A while back we heard rumors of a brewing operation moving into the Los Ranchos area. The rumor was never confirmed, we heard nothing more, and went back to work. It turns out that a combined brewery/distillery operation nearly did happen in the North Valley community. While that project fizzled out for reasons outlined below, it has since been resurrected in a rather unique way.
For the first time, as far as we know, in Albuquerque there will be a brand development partnership involving two companies. On the one hand is Distillery 365, on the other is Happenstance, a project by former Albuquerque Brewing brewer Mike Marsh and home brewer Paul Grunwald.
“Well, the short version of this is Mike and Paul wanted to do something similar in concept to what we did, a brewery and distillery in combo platter,” said Matt Simonds, the owner/distiller/brewer at Distillery 365. “They came to talk to me, I guess for advice, maybe talk about dos and don’ts, or problems we may have had. From there we just kind of figured why not expend some of that effort on brand development instead of spending all the money on capital equipment and toward buyout and buildout. We talked about it and it made sense for both of us, both parties to pursue this partnership.”
Mike and Paul have already begun working on their own products using the equipment at Distillery 365. Their first beer, All-Day Blonde, hit taps earlier this week.
They had originally planned for their own separate operation, only to have the proverbial rug pulled out from underneath their feet.
“We had found a property in the Village of Los Ranchos,” Paul said. “We had been given a verbal that the zoning was OK. We put a deposit down on the Canteen’s old brewhouse, started negotiations with the landlord, and lo and behold five weeks later Village of Los Ranchos came back and said not only you can’t do what you want to do, but the current owners can’t be doing what they’re doing now.
“So, every other property we looked at would be twice as much as we budgeted for Village of Los Ranchos. The Los Ranchos place was an old commercial kitchen, high ceilings, trenched floor drains, everything we would have needed. Gas and electricity in the kitchen. We just could have moved in fermenters and a brewhouse and started going. Every other place we looked at would have been 50-to-100,000 dollars of capital improvements.”
Without a place to call home, and with Canteen then electing to sell their old brewhouse to John Rowley of Rowley Farmhouse Ales, Mike and Paul were left with a couple of fermenters and no place to put them. Enter Matt and Distillery 365.
“Basically, everything is under me and my license,” Matt said. “So, what Michael and Paul are doing is developing a brand more than anything else. They’re offering recipes, they’re doing a lot of work in the back with the brewing and the distilling. More than anything, the partnership is a brand development type of arrangement.”
The benefits for Distillery 365 are readily apparent.
“For every brewery in the universe, fermentation is always the choke point,” Matt said. “Having them come in and being able to pop in a few more fermenters, now the distillation strain should be much more utilized. The beer strain should be much more utilized. That’s kind of an example of, from my perspective, why I’m so excited I have them in here, now I don’t have equipment that sits idle for two weeks out of the month.”
The now three-man staff works out for everyone.
“The other thing is that made this deal so attractive is that Mike and I have day jobs and families that wish to remain in the lifestyle they’ve grown accustomed to,” Paul said. “This allows us to mainly to work here when Matt’s not, because Matt has a life, too.”
Mike and Paul already have a long list of what they want to do.
“Well, we’re doing a red (ale) this week, we’re doing a rum this week,” Mike said. “That’s the beauty of it, we can do both. Which also means that we get to do barrel-aged beers. So, there’s all kinds of goodness that’s going to come out of this. That’s what we’ve got on deck so far. Those two this week. We’ve got a list, but we’re not quite sure which one is next.”
“We’ve got a double-secret collaboration beer that’s going to be kind of exciting that we’re going to do with Matt under both names,” Paul added. “We’ll leak the details of that when we get a little closer. We’ve got to do some experimenting first.”
As for future plans, Mike said they are not necessarily looking to branch off and open their own place, but rather take advantage of an existing law and retain their partnership with Distillery 365.
“We might just use one of his tasting room/taproom licenses, go that way,” Mike said. “We’ve been doing this for three weeks now and we’ve already doubled his fermentation capacity. He’s now tripled his labor because we can help him out. That’s one of the perks.”
For now, folks can stop by Distillery 365 and check out the All-Day Blonde and offer up some feedback.
We look forward to what else this new partnership has to offer in the future.