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Love for Brews and Bikes Makes Engineer’s Business Dream Come True

February 27, 2020 | Success Story
Love for Brews and Bikes Makes Engineer’s Business Dream Come True, CDC Small Business
Rouleur Brewing Company is the brainchild of Rawley Macias, who combined his passions of beer and cycling to form an award-winning brewery in Carlsbad, CA. After finding the right small business loan to fit his needs, he was able to increase beer production by 25% and hire more employees.

Set aside your vision of a guy loafing about in a recliner, beer can in hand. Believe it or not, there’s a fitness niche among suds fans, especially those who love craft brews.

Runners, surfers and others who embrace an active lifestyle have earned their reward. And often what they desire is something cold, hoppy and frothy. Rawley Macias, keenly aware of the market, entered it with fellow cyclists in mind.

That’s why he launched Rouleur Brewing, a tap room and brewery which combines Rawley’s love of beer making with his fondness for hitting the road on two wheels.

Or as he says, “it’s hard to have a bad day here when you’re surrounded by bikes and beer.”

The name rouleur, French for roller, is a term that in the home of the Tour de France refers to a bicyclist who is good at everything, not just sprints, climbs or long distances.

That’s the flair Rawley wants to bring to his creations, especially in craft beer-mad San Diego. He brews ales, sours, seltzers and more because he wants his brewery to be more than “a one-trick pony.”

“You can really come here and find a little something for everyone,” said the former mechanical engineer.

Rawley worked in aerospace after he finished college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he recalls buying his first home-brew kit out of curiosity.

Love for Brews and Bikes Makes Engineer’s Business Dream Come True, CDC Small Business

Rawley Macias

Too good to be true

The hobby soon deepened into an intense fascination. Not only did he become a beer judge, he also established a home brewery that could produce a barrel of beer — or 31 gallons. He named his system the ale engine.

But it wasn’t just his interest in brews that drove him. Though his engineering career was thriving, he’d always wanted to own his own business. Then he heard about the Brewery Igniter program, launched by H.G. Fenton, a San Diego property management company.

Rawley describes learning of the program as “a too-good-to-be-true moment.” Brewery Igniter takes some of the financial pressure off fledgling brewers by offering them leases on turn-key 2,000 square-foot facilities that include a bar, a system that can produce 10 barrels of beer, and cold storage.

He joined the program, beginning work on his business in 2016. He opened up the Rouleur tap room a year later. It sits in a nook of a sprawling office park in Carlsbad, a suburb north of San Diego.

Love for Brews and Bikes Makes Engineer’s Business Dream Come True, CDC Small Business

Scenes from the Rouleur Brewing tap room (clockwise from top left): Bikes on one wall, crowlers for sale, an array of racing and biking photos and Rouleur’s many beers on tap.

Creative business financing

By 2018, he was doing well enough to begin thinking about financing for an expansion. After being turned down, as his business was still new and some food and beverage operations are considered higher risk, a traditional lender connected him with CDC Small Business Finance (CDCSBF).

“They have people on their team that are able to try and understand what you are going after and it’s not just a clear-cut yes/no answer,” he said. “There’s ways to see what your needs are and see if they can fulfill them. And for us, they were. We got what we needed.”

With the equipment purchased with his CDCSBF loan, Rawley increased his production by 25%. He also hired new sales and brewing staff and paid off high-rate loans.

“They were a great partner that helped us out when we needed it,” Rawley said.

Rouleur, even at such an early stage in its business life, already benefits from the buzz around its brews.

The business medaled at the San Diego International Beer Festival and the Los Angeles International Beer Competition last year. But the biggest feather in Rawley’s cap is his bronze from the 2018 World Beer Cup. He received the medal for his Domestique Belgian Blonde Ale. 

He calls the ale “one of our flagship beers.” The recipe is among the brews dating back to his “ale engine” days at home. San Diego Magazine also named Rouleur medal winner Puncheur, a pale ale, one of the “10 great Belgian-style beers for summer.”

Love for Brews and Bikes Makes Engineer’s Business Dream Come True, CDC Small Business

Rawley Macias moving kegs to store at his brewery.

Packing them in

A packed house sipped Rouleur’s Domestique and a dozen other beers on tap one recent evening as ‘70s rock played in the background. Rouleur was standing room-only, crammed both with bicyclists on breaks and a boisterous group of healthcare professionals.

Remnants of cycling line every inch of the space, whether mounted photos from rural and street races or a Masi bicycle on the wall above Rouleur tees and other memorabilia for sale.

“I like it because there’s a bunch of rowdy bikers that go in there – and of course, the beer,” said Preston Grant, a loyal customer, as he and wife Janet loaded their bikes into the car after a Rouleur visit.

Limited editions of Rouleur brews

It’s quiet, however, behind the tap room. Rawley sits in his small office below a whiteboard crowded with cramped script detailing tasks for the week. The work means not only juggling his own creations but also the recipes he brews for others. 

In addition, he networks to make beer collaborations happen and find unique opportunities. He came up with an exclusive brew, Pedaleur, as a “finisher beer” for participants in the San Diego Padres’ “Pedal the Cause” cancer fundraiser. Rawley also partnered with a Carlsbad restaurant, 7 Mile Kitchen, to create a limited edition West Coast IPA that’s exclusive to the eatery.

Better yet, demand for Rouleur beers has led Rawley to think about further expansion.

“That shows that we have that need, we’re growing,” he said. “People want our beer and that’s very satisfying as an owner, to know that you went from home-brewing in a garage or a bedroom to people drinking our beer everyday.”

 

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CDC Small Business Finance offers several loan options for business owners like Rawley who want to grow and are planning for their long-term needs. Contact our loan experts about your business and they’ll work to match you with a financing plan that best suits you. Reach us at loaninfo@cdcloans.com or (619) 243-8667.


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