By the time you read this, Boese Brothers Brewery could already be open. No, do not stop reading just yet, but be aware that if it is after 2 p.m. here on Friday, Aug. 14, that the grand opening of Albuquerque’s newest brewery is underway. The good news is they will be open until 2 a.m., so you have some time.
The Brew Crew, with near record attendance, got the chance to visit Boese Brothers during a private, soft opening on Thursday evening. Along with Brandon, AmyO, Laura, Kristin, and Bharley Quinn, I got to pop in for a tour, a flight, a couple pints, and lots of conversation with the staff and other first-time customers.
Breaking down the nitty-gritty details first:
Boese Brothers will have four of their planned five beers on tap. Only Dr. Strangehop XPA was not ready for pouring. Your choices are Patriot Porter on nitro, La Onza White Ale, Old Shone Scottish Ale on nitro, and Steampunk Lager, which is their summer seasonal.
There is also Santa Sidra cider and two wines available for the gluten-free segment of the population that likes to come to breweries and not drink beer.
For those who are still unaware of the location, Boese Brothers is on the northwest corner of 6th Street and Gold Ave. It is right near a slew of downtown institutions, including the Kimo Theater, Anodyne, and Launchpad. It may now be the Crew’s go-to location for pre-gaming metal shows at Launchpad.
The interior of Boese Brothers is spacious. The decor fits with the general vibe of downtown. There is also a bit of a retro look. Be forewarned, however, it gets loud inside the taproom when it gets crowded. We have more on why that is and why there are no plans to install anything to cut down on the noise below.
Boese Bros. is working in partnership with Gold Street Caffe for food. There is a menu on the back of the beer cards with items such as tacos, a BLT, and french fries, which you can order. A very nice delivery person will then bicycle them over from the Caffe. It is just another example of one local business helping another.
Breaking down the beers, it was hard to say there was a singular favorite amongst the six of us. Each beer fits a different part of the beer spectrum, yet none are clones of other beers you can find around town. In that respect, Boese Brothers is doing something rather radical. There is no attempt here to mimic Elevated IPA or Wildflower Wheat or Scotia Scotch Ale or anything else. Some folks have cried out for a brewery to try something different. Well, Boese Brothers has heard you. (Whether these beers are different enough for some folks will be the subject of future debate on social media.)
The Patriot Porter (6% ABV) is based on 18th Century American porters. It is not black as night, as all derivations of the English style are, but instead a dark red. There are no chocolate malts to be found here. It is not a sweet beer, but burly and heavy with prominent roasted notes. Pouring it on nitro smooths it out quite a bit. Despite the lack of sweetness, it is not a bitter beer by any means. Even non-dark beer lovers could drink this.
Meanwhile, La Onza White Ale (5.4% ABV) is at the other end of the spectrum. It acts like a witbier, with heavy citrus notes from the lemongrass. There are also a lot of ginger and wheat notes throughout. If you enjoy a Belgian wit or Belgian golden ale, this beer is for you.
Old Shonie Scottish Ale (4.5% ABV) shows the difference between a Scotch ale and a Scottish. The former is what is actually served at Nexus and Bosque. It tends to be higher in ABV (usually 6 to 7.5%) and darker in color. Old Shonie is lighter in both aspects. It is smooth and light, though certainly the nitro plays a part in that. There are minimal caramel notes compared to bigger Scotch ales. This one goes well with our current scorching hot weather.
The Steampunk Lager (5% ABV) was Brandon’s favorite and I imagine it will be the favorite of Franz Solo as well, at least until the XPA is ready. It is similar in some fashion to the IPL style, though it is more hop-backed than hop-forward. There is a light, sweet lager flavor up front that lingers throughout. The hops here are Willamette and Cascade, so it has a strong, piney flavor typical of the IPAs you get in the Northwest. They are prominent but not overpowering in the beer. Again, this beer goes well with the current weather. About the best local comparison I could find for the beer was the seasonal Whirlpool Lager over at Bosque. Hopefully at some point both will be on tap at the same time so we can all compare and contrast them.
We look forward to going back to try Dr. Strangehop XPA (6.5% ABV) when it is ready.
“We’ve got the XPA finishing up primary fermentation,” George Boese told us. “We’ll dry hop that (Friday), too.”
Another cool thing that Boese Brothers has is what they do not have. Before you get confused, they do not have Shaker Pints. You know, the standard pint glasses that do little to enhance a beer’s flavor. Instead, each beer has its own unique glass. The Steampunk is served in a tall glass that helps bring out the hops (if you went to the IPA Challenge, you came home with a similar glass). The Old Shonie is served in a mug. Patriot Porter has a slightly curved top on its glass. La Onza comes in a goblet. If my not-so-good descriptions fail you, scroll to the bottom of the story for a picture. And at some point I will have to ask if these various glass styles have names yet.
Once we finished our flights and had our pints, George Boese took us on a quick tour of the brewery, telling more of the brothers’ story and giving us the chance to ask some one-on-one questions.
Boese Brothers has a brand-new, 15-barrel brewhouse working hard in the back.
“It’s all steam-powered, brand-new Premier stainless steel system,” George said.
All that shiny equipment sits in a space that was far from shiny when the brothers purchased it. The building had been used as a parking garage for a while.
“It was a dirty shell, too,” George said. “There were eight pigeons in here. Broken windows and stuff. It wasn’t painted like it is now. It was terrible.”
The work in the back has been impressive. It looks and feels like a real brewery, though unique with the setting. The windows are up top near the ceiling and there is one major garage door on the east wall. It has an almost rustic, old-school feeling, which fits with the taproom vibe in front.
As for the aforementioned loudness of the taproom, George said he actually prefers it that way. He rejected the call for any acoustic tiling or other sound-dampening implements.
“I don’t want to because that’s the original work of the building,” George said. “I know that it gets loud and echo-y in there, but I don’t want to mess with it. … Our general contractor tried to get us to put a false ceiling in there and do sheet rock around the building. Even though it’s not a historically registered building, the whole appeal to me was that it was an older building and it was something we could kind of bring back to life. We’re going to kind of deal with it the way it is. I’m really touchy about changing stuff like that.”
One thing Boese Brothers will continue to do is work with other local businesses and artists when it comes to adding to the decor. Almost everything seen out front in the taproom and on the exterior was made locally.
“The neon (sign) was made by a guy here in Albuquerque,” George said. “Our tap system, the tilework, the paintwork, the refinishing of all the furniture in there we did ourselves. To the maximum extent possible I tried to source stuff to Albuquerque. Our shirts were made down the street. Our menus were printed next door. I try to do as much as I can. Especially for us, we’re trying to help downtown change its reputation and do something different. We’re trying to partner up with as many (other businesses) as we can to help everyone out and maybe get people to help us.”
Changing that negative reputation of downtown will take time, but it is something Boese Brothers is looking forward to trying.
“I like the Brewery District, it’s awesome to have all that stuff out there, but we’re the only brewery that is in a neighborhood,” George said. “I am surrounded by people that live down here and walk down here. It’s not just a taproom, we’re trying to do everything right in the middle of Albuquerque. That’s our philosophy.”
We think Boese Brothers will be a great addition to the local brewing scene. They are just different enough to stand apart. Their location is not a detriment, but a plus. Downtown needed another craft beer option to go with Back Alley and the Chama Microbar. Now we have one. We look forward to hearing back from all of you after your first visits this weekend.
Welcome to the New Mexico craft brewing community, Boese Brothers!