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Congratulations to Sidetrack on three years in business! They will have plenty more beer in store for the year ahead.

Going into their fourth year, Sidetrack Brewing Company owners Dan Herr and Anne O’Neill have one main goal — making their beer even better.

To achieve that goal, they first had to acquire some new equipment, including a 7-barrel fermenter and an expanded walk-in cooler. Coming off a big year in sales, during which, Anne said, they struggled to keep up, these new items will help increase their production.

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Sidetrack’s shiny new fermenter, which they bought from Boxing Bear, will be ready to go within the next month or two.

Since Sidetrack doesn’t currently do any distribution or canning, 100 percent of its sales are out of the taps in house. This led them to expand their tap tower to 10 handles (previously six). In past years, there may have been two or three beers from other breweries flowing from those taps. Moving forward, they want their own beer to be featured. This will continue to include at least one, but usually two, regular cask offerings. Although it is a challenge to do, Anne said she hopes to “make it fun” and add new flavors like fruit to the cask beers.

With not much room to expand beyond their current footprint, Dan and Anne have to get creative with their use of the space by making these adjustments, along with smaller behind-the-scenes changes that most patrons probably won’t ever see or notice. All of the moves are aimed at bringing the brewery up to a more conventional system and improve the overall customer experience.

“We just open the doors and try to make the people who come in happy,” Dan said.

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It was a busy, but fun year for Bombs Away.

It’s been a busy first year for Bombs Away Beer Company owners John and Hilary Degnaro, and they show no signs of slowing down, as we found out for our annual Look Back/Look Ahead Series.

By 3:30 p.m. on the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving, the side streets outside the brewery were lined with cars, and the taproom was already packed with thirsty patrons ready to celebrate the long holiday weekend ahead.

Another recent holiday weekend was a significant landmark for the brewery — the Degnaros adopted Veteran’s Day 2017 as their first official opening. But, local residents and employees from Kirtland Air Force Base wouldn’t have noticed too much fanfare either for last year’s grand opening or for their one-year anniversary, since Hilary said it isn’t really their style.

Nevertheless, the brewery has had a considerable list of accomplishments in just a little over a year since opening.

“We’re sitting in the major accomplishment,” John said as he enjoyed a beer on the patio, which was completed near the end of July this year.

“(The patio) really opened up the square footage of the taproom,” Hilary said. “It’ll be standing-room-only in there, which amazes us.”

“People find us,” she continued. “We don’t put up a lot of signage. People like that it’s kind of a hidden gem.”

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