High and Dry Brewing is hoping that going small will lead to big things. The newest brewery in Albuquerque, located at 529 Adams St. NE, is set for its grand opening February 10. To gain a little advance insight, I stopped by to chat with brewer/owner Andrew Kalemba last week.
Andrew was in the midst of finishing up a batch of beer, one of six he aims to have on tap for the grand opening. For now, High and Dry is carrying six guest taps and is open to anyone who wants to come by and check out the space.
From the outside, it appears small, but the inside is spacious, able to accommodate 88 customers. There is even more room in the back with the brewing equipment, leaving plenty of future room to expand. High and Dry will open with just a 1-barrel brewing system.
“We’ll put out five barrels a week,” Andrew said. “We’ll always have six of our beers on and we’ll have a rotating list of six guest taps. It should be complimentary, too. This is an IPA town, so we’ll have a little bit extra of that on hand.”
The building itself has a fair amount of history. Long ago, it was a meat processing facility. More recently, it was a tattoo parlor. Some of the artwork from the parlor will remain on the walls in the back, including a rather noteworthy painting of the creepy twin girls from the movie The Shining. Those will not be going anywhere, even if they give a customer the willies. (Can a REDRUM Ale be in the future?)
High and Dry will open with five year-round beers, an IPA, pale ale, red ale, American wheat, and a coffee stout. The coffee will come from Humble Coffee Company, which is owned by Mike Baker, who is one of the other main partners in the brewery. For the most part, though, Andrew and his wife Ashley, an Albuquerque native, will be running the show. Their goal is to create a true neighborhood space, similar to what Sidetrack has accomplished downtown.
“All of our partners who are here in town live within a mile,” Andrew said. “It is truly our neighborhood.”
Andrew was inspired to go with this sort of model by his time living in Austin, Texas, which is where he met his wife.
“It was about eight years ago, like one morning I woke up and decided I want to learn how to make beer,” he said. “I can’t remember exactly what it was, but there was something that triggered me. I would see all these really massive operations and I (knew) that’s something I truly can’t do on my own. So I went to the homebrew store and I went headlong into it.”
How deep did Andrew dive? Well, it almost bordered on madness.
“I did it a few times and then I got more curious,” he said. “Following recipes was not all that interesting. Why am I doing this? That first year a really good friend and I, we brewed two batches a weekend for eight months straight, five-gallon batches. That’s where we really cut our teeth.
“Around that time, I was living in Austin, you’d see all these little small (breweries) popping up. It gave me some perspective, you don’t have to be big.”
Austin, though, has become increasingly expensive. That caused Andrew to look to his wife’s home state.
“We immediately started thinking, how could we scale this idea,” he said. “A lot of it was working on a business plan. New Mexico, fortunately, is a lot less costly. I don’t think we’d be able to do anything at this size in other places. We spent quite a few years on the business plan. It became an obsession.”
Andrew did take some courses through the Sibyl Institute, he said, but for the most part he has simply learned through the trial and error of brewing. The five main styles of beer are the five he has brewed the most often, while his first seasonal will be another he has brewed in the past.
“These are the five recipes that really stuck out of the rolodex of experimenting over the years,” Andrew said. “Our first seasonal that we’re going to do is going to be a brown heavily dosed with anise. I know everyone is doing biscochito browns and that sort of stuff. This is a similar idea.”
While the beer will be a main focus, the entire taproom area is of course an important part of the experience as well. There is a patio out front, with space between that and the street for food trucks. Andrew said Roadrunner Grill will be “let’s call it our house food truck.” Artisan Valley Smokehouse is likely to take a Friday slot, and other trucks will appear as well.
Andrew said there is also a plan in place for a significant addition to the outdoor experience in the future.
“Hopefully, as far as future plans, we’ve gotten approval to do a rooftop deck,” he said. “This whole building is poured concrete, so everything is safe, you can build that on top of it. That will be nice.”
Inside, the taproom features a game room with a shuffleboard table. There is room to add other fun activities as well.
The taproom is open at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and then noon on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The High and Dry staff is inviting anyone and everyone to stop by and check out the place before the grand opening.
“We’ve got the doors open for people in the neighborhood pop in,” Andrew said. “We’re just practicing until the big day.”
The Crew will head out to check on the beers at the grand opening or soon after. Until then, we wish everyone at High and Dry the best of luck getting ready. Thanks to Andrew for taking the time to chat even while still quite busy making beer.