Bosque Brewing is growing up right before our eyes. This Saturday the north side brewery will celebrate its one-year anniversary with a party for its loyal customers and anyone else who wants to join.
I sat down with brewers Gabe Jensen and Ryan Jameson to talk about Saturday’s festivities, as well as looking back to the highs and lows in Bosque’s first year on the ABQ brewing scene.
The anniversary party will go from opening at 11 a.m. all the way to closing at 11 p.m., so there should be time for some Hopfest participants to make their way over. There will be door prizes, including T-shirts, hats, mug club memberships, glassware, growlers (empty, of course, since state law prohibits giving away free beer), and more. Check Bosque’s Facebook and Twitter pages as there will also be special offers through social media throughout the day and night.
Oh, and there’s a special anniversary beer.
“We had a little Grey Beard left over that’s blended with Olde Bosky,” Gabe said, referring to their imperial stout and porter.
“It’s been sitting and aging, so to speak, for just about one year. We’re kind of excited about that,” Ryan added. “We have just the one keg. It’s kind of special. It’s definitely the first time we’ve started down that type of path, setting something aside for aging.”
A lot has certainly changed since Bosque opened, almost all for the better. Well, all but the paperwork, but as anyone who has ever owned a business knows, that never stops.
“It’s been a constant evolution,” Ryan said. “The roles we all play to achieve this mutual dream and mutual goal. I don’t think if you’d asked Gabe a year ago if he knew all the pressures he’d be dealing with on a daily basis … licensing, this contract and that contract. You’ve been learning about the volume of that work.”
Gabe could only smile and shake his head.
“Yeah, I thought I was going to be a brewer,” Gabe said. “Instead I have paperwork and I’m a janitor.”
As many other brewers have told us, one spends far more time cleaning and sanitizing than actually brewing, which is just one of many lessons the staff as Bosque has learned.
One thing that initially seemed to work against Bosque was its location. Tucked away at 8900 San Mateo, just north of Alameda, it is far from any of the other brewery clusters along the I-25 corridor, Nob Hill, or downtown. While the word has certainly gotten out about Bosque, Gabe said every now and again he still meets people who have never heard of the brewery.
“It still shocks me that at different festivals or things like that how many people are still ‘Who? What? Where?'” Gabe said.
“That’s the one truth that we’ve seen or be able to observe from festivals is that the market is massive and ever-expanding,” Ryan said. “With every single festival that goes by, even the ones we’re not involved with, there’s growth in our potential customers. I’ve said a few times that what’s good for one brewery here in town is good for all of us.
“I suppose in the back of our heads a year ago there was this fear of how many craft beer drinkers are out there. What I’m discovering is there’s no such thing as a craft beer drinker. There’s people who know they like local breweries and people who don’t know it yet. That’s been a cool part of this past year for me, getting that reinforcement that the market is massive and only growing and growing.”
If anyone out there is still confused to where Bosque is, just get off I-25 at Alameda, go west to the first red light, which is San Mateo, and turn right/north. Or just punch 8900 San Mateo Blvd. NE into your GPS.
Ryan said “learning how to cater to the market” is another big development for the Bosque staff. Between advertising, attending festivals, and making use of social media
“Coming from a business perspective that’s something I had to learn,” Gabe said. “In some ways it’s gone beyond our wildest dreams and in some ways it’s not. We assumed open a brewery and people would come, right? To realize that just because I did the research when Marble was going to open and Il Vicino was going to open so I was there on day one, it’s not like everyone is going to do that. There’s not a lot of (people like) me out there.”
Like every brewery, Bosque has had to learn how to find that middle ground between the hard-core beer lovers and the folks who drink beer because it tastes “good.” Then again, even some beer writers have to learn that over time, and it’s a process that will continue as long as some people brew and some people write.
“There’s definitely that fine line between relatable and being knowledgeable with customers,” Ryan said. “You definitely want to be not so knowledgeable and wordy that you’re having people glaze over. But you also want them to understand there’s a depth there beyond what the side of a Miller delivery truck says. You want them to understand that’s a super over-simplification but you also don’t want to scare them off.”
When it came time to pick their favorite moments from year one, Gabe’s moment was a quiet one on a simple day of work early in Bosque’s run.
“I don’t know what day this was, I remember sitting there, probably both of us were mashing in and finally we weren’t working 27-hour days anymore, we’d gotten down to 18, and I finally had time to sit there and go, ‘We own a brewery, people are drinking beer,'” Gabe said. “I still think back to that, especially when things are rough, Subway’s not moving out (from next door).”
Some of the toughest moments were when Bosque began expanding in the sense that they were brewing beer for sale at bars and restaurants beyond the brewery. Gabe and Ryan estimate that they now brew Ember IPA every other or every third batch just to keep up with demand.
“I’m happy we even have four seasonals on tap right now,” Gabe said.
Of the regular beers, many are easy to brew to the same standards and quality. Then there’s Bosque’s problem child.
“Scotia (Scotch Ale) is the lady that keeps me up at night,” Ryan said. “It’s just that it’s a big beer and so all the parameters are even slimmer. You’ve got no wiggle room with such a big beer. Yesterday I had to put in quite a few extra hours to make some corrections and get my second batch where I needed it to be. It’s one of those things where you almost cherish … I’m going to remember that batch, when we process it and serve it, it’s going to taste better to me than any other batch.”
Consistency, however, has been something that Bosque has achieved with its beers, an impressive feat for such a young brewery.
“The consistency is crucial of course, but it’s true there are these variables in the world of brewing that you just kind of have to accept and live with,” Ryan said. “The world’s not going to have more Simcoe (hops). There’s a given amount. There’s some things you can control about it. But I think that’s one of my favorite parts about this industry. Nothing is ever exactly like it was every time before. You can only control yourself and your technique.”
Bosque has achieved a lot in a short time. It has become one of the Brew Crew’s favorite hangouts and we, and hopefully many others, are looking forward to what it has in store for us in the future. A big cheers to everyone that works there and all the effort they have put in.
So if you’re not going to Hopfest, or if you are and you have a designated driver available, head up to Bosque on Saturday and wish them a happy birthday. Just please don’t drink all the Grey Beard/Olde Bosky anniversary mix before the Crew gets there.