Santa Fe Brewing looks to follow a great 2014 by breaking ground on an even bigger 2015

Posted: January 5, 2015 by Luke in Look Back/Look Ahead Series 2014-15
SFBC ALBLF 2014 2015 pic 4

Arr, there be the fermenters and bright tanks.

Every year the Crew sits down with our local breweries, giving them a chance to take a look back at the year they’ve had and recap for you, beer fans, their wins, their losses, and the challenges they may have faced along the way. We also give them the chance to share with us all that we should be looking forward to in the year to come. As the Dark Side Brew Crew’s Santa Fe correspondent, I’ve done my best to cover the four breweries in the Santa Fe area, so keep an eye out for those articles as they post. To kick things off for the Santa Fe edition, I sat down with general manager Alana Jones to see what Santa Fe Brewing Co. has been up to this year, and what everyone should be stoked about in 2015.

“Seems a blur,” Alana says, laughing, when asked how Santa Fe Brewing’s year went. Her office is filled with boxes, papers, and SFBC paraphernalia, but the one thing you can’t help but notice is the framed sketch of SFBC’s expansion plans up on the wall. It kinda makes you tingle, but I remind myself to focus.

SFBC ALBLF 2014 2015 pic 1

Santa Fe Brewing is gonna get quite a bit bigger in the future.

“We had a great year,” she said. “We launched in Utah last month. That was our 10th state that we’re distributing to now, which is exciting. We grew our production and our revenue. I would say that we’re on track to have our income be at about 20 percent more than last year, so still double-digit growth, which is great.

“We won some awards this year, which is always a big thing. It’s nice to get some recognition for our beers. And obviously the biggest one was the (Great American Beer Festival) award for our Kriek. And also, the Kriek won another big one, which was from the USBTC (United States Beer Tasting Championship). So having the Kriek really get acknowledged publicly like that was pretty awesome, because that’s a beer we’ve been working on for many years. The Kriek we sell now has been in barrels for two years. Having the recognition for our sour beers, getting them more out there is big. Our Sour Porter is going to be the third sour beer that we released just this year. And we’re doing some fun new things, like with the vinegar, which we released for the holidays. We’ve just been having a lot of fun with our barrel-aging program.”

DSBC: Do you think that the GABF win for the Kriek strengthened the brewery’s confidence in programs like the Los Innovadores or ECS (Ever Changing Series)?

Jones: Yeah. You could say that. But we’re dedicated to the barrel-aging program no matter what. And we feel really confident about those beers, and we’re really proud of them. But it’s always nice to know that other people (like) them as much as we do. But if we had not won an award, we would still be putting just as much into our barrel-aging program. We’re very into it!

SFBC ALBLF 2014 2015 pic 3

More SFBC beers being barrel aged. We live in grand times.

DSBC: It sounds like there were a lot of positives this year. Were there any negatives in there?

Jones: Yeah. I think negatives have been that because our business is growing so much, so fast, it’s hard to keep up sometimes, and we did a lot of restructuring this year, in terms of personnel, and just management structure, and responsibilities shifting. And that’s both a positive and a negative, because I think we’re in a much better place now than we were a year ago. But it’s always hard. It’s difficult for us to do.

DSBC: And that goes with any expansion.

Jones: Exactly, and as a business changes, the needs of a business change, and so we all have to adapt. And adapting can sometimes be a struggle, but definitely worth it in the end.

SFBC ALBLF 2014 2015 pic 5

Come, gather by the warm glow of the taproom.

One of the challenges SFBC faced this year was figuring out what to do with all the new personnel.

“When I started nine years ago in this building, we had five of us, including the owner and myself,” Jones said. “Now we have over 40 employees. And just this year, we created new positions, so just learning how to deal with having that many people here and figuring out what everyone’s doing, and holding people accountable, can be a struggle.”

DSBC: How about some highlights of the year?

Jones: We got to go to the Craft Brewer’s Conference for the first time, this year, which was really amazing. It was such an awesome experience for us, just to go to all the seminars, and really network with people. We all learned a ton.

Well, probably the biggest highlight of the year was having the image of the expansion. We finally knew what we were working towards, and what we wanted it to look like, and what we want it to be. And that was huge, because then we could start submitting all the building permits, and looking into equipment purchases, and there was a while there where we weren’t quite sure of the direction we were going in, and this year was the year that we decided this is our direction and this is what we’re working towards. So that was really exciting.

Also something that was very exciting was choosing the space for our Albuquerque tasting room. We’ve been wanting to do an Albuquerque tasting room for probably about five or six years now, but we’ve never found a good space for it, a space that we felt was perfect. And so we waited. We didn’t want to rush it and go into a space that we didn’t think was right. And this year, that all came together, and we finally got our dream space in Albuquerque. And they actually just broke ground. It’s a big hole in the ground right now, but it’s there.

SFBC ALBLF 2014 2015 pic 8

Future site of Green Jeans Farmery and Santa Fe Brewing’s ABQ taproom. (Photo courtesy of Green Jeans Farmery)

Another highlight of the year for Santa Fe Brewing was hiring a dedicated person to manage social media and marketing. Before, it was just their cellar guy, who would put up a post every once in a while, in his off time. “Now we have someone more dedicated,” Jones says.

She’s talking of course about the multilingual Max Otwell. Alana had this to say about him, “He’s amazing, and he’s dedicated to that full-time. He’s made so many more connections with people and has been establishing relationships with our customers in a way that we haven’t been able to do before. That’s really exciting, too.”

DSBC: Santa Fe Brewing Co. had a great year. Taking a look forward, the last interviews the Crew did were about plans for expansion for the brewery and plans for the Albuquerque taproom. How are those coming along?

Jones: So, like I said, with the Albuquerque taproom, they’ve broken ground on the space, so the buildings will go up, and then we can start decorating and hiring.

DSBC: Are we looking at any sort of time-frame?

Jones: I’ve been told late spring, so we’ll see how on track that is. But the builders of Green Jeans Farmery, they’re really eager to get things going obviously, so that should be coming along.

And then for the expansion (here in Santa Fe), we’re just waiting on final County approval for our building, and that should happen in a couple of weeks, and once we get that final approval, we will break ground ourselves. We also just recently got approval from both the City and the County to connect to the County sewer line, and that was a huge hurdle for us to overcome, before we could talk about our expansion. But, yeah, we’re hoping to break ground in a month. Once we can do that, it’ll start rolling.

DSBC: Besides expansion plans, are there any other big news for 2015?

Jones: We’re looking into a few new markets, and I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag just yet. We’ll hopefully be launching in at least a couple new markets this year, and possibly some international markets as well.

DSBC: That’s big for you guys! Congrats. But bringing it back home, what about new beers? Anything the guys are particularly excited about brewing in 2015?

Jones: Actually, we’re going to continue with our ECS, which got off to a really great start with the Double White IPA. So we’ll be releasing the next one really soon, which is going to be, I believe, a Belgian Strong.

DSBC: And that’ll be available in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, like the first in the series?

Jones: Yes, definitely in Albuquerque. It’s only available in New Mexico. We did a really special collaboration with Kansas City a while back, and New Mexico was asking, ‘where’s our special beer?’ so our reaction was to do the ECS series just for New Mexico and this market. So, we’ll continue to do that, but we’re also working really hard on a light beer recipe. We know that a lot of people who come and hang out here, they like lighter beers. And we want to be able to address that, but with a great light beer. So that’s what we’re working on right now, and we’ll hopefully release that sometime in July. It’s called Santa Fe Gold. It will be in a can, and it will be the kind of beer that you bring camping, and to the river, and you can drink it in the sun all day and not be totally wrecked.

DSBC: That’s not a bad idea. Is there anything you’d like to add for our readers?

Jones: We have a new sales rep in Albuquerque. His name is Silas (Sims), and he’s really talented. We’re really excited to have somebody in Albuquerque that any account, restaurant, bar, liquor store, can go to, who knows everything Santa Fe Brewing and can be there to do special events. So we’re really looking forward to next year, and to be doing beer dinners, tastings, pint-nights, and special collaborations all over Albuquerque.

* * * * *

At this point, I pick up my recorder and tap the mike. “Did you hear that, Albuquerque? Santa Fe Brewing is coming for you!”

SFBC ALBLF 2014 2015 pic 7

The sun will shine on Santa Fe Brewing in 2015.

While I live in Santa Fe, I may be a tad more excited about the expansion plans on the home front, but Albuquerque is getting an incredible opportunity to really get to know one of New Mexico’s best breweries up close and personal. Both expansions at home and in Albuquerque mark big changes for the beer with the Zia sun logo. For Albuquerque beer drinkers, you’re getting more of what you’ve been missing out on, and Santa Fe will be getting a better venue for enjoying what we already know so well. For fans of great New Mexico craft beer, next year can’t come soon enough! For now, stick with the Crew. We’ll get you through those holiday blues, and keep you buzzing with barrels of foamy info.


— Luke

  1. Hey Luke, what was SFBC’s barrelage in 2014? And how much increase do they have planned for 2015?

  2. Luke says:

    I know better than to ask a woman her barrelage… But ask and the Crew delivers. They did roughly 20,000 this year and are shooting for 24,000 in 2015. Cheers!

  3. […] Santa Fe Brewing looks to follow a great 2014 by breaking ground on an even bigger 2015 […]

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  5. […] for 2014-15. Our La Cumbre story, Kaktus story, Bosque story, Ponderosa story, Tractor story, Santa Fe story, Boxing Bear story, and Blue Corn story have already appeared. As the year draws to a close, rather […]

  6. […] Santa Fe Brewing continued to expand their distribution list, adding Utah as their 10th state in 2014. Things will get even busier in 2015 as they begin the long-awaited, massive expansion of the main brewery. SFBC will grow from 20,000 barrels per year to 10 times that amount in the years to come. In addition, of course, they will add a third taproom, this one in Albuquerque. This could well be the biggest, wildest year in SFBC’s 27-year history. […]

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