Bosque Brewing does not sit still.
Oh, sure, there appear to be stretches of inactivity when it comes to adding more locations to its portfolio, but do not be fooled. Somewhere out there, Bosque has its eye on another taproom, and over the course of this summer, we have all become aware of three forthcoming projects in three different cities.
To learn a lot more about what is coming to Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and Santa Fe, I sat down with three of Bosque’s owners, chief development officer Jotham Michnovicz, chief experience officer Jess Griego, and chief production officer/brewmaster John Bullard.
First up, the new Albuquerque taproom/secondary brewery that will be located on the Westside at Coors and St. Joseph’s. It will effectively be the replacement for the original San Mateo brewery/taproom that closed earlier this year and transformed into La Reforma Brewery. Of course, that original replacement was supposed to be the Open Space project at Venice and the Interstate 25 frontage road.
Jotham said it was not just the seemingly endless series of delays that caused Bosque to scrap Open Space and head west, but a multitude of reasons.
“I wouldn’t really say it happened that way,” Jotham said. “Open Space was a project that we were working on in tandem with opening Bernalillo and Restoration. As our brand and our company’s focus became more and more refined, we realized that what we were trying to do at Open Space wasn’t really aligned with what we wanted to do in the future. It was also getting way out of control in project budget. It was three stories (tall). It was too much. It was going to pull us outside of our core competencies.
“That was kind of what happened to Open Space, and at the same time, there were a lot of delays, so we focused our attention on Restoration (Pizza) during that time. We needed to make sure we did right by our co-workers and make sure they had places to work, that kind of thing. It was kind of just bad timing. All the things that kind of could go wrong (did).”
Bosque will now sell the land, Jotham said, and turn its focus elsewhere.
“But, I think it’s all for the best,” Jess said. “The other thing, too, after opening a multi-level location here, it’s a whole other monster. Three levels of Open Space, I think we were able to see, like Jotham said, what we’re competent at. We have La Reforma selling Bosque beer, we’re brewing for La Reforma, (but) those things didn’t come to fruition until later. So it felt like now we’re going to have Bosque beer at La Reforma, and then be a mile away (with Open Space), and Restoration is very close. If we do Open Space, we’re going to have a production space, but why don’t we move it to somewhere we don’t have a location (nearby)?”
Rather than clutter up one area of town, Bosque will head to a region that is experiencing an overdue craft beer boom. In the last few years, Desert Valley, La Cumbre, Nexus, and Tractor have joined Marble in opening Westside taprooms, while Flix Brewhouse, Lava Rock, and Toltec Brewing have joined Boxing Bear as full breweries west of the Rio Grande. Throw in the increased growth of breweries in Rio Rancho and Corrales, and it was clearly time for Bosque to get in on the action before all the good real estate vanished.
“We had an investor, too, who came up right at that time, (Josh) Skarsgard, who had that land and they’re building it for us,” Jess said. “When he met with Gabe (Jensen, Bosque chief executive officer), he essentially described what we were planning to do with Open Space (but) at one level. That was his vision, so that worked out having an investor come in and really believe in Bosque and what we’re doing, and have space in an area we’ve always been interested in opening (a location). It just felt like more of a better fit than what we were trying to force at Open Space.”
The taproom will be 5,000 square feet, with a 9,500-square foot beer garden planned as well. The new brewery will take up 4,000 square feet of space and brew up to 5,000 barrels of beer a year, keeping all Bosque locations full with a wide variety of seasonal and specialty brews.
“I’m excited to have more taprooms because we’ll sell more specialty beer,” John said. “We’ll rotate through them faster. We’ll have more different, exciting beers. More ciders, that will be really cool. More seltzers. Probably not another mead (though).”
Jotham said Bosque has learned from the past slate of balancing simultaneous projects.
“We had so many things coming in that didn’t have a defined date,” Jotham said. “We had La Reforma coming in, we had Restoration Pizza opening, we had Open Space, and they just never aligned appropriately. I think a lot of times when you’re taking on these sorts of projects, there’s so many different things that can happen, and in that instance they all kind of did happen at the same time, so it caused this giant cluster that wasn’t really worth continuing on. There were a lot better opportunities out there.
“Now it’s like what Jess was saying about the Westside one, is that Josh Skarsgard said just listen, I’m ready to do turnkey projects with you. It made a lot of sense.”
Las Cruces will get a third taproom
Anyone that has visited the two Bosque taprooms located across the street from New Mexico State University has probably seen them packed to the brim with thirsty customers. With that and more in mind, a third location is now in the works.
“The Uno’s building finally came to fruition,” Jotham said of the pizza restaurant at 2102 Telshor Court, just south of the I-25/Highway 70 interchange on the north side of Las Cruces. “It took a long time to figure out who the buyer was going to be and what the location is going to be and all that kind of stuff.”
“Which wasn’t us; there have been rumors that we bought the building,” Jess added. “We chose not to comment publicly on that even though it was already published. An investor bought the building and we’re going to lease it from them. I want to make that clear.”
Jotham said the goal is to have the restaurant transformed into a brewpub and ready to open November 1, though he was cautious to note that timelines can always change.
“Right now we’re shooting for November 1,” Jotham said. “Obviously things can go wrong …”
“What are you doing, dude?” John asked with a smile.
“I’m on track to do that one November 1 right now … hopefully,” Jotham replied.
The need for a third Las Cruces taproom goes beyond simply alleviating any overcrowding at the two existing spots.
“There’s a couple of things,” Jotham said. “Having part of our time that grew up in Las Cruces and some of us who lived there, it’s a market that we understand. I think that’s different than other markets we’ve gone into. Just looking around and scoping out, it’s like we still don’t understand this market very well intuitively. It’s the same thing with Albuquerque, I understand what the different parts of the city are like, what the demand is like and that sort of thing.
“Las Cruces is a very territorial place, where people stick to their areas, which is really strange because it’s a small (city). My wife’s grandparents, we said to them hey, let’s go to Uno’s, and they said oh, that’s all the way across town. In my mind, I’m thinking that’s two freeway exits, it will take us like five minutes to get there. To them it was all the way across town.”
Jess backed him up on this seemingly crazy notion that people in Las Cruces view a few miles as too far to travel.
“It always makes me laugh when our co-workers are saying it’s all the way in Old Mesilla, and I’m like it’s literally a minute away,” Jess added. “But, it’s very (much) like Jotham’s saying, it’s very neighborhood centric. Uno’s is all the way across town to most people.”
Jotham said the neighborhoods around the new spot are pretty different than the NMSU area.
“It’s a very different demographic,” Jotham said. “It’s not nearly as concentrated in terms of student population. It’s a lot more of the younger families that are moving out towards the east and north sides of town. It’s where a lot of the growth is happening.”
Current Las Cruces general manager Dakotah Vaughan and kitchen manager Joey Garza will spearhead the third location as well.
On the beer front, the Las Cruces customers have slightly different tastes than their Albuquerque counterparts, which keeps John and his brewing team busy.
“Yes, it’s different, we sell twice as much stout down there than we do up here,” John said. “I don’t know (why).”
“And, year-round, too!” Jotham said. “It’s not just (seasonal).”
“It’s like 100 degrees outside and there’s people sitting on the patio with Driftwood, it is bizarre,” Jess added.
Oh, it gets weirder.
“It’s a little bit behind (Albuquerque), but some of our exciting styles do really well down there,” John said. “The pickled gose that sold great down there. That did amazing. Pickled goses and stouts.”
“1888 is popular down there for obvious reasons,” Jess added.
“We sell a lot of beer down there, we really have,” John said. “That’s why we’re excited for a third location. It’s a good community and they support us.”
Bosque also sells a ton of beer to go, which makes sense with the beer geeks of El Paso frequently posting on Facebook about their treks north to get a beer not available in Texas.
“Our packaged product down there is flying off the shelves now,” Jotham said. “That’s the most significant market we’re up in.”
Say hey to Santa Fe
Ever since Marble closed its taproom years ago, there have been questions as to whether any other Albuquerque brewery would ever again try to open a spot in the state capital. Well, that question was answered recently, perhaps before Bosque was even ready for it to become public.
“We’ve been scoping out Santa Fe for a long time now,” Jotham said. “We’ve looked at a handful of properties, and for one reason or another they just haven’t worked out. We actually got pretty far down the road for the property that we’re going to go into, and then it ended up falling through because of the landlord, it was a landlord out of California. Then it got purchased by another investor (500 Market LLC) and that was somebody we knew really well. We were really confident that we could work with them on a deal that could work for everybody. It’s been percolating. There have been a couple of things that we’ve nearly leased, and they haven’t gone through for one reason or another.”
Bosque will be taking over part of the Market Station building alongside Wayward Son’s Distillery and Optunia Cafe. The building was formerly the home of a Flying Star restaurant.
“It is going to be a 2020 project, but we’re going to get started on it pretty soon,” Jotham said. “We’re going to get started on the design right away. It’s not a very intense thing. It could … I don’t want to say, but I feel like it could happen before the Westside, but it might not also. I’ll tell you this, my goal is to get it open before the other one. Now, whether or not that’s going to happen, that remains to be seen because we’re so early in the process.”
The taproom will be part of a fairly crowded beer area. Second Street Railyard is across the train tracks. Violet Crown Cinema, which serves beer, will be next door.
At the very least, John said the Bosque North production facility will have no trouble keeping up with more locations.
“Oh, yeah,” John said. “We have a lot of production capacity for brewing. And with Westside opening, we should have comparable capacity before we go to Santa Fe.”
As a final note, there have been rumors of yet another Bosque location in the works in Albuquerque, too.
“I don’t know if I should say anything about it, but can we confirm there is a fourth that we’re working on?” Jotham said. “There is a fourth that we’re working on, but we don’t have a lease signed yet.”
When a lease is signed and Bosque shares that info with the Crew, we will share it with all of you.
A big thanks to Jess, John, and Jotham for taking time out of their incredibly busy schedules to be interviewed (and for lunch).
Until the next big batch of Bosque news …