Long, long ago, the Crew was tipped off by a reader that the area of town where he lives, near Tramway and Paseo del Norte, was potentially getting a brewery taproom. He asked us what brewery might be heading to just about the most northeast corner of the city, but at the time, we had no idea.
A while later, we noted that Boese Brothers Brewery had a pending off-site taproom license pending with the State of New Mexico, but it was listed for a zip code in the Southeast Heights. Well, it turned out that was a typo, since as we now know, the Boese Brothers Brewpub is the taproom taking the spot on Tramway, just south of the Paseo intersection.
The taproom’s grand opening will kick off Friday at 4 p.m. and run all weekend, so to preview both that and take care of Boese Brothers’ entry in our annual Look Back/Look Ahead Series, I met up with George and Sam Boese at the new space on Wednesday afternoon.
“Probably early last year we started looking around for places, maybe in the February timeframe,” George said. “We hadn’t really gotten anything that we liked until we found this place. It’s the right combination, we think. We looked a couple of neighborhoods. We really liked this spot. It was probably the view that got us.”
Admittedly, I already told Sam about how impressive the view is of the Sandia Mountains out the front windows. The exact address is 7849 Tramway Blvd, Suite C. To get to it from either northbound or southbound Tramway, just turn west at the light at San Bernardino. It is located in the middle of the building just north of the CVS Pharmacy, next to the Dominos restaurant.
The taproom is a long way from the next closest craft beer establishment.
“Marble has got that awesome spot, that’s probably the closest one,” George said. “We had lunch there a couple weeks ago. That’s gotta be a cool 15-minute drive over there, maybe more.”
“There’s Starr Brothers to the west, they’re not super far away,” Sam added.
That should open up Boese Brothers to a new audience.
“Sam and I used to do a lot of tastings at Total Wine and Jubilation and we’d run into customers a lot that were from this part of town and (tell us) ‘I never go downtown,’ ” George said.
In many ways, the two Boese Brothers locations are more than just miles apart. The taproom will have a kitchen with a sandwich-centric meal. Sam said he learned that lesson from managing Desert Dogs Brewery and Cidery in Santa Fe, which is co-owned by the brothers and their friends at New Mexico Hard Cider.
“I’ve been doing the food up in Santa Fe, too,” Sam said. “We brought on a head chef and it’s been really nice to have that food aspect for the business. We brought on a great guy here, Santiago, that used to work at Gold Street Caffe. He’s really taken on that project as well. We always wanted to do food at this spot, we just weren’t sure which direction we wanted to go. We ended up doing a menu of really kick-ass, not gourmet sandwiches, but definitely pretty interesting stuff.”
George had to ask why Sam did not consider the sandwiches to be gourmet.
“They’re not tiny and expensive, they’re huge and delicious,” Sam replied.
The layout of the taproom is fairly simple to fit its east-to-west rectangular shape. There is a long bar on the south side, with tall tables on the north below a giant, beautiful mural. There are two TVs, one was on ESPN and the other showed an episode of South Park while I was there, and yes, there are even mini-wall hooky games that you can play at your table, for those who miss the charm of that game at the brewery downtown.
Getting the taproom put together was a bit of a challenge, but not necessarily in terms of the actual construction.
“There’s some weird stuff (that happened),” George said. “Technically this isn’t in the City of Albuquerque proper. It’s an unclaimed part of the city, so it’s Bernalillo County. All the people we went through with city licensing and building permits, none of them worked on this project. It was just different. We dealt with some initial hurdles. It wasn’t too bad.”
The space was previously a nail salon, but nary a trace remains, save for perhaps a couple of oddly placed electrical outlets. Hey, at least folks will have somewhere to charge their phones.
“We’re opening on Friday (so) I’d kind of encourage people to come check out the spot, have a sandwich and beer up here,” George said.
As for the main brewery, George and Sam said it was a good year downtown, even with all the fuss over the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project (there is a station gathering dust across the street) and the closure of the nearby Duel taproom and Monks’ Corner.
“It’s been good, but different,” George said. “I’ve worked probably since the middle of the summer until now, building projects here working on this place. Sam has been working in Santa Fe managing Desert Dogs and taking care of our customers in that part of the state. There are definitely some changes there. It’s been a good year. I can’t believe it’s almost over.”
With George needed at the taproom, that left the brewing to a new assistant who was plucked from the bar staff.
“Our manager down there is doing a really good job of managing the bar staff and handling the events downtown,” George said. “And then, also at the beginning of last year, I trained one of our current employees, Josh (Hammond) the brewing process. He’s been a huge help bringing on a brewer to help me out there, too.”
The beers featured throughout the year included new recipes and the return of some old favorites. One beer will always make an appearance if Sam has anything to say about it.
“Double Dead Red is always a big one for me,” Sam said. “It’s my favorite season every year that George makes.”
“It sells well. It’s a pretty classic West Coast red ale recipe with tons of Simcoe, Cascade, and Centennial hops, just a good combo,” George said. “The one people get craziest about, Sam doesn’t like it, but we make this white IPA, the Zeus Juice. That has to be our consistent fastest selling IPA.”
Boese Brothers also got to work on a couple of fun collaboration beers during the year. The latter was a second go-around with Sidetrack, NM Hard Cider, and Milton’s Brewing from Carlsbad.
“We did a Mango IPA collaboration with Rock & Brews, that turned out pretty good,” George said. “Then when we did our second year of our Sour Relationship collaboration, and we did it with prickly pear cactus fruit. It was cool, surprisingly kind of wine/grape tasting. It was a good, clean sour beer.”
Both George and Sam agreed that a vacation was probably in order before getting back to the grind in 2019.
“I’m looking for some vacation, hopefully some snow,” George said. “We’ve got a couple seasonals that we like (coming up). We’ve got a Vienna (lager), that’s kind of like an Oktoberfest light. We’re releasing that next Friday downtown and here as well.
“We’re almost out of our Double Dead Red, so we’re rolling out another of the seasonals we do in the wintertime called Cascade Grenade. I’m going to change that recipe a little this year by using a distilled fresh Cascade oil. There’s a hop farm in Wyoming that when they harvest every year, they put it through steam distillation equipment, like you would if you’re making spirits or something. We’re making a concoction from that.”
From keeping the beers flowing to building out the taproom and preparing for this weekend’s grand opening, 2018 has been a banner year for Boese Brothers. We wish them the best of luck in 2019, and thank George and Sam for taking the time to chat just before a soft opening for family and friends began to fill the taproom.
Oh, and make sure to try some Komrade Boese, their rather excellent stout seasonal, while it still lasts.