Unbelievably, here we are again at the end of another year. As part of our annual Look Back/Look Ahead Series, I pretty much literally corralled Matt Simonds, Broken Trail owner (and mad scientist, perhaps?), to ask about the latest goings on for his brewery/distillery. As usual, things, they are a-changing.
Previously, we told our readers that the main production facility was going to be just for that — production — and there would no longer be a taproom at that location. That part of the plan has come to fruition. It’s been a bit melancholy for me, because of so many fond memories of hanging out there. Matt feels it, too, but he is staying plenty busy trying to keep up with the massive increase of work on the manufacturing side. Quite simply, they absolutely needed the space.
The bar is gone. It is in pieces in storage, hopefully to be repurposed in some way or perhaps several ways. The front room is now jam packed full of pallets of cans. The back area holds tanks as far as the eye can see.
The reason for the change is pretty damn exciting. Matt is now the producer for a nationally-distributed vodka-based beverage. That has become a major part of his production and brings in a revenue stream that allows him to focus on important issues, like making more of his own bourbon. Fear not, ABQ, he is still cranking out the craft beer and spirits for all of us to drink/purchase at the Uptown and Green Jeans locations (spirits only at Green Jeans).
At the taproom they always had as many as three guest taps on, but now they are excited to be basically 100-percent Broken Trail beer. They do still carry Tractor’s cider and they love working with them, Matt said. He has no plans on getting in the cider game.
It seems each year Matt has to significantly change something. Recently, a major change has been on the marketing front. He has a spiffy, newly-designed website done by professionals, he says, instead of doing it himself. There are big changes happening with packaging innovations and labeling. He is coming up with new ideas in the beer cocktail arena. People, this is a guy who is always trying something new. He is a chemistry guy and so much of it is a science. I decided to start calling him Matt “What-the-Hell” Simonds. Because, whatever he comes up with next, he is not afraid to give it a shot. Literally.
In fact, as far as the coming year goes, Matt said we should be looking for something pretty awesome packaging-wise in 2019. Right now, though, we have to wait for more information. He loves to keep me in suspense, I think. The other thing Matt is hoping for in 2019 is a bit of sanity, like maybe a day off here or there …
Matt said he wants to streamline the processes, get the beer really dialed in, do small experimental batches, and do more barrel aging. His bourbon is really killer right now, so the possibilities for barrel aging beer are getting better and better. He let us try his latest bourbon (Barrel #4) and it has no burn. It is just that smooth, and definitely up there with the best I have tasted. I can certainly see why he is so proud of it!
I asked about future taproom plans. Matt said his take on it is if a situation arises that is absolutely perfect, he would want to jump on it. But, he is not specifically looking.
In March, look for a Broken Trail beer/spirit/food pairing at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. That should be one tasty adventure.