While I was on vacation I heard a rumor that one of our best local brewers would soon be leaving. It was terrifying being far from home with a rumor I could not get confirmed. Over the weekend at the VIPA Challenge, the rumor was repeated, this time with more detail and it ultimately sounded a little better since it said the brewer was not leaving Albuquerque but merely opening his own brewery. As the rain fell Monday afternoon, I dropped by his current brewery to find out if the rumors were true. And they were.
Brady McKeown is leaving Canteen Brewhouse.
Do not panic.
He and his brother Ror, formerly Canteen’s general manager, are opening their own brewery here in Albuquerque.
“Since 2003 we’ve been thinking about it on and off, but something always comes up,” Brady said. “So we finally decided we can do it now or we can be the 100th brewery to open in Albuquerque. Or we can wait until the boom ends and when it’s ready to start up again, which could be in 10 years or more.”
It will be a little while before Quarter Celtic Brewing Company opens their doors — at least six months — but it is never too early to start thinking ahead to what Brady will be able to create on his own.
“The only thing we really have to go off right now is it seems we have six months to get a brewers license,” Brady said of a possible timeline. “Then we need to add time to get up and running, plus all the other things we have to do, so we’re hoping (at least) six months.”
The name Quarter Celtic comes from the fact the McKeown brothers are, as their name might imply, a quarter Celtic.
“It will be sort of Irish-themed, not uber-Irish-themed,” Brady said.
I asked if this means we will be spared seeing Ror wearing a kilt.
“No, but I might,” Brady said with a laugh. “A brewing kilt!”
All jokes aside (we hope he is joking), here are some more pertinent details: Quarter Celtic will be housed in the lower level of the Ace Courtyard that occupies the northeast corner of San Mateo and Lomas. There is already restaurant equipment in place inside the space, so the pub half of the brewpub will be ready and raring to go quickly. Brady said the brewing system they will be buying will be a new 7- or 10-barrel system, around the same size as the one currently at Canteen. They cannot fit much more in the space, though there is a future plan in place if they outgrow the location.
“If we do well, this one could become a taproom and we could brew off-site,” Brady said.
Brady said he will be at Canteen for a while longer, anywhere from two to four weeks. Canteen is still in the process of installing all of their new equipment, so he wants all of that in place and running smoothly before he departs, Brady said.
In a quick update about the future of Canteen, Brady said Doug Cochran will move up to the head brewer position, while Scott Sessa (currently No. 3) will become the top assistant and David “Heavy” Hevener will help out four to five days a week instead of just once.
We are sure that Canteen will remain in good shape even without Brady, though it should be interesting to see how all the new beers he creates stack up against the ones he made before for them.
As more details become available and things begin to progress for Quarter Celtic, Brady and Ror have said they will keep us updated, and in turn we will keep all of you updated. We will have to go over and check out the space at some point and get a better idea of what the future layout will be. For now, let us all just hope the permitting/licensing process goes smoothly and quickly so we can add Quarter Celtic to our (long) list of favorite local breweries.