Earlier this week, I reported that the owners of Urge Gastropub and two other Rancho Bernardo businesses would be going beyond the role of beer sellers and into the business of brewing their own beer. The vehicle for this transition will be a combination brewpub, bottle shop and bowling alley going by the name of Urge: Craft Alley. That business will be located in a Vista building that formerly housed a Bally’s Total Fitness on Hacienda Drive. I also mentioned they were currently in negotiations with a brewer. Well, the passing of folded pieces of paper from one side of a table to the other is through and they have their man: Mike Rodriguez.
Rodriguez worked as the head brewer at Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey in San Marcos over the past four years and produced a number of good beers. Prior to that, he worked for six years at Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City, one of the largest craft breweries in the country (some refer to them as the Stone of the Midwest and it’s an accurate description). The owners of Urge: Craft Alley were familiar with Rodriguez’s work. Additionally, he came highly recommended by Jeff Bagby, a member of Urge: Craft Alley’s Advisory Board and former brewing mastermind at Pizza Port Carlsbad who is currently in the process of opening his own brewpub in Oceanside. Rodriguez will start out as a brewing consultant with the inside track to become the head brewer when Urge: Craft Alley opens in early 2014.
The core beers he will help to develop in the meantime include an extra pale ale, India pale ale, hoppy amber ale, hoppy brown ale, Belgian-style witbier, and saison. The latter two are styles that Rodriguez has a great deal of experience with. The Lost Abbey’s Carnevale Ale is the reigning best saison in the United States and Boulevard’s saison accounts for a large portion of the company’s sales. Urge: Craft Alley will also institute a barrel-aging program straight out of the gate that will include bourbon and wine barrels. Sours are also a possibility. All three are specialties of The Lost Abbey, making Rodriguez a nice fit for this new venture. Co-owner Grant Tondro says he has the highest respect for local homebrewers, but with so much riding on Urge: Craft Alley, it was essential to select someone with a deep résumé and proven experience. It would seem they have just that in Rodriguez.