It’s Disneyland for beer lovers, and it’s right in Winters’ backyard. Just across Putah Creek, Green River Brewery & Taproom will welcome the public on Friday, Aug. 18, with a grand opening, featuring the Buck Ford Band and a completely redesigned venue.
Get prepared to be awestruck.
This is not just another bar in town. The venue offers high-tech state-of-the-art digital beer taps, but there’s also a regular bar for those who prefer human contact or mixed drinks. There’s also another outdoor bar in the park downstairs, and a second outdoor bar in the works.
Located at 4513 Putah Creek Road, the site was last known as the Creekside Bar, and anyone who remembers that bar or the many that came and went before it, will simply not recognize the building.
Where the bar once stood, there are big bright windows, and a wall-to-wall wood flooring, upon which tables featuring handmade redwood slab tops sit. The new bar is on the opposite wall and is adorned with a hand-hammered copper top, and there are enough TVs mounted high on the walls to keep any sports lover happy.
What was once a game room is now a small kitchen, where both lunch and dinner fare are offered, everything from pizza to sandwiches to salads, and special menu items for dinner as well from time to time, which may include locally famous Big John’s Famous Barbecued Oysters and Karen Benson Neil’s Cow
The downstairs Creekside Park is still there, but all spiffed up and ready for outdoor seating, and an array of lawn games, from horseshoes to bocce to cornhole. The horseshoe pit will eventually be relocated, making room for shuffleboard and lawn darts as well. Also downstairs is “Phase 2” in the former parking lot. When the brewery goes in, customers can come watch the process, and visit and dance right there in front of the doors.
Live music is planned for the outdoor park, and acoustic music inside. There are even rumors that karaoke may make a reappearance in the future. Even the patio out the back door is all renovated, and scheduled to feature a bar along the rails where customers can enjoy their drinks and food while gazing out at the expanse of green lawn, trees and people enjoying the outdoor activities.
The entire outdoor venue will be available for weddings, events and private parties, and there will soon be a pole barn to provide shelter and shade. Sitting beside Putah Creek, there is ample space for a natural setting and photos, and visitors are welcome to walk beside the water. An outdoor dance floor is also in the works.
Even as one looks around dumbfounded by the amazing venue that is poised to join the community, there’s one more “wow” to be had. It’s not just that there’s a vast selection of beer to choose from, it’s how you get the beer that is truly unique — not just for Winters, but for the entire region.
Along the back wall is a row of taps, and above each one, a wall-mounted iPad that tells customers what is being poured. Customers use a credit card at the main bar and put credit onto a Green River Taproom plastic card, and swipe the cards on the iPads. Customers can choose to taste a one-ounce taste for 50 cents, and if they like it, can then touch the iPad again and fill up a pint glass, paying with the taproom card.
Both the tasting and pint glasses are right there under the taps, and customers can literally serve themselves without ever having to wait in line at a crowded bar for service. Neil says the self-serve setup is only one of three in the Norther California.
All together, the cold box can hold 65 kegs, and there will be 40 beers available at the venue between the self-serve and traditional bars, as well as hard ciders. There is also local Turkovich and Berryessa Gap wine available, as well as hard alcohol and mixed drinks.
Music is also state of the art. The juke box runs on a cell-phone app system, and customers can make their song choices and the songs will be billed to their credit cards via the app.
For those who prefer to walk rather than drive, Green River Taproom is providing a shuttle service from the Solano County side of the trestle bridge right to their front doorstep, and back again. There will be an eight-person golf cart shuttling people back and forth. Another safety factor are 19 high-resolution security cameras stationed throughout the property just to make sure everyone is safe, and staff can keep an eye on things, even downstairs in the park.
The effort, quality and attention to detail of this project is truly impressive. Partners John Neil, Jerry Bell, Todd Carlson and Dave Legoullon have hit a grand slam with this venue. “Knocked it out of the park” doesn’t even begin to describe what customers will discover.
Besides offering a new spot to eat, drink and be merry, the Green River Taproom will fill a niche for the night owls, because unlike most other businesses that close down by 9 or 10 p.m., or are not even open on Monday or Tuesday, Green River will be open daily, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays, opening early for “NFL Ticket,” which can be viewed on one of seven televisions mounted on the walls. The outdoor park will be open for the same hours, unless it is reserved for a private event.
Because food is a big feature at Green River, with so many lawn games available, the venue is additionally family-friendly and children are welcome.
The Green River Taproom began as Neil’s vision of what the property could be. He’d already been operating the Creekside Park for quite some time as an event venue (his father Walt Neil is the property owner), and he says he waited until his children were grown before launching into the bar business and, ironically, he doesn’t even drink. He says the new business “just fit with our vision of our property. It’s what this property was begging for.”
Bell is co-owner of the Bell Family Brewery in Vacaville and is already making beer for the Green River Taproom off site. He will relocate his brewing operation to the Green River Taproom property in six to twelve months. The brewery will be located in the warehouse building on the west side of the old parking lot.
“I’m excited we’re at this point,” says Neil, expressing high hopes for the big venture and gratitude for having the location to see his vision materialize. He also expresses appreciation for his business partners. “It’s the partners that made this thing happen.”
Partner Jerry Bell notes that Solano County Supervisor John Vasquez and his staff were extremely helpful in streamlining the necessary paperwork and county requirements, while partner Todd Carlson says he is “excited as I can be, for all four of us.”
“We all bring something different to the table,” says Carlson, noting that the entire project is truly a partnership.
Neil says one of the most meaningful comments he’s received so far was when Buckhorn owner John Pickerel came to see the new business, and thanked the partners for “believing in Winters and believing in our town,” providing an official warm welcome to Winters’ newest business.
That welcome will get a lot warmer this Friday, Aug. 18, at 5 p.m. for the grand opening and ribbon cutting. Live music will follow at 7 p.m.. Everyone is welcome to come see all that Green River Taproom has to offer.