Members of the Crew joined brewery staff members from around the metro area at a special industry-only sneak preview of Ex Novo Brewing on Tuesday night in Corrales. To say that the almost-finished product is impressive would be an understatement, and that is not just coming from your humble beer writers.
The layout of the space is all but complete, with the brewery building occupying the southwest corner and the separate taproom building and its large patio in the northeast corner along Corrales Road. An opening date, however, is still not set until the final approvals come in from government officials. Nonetheless, it is hopefully going to be very, very soon for the general public to enjoy some beers in the taproom.
In case anyone missed our past stories, Ex Novo was originally founded and still operates in Portland, Oregon. Owner Joel Gregory, however, is a Corrales native, and with few avenues left in crowded/expensive Portland to expand his brewery and its distribution, he elected to build a second brewery in his hometown.
This Ex Novo will produce a different set of core styles for distribution here, led by Mass Ascension IPA, while also producing packaged versions of the core styles for distribution in Portland (a few canned beers will be shared between the two states).
Everyone at the Tuesday gathering started out in the taproom, which has come a long way since my last visit, when it was basically nothing but a roof and four walls. It is not too big by New Mexico standards, so keep that in mind when visiting during peak business hours (happy hour, weekends). There are two patios on either side, a small one that faces out toward the street, and a larger area on the west side that provides some epic sunset views.
Once we all had our beers in hand — Maiden Voyage Pale Ale was AmyO’s pick, while others enjoyed the Most Interesting Lager in the World, 30 MPH Pale Ale, and the aforementioned Mass Ascension — we trekked across the parking lot to the brewery building for what amounted to a self-guided tour. Odds are, the tours will be more organized for the general public, but in this case an army of brewery owners, brewers, and other personnel could handle things on their own.
Head brewer Dave Chichura and his staff were running the canning line while we were milling about, preparing a shipment of Eliot IPA to head to Portland.
Towering above us were huge can stacks of many of Ex Novo’s core styles.
The double brewhouse caught the eye of many attendees. Ex Novo will operate a 5-barrel brewhouse for many of its specialty/seasonal offerings, and a 20-barrel brewhouse for production. The two brewhouses, which have three vessels each, are connected by a single catwalk, and will also share hot and cold liquor tanks. It is an impressive setup, and left a few local brewers a bit jealous (though we doubt many would admit it publicly).
One brewery owner referred to the sizable walk-in cooler as a “dream cooler.” There is certainly a lot of room for more products within.
Among the fermenters of various sizes were four “stackable” fermenters of the 5-barrel variety, an interesting feature not seen in any other local breweries. Ex Novo already has a lot of equipment inside the brewery, but there is clearly still room to grow.
Eventually we all returned to the taproom so a second tour could head into the brewery, and so we could either refresh our pint glasses or call it a night. As the 30 MPH Pale Ale might suggest, the speed limit is low on Corrales’ two-lane main road, and everyone was encouraged to be especially careful driving back to Albuquerque. Unless folks plan to Lyft/Uber over from Boxing Bear or Toltec, Ex Novo will definitely be a brewery where everyone driving in should adhere to personal limits on consumption, just to be safe. (Yes, this is true at other breweries, but few figure to have local police constantly monitoring one of only two craft breweries in town.)
Here are just a few more pictures that we took during our tour of the facility.
Overall, it was a fun evening, and we look forward to seeing how much all of you enjoy Ex Novo when it opens to the public. We will keep everyone up to date as soon as Joel lets us know, but keep an eye on the Ex Novo social media pages as well. Thank you to Joel for the invitation, as well.