It is the same story, but different. A new brewery seeks to open in Albuquerque. It optimistically targets a specific event-filled weekend as when it wants to open. Then it learns the hard way that the permitting and regulatory process involving the City of Albuquerque is a grueling process that takes far longer than it ever could have imagined. Throw in some unreliable subcontractors, and the process has dragged on far longer than was planned.
Thankfully for Black Snout Brewhouse, the end of the long road is seemingly in sight, more than three months after co-owner Josh James had hoped to open in time for the Super Bowl.
“I can go on and on about the City,” Josh said. “I’m sure you’ve talked to everyone (in the past). Between plumbers and between the City we’ve had like a three-or-four-month delay. It’s been wild, and they don’t care.”
After covering the local craft beer scene for more than seven years, all of us in the Crew have heard plenty of tales of woe throughout the process of getting a brewery open. Still, there are always new head-scratching moments.
One example for Black Snout has been the partial wall around the east and south sides of the brewing area. Josh had wanted customers to be able to look into the brewery and see work being done. While that will still be the case, the City said they had to put a barrier between the brewery and the path to the bathrooms at the back east side of the space. An engineer himself, Josh figured out what type of what to put up, and then had it installed, only for that first wall to be rejected by an inspector. After the requested changes were made, they were told by a different inspector that the wall was not reinforced enough, and had to redo it again.
“There’s been resistance around every corner,” Josh said. “We failed one of our plumbing inspections because one of our sinks wasn’t level. Really? I asked if he would wait a minute while I got under the sink and he wouldn’t. He just wrote the corrections down and said call me back. The City of Albuquerque is a business, too. I had to call him back and pay the $47 for another inspection so he could tell me that my sink was level.”
Ultimately, though, the brewery has overcome all of the obstacles set in its path.
“I don’t want to raise a stink, I just want to open,” Josh said. “This is a huge issue for me. Every month that goes by I have to pay a lease. This is my life savings.”
All the remains now is a final fire inspection, largely in regards to the sprinklers that were installed by the property owner at 11500 Menaul NE, a shopping center on the southeast corner of the intersection with Juan Tabo. After that, Josh said he just needs to the Certificate of Occupancy, and after one final major cleanup, the neighborhood pub will be ready to go.
Brewer Josh Olivas, formerly of La Cumbre, was hard at work during our visit on the small pilot 1-barrel brewhouse. Josh James said it will suffice for now, but the future plan is to buy a 3.5- or 5-barrel brewhouse once business starts to ramp up.
In the meantime, Black Snout will open with three core beers, with future plans to add three rotating styles. All of the beers will have sports-themed names.
“We’ve partnered up with Jackson MMA, and they were super excited, so we’re doing Half Guard Hefe,” Josh said. “And then, we’re doing our Triple Double Hazy Pale Ale, a basketball reference.
“Then once we open, we’re going to have some guest taps. We’ll probably open with three other taps, so we’ll have six taps total. Then we’ll see what people are thirsty for.”
The third beer will be South Paw Porter, which Josh messaged us about later, since during the interview he could not recall what the final name was that he and his wife/co-owner Natasha had decided upon.
The two Joshes will be working on a series of SMASH beers as well, from which other core styles could emerge, depending on the tastes of their customers, which Josh James said he expects mainly to come from around the neighborhood.
Sticking with the sports bar theme, there are already different team flags flying from the ceiling. Josh said they will start out with six large TVs, with more on order as needed. Black Snout has already partnered up with Jackson MMA, as Josh mentioned, and is also working with a lot of other local sports-related organizations.
“We’re trying to put money back into New Mexico,” Josh said. “There’s a lot of cool things happening in this state.”
The long-term goal is still to expand into the space next door that is currently occupied by a small furniture store, which Josh explained to us during our first visit back in October. For now, being a neighborhood pub is good enough to start.
“That was the thing I told Josh, how we do is how we do, and then we’ll get a feel for it,” Josh said. “We’re not going to be making massive amounts of money, and we’re not going to be making massive amounts of beer. Where we’re going to be making our money is the neighbors coming in and saying, ‘Hey, Bill, what do you like today?’ I told him I’d rather have a more personal relationship with everybody.
“I grew up in this neighborhood, I still live in this neighborhood like a couple blocks away. We’re pretty stoked. We just want to make an honest living, that’s all we want to do. I’m not looking to buy a Ferrari anytime soon.”
Black Snout is currently on Instagram, so anyone interested can follow them as they go through the final stages before opening. We will keep everyone updated as well on the progress, and when we can hopefully announce that it is time to stop by for a beer at the soft and grand openings.
A big thanks to Josh James for the interview and for always keeping us updated.