Old dive bars never die, they just get remade into small breweries.
Long-time Burqueños will remember the old Burt’s Tiki Lounge, a dive of a live music venue, on Gold between Third and Fourth Streets in downtown. It has now been remade and rebranded into Echoes Brewery. Stoutmeister and I headed over last weekend to see the completely renovated space and meet with one of the owners.
Much of the work was done during COVID, and it is now unrecognizable except for the front doors, which we were told are literally the only remnants of what was Burt’s. They removed all of the old lighting and the drop ceiling, because they were fire hazards, and got a new roof. Inside the bright new space, complete with 17 skylights now, we met up with Jake Ralphs. Jake has partnered with Josh James, founder and head brewer from Black Snout (a former brewery in the far NE Heights) on this new brewery and live music venue.
Sometimes when we do a preview story on a new brewery, we might have to work pretty hard to get information. This was not the case with this interview. Jake was so excited about this new venture; it’s the definition of a passion project. He called it his “second act.”
“This is an experiment in progress,” Jake said. “For me, when I drink beer, I want to listen to music. When I listen to music, I want to drink beer.”
For everything they are doing, they want it to be very much related to the idea of craft itself. Craft beer, craft wine (currently from Milagro in Corrales), and what he also refers to as “craft music.” They want to host local, live music as much as possible. But, there’s a twist.
“What we want to do is direct-artist licensing (and publishing) for current recordings and copyright holders … the ability to have a band come in, perform, capture, and archive that performance, publish and copyright that performance, and then it’s their property,” Jake said. “They’ll sign a license to us to be able to use that. If they’d like our team to master that performance, we can do that, or they can take the digital download and manipulate and market it themselves. … We will have collected all of these echoes of live performances. …
“An artist can (also) come in with a CD, and in four-and-a-half minutes I can take an archived copy of that and put it onto our server. We can get them to sign a release so that we can play that music back. When you come into Echoes, you will hear local music, live recordings, artist-produced recordings, but stuff that you will not hear anyplace else.”
Grant monies are forthcoming to pay for the build-out of the stage on the south end of the space, and of course the wonderful mural of Echo, Narcissus, and the Sea Nymph sisters that will adorn the wall behind the bar. Jake is a big New Mexico United fan, so he said he hopes to be able to bring watch parties into the mix, as well.
Currently, Echoes has one of their own beers on tap, an IPA that will be the flagship beer, simply named Echoes IPA. Stoutmeister noted that it is a solid, mid-range IPA, neither too malty on the back nor overly hoppy up front. It should satiate the hop-heads and even those who might find the house IPA at other local breweries to be a bit too much. Many breweries struggle out of the gate with their IPAs, but Echoes was able to hit all the right notes that Jake wanted in this beer.
“We sat down and (asked) what do we want our anchor to be?” he said. “The great thing about an anchor is if you have that established brand, that iconic drink that everybody cane come in and have. In New Mexico, it doesn’t matter what flavor of soda you want, you say I want a Coke. I want this to be the Coke, I want this to be the anchor. And, around that, we will have four beers rotating in for absolute pure pleasure, just amazing different types of things. Some will be hits, some will be misses. We can always pour it down the drain if we have to, but then we know not to go there.”
There are a few guest taps as well as the previously mentioned Milagro wines. There are more core house beers in the works, which will each be named after one of Echo’s sea nymph sisters (from Greek mythology). The beer colors will reflect each of the sisters’ hair color. There will also be specialty beers/seasonals. Next up, Jake said, will be a coconut stout. He is also looking to partner with a cider producer.
Jake said they want to bring in some help, which he described as “adventurous, small-scale craft brewers that want to experiment in a controlled, SOP-driven way and produce new things for our clients that will be truly unique in the marketplace. … So, if there are brewers out there that want to come check us out and chat with us, and maybe plug into what we’re doing, we would love to have that conversation.”
Basically, Jake has a unique perspective on most things.
“There’s a huge fine line to walk now to restore and bring life back to downtown,” he said. “Because we’ve got to win back the hearts of the former people that came down here, and let them know that it’s OK. … If enough people start espousing the businesses here on Gold, I think we can create a micro-climate, and that it’s OK to come down, park your car, walk in, grab some pizza, have a beer, see your friends, and go home. We’re going to be closed by 10 p.m.”
Finally, there’s also a different approach to providing food options. There is no kitchen, so as Jake explained, there will be partnerships with the restaurants along the block.
“We’re going to put in a kiosk, which is just a glorified iPad on a stand,” he said. “You’ll be able to order food from neighbors and have it delivered.”
There are more food options in the immediate neighborhood than probably most people realize, including one of Stoutmeister’s favorite places, Wing it Up, which already has a deal in place to deliver food just steps away to Echoes, in the two hours both places are simultaneously open (5 to 7 p.m.).
Jake said it’s been a learning curve dealing with all the bureaucratic stuff, which is a story we’ve all heard from basically every new brewery. That said, Jake reported that he is absolutely euphoric now that Echoes is open, and exhausted, but totally happy.
So, readers, let’s help Jake and Josh support a revitalization of Gold Street. We like the plan to keep things super local. You might say the Crew “echoes” the sentiment.
Cheers!… Cheers!… Cheers!… Cheers!…