New/old brewer has Canteen set for canning and new taproom in 2016

Posted: January 11, 2016 by cjax33 in Look Back/Look Ahead Series 2015-16
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Zach Guilmette, right, has returned to Canteen as head brewer, where he will again work along side the ubiquitous Doug Cochran.

Zach Guilmette, right, has returned to Canteen as head brewer, where he will again work alongside the ubiquitous Doug Cochran.

Let the great brewer shuffle of 2016 be official. Zach Guilmette has left Chama River and returned to Canteen as head brewer. Andrew Krosche has left Ponderosa to take over at Chama. Bob Hagerty, formerly of the La Cumbre staff, has taken over Ponderosa. Each one officially took over his new position Jan. 1. So, if anyone was wondering why it was taking so long for us to get to any of these breweries for our annual Look Back/Look Ahead Series, well, now you know.

Starting with Canteen, I sat down with Zach and assistant general manager Gabe Alarid on Friday. Zach has returned to Canteen after a year of considerable change for the oldest brewpub in Albuquerque. Founding brewer Brady McKeown and his brother, Ror, the general manager, both left in August to begin the process of opening their own place, Quarter Celtic Brewpub. Brady left after a shiny new 15-barrel brewhouse was installed at Canteen.

After simply moving everyone up one spot on the brew team, the powers-that-be at Canteen later decided another experienced brewer was needed to serve as the point man. They turned to a familiar face in Zach, who was a former assistant brewer at Canteen before heading over to Chama River in 2014.

“A couple months ago, I talked to Tyler Anderson, our GM here,” Zach said. “He approached me and asked if I had any interest in coming back here to the Canteen. I had to think about it at first. My first reaction was I’m really enjoying my opportunity at Chama. I’ve got things running exactly the way I’d like them. It was so rewarding it would have to be a special job for me to leave Chama.

“And this was that job. Coming back to a place where I’d been before, working under Brady. The experience was so rewarding and the owners here support great craft beer, as a brewer this is just a great job. It’s a great opportunity to brew more beer over here on a 15-barrel system.”

Zach and longtime Canteen brewer Doug Cochran were already hard at work on that new brewhouse when I visited. The new equipment is one of the only noticeable changes for Zach since he left.

“It’s not different at all, in the sense of my attitude coming in and knowing what I want to accomplish,” Zach said. “The job at Chama River did prepare me for creating direction for myself. Constantly trying to look for new beers to brew, and just using that attitude coming here, that’s how I look at it. Just keep challenging myself to make new beer or perfect the beers I’ve been brewing all along.”

While the core lineup at Canteen will not change, Zach is already hard at work on some new seasonals and specialty beers.

“I have a little grundy back there that holds a lot of pressure,” Zach said. “We can do nitro beers. We’ve got nitro taps. We’ve got fourteen taps (total). We’ve got six house beers, so that leaves me seven beer specials all the time. I’d love to dedicate one of those to nitro. If we don’t have it on tap year-round, at least have it on tap frequently. Because right now, you see people drinking nitro IPAs, nitro saisons. Pretty much any style of beer, people are really excited to try it on nitro. It gives them a whole different experience. I look forward to doing that.”

Of course, once a brewer starts talking nitro beers, other variants of beer production also come into focus.

“What’s nice being here at Canteen Brewhouse, I’ve got more room to put barrels in places,” Zach added. “More nooks and crannies here. So, I look forward to trying to create some challenging, some kind of fun, experimental beers, whether they are sours or not. Just take advantage of barrels for more variety.”

Zach can make all the new seasonals he wants as long as Solstice Blackout never goes away.

Zach can make all the new seasonals he wants as long as Solstice Blackout never goes away.

All of that increased variety will come into play this year as Canteen will be opening their first satellite taproom, plus even more big plans for the next 12 months.

“We signed a lease to a taproom up on Tramway and Cloudview,” Gabe said. “That’s right off the bike track, which is really nice. We’re also trying to push, once we get the logistics figured out, we’re going to release cans. It’s going to be six-pack cans of 12 ounces of Exodus (IPA) and Dougie Style Amber, to start. That will be really awesome. Hopefully as well we’ll try to get behind some bars around town, start really pushing the beer out there.”

Cloudview, for those not familiar, is the first red light north of where Tramway passes under Interstate 40. The building Canteen will occupy is on the west side of the street.

“We’re hoping late spring here,” Gabe said. “They’re gutting it out, getting it ready, getting it set up. Hopefully we’ll be rolling by late spring, early summer. It has a great patio, a great view of the Sandias. It’s right off the bike path as well.”

Zach, who lives in the East Mountains, joked that the taproom will give him a place to stop halfway home.

“We intend to make the taproom an extension of what we have here,” he said. “We’ll send specials up there to keep it interesting.

“The reason it’s up there is folks don’t want to drive all the way down here. They want to get the same beer, though, that we’ve got down here. We’ll send it up there, meet them halfway.”

While Hoppiness Envy here won't be canned, Exodus IPA will be, giving hopheads all the reason to rejoice.

While Hoppiness Envy here won’t be canned, Exodus IPA will be, giving hopheads all the reason to rejoice.

As for the cans, these will not just be modified versions of the Crowlers from behind the bar. Zach said the six-packs will be available in about three months or so, with Exodus and Dougie Style to start.

“The first step is to continue to dial in this new brewhouse and getting to understand it, knowing that when we brew the beer for those cans it’s exactly what people remember,” Zach said. “When you get the IPA and amber in cans, it’s going to be exactly the same taste you remember drinking down here at the Canteen.”

Gabe and Zach said they are also interested in utilizing the Canteen parking lot to potentially host a farmers market in the spring and summer. There should also be more charitable events in the future.

In addition to all of that, Canteen has also completed the process of renaming four of their six house beers. The renaming had to happen as part of Canteen partially separating itself from Il Vicino. Each of the beers will remain the same recipe, but sold under different names between the brewery and the restaurants.

Dougie Style Amber and Dark & Lusty Stout will remain the same. As for the rest, 28M Wheat will become La Luz Wheat, Pigtail Pils will become High Plains Pils, Slow Down Brown will become Pecos Trail Brown, and Wet Mountain IPA will become Flashback IPA. There was an attempted renaming contest for Wet Mountain/Flashback involving the public, but unfortunately none of those suggestions from customers panned out.

“So much of it was actually taken,” Zach said. “Everybody did have an opinion. It was fun to read some pretty good ones, some serious ones, some pretty much laughing off your chair. There’s a good sense of humor among beer drinkers.

“We went with Flashback IPA. We know where we came from, this brewery is still the oldest brewpub in Albuquerque. So many people come in looking for what we remember as Wet Mountain IPA. We’re hopefully going to give people a flashback when they come in here.”

Whatever the name, it will remain one of the most popular IPAs in Albuquerque.

A big thank you to Zach and Gabe for taking the time to chat on Friday. All of us in the Crew truly appreciate being the ones to break a story every now and again, so it was pretty cool to become the first outside the Canteen to learn about the taproom and the forthcoming six-packs of Exodus and Dougie Style.

We will keep everyone up to date on the progress of the taproom and the canning, fear not.


— Stoutmeister

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