It has been quite a year for Red Door, with taprooms and canning and brewery expansions to boot. I was fortunate enough to find some time in December to spend with head brewer Matt Meier and operations manager Ali Cattin to get all of the details.
Solo: So, uh, quite a year for you guys.
Ali: I don’t know.
Matt: You think we could’ve done anything else?
Ali: We started canning, we bought a canning line, and then a taproom in Clovis, and then moving the taproom onto Central, and then a taproom in Roswell. So yeah, pretty basic here.
No, we weren’t aware of any dripping sarcasm here in good jest, not at all.
Solo: Oh yeah, yeah.
Matt: There’s still a few weeks left in December, what do you want to do?
Solo: What else is coming?
Ali: For 2019 we are done! This year has been insane. I remember Matt doing this interview last year and being like, “We’re hoping for a quiet 2019.”
Solo: That didn’t happen.
Ali: No, it’s been a huge year, it’s been crazy the amount of growth. It all happened all at once and well, we couldn’t pass up on that spot on Central. It’s not like we could’ve waited a couple of months and it would’ve still been there.
Solo: Yeah, someone would’ve snatched it up.
Ali: And, it is such a cool building. So there was no waiting on that, we had to do it.
Solo: Had to pull the trigger and jump in when you could.
Ali: It pushed back Roswell a little bit. I think we would’ve had Roswell open sooner, but here we are.
Solo: On the beer front looking over the last year, your successes and challenges, things you might repeat, things you might change.
Matt: Honestly, I think this last year was a repeat of my first year, balancing what I know will absolutely kill in the market with what I really want to brew as passion projects.
Solo: That’s the rub, isn’t it?
Matt: So I think looking ahead into the next year, now that we are responsible for four taprooms, I’m just going to make people-friendly beer. A lot of really hoppy IPAs, keep up with the sours, and keep at least a sour on through rotation.
Ali: Four years ago, people would come in and say what IPAs do you have on tap? But now they come in and say what do you guys have that’s sour? I think that tastes in Albuquerque are changing.
Solo: Yeah, it’s all over the place, really. Last week it was IPAs, this week it’s sours, next week it’s lagers, tomorrow a pastry.
Matt: I think for us we are going to keep the lines full and keep the lines moving at a faster pace than what we’ve done historically. We are going to do more IPAs, more sours, more pastry stouts. Keep the lines, for lack of a better term, fluid and keep the high-quality beer moving. I do a lot of malt-forward beers that I like, originally I did the ESB and an English IPA, stuff like that. I loved them and I thought that they were quality beers, but sales through the taproom showed me that it’s not the market. And, so stuff like that which I want to do that could very well be technically good is just not what the market wants. If possible this year I would love to start a barrel program. We don’t have that right now. It would be great to have it and maybe this is the year to do it now that we don’t have any big plans on the horizon.
Ali: No new taprooms on the horizon for 2020. We have some really great spaces and we just want to spend the year refining and adding to them. If you guys make it down to Roswell, we are only using half of that warehouse and the other half could be an event space. It would need some construction, but we are already in there and we have revenue coming in, so we’d like to finish off that other space and give Roswell another event space, a place to do concerts and weddings and stuff like that. In Clovis, we are working with the owner of the bowling alley to extend our taproom out into the space and create some event spaces there. Downtown Albuquerque, we just recently took over the kitchen and the liquor program is amazing. Our bartenders are super creative and coming up with new stuff every day, so that’s been a lot of fun to add that into our business.
Matt: I always joke, let’s get a baseline, see what we can do. Instead of let’s do this and then 3-to-6 months later now we’re doing something else, and I don’t know where our sales actually plateau. It has been growing growing growing, but we’ve been adding adding adding. So it would be nice to know what we can do so that I would know, all right, in the future what could we actually expand and be responsible about. Where do we go from here, because we are still working on a 7-barrel brewhouse. Right now, we are almost balls to the wall, it’s go go go. I don’t know this yet, but I think that if we added another taproom it would almost be irresponsible because, could we actually keep up?
Solo: With the brewhouse that you have.
Matt: With the brewhouse and the staff that I have, and not brewing into the evenings and not doing overnight brews. It would be nice to have that baseline.
Ali: Well, we do have one thing planned for 2020, but it is small. It is here in town and it is small, and I don’t know that we are going to talk about it yet.
We in the crew will be sure to let you, dear reader, in on all the details as soon as they are ready for print. Until then, consider our level of interest well, piqued.
Solo: Anything else of interest coming in 2020?
Ali: We will be expanding canning.
Matt: We will have our IPA in cans here soon. We have had the mock-up done for our can a little bit now, (but) we just, with everything going on, we just didn’t want to add something else to the mix.
Solo: Yeah, it’s a lot of work putting another beer in the market.
Matt: So we are probably going to focus on that early this next year, late February, early March for a release on that. Let’s get into the new year, get out from under Roswell, and that’ll be the next thing going into the market. Our second iteration of Mail Order will be out in January which is our Russian Imperial Stout.
Ali: It’s already brewed. (And it is now available in bottles and on tap for a limited time. — S)
Matt: And, it’s soaking on oak right now. Last year we released it in March and we were really psyched about it. We thought it was a great beer and it had aged perfectly, we just thought it was a little late to market, so this year we upped it to January.
Ali: We held some of last year’s back and we just opened it during our last bottle share and it’s really good.
Matt: With that, I’ve held back four cases from last year to release with this year’s new release.
Ali: So that people can start stacking.
Solo: Which is always awesome to be able to do, especially a Russian Imperial Stout like that. Being able to do side-by-side comparisons of a beer like that is just one of the most fun things that we at least in the Brew Crew really enjoy.
Ali: In Clovis, New Mexico, there’s an old department store that’s pretty much been gutted, looks a lot like inside out downtown, where it’s just a shell of a building. So we acquired that last year, so it’s going to be like an outdoor concert venue and something that we can set up a beer garden on the weekends — Thursday, Friday, Saturdays. It’s right on the main street in Clovis, right in the heart of it, so it’s a pretty cool retro space. So it’s going to be our outdoor beer garden in Clovis to be able to expand into the community, and there’s not a space in the bowling alley to be able to do live music. So that’s something that’s missing from there, so we are hoping to do that outdoors. So we were able to just purchase that and it’s ours now. Right now it is just being used like a city park. We’ve done some events in it already, Clovis Main Street association has been helping us with that. So that’s going to be pretty cool, which will enable us to become embedded even further into that community.
Matt: We’ve pretty much got the rest of this year to kind of catch our breaths.
Ali: We are going to sit down in January and do a planning meeting, and try and plan out the whole year, which is something we haven’t done before to try and collaborate merchandise, and beer, and events.
Matt: Yeah, instead of us just hopping from one idea to the other.
Solo: Put it all together and at least try and stick to a plan.
Ali: Yeah, it’s insane. We are going to stop reacting to things and start being more proactive in planning. But now, all of a sudden, we are this big. We have to start acting like we are as big as we are.
Solo: Growing pains, so to speak.
Ali: I mean they’re fun as far as pains go.
Matt: Through this year it’s been chaos, but it’s been awesome.
Ali: I think it has taught us that this is what we are doing now.
Matt: This is our identity and this is what we do and it’s fun. We stuck it out and shit’s worked.
Ali: It’s kind of crazy to be growing at this clip, given how many breweries are opening in New Mexico, but I think focusing on other parts in the state that are under served has been good for us. It’s been a good idea, it’s been profitable, we’ve expanded our team — it had tripled — and that includes people across south and eastern New Mexico. We have some great managers out there and great staff, so it’s been fun. Adding food has been fun, it’s a new challenge, but it’s what my background is in. Having consistent things on the menus, downtown, Roswell, and Clovis is nice because we can say, this is who we are. We do pub food and do it really well.
Rest assured that the original taproom has not been forgotten either, and should see a refresh this coming year as well.
Ali: The focus will be on this being the tasting room where the beer is freshest. It’s made on the other side of that wall, the brewers are here enjoying a pint after their day is done.
Solo: Having their shifties.
Ali: So you can come in and find Matt and ask him questions about beer. No new taprooms next year, refining the taprooms we have, everybody gets a refresh.
Matt: Shore it all up, lets get a baseline, then we move to take over the world in 2021.
Ali: I’m saying in 2021 we go north.
Matt: OK, this is a developing story.
So after a very eventful 2019, look for Red Door to refine and hone what they have in their four taprooms, expand their canned offerings somewhat, and focus on community and events wherever you may enjoy their brews and food. Until next time, we bid you good drinking and eating and Prost!
— Franz Solo