Sacramento’s beer scene has emerged in recent years as a major force in California, with 60-plus breweries serving an ever-expanding population of beer aficionados.
But the state capital and its thriving beer culture ain’t seen nothing yet.
The most hotly anticipated project in years features a partnership of two craft beer superstars and promises to take the region’s brewing prowess to a whole new level.
Urban Roots Brewing & Smokehouse is hiring staff, has already begun brewing and is days away from opening. As the name suggests, the 15,000 square foot renovated industrial space on V Street is in a century-old downtown neighborhood.
The brainchild of longtime pals Peter Hoey and Rob Archie, Urban Roots will have an open-air beer garden with seating for 120; a dining area and bar with an urban-industrial meets French farmhouse aesthetic; a $40,000 smoker in the huge kitchen, and a beer program led by Hoey that just might blow people’s minds.
Once a fresh-faced, award-winning prodigy with the long-closed Sacramento Brewing Co., Hoey stepped away from full-time brewing for several years as he built a career at BSG Craftbrewing, the prominent ingredients supplier. Archie, a high school and collegiate basketball star who grew up in nearby Woodland, chased his sports dream all the way to Europe, where he played pro ball and discovered great beer.
When he returned stateside, the affable Archie opened Pangaea Bier Café in 2008, growing it into a local force just as the craft beer scene was about to take off. Archie and Hoey became good friends and traveled frequently on beer fact-finding excursions.
As Pangaea grew in prominence and Archie looked at his expansion options, he told friends he would only open a brewery if he could talk Hoey into being the brewmaster and co-owner. Hoey would brew beer occasionally on a collaboration basis with some of the top talents in the state, but he liked the reliability of his day job.
Last year, with Sacramento beer continuing to flourish, Hoey could no longer resist.
“Peter brews flawless, clean beer,” Archie said. “The saison collaboration he did (in 2016) with Sante Adairius (in Capitola) was just world-class. The goal here is to do beer that’s as good as anything in the world.”
The Sacramento region already has a slew of ambitious and high-performing breweries, including Track 7, Device, New Glory, Knee Deep, Sudwerk, Mraz and Moonraker, among many others, that introduced local beer geeks to the juicy, hoppy force that is New England-style hazy IPA.
Archie and Hoey are not placing any limits on how high they can soar. They’ve done their homework. They’ve honed their craft. They’re aiming for greatness.
“Being in the industry for almost a decade now, traveling the world and being inspired, the goal is to share that with Sacramento,” Archie added. “That’s why getting Peter on board was so key – having someone be able to facilitate, educate and execute the way that he can.
“You can do dream collaborations and you have people who are excited to work with him. He has the respect of so many people in the industry and he has committed his life to it. I told Peter, ‘You have to own a brewery and you have to be part of what’s happening in Sacramento right now.’”
While Urban Roots seems destined to be Nirvana for beer geeks, Hoey says the place will be welcoming to all, from newbies to beer traders and aficionados.
“You have to meet them where they’re at,” Hoey said of the approach to service. “Condescension is not allowed. If I see any snobbery happening in here, that’s not allowed. Beer is the people’s drink. If there’s any activity that makes people feel uncomfortable or unwanted or that they’re not good enough to be here, that’s not welcome at our spot.
“If you want to sit in the beer garden and eat some ribs and drink some beer and not think about it, we’re your spot. If you want to come in and go on a deep dive into beer geekery, we can do that, too,” said Hoey.
While the Urban Roots vibe will be decidedly egalitarian, the quality standards will be high, the attention to detail extreme. Hoey plans to produce a wide range of beer styles, including lagers, IPAs and an assortment of barrel-aged brews. But he wants to specialize in saisons.
“That’s the style that’s near and dear to Rob’s and my heart – the style that brought us together and formed this partnership,” said Hoey, noting that saisons will pair nicely with a range of offerings on the food menu.
“They work really well with barbecue. If you have a fatty brisket, having a beer with some acidity helps cut through that fat, that richness. It’s similar to pairing a triple-cream brie with Champagne.”
To make all this inviting to new and serious beer folks will require a knowledgeable staff that can talk about the range of beer styles, the food pairing options and all that little details that enrich a bustling brewpub visit.
“We’re going to have a very strong educational component for our servers. We also plan on offering classes for customers to come in and learn about beer and beer styles,” said Hoey.
“There are going to be a lot of people who haven’t heard of Urban Roots and haven’t heard of me and Rob, and we need those people to come in and have a fantastic experience. The way to do that is to have educated and trained servers that are going to know how to lead them into the best possible experience they can have in these walls.”