It can be very easy to miss Dialogue, a uniquely designed and presented brewery, as it sits nestled between older warehouses and industrial complexes on the corner of 1st Street and Kinley Ave. Once you have found the entrance, however, your senses are in for quite the artistic treat, as local works cover the walls in contrast to the modern and classic steel work that make up the revitalized warehouse/now-brewery and bar space.
I had a chance to sit down with Eliot Salgado, managing partner of Dialogue Brewing, to discuss how things have gone to date. Dialogue opened its doors to the public last September, and though the business itself is still relatively new, the brimming ambition and pride for excellence was noticeable in this interview for the Look Back/Look Ahead Series.
“2016 was exciting, challenging, and emotional,” Salgado said. “We went from conception to hiring Ian (Graham, head brewer), to building the brewery and building the taproom at a very rapid pace. It was one of the hardest things most of us have ever done. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. For me, personally, I’m very lucky to have a supportive family who was able to deal with 13-to-14-hour days for quite a while. All in all, I think we had a challenging start, but it’s definitely something we can be proud of. Dialogue is continuing to change from the artwork to the floor plan. We are still finding who we are, and we continue to change and evolve.”
Salgado also shared some of the obstacles Dialogue has faced since opening.
“We have the same challenges every brewery does,” he said. “No brew day is eight hours. Nothing is ever easy or convenient. We certainly didn’t expect it to be either. So far, I would say that we are meeting our expectations. Our sales slowed down during the winter, as we had anticipated them to. As it’s been warming up, our sales have been trending upwards very quickly.”
The Berliner Weisse, in particular, was noted as a fan favorite.
“Our brewer, Ian, loves brewing lagers,” Salgado said. “So during the winter, when we knew business would slow down a bit, we ended up lagering a bunch of beers.”
Those lagers have included the Helles Good and Dark Helmet, hitting the lager spectrum from pale to black.
On top of getting prepared for the coming spring and summer months, Dialogue has been busy competing nationally as well.
“We are super excited!” Salgado said. “Our Belgian Citrus IPA (reached) the Elite Eight in the Specialty Category in the National IPA Challenge, so we’ll know more soon about how we do and if we will continue to move on.”
After the interview, Dialogue finished as runner-up, which is still a big win for a young brewery.
“We pride ourselves on brewing unique and original beers,” Salgado said. “We want to continue to push the trend and be a part of the current beer crowd. We never want to detract from the high quality standards that we have for ourselves and that our consumers have.”
Though it may only be a couple months into 2017, we continued on with our interview in regards to the coming months and year ahead, starting with a summary of general goals for Dialogue Brewing as a whole.
“Our goals: less crying. Is that a goal?” Salgado said with a chuckle. “We definitely want to win some awards. We want a solid year making customers happy, and brewing high quality, unique beers.”
In addition to focusing on getting further established, the Dialogue crew has a few more ideas cooked up.
“We will be in as many local festivals as we can,” Salgado said. “We are trying to be a part of the (New Mexico) Brewers Guild stuff, although we do recognize that space can sometimes be limited. We are going to be at Tart at Heart on the 15th of April. We are also in the early planning stages of planning our own festival here. We want to do a tacos and tarts idea, where we have a bunch of taco trucks out here, and ask some of the local breweries to bring a sour beer.”
More big moves are also in the works, holding true to the concept formed during the beginnings of the business. There will be a focus on customer favorites, and also large-scale work with Brett and wild ale styles, with the implementation of new fermenters aimed toward facilitating the additional bacteria.
“We don’t want a beer drinker to come in here for the first time ever and be unimpressed by the selection,” Salgado said. “So, we have a variety of beer styles from our golden all the way to a dubbel.”
In line with that concept, Dialogue continues striving forward with customer service through education.
“All of our bartenders are certified beer servers through the cicerone program, and they are all trained to educate customers on beer styles and taste to try to find the perfect beer for each person,” Salgado said.
The customer is a strong influence behind much of Dialogue Brewing’s focus in regards to new ideas that are soon to come to fruition this year. One such idea is Hop Education, which is focused on educating and testing customers on their knowledge of common hop profiles, accomplished through the substitution of the hops in a single-hop recipe used for the base in each brew.
“One of the things we really want to do is engage with our customers,” Salgado said.
One of the things they plan to do this summer is to throw more events on their patio.
“We want to have more bands this year,” Salgado said. “We have a stage outside, and a patio to accommodate live bands, so we want to get as much use out of it as possible during the warmer months.”
2016 was certainly a noteworthy year for Dialogue Brewing. From its grand opening in September, to fulfilling their goals by providing unique brews to their growing customer base, Dialogue has continued to confidently strive forward. We look forward to seeing what 2017 has in store for Dialogue. One thing is for sure, this young brewery is already making its mark on the local beer scene. If you have not stopped by Dialogue Brewing, we suggest you do!