The pictures have been hard to miss on social media. Metal sculptures soaring into the Albuquerque sky, all coming from the page belonging to a forthcoming brewery. It has been a rather different way to promote a new entry into the local scene, but in a way, it has worked, getting the attention of the Crew and many other folks.
Now, finally, we will all get to see if the beer is just as unique as the decor as Dialogue Brewing is aiming for a grand opening this Saturday. After my baseball-related trip to El Paso last week, I stopped in at Dialogue after surviving a surprise hailstorm on I-25 in Valencia County. (September is a weird month to find your car sliding on the road, people.) Eliot Salgado, one of the owners, and head brewer Ian Graham greeted me inside after I passed through the sculpture garden rising up at the northwest corner of 1st Street and Kinley Ave., five blocks north of Marble.
“This is a warehouse that was built in the 20s,” Eliot said. “We were able to take this beautiful place and repurpose it for a whole new century and a whole new thing. The beer for us … it’s super important that the beer is on par or hopefully better than what we have (in Albuquerque). But, we wanted to create a space that matches that.”
The beer is the responsibility of Ian, who comes to Dialogue from Greenport Harbor Brewing on Long Island.
“I was the lead brewer of a 30-barrel production facility out in New York,” Ian said. “We had that, (and) we had a pilot system, basically the original brewery that was a 15-barrel brewhouse. I do all of our flagship beers and seasonals on the bigger system and then pretty much had carte blanche to do whatever I wanted on the 15-barrel. It was a good experience.”
Ian will be working with a 7-barrel system, utilizing 7- and 14-barrel fermenters. He said they could eventually add 21-barrel fermenters, but three brews per day on the brewhouse would be the max for a batch.
“Right now we have in the tanks a Vienna lager, a Munich Helles, a Berliner Weisse, a lychee mandarin American wheat, a Belgian dark strong with cherries, and a Belgian citrus IPA,” Ian said, with the future plan to have the Vienna and the IPA as the two flagship beers, though that will be determined by what the customer ultimately demands.
Certainly, it cannot hurt to have some beers outside the usual stuff, particularly considering the location of Dialogue.
“I’m not too worried about the saturation, even down here,” Eliot said. “We’re sandwiched between Marble and Rio Bravo. Tractor is nearby, Bow & Arrow is close by. But, there’s still a big world of Blue Moon and Dos Equis drinkers that we’re all going after. That’s who I’m targeting, and I’m targeting people that want kind of a different experience with the whole thing. So many guys around have done a great job building really nice taprooms. We’re just trying to build something else. How can we marry these different worlds of art and brewing?”
Ian had his IPA at Greenport on tap over at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, so he had plenty of experience brewing up a popular style. Now he gets to branch out a lot more with the support of Eliot and the partners.
“One-hundred percent, they’re incredibly (supportive),” Ian said. “With the wheat, I was originally going to do a blueberry wheat, something that I’ve done before. One of the partners said, no, let’s do something different. I’d rather the needle be pushed rather than have safe beer. No one is going to accuse us for going safe for what we have.”
Ian’s willingness to think outside the box was what drew the ownership to hiring him.
“That was our big thing, too,” Eliot said. “We actually brought Ian out here in March to meet him, because we’d spoken on the phone, had some Skype interviews, but we wanted to get to know him. We took him around Albuquerque. We make great IPAs here, fantastic IPAs. Can Ian make a great IPA? Absolutely. Could we compete with everyone else in town? I don’t doubt it, but that’s one type of beer. There’s a whole giant world of beer out there, let’s do that, let’s have some fun.”
Part of that fun starts outside.
“We built what we feel is a world-class sculpture garden which you can see for free and enjoy what will be world-class beer here in Albuquerque,” Eliot said, noting that construction is continuing even past the opening date. “The (surround) sound is something we’re going to start working on. We’re going to have 18 speakers on the patio. We’ll be able to move sound around the patio and just do a projection night and have sound move around the patio when you’re seated out there.
“How do you push the needle forward, not only in beer, but in atmosphere and creativity? You’re garnering these new customers that are looking for more than (the usual).”
That means being a part of the brewing community as a whole, pushing that envelope and even bringing in customers from outside the state.
“It’s something that we want Albuquerque to be proud of and people that visit Albuquerque will then go home and say you’ve got to see what’s happening there,” Eliot said. “It’s different, it’s amazing.”
There will be some charcuterie plates available in house, Eliot said, plus they hope to have a rotation of food trucks parked outdoors. They also hope to have live music and some art shows as well, though with a fairly cool twist.
“We want to do artist series even, where we have artists come in and show their stuff,” Eliot said. “We want to meet them two months before, have lunch and hang out, (and) Ian gets to meet them. Then what we’d like to do is brew a beer that goes with the show. Now the artist can convey their message to Ian, and Ian can take that and show what that can be (as a beer). How do we take that to the next level? Everybody is showing their art in a brewery.”
Ian said he is looking forward to going above and beyond.
“We live in an age where it’s not enough to make good beer anymore,” Ian said. “There are companies out there like La Cumbre and Bosque that are just crushing it. They’re amazing. What (else) can you do to add to people’s experience? Another thing we want to do, for brewery tours, once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. Here’s a metal pot where we’re going to cook stuff! … So, what we want to do is more of a food pairing and interactive. We’re going to have tables back here and have cheese and meat pairings with our beer while we talk over stuff. People get to sit, eat, and drink while doing it.”
It will all help increase the beer knowledge of the people visiting Dialogue, knowledge that they can take other breweries as well.
Any new brewery that acknowledges the community as a whole, and its own responsibility to live up to the standards of the breweries that came before it, well, that is a pretty good way to start off. We look forward to trying the beer later this week and welcoming Dialogue to the scene.