Breweries in Burque suburbs react to newly passed liquor laws

In the months to come, you will be able to raise your horns to more than just beers on the patio at Ex Novo.

A few weeks ago, readers asked us if the breweries were going to comment publicly on House Bill 255, which included alcohol delivery and other changes to some long-standing liquor laws in New Mexico.

The breweries declined comment at the time, and the New Mexico Brewers Guild later sent out an email asking them not to say anything until the bill was either passed or not. Well, the bill was passed, and signed into law by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.

At that point, we reached out to the Guild for comment, but never heard back. Eventually, we went back to the brewery owners directly, inquiring with about 30 of them to see what they think of the changes to the state’s liquor laws. Only three responded, each from a brewery in a different suburb of Albuquerque — Dana Koller of Kaktus Brewing in Bernalillo, Nico Ortiz of Turtle Mountain Brewing in Rio Rancho, and Joel Gregory of Ex Novo Brewing in Corrales.

“I never in a million years thought that this bill would find its way to the governor’s desk,” Ortiz wrote. “Pairing liquor license updating with alcohol delivery in the same bill I thought was a death sentence to its passage, but as last year was a year like no other, so was this legislative session.”

Hey, we’ll take anything at this point, since we know many of you are still curious as to what will come next from this bill and what it all means to the breweries. We asked four basic questions, and will continue to follow up on this in the future as the changes take effect on July 1.

NMDSBC: Does any part of the bill affect/help your brewery?

Kaktus: I think this will be a great addition to helping revenue. I don’t feel that it has a negative affect at all, only positive.

Turtle Mountain: We peddle wood-fired pizzas, and what goes better with a craft pizza than craft beer? We use a local delivery company called Deliver dot com, so being able to advertise beer delivery with pizza delivery should definitely increase our delivery sales. I already spoke with the guy who handles our delivery and he will be applying for the license as soon as he is able.

We currently have a beer/wine restaurant license for (our forthcoming offsite taproom in) Enchanted Hills pending before ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control), and being able to open up with NM spirits as well as beer and wine will certainly help us attract more potential business, and will allow us to compete with well-funded corporate restaurants and tribal enterprises.

Ex Novo: The addition of reciprocity to NM distilleries is a help, as is the flexibility on the licensed premises of our property. We had to have a separate offsite taproom license for our taproom because it is not contiguous with our brewery; that should go away and we can have it all under one license.

NMDSBC: Does any part of the bill affect/help the industry, in your opinion?

Kaktus: I think that it is a huge improvement to the industry, and certainly supports the local spirits in a big way.

Turtle Mountain: I certainly think reciprocity helps out the craft distilling industry in the state, and if definitely helps out all of us who have restaurant beer/wine licenses and can’t afford to pay $350k for a full liquor license.

Ex Novo: If we’re talking about the broader food/drink industry, this is an enormous help. I do feel for those who lost value in their liquor licenses, but it was an archaic law and this is the right step forward for NM, and it will help the hospitality industry hugely and culture and tourism will improve as a result. It certainly helps our NM distilleries, and I hope they continue to elevate quality as they are able to distribute to many more outlets in the state.

NMDSBC: Will you be participating in alcohol delivery directly, through a third party (should one emerge), or is that something still to be determined?

Kaktus: If there is not a limit on how much beer we can deliver then yes, we will be implementing directly. We are not very interested in third party.

Turtle Mountain: Yes. See above.

Ex Novo: I don’t think we will be doing alcohol delivery directly, given the small amount you are able to deliver, but we will be working with some of our accounts (like pizza places) who are set up for delivery to get them cans they can sell.

NMDSBC: Will any of you consider applying for that additional license that will enable you to sell spirits?

Kaktus: YES.

Turtle Mountain: Yes. I’ve already reached out to my hearing officer with ABC to ask her about that new $500 NM Spirituous License for Enchanted Hills.

Ex Novo: Yes, I do think EN will be serving limited spirits and cocktails this summer. It isn’t something we’re trying to make our focus, but it definitely helps bring groups in that have some that aren’t into beer.

Well, so far it appears that the bill and its many changes to the laws, be it delivery or the ability to sell locally made spirits, are positives in the eyes of at least three brewery owners. Whatever the rest think of it all, we will have to wait and see until July.

“I am happy to see that New Mexico is finally looking at the big picture of what is possible, and catching up with the rest of the country,” Koller wrote in addition to his replies to the questions.

A big thanks to Dana, Nico, and Joel for responding. If we do hear from anyone else in the next couple days, we will update and re-share this story.

Keep supporting local!

— Stoutmeister

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