At the corner of 14th and V streets, not far from Sacramento’s Southside Park, constructions crews rapidly are transforming the former Brownie’s Blueprint warehouse into one of the city’s most anticipated new breweries.
Urban Roots Brewing and Smokehouse is the brainchild of Pangaea Bier Café owner Rob Archie and local brewing legend Peter Hoey. Their ambitious plans for the place include a robust barrel-aging program, an enormous outdoor beer garden and a 300-seat restaurant.
The business is still months away from a planned January opening, but brew fans recently got a sneak peek with the release of three collaboration beers. All three beers debuted at a private event at Empress Tavern during the California Craft Beer Summit in early September, and later appeared on tap at the Summit Beer Festival and at Pangaea.
Hoey, former shift brewer at Sierra Nevada, and former brewmaster at Sacramento Brewing and Odanata, had accrued enough clout in the industry to assemble a dream team of collaborators for his first Urban Roots beers. He found enthusiastic partners at Cellarmaker, Three Weavers and Alvarado Street – all three highly respected California breweries. But for Hoey, these joint projects were more about friendship than business.
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“They’re the people that we hang out with socially,” he said.
Trips to Cellarmaker’s brewing space in San Francisco produced Future Shock, an unfiltered, pale-gold pale ale with a bone-white head, a flowery nose and a frosty mouthfeel. Possibly served too cold, the first few sips we experienced were so lemon-heavy that it bordered on furniture polish, but those edges smoothed out as the beer warmed.
Meanwhile, the partnership with Three Weavers of Los Angeles resulted in the delicious Travel by Map, a clear, fruit-forward Double IPA made with El Dorado, Citra, Galaxy and Mosaic hops.
The collaboration with Monterey-based Alvarado Street produced Hoeygaarden, a spicy, cloudy, butterscotch-colored witbier that’s a spitting image for the Belgian gateway beer Hoegaarden. Hoey said he credits Alvarado Street co-owner and head brewer J.C. Hill with the word-playing name.
“I’m certain that he came up with the name first, and that dictated the style,” he said.
Hoeygaarden takes a “more American approach” than its mass-produced inspiration, and comes to your glass much quicker. “It has higher spice levels, and it’s going to be fresher,” Hoey explained. “The spice notes and the subtleties drop off as it ages, so the ability to make small batches is the biggest difference.”
A pale ale, a Double IPA and a Belgian wit might seem like tame initial offerings from a brewery with grand plans for a 3,000-square-foot barrel room that will house long-aged lambics. However, Hoey said he believes these beers indicate the “international status” of Urban Roots, and promises more all-star collaborations soon.
“We’ve been talking with Wild Beer in the U.K.,” he said. “They specialize in mixed-fermentation beer, which is going to be a big part of our program.”
As for the first beer that Hoey plans to brew at the Urban Roots facility, it all depends on the construction timeline. “If the brewery is functional close to the opening date of the restaurant, then we need to go into lager production right away,” he said. “If the brewery is open several months before the restaurant, then I can start filling barrels.”
Davis breweries double
When it opened in 1989, Sudwerk was the only brewery in Davis, and it stayed that way for nearly three decades.
Super Owl held its coming out party at 4 p.m. Sept. 22 with what’s become a familiar opening day lineup – an IPA, a saison, an oatmeal stout, a blonde and a pale ale – and by 4:15, the line already had snaked into the parking lot. Dunloe premiered two months ago with a more ambitious slate, and on the night that we visited, their offerings included a Helles lager, an inexplicably jet-black Belgian quad and a golden sour.
Neither of the two new breweries left me with very strong impressions, and a subsequent visit to the Sudwerk Dock Store confirmed who remains the undisputed king of Davis beer.
I mention all this only to illustrate the need to manage expectations with new breweries. Local luminaries such as Track 7 and New Glory spent a couple years in the middle of the pack before ascending to the throne. But given the level and volume of competition these days, you have to wonder if craft beer upstarts will have the luxury of patience?
Beer of the week
New Glory seems to premiere two or three spectacular beers a week, but even by their own lofty standards, Galactus Double IPA (8.1 percent ABV) stands out from the crowd.
A “big brother” to their Astro Haze IPA, the “unfined and unfiltered” Galactus pours an opaque orange with a frothy white head. Brewed with Galaxy hops from Australia, Galactus offers ripe aromas of grapefruit rind, oranges and tomato vine pollen, with tropical flavors that start juicy and finish dry.
Daniel Barnes is a freelance writer, film critic, beer enthusiast and one half of the blog “His & Her Beer Notes.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.