Archive for January, 2019

Owner Scott Salvas said he got the biggest sign possible to announce his forthcoming Brew Lab 101 in Rio Rancho.

The partial federal government shutdown has left many pending breweries in limbo, but that does not mean their owners are giving up the dream of opening in 2019. I trekked out to Rio Rancho on Wednesday afternoon to meet the owner of one of those forthcoming breweries, Brew Lab 101 Beer and Cider Company.

Owner/brewer Scott Salvas is doing everything he can to get ready for when the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is reopened, which will put him good position for a possible late May opening.

“It’s coming along,” he said of the space inside two suites in the shopping center at 3301 Southern Blvd., which is just a block or so west of Turtle Mountain. “If the government would get open to help me with the licensing stuff, that would be nice.”

Brew Lab 101 is taking over the former House of Football location for its taproom, while a former nail salon in the adjacent space will be home to the brewhouse and equipment.

“I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what (size) space did I want,” Scott said. “I originally wanted 3,000 square feet. We were looking at a space down the street. Unfortunately that deal fell apart literally two days before I was going to sign the lease, which is why I’m not open right now. That was only 3,200 square feet. Then I saw these two spaces up here.”

Owner/brewer Scott Salvas has plenty of room in which to operate.

The current shopping center has everything from a gym to a trampoline center for kids called to Elevate, to the long-established restaurant Joe’s Pasta House. It also has a lot of empty suites, the curse of the modern retail center, but also a boon for prospective business owners looking for a bargain.

That, plus Scott’s desire to see if he can translate his award-winning homebrews into an actual brewery, all combined to make Brew Lab 101 an almost reality.

“I had a passion for beer brewing,” Scott said. “I’ve been brewing for about eight years. I just started brewing beers and then having parties. I have a couple big parties a year. People would come and I think through the years the beer got better. People started giving me really good comments. Folks started encouraging me to think about it.”

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Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s eight breweries, one in Los Alamos, one in Moriarty, and one in Red River also joining the party.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

The partial federal shutdown continues to wreak havoc upon the nation, including on local breweries, as we have mentioned in the past. So what can we, the beer-drinking public, do to help? Well, it’s actually fairly simple, we just have to keep buying more beer. The breweries that distribute out of state are taking the hardest hit, so they could use a little extra help. The good news is some are releasing new canned offerings this week. La Cumbre is releasing Altimeter IPA on Friday. This “brightly floral” IPA will debut in four-pack cans and on tap. Santa Fe is having a release party for its new Social Hour, a hazy wit-inspired beer with tropical fruit, at the ABQ Taproom on Saturday. There will be a Mario Kart Nintendo tournament from 4 to 7 p.m., followed by live music from 7 to 10.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bosque debuted EOP Tart at WinterBrew, and now it’s popping up at the taprooms, along with Surreal McCoy, a hoppy amber. Canteen saw some recent overturn with the return of Irish Red and the arrival of Mango Hussey IPA. Cantero unveils Brut IPA, Doughnut Stout, and Winter Warmer. Kilt Check has a new beer for the first time in quite a while with Black Sunshine Robust Porter. La Cumbre also added Strata IPA, Pimp Stout, and Friend Zone Golden Ale to its taps. Marble brings back Spruce Moose and also adds Coffee Porter. Nexus spices things up with Hot Chocolate Milk Stout. Quarter Celtic beckons us all to Come to the Dort Side. Sidetrack spins up more Turntable IPA, on draft and in cask. Steel Bender is up to Cider #5. Tractor hits the trail with more Cowboy Coffee Stout.

Up in Santa Fe, things are quiet again, but over in Red River, RRBC brings back Campfire Cream Ale after a short hiatus.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of January 14.

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The growth at Bosque was rather obvious this past year, considering that this big ol’ beast finally opened its doors.

It can be tough to get the bigger brewery command staffs together in one place. The chance to get everyone at Bosque together at once was too good to pass up when it was offered a couple weeks ago. By the time the interview was supposed to roll around, however, the universe decided it was time for my annual cold.

Still, the staff was game, and with plenty of cold medicine in my system, I ventured to Bosque North on a lovely afternoon to catch up with managing director Gabe Jensen, director of operations Jotham Michnovicz, director of culture and engagement Jessica Griego, and director of brewing operations John Bullard. The very building we were in was the crowning achievement of 2018 for Bosque and a good place to start this entry in our annual Look Back/Look Ahead Series.

The new brewery was up and running by early July, and the taproom portion opened at the end of the month.

“It feels like it’s longer ago than that, or, it just happened, I don’t know which one,” Gabe said.

“It’s a little weird, sometimes I forget about Bosque North being in 2018,” Jessica added. “That is a big one.”

These are busy people, always looking forward, so let us cut them a little slack when it comes to trying to look back. It was up to John to get the ball rolling.

The canning line was pretty much in constant use since Bosque North opened.

“It’s been a challenge, but it’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “Lots of new equipment and stuff that I’ve never ran before, trying learning how to run it, finding new employees that can run it. We’ve built up a really strong team, so that’s been good. Then taking all of Colorado beer back has been a challenge, too. It all happened at once, but it’s been great. It’s going really good.

“Yeah, nicer equipment, working floors, everything. The facility is working better than I had hoped.”

A facility is only as good as the people working inside it, John added.

“We do have people that are very specialized in certain areas of the brewery,” he said. “So if we do have problems, on the brewhouse side or the cellar side, there’s somebody there that can make really good decisions.”

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Kaktus head brewer Mike Waddy always serves up his pints with a smile.

Another year has slipped by us, almost too quickly in some circumstances. However, as time continues its merciless march forward, for many the year proved to by a joyous and beneficial one. One of such places to have been able to share this with us is Bernalillo’s own Kaktus Brewing Company.

For those that have kept up over the past couple of years with NMDSBC’s annual Look Back/Look Ahead Series, this will come to recognize the warming and fun spirit that the brewery has been putting forth coming into its sixth year of continued operation. A strong theme this year, while not only exclusive to Kaktus, was a transition towards a strong focus on organic growth and getting back to the core of its community ties.

Shawna and I were once again hosted by head brewer Mike Waddy to sit down over a beer and discuss all that has transpired for Kaktus, and also what we all hope will soon start taking place in what has easily become one of Bernalillo’s most charismatic and unique destinations.

With a fresh pour of ‘Thur-vay-tha’ in hand, we set up on the enclosed patio on the front of the brewery, seemingly ever-changing and continually evolving with each visit. To summarize the experience that 2018 had brought for Kaktus, Michael was able to sum it up on a very positive note.

“Things were really good this year, like super good,” he said. “Like, busier than we’ve ever been. We celebrated our five-year anniversary in the middle of this October and looking back, every single year we are continuing to grow.”

From our perspective, this is a great sign, as there was much to consider at the end of 2017 with the impact that was the A.R.T. construction and the closing of Kaktus’ Nob Hill location.

Even after losing the Nob Hill taproom, the Kaktus staff stayed busy.

While there was a larger focus on refining things happening in and around the brewery this past year, it certainly did not mean there was no room for fun. Many of us are used to seeing the larger breweries hitting what seems to be becoming what could be called an annual NM beer fest circuit, but it’s always exciting to see smaller operations like Kaktus being able to participate and really get into the spirit of the Craft community.

“We had a great summer,” Michael said. ”(We) had a bunch of beer events and it was fun … we did the (Land of Enchantment) Blues Fest; we were the only vendor there and we also had some guest taps from Steel Bender on as well. This was our first year doing the New Mexico Brewfest, as well. That was fun. We gave a few kegs out and really got our name out there.”

One of the past year’s biggest questions for Kaktus was what the impact of Bosque North could be on its Bernalillo neighbor. Previous predictions and answers by Michael and owner Dana Koeller have seemingly started to come to fruition.

“Bosque (North) opening up, that was a big thing for Bernalillo,” Michael said. “People always ask if they’ve been hurting our business and the answer has always been no, not really. People come here and we do tell them to go check Bosque out. We have not seen a drop in numbers since they have opened, which is awesome, so we are hoping to get some overflow from them. … So really, it’s about two breweries now bringing more people out into the Bernalillo area.”

As a little background to our readers, Kaktus was the first brewery to open in the city of Bernalillo in 2013 (since Milagro Brewing closed in 2005), and remained the sole brewery in the area until the recent Bosque North opening.

As always, part of that progress is change, and the crew of Kaktus have been taking notes and getting to work, and not just on their beer and food.

“We’ve ramped up our entertainment here, especially the live music,” Michael said. “We have a Sunday Blues Jam. It’s freakin’ awesome; this place is always packed. I’ll come in to wash kegs and stuff and there’s no parking left! …

“We’re gonna to up our swag game a little as well, especially as a ‘destination’ brewery everyone always wants to take a little something with them.”

The enclosed patio now boasts a larger performance area with plenty of heating and protection from those cold bitter winter chills to accommodate the growing number of customers and array of entertainment.

The pints kept flowing in 2018 and should continue in 2019.

While well-managed growth is excellent, it comes with its own growing pains that always make for unique challenges along the way. For those unfamiliar with Kaktus, it is situated among an interesting array of several property types, ranging from near-industrial to homes. Ultimately, this does not bode well for the parking situation at times, as it can be limited and a slight issue. However, good news is on the way.

“From now into 2019, we’re going to be revamping the (parking) areas, making sure everybody has a place to park,” Michael said. “Also, (we are) working on the grading and making sure we get rid of the big puddles when it rains.”

It certainly doesn’t stop there. With sustainability and going green in mind, Michael also mentioned the idea of expanding their solar energy capabilities and pushing for 100-percent renewable energy use where applicable.

For the future of the staple attractions, the food and beer, they have also been putting the creative visions towards not only expanding available space in the brewhouse, but even the potential of adding a field-to-table touch to the kitchen.

“We’re considering buying a shipping container to help make more room here in the building, so we can, like, put more fermenters where the grain is now,” Michael said. “We can squeeze in two more fermenters where it is now. Also, Dana is looking into building a hydroponic system to supplement our kitchen with fresh tomatoes and veggies.”

Finally, with a shift towards something a bit more fun, we challenged Mr. Waddy to pick out his favorite beer over the past year that was produced by Kaktus.

“I can’t even remember what I made this year, I have to go look back in my brew logs,” Michael said. “Oh! One I really liked was my Bourbon Ginger. It was the beer I took to the New Mexico Brewfest. I really wanted to do bourbon aging, but with a lighter beer, as most everyone else uses stouts and porters, and stuff like that. Didn’t use the barrel this time, though. There is a tragic story of a barrel dumped the last time it was used. (This time) I soaked these American and French oak chips in bourbon for about a month and a half, and then threw those chips in the fermenter. It was almost like a ginger pale. It had notes of a whiskey ginger, and I also used a New Zealand hop variety called Motueka which has a real limey flavor to it. Those were the flavors I was going for, as my go-to cocktail is the whiskey ginger.”

Michael will keep innovating with his beers in 2019.

With another year in the books, and visions set high, Michael and the Kaktus team are determined to keep bringing their customers the experience of a ‘Balanced Beer, Balanced Life.’

As always, thank you, dear readers, for keeping up with us, the New Mexico Dark Side Brew Crew, for all your local brewery and beer-related news! Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the Stoutmeister’s weekly release updates (This Week In Beer) so you don’t miss your favorite winter seasonals!

Cheers!

— Jerrad and Shawna

It’s time to gather with 700 of your closest beer-loving friends at WinterBrew.

WinterBrew 2019 is so close we can almost taste all the great beers that will be poured at the Santa Fe Farmers Market on Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. If you were not one of the lucky 700 to get a ticket, well, you might be able to land the extra pass the Crew has in hand for the festival.

I love tapping into New Mexico beer history, so the first person to correctly answer the following question will be the winner. Since this event is in Santa Fe, we stuck with a theme for that town.

Q. What current Santa Fe landmark was a brewery way back in the 19th century? Hint: It currently has a connection to someone famous beyond just New Mexico.

Send us an email at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com with your answer. We will announce when the contest is over on social media (Facebook/Twitter/Instagram), so keep an eye out there. The winner will be informed directly via email. If you are the winner, just meet the Crew out front at 5 p.m. (we will have our shirts on for easy identification). This is just one small way to give back to you, our loyal readers.

UPDATE: The question was answered correctly on Thursday at 5:30. It was the Jean Cocteau Theater, owned by George R.R. Martin. He’s kinda famous, right?

Now, for everyone that is going, we present the beer lists for 16 of the 18 attending breweries. Hopefully we get the other two before long.

  • Abbey: Monks’ Ale, Monks’ Dark Chocolate, Monks’ Tripel Reserve, Monks’ Grapefruit Wit
  • Bosque: Driftwood Oatmeal Stout, Open Space Haze, Elephants on Parade Tart, Frostbit Wit, Fistful of Churros, Bosque Cider
  • Bow and Arrow: TBA
  • Chili Line: TBA
  • Cloudcroft: Chai Spiced Porter, Oatmeal Stout, Railspike Red Ale, Trainwreck IPA
  • HoneyMoon: Camellia Flor, Camellia Blanco, Cidrucha
  • Lost Hiker: Snowpocolipse (Winter Warmer), Midnight Squirrel Stout, Rye Knot (Belgian Pale w/ Rye), Connectivity IPA
  • Marble: Desert Fog, Double White, Coffee Porter (NEW! Replacing Cholo Smooth), Sympathy for the Pork Chop (Smoked Marzen)
  • Picacho Peak: I Heart Chocolate Porter, Twisted Windmill (DIPA), 575 Scottsman, Dirty Blonde, Javelina Black (American Stout)
  • Red River: Lazy Bear Blonde, Midnight Meadows Oatmeal Stout, Back 40 Farmhouse Ale, Super Bad Medicine Bourbon Barrel-Aged Honey DIPA
  • Rowley Farmhouse Ales: No B.U. IPA, Petite Blanche (available from 5 to 6:10 p.m.), Cote d’Or Double Cerise (6:10-7:20), Sin Barreras Mole Barrel-Aged Stout with fresh raspberries (7:20-9)
  • Santa Fe: 7K IPA, Getta Witness (Witbier), Pepe Loco (Dark Lager), Chicken Killer 2.0
  • Second Street: 2920 IPA, Jackplane Imperial Porter, Agua Fria Pilsner, Boneshaker Special Bitter, 2018 Anniversary Ale, 2018 Skookum (Barleywine), Barrel-Aged Skookum, Chin Gose, Kolsch, MBV Stout
  • Sidetrack: Hobo King Lager, Dark Engine Stout, Turntable IPA, Buzz Bomb, plus cask of Dark Engine with cacao nibs and coffee
  • Starr Brothers: There Gose Them Boyzz, Brown Chicken Brown Cow, Lost City of Gold (Hazy IPA), Zombies in the Manger (Biscochito Stout)
  • Truth or Consequences: Bad Santa (Spiced Winter Ale), Good Juju (American Brown Ale), Irish Red, Palomas Porter, Supernova Hazy DIPA, Truth Serum (Barleywine, in bottles)
  • Tumbleroot: Captain SMASH (Rum Barrel-Aged SMASH Barleywine), Orange Chocolate Stout (nitro), Farmhouse Saison, Pale Ale
  • Turtle Mountain: Tiempo Mañana IPL, Darker than Darkness (Schwarzbier), Stockholm Syndrome (Baltic Porter), Deep Depravity (Barleywine), plus the archived 2016 Depravity and then 2017 Infinitesimus

Those are a lot of big, malty, chewy beers, so make sure to pace yourselves. WinterBrew is always a blast of an event, whether you take the Rail Runner or drive and spend the night in Santa Fe (please do not drive up and back if you are drinking). There will be food inside, but it might not hurt to load up at Second Street Railyard next door beforehand.

See you all tomorrow night.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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From left, Wes Burbank, Elissa Ritt, Tyler King, Jeffrey Kaplan, and John Rowley.

It’s 1 p.m. on an unseasonably warm Saturday at Rowley Farmhouse Ales (RFA). Before I could even ask my first interview question, a couple variants of Perennial Sump Imperial Coffee Stout are popped, poured into mini snifter glasses, and shared around the table.

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The best interviews are the ones where beers are present.

Just about the whole RFA crew is in attendance. Sitting around the long outdoor picnic-style table out on the patio are assistant brewer Tyler King, co-owner Elissa Ritt, chef Jeffrey Kaplan, head brewer Wes Burbank, brewmaster John Rowley, and of course, what would their gatherings be without friends? It’s a familiar scene with this crowd, a bottle share amongst buddies, furnished with beers just like Sump Coffee Stout, one of the many fruits of RFA’s keen networking labors with breweries from all over America. As it is, it’s quite unlikely to find another brewery that does more out-of-state collaborations in New Mexico, and that’s not going to stop any time soon.

The day before, I let the RFA crew know I wanted to do the Look Back/Look Ahead story for 2018-19, and asked, “Who’s in?” Thankfully, everyone was obliged to join me for a chat.

2018 has been another successful year at the small gastro-brewpub tucked away just off of Cerrillos Road. One of the major highlights was the silver medal win at GABF (Great American Beer Festival) for their Berliner Weisse, Germophile.

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Yes, that’s the RFA crew way down there on the stage.

“For me, it just means we’re on the right track,” Burbank says.

King then adds, “It legitimized all of our long days, 24-hour weekends, and all the hard work getting this place up and running.”

“And, it’s nice to be recognized for all of our hard work,” Rowley finishes.

Bringing on Burbank as head brewer was a strong push for Team Rowley last year.

“He’s a fantastic brewer, brings a lot of talent to the table,” Rowley says.

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Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s eight breweries, one in Los Alamos, one in Moriarty, and one in Red River also joining the party.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

We made it through the holidays and the snow storms and all that fun. While things in Washington have not been resolved, elsewhere it is back to the usual business routine, with breweries no exception to that. La Cumbre will be releasing another canned beer. Marble will be having another guided tasting with one of its brewers. There will be live music, and other new beers on tap, and so on and so forth. It will be good to get back to normal for a change. So make sure to line up early Friday for those cans of In the Money Double Dry-Hopped IPA at La Cumbre. Make your reservations at Marble Westside to learn more about beer with Jeff Priddy tonight at 6. Then just sit back, enjoy some live tunes, and try some new beers. Hooray for the return to normalcy!

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Boxing Bear takes off with a new batch of Scotch Rocket Scotch Ale. Marble went out and smoked a märzen and named it Sympathy for the Pork Chop. Ponderosa’s Belgian Golden Strong should be on tap soon. Red Door teamed up with Beer Creek Brewing for the new Picture Rock Porter on Friday. Rio Bravo rides the hazy IPA train again with Freque Juice. Sidetrack checks in with the new Hobo King Lager and In-Crowd Pale Ale. Starr Brothers brings back There Gose Them Boyzz. Steel Bender has a double release on Thursday with Mango Dynamite and Ettu Brut IPA. Toltec goes the single-hop route with Cascade Pale Ale.

Up in Santa Fe, Rowley Farmhouse Ales adds a new version of Petit Blanche with Galaxy hops and apricots.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of January 7.

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The Southwest x Northwest Hazy IPA, a collaboration from Ex Novo and Bow and Arrow, is now on tap at the latter.

If anyone thought that this weekly feature died in the snow, well, it did not. We all just decided to enjoy our holiday stretch without writing down every beer that we consumed (well, we still have Untappd just in case our fuzzy memories need some clarity).

Anyway, keeping things rather recent, have I mentioned how much working on Saturdays can suck? This past Saturday definitely sucked, so after a quick dinner it was time to venture forth in search of beer. Reminding myself that I had been unable to visit Bow and Arrow the night before for a new beer release, I made the long drive (for me, anyway) to Sixth Street. The joint was packed inside, including a few folks in some zombie-like makeup (no idea what that was about). I found a seat at the bar and ordered the Southwest x Northwest Hazy IPA. No, really, I ordered a hazy IPA.

The beer was brewed as a collaboration between Bow and Arrow and Ex Novo Brewing, as noted in the last edition of The Week Ahead in Beer. I have had plenty of quality beers from B&A over the last year, and Ex Novo impressed me with their offerings at the original in Portland, Oregon, and those that I have been gifted in bottle or can format. It was no surprise that this beer lived up to the quality of both breweries. A lot of hazies are citrus-flavor dominant, but this also had a bitter little bite up front from some old-school piney hops. It was not too sweet, nor too tart, finding a nice balance. The mouthfeel was clean and smooth.

It went down quickly, leaving me with the chance to try another recent addition to the lineup. Buffalo Plaid Baltic Porter is one of the more flavorful examples of the style that I have tried in town. There are strong hints of dark chocolate and a little bit of coffee up front, with a smooth finish, and a fairly robust mouthfeel. I almost ordered a full pour, until I learned that Breakfast Bandit has nearly run its course. The rather infamous coffee-and-donuts stout is still a delectable beer, so I had to get some while it was still around.

Next time, however, I will indulge in some Buffalo Plaid. Bow and Arrow has come a long way over the past year, and is now firmly in my rotation of must-visit breweries. As for Ex Novo, that IPA is a good preview of what to come once the brewery in Corrales is open and ready for business.

Now to just get the damn federal government working again so things can progress.

While we wait for that miracle to happen, a couple of the ladies in the Crew ventured far and wide in search of beers to try.

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BRB employees, left to right, Justin Sapp, general manager Doug Osborn, head brewer Brandon Venaglia, and Emily Mockler-Wood.

Bathtub Row Brewing (BRB) in Los Alamos will be entering its fourth year of operation in 2019, and the business is entering a period of relative stability. To get the lowdown on where things stand with the brewery, I sat down with general manager Doug Osborn and head brewer Brandon Venaglia.

“The Tub,” as it’s affectionately referred to by many, has now been around long enough that people can’t imagine a time when it didn’t exist. It’s become a mainstay in people’s social lives on the hill. But, it’s also only been four years, which is not a lot of time in the lifespan of a business. At this point, after establishing itself and proving its business mettle, it’s clear the place will be around for many years to come. After an unusually slow start in early 2018 (which Doug said he thinks may have been industry-wide), sales have been on a record pace, up nearly 15 percent over last year.

One of the main points I took away is that BRB is at the point where the staff and Board of Directors are trying to take care of all of its financial burdens and fine-tune its processes and facilities, while at the same time beginning to think about what the next major course of action should be. The initial funding needed to open BRB was in part funded by loans provided by 56 individuals in the community. Those loans are slowly being repaid. Like many people, Doug said he doesn’t want that debt over his head for any longer than is necessary.

“It’s a five-year loan from the time we start paying it off to the time we’re actually done with it,” Doug said. “If I have my way, (it) will be done in two and a half.”

Even with the loans being repaid, there will likely be new equipment purchases in 2019. Brandon and his crew have been working like mad to keep up with demand. The original plan was to brew 350 barrels a year, but they said they’re approaching 1,000. Their most popular beer is, of course, the Hoppenheimer IPA, and they do quadruple batches of that one to keep enough on hand.

They also will be continuing to brew plenty of lagers, including a Mexican lager, so they’re planning to invest in a lagering fermenter. Additional fermenters and a serving vessel are also on the wish list. And, in addition to equipment, the area behind the bar will likely be redone to promote better server efficiency.

“We’re probably going to redesign behind the bar to make it more efficient; we have a bit of a log jam,” Doug said. “Whoever put this bar in never had any idea that we were going to do the volume that we were going to do. It was designed more for comfort, and less for speed.”

At the time of the interview, BRB had two beers available on nitro. They said they plan to use nitro with their stouts and porters, as is common, but also with other styles, as well. They were very proud of their new gas system, which allows them to extract nitrogen from the air and customize the mixtures of the gases they use. They explained that altitude can play a large role in brewing, and at 7,200 feet, BRB is one of the highest breweries in the country. Only Red River Brewing, at 8,600 feet, is higher in New Mexico.

Staffing has been mostly consistent. At least one-third of the roughly 25 people on staff have been around since the opening. Doug and Brandon spoke glowingly about Justin, a former intern and now staff member, who they call their “Young Padawan.” Ashley, the front-of-house manager, will be stepping down to take a position at the National Laboratory, and will likely be replaced by someone in-house.  Doug credits much of his success to his wonderful staff, as well as the Board of Directors that guide the ship.

Addressing industry trends, they said that high ABV brews aren’t as popular as they once were. At one point, a year or two ago, every entry on their list was over 7 percent.

“People come in here to spend several hours,” Brandon said. “They don’t come in here to get really wasted on an 11-percent beer or triple bourbon barrel stout at 16 percent. They’re intriguing, people enjoy them, but we get groups in here that want to sit here for two or three hours of conversation. More of a pub atmosphere with their kids, their dogs, their friends.”

Brandon said he is happy to take suggestions for brews and likes to just do what’s fun, but he noted that he did cave in to a recent trend and is making a hazy IPA.

Longer term, Doug said he has big ideas about investing in renewable energy and water reclamation systems. He feels that a co-op (which BRB is) has an obligation to be more community-oriented and environmentally friendly.

“We go through a ton of water,” Doug said. “There’s the photovoltaic and then the thermal solar. You can heat water up to 500 degrees with a proper thermal solar setup up on a roof, which would save us a ton of money, time, and effort. It’s not cheap. It’s expensive. But, you know, every time I drive by the food co-op coming into town, I love seeing those solar panels. I’m like, they’re doing it right.”

This is an issue that will have to be given a great deal of thought by the Board of Directors of BRB, so don’t expect anything overnight.

Also, in terms of the big picture, Board members and staff are trying to determine what the next big steps should be. Should there be a new taproom in town or in neighboring White Rock? Should they start distributing BRB beers regionally or nationally? Doug wants to make sure things are running smoothly at the current location before anything else is considered.

Events at BRB have included many concerts, notably a few by Vanilla Pop, a very popular regional band. Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham stopped by while campaigning and shared a beer and gave a speech. The NM Brewers Guild’s Stout Invitational was held back in February, and it is turning into a reliable annual event, seeing as how there will be another held in 2019.

A charity golf event for the local charity “All Individuals First” (which provides assistance to adults with special needs) raised $10,000. BRB was given an award by Big Brothers, Big Sisters for raising so much money for that organization. Speaking of awards, they won their second Business of the Year award from the local Chamber of Commerce as well.

BRB also participated in Sierra Nevada’s national fundraiser, brewing an IPA with a recipe provided by them (and with grains and hops provided by Proximity and Yakima). All proceeds (not just profits) from the sale of the Resilience IPA will go to fire relief efforts in California. This reinforces how tight-knit and supportive the brewery community is in New Mexico and nationwide.

BRB is getting into a groove. The new patio seating and fire pit have been very popular.  The beers are excellent. 2018 broke records, and with some fine-tuning in 2019, expect things to be even better.

Cheers!

— Reid

Remember when Marble shared this photo of happy brewery representatives in Washington D.C.? Yeah, gonna guess they are not too happy with the government right now.

Most of us are aware of, yet personally unaffected by, the current partial shutdown of the federal government. Leaving the politics aside, it has nonetheless made things difficult on both federal employees and those businesses and people who rely on certain federal agencies. It did not occur to any of us in the Crew how this might affect breweries until we saw a tweet by a brewer out of town who complained about the shutdown of the TTB.

The TTB (Tax and Trade Bureau) is the government agency that handles almost everything related to breweries, and many other businesses, at the federal level. It has the greatest impact on breweries that package and forthcoming breweries, which of course means it has an impact all around New Mexico. To figure out just what that impact has been, I emailed two people who have extensive knowledge of such affairs, NM Brewers Guild executive director John Gozigian and La Cumbre president/master brewer Jeff Erway.

“The shutdown affects breweries in planning with pending brewer’s notices and existing breweries with label approval applications in the pipeline,” John explained. “Brewer’s notices (federal brewers permit) and COLAs (certificates of label approval) are both issued by the TTB, which is a federal agency.”

That is not good news for breweries in planning.

“Any federal brewers notice is in limbo right now and they will be set back by this,” Jeff wrote.

It also has a negative impact on packaging breweries such as La Cumbre.

“If a beer is to be sent out of state, it needs a COLA and those are also in limbo,” Jeff wrote. “We are having to hold on shipping a few beers to AZ and CO specifically because of this shutdown.”

To sum it up: The shutdown is bad for breweries. Just like it is for everything else.

New breweries update

Originally, we were just going to lead Beer Notes with this list, but obviously events in Washington are putting all of these places on hold, to some degree. Nonetheless, here is every brewery with either a pending state small brewer license or an active one that is not yet open. Here are the breweries projected to open in the ABQ metro area in 2019. We realize there are probably more than these, but no pending license means we will not include it yet.

  • Black Snout Brewhouse (pending): We already took a tour of this new brewery located in a shopping center on the southeast corner of Menaul and Juan Tabo. The brewery had hoped to be open by the end of the month, but that seems unlikely now.
  • BLUE/Gang of Four (pending): This very small brewery is set to open on Broadway next to the Exhibit 208 gallery, just south of Gold.
  • Brew Lab 101 (pending): The next brewery to open in Rio Rancho is moving along. Located on Southern near Unser, its owner has already contacted us and we are in the process of setting up our first visit/interview.
  • Brewstillery (active): We still have no info about this brewery/distillery combo that is set to open somewhere in the 87106 zip code (physical addresses are not provided beyond zip codes, FYI), or how it relates to the next entry.
  • Differential (pending): Listed as owned by Brewstillery, we do not know how this entry, located in the same zip code, differs from the other.
  • Colonia/San Mateo Beer Co. (pending): It appears as though this new brewery will move into the current Bosque Brewing location on San Mateo when that is relocated to the forthcoming Open Space Project. In other words, it seems to be a long ways off.
  • Ex Novo Brewing (pending): We just toured this forthcoming brewery in Corrales.
  • Looking Glass Spirits & Long Lost Brewing (pending): The newest addition to the list, we have been contacted by one of the owners and are working on setting up an interview time. It will be located somewhere in the downtown area.

Red River was not the last new brewery to open in the outskirts of New Mexico in 2018, and more are on the way in 2019.

2018 saw a lot of new breweries open up across the state, well outside the Albuquerque/Santa Fe corridor. Among the many were Blu Dragonfly in Cimarron, Bonito Valley in Lincoln, Cloudcroft Brewing, Hopscotch Brewing in Artesia, Red River Brewing, and Second Alarm Brewhouse in Jemez Springs. There are still a few more coming down the pipeline.

  • B3-BBQ, Burgers and Beer (pending): This Las Vegas-based restaurant is already open. We do not know if its owners plan to actually brew beer, or if they are going to use the license to keep guest taps flowing.
  • 575 Brewing (pending): Alamogordo is getting its first brewery in many years, but we do not know the exact location or its current progress.
  • Icebox Brewing (active): The newest Las Cruces brewery will be located on Picacho Avenue, east of Picacho Peak Brewing and basically due west of High Desert. No opening date has been announced.
  • Leaf & Hive (active): The latest addition to the Santa Fe scene has a soft opening scheduled for this Saturday.
  • Public House 28 (pending): We know nothing beyond the name for this brewery in Anthony, on the Texas border.
  • Rail Brewery (pending): This Santa Fe project for the Railyards area has been pending for a long time now. We do not know its status.
  • Santa Fe Spirits (pending): The existing distillery is either going to start making beer, or it just wants to be able to sell beer.

New taprooms update

Yes, 2018 was basically the year of the off-site taproom, but there are still more on the way. Someday, every commercial space in the state will be a taproom. (Hey, we can dream, right?) All of these are pending licenses.

  • Boxing Bear on Central: We already wrote about the brewery taking over the former 5 Star Burgers space on West Central.
  • Desert Valley: There are two pending licenses for DV taprooms, one located in the 87110 zip code, and the other in 87111. It is certainly ambitious, though not unprecedented, to open two taprooms at once.
  • Enchanted Circle ABQ: The Angel Fire-based brewery is opening a taproom in the shopping center on the northwest corner of San Mateo and Osuna.
  • Nexus Blue Smokehouse and Taproom: The long-awaited BBQ version of Nexus is getting closer to finally opening on Broadway south of Cesar Chavez. We will get more details in our forthcoming Look Back/Look Ahead Series on Nexus.
  • Quarter Celtic on Juan Tabo: We already wrote about the first off-site location, which will be on the west side of the road between Indian School and Menaul.
  • Red Door Clovis: Once again, we already wrote about the first bowling alley-based taproom, which will also be the first craft beer-specific place in the eastern town.
  • Starr Brothers Alehouse: This one has been pending for quite a while now, so we do not know if it is still happening or not. If it does, it will be somewhere near UNM.
  • Tall Pines Beer and Wine Garden Alamogordo: The Ruidoso-based small brewery is opening a second location down the mountain.

Got info on any of these pending breweries or taprooms, or any we missed? Drop us a line at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

A good deed note

Tractor has named the four nonprofits for its annual Beer for a Better Burque (BBB) program. The New Mexico Gay Men’s Chorus, New Mexico Horse Rescue at Walkin N Circles Ranch, Three Sisters Kitchen, and Albuquerque Area Firefighters Random Acts will be the beneficiaries for 2019. There will be special BBB nights on Tuesdays throughout the year where patrons can donate, plus special quarterly beer releases for each nonprofit sees $1 donated per pint, and other special themed events. You can donate at all four Tractor locations.

Good on ya, Tractor.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister