This Sunday, Rowley Farmhouse Ales (RFA) is throwing a huge party for their second anniversary, and I sat down with the guys to get the details on where they’ve been, what they’ve seen, and where they’re going.
Rowley Farmhouse Ales opened in 2016. In two years, they’ve experienced a few changes, pumped out a ton of different beer styles (not just farmhouse ales and sours), and solidified themselves as a great bistro for beer geeks in the Santa Fe area. In two years, they definitely had more highs than lows.
I asked the guys what their favorite thing about being open for two years was.
“That we’re still open!” co-owner and chef Jeffery Kaplan joked. “In two years, we’ve gotten some really awesome accolades and appreciation from the local community.”
One such accolade came from CraftBeer.com, naming Rowley Farmhouse Ales best beer bar in New Mexico for 2018. They also received a Local Hero Award for 2018 from Edible New Mexico for Best Gastropub.
“A lot of the local community has come back again and again,” Kaplan said. “(RFA) has turned into this local neighborhood spot that people are enjoying. That’s kind of been my favorite thing.”
Two years haven’t been without its choppy waters, but the Rowley crew have always been able to weather the storms. Who could forget the one time when the wind blew the big tent away from the patio area? Tent season was indeed over. And then, there was the Great Deluge of 2018. My mother and I actually got stuck at RFA for that event, and I’ll say, it is not a bad place to get caught in a storm.
Over the past two years, RFA has earned the respect of Santa Fe foodies by always trying out fresh ideas and keeping what works. It’s pretty simple. Every season they change their menus, keeping popular plates, and ditch the dishes that didn’t work out as well. They’ve also made tweaks to everything from the kitchen to the brewhouse. Some were larger tweaks than others, like the construction of a new patio covering to rearranging equipment in the brewhouse.
“We just ran out of space,” co-owner and brewmaster John Rowley recalled. RFA reached a point where they had to move equipment outside. They got a trailer, which now houses everything they don’t use on a daily basis. Now they have space they need to bottle and move around.
Sitting on two years, the guys are pretty happy where they are.
“We brewed 250 barrels last year, which, for a brewery of our size, is a pretty good start,” Rowley said. “Yeah, we’re on the right track. I think our beer quality is good. We’re brewing the stuff we want to brew.”
I also talked to their new head brewer Wes Burbank about the immediate future of Rowley Farmhouse Ales. He’s very happy to have found a good home here in Santa Fe, and he’s pretty optimistic about Rowley’s future.
“We’ve got a solid foundation right now,” Burbank said. “I want to do what we’re doing, but more of it, and get it into more people’s hands, which we’ve already started doing. We’ve got quarterly drops in Denver, which might increase. There’s more of a market there for these types of beers. New Mexico is kind of still untapped for us. It’s a huge market (for RFA) to break into.”
“We’re trying to focus on our current markets, trying to grow those,” Rowley added. “We will have a lot bigger capacity next year with our 40-barrel foeders.”
Rowley will be getting the two foeders in about 12 weeks. With them, RFA will have two stock sour beers, souring all the time. And, with the size of their brewhouse (seven barrels), they can pull seven barrels out. They can put seven barrels of wort in. They can constantly be pulling solera. If you want to know what that means, take a look at this wiki article from our friends at Milk the Funk.
“Once filled, the foeders will never be empty again,” Burbank said. “Unless we move.”
Where: Rowley Farmhouse Ales
When: Sunday, noon to 7 p.m.
What: They’ll have seven hours of live music, including several solo artists, Shake Alert, and Nacha Mendez. There will also be a silk screener making custom shirts.
Why us beer geeks should go: RFA will be pouring tons of their rare barrel-aged beers from their backlog. About 19 of them, including Cerise Redux, Mixed-Dubbels Curling, the Ab Initios, a raspberry Oud Bruin, and the Framboisen, a special beer made for the event, as well as some other really cool barrel-aged goodies.
Additional: No cover charge. Plus, Wes said Slayer might show up. I’m hesitant to promise that, however.
When Rowley Farmhouse Ales opened back in 2016, they only had one beer on tap made on their 1-barrel brewhouse. It wasn’t even quite ready, Rowley said. Today, they have a huge catalog of beers they’ve made that they can pull out anytime they want for a good time. Some of them have been aging down below in the barrel room for two years. To say they’ve come a long way is an understatement. But, they keep growing, and everything keeps getting better with age.
So, head over to Rowley Farmhouse Ales on Sunday and help them drink a few of their rare beers. Wish ‘em a happy birthday, and tell ‘em Luke sent you. Maybe don’t do that last one. To the whole crew at Rowley’s, we’re so glad to have you here in town. Thank you for your excellent hospitality and delicious food and beers. To your continued success and many more years in the business, cheers!
Also on RFA’s plate:
NMDOG Meet & Greet and Fundraiser!
Join us to meet adorable, adoptable NMDOGs today (Saturday) from 1-5 p.m.! As always through Sept. 30, $1 from every full pour from the Pulls for Pups handle will benefit NMDOG.
For more @nmdarksidebc info and #craftbeer news, follow me on Twitter at @SantaFeCraftBro. Untappd: SantaFeLuke