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River City Brewing Co. getting ready for spring

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River City Brewing Company, located in Westfield Downtown Plaza, is gearing up for spring with two seasonal beers debuting May 1 and the barbecue on the patio set to return April 14, weather permitting.

“Our head chef will be out there barbecuing oysters on the half shell, chicken and shrimp, and sometimes artichokes,” said General Manager and co-owner Beth Ayres, 35.

The patio barbecues have been held on the patio for about 10 years, and Ayres said Head Chef Ignacio “Nacho” Sanchez enjoys taking the time to socialize with the customers, barbecue and share a beer.

Held from 5:30 p.m. to about 8:30 p.m. on Friday nights, the barbecues are popular with the after-work crowd, Ayres said.

“It’s a great patio, just for the people-watching alone,” she said with a laugh, noting that it’s also wind-protected and can seat about 70.

Oysters run about $1.75 each, and two skewers of chicken – a couple bites each – cost $1, with two skewers of prawns available for $1.50.

“We’ll have people come in and order 20 oysters at a time,” she said.

Currently, the seasonal beer is the brewing company’s California Irish Red Rye Ale, which Brewmaster Brian Cofresi described as a darker red beer with a little extra alcohol in it – at 6.3 percent.

“I tweaked it a little and added rye,” he said, adding that the malts are all from California, and he expects the beer to be in stock for another two weeks.

On Tuesday, he brewed one of the beers that will be released May 1, a German-style Maibock.

“It’s a pale lager,” he said. “The Germans would call it a helles Maibock, and helles means light-colored, not light beer.”

The other seasonal brew to be released May 1 is the brewery’s Belgian White.

“It’s an unfiltered wheat beer with a unique Belgian yeast,” Cofresi said. “It’s light, but it has a lot of flavor.”

He added that the beer has coriander as well as sweet and bitter orange peel for flavoring.

“I did my apprenticeship here in ’96, and we were brewing this one, and it’s won a lot of first-place ribbons at the State Fair,” he said.

Beers range in price from $3.75 – $7.50, with the medium – served in a pint glass – $4.50.

The brewpub itself celebrated 18 years in business in December, and Ayres said she and a couple other employees bought the business in 2007 to keep it locally owned.

All the beers are served on tap, and while some of the brews are sold at local restaurants such as River City Saloon, the brewpub itself sells most of them alongside its classic American fare.

Lunch dishes include sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, and fish and chips, while dinner is a bit heartier with steaks, pastas and salmon dishes.

For more information and menus, visit the brewpub’s website by clicking here.

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