Bosque Brewing’s Bernalillo packaging facility is still a ways from opening, yet Bosque six-pack cans will be on shelves by mid-October.
To clear up any confusion about what is going on, the command staff at Bosque invited me over for beers and a big old information download on Thursday afternoon. Bosque is teaming up with Sleeping Giant Brewing Co. in Denver to begin canning three flagship beers — Bosque IPA, Bosque Lager, Scotia Scotch Ale.
“That’s really been a lot of what’s sparked this,” said director of operations Jotham Michnovicz. “We know we need to be in the market. We want to be on shelves. There’s been some delays with Bernalillo, and this gives us the opportunity to get to market a lot faster than waiting around for things to finish up.”
Bosque also posted a blog post to help fill in some gaps, but they wanted to go into further detail about the decision to do contract brewing. Not only will this get Bosque cans on the shelves faster, it will also better prepare them for what they will need at the Bernalillo facility once construction ramps up.
“That’s definitely one of the great things about this is we can really dial in our production at Bernalillo,” Jotham said, “get that pristine and then once you move into package, we’ve already had a chance to see what the market is doing with our beer at that time. We’ll base our decisions on what equipment to buy right away, all that stuff.”
“We can even test out the demand, and decide what kind of canning line we need,” said managing director Gabe Jensen. “Do we start off with this little tiny thing or do we need something bigger? We have the numbers to back up why.”
The Crew had heard a rumor last week that this was coming, but even we did not realize how quickly the process is moving along.
“The first beers are fermenting (in Denver) right now,” Jotham said. “The artwork has gone through all of its revisions, so we’re in the process of printing all of our labels. We should have finished product sometime in October, probably mid-October.”
Head brewer John Bullard made sure to do his homework about letting someone else handle his beer.
“Gabe and John already flew out to Denver, because we were super skeptical about using a third party in the beginning,” Jotham said. “John doesn’t want anybody touching his beer. Once they flew out there and met the president (Matt Osterman) and vice president of brewing operations (Robert Kuntz), it was very clear that these guys were committed to a super-high quality product with state of the art technology. They got to taste a bunch of the beers and they were all excellent.”
“And (they were) committed to doing it our way, which shocked them, blew them away,” Gabe added. “‘Did you do the math right on those hops?’ ‘Yes, we did, and that’s what we want.’ We’ve been doing this for a while.”
The equipment at Sleeping Giant impressed John.
“That’s the thing about doing this, our entire ability to be profitable through this is that state-of-the-art equipment that nobody in this state has,” John said. “Really nice stuff. That’s what leads to the quality of the cans.”
Bosque will still turn a profit even without doing the canning themselves. They have an initial order for 600 barrels worth of beer.
“Yeah, this is not a play to grab shelf space,” Gabe said. “We wouldn’t do it if we couldn’t make money off of it, just to be honest. Like you said, the market is getting crowded and more crowded all the time. That’s what plays into this, getting some shelf space before Jackalope is finished.”
Gabe said they still expect to hear some criticism.
“There’s going to be some backlash,” he said. “I’m guessing there will be some people who hem and haw, snicker. ‘Oh, that’s not their beer anymore.’ We just encourage them to try it because John’s spent hours on the found, with Robert, their VP of brewing operations.”
“That guy’s legit,” John added. “He came from Coors, so he knows how to do production and efficiency. It’s kind of his specialty.”
There are other breweries in New Mexico that do not package in-house. Probably the most notable example is Abbey Brewing, which packages all of the Monks beers at Sierra Blanca in Moriarty. Pecan Grill also packages its flagship Pecan Ale at SB.
“Outside of this market it’s done all over the place,” Gabe said. “This is a pretty typical thing, it has been for a long time. We just felt we should be up front about it. … For us, this is what we’re doing and why. If you try to hide it, then it must not be legitimate.”
Once Bernalillo is up and running — and the good news is they just received a key permit from the Department of Transportation to begin interior construction — then Bosque will handle all of its own packaging.
“We have every intention of taking this back, as well, when things kick off at Bernalillo,” John said. “That’s when we’ll be able to evaluate what equipment we’ll need.”
In another note, the IPA will officially change from Riverwalker to Bosque IPA starting today.
“We’re changing Riverwalker to Bosque IPA, due to trademark,” Jotham said. “We probably could have gotten a trademark on it, but we won an award under Bosque IPA this year. It got the bronze at the World Beer Cup. We entered Bosque IPA into GABF as well. That win kind of solidified the change for us.”
Whatever it is called, it figures to fly off the shelves in October.
All of us in the Crew look forward to grabbing a six-pack or two or three and taking Bosque beer home. Those should look good in our beer fridges next to all of those Jet Black Winter bombers we have been saving.