Typically when one thinks of Truth or Consequences, Elephant Butte Lake often is the first thing to comes to mind. However, a new crew has been making some serious strides to turn things around in hopes of bringing craft enthusiasts, visitors, and the locals all together.
In the heart of downtown T or C (as it’s often referred to) sits a small brewery that is definitely making its mark on the town. Walking in the doors at Truth or Consequences Brewing, your attention is immediately drawn to the dramatic wooden trusses and the polished concrete floors. If you’re like me, your attention then darts to the new shanks and taps on the wall beyond the inviting and clean look of the bar.
After ordering a beer, I sat down with co-owners John Masterson and his wife Marianne Blaue.
“T or C used to be a real party town,” John said. “There used to be 16 bars within a two-block radius of where we are now. There are now zero, and that’s just due to liquor law changes and the inflation of the value of liquor licenses. I’ve talked to a lot of the older residents around here who talk about the 70s and 80s, and how it used to be a challenge to try to have a drink at every bar downtown. It’s a recreation paradise. There’s miles of trails all around the mountain, then we have New Mexico’s largest body of water, and the Rio Grande for tubing and fishing. We even have the spaceport!”
Originally from Missoula, Mont., then Seattle, John and Marianne decided to plant their roots in New Mexico, and they haven’t looked back.
“We discovered this town two years ago,” John said. “We both worked in the tech industry in Seattle for about four years. We pursued our tech dream, but after (that) we just needed something different. So, we decided to move somewhere that was the complete opposite in terms of weather, topography, and local economy. We had decided to do a New Mexico road trip, and we were on our way to Silver City after looking at ‘Things to Do in New Mexico’ on a two-week road trip. After renting a car and starting our drive, we realized that there was no way we would make it to Silver City before dark, so we decided to stop in Truth or Consequences because it had a Holiday Inn and the town had a funny name.
“We woke up in the morning and decided to take a walk to get breakfast. We just fell in love with the town. While we were walking around, we were talking about how amazing the town is and how we should maybe get a vacation home or something. We knew we wanted to come back. So, we decided to get a beer and talk about it. We looked around, and there was nowhere to get a beer. And the pieces kind of fell together. We were ready to pull the rip cord on the Seattle scene, but there was nowhere to get a beer. So, we had to create a place to get a beer.”
John certainly isn’t new to brewing. He has been homebrewing for more than 10 years, is a recognized contest winner, and also has some experience in a few of CNM’s Brewing & Production Management courses.
“My first batch of homebrew was when I was still in school in Missoula, Montana,” John said. “I really just wanted good, cheap beer. When I went to the store, I could either get good beer or cheap beer, but there wasn’t really good cheap beer. So, that was the inspiration for me to start making my own. Fast forward another 10 years, I had a really sweet 10-gallon setup and a four-tap kegerator, and I got a lot more into the art and science of it all. I actually won a local homebrew contest. The prize was that I got to go to Big Sky Brewing and brew my recipe with the head brewer, Matt Long. He scaled up my homebrew recipe and scaled it up to their 40-barrel system. That was my first time brewing in an actual brewery. It was a really exciting experience!”
In a scene that is blossoming with innovation and pushing the envelope, T or C Brewing is looking to really make its mark on the map, especially with its geographical position benefiting beer lovers by bridging a large gap between the larger breweries in the north towards Albuquerque and its surrounding areas, and the southern portions of the state, namely Las Cruces. Speaking of geography, the area of T or C brings also another interesting boon to its communities, and possibly even the brewing process.
“We hope to become a destination brewery for people to add to and check off their list,” John said. “That’s really what we strive for, actually. We hope that by becoming a destination brewery, we will also help bring business to the town. You know, this is a hot springs town. A lot of these hotels have hot springs in the rooms. That’s hot mineral water warmed by lava from the Earth! A lot of folks say it’s healing water. It has lithium in it and almost no sulfur in it.”
In such a small community, the prospect of a new watering hole downtown has seemingly garnered a great deal of support from the city itself, especially as it has slowly transformed during its creation into a smaller music venue as well, with a stage and open area just short of the brewhouse equipment, yet large enough to accommodate even the most eccentric of dance routines.
“We have had a lot of community support,” Marianne said. “We had to get a variance from the city 18 months ago when they bought the building, so the community has been anxious for us to open for a year and a half now. We have been engaging the community with newsletters updating them on their progress.”
Even without a larger sign in place out front, newsletters taped to the windows had achieved the goal of drawing in locals to investigate the new brewery, and garner a great deal of anticipation for the grand opening, proving that this town is definitely in need of a much needed craft beer.
“We want to have our grand opening party near the end of September,” Marianne said. “We will officially be out of the soft opening stages, and we plan to have at least three of our own beers on tap by then. Also, by the end of September, we hope to have a pretty flushed out event calendar. We have some amazing talent in this town, and we are located in an ideal place for touring artists. We have noticed that the whole community really comes together when we have live music playing.”
Truth or Consequences Brewing plans to have at least three of their beers on tap by the end of August, but don’t worry if that doesn’t seem like much now. John expects to not only have a solid staple lineup of beers fitting for the southern New Mexico feel and weather, but hinted at a particularly exotic ‘Unholstered’ line of unconventional and experimental beers.
At the time of this interview, the brewhouse was still in the process of being assembled, but will be a definite reason to make the trek back south once things are up and running. They are currently open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. until they are ready to add their own beers to the lineup, at which point they plan to be open seven days a week.
Thank you to John and Marianne for taking the time out of their busy schedule to talk. All of us in the Crew wish them luck in their endeavor.