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New brewery marries award-winning beer with barbecue
By Greg Sabin
I remember when I first heard about Urban Roots Brewing & Smokehouse. My good friend and founder of Sacramento Beer Week, Dan Scott, told me about it while we sipped beers at The Shack, one of Sacramento’s best beer bars.
“Did ya hear about Rob Archie’s new project?” he asked.
“Rob? The owner of Pangaea Bier Café? Home of one of California’s great burgers and one of the best beer programs in the United States?” I asked back.
“Yeah. That Rob. He’s opening a brewery,” Dan said.
“That’s great,” I replied. “I didn’t know he brewed.”
“That’s the best part,” he said. “Peter Hoey is doing the brewing.”
“What?!?” I yelped. “THE Peter Hoey? Former brewer at the original Sacramento Brewing Company? Brewer of Odanata, one of Sacramento’s legendary craft brews? A veritable industry legend and local brewing rock star?”
“Yup,” Dan said. “But wait, it gets better. It’s going to be two minutes from your house.”
It was at this point in the conversation that I believe I passed out.
I could not have created a better food/beer pairing than Rob Archie and Peter Hoey had I been left alone in a lab. Their vision and execution of Urban Roots Brewing & Smokehouse speaks to their collective decades in the food and beverage world. Every element of the enterprise, from the beers to the brisket, from the wooden benches to the tile bar backsplash, speak to a care and confidence unique among the girthy brewing scene in town.
The menu, executed impressively by executive chef Greg Desmangles, looks like a basic barbecue lineup at first glance. Dig deeper and you’ll find an expression of Southern roots at work: pork-rich greens and teeth-achingly-sweet whipped yams with marshmallow being the most obvious examples.
Keep looking at the menu and sampling its constituent parts and you’ll find a spot-on southern fried catfish with its perfectly turned out cornmeal crust. It pairs, dare I say elegantly, with a house-made remoulade. There are tips of the hat to Louisiana with hot links and jambalaya, and even a modern twist with a vegan mushroom gumbo.
There are touches of Mexico (a brilliant smoked turkey torta with cotija cheese, avocado, red beans and pickled jalapenos), Texas (brisket tacos and Central Texas-style sausage) and California (beer, with a Belgian twist of course).
The brisket is the most popular, Archie told me in a recent conversation. And you can see why. It’s just lovely brisket, sporting a gorgeous pink smoke ring and sitting right on the edge of holding together and falling apart at the tenderest bite. Have it in a plate with any one of the four house-made sauces, or in the “Texas dip” with caramelized onion aioli, melted provolone and au jus all on a rustic country roll.
The ribs, a table of friends decided, are “ridiculously meaty.” Peppered and smoky and indulgent, they pair well with the Kansas City-style sweet barbecue sauce or the mellow mustard. They downright sing when matched with the peppered cheddar grits. Those grits, by the way, are about as immoral as grits get with chunks of cracked pepper and enough cheese to stop a tank.
The beers must be pretty exceptional to stand up to such an exciting menu. And indeed they are.
Before the doors even opened in 2018, Hoey was winning medals for first batches. “Like Riding A Bike” is the name given to UR’s flagship IPA and their No. 1 selling beer. As the name implies, Hoey returned to Sacramento in prime form.
From simple styles like Mexican amber lager (think Negra Modelo) to an insanely ambitious peanut butter and jelly Scotch ale (there’s nothing you can think of to compare), the beers are simply exceptional.
The accolades are already rolling in. Opportunities to collaborate with brewers all over the world are popping up regularly.
“You’ve got to be pretty damned exceptional to stand out in the craft brewing world right now,” said Archie when I asked him about saturation in the market. Drop by Urban Roots some time and you’ll see what exceptional looks like.
Urban Roots Brewing & Smokehouse is at 1322 V St.; urbanrootsbrewing.com; (916) 706-3741.