Archive for March, 2019

The lights at the original Bosque location are turning off this weekend, but not before a big party takes place.

The end is nigh for the Bosque San Mateo taproom. A Farewell Fiesta is scheduled for this Saturday to say good-bye to the original location, and rather than mourn its passing, the Crew and some of the staff got together to share memories, stories, and more.

“We just want it to be a celebration,” said director of culture and engagement Jessica Griego. “Just give one final thank you, but not (totally) final, to everyone who’s supported us over the last six-and-a-half years. We don’t have any of our current co-workers scheduled that day so that they can enjoy themselves. We’re (the owners) going to be serving beers.”

First, we wanted to make sure everyone has all the info about the event itself, so events coordinator Ezekiel “Zeke” Gomez joined the staff interview.

“We really just wanted to throw a big party to say good-bye,” Zeke said. “That taproom has so many memories. So many people have come from that taproom. I started at that taproom.”

The fiesta starts at 3 p.m. and runs until 9. Tickets cost $10 and can be purchased online or at the door, and Zeke promised that there will be plenty of tickets held back for door sales. The entire parking lot will be fenced in, so the Crew recommends that you take an Uber or Lyft to this one, as there will also be the Food Truck Festival at the Balloon Fiesta grounds nearby, which could create a bit of a traffic snarl on Alameda.

(more…)

54257156_2311371162218357_7970328767199444992_o

This Saturday, Blue Corn Brewery’s annual Cask Festival is back for a third round. Featuring food specials and beer from six of the Santa Fe area breweries, as well as a couple from our friends to the north, this event will once again give beer lovers plenty to sample and enjoy.

This year the breweries in attendance include host Blue Corn Brewery, Chili Line Brewing, Rowley Farmhouse Ales, Santa Fe Brewing, Second Street Brewery, Tumbleroot Brewery & Distillery, Bathtub Row Brewing Co-op, and Red River Brewing.

Without further ado, here is the beer list.

  • Blue Corn: Tamarind Sour
  • Chili Line: Tropical Fruit Stout with coconut, mango, and passion fruit
  • Rowley Farmhouse Ales: Oyster Stout with banana
  • Santa Fe Brewing: Lotus IPA
  • Second Street: Bonebreaker ESB
  • Tumbleroot: Dry Irish Stout
  • Bathtub Row: Secret
  • Red River: Back 40 Farmhouse Ale
01066b4da1de0e00bb38cc9f85669b738a55f83c5e

Last year’s event was a smashing success.

Blue Corn’s excellent chef, Josh Ortiz, has created a special menu of shareable items available to pair with the varying styles of beers. You can expect jumbo shrimp & grits, sautéed mushroom caps, bacon poutine fries, and creole jambalaya, as well as the rest of the available Blue Corn menu.

(more…)

The members of the New Mexico chapter of the Pink Boots Society have a beer ready for all to enjoy. (Photo courtesy of Bosque Brewing)

The result of a recent gathering of the most talented women in New Mexico craft beer is set to go on tap this weekend. Bossy Hazy Guava IPA is the latest creation of the local chapter of the Pink Boots Society, brewed this time around at Bosque North back on International Women’s Day (March 8).

I caught up with Bosque director of culture and engagement Jessica Griego in person and Santa Fe Brewing lab director Monica Mondragon on email to learn more about the importance of this annual brew.

“We’re excited to release this beer,” Jessica said. “Monica from Santa Fe, our chapter lead, reached out to us this year to host. John (Bullard) was super excited to do that, especially with Bosque North having the space and the ability to do some fun things, make it really educational this year. John was on board as soon as I asked him.”

The recipe for Bossy (7.4% ABV) was created by one Bosque employee, with other members of the chapter then joining in for the actual brew day.

“What’s super exciting about this beer, it’s called Bossy, made by Mercedes (Donio), who’s our QA/QC lab tech,” Jessica said. “She actually is responsible for the entire recipe, the name, all of which is exciting to have the sole female on our brewing team get to do that. She led that charge and we all followed suit. We brewed it on International Women’s Day, which was great that that timing worked out.”

(more…)

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 seven 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.

OK, remember when we said that Marble’s Stout Americano was the last packaged dark beer release of the year until fall? Well, happily, we were wrong, as this Saturday our friends at Red Door are releasing Mail Order Russian Imperial Stout. There will be 22-ounce bottles of this 9-percent ABV stout, aged in oak barrels, available at the brewery on Candelaria, with a smaller number for sale at the new Clovis taproom. All three Red Door locations will also have a non-barrel-aged version of the stout on tap. Sidedoor Kitchen will have breakfast ready for those brave souls who want to show up at 7 a.m. There will also be special T-shirts for sale. Just in case we don’t wake up early, please try not to buy up the supply before the mostly nocturnal Crew shambles on down there.

Another event that we wanted to highlight is Beer on Beer, a special beer dinner taking place at Tractor Wells Park on Saturday at 6 p.m. The event benefits Three Sisters Kitchen and costs $40 for a four-course meal where each of the dishes is made with a specific Tractor beer, and then served with a different, but still complementary, beer. First up is a cheese course made with Field Beer and paired with Acreage IPA, followed by a salad made with Berry Cider and paired with Pilsner 15, a lamb dish made with Scotcholate and paired with Farmer’s Tan Red Ale, and a chocolate dessert made with Luna de los Muertos Russian Imperial Stout paired with Milk Mustachio Stout. There are only 25 seats available, so go here to get tickets.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bosque is rolling out beers from the minds of its non-brewing staff, starting with Brewer’s Bruises, a blueberry lavender gose. Canteen brings back Laid Back Lager on Thursday, just in time for baseball’s Opening Day (there will also be $1 hot dogs). Marble added Mavbear with brett, a collaboration with Boxing Bear, and From the Wood Saison. Nexus lands a fresh batch of Bird of Prey IPA. Ponderosa, at last, has Coco Puffs Baltic Porter on tap. Starr Brothers rolls out Altonymous, an altbier. Steel Bender brings back a summer favorite from last year, Schnitz N Giggle Dortmunder Lager, on Thursday and Bossy Guava Hazy IPA on Friday, the special collaboration for the New Mexico chapter of the Pink Boots Society. Toltec taps the NM Brewers Guild collaboration Gracias Greg, a Mexican lager.

Up in Santa Fe, things are quiet for the moment. Over in Los Alamos, Bathtub Row added Irish Export Stout on nitro.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of March 25.

(more…)

Red Door head brewer Matt Meier has been kept plenty busy with canning Vanilla Cream Ale, along with everything else at the brewery and beyond.

Red Door head brewer Matt Meier has been a busy man of late. Not only has his brewery started canning one of its most popular beers, Vanilla Cream Ale, but it also opened a new taproom in Clovis, and on top of all that work, he and his wife welcomed their first baby into the world.

Amazingly, Matt was not sound asleep when I stopped by the main Red Door location on Candelaria last week for an interview for our annual Look Back/Look Ahead Series.

“Actually, this month marks a full calendar year since I’ve been at Red Door,” Matt said. “It was awesome. I had a great time. I felt we grew a lot. Obviously, signing on with a distributor (Premier) last year that was able to take us statewide. Our taprooms have seen sustained growth in the last year, and now with the most recent opening in Clovis … within a year now, not to mention cans, cans was huge, and then (this Saturday) we’re going to be releasing Mail Order Russian Imperial Stout in bottles.”

Matt paused to take a breath before continuing.

“Stuff like that we couldn’t have dreamed of a year ago,” he said. “We’ve got two new tanks in. We’re able to (brew) two batches a day now. Jason Larson, the assistant brewer, he’s moved into more of an assistant brewer role instead of just a cellarman. We’re just trying to put out some volume now. Last year was the first year we did over 1,000 barrels, which I thought was pretty cool to do (in my) first year.”

An actual hot liquor tank makes Matt a happy brewer.

As Matt noted, it all starts in the brewery, which saw its first major new pieces of equipment arrive in some time.

“We didn’t have a hot liquor tank before,” he said. “It was heating up all the day’s water in the kettle and sending it off to an empty fermenter and then brewing with that. In order to do two batches a day, we’d have to entirely clean out the kettle after the first batch, rinse it out and get it nice and clean, and then fill it back up with cold water, wait for that to heat, and start all over again. That wasn’t really ideal. Now that we’ve got a hot liquor tank we’re able to stagger our batches where the first batch goes into the kettle and the second batch gets smashed in. It’s stuff that most of the production breweries have been doing for a while now. That’s huge for us.”

Red Door also purchased a new 30-barrel bright tank, and old 30-barrel fermenter used as a temporary hot liquor tank can now be used for beer. Matt said those two tanks, specifically, are used for the production of Vanilla Cream Ale for cans. The old 15-barrel fermenters and brights handle the beer for kegging.

Moving into packaging for the first time has been an up-and-down experience so far for Red Door, but more on the positive side.

“The reception has been great, (but) it’s not without any headaches,” Matt said. “For a little while there there were a couple cans that were mis-seemed that didn’t get caught on the canning line. Tracking those down and going back through every sign can that we did to make sure it doesn’t go out to market, that’s been a fun headache. But, that’s just growing pains, and after a first run with a canning line we’re unfamiliar with and they’re unfamiliar with us, those things are going to happen. I shouldn’t say we’re surprised, it was just a little bit of a headache.”

The biggest of the fermenters is responsible for getting that Vanilla Cream Ale ready for canning.

Matt said the next canning run, which is done by the folks at Mother Road Mobile Canning, will take place April 8, with hopefully one more run after that at the end of April. Each run will feature 200 to 300 cases.

“Our distributor originally allotted only 30 accounts based on the first 200 cases that we sold them, just because they didn’t know what we could do,” Matt said. “Now with the second batch coming through we can say all right, take that list of 30 and expand it to 60, slowly start creeping cans out into the market.”

Of course, with any accomplishment, be it cans or elsewhere in the brewery, there comes the inevitable question of what is next. Matt said there are no current plans to add a second canned offering anytime soon.

“That’s definitely down the line,” he said. “At some point this year I’m sure we’ll have a conversation about maybe a couple more fermenters and another bright tank, but those thoughts are just dreams right now. If we’re going to go with another style of beer in a can, the next one we’ll probably lean towards is our Irish Red. To get to that point, though, we want to get real comfortable with what we’re doing with Vanilla and keep up with the demand for Vanilla before we start with another brand out in cans.”

Red Door owner Matt Biggs, second from left, and his staff celebrated the grand opening of the Clovis taproom this weekend. (Photo courtesy of Red Door)

Packaging has certainly been a big focus of late in the brewery, but outside of town, Red Door has been revving up its latest taproom. This one, however, is not in Albuquerque, but in far-off Clovis. Located inside a bowling alley, the taproom officially held its grand opening over the weekend, after our interview.

“Just the reception we got from announcing we were going to open a taproom and then soft opening weekend, I think it’s a great decision of ours to move down to a market that doesn’t have a craft scene, but it’s definitely thirsty for one,” Matt said.

Once upon a time I met some Air Force personnel in Oklahoma who had previously served in New Mexico. Those who served at Cannon AFB, next to Clovis, complained that they had next to no craft beer options compared to their compatriots who were stationed at Kirtland. That crowd alone should keep Red Door busy, plus the other options in town are fairly limited to a handful of restaurants with beer-and-wine licenses, and a few bars that can charge a cover anytime they feel like it. Throw in the fact that Red Door will stay open until 11 p.m., while most others close at 10, and the taproom should be plenty busy.

“They’re on an island,” Matt said. “Luckily, we have a ton of space to work with down there. There’s a second walk-in cooler that’s at our disposable, so it can actually be an off-site warehouse cooler for me if I needed it to be. So them running low on beer isn’t going to be a hassle and us making more beer and trying to find a place in our cooler to store it isn’t going to be that big of an issue, at least for the foreseeable future.”

Red Door owner Matt Biggs also chimed in after arriving late with an apology for misreading the time.

“It was an experiment, (so) we’ve got to wait to see how it goes and see what the challenges of going out to a really remote location are,” he said. “We’ve already run into a few of them.”

More Red Door kegs could be headed to Clovis after the grand opening was a smashing success.

Based on a couple of Facebook posts after the grand opening was finished, it appears Red Door ran low on some unspecified supplies in Clovis, though they assured the new fans all is well and there is still beer available. It will just mark another change in what has been a constant stream of changes for the brewery since it opened years ago.

“We haven’t had a year where we didn’t have a bunch of big changes, either publicized or not,” Matt Biggs said. “This is sort of par for the course for us. We’re waiting for the year where we don’t have a ton of changes, and then I’ll be happy about that.

“It’s been going fine. Brewing is a crazy industry right now with all the taprooms and stuff. Breweries opening and closing, all that stuff. I think it’s going to get crazier. I think 2019 is going to be a huge year for probably less openings and more closings. But, I guess we’ll see how that shakes out, see who’s the competition at the end of the year.”

Well, all of us in the Crew will try to remain optimistic, but we still wish everyone in the ever-growing, ever-evolving industry plenty of luck. A big thanks to Matt and Matt for the interview. Hopefully they both get some rest after this past weekend.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Beer Creek co-owner Rich Headley is one of the most enthusiastic, upbeat persons you will meet in the industry.

Seeing as how it had been a while, last summer to be exact, that anyone from the Crew visited Beer Creek Brewing, I headed out to the charming little stop on Highway 14 to catch up with co-owner Rich Headley on a recent rainy afternoon.

Rich was his usual boisterous self when I arrived an hour before regular opening hours. He certainly has reasons to be in a good mood, not the least of which was the arrival of the 5-barrel brewhouse and full equipment in recent weeks (brought up from Arizona during one of our recent snowstorms, no less). Up until now, Beer Creek has lived off a beer-and-wine license, though the staff has collaborated on three beers with other area breweries, all of which are currently on tap.

Before tasting those, Rich offered me a tour, since a lot had changed since Franz Solo and I visited long ago, shortly after Rich and his partners had taken over the property.

(more…)

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 seven 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 back-to-back beer dinners at Turtle Mountain this Friday are sold out, but we still wanted to take the lede of this here feature to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Rio Rancho institution. With Kellys pulling the plug on its brewing operations, TMBC is now the second oldest brewery in the Albuquerque metro area after Canteen/Il Vicino (which itself turns 25 this year). That staying power for TMBC is rather remarkable, especially in Rio Rancho, where very few local restaurants last even a few years, much less two decades. TMBC is coming off a banner year, including its first gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival, so in many ways this week’s celebration is a fitting cap to this recent stretch of success. Even if you were not lucky enough to get a dinner spot Friday, you can still head out to the brewery this weekend for some of the new Table Manners, a session Brut IPA, and of course the behemoth DoppelEquis Steinundator. Raise ’em high to owner Nico Ortiz, head brewer Mick Hahn, and the entire TMBC staff. Happy anniversary, one and all!

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bombs Away flies in with Spring Lager, Demolition Lager, and version four of Hazy Chain DIPA. Bosque went ahead and put Fruity Pebbles cereal in a hazy IPA and named it Rubble Trouble. Bow & Arrow taps Comet Dust Hazy IPA on Friday. Canteen has Boysenberry Wheat, Munich Dunkel, Grapefruit Exodus, and a new Social Capital with blackberry and ginger. Kaktus kicks up some Irish Red, Czech Pilsner, and Longhair London Porter. La Cumbre serves up An Extra Slice of Hefen, plus All In DIPA comes out in cans Friday. Marble feels the faith with Abbey Brett and Abbey Amber, plus a limited amount of Cherry Brune is back at the downtown taproom. Nexus gets into the season with Irish Red. Red Door has Blueberry Pie Berliner for dessert, plus Riley’s Switch, a light lager, debuts at the new Clovis taproom that opens this week. Sidetrack has more Co-Mo IPA, while also introducing the new Wheat’s Up. Starr Brothers brings back the Green Manalishi. Steel Bender hops to it with Smith Hopper Extra Pale Ale with Cascade. Tractor unveils a triple cider release on draft and in cans with Berry Cider, Rosé Cider, and Blood Orange Cider. Turtle Mountain has also added Count Hellesarius and Snakedriver Dry Irish Stout.

Up in Santa Fe, Blue Corn switches hops as Gatekeeper IPA with Rakau debuts. Tumbleroot has several new options including Dortmunder Lager, Sunset Pale Ale, Gose, TBR (Light Lager), and Irish Stout on nitro, plus new bottles of Sour Brown and Honey Double IPA.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of March 18.

(more…)

Santa Fe Dining vice president Justin Svetnicka is spearheading the latest makeover at Kellys Pub, which includes emphasizing a wide selection of craft canned beers.

At last, we have clarity regarding the future of Kellys Brew Pub and the former Chama River Brewing. After receiving some mixed messages from some of the staff at parent company Santa Fe Dining, I was invited to sit down with SFD vice president Justin Svetnicka late last week to clear up the entire matter.

“As of (March) 8 all brewing operations were suspended at Chama River,” he said. “Kellys is staying open. The idea was with the Chama building on the market for lease, we did not want to keep the brewery running when we have some interest. We want it to be ready for an occupant to move in quickly.”

As we detailed last year, even though the restaurant part of Chama River had shut down, most of the beer brewed for Kellys was made with the Chama brewhouse by SFD director of brewing operations Andrew Krosche.

“Kellys was a brewing institution in Albuquerque, one of the first local craft establishments,” Justin said. “Unfortunately, it did not keep up with the trends and technology.”

Kellys was originally founded by Dennis Bonfontaine and Paul Perna just down the street in 1997, occupying the building that was most recently the Korean BBQ House. It moved into its current location in April 2000 on the southwest corner of Central and Wellesley. Bonfontaine would continue to own the brewpub, popular for its large patio, up until 2016.

“When (Santa Fe Dining) took over in 2016, we tried to get the craft brew at Kellys on par with this market,” Justin said. “With Andrew at the helm, and Dan (Cavin) helping him out here, we felt the beer got much better. Unfortunately, the public didn’t seem to take notice.”

Kellys was imperiled by the combination of years of bad reviews and word of mouth, coupled with an ineffective push by Santa Fe Dining on social media and other outlets to simply explain that ownership had changed. Even to this day in 2019, many people tell members of the Crew that they had no idea Kellys had ever been sold and/or upgraded its beers, using many of the classic Chama recipes such as Sleeping Dog Stout.

“Kellys for many years wasn’t up to the standards of the other breweries in Albuquerque,” Justin said. “We fought that reputation for years, but it got to the point where the craft beer market surpassed it and we couldn’t catch up.”

At this point, the decision was made to cease brewing operations, as the house beers just were not selling. As an example, when I went to fill a growler of Sleeping Dog for the Crew’s annual Stout Challenge on Super Bowl weekend, the bartender said it was the first growler she had filled in several months of working at Kellys, and that customers rarely ordered one of the house beers.

Among Albuquerque breweries, Kellys was the second oldest behind Canteen/Il Vicino, which opened up the street in 1994. Chama River had actually been the third oldest, opening in 1999 as Blue Corn Albuquerque before taking on the Chama moniker in 2005. Overall, there are now just a handful of breweries that opened in New Mexico before 2000 that are still operational — Santa Fe Brewing (1988), Eske’s Brew Pub (1992), Canteen/Il Vicino, High Desert (1996), Second Street (1996), Sierra Blanca (1996), Blue Corn (1997), Tractor (1999), and Turtle Mountain (1999).

Kellys will remain open, now rebranded slightly as Kellys Pub, thanks to the fact it does have a full liquor license. Justin said that Santa Fe Dining will be making a renewed push to highlight all of the changes, including some that are still to come.

“We still want to try to embrace the craft beer culture,” he said. “We have been able to bring in other breweries’ beer in here, but now we want to take it a step further. We feel we have a great cross section of of beer styles and brands, and coupling that with a strong food menu. We have two brand-new chefs who will revamp the food program.”

On the beer side of things, Kellys will de-emphasize draft beer and instead focus on carrying a wide variety of craft beers in cans. There will be around 36 to 44 different cans available at most times.

“We think that works well for our layout here,” Justin said.

Justin also said that Kellys will be promoted more heavily online; at the start of March, the most recent Facebook post on the Kellys page was from early December. That has changed quickly with a more aggressive social media campaign, something that Justin agreed should have been done back in 2016.

“That’s absolutely a big part of it,” he said. “We’re going to make a big push, especially with social media.”

Other new features at Kellys include a pool table and shuffleboard, with a makeover also coming soon to the popular patio outside.

As for Blue Corn Brewery in Santa Fe, the lone SFD brewery left, there is no need to worry.

“We believe in Paul (Mallory),” Justin said of Blue Corn’s head brewer. “We really want to focus our brewing resources on Blue Corn.”

There will still be a handful of beer taps at Kellys, and some of those will be Blue Corn beers, such as the Road Runner IPA.

As for the brewing equipment from Kellys and Chama River, Justin said there are no current plans to sell any of it. A few pieces will head to Blue Corn, such as a “fermenter or two,” Justin said, but the rest will be placed into storage.

In conclusion, it is both a sad ending and (hopefully) a bright new beginning for Kellys. It was a brewing institution once upon a time, a great place to hang out on weekend night, doing as much people watching as drinking and eating on the patio. For many of us, it was the first local beer we ever had in Albuquerque; it was for me, drinking an imperial stout there after the UNM-Arizona basketball game in January 1999. If we could, we would raise one final pint of Sleeping Dog, our 2016 Stout Challenge winner, and pay final homage to Kellys, Chama River, and all the memories we had at both brewpubs.

Thank you to Justin for the interview, and Nicole Tipton for setting it up.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

All supporters of craft beer owe a huge thank you to SB413 sponsors Rep. Javier Martinez and Senator Mimi Stewart.

Senate Bill 413 is one of many sitting on the desk of New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham after the completion of the 2019 Legislative Session. It is, however, the one that will specifically affect our craft breweries, in a very good way, if it obtains her signature.

I sat down with Tractor Brewing co-owner/president Skye Devore, who spearheaded the effort on behalf of the New Mexico Brewers Guild, on Friday morning to go over what SB413 will mean to breweries if it is passed into law. The bill is pretty much as originally described by outgoing executive director John Gozigian, combining everything our breweries had hoped for into one bill in this legislative session. It passed the Senate by a 36-2 margin and the House by a 54-10 margin.

“I’m really proud of this because I feel like it has something in there for everyone in our membership,” Skye said. “It’s not a bill for the big breweries, or something that will just benefit the small ones. It had widespread support throughout our organization. I don’t think I got a single person saying I have a problem with any piece of this bill. And, that’s true across beer, cider, and spirits. We really all came together.”

Here is everything in the bill, summed up:

(more…)

01d2d0b427b27413ad538cc2d50ab3520f83a21d45

Brewer/owner John Masterson has built quite the impressive brewery in Truth or Consequences.

It’s not often that I get a chance to make it southward these days with a full work schedule taking up most of my time. But, as I still actively try to get out and see as much of New Mexico as I can, I recently found myself in the lower regions of our beautiful state visiting White Sands, passing through the Organ Mountains, and heading back up through Truth or Consequences.

As it turns out, I had just heard from a buddy who had made the trip out to Truth or Consequences for a dip at the Riverbend Hot Springs, that the brewery in town was making some excellent beer.

The Crew had previously done a “coming soon,” story on T or C Brewing Co., back in 2017, and since I was going to be in the area, it seemed like a great opportunity to do a follow-up/Look Back/Look Ahead Series story, but more importantly I wanted to find out if my buddy was right about the quality of the beer.

0102375443f58cb0f6755e06eb5fa579bd279b55b0

From Stoutmeister: “The exterior signage is much improved since my visit in March 2018.”

We pulled into Truth or Consequences on a blustery, gray Sunday afternoon. Our poor pitbull mix, Memphis, was pretty irritated from being cooped up in the car all morning, so we took him for a walk around the aged city blocks of downtown T or C. At first glance, the scene appeared very similar to many other downtown districts in small-town New Mexico — large brick facades, old storefronts, long abandoned to time and wear. But, T or C was anything but abandoned. Upon closer inspection, there were vibrant colors in every window, signs outside each shop, shopkeepers beckoning you to come in and take a look at their wares from across the street, and bemused visitors just like myself walking around, window shopping, and taking it all in. To twist a turn of phrase, the lights were on, and someone was definitely home.

(more…)