Boese Brothers Brewery burst onto the local brewing scene in 2015, offering up a swanky downtown location, some out-of-the-ordinary beers, and a general sense of fun. That they did this all downtown, a former craft beer desert, has helped inspire a renaissance of sorts in that region.
Since they opened at Gold and 6th Street, Boese Brothers have seen Sidetrack Brewing open over near Lead and 2nd, while the Duel Brewing taproom has just opened around the corner on Central. Red Door has a taproom opening soon at Gold and 4th in the Simms Building. All told, it will be a wildly different environment than what George and Sam Boese started in just a few short months ago.
“We’ll see kind of what happens with that this winter,” George said. “I think this summer for a kind of a bike tour or bar hopping, that will be really popular down here. There are so many different spots.”
George sat down with me on Tuesday afternoon to reflect on the first five or so months of business for Boese Brothers, plus what they hope to accomplish in their first full year of business.
“We opened Aug. 14, so right in the middle of August,” George said. “We’re sitting just past our five-month mark here. We had a crazy month in August. And then for us it jumped right into our Oktoberfest party here for us. It’s been kind of a whirlwind.”
Unlike a lot of other newer breweries, Boese Brothers have held fast with their core group of beers — Duke City Lager, La Onza White Ale, Old Shonie Scottish Ale, Patriot Porter, Dr. Strangehop XPA — while rolling out seasonals only occasionally.
“We haven’t added any taps to our bar and we don’t intend to,” George said. “We’re sticking with five with the exception (of one seasonal). They’re five pretty moderately, at least for the craft beer industry, moderate alcohol, more sessionable beers (rather than) stronger beers, very highly hopped beers.”
That in turn has enabled Boese Brothers to take as much time as they wanted with each of their seasonal releases. From the Amarillo Pale to Oktoberfest to Ichabod’s Revenge to Burly Brown to Barrel Aged Porter to the current Double Dead Red, each beer release has led to a mini-celebration of a sorts.
“We’ve been concentrating on, since we do only have a single seasonal (at a time), we’ve done lots of piloting for those before they come out,” George said. “We’ve been trying to push and do fun stuff in the brewery when we do the seasonal releases. Seasonal beer is very special for us. We ran out of our last one before Double Dead (Red) was ready. That’s kind of where we want it to be, we want it to be special. We’re focusing on doing that, keeping that seasonal very special.”
Boese Brothers also got into keg-only distribution fairly early on, which was always part of the plan, George said.
“Starting kind of mid-October, maybe like two months after opening, we started distributing in kegs,” he said. “Our chief distributing product is Duke City Lager, the steam beer. We pushed for that.”
Putting that steam-style beer out into the market was part of the plan, particularly in how it stood out against the bigger or hoppier beers that more established breweries were selling.
“Distribution-wise, you’ve very much got the IPAs out there,” George said. “You’ve got the Black IPA and Happy Camper from Santa Fe that are very popular. Marble Red and IPA are popular. Of course, La Cumbre (Elevated) IPA is probably, I’m not expert, but I’d say it’s the most popular beer in the city. Bosque’s (Riverwalker) IPA is also very, very popular, you’re seeing it more and more frequently.
“That’s why for us going with the steam beer is a unique product. It’s low in alcohol, very clean. It goes through a full three-week lager fermentation, sometimes it goes even more, closer to a 30-day fermentation process. It keeps it very clean and very drinkable.”
Boese Brothers also entered into a somewhat unique relationship with a restaurant, as opposed to relying on food truck as many other kitchen-less breweries have tended to do. In their case, it was a partnership with Gold Street Caffe, which is just up the road east of 3rd Street.
“That was something that Miguel, the general manager over there had approached us about,” George said. “There’s certainly food trucks here that I like, but what’s great about our location is we are close to some other restaurants and then to have the opportunity to do something different. The food trucks are great, but at the same time Gold Street has a fully functional kitchen which you don’t find in the back of the truck.”
Both Gold Street Caffe and Boese Brothers are certainly into shaking things up, rather than relying on traditional lineups/menus.
“They’re moving away from a conventional, set menu to more kind of like fun takes on comfort foods for different nights of the week,” George said. “They’re doing grilled cheese one night, doing breakfast-for-dinner one night, macaroni and cheese one night. It throws a little bit of a curveball. Some people come into this place and are surprised by the options available. Some people want us to be a restaurant, kind of that Chama River experience. But, I guess that comes with the territory sometimes.”
Boese Brothers have never had a desire to make their own food.
“We didn’t want to be restauranteurs,” George said. “We only have experience with a brewery. Sam and I, our goal, is to sell the majority of our beer to bars and restaurants. Also, I really like the fact that we’d rather be a brewery supporting our local places. At least in the near future for us, there’s no plans for us to ever expand beyond this location and do kind of the satellite taproom type of things.”
While adding one or more taprooms is not on the docket for 2016 and beyond, Boese Brothers still have plenty of ideas for this year.
“For 2016 (our) long-term goals, we want to go even bigger for our Oktoberfest party,” George said. “I was pleasantly surprised with how popular that was being it was four or five weeks after we’d opened. It was our first special event. We’ve got some fun summer beers coming. I don’t want to reveal too much right now.”
George did offer up some details on the next couple of specialty beer offerings.
“We are playing around with our next seasonal,” he said. “It’s going to be a Galaxy IPA, but it’s going to be like a double IPA strength. We’re shooting for 8-percent (ABV), a very, very strong hop presence in it. That will be our next release coming out. We’ve got the next few hashed out. We’re going to make a German-style ale, or a Kolsch, that’s a really, really great recipe. I’m currently looking to go to piloting a purple-colored sour beer.”
Boese Brothers are joining a long list of breweries looking to jump on the sour bandwagon this year. George just wants to do it with a more local twist.
“I like the idea of trying to use some stuff from New Mexico,” he said. “I can get a bunch of prickly pears, which have a lot of sugar and a lot of dye to them, but not a ton of flavor. I’m trying to come up with a way to extract that color to add into a sour beer. I’m pretty excited about that one.”
With each new seasonal beer being released, expect some sort of special food pairing with Gold Street Caffe.
“We’re going to continue to work with Gold Street and again that’s part of us (being locally oriented),” George said. “We have a bit of a shared fate being in downtown Albuquerque. It’s a very different scene as opposed to being a business here as opposed to Nob Hill or up there off Candelaria in the Brewery District.”
Boese Brothers had a solid debut, finding their niche in an increasingly crowded local craft beer scene. If they continue along their current path, we fully expect more of the same good times this year.
Thanks to George for the interview and Jaimie for the pint of Double Dead Red. Hurry down and grab some before it goes as fast as the Burly Brown!