Twenty years ago, Tractor Brewing came to life in the Village of Los Lunas. Five years ago, it left the village behind, moving all of its brewing operations to Albuquerque. Later in 2019, it will move back to Valencia County in the form of its fourth offsite taproom.
To get a better read on this version of you can go home again, I sat down with Tractor president/co-owner Skye Devore. Her brewery already has three offsite taprooms in Albuquerque — Nob Hill, Four Hills, Westside — but the opportunity to add another was too good to pass up.
“Because we wanted to do another something, and we feel like Albuquerque has got a lot of Tractor right now,” Skye said. “We thought it would be a good idea for something not in Albuquerque, but I don’t want to drive too far, so Los Lunas seems perfect. There’s a lot going on there economically right now.
“I remember when we were there before, it used to be so hard to convince anybody to drink craft. Now it’s just not like that anymore. Now it’s a great place to be.”
The brewery will be located off Main Street, not far from the Facebook Data Center.
“The cost of things have gone up, for sure, because of all the construction down there,” Skye said. “The water costs are way more than up here. That won’t be much of a factor. Then we came across a really great opportunity for a space. It’s at the edge of where Los Lunas is. It helps bring down some of the costs since it’s not in the city center.
“But, from coming here, we know how to drive traffic to our space. There’s a lot of nearby industrial, so I figure we’ll have a pretty good happy hour crowd. Then we get to do fun stuff at night where maybe nobody is watching.”
This will be the second Tractor location to feature its Troubled Minds Distilling brand of spirits, in addition to serving beer and cider. It will also be the first taproom to make use of one of Tractor’s three winegrower offsite licenses, which does leave the door open for additional taprooms down the line.
“It gets really hard, because you get so used to opening a new place, and you have so many ideas,” Skye said. “It’s strange, because when we’re not doing something new, I feel there’s this missing thing. And so, I wanted to go a little bit more rural, but the (thought of a long) drive and with my kids, I just can’t.
“There’s always (future) options. It’s definitely because you want to do fun things and have more spaces. But, I think at the point where I started to feel super disconnected from the location and the staff, then it’s time to stop.”
The layout of this taproom will be fairly similar to its predecessors, including a covered patio outside.
“It will be kind of off to the side of the building, because we’re in the first section of a very large building,” Skye said. “We’ll be closer to the road with a covered patio. We got the cover set to go before so we don’t have to worry about that later.”
Skye noted that with every taproom, Tractor has learned more and more about the process. Still, this process will be a little different from what the brewery has experienced in Albuquerque.
“It’s actually really interesting, we’re not dealing with a traditional developer, so we’re not sure entirely sure what pace they’re going to be on,” she said. “The plumbing has been put in before the foundation was poured. Now the building is going up. I get calls like what kind of doors do you want. It’s not something that I’m used to.”
Then there is the local government, which operates differently as well.
“The Village takes a little longer to do licensing than Albuquerque does,” Skye said. “It takes the entire village council, they don’t just have a hearing officer. I feel like that could be a little bit longer of a process. In my ideal world, we would open in July or August, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen.”
Whenever this Tractor taproom opens, it will bring local craft beer back to Los Lunas for the first time in five years. (EDIT: This article originally neglected to mention Hub City Brewing in Belen, which is also located in Valencia County.) There are more than 15,000 people in Los Lunas, and 75,000-plus in the county, making it one of the largest untapped markets in the state. Good luck to Tractor in helping out those thirsty folks, and thanks again to Skye for the interview and advance notice of this news.