Back in the B.C. era (Before COVID-19), the Crew had received an invitation to come tour the about-to-open B2B Garden Brewery at 8338 Comanche Rd. NE. Well, along came the pandemic shutdown, and we will admit we had forgotten about said invitation as time went along and things were partially reopened.
Then I posted some a recent article on forthcoming breweries that included the fact we had social media evidence that B2B had opened its first full-scale brewing location, and the staff there saw the story, and lo and behold we were extended another invitation to make our first visit. With an opening in our schedule, Erin and I headed over Tuesday afternoon to meet with head brewer Julian Nunez, tour the facility, and try some of his beers and ciders out in the expansive back patio area for which the brewery is named.
B2B Bistronomy has been a longtime staple among restaurants in Nob Hill, serving up gourmet burgers and beers. A small brewing operation was added years ago, but space was at a premium, and when owner Sham Naik opened Lobo Beast 101 further west on Central, the plan was to use that larger facility for brewing as well as being a beer bar with 101 taps. Unfortunately, Lobo Beast did not last, and the long process began to find a new spot for the brewery.
“They had a lot of this equipment in storage for like five years,” Nunez said. “It was at Lobo Beast back then. They had a 2-barrel system for a while (at Bistronomy).”
A new partner joined the company and offered up the space to build everything on Comanche just west of Wyoming. After a lengthy period of construction, the Garden Brewery was ready to go. There was a soft opening in March just before the pandemic hit.
“It’s been a labor of love if you’ve been keeping up on how long it’s taken us to get this open,” Nunez said. “It did not (go smoothly).”
In the ensuing months, the decision was made to shutter the B2B Barrio taproom/taco restaurant on Louisiana.
“We closed our Uptown location,” Nunez said. “It was so close, we were basically cannibalizing ourselves. So we just have our Nob Hill place.”
Of course, any brewery needs a brewer, and that was where Julian came in. Well, just not in the normal way.
“I started (home) brewing with a buddy of mine,” he said. “I got into it, I got into it hard. You know how you get that bug? It’s been about two or three years. I met Sham on Craigslist. He needed a marketer. That’s what I do, my day job is I do marketing for the Albuquerque Association of Realtors. I have another marketing agency. I do a lot, I make films on the side of that. I am the side job king. I have a film right now that’s on the festival circuit.”
Once Nunez got his foot in the door on the marketing side, he made a proposal to his boss.
“I came to work with Sham when they were building this,” he said. “I said this is the deal, I’ll do your marketing, but I want in on the brewing. It was about a year and a half, then he started sending me everywhere to work with people and just learn how a brewhouse works. I was lifting grain (sacks), squeegeeing floors, cleaning kegs. I was doing it all, all the grunt work.”
Nunez now has a 10-barrel brewhouse at his disposal, with three same-size fermenters, plus the 2-barrel fermenters from the smaller system. He said he uses those for ciders and other experimental beers. The walk-in cooler has six bright tanks available, which matches the number of beers currently on tap. The beer lineup right now includes The Duke English Pale Ale, La Cueva Mexican Lager, Ol’ Yelper Red Rye, Grande Oatmeal Stout, Oso IPA, and Oso Double IPA.
So far, Nunez said the customers at the Garden Brewery have not picked favorites like the IPAs in Nob Hill. Still, it is early, and many people are still finding the new spot, which is about a block west of Wyoming and the building that used to house Red Door and Desert Valley taprooms.
The layout of the place features a small patio along Comanche, a spacious interior (not currently in use, save for the restrooms), and then the large backyard area that gives the brewery its garden name. There is plenty of room to grow, and Nunez said they are contemplating planting their own hops. Most of the patio area is under a large covering in the center of the ground.
Nunez said future plans even include a third patio, which will be up on the roof of the main building, which was built with that in mind. They will not have to add a deck support structure the way Marble did downtown. B2B has also purchased three barrels — whiskey, tequila, rum — that Nunez said he will be filling with TBD beers in the near future to have them ready for the winter months.
By the time we were done, all of the spaced-out tables were occupied. The crowd was loud and boisterous, enjoying their beers and food on Taco Tuesday. Most of the menu was brought over from B2B Barrio, with a few new items added. Erin tried some yucca fries and fried plantains, particularly enjoying the latter.
In the end, Nunez said he is just happy to be open and brewing.
“We’ve started doing our own thing,” he said. “It felt natural. It’s working out. I’m happy where we’re at. We’re growing organically. I’m thrilled to be brewing.”
We pass along our thanks to Julian for the tour and the beer samples, and to Sham for the food samples that he personally brought out to us. We will be sure to head back to B2B Garden Brewery in the future. After all, someone has to get her taco fix.
Keep supporting local!