Among the things we expected to find on the good old internet on Saturday were updates on the coronavirus, people waxing rhapsodic about the sporting events they attended on this date years ago, and breweries kindly asking customers to come on by for beer and/or food to-go orders. What we did not expects was an announcement that Boxing Bear Brewing was opening its new taproom.
Yes, the taproom on the northwest corner of Candelaria and Tramway is open. In the middle of all this craziness, there is a new place in town to grab beer.
During a quick stop to take some photos, I found two of the owners, Kevin Davis and David Kim, were there, along with sales and distribution manager Jay Knigge. This led me to asking the big question: Who opens a taproom during a pandemic?
“We were going to open on the 23rd (so) we’ve been holding out on opening up, but this isn’t going to blow over anytime soon so we figured we might as well get open (to sell) package beer,” Jay said. “We’ve got packaged beer to sell, so we’ve got another outlet now.”
It did not hurt that the sales of beer in four-packs and crowlers at the other two Boxing Bear locations were going quite well.
“Yeah, definitely, our package sales have been good at West Downtown and at the brewpub location,” Jay said. “So adding a third menu for us is going to be beneficial.”
That does make sense, as Tramway and Candelaria opens up a whole new market for Boxing Bear.
“New clientele up here,” Jay said. “Besides the liquor stores where our package has been doing well, you can’t get our beer up here. We have 20 draft choices available for crowler fills and we have six four-packs available.”
The space itself is quite impressive, occupying the northeast corner of the former Hastings building, which looks nothing like what came before. There is no direct parking lot access from Tramway, so make sure to turn west on Candelaria and enter from the south side.
Boxing Bear will have quite the nice east-facing patio, with great views of the Sandia foothills. Inside, the L-shaped bar is the dominant feature, but there will be a large open area for tables, plus a private dining area/game room that can be rented out and closed off. There were already two foosball tables inside, while the area near the small kitchen will have a pair of dartboards up against the wall.
The kitchen setup is similar to the original Boxing Bear at Corrales and Alameda, and will have the same menu when things are fully up and running. There is a sizable walk-in cooler, the glass cabinets for all the packaged beers on the front-facing end.
Overall, it is an impressive space, even though right now patrons do not get to stick around and enjoy it. It will be open daily from noon to 6 p.m., Jay said, the same as the other locations.
Kevin said the success that Boxing Bear is still able to have during the pandemic is a credit to the staff members besides just him, David, and co-owner/head brewer Justin Hamilton.
“The only thing I would do was I wouldn’t mind recognizing some of our staff that’s important,” Kevin said. “Obviously Jay, he’s our right-hand man. He’s the guy behind the scenes that quietly does everything. This guy is more important to our brand than I can even begin to say. He’s actually a partner now. He’s been so important we’ve made him a partner.
“I’d also like to acknowledge Dylan Davis for being an excellent brewer and following in Justin’s footsteps, and Matt Salazar, Robin LaValley, and Felicia Carrillo. They’re really key to our operation.”
“There’s a lot (of people) to acknowledge, but we’re pretty limited on our staff right now,” Jay added. “But definitely, those key people are keeping us afloat right now.”
If you live in the area, make sure to stop by to pick up some beer to-go this week, and let us know what you think of this future hangout site for the Crew and so many others who have been hoping for a Boxing Bear on this side of town.