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A brewed up blessing

Monk’s Cellar to celebrate a year of downtown dreams in Roseville

Local owners get creative with ambitious new Oktoberfest brews
By: Anne Stokes of the Press Tribune
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What: The Monks Cellar’s Oktoberfest-style lager and a traditional Bavarian Hefeweizen

When: Sept. 25 at 5 p.m. through Sept. 27

Where: The Monks Cellar at 240 Vernon Street, Roseville

For more info: (916) 786-6665 or Monkscellar.com

Regular business hours:

Sunday-Tuesday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Wednesday-Thursday: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.

 

Nearly 12 months into opening the Monk’s Cellar in Roseville, local sons Andy Klein and Paul Gould are realizing their vision of connecting with their hometown through a community hub – and the mission is on a good track. Both men remember a time when Vernon Street was at the heart of Roseville’s quiet community, and now both are seeing hope that the street will have that energy again. 

In addition to the first-year birthday of their business, Klein, Gould and partner Tom Rotelli are brewing up two special beers for the occasion, an Oktoberfest-style lager and a traditional Bavarian Hefeweizen. The unveiled concotions will be served in the traditional Oktoberfest Glass Liter Mugs during a ceremonial tapping of the cask on Friday, Sept. 25 at 5 p.m. and on the following Saturday at 1 p.m.  

“When we were kids, you went to the movies, you went to the Tower Theater, and there was a Frosty Freeze next to the Tower that you went to for hamburgers,” Gould remembers. “You got your haircut at the barber shop (on Vernon). It was little-town America down here, and we'd like to see it be that again.”

So when the two childhood friends decided to go into business together, combining Klein’s experience as a brew-master and Gould’s business acumen, Vernon Street was one of their top choices.

“We both remember Vernon Street, what it used to be, it used to be the only place in town,” says Klein. “So when we heard the city was really trying to put some money and effort downtown, we started talking to them, they liked our concept, and here we are.”

Together with fellow partner Tom Rotelli and fellow brewmaster Peter York, Klein and Gould opened The Monk’s Cellar Brewery and Public House in October of last year. The elegantly furnished restaurant features artisan craft beers, bistro-style pub fare, and a casual atmosphere (which is purposefully free of television screens). 

 The Monk’s Cellar offers a variety of house-brewed craft beers, some of which are seasonal features, and some of which are permanently on tap.

“The beers themselves are Belgian and European inspired, but we put a little bit of West Coast California flair on them as well,” says Klein. “We have some English beers, one of which is an English Pale Ale named after the crooked bridge here in Roseville, the Crooked Bridge ESB, and then we have a London-style porter, but we also do some American, main-stream styles like IPAs, which are popular these days.”

Klein, who has 20 years worth of professional experience under his belt, started his career with the Sacramento Brewing Company. Now that he is running his own show, he uses a few distinctive brewing techniques that impart his beers with unique qualities.

“We don't filter the beers, we let them naturally do their thing,” Klein explains. “So sometimes it takes a little bit longer than we would like. But I think it's worth it in the end because the beer tastes a lot better. Depending on how tight you filter it, filtering can remove some of the flavor, some of the color even.”

In addition to utilizing modern closed fermentation tanks, Klein and fellow brew-master Peter York brew batches in open fermentation tanks, an older style not commonly seen in American breweries.

“What we found is that beer done in the open fermentation tanks comes out with softness to it,” Klein says. “We've done batches in the closed tank and the open tank with the same exact recipe, the same exact process, and the one that came out of the open tank had certain softness and had kind of more rounded edges to it. There's not a huge difference, but a subtle one. It has a neat appeal to people coming in, and it shows them what it is we're doing – and that beer is alive and it's a craft.”

 With beers ranging from their light and refreshing biere blanche, a Belgian style white, to their English style London Porter, the variety of drafts on tap at the Monk’s Cellar pair well with the seasonal selections available at the restaurant.

“European pub food is kind of the driving force behind it,” Gould notes. “The idea is to make it fresh and make it ourselves. Almost everything is made in-house. Of course you have to have hamburgers, and we grind it out of three different kinds of meat, we bake the bun here, we pickle the vegetables that go on top of it, all the sauces are made in-house.”

He adds, “We wanted to have a tight menu, where we could do well, and everything on it was good, so we tried to keep it small and fun: We have a number of items on the menu that are specials, seasonal things that change, whatever we can find that's good and fresh.”

The restaurant’s décor, as well as its name, originally came from Klein’s passion for European beer-making, in particular the Belgian tradition. But the business has since come to reflect a more complete resemblance of its namesake.

“In Belgium and Northern France, monks really did this type of beer-making, all of which was done in the cellar because the cellar was cool, and that's where you stored things,” explains Gould. “The monastery itself functioned as a hub of the community; they fed the community, they protected it, and they spiritually guided it. So, with breweries there's a history of being the center of a community. Even in small towns, up until Prohibition, every town had a brewery, and it was a focal point. The way we try to imitate that is to donate (to local causes).”

Klein, Gould and Rotelli have three essential tenants for their business: Beer, food and community partnership. Giving back is a top priority.

“You really will see us out there as much as we possibly can be, donating beer for this charity or that charity,” Gould says. “It's not just a cliché – truly it's in our business plan. It's in the core of what we want to do and want to be a part of.”