Thin Line Brewing in Rancho Cordova is a small brewery that carries a big message. It’s a message of “thanks” to those who put their lives on the line every day to serve and protect.
“It’s just where my heart was,” says Thin Line owner Cory Freeland. “Supporting first responders and military and everybody that, to me, are heroes. I know I could never do that job.”
Police, firefighters, military, they all have their own thin line. Each was created to represent and honor the difficult tasks these service-based professions face. For Freeland, the idea of the “thin line” hits close to home. Her boyfriend is in law enforcement and several members of her family are retired peace officers. But she says this brewery is designed to honor all first responders.
“It kind of provides a space where they feel like they are supported,” she explains. “There are a lot of firefighters that come in. I feel like this is my need to show support for what (all first responders) do.”
And the taproom reflects that. From the American and thin blue line flags hanging from the ceiling to the chalkboard wall covered in dozens of names of first responders who have visited and messages of thanks from civilians. Another wall holds the cases of law enforcement patches below the sign that reads, “I’m not a hero, but I’ve walked beside a few.”
Despite having only been open a few months, Thin Line is resonating with first responders, not only in Sacramento but around the state and the country. “I’ve had first responders from all over the place. I’ve had them drive down from Redding specifically just to come here. I’ve had them come from the Bay Area,” Freeland explains. “There’s a guy who came from New Jersey to visit family here and made it a point to bring me a patch.”
Freeland has been in the service industry for years, first making coffee and now beer. She says she met a lot of first responders through these jobs. “I learned more about the human side of who they were as people and not just in the uniform and behind the badge.”
Not everyone gets the “thin line” part just yet, but Freeland says she’s doing her best to teach them.
“I get asked a couple times a week probably… explaining what a thin line is and how it relates to each type of first responder so that it’s not law enforcement focused. It’s a focus for all—including the military in that as well.”
The message of thanks Freeland hopes will continue to spread one beer at a time.
It’s not just the brewery honoring first-responders that is unique. Freeland herself is unique in the brewing business because she the only owner of the brewery and the only full-time employee.
“I do everything. I do all of the bookkeeping, the taproom, I brew,” Freeland says. She explains that because she’s also the only investor, she had to cut back on costs. “You write checks, you pay bills, all this money going out and you don’t have anything coming in so I had to cut my labor back as much as possible.”
The number of women in the brewing business is growing rapidly. In the Sacramento region, there are a handful of women brewery owners and a few women brewers, but there are very few who are both and even fewer (if any others) that are doing it all on their own.
Her boyfriend, who was an avid home brewer and the one who introduced her to brewing is in law enforcement and legally cannot hold a liquor license. So aside from a few friends who help in the taproom Freeland is going it alone.
“One-hundred percent my own business,” she adds.
The unique situation doesn’t end there. If running the brewery essentially alone isn’t enough, she’s making all the beer on a one-barrel system. One barrel is the equivalent of two kegs. For context, Burning Barrel opening up down the street early this summer is going to use a 15 barrel system.
“As far as I know I’m the only one (using a one-barrel system), well I know for a fact in Sacramento, but as far as I know it’s even in California,” says Freeland. “The fermenters are never empty. I’m double batching every batch, so I get two barrels.”
Freeland says she’s already considering getting larger fermenters but plans to stay on the nano-system. She says staying small allows the flexibility to have a constantly changing tap list. “It’s nice that it’s not the same tap list for a long period time but it’s also kind of like, ‘Get it while you can’ because it’s going to be different in a week or so.”
It’s an incredible amount of work to keep up with demand, especially when you’re also doing everything else. Freeland says she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I did this going into it wanting to be the face of what I built,” she says proudly. “I’m pretty much a one-girl show.”