Seismic Brewing to close taproom in Sebastopol, move into space with Golden State Cider

The two brands are under ownership of local company owned by vintner Christopher Jackson.|

Seismic Brewing Co. is closing its high-end taproom in The Barlow and moving just a few doors down into its sister company Golden State Cider as part of both brands’ restructuring under parent company Sonoma Craft.

Seismic delighted local beer fans when it opened in 2019 at The Barlow. Its 4,000-square-foot space, the design of which was overseen by owner Christopher Jackson, resembled a modern wine tasting room more than the typical bare-bones taproom. The location featured a hip motif with floor-to-ceiling windows, wood paneling and sound-dampening features. Patrons could sit at its U-shaped bar on padded bar stools or at the two outside patios with overhead heaters and a fire pit.

“Given the immediate proximity and redundancy of both locations, this means choosing the Golden State Cider taproom to bring both brands together,” said Jackson, the son of Barbara Banke and the late Jess Jackson, who founded Jackson Family Wines.

Seismic will close its doors at year’s end and move immediately into the Golden State taproom, which is located on a busier section of The Barlow along McKinley Street.

Jackson also serves as a second-generation proprietor at Jackson Family Wines, which is a much larger and separate company. Last year, Jackson and his wife, Ariel, bought Golden State Cider of Healdsburg and formed a new company called Sonoma Craft, which houses both Seismic and Golden State. Jackson said Tuesday he’s interested in growing the company’s portfolio, possibly by bringing in a distilled spirits label in the future.

The move also notably reflects the directions of both brands as Jackson said he wants to grow Healdsburg-based Golden State within California and nationally. The brand will produce 35,000 barrels this year and Jackson expects it to grow by 30% next year.

Jackson noted hard cider’s market segment in other countries, like Canada and Germany, is much larger than the U.S., and said the product has never rebounded from Prohibition like other alcohol beverages.

“I think the United States of America is going to move back in that direction,” he said of hard cider.

Meanwhile, Seismic will remain mostly within a Northern California footprint given the short retail shelf life of beer, he said. Brewers typically do not want beer sold after two months as its quality starts to degrade.

“That’s going to be more fresh and local, and focused on our county footprint,” Jackson said of Seismic.

The Barlow is known as a beer hot spot in Sonoma County as it also houses the taproom at Community Market, Woodfour Brewing Co. and Crooked Goat Brewing. Crooked Goat was typically the busiest of the retail outlets in the shopping center and its popularity grew so much that its founders opened a second location this year in west Petaluma.

Seismic, which has its production facility in Santa Rosa, has garnered a good reputation for its beers, especially its kolsch and lagers, but did not attract crowds like Crooked Goat.

Jackson through Seismic also engaged in a legal battle with Reyes Holdings, the biggest beer distributor in the United States, over antitrust claims of the wholesaler’s increasing market share in California. The two sides resolved their dispute this summer. Reyes in September announced it would start distribution of Golden State through its subsidiaries in areas of Southern California.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, there have been other closings of other beer taprooms in Sonoma County this year as the industry goes through a shakeout. Grav South Brew Co. closed its Cotati taproom earlier this month and Steele Hops, which also operated a restaurant, closed this summer in Santa Rosa.

Bill Swindell

Business, Beer and Wine, The Press Democrat  

In the North Coast, we are surrounded by hundreds of wineries along with some of the best breweries, cidermakers and distillers. These industries produce an abundance of drinks as well as good stories – and those are what I’m interested in writing. I also keep my eye on our growing cannabis industry and other agricultural crops, which have provided the backbone for our food-and-wine culture for generations.

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