Harmon Lane embraces its place in the greater New Mexico brewing community

Harmon Lane brewer/co-owner Danny Harmon is one of the true good guys in the industry.

Harmon Lane started out as a hidden little brewery nestled inside the homebrew shop Southwest Grape and Grain. Take it from someone who used to work there, we often had people walk inside and tell us some variation of “huh, you have a working brewery in here, too?”

These days, Harmon Lane is starting to get its name out there, and all it took was reaching out to its fellow breweries. I caught up with brewer/co-owner Danny Harmon for our Look Back/Look Ahead Series after a banner year for the little brewery that could.

“2022, it was a good year,” Harmon said. “It was a year of growth and development. Looking back, we hit a lot of milestones. The biggest thing is I think the quality of our beer has gotten better. Met a lot of really nice, fun people. Towards the end of last year really started getting a lot more involved in the (Brewers) Guild and the brewery community, and that’s something I really want to carry over into 2023. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Inhabiting a homebrew shop makes Harmon Lane unique among breweries. There is currently a beer on tap, Fuggle Around and Find Out, that was the winner of a homebrew competition hosted by SWGG. Sometimes the Harmon Lane beers on tap have to have their recipes slightly altered, mainly just due to what is in supply at the store.

“As far as the niche, as far as being in a homebrew supply store, we try to vary (our beers) a lot,” Harmon said. “We don’t narrow it down as to this is our go-to (style). My philosophy in brewing is that balance between the science of it and the art of it. I do alter water chemistry a little bit. But, we don’t use water filters or things like that.

“We’re always kind of altering our recipes a little bit, based on what’s available. It’s got the same name, but I didn’t have this hop, so we’re using this hop instead. Every batch is a little bit different. I think I like that part of our brewery. It’s similar, but it’s never the same.We’re as craft as craft gets, because we’re tiny.”

The beer lineup has plenty of variety and is constantly rotating, save for a few fan favorites.

Tiny or not, Harmon Lane has built up a loyal following.

“We’ve got the whole pack coming on Fridays, my family and friends, the Desperados softball team — the unofficial/official sponsors of Harmon Lane,” Harmon said with a laugh. “Friday is still our biggest day, but what we’ve been seeing is an uptick in overall beer sales throughout the week and the weekend, which has been nice.”

The favorite regular beers in the lineup do not feature many surprises, in terms of the most popular styles.

“The big hits have been the APA, the ‘Merica’s APA and our Mountain Valley Haze, those two have always been our two best sellers,” Harmon said. ?New Mexicans, that’s what the majority of people love with our extreme palates. As far as our seasonals, we’re rotating all the time. We’re only doing 1-barrel batches of our seasonals, so they’re coming and going fast and furious. We just did that Fuggle Around and Find Out, and people have really been enjoying that. That’s a chocolate peanut butter porter that we brewed with Nick and Sanja, they were the home-brew Winter Beer Battle champs. They came and brewed that beer with me on the big system. It’s been fun.”

Another favorite among the dark-beer-loving crowd is Tin Cup Stout. It had the honor, so to speak, of being the first Harmon Lane beer to bring home a trophy, winning the Brew Crew Stout Challenge back on Super Bowl Sunday in February.

“Yes, which was awesome, I could not believe that,” Harmon said. “I was so floored when you texted me. I thought, ‘Chris must have texted the wrong number.’ Oh, man, but what a cool thing that was, what an honor. I appreciate you guys for that.”

The Stout Challenge helmet trophy is quite at home at Harmon Lane.

As Harmon said before, another big change in 2022 was getting out of the brewery and into the beer community. That included joining the New Mexico Brewers Guild, and attending festivals for the first time. There will be a lot more festivals, and some collaboration beers with other breweries, coming up the rest of this year.

“Last year, we did our first festival, which is always fun,” Harmon said. “Like you said, we’re doing the Celtic Festival coming up. We’d like to do three more festivals to get our name out there. We’re also being more involved in the brewing community. So we’ve got the United in Beer collab that we’re doing with Turtle Mountain, that’s put on by Ex Novo. We’re also doing a collab with the ‘horrible’ guys over at Quarter Celtic; I can’t stand those guys, wink-wink. And, just being involved in the Guild events, the brewery events, really trying to be a bigger part of the community, get our name out there a bit more.”

If you have not checked out some of the short videos on social media highlighting this “feud” between Harmon Lane and Quarter Celtic, go ahead and check them out, they will bring a smile to your face.

Harmon does have a few other plans up his sleeve on the beer front for this year.

“I’ve got something up my sleeve for the end of spring, beginning of summer,” he said. “I don’t quite want to give it away. It’s an experimental style of brewing. I will say that it’s a SMASH hazy, but the way it’s brewed is going to be interesting. I don’t want to give that away yet, but it may turn out amazing, it may turn out horrible.

“Also, with the experimental, we’re doing some half-barrel experiments. I’m doing a seltzer/mead cross. So like a braggot, but instead of being a barley base, there’s a hard seltzer base and then with honey added in there. Kind of going after those wine drinkers, since we don’t have that (wine growers) license. I don’t know how it’s going to be. It’s back there, it’s cooling. It’s one of those things where it’s kind of good, but I don’t know if I like it, but we’re experimenting. It’s (only) two kegs, so we’re good.”

Some of the vessels for the small-but-mighty brewing system.

In many ways, 2023 could be the year Harmon Lane truly makes a name for itself, but as Harmon has learned, it helps to have some support from a few brewing friends.

“I’d love to thank the brewery community,” he said. “We were kind of hidden over here for a long time. Now that we’re more involved in the Guild, everybody’s just been super nice and welcoming and supportive. We’ve really felt the community aspect of all the breweries in New Mexico.”

We are glad to have you in the community, Danny. Thanks for the interview, beer samples, and just being a truly good human all these years. Take care of the Stout Challenge helmet; you earned it.

Keep supporting local!

— Stoutmeister

One Comment Add yours

  1. Cathy Conn says:

    Soooo Cool! I have known Danny Harmon since he was 2 years old and he has never ceased to impress and amaze me! Congrats Danny!

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