It has been 10 years since Rob Archie opened Pangaea Two Brews Cafe, but for all the changes in the local beer scene since then, it could have been a lifetime ago.
At the time, there were fewer than 10 craft breweries operating in the capital region, and today there are more than 70. Even the concept of charging $8 for a high-quality beer served at the proper temperature and in the proper glassware was foreign for customers accustomed to viewing beer as a cheap commodity.
“I realized we’d been domesticated on bad beer here, and all of a sudden it became like a mission, like, people need to know about this,” said Archie. “At the time, I had no business plan, I just wanted to do something authentic.”
Pangaea has evolved over the past decade, undergoing a name change to Pangaea Bier Cafe and adding a full kitchen, bottle shop and sour beer bar along the way, but the convivial atmosphere has never changed. Archie was inspired by the community-focused café and restaurant scene he observed while playing professional basketball in Italy, an atmosphere he never experienced when growing up in Woodland.
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“I was super inspired by their culture and how they ate, how they interacted,” he said. “It made up the fabric of their lives.”
With a scarcity of envelope-pushing domestic craft breweries at the time, Archie largely filled the Pangaea tap lists with the classic Belgian beers that he loved, educating an entire generation of Sacramento beerheads in the process.
“Even bad beer is a great social beverage,” he said. “Really good beer is extraordinary because then you get people talking about how it’s done, the process, all that stuff.”
As beer drinkers have become more knowledgeable and the internal systems at Pangaea have been polished and perfected, Archie has been able to focus his energy more on transferring those same values to Urban Roots Brewery & Smokehouse.
“Culture is everything to me, so we wanted to make sure the culture over there is right,” he said. Archie and brewer Peter Hoey’s newly opened craft brewery and restaurant won gold earlier this month at the U.S. Open Beer Championship for their Tomorrow’s Verse Saison.
Pangaea’s fifth anniversary in the summer of 2013 was commemorated with an epic outdoor block party held on one of the hottest days of the year. The 10th anniversary was celebrated in a much more reserved manner last weekend with an all-star tap list, food specials and cellar releases, but Archie and company are planning a much larger celebration in October.
“We’ve got a bunch of different breweries brewing beers for us,” he said. “We’re going to put a lot of energy into this block party.”
Given the seismic changes that have occurred in the Sacramento beer scenes during the first 10 years of Pangaea Bier Cafe, we asked Rob Archie to speculate about what the scene might look like in another 10 years:
“I feel like the quality will continue to go up,” he said. “The way we’re going, if we continue to have healthy competition and we look at ourselves as a national experience, I feel like we could be recognized as one of the top destinations in the country, if not the world, to come and enjoy beer and great food. We have the growing region, we have the interest, we have the customer base that wants us to win. We have the opportunity to do something special.”
Claimstake in Copenhagen
Claimstake brewer/co-owner Brian Palmer crossed an entry off his bucket list last week when he traveled to Denmark to brew at the Mikkeller brewery in Copenhagen.
The relationship with the legendary gypsy brewer Mikkel Borg Bjergso, who oversees a Mikkeller empire that includes over three dozen bars and breweries across the globe, began when Palmer was a humble homebrewer.
“I was one of those homebrewers always reaching out to professional brewers,” said Palmer. “Years ago, I reached out to Mikkel, and he would always reply back to me with homebrew advice.”
When Palmer opened Claimstake in early 2016, he contacted Bjergso and floated the idea of a future collaboration between their breweries. Bjergso responded positively, but nothing came of it for a couple of years. “I thought he was just being nice,” said Palmer. “I decided to message him back just recently as I started to get more confident in our brewing abilities and where we’re going with the brewery.”
To Palmer’s surprise, Bjergso enthusiastically agreed to the collaboration, and last week Palmer and an entourage of friends and family made the trip to Denmark. They brewed at Warpigs, a brewery, taproom and Texas-style BBQ restaurant located in the Meatpacking District of Copenhagen co-owned by Mikkeller and 3 Floyds Brewing of Munster, Ind.
The style of beer that they brewed together is familiar to Northern California beer fans, but it was a first for Warpigs. “We decided we’re going to do a Brut IPA,” said Palmer before departing for Denmark.
“They actually have an enzyme company right around the corner that’s going to be providing us the enzymes for the beer.”
There is no word on whether the beer will be available stateside, although Palmer hopes to obtain at least one keg for the Claimstake taproom in Rancho Cordova.
Daniel Barnes is a freelance writer, film critic, craft beer enthusiast and co-host of the Dare Daniel podcast. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.