That’s too far to drive.
Those are possibly the five most annoying words that people in the ABQ area like to string together. Clearly none of those people lived in a larger city, where 60-mile round trips to see friends are considered short. Nonetheless, it is a fact of life here, and something that can affect a brewery’s business in terms of where its customers are coming from.
For Bosque Brewing, it has always been a bit of a challenge being the northernmost brewery within the ABQ city limits. There are even Brew Crew members who can be reluctant to drive that far out of the way, no matter how good the beer. So for all the people living south of I-40, there is good news on the horizon. Bosque has signed the lease paperwork to open a taproom in Nob Hill, bring their excellent beers to a whole new customer base.
“It is a more crowded area, but in some ways I think it’s a good thing,” brewer Gabe Jensen said. “One thing, man, I would invite another brewery to come into our building if I could. We are it out here. That’s a hard sell at 9 o’clock at night. For us, we’re excited to be where everybody else is.”
The staff at Bosque was planning on announcing things quietly, but the Albuquerque Journal posted a story on their website in the blink of an eye.
“Yeah, that came out quick,” Gabe said. “They called (Wednesday) night. I thought it would go out next week. Someone on Twitter said something. I know it’s out there, but I still hadn’t seen tweets or stuff about it. Wait, what’s that link they linked to? What the heck?”
Bosque is taking over 3,000-square feet of the old Hollywood Video building near the southeast corner of Girard and Central. The building is just south of Mannie’s Restaurant and just west of Walgreen’s, meaning they will have a large but shared parking lot.
Much like Tractor’s taproom up the street, Bosque will not be doing any brewing at the location. Instead they will have a U-shaped bar at the center with taps of all their available beers. Gabe said the plan is to have room for about 100 patrons inside, plus a patio on the west side of the building, facing Girard, that will have another 40 to 50 seats.
“If you look at all the landscaping, that’s going to become the patio,” Gabe said. :We weren’t sure if we were going to be able to get that. Part of that is actually city right-of-way, so we had to work with the city on that, renting it from them. They were fine with it. They’re not going to expand Girard anytime soon. I think we have a 10-year lease with them.”
As the building is a former video store, there will be a lot of work ahead converting it into a taproom. There will be a kitchen, but much like the current Bosque it will be a smaller scale menu, focusing more on appetizers and sandwiches than becoming anything along the lines of Chama River or Nexus.
There was some talk of adding a games area, possibly a pool table or something of that sort, but the Bosque staff decided against it due how much it could cut into the available space for seating.
“If the second half of that building never gets leased up and things are going great, maybe we look at leasing a part of that and expanding it a little bit,” Gabe said. “But right now that’s not in the plans.”
There has not been much reaction so far from the rest of the Nob Hill business community, but then again the plan was just announced.
“There are a couple community leaders in the area that have welcomed us,” Gabe said. “The rest have been quiet.”
Bosque will have to get a special use permit to sell growlers out of the taproom, something that could take some time. For now, Gabe said he has submitted paperwork to the state for a small brewers taproom license, which could take a while or could be approved quickly. Overall, though, the main focus will be on building the taproom itself and preparing it for opening later in 2014.
With construction continuing on Bosque’s expanded brewhouse, next door to its current location, some fans and other brewers have expressed concern that things might be happening too fast. Gabe said he and his fellow co-owners have discussed the issue, but they feel they can handle the added work and pressure.
“I would say we’ve been cautious,” Gabe said. “We’ve gone to outsiders and talked to them about it a little bit. We’ve definitely gotten a few warnings on growing too fast, too quickly. Nob Hill, that’s really what we’re looking at as the crazy step up. If we’re able to do what we do here in the middle of nowhere, we’re hoping that translates to a busy part of town.
“But with the expansion, we’re just doing what a lot of people did up front. We were finally able to get financial backing to do it. Really I don’t even look at this as this is a big step. We’re finally doing that. We were trying to do that in April. Really, that just got pushed back. Nob Hill is happening on the right timeline. Obviously you have those moments where you’re like, ‘Oh, man, I hope this works.’”
Part of that impetus to make these moves now is due to a belief that the already burgeoning Albuquerque-area beer scene is only about to get bigger.
“There’s a lot of breweries opening up in the next 12 to 18 months in town, or at least talking about it,” Gabe said. “That’s great, everything’s cool. (But) we really want to establish ourselves (as a brewery) that’s on tap in places, that’s in cans, that’s out in front of your face instead of where only the beer geeks know you.”
All of us in the Crew wish Bosque the best of luck with their endeavors. We plan to be at the bar at the new taproom right when they open, because the best we can show our support is by drinking all their delicious beer.
Until then, enjoy your weekend, New Mexico beer lovers!