Just over two years ago, Carlsbad’s Brewery Igniter lease-to-brew brewery facility welcomed a biking-themed interest to its ranks, Rouleur Brewing. That business has followed a winding, uphill route marked by successful milestones that have its owner, Rawley Macias, contemplating next steps and experimenting with new, more diverse product offerings. It seemed a good time to meet up at a rest stop and find out what’s up and what’s next with his growing business.
What are some of the highlights of Rouleur’s lifespan and what’s on the horizon?
These last two years have been crazy. It’s really all a blur. We are growing rapidly and currently serve about 150 accounts including the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and all our beer is self-distributed. We’ve earned several awards for our beer, including four medals at the 2019 San Diego International Beer Festival and three at the 2019 Los Angeles International Beer Competition, as well as last year’s bronze at the World Beer Cup. All of this has been done with a super-small team that equates to three full-timers. I brew all the beer and run the business. We have one full-time sales guy and two rad beertenders. We are looking to hire a full-time assistant brewer, a second part-time salesperson and a part-time marketing person in the next 12 months. There is no rest in sight.
With all your growth, do you foresee outgrowing your Brewery Igniter space?
We are definitely approaching the limits of our Brewery Igniter space. Currently, we have a five-week backlog on beers to brew and are limited on fermentation space. We are about to pull the trigger on two 30-barrel fermenters. In order to fit those tanks in our space, we will need to find a second warehouse to use as dry storage. Additionally, we’ll need to add a second floor drain and increase the capacity of our glycol system. Cold storage space is also becoming a major issue. The cold boxes that come in the Brewery Igniter spots are not sized well for production. In all honesty, we are already at the point where we need our own brewery with more capacity and space. Rouleur is 100% owned by me with no outside investment. This has its pros and cons, with one con being the lack of capital needed to build our own brewery. I am currently working on ways to raise and/or borrow the required capital, but it is a slow-going process.
What communities would you like to consider when you eventually move on?
Carlsbad has really grown and become more accommodating to breweries since we opened. Initially, they were difficult to work with as a city and were far behind Vista when it came to brewery rules, regulations, accommodations, et cetera. When it comes time to build our own brewery, we’ll be looking at Carlsbad and Vista. We like North San Diego County.
What new Rouleur offerings are out or in the works?
Last year, we launched our Boneshakeur New Zealand pilsner, one of the first in the county, and it’s doing really well. In reviewing our beer portfolio, I decided that I wanted a second year-round lager on our menu. This month, we will launch our Raida Japanese-style lager. Raida is the translation of “rider” from Japanese. This will be a super-clean lager made with pilsner malt and white rice, and hopped with Japanese-grown Sorachi Ace hops. Think of it as a craft version of Sapporo or Kirin. I am really looking forward to its release. And we recently launched our Sunday Spin hard seltzer. It’s a cane sugar-based hard seltzer which is the only type allowed under our ABC license. It will be available year-round in kegs and cans. Ours is 5% alcohol-by-volume and is flavored. We’ll offer different flavors, but our first was done with raspberry and lime. It’s crystal-clear, effervescent, crisp, clean and has zero alcohol taste. It’s definitely outside what I am used to making, but it was actually a lot of fun.
You have an R&D relationship with The Lost Abbey. How did that come about?
Early on, (The Lost Abbey partner and director of brewery operations) Tomme Arthur and I somehow formed a strong connection. It was crazy to me because here I was, a small brewer who never worked a day in the brewing industry before launching Rouleur—basically a nobody in the industry—and was contacted by Tomme to start doing some contract beers for him. These beers weren’t to fulfill production needs. They were for experimental and trial beers. Basically, he sends me a general recipe, then I take care of brewing it. Working with Tomme has been great, and I truly appreciate our relationship. He is a great ally to Rouleur.