Red Door swung open in 2014 and looks to keep momentum for 2015

Posted: January 12, 2015 by cjax33 in Look Back/Look Ahead Series 2014-15

Greetings everyone, Stoutmeister here with the ninth post in the Look Back/Look Ahead Series 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 than just write up a single summary review of the last 12 months in beer, I decided to take what free time I have and go talk in person to brewery staffers in the ABQ area to get their thoughts on both the year that was and the year to come, while Luke handles the Santa Fe series. I’m not going to put up any sort of schedule for this series, as other Crew members are chipping in as well, but we hope to wrap it up by the end of January.

Red Door made an immediate impact upon the ABQ beer scene when they opened in September.

Red Door made an immediate impact upon the ABQ beer scene when they opened in September.

One of the more anticipated brewery openings in Albuquerque in 2014 was that of Red Door Brewing, as our stats showed with all the people reading our initial stories. Red Door put themselves on the map with a solid set of six house beers, a chilled atmosphere, and some other unique little things here and there. Brewers Wayne Martinez and Rob Stroud joined me Friday to chat about how their first partial year went and what they hope to accomplish in 2015.

“I would say for the most part it’s gone as we expected,” Wayne said. “There’s been some things as far as licensing that we weren’t really ready for, but it wasn’t too bad that we couldn’t adjust on the fly and make it work. I’d say for the most part, we did a pretty decent job. Given that there’s five of us, having our knowledge and expertise in certain areas, so we could plan as best we could. We barely went over budget. Talking to other breweries, our delay in opening was right around theirs if not a little faster.”

The various reasons for the delay kept Red Door from opening until Sept. 18, which Wayne said was about two months later than they had planned. Still, if there was a silver lining, it came in the actual beer.

“While we were waiting for a lot of the legislation and bureaucratic stuff like licensing and stuff, we had a lot more time to actually get the brewery set up the way we wanted it,” Rob said. “We got more pieces in place instead of rushing everything. It ended up working out.”

The Red Door staff has been busy since they opened.

The Red Door staff has been busy since they opened.

Of course, with all that anticipating came some pretty big crowds in September. Those crowds wolfed down the initial batches of beer pretty quickly.

“I think the only other thing that it didn’t help was we decided to do half-batches on everything because honestly it was the first time brewing on the system,” Wayne said. “I think we all would have liked to have that and then re-brew. We just didn’t have time. We ran out of beer pretty quickly those first two weeks. We were out of IPA in seven days after opening, and Red (too).”

Sometimes the Unhinged Cider still runs out, mainly due to delays in shipping the ingredients, but otherwise the other five beers have stayed constant. Well, with one exception, largely due to public feedback.

“So far from things like Yelp, Facebook, Google, it all seems to be positive,” Wayne said. “We’re getting really good ratings. The people really seem to enjoy the beer. For us, we’re still doing some minor tweaks to the (Threshold) IPA, for sure. (Roamer) Red we’re pretty happy with. And everything else we’re pretty happy with.

The house beers at Red Door have been quite popular.

The house beers at Red Door have been quite popular.

“The (Trap Door) Wheat we weren’t, at all. This new Belgium one (Trappe Door Wheat) … we were kind of afraid when we switched over people were going to be like we liked the old one better. You’re always going to get those people. We had one guy in particular, comes in every day and has a wheat. He came in and was like, ‘Have you changed it?’ He took a sip and was like, ‘I like this. I like the old one, but I like this, too.’ ”

Even with the big crowds and the buzz online, there are still times the Red Door staff meets new customers who had no idea they were open.

“No, we still get that, we still get that a lot,” Wayne said. “It’s one of those things. Advertising for breweries, almost no one does that now. There’s a reason why. Word of mouth just spreads so fast right now. But we do get a lot of people (saying), ‘We didn’t know you guys existed.’ ”

Steady but responsible growth is the goal for 2015

As they have only been open for four months, the Red Door staff is not looking to push things to ludicrous speed this year. There will be some changes here and there, all designed to make the beer and the overall experience better.

For one, getting the name out there to all those lost souls remains paramount.

Red Door has begun distributing to other bars around town.

Red Door has begun distributing to other bars around town.

“We started distributing very small,” Wayne said. “We got into Anodyne and Blue Grasshopper. (This) week we’re going to do Nob Hill Bar & Grill and Shade Tree. Really, I think that’s going to be one of the big things. Jeff (Hart) has been working in the taproom now, but that’s what he’s going to be doing. We’re going to push that as much as we can, while keeping plenty of beer here.”

Red Door did debut their first three seasonals this fall in the Strong Scotch Ale, Stormtrooper Imperial IPA, and O.D.B. (Oaked Dark Belgian). Fans should not expect an avalanche of specialty beers, however, at least not yet.

“We’ll probably focus more on the standards, a little bit less on seasonals, but we’ll see,” Wayne said. “We’re getting good reviews for the Stormtrooper. I don’t know if it’s something we can technically do in place of the Threshold. Our yield is low (and) it costs a lot of hops.”

While the yield may be low on the big beers, the brewing team wants to make sure there is always plenty of the regular beers available.

“We’re going to definitely try to expand how much more we can produce this year,” Wayne said. “It’s going to involve more equipment. We’re going to try to get more kegs, because right now with the equipment we have, if we had more kegs we could turn out beer a little bit faster. I don’t think we really need to get any more fermenters. A new brewhouse would be nice since then we wouldn’t have to double-batch to fill out our orders, but that’s not going to happen for a while.”

Red Door has plenty of fermenters, but could use more space in their walk-in cooler.

Red Door has plenty of fermenters, but could use more space in their walk-in cooler.

What will happen first will be increasing some space in the brewery.

“I think right now we’re going to focus on getting more finished beer holding tanks, kegs, servers,” Rob said. “We need more room in our walk-in cooler. That’s going to be the first thing we’re going to focus on is expanding the cooler, try to get some more kegs, maybe get another server.”

Red Door should not have much trouble increasing their beer supply for the taproom and distribution, but they know there is another way to get their name out there.

“We want to do as many beer fests as we can do,” Rob said.

“We joined the (New Mexico Brewers) Guild this year,” Wayne added. “Honestly, last year Chris Goblet was like, ‘Don’t, it’s not worth it. I’ll let you come to brew fests.’ So that was cool, that helped out a lot. But we’ll actually be a part of the Guild this year.”

Red Door recently added a foosball table, with plans for cornhole on the future outdoor deck.

Red Door recently added a foosball table, with plans for cornhole on the future outdoor deck.

Red Door is also heavily involved in charity efforts.

“We did No-Shave November here,” Wayne said. “We’re going to try to do a St. Baldrick’s Day event in late May. One of our servers, she’s done it the past few years and asked if we could organize anything. We said sure.”

“The yoga we do every Sunday, the instructors will do their thing back there, but the people who come and actually do it, instead of paying the instructor they’ll donate to a charity,” Rob added. “We’ll do Animal Humane and UNM Children’s Hospital.”

With warmer months ahead, Red Door will also look to add some outdoor seating. Where the big garage door is on the west side of the taproom will soon be a deck that can seat another 50 people.

“That will be a big thing in the next month or two,” Wayne said. “We should get that started. We’ll still have the food trucks be able to pull up right next to that, maybe not right next to the garage door. I think that will help out. We’ll be busier during the summer, anyway. That should increase (seating).”

Red Door patrons enjoy some old-school Nintendo fun in the taproom.

Red Door patrons enjoy some old-school Nintendo fun in the taproom.

There will be plenty of smaller things, too.

“We’re trying to do different things,” Wayne said. “We’re still pushing the Saturday morning for the graveyard shift workers. That’s kind of turned into we’re getting a decent amount of soccer watchers (too).”

All of it is just to help Red Door establish their own identity amid the crowded ABQ beer scene.

“We’re trying to do things that separate us,” Wayne said. “Honestly, the beer in this city is pretty damn good. We don’t have to compete on that kind of level. We want to do things we want to do. That’s why we set up the old-school Nintendo. That’s actually gone over pretty well. Fridays and Saturdays, not so much, but most days we have people playing it.”

Red Door just wants to keep progressing forward.

“It’s the same thing everyone is going through,” Wayne said. “It’s just growing and growing as fast and as responsibly as you can. There’s so much beer out there, but it’s not over-saturated.”

Amen to that. A big thanks to Wayne and Rob for taking some time out of their busy brewing schedules to chat. And a huge thanks for the delicious Stormtrooper and O.D.B., two seasonals you need to go try if you have not yet stopped by.


— Stoutmeister

  1. […] Red Door was yet another 2014 newbie that quickly made a positive impact on the local scene. They have already started limited distribution to bars and restaurants around town, with the plan to add more this year. Expect Red Door to appear at more festivals while also holding more charitable events at the brewery. They also hope to have an outdoor deck ready in a few months for when it gets warm(er). […]

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