It would be a major understatement to describe beer and cycling as simply hobbies for Rawley Macias.
His children’s middle names are Stout and Porter and his new Carlsbad brewery, Rouleur Brewing Co., and all 12 of its beers are named after the riding positions on a competitive bicycling team.
Macias, 34, is a rouleur himself. It’s the French word for the team cyclist who has all-around skill at sprinting, distance, climbing and breaking the boundaries of what’s expected. He hopes those skills translate both in road races and the competitive local beer industry.
Rouleur Brewing Co.
Hours: 3 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays. 3 to 10 p.m. Fridays. Noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays. Noon to 7 p.m. Sundays. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Where: 5840 El Camino Real, Suite 101, Carlsbad
Last year, Macias walked away from his 11-year career as a mechanical engineer in the defense industry to brew his own beer, a vocation he discovered while attending college 12 years ago at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
He invested nearly $300,000 in opening Rouleur in a “brewery ignitor” space designed for multiple brewing startups in the Carlsbad Corporate Center at 5840 El Camino Real in Carlsbad.
Since opening, Rouleur has introduced 12 beers at its on-site tasting room and his beer is also now served at 20 area restaurants and bars. He’ll unveil his first canned beers at a public tasting party on Sept. 23. Down the road, he hopes to open a second tasting room in a more heavily trafficked spot along Coast Highway.
Macias discovered his passion for beer-making in 2005. He started with a simple over-the-counter home brewing kit and by 2011 had built his own pilot brewing vat system. He said his “engineering brain” is well suited to the methodical, trial-and-error process associated with brewing.
“It’s like a science. You build a laboratory, take measurements, run trials, record the results, make changes and analyze the results. That’s what engineers do,” he said. “With winemaking, it’s up to the grapes and the year and the soil, but with brewing, as long as your growers are making the same product, you can control the results and repeat that beer.”
While he was in college, Macias got a job at a small San Luis Obispo-area aerospace firm that was later bought by Lockheed-Martin. During his 10 years working there, he continued making his own home brews and took courses to become a certified beer judge. He found a kindred spirit in his wife, Alissa, a nurse practitioner.
“Our ideal vacation is going to different places and visiting breweries, learning their stories, taking tours and buying swag. She’s as passionate about it as I am,” he said.
That’s evident in their joint decision on the names of their two sons, 4-year-old Nathan Porter and 9-month-old Levi Stout.
Two years ago, they moved to San Diego, where Macias went to work on General Atomics’ Predator drone program.
Over the years, he had always planned to one day open his own brewery, but the availability of micro-brewery space in North County and his longtime dissatisfaction with the restrictive rules governing beer styles pushed him to make the leap.
Ten years ago, Macias began judging beer contests and then, over time, began entering his own beers in competition. While judges always praised the taste of his unique beers, he consistently got low marks because the rules for color, alcohol content and style are so strict that they don’t allow for any experimentation.
“I understand the importance of style guidelines, but they really only judge your ability to create a beer that already exists,” he said. “I’m not trying to discredit that, I’m just not interested in that.”
Macias said he likes to taste the yeast in his beer and he likes mixing international styles, like a hybrid beer such as an American pale ale brewed with Belgian yeast.
“Some brewers make crazy beers with tons of extravagant ingredients that are over the top,” he said. “I’m experimental in a way that is still drinkable but not out of balance. It’s very important to me to do it in a way that’s subtle.”
When it came to naming his brewery, he went with his passion No. 2, cycling. Five years ago while working for Lockheed, he was spending 14 hours a day in the office, eating an unhealthy diet, avoiding exercising and was overweight.
He bought himself a road bicycle, figuring he’d spend a few hours a week burning off some calories on the city’s winding rural roads. Instead, it became an obsession. Within a couple of months, he’d shed 45 pounds and got a better bike, a cycling coach and joined a riding team. Since moving here in 2015, he has continued to ride competitively with a new team.
At Rouleur Brewing, Macias has covered virtually every inch of the tasting room with archival bike race and team photos, as well as a wall-size mobile-style sculpture that he engineered from bicycle gears and wheels.
The company’s beers are all named for the French cycling terms for riding team positions. The Grimpeur (a mountain sprinter) is a dark ale; the Sprinteur (sprinter) is a red ale; the Puncheur (rolling terrain specialist) is a pale ale; the Domestique (team leader) is a blonde ale; and the Clydesdale (tall cyclists, like Macias) is an India pale ale.
Macias will introduce his first canned beers later this month. One is the Dopeur, a hazy or “juicy” IPA named for the pariahs of the sport, juiced-up cyclists snared in doping scandals. The other is the Athena, a blackberry blond ale named after the word for taller women cyclists.
The public is invited to the canned beer release event from noon to 10 p.m. Sept. 23. The event will feature food trucks and a DJ.
While Macias is happy with the response he’s received for his beers, he’s had a hard time getting the word out on his tasting room. It’s tucked away in an office park where no signage can be seen from the street.
“We could use some help. There’s some truth to the fact that there’s a lot of competition in San Diego and we’re off the beaten path,” he said. “I see it as a challenge. To me, running a business is another form of engineering. You have problems and you try to solve it. Our goal right now is to just get the word out.”