Every now and again, a story, even a short one, slips through the cracks. A few weeks back, I visited Starr Brothers and got a quick tour of the brewery’s expansion, took some photos, and I completely forgot to post anything.
Time to rectify that. As noted in our Look Back/Look Ahead Series story, Starr Brothers has expanded into the space next door, knocking out the wall in order to expand their brewing area. The photos I took should show most of it, but basically head brewer Rob Whitlock has a lot more room to maneuver. They have added multiple tanks, and have a second, larger walk-in cooler that will be used for distribution. Yes, Starr Brothers is sending kegs to other places now, though there are no plans to move into canning or bottling (at least not yet).
The pictures will tell the rest of the story.
If this all means Rob can keep Foggy Monocle, the oatmeal stout that claimed top honors at the Crew’s 2017 Stout Challenge, on tap at all times, then everyone wins. See how much the official Stout Challenge trophy makes Rob smile up above? Yeah, a good stout does that for us.
Desert Valley moves west
One of the forthcoming breweries in Albuquerque is taking over some familiar turf. Desert Valley Brewing, which is associated with the same folks who own The Craftroom and Sandia Hard Cider, is moving into the brewing space that never was for The Stumbling Steer.
The Steer fizzled out in 2015, with the building then taken over and chopped into different storefronts. Part of the restaurant area became Vernon’s Open Door, but financial problems eventually sank that operation, much like the Steer before it. The brewing area, which was never put into service before the Steer’s demise, was supposed to have become a brewery that would serve its beers via all the various Vernon’s and Wise Pies properties, but that idea never got off the ground. Now, finally, an actual brewery is moving to take over that portion of the property.
The restaurant portion of the building is being taken over by the owner of Matanza, though whether he will open a west-side version of the popular Nob Hill eatery/beer bar, or try a new concept, is unclear right now.
For now, Desert Valley’s small brewer license is still listed as pending on the State of New Mexico’s website, and it is unknown how long it will take them to get things running out there (for instance, we don’t even know how much of the brewing equipment is in place, or if some may need to be added, replaced, or repaired). Rest assured, we will try to touch base with the team behind Desert Valley and learn more.
Updating the rest of the newcomers
There are seven other breweries with pending licenses in varying stages of development, plus one more about to open.
Steel Bender Brewyard in Los Ranchos already has their license approved and has begun brewing. They still project a mid-March opening and should have an announcement shortly as to the exact date of their grand opening. At least two notable brewers have stopped by to look around, and both came away quite impressed. The Crew will be visiting Steel Bender as soon as there are beers to taste and everything is relatively settled.
As for the other seven, we have no new updates on Bare Bones Brewing (Cedar Crest) or Bombs Away Beer Company (Albuquerque). The magic of social media has informed us, via lots of pictures, that the buildout is underway for both Drylands Brewing (Lovington) and Truth or Consequences Brewing.
Lava Rock Brewing, the new project from former Firkin Brewhouse brewer Aaron Walters, is moving along on the west side on Unser north of Ladera. The aim is still for a summer opening.
We had not heard anything new on Hops Brewery in Nob Hill until a recent visit to another brewery revealed that Hops was now buying grain and getting ready to brew its first beers. The long-delayed project may finally be nearing its opening, but as Hops still does not have any website or social media accounts, that is all we know for now.
Finally, a new name to file away, Glencoe Distillery & Brewery, which is set to open a few miles east of Ruidoso. The original newspaper story did not mention brewing, so our guess is that was added later on to the plan. Hey, it works for Broken Trail up here, maybe it will work in the mountains down south, too.
For every opening, a closing
OK, not quite, but there have been a couple brewery closings of late. For those that missed it on social media or in The Week Ahead in Beer last week, Twisted Chile will be closing its doors in Socorro. After originally listing April 1 as the grand finale, March 25 will now be the end of the line, at least for the current owners. The brewery name, recipes, and food menu are for sale right now, but in a twist, the brewing equipment is actually owned by the property owner.
Yes, Albuquerque Brewing is closed. We have most of the story as to why, but they have asked us to withhold sharing any of it until all the legal issues are cleared up.
We have still not received word as to when Pi Brewing expects to reopen. The repairs to the outer wall, damaged by a car way back on New Year’s Day, have taken a lot longer than anyone expected. Rest assured, though, Pi will be back.
National IPA Challenge update
The National IPA Challenge, put on every year by The Brewing News, is well underway. Two of the four brackets have concluded, Session IPA and Specialty IPA. The latter saw Dialogue Brewing’s Belgium Citrus IPA reach the finals, and even though it lost to 42 North Brewing’s White Oak Borderland IPA, it was still a heck of an accomplishment for a brewery that isn’t even six months old.
As for the big brackets, the sizable New Mexico contingent in each has been whittled down. There are only 16 beers left, with two from our state left in the Imperial IPA bracket and three in the regular IPA bracket.
The last two imperial entries are Bosque’s Moon Cannon and Second Street’s Imperial IPA (both of which are currently available on tap, FYI). Moon Cannon will face Knee Deep’s Lupulin River, while Imperial IPA takes on Two Roads’ Two Juicy. If both advance to the quarterfinals, they will face each other.
As for the main bracket, Bosque’s back-to-back reigning champion Scale Tipper was knocked out in the third round by another hop powerhouse, Fat Heads’ Head Hunter IPA. The survivors from New Mexico are Quarter Celtic’s Clark, La Cumbre’s Project Dank, and Boxing Bear’s Bear Knuckle. If they all advance to the quarterfinals and move on from there, New Mexico could end up with three of the final four. It will not be easy, however, as Clark takes on Lawson’s Finest Liquids’ Hopcelot IPA, Project Dank battles Flying Bison’s Buffalo IPA, and Bear Knuckle goes paw-to-toe with Sunriver’s Vicious Mosquito, which knocked out Dialogue’s Centennial IPA back in the second round.
We also got this fun little statistic from Boxing Bear’s David Kim: “Some fun data to show just what NM is doing year after year in this competition. From 2014-2017 NM has had more beers reach the round of 16 (14 beers) than any other state. Oregon is second with 13, California is third with 11, and Ohio is fourth with 7 beers. All other states had no more than 3 beers reach the “sweet 16” of this competition.”
We’ll just go ahead and change the state slogan to “The Land of Hopchantment.”
- No news is good news, right? We are still waiting to find out when House Bill 398, the companion piece to the defeated Senate Bill 314, is going to be heard in committee. This legislative session is nearing its end, so plenty of political fireworks remain. Rest assured, the minute we know something, you will, too.
- For those who say the Crew is too focused on Albuquerque and Santa Fe, we hear you. Look for a story on Farmington’s Three Rivers Brewery in the near future, plus we do intend to hit up lots of other breweries, new and old, in the coming months, from Roosevelt in Portales to Milton’s in Carlsbad to Enchanted Circle in Angel Fire, and as many others as our schedules allow.
- Word on the street, and social media, has plenty of collaboration brews coming up in the next few weeks and months. Steel Bender has brewed with Canteen and Marble, while Chama River and Nexus have something new coming soon. Marble, in fact, is putting the word out to breweries around town to come brew together at the Northeast Heights location. We would almost think brewmaster Josh Trujillo is bored or something, but at the rate he keeps churning out awesome new seasonals, that can’t possibly be the case.
- We will have a full preview of La Cumbre’s Cask Ales Festival on Thursday. Also, the early reveal of the Albuquerque Beer Week schedule is almost upon us. It kicks off May 25.
That is all for now, or at least all I can remember. If anyone out there has beer news, notes, and tips to share, contact us via social media or at email@example.com.