Bow & Arrow Brewing fires up its new canning line as it adjusts to sea of changes in 2020

Hello there, canning line! You will serve Bow & Arrow just fine. (Photo courtesy of Ted O’Hanlan)

Bow & Arrow Brewing has a new toy.

Last summer, head brewer Ted O’Hanlan said he was looking forward to having a canning line in 2020. By the end of the year, the brewery had pivoted to focus on its Rambler Taproom in Farmington, pushing the canning line back to 2021.

Oh, how quickly things changed in the next several months. With the coronavirus pandemic shutting down breweries for months, Ted and co-owner Shyla Sheppard made the decision to bring the canning line back into play this year. When I visited the brewery last week, they had made room for its arrival, and by Sunday my inbox was filled with photos of this lovely new piece of machinery.

“We’re really getting ready for the canning (line),” Ted said last week. “Friday is the day we have a scheduled delivery. And then, the technician is coming out (this weekend). Then we should have one or two canning runs. We’ve got two beers ready to go.

“Basically, anything that they had on the checklist we’ve gone as far as we could to try and make sure when it shows up Friday we’re ready to go. Monday we can flip a switch and go.”

Bow & Arrow has certainly made the most of its crowler machine during the to-go-only period, but being able to add 16-ounce, four-pack cans should only continue to help in this era of social distancing.

The canning line fits nicely in between the brewhouse and the east wall.

“We’ve kind of redone the whole room with the idea that it’s something we can operate around, so we don’t have to break it down,” Ted said. “Except for the labeler, we can break that down.

“It’s a straight shot down the line and into the (new walk-in) cooler. We’re going to do Denim Tux and Strawberry Amigo to start. Then we’re going to do our new flagship IPA, Scenic West, and then rotating hazy IPAs, seasonal stouts, seasonal saisons, seasonal lagers, stuff like that. Maybe even Savage Times (Sour IPA).”

Bow & Arrow will also be switching from 500 mL bottles to 375 mL, a more reasonable size when it is harder to bring friends together to share a single beer like Cosmic Arrow or Desert Revival.

The shift away from a taproom/draft beer-first operation to a greater emphasis on packaging was just a result of the changing times.

“Going into COVID, we were getting ready to start construction on the Farmington taproom,” Ted said. “Things shut down, so we as a staff had to evaluate what we’re doing, and then do something that made sense for us in this current climate. We both agreed to go into packaging, canning, something that would hopefully be good for us in the future.”

No one in Farmington should panic that the Rambler Taproom is no longer happening.

“Farmington is just on pause for the time being,” Shyla said. “As far as the taproom goes (here), we’ve made the decision to hold off on opening the inside for right now. I think people are still acclimating themselves to being around the public. We were fortunate and got our expanded patio approved (June 19) so we have that available. We’re minimizing (contact) outside.”

Head brewer Ted O’Hanlan is also quite happy with his new walk-in cooler. It’s kinda big, isn’t it?

With the food trucks still pulling up and plenty of room outside, there is still plenty of reason to keep visiting Bow & Arrow. There are also some additional beers of note coming down the pipeline. Super Bueno Blonde Ale was tapped over the weekend, taking the place of True Aim Scotch Ale for the summer months.

There are also two new collaboration beers close to being ready. One is a historic British-style pale ale made with Sidetrack Brewing. The recipe dates back to 1895. It was brewed in December and then barrel aged with brettanomyces and dry hopped with East Kent Golding. I had a quick taste, and while there is a fair amount of brett and mild hops on the nose, the beer itself is well balanced and quite flavorful.

Also coming to taps soon, in a very small amount, is the collaboration imperial stout made with Lauter Haus Brewing in Farmington. Originally intended to celebrate the Rambler Taproom opening, this 14.5-percent ABV behemoth will arrive shortly in Albuquerque. It was made a mix of Mexican spices, vanilla, cocoa nibs, and chiles. Ted said it has barrel-aged characteristics, even though it was not aged in a barrel.

“We’re in a good place and we’re going to be in an even better place when the canning line shows up,” he said. “I think we’re feeling pretty optimistic right now.”

We applaud any optimism in these difficult times, and we will certainly be back for that imperial stout. Stay tuned for news on when the Denim Tux and Strawberry Amigo cans will be available.

A big thanks to Ted and Shyla for the interview, the beers, and the photos.

Keep supporting local!

— Stoutmeister

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