Archive for February 26, 2019

The little brewery that could has become a popular destination in Southeast Albuquerque.

The great neighborhood pub experiment is rolling along in several areas of Albuquerque, perhaps most notably at 529 Adams St. NE, where High and Dry Brewing has gained a loyal following in just one year of operation. While operating the smallest brewing system (1 barrel) in town, brewer/owner Andrew Kalemba and his staff have managed to nonetheless make a name for themselves in a crowded craft beer scene.

I caught up with Andrew on Monday afternoon at the brewery, where he was still hard at work even though it was closed to customers, for our annual Look Back/Look Ahead Series.

“2018, it went by fast, that’s for sure,” Andrew said. “We can’t complain. We have what I’d like to call consistent business all year. The neighborhood really showed up and supported us. The bottom line is we hit our year one business case, which is a fantastic thing to celebrate. I’m not sure I got to sit down and enjoy it during the birthday weekend, but that was an absolutely awesome milestone for us to be able to do that in the first year.”

Andrew moved to Albuquerque from Austin, which is filled with small breweries that serve as popular gathering spots in the midst of residential neighborhoods. He took that inspiration into building High and Dry, taking over a former tattoo parlor space just off Lomas Boulevard. It has worked out mostly as planned so far, with plenty of people walking over from their homes, or making a short drive.

“There’s butts in seats, and that’s awesome,” Andrew said. “What’s nice, too, even at our anniversary (party), we still have new people coming in and discovering it, even people who live in the neighborhood. That’s kind of flattering. We kind of like being that. We also have people walking in and hitting on a lot of the things you said. It’s the neighborhood spot, it’s the neighborhood’s living room. Come mosey on over here and hang out. That’s resonating with people and people are getting it without us having to beat the idea into everyone’s head.”

Of course, with the development of such a strong customer base, it also means Andrew has to work hard to keep the beers flowing out of his 1-barrel brewhouse.

“I think the last time we talked I was right in the thick of chaos, when we had some product recalls, and spilled five barrels down the drain, and then we also figured out how to break the sewer line,” he said. “It was rough for a while. Obviously, the guest taps and the collaboration model is really important to sustaining that. One of the awesome things about New Mexico is we have reciprocity, and that’s always been key to our (business) model.”

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