For our final entry in the Look Back/Look Ahead Series (scroll to the bottom for more), I stopped at Drafty Kilt Brewing this week to talk to owner/brewer Mike Campbell. Drafty Kilt was the last brewery to open in 2016, popping up in November, just in time to hit the slow season around the holidays. Since then, however, things have started to take off for the brewery.
“We opened the week of Thanksgiving, so the first five weeks were open had holidays and snow days,” Mike said. “It wasn’t until the end of January that we started getting into a routine where people start getting off at 5 (p.m.) and this is what we can expect. It was a weird time to open. It’s always January and February are generally slow for the industry. But, day by day, we get known more and more.”
One way that Drafty Kilt got its name out there was through a bit of a non-traditional (for breweries) website.
“We did Groupon, which seems to have had a pretty good … I’d rate it a success,” Mike said. “It introduced a lot of people (to us) who typically don’t even read your blog or the Southwest Brewing News. They like beer, but they’re not in the culture. They heard of us only through Groupon.”
The brewery has also been adding weekly events, including Geeks Who Drink every Tuesday, sponsoring a dart league team that competes every Wednesday, an open mic/jam session every Thursday, and then live music, be it just a guitar player or a full band, every Friday and Saturday.
Drafty Kilt is also working on a fundraiser with a local motorcycle club. Mike said it is the same club that just had a member shot and killed at a car wash on the West Side recently. That event with the club, which will now be in support of his family, will take place April 8.
Of course, events and fundraisers are one thing, but the backbone of every brewery is the beer itself.
“The beers have been received very well,” Mike said. “We had to make second batches, of course. We’re going to start some distribution, very small at first due to the lack of kegs that I have.”
Mike said his beers could soon be on tap at Sister downtown, Las Ristras in Corrales, plus at least one more bar and another couple of breweries.
Overall, as a veteran brewer, Mike said he has been happy with his beers to date. It has not gone totally according to plan, however.
“The (McWabbit) Pale Ale had, that was our second brew, and we had a stuck mash,” Mike said. “I don’t think I’m going to be able to exactly duplicate it again, but it tasted a lot better than I was afraid it would. Otherwise, I’m proud of the beers. They came out nice, crisp, no off-flavors (or) characteristics. The (Obliviscaris) Oatmeal Stout is nice and filling, easy going. The smoke in the (Wee Beastie) Scottish Ale surprises some people.”
The Groundskeeper Willie Cream Ale and Campbell Toe IPA have rounded out the initial lineup. Some additional beers are in the works.
“I’ve got the red carbonating,” Mike said. “We’re going to name it in recognition of both its Irish roots and the New Mexico, you know how natives ask you a question and then end it with a question? They say ‘McRojo or No?’”
After that, Mike said he hopes to have a specific brew for the warmer months.
“I want to brew a hefe soon, but I’m also having to get back and double up (on batches),” he said. “I’ve got to brew another IPA (soon). I’ve got the cream ale and Scottish going out to distributorship.
“You’re already looking at next month is the (soonest) I can have another beer on tap. Then it will seem like the next month is July. It’s going by pretty quick.”
Drafty Kilt will be at a number of upcoming festivals, including the Blazin’ Brewfest in Las Cruces on May 6, the ABQ Blues & Brews on May 28, at least two of the Summerfests, and the Fourth of July festival at the Balloon Fiesta Park. That, in turn, should further help get the Drafty Kilt name out there to the beer geeks and the general public.
If you get the chance, make sure to stop by the brewery at 4814 Hardware NE. It is just south of McLeod and west of San Mateo, right around the corner from Movies 8.
A big thanks to Mike for the interview and the pint of stout!
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This will mark the final official entry for our Look Back/Look Ahead Series in 2016-17. For a variety of reasons, we were unable to get to every brewery this time around. If by some chance another story does come to fruition, we will still post it here, but as more of a standalone feature.
Thanks for reading all of these. We will have a new ongoing series starting soon, so keep an eye out for it.