That which was rumored is now fact. After operating as Ale Republic since its inception, the only brewery in the East Mountains/Cedar Crest area is now Rumor Brewing.
We caught up with owner Patrick Johnson over lunch to discuss this move, which he had hinted to us was in the works in a series of brief conversations over the last few months.
“These changes take a long time to implement,” Johnson said. “I intentionally didn’t tell anybody and kept it on the DL. We really changed everything last October. It’s been Rumor since then.
“I’ve had the domain for Rumor for years. It was for fun, Rumor Brewing, it’s kind of a pun. I thought it was kind of catchy. Ale Republic was something I started with Zach (Gould). When he left the company last October, I just decided to refresh and rebrand. Kind of take the whole brewing in a more streamlined direction. Before, it was kind of hodgepodge, just do whatever whenever.”
The signage out front and the merchandise for sale inside have already been changed since the official announcement was made on Facebook last week.
“I really liked the name,” Johnson said. “I hired my logo artist to help with the branding. He did the jackalope with the burning ears, kind of like your ears are on fire because someone is spreading rumors about you. It’s simpler. The old Ale Republic logo, it was for an old concept. Everything was just mashed together, it didn’t have a cohesive brand. That was the goal. It’s easier to say.”
While Albuquerque’s Rumor Pizza did not seem to be happy with the name change, Johnson said moving away from the Ale Republic name should at least alleviate any confusion with Craft Republic, the sports bar off Jefferson in the Northeast Heights.
“We just wanted to kind of regroup,” he said. “Rumor is kind of like you’re up in the mountains, like I’ve heard about that place kind of thing. That was kind of fun.”
Just changing the name of the brewery was not all that Johnson and his staff have done in the last few months.
“We also had a lot of (other) stuff happening all at once,” he said. “If you talk to any other brewer, three barrels if you’re doing any decent business is just too small to keep consistent, quality beer on tap. When Zach quit, I said we need a real 7-barrel system, and doing that without a ton of money can be difficult. We did that. We’re still growing into our new 7-barrel system. We’re totally gone from the 3-barrel, which is nice.”
The new brew system features the original horizontal mash tun from Bombs Away Beer Company, plus more traditional vertical tanks for the boil kettle and hot/cold liquor. The 7-barrel brite tanks and fermenters are also in place.
Still, not everything has gone exactly according to plan.
“That presented a lot of new challenges, like our glycol machine which we just bought was for the 3-barrel system, and so that’s undersized and it failed (Tuesday),” Johnson said. “There’s always challenges, but the 7-barrel system should potentially last us for a long time.”
From an aesthetic/comfort standpoint for customers, there have also been some improvements for Rumor Brewing.
“We kind of finished with all of our patio refreshing and beer garden projects,” Johnson said. “So it’s quote-unquote finished with our stage and everything. I wanted to get that done so we could have plenty of outdoor space for people to spread out, anticipating that COVID is not going to get any easier. And then, I’m going to spend this winter working on our beer recipes, getting our quality and consistency down with our new brewing system.”
Johnson said that once everything is in place, he hopes to start getting cans of Rumor beer out the door.
“Eventually get into some package, but for the moment we’re just selling on premise,” he said. “We’re going to do some four-packs here pretty soon, probably this week. I need to buy a new fridge. I had to just buy an ice machine, because every third person orders water and they make a stink if you don’t have ice. Now that we serve food, it’s more of a restaurant and they expect iced tea. I have to buy an ice machine, I have to buy a new fridge, but it’s good.”
Rumor has not been hit as hard as other breweries with the ongoing shortage of staff, Johnson added, though it still remains a challenge to convince people living in Albuquerque that the commute is not too long (I made it up there in 30 minutes from my home near San Antonio and Louisiana).
Otherwise, business is moving along for the newly rebranded brewery.
“There’s not too much more to add, I don’t think,” Johnson said. “I just wanted to make sure that we’re putting out pretty good beer. I don’t know if we’ll (enter to) win any awards, but that’s not what I’m after. We make good food, good beer, and (have) a good environment. We’ve been doing music every weekend, which is fun. People have been enjoying it. I’d like to be kind of known for that, if you go up on the weekend there will be music. It’s not going to be showstoppers, it might just be one guy jamming on a guitar.”
A little music in the outdoors on a picture-perfect fall afternoon, with a wood-fired pizza, and a pint of brew sounds like a very nice day, in our humble opinion.
A big thanks to Patrick for taking the time to meet up, and for a mighty tasty lunch.
Keep supporting local!