Rich and Suzanne Weber started Sierra Blanca Brewing in Carrizozo back in 1996. They purchased Rio Grande Brewing in 2007 and partnered with Adam Krafft to open ABQ Brew Pub in Uptown Albuquerque in March 2010. The major brewery operation moved to Moriarty, where they now also brew for Monks’ Ale and the Isotopes. In July, they added a beer garden to the Moriarty tasting room, which has proved to be very popular. In fact, Rich is planning on enclosing it because “the people mandated” that it stay open for the winter months. Rich says he will even install solar panels for heat. In addition, they have a tap room in Ruidoso that is celebrating its second anniversary.
On one of the first dark-way-too-early evenings after the time change, I sat down with Rich and Adam at ABQ Brew Pub to talk about some exciting news. I was actually unaware that they have a 1-barrel pilot system to brew specialty beers at the Uptown location. Eager to try something new and different from them, I got a sample of the whiskey stout (it’s exactly all you would hope for) and then got down to the business of asking questions about what’s “on tap” for them, so to speak.
Most locals know that a very popular beer for them is Alien Amber. There are currently two other beers in the Alien lineup, Alien Wheat and Alien Stout. Deciding it was time to expand on the popularity of this label, Rich and Adam said they are going to be adding several new beers to the Alien roster and changing over the ABQ Brew Pub to reflect this expansion on the theme. ABQ Brew Pub will now become Alien Brew Pub. Not only will the name change, but the décor will as well. Rich and Adam seem like really fun guys, so I expect this to be a whimsical transformation.
A lot is being done behind the scenes now. Believe it or not, their plan as it currently stands is to close for one day (slated to be November 27) and pull a “Jon Taffer,” they said. (That is the star of the TV series Bar Rescue, who goes in with a production crew to failing bars — not that ABQ Brew Pub is failing by any means — and quickly remodels them.)
They plan to add Bone Chiller Brown, Sun Chaser Pale, and Alien Milk Stout to the Alien Brew Pub as regular beers. As for new Alien beers, Rich says he would like for the customers to be heavily involved in choosing them. They will be brewing more on the pilot system and will include some IPAs. They want to come out with different IPAs and have Albuquerque choose what goes on tap by voting. Rich added that they actually replicated the full system so if they produce a winning beer on the pilot, then they can easily transfer it over to the full system and brew larger quantities. They recently completed six fruit sours that will be available for the grand re-opening. Rich actually grew the cherries and apples at his house in the East Mountains. Adam said that the people push the market; therefore, being able to experiment with the beers is really crucial for them moving forward. The market is changing quickly and they want to give people what they want and keep it fresh.
I asked if there is anything in the works for another tap room. Rich is considering another Albuquerque location or something in the East Mountains, but has no specific plan. I let him off the hook on that because between the changeover in Uptown and enclosing the beer garden in Moriarty, I guess he has enough going on right now. After meeting both Rich and Adam, though, nothing would surprise me. They are pure energy. It will be interesting to visit the new Alien Brew Pub, because according to Rich and Adam, it’s going to be very artistic. They want to focus on the boutique batch aspect of being a microbrewery. There will be contests, as well, for customers to come in and brew. Who knows, any one of you out there could be the next to beam aboard and add to the very large array (of beer). I’ll stop the punny business now. At least until the new Pub opens. After that, no promises.
Resistance is futile,