Republic FC’s inaugural Brewfest is set to kick off tomorrow, June 17 (don’t forget to enter to win free tickets by 4 p.m. today), and the club has more connections to the world of beer than you may know.
Goalkeeper Coach Ross Cain has been brewing since the mid 2010s. While coaching at his alma mater, the University of Illinois Chicago, he developed an interest in small, specialty brews created from custom recipes — along with the unique stories behind their creation.
We spoke with Ross about his experience with soccer, suds, and Sacramento.
Q: You joined the club in 2022, if Republic FC was a beer — what kind of beer would it be and why?
A: An imperial IPA or a double IPA. It’s aggressive, on the front foot and has high potency.
Q: What is it about Sacramento that stands out to you from some of the other cities you’ve coached in — like Pittsburgh or Kansas City?
A: I’ve really enjoyed the food scene, the beer scene. I also love being able to take a day trip — either to the Bay Area or heading to the mountains — and just have a little bit of a change of scenery. I’ve really enjoyed just the area in general. And it’s different than the Midwest but in all the best ways.
Q: In between college and coaching, you studied brewing at the Siebel Institute — the nation’s oldest brewing school — but you almost went to UC Davis instead. What changed your mind?
A: I was living in Chicago at the time and that’s where Siebel is based. I had developed a network in the brewing industry in Chicago. So, staying there and going to Siebel, I had the opportunity to also do some hands-on work and work part time in a local brewery as I was getting the academic side.
Q: Is there any batch — whether one of your home brews or with the brewpub, that you can very vividly remember the experience of getting to taste for the first time?
A: We brewed an imperial stout and we put them in some old Heaven Hill bourbon barrels and then also added some cherries from a local orchard and let them sit in the barrel for, I think 12 months to about a year. The really enjoyable part was — when we were ready to start kegging them and bottling them — sampling each barrel before we blended them and experiencing the different nuances, just because of the kind of micro-environment of each barrel. Every one tasted a little bit different and then we ended up blending them all together and then packaging.
Q: What’s your favorite local brew, and what’s something about the craft beer scene in Sacramento that you think makes it unique?
A: My go-to spot is Urban Roots. I love barbecue and smoked meat as well, and I really enjoy some of their rotation on some of their barrel-aged beers. I think not too long ago they had a really nice saison that was barrel-aged. They always have some interesting beers in a really good lineup, and they execute their beers really well and put out a really good product.
Q: What’s one of the lessons you’ve learned from brewing that has helped you coach soccer, or vice-versa?
A: Yeah, I would say two things. One of them is just kind of like me as a person, I like to be active and doing things on the physical side. I’m not a big sit-in-the-office guy. Both professions obviously are pretty labor intensive in different ways, so I enjoy the physically-active aspects of both. And I also enjoy the creative side. Obviously, we talked about it with brewing, but I enjoy the creative side of coaching and me as a goalkeeper coach designing training sessions, building activities for the goalkeepers, and that’s a creative outlet for me in the coaching world.
Q: If someone’s coming to Brewfest tomorrow and can only try one beer — what is your recommendation?
A: I would go back to Urban Roots — easy answer — and seeing what they have to offer in regards to barrel-aged beers, because I’m sure they’ll have something barrel-aged. So for me, I’m going to try all the barrel-aged beers.