I meant to write up a final summation of our annual Look Back/Look Ahead Series last week, but I was holding out hope we would get the last breweries done. Alas, it was not to be, as they (Broken Bottle and Pi) never responded to Franz Solo’s interview requests. So we finish this series with a whopping 19 entries, instead of 21, covering breweries in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Bernalillo, Santa Fe, and even a future brewery in Los Alamos.

We did not do an entry on Back Alley Draft House since we covered just about everything in an earlier interview with new brewer Brandon Venaglia. Nor did we do an entry on The Stumbling Steer, because, well, they’re not brewing their own beer on site and things do not sound good about the future (we have yet to get anyone on the record about exactly what is happening, but the rumors are not good).

Rather than focus on what we did not do, let us take a look back at what we did learn about the local brewing scene. Breweries are listed in alphabetical order similar to how we do it in The Week Ahead in Beer. All the links will take you to the stories if you want more details. And thanks for reading this series, January alone was the third biggest month in our site’s history for page views.

Cheers from all of us (even those not present in this photo from Heimat House) for reading the Look Back/Look Ahead Series for 2014-15.

Cheers from all of us (even those not present in this photo from a recent Crew dinner at Heimat House) for reading and commenting on the Look Back/Look Ahead Series for 2014-15.

Blue Corn Brewery will be expanding their brewing operation soon, though they were pretty tight-lipped about the exact plans. This comes after a year of adjustment for new brewer James Warren and his assistant Nick Richardson. Of course, that adjustment paid off pretty quickly with a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival for their (aptly-named) Gold Medal Oatmeal Stout.

Bosque Brewing had an incredibly busy 2014, hiring brewer John Bullard and opening not one but two taprooms (OK, technically the Public House in Nob Hill opened in January, but the vast majority of the work was done in the months before that). They also won the IPA Challenge and brought home a bronze medal from GABF. Once things settle in with the taprooms, expect more big news to surface.

Boxing Bear opened to widespread acclaim in 2014. They already started off 2015 with a bang by winning the Brew Crew’s annual Stout Challenge. So what else is on the docket? Well, look for Boxing Bear brews at taps around town, for one thing. Beyond that, some festivals and other special events at the brewery will be announced in the near future.

Canteen Brewhouse has already kicked off this year on a fun note by introducing crowlers, 32-ounce cans of beer that are filled for you at the brewery. Yet that will be just one of the smaller events this year for Canteen, as they have a new 15-barrel brewhouse and additional equipment on the way. Look for lots of fun after all that is done. This all comes after that whole changing-their-name bit and another GABF gold medal in the year gone by.

Chama River brought in a new brewing team in Zach Guilmette and David Facey last year and the payoff was immediate. They brought home a gold medal from GABF for Class VI Golden Lager. Their plans for this year are to just continue to brew great beer and have fun.

Duel Brewing started putting their beer into bottles in 2014, giving beer drinkers outside of Santa Fe the chance to try their unique take on traditional Belgian styles. They started this year by unleashing even more new styles at WinterBrew. Expect the experimentation to continue.

Kaktus is growing steadily up in Bernalillo. They have a cider on tap and are now serving gourmet pizzas. Kaktus will be the main sponsor of a St. Patrick’s Day party at the Railyards this year, but otherwise they are keeping things within reason for being a small brewing operation.

La Cumbre has been building out the northern half of the brewery to fit the new 30-barrel brewhouse that should be installed soon. All of that will help Jeff Erway and his staff keep up with demand. They are also releasing Red Ryeot in cans soon.

See, there has been progress on La Cumbre's expansion since Stoutmeister interviewed Jeff Erway in December.

See, there has been progress on La Cumbre’s expansion since Stoutmeister interviewed Jeff Erway in December.

Lizard Tail opened their doors in 2014, bringing craft beer back to the far Northeast Heights. They have finalized their regular beer menu now. Expect some new seasonals in the future, plus they have plans for limited distribution later this year, including right next door at The LOCAL Brewhouse.

Los Alamos Beer Co-op moved ever closer to opening their brewery in 2014. The doors should swing open later this spring, bringing locally-made craft beer to a thirsty mountain town.

Marble hopes to follow up a banner 2014 with more good times this year. All they did in the year gone by was claim Small Brewery and Brewer of the Year honors at GABF, plus net two more gold medals for Double White and Imperial Red. A major expansion of the downtown brewery is set to begin soon. There will also be some additional remodeling going on inside the taproom downtown to further improve the experience for customers.

Nexus is still aiming to open that elusive second location this year. While owner Ken Carson hopes to finally nail down a location, brewer Kaylynn McKnight will be able to brew more beer and some different styles this year. She has more equipment at her disposal this year, which will give her the opportunity to experiment more often.

Ponderosa was another new brewery that opened in 2014. After overcoming some initial hiccups, things are looking up. They finally have their new sign atop their building in the Sawmill District, which should really help considering the number of people who still seem unaware of their actual location. You should be able to find Ponderosa beers on tap at locations around town this year as they have begun distributing to bars and restaurants.

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).

Sandia Chile Grill had steady progress in the year gone by, including finally settling on a permanent IPA recipe. They continued to rack up the awards for their mead, which will now be all they bring to festivals. Beyond that, they have some plans for this year, but were not willing to share too much just yet.

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.

Second Street turned 18 in the year gone by. To celebrate, they put their first two beers in cans, Pivotal IPA and Boneshaker Bitter. They will be continuing with their barrel-aging program and should have some new beers out this year.

Tractor had a huge 2014 with the opening of the Wells Park location, moving the entire brewing operation north from Los Lunas. They got three of their popular beers into cans for mass distribution around the state, with the Apple Cider set to join those styles this year. Tractor also continued their terrific support of the arts, with Wells Park becoming a major go-to destination for live music, dancing, performances, and more. All of that will continue throughout this year.

Turtle Mountain also hired a new brewer in 2014, bringing Tim Woodward over from Chama River. While Tim was busy crafting a whole new beer menu, owner Nico Ortiz finally got approval from Rio Rancho to add a new parking lot this year. TMBC will also hope that new legislation in Santa Fe will pave the way for them to start distributing their beers to other locations.

All right, so those are all the links to the stories we wrote. Big thanks to Adam, Amy, and Luke for their contributions to the series. It is nice with so many breweries now to not have to do this all by myself.

And if Broken Bottle and Pi do get back to us, we will of course still head over to chat about the year gone by and the year to come.

So until the end of 2015, the Crew bids adieu to the Look Back/Look Ahead Series. Do not worry, however, we have plenty of stories to come between now and then. After all, we have a lot of follow-up stories to what we wrote over the past two months, plus there always seem to be new places opening up. The beer news never stops, it just keeps flowing like the beer itself. We wouldn’t have it any other way.


— Stoutmeister

  1. No article on Cazuelas! We won a bronze at the World Beer Cup this year and have big plans for 2015! I know we are way out in Rio Rancho but we would love to hear from you guys.

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