Bright spots are hard to find amid all the gloom of the pandemic these days, but the craft brewing industry in New Mexico continues to move along even under difficult conditions. Any time we hear of a new brewery still coming to fruition, it gives us a small moment of joy.
The newest addition to the scene is expected to arrive Thursday as ReSource Brewing is planning on opening in the Northeast Heights at 3107 Eubank, Suite 12, just north of Candelaria in the Scottsdale Village on the west side of the street. Tucked away in the corner at the west end, ReSource is the creation of Shawn and Stephanie Wright. I sat down with both of them over a flight of four of their first five beers late last week.
“ReSource is a very intentional name for us,” Stephanie said. “Respecting natural resources, being a resource for the community. Part of that was having people here to have meet-ups, have conversations around beer. That’s why our logo is important, because it shows conversations around a beer hop sign.”
Getting to this point from their beginning was a long road for the Wrights. Shawn, a member of the Wort Hogs Homebrew Club, got into brewing several years ago, which got them both started on the path to eventually opening their own brewery.
“My version (of events) is the right version,” Shawn said with a laugh. “Maybe not the most factually accurate, though. I started homebrewing six years ago and just fell in love with every aspect of homebrewing. Kind of my nature is to never stop, just keep tweaking things, and adjusting things. So the idea has always been there from the very beginning. However, we talked about it, Stephanie didn’t want to open a brewery, that wasn’t something that had any intention of doing, we just enjoyed brewing at home.”
After a while, though, Stephanie began to come around, though not from the same angle.
“I didn’t come to it from the brewing perspective,” she said. “I really enjoyed brewing at home and I certainly enjoyed drinking beer, but for me it was really the opportunity to use the vehicle of beer to bring people together and to do good things. I spent 12 years working in the non-profit sector. There’s always that part of me that wants to give back. What a great way to do it through a business that you’re having fun at? You enjoy going to work every day. It doesn’t feel like a chore.”
That background was something that Stephanie will bring to ReSource every day. Rather than just designate the occasional beer for a charity or non-profit, she and Shawn will have a permanent house beer that will have a portion of its proceeds going to a good cause.
“Another way we want to give back to the community and be a resource for the community is through our philanthropic efforts,” Stephanie said. “We have a lot of ideas around that. We had to obviously pivot with a lot of things right (now), but as part of that effort we wanted to have a permanent beer among our house beers be a charity beer. A portion of the proceeds of that beer will go to rotating charities that support equality. So we don’t have our first charity selected yet, or a non-profit organization, but we want to promote equality because it’s really important to us.”
Equality Stout will be a permanent fixture on the nitro tap. The fact that it is a stout, with a good amount of roasty flavor and subtle sweetness, certainly gets my personal approval.
“This beer, it’s one of those things where I’m really picky about stouts,” Stephanie said. “This one when I drank it, I was just like, I really like that. It became kind of a labor of love to brew that beer. It’s just really balanced and really (flavorful).”
The road from the genesis of ReSource to being able to put a beer like Equality Stout on tap was a long one for the Wrights.
“We started actively looking for places a couple years ago,” Stephanie said. “We’ve been conceptualizing this for probably about three to four years, and then looking for the right space that checked off enough of the boxes to take on our first endeavor. We found this place last year and have been working diligently.”
Shawn said he checked out many places over the years. His initial idea was to purchase a property outright, but that did not work. Other places went from he was the only one putting in an offer one minute, to having a half-dozen offers pour in at the same time. Then Shawn and Stephanie saw an advertisement for the spot in Scottsdale Village.
“I saw an ad here and it was advertised as a restaurant,” Shawn said. “I figured I would check it out, and Stephanie said I’ll be damned if I let you go look at a place without me, because she knew I was willing to sign at that moment.”
The building was formerly home to a Mexican restaurant that they said shut down in the middle of a weekday. There were still dishes in the sink in a dimly lit interior, but something about the property struck the Wrights as having potential.
“It started when I pulled into the parking lot,” Stephanie said. “It just had the quaintness about it that you don’t see in a lot of places. Walking in, it was dark because we didn’t have the skylights visible and the (patio) door in. … It wasn’t welcoming, but it felt right. We saw past all the challenges to the potential and really had faith that we could make something work. It just felt right.”
“This is the neighborhood that I grew up in; it felt nice to circle back to it,” Shawn added. “We started sketching some ideas down on paper for layout. I kind of saw the same thing. The only major change was putting the cold box outside. We originally had it here inside this whole space. We realized we wouldn’t have visibility to the back area, the bathrooms.”
Eventually, a lease was signed, and the build-out began. The drop ceiling was removed, the skylights were opened up, and the patio door was installed. Well, after the brewing tanks were brought in, since at first they were too large for the double doors at the front. Now the interior is bright and inviting.
Shawn said the process for federal and state licensing went quickly, but between the pandemic and the usual hurdles, local approval took a lot longer.
“The City was probably the biggest challenge, not because of the people, but because of the lack of transparency,” Shawn said. “There’s no clear definition of X, Y, and Z of what you have to do. You have to ask other people. There’s no (city) resource to get that information. (But) we got through those hurdles.”
“We intended from the beginning, COVID or not, to do as much of the work ourselves as we could,” Stephanie added. “Obviously certain things you have to have contractors and such. Everything that we could do ourselves we did. There were time constraints around that, but it was important to make it our own. We put our own tastes into it.”
Some things remained from the restaurant, such as the tables and chairs, which saved the Wrights some money. Some visible changes created by the owners include the unique lights hanging from the ceiling, the tiles on the wall behind the bar, and more.
“We didn’t actually have any interior design plan laid out, we just had some vague visions and kept piecing it together step by step,” Stephanie said. “We like it, we hope others like it, too.”
Buzz was already building prior to our interview among people in the area.
“People are rooting for us in this neighborhood, people are friendly in this neighborhood, and people seem excited to have another (craft beer) option in this neighborhood,” Shawn said. “We always, from the beginning, saw this as being a neighborhood pub. We have no intention of staying open any later than we need to. We have no intention of growing beyond these walls, at least for this purpose, for this market. We wanted it to just be where people come in, get a pint, sit at the bar. Things are shifting more to to-go, so we’ve got growlers. The primary was going to be to sit down and talk. There’s no TVs. It’s a place where there’s no distraction around them, but there is distraction from conversation and beer.”
Now everything is building toward the projected opening Thursday. ReSource had a quiet soft opening over the weekend to start to get things ironed out for the staff.
“If things go well, we’ll open fully Thursday the 22nd,” Shawn said. “Our days are going to be Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We’ll be closed Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, obviously to allow time to brew. Those days are long and it’s noisy. It’s not really chaotic, we could have people in here, theoretically. None of the brewing process is going on in the taproom, but it’s just noisy.”
In terms of beers to-go, ReSource will only be filling its own growlers for now. The growlers do not have logos on them, which also saves money. Shawn said they will keep filled growlers in the cooler to help expedite the process, and Stephanie was working on creating an online store to making ordering easier for anyone looking to get their beer for takeout only.
Shawn said he has 12 taps, with rotating guest beers filling out the lineup for now. Those beers will not be available for growler fills, only draft pours. As for his own beers, I got to enjoy four of the five, with only the IPA missing (it will be ready before Thursday).
“We’re starting with five beers of our own,” Shawn said. “We’ve got the Kolsch, called Clown Car. We’ve got the Que Swiss? Lager. We’ve got the Bert Lips, our schwarzbier. We will have, it’s not ready yet, our Moral Compass IPA. And then, we’ll have our Equality Stout.
“The fun part about it has been building these recipes at home and then seeing how well it translates to scale. In some regards, I’m extremely happy with how some of these beers are carrying over from original recipes. And then, in other aspects, some of it has changed considerably, but I think it’s for the better. Like the Swiss, I love the way that guy is tasting. It’s fun seeing what the differences are. The real challenge is repeating it. On a 5-barrel system, we figured we would build up enough stock to get us open. Then we can start brewing again next week or so once we get into the flow and start moving.”
Shawn also said customers can expect some unique small-batch beers in the near future, with slight modifications in terms of hop and yeast usage, and other fun twists on the main styles. He noted that he currently has room in the former kitchen area in the back, which will not be in use to start.
“That’s another piece, we do have the kitchen,” Stephanie said. “We decided with COVID to not open with food right now. There’s so many uncertainties. We will switch at some point, but it will be more appetizer type dishes.”
“We never had any desire to be a restaurant, we want to be a brewery,” Shawn added. “The food is there to put something in your belly. We want things that are a little more health-conscious, primarily vegetarian, but light. Stuff that doesn’t get in the way of the beer. Not so light it makes you stumble out of here thinking you should have eaten something (more), but not something that puts you to sleep like you just ate a quarter-pound burger.”
All told, ReSource has the makings of being another charming neighborhood pub, only located in the Northeast Heights instead of in the downtown area like Sidetrack, Gravity Bound, or Thirsty Eye. The four beers that Shawn has created so far are all solid examples of their respective styles. The Swiss lager and stout stood out to me, but the latter probably does not come as a surprise. I look forward to trying the IPA when the doors are open later this week.
A big thanks to Shawn and Stephanie for the invitation to come by, take a tour, and try their beers during the interview. I wish them nothing but luck going forward, and hope everyone takes some time to pay ReSource a visit while we are all still able to go out while it is safe, or at the very least places an order for a growler to take home.
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