As other breweries have experienced this year, it is now Red Door Brewing’s turn to throw a smaller anniversary party. That does not mean, however, that there will not be any fun to be had this Saturday.
To learn a little more about what is happening this weekend, including sampling the two new beers being released, and what else is coming soon from Red Door (another taproom?!), I caught up with head brewer Matt Meier and operations manager Ali Cattin earlier this week.
“Saturday we have the can releases, the (Side Door Kitchen) food truck is going to be doing beer brats and pretzels,” Cattin said. “This year is kind of weird, because we don’t want to throw a huge party and pack the place full of people, it’s just not responsible. We’re going to focus mostly on the can releases.”
Meier broke down what to expect from the two German-style offerings.
“Full of Helles will come out this Saturday,” he said. “I’ll be putting the majority of it in cans, only a few kegs in the taprooms, which is kind of a continuation of what we did with Tropical Synonyms. I’m sure this isn’t news to anybody, but we’re kind of leaning hard into cans now, as most breweries probably are. Instead of begging down an entire 15-barrel batch and having 30 kegs in the back, knowing that that won’t go away in a few months, we decided to lean heavy into cans.
“The second one here is Prost Malone. This is our Oktoberfest. This is the second year we’ve done this. This will actually go out into distribution. Our distributor is going to be picking up cans and kegs of this, so we’ll only have a few cans and kegs left at the taprooms. We did a 30-barrel batch of this.”
The reason for the double-sized batch of the latter was more than just putting it into distribution.
“We did a 15-barrel last year and it was gone in 10 days,” Cattin added. “I only got two or three pints of it last year.”
Two beers certainly seems a bit more manageable than last year, when Meier went a little overboard for the fifth anniversary.
“Remember last year when I was an idiot and released five beers on one day?” Meier asked.
“I can’t wait until our 10-year (anniversary),” Cattin replied with a smile.
The Helles is light, smooth, and refreshing. The Prost Malone is a smooth marzen, not too sweat, not too dry. Both are definitely worth making some room for in the old beer fridge.
“With the Helles (and Prost Malone) we’re going to have six beers in cans, so we’re going to do a case discount so if you buy three you’re going to get the fourth six-pack for $6,” Cattin said. “That’s only on Saturday.”
As for the other two Red Door locations, they each have something in the works.
“Clovis is doing a raffle, they’ve been selling raffle tickets all week,” Cattin said. “They’re going to raffle off a bunch of Red Door swag, gift cards and growlers, hoodies and stuff like that. Downtown is working on a super hot wing challenge to go with the Helles. It sounds painful. They’ve got a new cocktail coming that’s going to incorporate the Helles into it.”
While the anniversary is first on deck, it is not the only new development coming to the Red Door universe this month.
“ABQ Ax has opened a Heights location at San Mateo and Osuna,” Cattin said. “They’ve built us a bar inside there. We put a direct draw in there. When we redid all the taps here we had an extra direct draw. That one will be four taps, we’ll rotate through. It’s just bar service right now, just filling a need there with the reduced capacity. We’ll start small and see how it goes in there. As we can open up more and have more people in there … they’re adding a patio, so that should be fun. So it will be like you can go in and throw axes, or you can go and have a pint. It’s a de facto micro tight taproom.”
Owner Matt Biggs had told us in the past that he had something else in the works in the Northeast Heights, and this confirms that those plans have come to fruition.
“That (opening) will be opening up within the next two weeks, not this week, but next week,” Cattin sad. “That will be fun. There will be some other businesses in that area that we’re excited to work with.”
After having visited an ax-throwing establishment in Denver located a floor above Jagged Mountain Brewing during Great American Beer Festival last year, I can personally attest to how fun it can be especially with a craft beer bar inside. (Neither I nor any member of the Steel Bender staff was injured during this bit of fun, so yes, it is possible to do all of this safely.)
Beyond that, most of what has happened at the three Red Door taprooms has been pushing forward on projects, big and small, that were expected to be finished in months or even years down the line.
“Since the last time you’ve been here we’ve expanded our patio,” Meier said. “That used to be a, what do you call it, a rain catch down there? It was serving us no good. We had been talking about taking out all the junk down there and making it a patio. This was finally the push we needed.”
“We put down tons and tons of gravel, and then put in lights, and created a nice little beer garden,” Cattin added.
The taproom in Eastern New Mexico also saw some work done outside. Well, more than some, since there was no outside presence prior to the pandemic.
“We expanded the Clovis patio, well, we added one,” Meier said. “We had to get that done for them.”
“The staff built that one in two days,” Cattin added. “They put up the fence, put in the 10 by 10 tents for shade, moved everything out there. It was ridiculous (how fast they did it).”
The Downtown Taproom was closed the longest in order to make some small, but needed improvements.
“Downtown took the time while they were closed to work on the patio,” Cattin said. “They re-hung the shade sails and lights to give a little elevation back there. They redid their seating, made some (other) improvements. They built a little cage out there for empty kegs. We’re calling it the penalty box. There was no space down there. Besides bringing them back to the brewery at the end of the night (that was a solution). They built out the bathrooms, added some cabinetry in both the mens and women’s restrooms. They fixed up the kitchen, did a bunch in there.”
As Meier noted earlier, canning has become the primary focus at the brewery on Candelaria.
“We had plans to buy a canning line, we had plans to move into more production, but it’s just shoved everything forward probably 18 months,” Cattin said. “Everything is 18 months faster than we had planned on.”
“Somehow we’re doing it, I don’t know how, but we’re doing it,” Meier added.
And, to cap off all of their efforts, Red Door will also be adjusting how one of the most popular fundraisers of 2019 is redone in 2020.
“Last year, we teamed up with Animal Humane and did Left Paw Lager with them,” Meier said. “It went over really well, so we’re doing it again this year, but this year we’re going to have to put it in cans. We’re still going to work with them. We’ve designed fun labels. Each one of the (cans in the) six-pack is a picture of a different animal.”
The original plan was to feature dogs and cats up for adoption, particularly those who had been at the shelters for a long time, but Cattin said Animal Humane currently is averaging less than three weeks per animal before they are adopted, and there are no long-term stays right now. Instead, happily adopted animals will be pictured on the cans, as an encouragement to everyone to keep adopting shelter pets.
I pass along a big thank you to Ali and Matt for the beers and the interview, on one of the worst weather days of the year, no less. (At one point we thought the roof was tearing off, in case anyone was wondering which day it was.) If you get the chance Saturday, stop by to try the beers, enjoy a brat and a pretzel on the expanded patio, and grab a six-pack or two to take home.
Keep supporting local!