Bosque Brewing director of operations Gabe Jensen invited me over to his office, located just a few doors down from the brewery and taproom on San Mateo, to chat about just what all those new bills passing through the state legislature means for his business.
“I’m not sure yet, so I called you all the way down here to tell you I don’t know,” Gabe said.
Gabe is an honest guy, but once he got to thinking about all the bills — it’s hard to remember all of them — he was able to expound upon what they could each mean to Bosque.
“The growler one, I think that one’s just nice, it won’t change anything for anybody,” Gabe said. “But it’ll be nice that that’s a law instead of just a memo. That’s essentially what it is, a memo from a long-lost director of alcohol and gaming.”
While growlers are now guaranteed by the State of New Mexico, it remains to be seen how that works with laws for the City of Albuquerque and/or Bernalillo County. Still, as Gabe pointed out, it is a state law, so that should make things easier. (I will try to follow up with the City once I figure out who to talk to over there.)
Another major bill was the one that will enable breweries to sell cider and/or wine, which should be a boost to the gluten-free crowd, which has tended to shy away from breweries. Still, don’t expect to see brewer John Bullard and his staff hauling around crates of apples anytime soon.
“We’re going to serve cider,” Gabe said. “It will probably be packaged. I’m not going to give up a tap for cider. But I think that’s probably going to be the most immediate effect on us. I’m not going to make a cider right now, maybe someday. I’m not going to get my wine growers license.”
One of Bosque’s satellite locations has gotten the most requests for a gluten-free product.
“It’s good to have something that somebody else makes that’s gluten-free,” Gabe said. “Especially at Nob Hill. We’ve never really had a lot of issues here (at San Mateo). Sometimes we’ve had people that wanted wine or something here.
“At Nob Hill from the beginning we’ve had groups of 12 show up and one person wanted a cider and they’re like, ‘Oh, we’ll go somewhere else.’ It will be nice to say we’ve got it.”
Though Bosque does serve food at two of their locations, Gabe said he won’t be pursuing a full restaurant license even with the bill being passed that will enable brewery-restaurants to start distributing their beer. That would be fine if Bosque only distributed their own beer, but they are also currently distributing for Boxing Bear to tap handles around town. Gabe said as he understands the wording of the bill, places can only distribute their own and cannot take on additional breweries’ beer as well.
“People like to ride with us, so I don’t want to deny them that chance,” he said.
Having just opened the taprooms in Nob Hill and Las Cruces, Bosque is not looking to immediately jump into the fray with a third satellite location, as one of the new state bills will allow. That does not mean that Gabe isn’t at least considering the possibility somewhere down the line.
“Honestly, what’s going to make the way that will help me is we’re moving Las Cruces, expanding that in the same complex, so now I don’t have to deal with the headache of shutting one down” during construction of the new space, Gabe said. He can keep the old space open until the day the new one is ready to go.
“It was one of those things where I could do it without that, but it will make life a lot easier,” Gabe said. “So that’s how we’ll use that (now).”
The Las Cruces taproom has been packed to the limit, so Bosque wants to accommodate their customers down south by moving to a bigger space on the west end of the retail center where they are currently established.
“The No. 1 things I’ve heard are you need more space and you need food,” Gabe said. “There’s some things I really like about not having food there, but when we expand we’re adding food. It’ll be a very similar vibe and setup to Nob Hill.”
Now as for the future and the possibility of a third taproom, while there are under-served markets in ABQ — like the far Northeast Heights — there are also under-served markets in the forms of large towns that do not have a current brewery or taproom.
“Lots of people are saying West Side, or Rio Rancho,” Gabe said. “I don’t know. With our success in Las Cruces, my eye would be on another city somewhere.”
Some of the possibilities that Gabe mentioned were Roswell, Ruidoso, and Hobbs, or even somewhere like Farmington where there is currently only one place (Three Rivers) serving the craft beer crowd.
“I think there’s room in these other towns, but you have the logistics of getting beer there,” Gabe said. “Roswell is about the same distance (as Las Cruces) and the drive isn’t too bad. But it’s not like it’s on the way to Cruces or something like that.
“My wheels are already spinning. Will I take advantage of that? Someday probably, or I’ll take advantage of something (else). Right now my biggest issue is making enough beer in that tiny little thing we call a brewery.”
Bosque does have four more tanks on the way, though space is already at a premium. Still, the future is looking bright for Bosque and just about every other NM brewery with these new bills. All we have to do now is wait for Governor Martinez to sign them into law. Keep those fingers crossed!
Thanks to Gabe for taking the time to chat. Wish I could have stayed for a beer, but alas, this is my final week of working in the afternoon, so I must be off.