Boxing Bear grows up fast with 5th anniversary party on deck

It seems like it was just yesterday when we took this picture of Boxing Bear co-owner/head brewer Justin Hamilton atop his new brewhouse, but it was actually five years and many, many beers ago.

Five years does not seem like a long time in any business, but the craft beer world that Boxing Bear Brewing entered into in 2014 has changed an awful lot.

After all, back then the Westside was largely devoid of breweries and off-site taprooms.

“It’s crazy when we opened and then there was (only) the Stumbling Steer at the time,” co-owner/head brewer Justin Hamilton said. “The closest after that was Turtle Mountain. Now we’ve got breweries on every block. There’s a lot more breweries now, but that being said, five years later we’re still doing all right.”

Boxing Bear will celebrate its fifth anniversary with an all-day party this Saturday, with live music, vendors, and food trucks out front.

“Five is a good one,” Justin said. “We’re super excited to be here. It’s been a crazy five. Some places haven’t made it that far, some have made double. It’s just been fun to kind of see how much has changed. It’s been wild.”

The brewery picked up a little extra buzz leading up to the party with its third New Mexico IPA Challenge victory in the past four years.

“We’re coming off the win at the IPA Challenge with the most breweries (entered) ever, and the wildest kind of lead up to it,” Justin said. “It was a really, really good year for us. It helps us know that we’re still hanging in there, still making good beer, doing what we should be doing.”

Bear Knuckle II IPA was still on tap as of Wednesday afternoon, but fear not on the beer front, as Boxing Bear will be releasing two special beers on tap and in cans.

“We’re going to release a new hazy IPA, Headlock Hazy, that’s going to be a beer that’s probably going to be pretty regular on tap,” Justin said. “It might be something that morphs a little bit, (but) you want to have a regular offering of a hazy IPA. I’m hesitant to call it a house beer, but basically it will be.

“With Albu-Murky and our Murky series, we’re doing different stuff constantly. We had a lot of people asking for those beers regularly. I wanted to have something on tap that I knew I could count on as far as ingredients, as far as consistency, stuff like that. This will be great to have on tap for people that have been looking for those regular (hazy) IPAs. This will be available more often than any of the other hazies.”

Headlock will have a distinct flavor and aroma to set itself apart from the various specialty offerings.

“This one will be geared a little bit more towards a true New England when it’s rounded out,” Justin said. “This batch is a little more bitter than I wanted it to be, but that’s OK for the Albuquerque crowd, I think. But, either way, we’re really excited to have something regular to offer people.”

The other anniversary beer will be an old favorite making its canned debut.

“Then we have Guava Gose, which has been one of our favorite goses that we’ve produced here,” Justin said. “We entered it into GABF last year, got great notes on it, didn’t win anything with it, but it did really well. We’ve always liked it and we’ve wanted to put a gose in a can all summer. We finally got around to it. There isn’t going to be a lot of it relative to the Headlock. We’re probably only going to have about 50 cases of it. That one is probably going to go really quick. That’s going to be a fun one, too.”

The bands taking the stage are Tres Pendejos from noon to 3 p.m., El Brujo Nava from 3:30 to 6, and Pawn Shop Poster Boys from 6:30 to 8. The food trucks on hand from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. will include With Love Waffles, Kamikaze, and Street Food Blvd. Vendors will include High Desert Flameworks, ColorWIRED, Maddie Snyder, Alicia Rae Lopez, Design by Norteno, Christopher McAfee, and The Soap Lounge.

Justin wanted to give credit to Boxing Bear staff member Robin LaValley for organizing much of the event for Saturday.

“We haven’t had an event here in a little while that’s had bands and food trucks and stuff,” he said. “So we’re really happy to bring everything together. It’s been a pretty busy year for us. It’s been hard to organize events. Now we’ve got a one of our really good employees, Robin LaValley, has been helping us put together events at this location.

“We’re looking forward to having stuff like that on the regular, really put together a weekly event calendar where we can put together like paints and pints, we had an adoption event (last) Sunday with Watermelon Mountain Ranch and we got almost all of the dogs adopted. Little things like that have been really fun, and stuff that’s been hard for us as far as owners and management to do, so it’s been nice to have Robin take the reins on that and really kick ass. We’ll have a lot more events coming up from here on out, which we’ve been trying to do for five years.”

Honing in on event planning and management is just another part of the growth of Boxing Bear.

“(Learning) organization of the business has been one of the fun parts about it, learning how to make stuff run and how to do it right without losing your ass in cash,” Justin said with a laugh. “That’s what any business is like, but in this one especially you can throw buckets of money around if you’re not careful.”

All of us in the Crew salute Boxing Bear on making it to the five-year mark.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how we do in the future here,” Justin said. “Year five is a good milestone, but I’d like to make it to 10, 15, 20.”

Cheers to that, too.

— Stoutmeister

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