While perusing the pending small brewer licenses with the State of New Mexico, a new entry appeared that caught my eye this past week. Albuquerque Distilling, which is located at 5001 Central on the east end of Nob Hill, is getting into the brewing game as well, or so it appears. This is just the continuation of a recent trend of distilleries adding a brewing component, and breweries adding distilling, and of course places opening right from the get-go with both licenses.
It is somewhat reminiscent of when breweries opened in New Mexico in the late 1980s and early-to-mid 1990s, taking one of three approaches — packaging only with no on-site sales, adding a brewhouse to an existing restaurant, or opening a brand-new brewpub.
The current boom of the “brewstilleries” started in the Brewery District off Interstate 25 between Comanche and Candelaria. Broken Trail Spirits and Brew offered up both when it opened in 2015, while just a few blocks away, the synergistic duo of Left Turn Distilling and Palmer Brewery and Cider House shared an expanded taproom space.
Then things really started to take off around 2018. Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery was the first of its kind to open in Santa Fe. Existing breweries like Tractor Brewing, Desert Valley Brewing, and Three Rivers Brewery in Farmington soon doubled up on licenses and began distilling their own spirits. Red River Brewing has joined in on the fun just recently for the far northern end of the state, while La Reforma Brewery opened with both spirits and beer last May.
A number of distilleries had opened with a small brewer license just to carry guest taps, but a 2019 change in the requirements for such a license — 50 barrels of in-house production per year, or 50 percent of all beer sales on premises must be from in-house offerings — caused a few to suddenly have to shift toward beer-making operations.
In Albuquerque, Hollow Spirits has begun to produce its own beer, which all of us in the Crew need to stop by to try soon. Santa Fe Spirits also has an active license, though we do not know if they have any beers on tap yet (once Luke is done with his remaining Look Back/Look Ahead Series articles, it is on the agenda). Down south, Boogie’s Brewery and Distillery in Deming is getting closer to opening with both beer and spirits available. Its licenses for both are currently active.
There are three other forthcoming establishments with pending licenses for beer and spirits. Mother Trail, a collaboration between Broken Trail and the former Mother Road Mobile Canning owners, is looking to open somewhere in the vicinity of Old Town in the future. Hippo Milk is the odd name for a place within the 505 Central Food Hall that is currently under construction, with Mark Baker (a part-owner of High and Dry Brewing) in the lead of that project. Further away, Wanted Brewing and Distilling is aiming to open in Las Vegas later this year. The owners purchased the former equipment of Duel Brewing when it closed last year.
Overall, the brewery/distillery combo boom is showing no signs of abating anytime soon. We will be following up on a lot of these places in the coming months, rest assured, but in the meantime, what do you all think of these combined businesses? Is it good for breweries to diversify with spirits, or vice versa with distilleries and beer? Leave us a comment below or on social media.