Those who read last year’s Look Back/Look Ahead story will remember that 2021 was a big year of change for Rumor Brewing Company in Cedar Crest, down to a full name change from the previous moniker of Ale Republic. They also doubled their brewing capacity, going from a 3.5-barrel brewhouse to a 7-barrel. This year, I sat down with Patrick Johnson, owner, and Robert Garcia, brewer, to find out how things are progressing, and what they are looking forward to in 2023.
This year, Patrick said, was the year to refine and complete those changes. While the refinements may seem smaller in contrast, they are things that will make a big impact. The large, adorable mural inside the taproom is complete. They have added more covered space for shade on the expanded patio. And, a lot of work is being done with landscaping that will really start to pay off next year as new trees and honeysuckle vines take hold, etc. In the semi-post-COVID new normal, they also brought back the pool table and added sandwiches back to the menu with house made focaccia bread. Music is back on Sundays from April through October.
Most importantly, there are improvements this year for the brewery part of the business. Patrick said they are getting recipes really dialed in, brewing weekly, and the beer has improved to the point that Patrick now feels comfortable for Rumor to start packaging more beer and hopefully start distributing to small restaurant accounts.
To make their lives much easier, they have added some additional ancillary equipment beyond the larger brewing system. They now have a tankless water heater and a professional grain grinder instead of a homemade, turbocharged homebrew mill that they were using.
The biggest issue now is storage. They would like to start a barrel program, but they just don’t have the room right now. But, they do eventually plan to expand into the full building in the back of the property — right now the brewing is in just a sectioned-off portion of that building. That means bumping the building out for a sloped drain.
And, for years Patrick has talked about a beer garden in the back. It’s just that other projects keep taking priority.
Necessity really is the mother of invention, and Patrick said he is extremely familiar with this concept. A professional canning system is outside of the current budget, so as usual Patrick got very creative. He went on Reddit and found a guy who posted three years ago about being able to rig up a canning system for $3,000 to $5,000. Patrick reached out to the gentleman and asked if he was still interested in doing it. He said yes, so Patrick commissioned one.
It’s a pneumatic system with a gravity-fed hopper to load cans on one side, and then there’s a can seamer. I mentioned that there are probably other small operations that could be interested in such a system. Rumor hasn’t put it into use yet, but Patrick said he has watched the videos, and added that as a scientist he feels confident it will work. It’s faster than the manual can-fill method that they have. It’s more hygienic and takes it down from a three-person job down to two. Patrick also said that anyone interested can reach out to him and he can provide contact information for the person who made it.
Patrick said he also recently discovered the Lupulin Exchange, a concept that can really help with supply chain issues.
This year’s fall festival in October was a big hit and included multiple vendors and music. Patrick said he thinks that will continue to be their big annual event. He said that he hopes to sponsor a relay race this spring and make it a spectator event. Rumor is right next to the open trail system in the east mountains, so it would be a natural fit.
We hope to see Rumor at more off-site festivals, too. Patrick said he is currently building his own really cool mobile tap system that even has a setup built into it to rinse the glasses!
Robert said he is a big fan of sours, and he is proud of the sours they are brewing at Rumor. They recently did a smoothie sour, simply called Love, for the first time. He wanted me to be sure to tell everyone that customers can expect more consistency in both the recipes and quality of the beer. This year, there will be more experiments, which will hopefully lead to even greater experiments going in to 2024.
The brewery really is a quick drive from the center of Albuquerque. Many people don’t realize that it’s 20 minutes or less from midtown. Cedar Crest is beautiful all year round, and definitely worth the trip. There are plenty of options to both eat and drink, so be sure to drink responsibly and have some of Rumor’s delicious food with your pint. They have a fun, outgoing staff as well.
Thanks to Patrick and Robert for taking time out of their Sunday to talk to us, and also for the pint. It was a blast hanging out!