singer Nattali Rize; and more than two dozen other performers from around the world.

“Honoring native peoples, emphasizing sustainable living, providing a friendly environment for families to gather and celebrating global cultures is our mission,” says Julie Baker, executive director of The Center for the Arts, an arts powerhouse in the foothills that has reinvigorated the festival. “We bring in musicians from every continent—well, except for Antarctica.”

Founded by Chico residents Dan DeWayne and Christine Myers in 1997, WorldFest came under the umbrella of The Center in 2015. Under cool, tall pines WorldFest transforms the Nevada County Fairgrounds into a “pop-up” world village, featuring eight stages of music; camping with family and friends; over 50 workshops in music, dance and wellness; international food; fine crafts; a renowned children’s program; and a Conscious Living expo-highlighting topics such as nutrition, solar building and stream ecology.

Over 5000 people per day attend the festival with over 60 percent coming from outside Nevada County, including other continents. We find WorldFest entertaining but also educational.

This year Michael Franti & Spearhead will close 2017’s festival on Sunday night. He and his band Spearhead are known for their authentic and uplifting music. Folk icon Peter Yarrow’s music conveys a message of humanity and caring. Seun Kuti has followed the political and social ethos of his father, digging deep into various African traditions.

Nisenan Open the Festival

This year WorldFest plans to expand its Global Indigenous People’s village to celebrate authentic indigenous voices. The Nisenan—Nevada County’s indigenous tribe—will open the festival and host the Global Indigenous People’s Village, featuring music, dance performances and workshops. Other Native American groups will perform.

WorldFest offers a family-friendly atmosphere for all ages. The areas include WorldFest playground, Teen Scene, California Kids Arts & Crafts and Brazilian-inspired Games on the Green. The WorldFest parade is an epic event for every age.

In the World Marketplace, vendors offer world-class shopping and dining experiences. Artisan vendors sell original clothing, jewelry and artwork.

WorldFest kicks off Thursday evening, July 13, with a special 2-for-1 ticket price for Nevada County residents. Friday includes a late-night performance. The festival also is launching a program to encourage visitors to extend their stay and visit local shops, restaurants, museums and the Yuba River.

For tickets and more information, visit

Best of the Fests
“Best of the Fests” is an annual awards ceremony recognizing North America’s festivals in the areas of innovation, sustainability, and charitable works. It is presented by FestForums, a national festival conference.

Last fall, FestForums presented the music festival innovation award to The Center for the Arts for California WorldFest. The national honor is a reminder of the innovation that is revitalizing the foothills’ performing arts scene.

The Center’s Executive Director Julie Baker accepted the award in Santa Barbara on behalf of the nonprofit’s team from Woodstock festival co-founder Michael Lang. For Julie, who grew up going to her family’s vacation home in Woodstock, it was like coming full circle. For more about The Center, visit

(Photo: Alessandro Bosio/Pacific Press via ZUMA Wire and FestForums)

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Auburn seeks to build a strong economic development and tourism team

For several years, we’ve enjoyed working with Bob Richardson, now back in Auburn as city manager. The projects have included magazine-style print and digital visitor guides for Placer County and downtown Grass Valley. We’ve also enjoyed working with Mora Rowe, executive director of the Placer County Visitors Bureau and California Welcome Center. We published this guide for her. It has some cool interviews with locals, including former speed skier Jeff Hamilton, Carpe Vino chef Eric Alexander, long-distance runner Gordon Ainsleigh and Tevis Cup champ Hal Hall, among others, and has gone into a second reprint of 70K copies. Bob and Mora have been big supporters of our Sierra FoodWineArt magazine, which continues to grow.

As a result, I was glad to see that Bob is proposing to the Auburn City Council that Mora becomes the city’s first full-time director of Economic Development. He called her a “proven entity.”

In his memo, Bob correctly points to the need for our foothill cities such as Auburn to “move forward quickly” to increase economic development to cope with fiscal challenges that include PERS costs, uneven sales tax receipts, and so on.

This will be a “dynamic duo” for economic development, tourism, business districts and new hotel properties, pending the Council’s approval tonight. More details are here.

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France rejects far right

Emmanuel Macron will become France’s next president, defeating his far-right rival Marine Le Pen by a wide margin, according to exit estimates compiled by Elabe for CNN’s French affiliate BFM,” CNN is now reporting.

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Fire Safe Council gets “Miner’s Foundry” (sic) wrong in fundraising announcement

We’ve lived here for about a decade, so it’s hard for me to understand why the local nonprofit fundraisers, managed by longtime locals — in this case, the Fire Safe Council — still can’t get it right that it’s “Miners Foundry,” not “Miner’s Foundry.” Podunk.

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Trump supporters celebrate imminent loss of their health insurance

“Moments after House Republicans voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, millions of Trump supporters celebrated the imminent loss of their health insurance,” writes Andy Borowitz in the satirical Borowitz Report in the New Yorker.

“From coast to coast, Americans who cast their votes for Donald J. Trump expressed jubilation at finally being relieved of the burden of being insured in the event of catastrophic illness.

“’Ever since President Trump was inaugurated, I’ve been counting the days for him to take away my health insurance,’ Carol Foyler, a Trump supporter in Houston, said. ‘Today I just want to say thank you, Mr. President, for keeping your promise.’

“Harland Dorrinson, a Trump voter from Tallahassee, Florida, said that he was ‘excited as hell about losing my health insurance’ but sounded a more cautious note.

‘”I just hope the Senate doesn’t come in and give me back my health coverage,’ he said. ‘Right now this all feels too good to be true.’

“’Knowing that Trump could take away my Obamacare makes me feel super optimistic about what he’s capable of,’ Tracy Klugian, of Columbus, Ohio, said. ‘I can’t wait until he gets rid of my Medicare.'”

The rest of the article is here.

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