With ambitious plans to produce a diverse line-up of high-caliber beer on the Sacramento grid, two of the area’s brightest craft beer stars announced they will open a brewery and smokehouse-style restaurant by the end of the year.
Rob Archie, owner of Pangaea Bier Cafe, and Peter Hoey, an award-winning brewer at the former Sacramento Brewing Co. and co-owner at the short-lived but influential Odonata Brewing, met me at the surprisingly spacious site at 14th and V streets on a recent weekday to break the news. Over the coming months, it will be transformed into Urban Roots Brewing & Smokehouse.
“We have dreamed about doing this for over a decade now,” said Archie. “We’re opening up a brewery to continue to advance beer culture in Sacramento. We definitely want to bring our international, national and local beer experience. This place is inspired by traveling all over the world.”
Archie, who grew up in Woodland, was a high school basketball star who went on to play pro basketball in Europe. While there, he embraced the beer and food culture and vowed to someday to honor that kind of passion and excellence with a place of his own back home. He opened Pangaea in 2008.
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For Hoey, who emerged on the brewing scene in the late 1990, the project is a return to hands-on brewing after working the past several years as a regional sales rep for BSG CrafBrewing, which supplies ingredients to breweries.
Beer aficionados who came into the craft beer scene in the past five years might not be aware of Hoey’s lofty reputation.
To find out where Hoey stands in serious beer circles, I spoke with some of the best brewers in the nation, including Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing; Tim Clifford of Sante Adairius; and Connor Casey of Cellarmaker.
“I have no doubt Peter is going to raise the bar in Sacramento. His level of quality and knowledge will make other brewers better,” said Cilurzo. “If he wasn’t doing this, I would probably offer him a job. He’s a really sharp guy.”
Casey said he brought one of Hoey’s coveted saison beers from Odonata to an early planning meeting when Cellarmaker was still a dream. He touted it as an example of a first-rate Belgian-style ale brewed in the U.S. It’s one of the beers that inspired Cellarmaker, the small San Francisco brewery with the ever-expanding reputation for excellence.
“Peter was making perfect saisons 10 years ago,” Casey told me. “Farmhouse style ales are really fun to drink, really nuanced, really delicate. The Odonata saison used to blow my mind back in the day.”
“As as a consumer and a fan,” said Clifford, “it was all about the Odonata saison. Here was this company putting all of their chips on what was, at the time, an esoteric beer style. I was always very impressed. I loved that beer.”
Odonata was a dream project with Rick Sellers that was probably ahead of its time. It stayed around only a short time before folding in 2010. Back then, Hoey had to tell most customers what a saison was.
“Peter’s knowledge of beer is incredible. I have no doubt they are going to be incredibly successful,” Clifford added.
Hoey’s range will reflect his broad appreciation for beer styles of all kinds.
“We’re going to have fun with it. We’ll have standard classic styles like Pilsner, pale ale, IPA. But we are devoting a large portion of the production space to mixed fermentation — sour beers and farmhouse style beers that are aged in wood,” Hoey said.
With months worth of renovations on the 15,000 square foot building, the brewery and smokehouse restaurant project is aiming for a November launch. There will be plenty of outdoor seating, a large wrap-around bar, a dining area in the middle of the barrel room.
Sacramento craft beer is already at a very high level. I can’t wait to see if Urban Roots will raise the bar.