Sometimes, you just go to visit a new brewing site to enjoy a pint and take a cursory look around. Oh, but then along comes the unexpected behind-the-scenes tour from one of the owners, and you forget to record a second of it.
Anyway, now that I have reminded myself to not do that again, I offer up a somewhat short recap of my visit late last week to the new Boxing Bear Firestone Lane taproom. It officially opened on Thursday, though in a way, it is still only half open. Oh, the taproom is fully functional, and the patio is ready for everyone to enjoy, but together they only occupy a little less than half the total space in the building.
Most of the location will eventually become home to Boxing Bear’s brewhouse, as well as a sizable storage area, some offices for the brewing staff, and then there’s the upstairs … well, we will get to that in a minute.
Co-owner Kevin Davis led me into the back area, which is still under construction/renovation to transform it into a functional brewery. The massive walk-in cooler on the west side was still being completed. The main glycol chilling unit has not yet arrived, either. There are some new fermenters and brite tanks waiting in the storage area, where stacks of cans are also standing. Eventually, Davis told me that they will be able to order enough cans at a time to have their year-round offerings printed, instead of attached labels like they have now.
The main brewing floor is done, with the trench drains ready. One can envision where the brewhouse and rows of fermenters, both 10- and 20-barrel, will go. There was some debate among the brewers as to whether or not they would keep the current 10-barrel brewhouse, but ultimately they decided to stick with it, Davis said. He noted that getting to between 7,000 and 8,000 barrels per year is the goal, and Boxing Bear can do that with the current brewhouse.
Ultimately, though, there is a lot of space to grow into. Most importantly, there will be plenty of room for the canning line, which barely fits into the current brewery space off Alameda.
As for the original location, the plan is to keep it as a taproom once the brewing equipment moves across the river. Boxing Bear will still brew next to Corrales through the summer, as moving the brewery and not having beer for a while during the busiest time of the year would be a bad idea, to put it mildly.
For now, it is just rather nice to see the growth of a local brewery even in the midst of a pandemic.
To find the brewery, we do want to note that it is not directly visible off Jefferson if you are going north. The exact address is 8420 Firestone Ln NE, which is basically just a small business road on the east side of Jefferson, roughly three blocks south of Alameda. Hopefully they will be allowed to put a sign saying “BEER THIS WAY” or something of that sort, since driving by one’s self makes it a tad risky to keep glancing down at the Google Maps app on your phone.
Oh, yeah, and the upstairs part I mentioned earlier bears an explanation. Apparently, the building used to have two separate businesses. The owner of the business on the east side had an actual, functional apartment built upstairs. There is a small kitchen, a bedroom, a bathroom, and yeah, it kinda feels like that first tiny place you got after college when you could barely afford rent.
However, Davis told me that their initial idea, turn it into an Airbnb, will not fly with the City of Albuquerque under the present zoning for the property. Alas, none of us will be able to spend the night at a brewery, at least not for now. (Not that anyone would really want the Brew Crew to have that sort of access to lots and lots of beer.)
Anyway, once the brewing equipment moves in, we will revisit this location for a follow-up story. In the meantime, we will probably just go there for beer, since it’s basically now the closest Boxing Bear taproom to several Crew members’ homes, myself included.
And yes, I will not forget to record the tour next time.
Keep supporting local!