The new Tractor brewhouse and taproom located at 1800 4th Street looks relatively modest from the outside.
As the old saying tells us, however, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. And that inside is big. How big? Well, look at this photo I (Stoutmeister) took from the south end of the brewhouse. That little speck at the north wall is E-Rock. This building, formerly a cabinet factory, is the kind of space that most breweries only dream of having.
“We kept finding spaces that were big enough but not finished, or too close to a school, or didn’t have high enough ceilings,” said Tractor’s Skye Devore, who gave E-Rock and I a tour Friday night. “We were starting to think we didn’t want to sacrifice what we’re looking for in terms of location. We didn’t want to be in an industrial strip mall type of place, because we saw a lot of spaces like that and they were great and (had) a great price, we were just worried about (location), because in Nob Hill we get so much foot traffic. Here there’s so many little neighborhoods right around here and we’re so close to downtown, and easy getting on and off to the west side (via I-40), we just figured this would be a better location.”
In addition to having Skye as our tour guide, brewer David Hargis was kind enough to supply us with bottles of Farmer’s Tan Red Ale as we wandered about, taking photos and marveling at the potential of this new location. In addition to the brewhouse, there will be a taproom out front (by that we mean the west side of the building). Located just three blocks south of I-40 at the intersection of 4th Street and Hannett Ave., the new Tractor will likely have attract a different crowd than the current taproom in Nob Hill (which will, of course, remain open, though some of your favorite servers may migrate to the new taproom). The plan is to bring in that crowd with a grand opening of the taproom on Saturday, Feb. 1, though the brewhouse move will be done in stages, as the current brewery in Los Lunas will be closing once all of the brewing equipment moves north.
“This side we have to do a staggered moving plan,” Skye said. “We can’t not (brew). We have Nob Hill to support and our contracts with Premier (Distributing).”
All told, there is 18,000 square feet of space to fill, and Skye said that with a new boiler in place they will be able to brew twice a day now, thus doubling their production capability. With two new 30-barrel fermenters in the back waiting to join the existing equipment from Los Lunas, Tractor should continue to grow. The plan is to switch over from bottles to cans this summer and add a third, yet-to-be announced beer to the lineup alongside the Farmer’s Tan and Almanac IPA. Well, we know what it is, and we’re quite excited about it, but it’s not our place to make the announcement. Skye said that years ago, Tractor was bottling four beers, so future expansion of production beyond the planned three in cans is certainly possible.
The east side of the building technically has a different address, so that is where Tractor’s wholesalers license has been assigned. All of the bottling/future canning will take place back there. Currently the area is home to storage for the new equipment, as well as to a massive walk-in cooler that is comparable in size to Marble and Il Vicino’s coolers, perhaps even bigger (it has a higher ceiling and is more square in shape, whereas those other two breweries’ coolers are more rectangular). It is currently filled with more kegs than we could count. Tractor has been storing up extra beer just in case there is any disruption in production during the pending move of all the equipment.
Many of those beers will also be on hand for the planned grand opening for the taproom on the day before the Super Bowl. There will potentially be 24 beers available that night (that will be the number of tap handles behind the bar, at least), including some “old favorites” that are being brought back just for the special occasion. (Please, please, please bring back the PTO Smoked Porter, David; it was the beer that helped inspire the name of this here website!)
The taproom will have a long bar, multiple interior benches and booths, and there will be a large patio area outside. One relic of the old cabinet factory that has been kept was a large screen on the north wall of the taproom, where movies could be shown via a projector system. There is considerably more space than there is in Nob Hill, so there could be more opportunities for live musical acts and other special events. It also does not hurt that there is a lot more parking around, including all along 4th Street. The parking lot on the west side of the building belongs solely to Tractor, where the one outside the Nob Hill taproom is shared with multiple other businesses. All of that extra parking could someday lead to Tractor hosting some festival events. We suggested the IPA Challenge, but that will all have to be sorted out with the NM Brewers Guild at a later date, Skye said.
As for the brewhouse, it will have one major advantage in its considerable height. Unlike over at The Stumbling Steer, where the floor had to be lowered to fit in the brewing equipment, that was not an issue at all for Tractor.
“We looked at probably 10 buildings that would have been great if they had been tall enough,” Skye said.
Other amenities will include larger bathrooms, separate for men and women (something we know can be an issue in Nob Hill when it’s crowded). There are full offices and conference rooms for the Tractor staff, so everything can be consolidated, business-wise, at one location. Heck, there will even be an on-site washer and dryer for cleaning all the bar towels.
The Crew will be heading back over to Tractor as work continues on the brewhouse. There is still much to do, but almost all of the licensing and permits are in place. The taproom should be ready to go Feb. 1, as noted above, and we will keep tabs on the rest of the progress in the back.
If you, gentle readers, have any questions you would like us to ask the Tractor staff in the weeks ahead, please leave them here, on our Facebook page, or email us at email@example.com.
A big thank you to Skye for the tour and David for the beer. We look forward to all that the future has to offer at this new location and for Tractor as a business in general.
— Stoutmeister and E-Rock