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In the farm-to-fork capital, the origin of beer hops is just as important as the origin of food. With more than 50 craft breweries in the Sacramento region, the demand for quality and variety is on the rise, so it’s no surprise that beer enthusiasts in the area are looking beyond the bottle.

Marvin Maldonado, Federalist Public House owner, welcomes beer aficionados into his 100-year-old Victorian home adjacent to his restaurant and beer garden to create a more intimate setting with the Federalist Beer Tasting Experience. The class is a communal event that hosts 12 guests around a large, wooden chef’s table that was hand-crafted by Maldonado. Andre Elliott - 5-29-16 Beer tasting - Andre Elliott16Andre Elliott - 5-29-16 Beer tasting - Andre Elliott19

I’m not an expert, but I know what I like,” Maldonado says, addressing his guests from the head of the table.

Inside the Federalist-style home, guests hang their coats at the door before entering the dining room surrounded by tea lights and welcomed by two charcuterie boards with thinly sliced meats, curried pickled onions, creamy cheeses and a basket of fresh-baked bread.

I love sitting and breaking bread with people I’ve never met.

With two rounds, this particular Beer Tasting Experience featured four of Ruhstaller’s signature IPAs to start the class. Guests joining Maldonado at the table range from a group of four friends enjoying an evening in midtown to executive chef of the new Sacramento Kings’ arena, Michael Tuohy, and his wife Patti. The company sips on Ruhstaller’s seasonal and limited releases like the Dixon Cascade, the Utterback with hops grown in Sloughhouse Farms, the Kuchinski grown in Lake County, and the Orphan made from a variety of commodity hops. Andre Elliott - 5-29-16 Beer tasting - Andre Elliott14Andre Elliott - 5-29-16 Beer tasting - Andre Elliott18Andre Elliott - 5-29-16 Beer tasting - Andre Elliott17

From a full-bodied bitter bite to a hint of pine or citrus, the difference in flavors shifts the conversation to what elevation the hops were grown at, the quality and richness of the soil, and finally the big question of the evening: Does it matter where hops are grown? The answer, yes, and it’s tasted in each round.

The kitchen door swings open as staff with trays of new tasting glasses signal it’s time for round two, and this time, it’s Maldonado’s favorite house taps at Federalist.

Samples of Firestone Walker Luponic Distortion, Calicraft Chez Panisse, Jackrabbit Saison, and Knee Deep Big Sipper double IPA with its punchy, full-bodied flavor created an environment where the guests were able to taste what Federalist offers on tap, but in a more quiet setting that allowed for organic conversation about hops and the variety of flavors it inspires.

I love sitting and breaking bread with people I’ve never met,” says Maldonado. “Cheers.

Andre Elliott - 5-29-16 Beer tasting - Andre Elliott20If you want to join Maldonado and a table full of new friends at the next Federalist Beer Tasting Experience, visit their website to reserve your spot. Classes are every Saturday and reservations for a tasting for two start at $80.

Photos | Andre Elliott

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