Archive for the ‘Beer History’ Category

We pulled this logo from the Eske’s Facebook page, which is still there, though without an update since January. After 27 years, the brewpub is no more.

A few months ago, we learned that something was up with Eske’s Brew Pub and Eatery in Taos. Its small brewer license was no longer listed with the State of New Mexico, and Google listed it as temporarily closed. There was no mention of the goings on in the local newspaper, and others in the area only had a vague idea of what was happening.

Now, per word on the street from friends and other business owners in Taos, we can report that Eske’s is no more. Google now lists it as permanently closed, and the building at 106 Des Georges is no longer called Eske’s on Google Maps.

There was never an official announcement on the brewpub’s website or on its Facebook page, so while we could be mistaken, it appears as though the second oldest brewery in New Mexico is no more.

Eske’s was founded by Steve Eskeback and his wife Wanda back in 1992, operating out of a converted house just a block or so from the Taos Plaza. It followed Santa Fe Brewing (1988), but unlike its much larger compatriot, Eske’s never moved locations. It had the distinction of being the oldest brewpub in the state, and the oldest brewery to operate continuously out of one location.

Eskeback was a home brewer and avid skier who had moved to the Taos area in 1982, as Jon C. Stott documented in his book, New Mexico Beer: A History of Brewing in the Land of Enchantment. Eskeback’s homebrews were so popular that the owner of the (long-since closed) Embudo Station Restaurant, halfway between Taos and Espanola, asked if he could purchase some bottles and sell them to customers. My, how different the liquor laws were back then. Anyway, the sale was a success, and Eskeback ended up a full-time brewer in 1989, creating the Sangre de Cristo Brewing Company. In 1992, Eskeback moved his brewing operation to Taos.

When we formed the Dark Side Brew Crew in 2012, few of us had been to any of the breweries outside of Albuquerque and Santa Fe (and, in the case of the latter, most of what we had was available in bottles). One of our first out-of-town trips for E-Rock and I was to head up to the Taos area and check out the scattered brewing outposts — Blue Heron, Comanche Creek, Taos Ale House (which no longer makes its own beer), and Eske’s.

The only photo that the Crew kept from our one visit to Eske’s back in 2012.

The old brewpub was the final stop of the night, and I was not particularly kind in my review of its beers. Besides teaching me that it’s better to be a reporter than a reviewer, it may have also been a sign of what was to come. The beers at Eske’s seemed out-of-date for 2012, and I compared to Kellys in how the scene had evolved and passed it by. Well, here we are in 2019, and Kellys stopped brewing, and now Eske’s has stopped all together.

Eskeback sold the brewpub and retired some time ago. I saw him at the Taos round of the IPA Challenge last year, and meant to stop by to chat with him. That never happened, much like my promised return to Eske’s to give the beer another opportunity. Back in 2012, I did not yet have the appreciation for the history of the beer scene that I have now, and all of it just feels like a missed opportunity to learn more about the earlier era of brewing in New Mexico.

If anyone else has some Eske’s memories, be they recent or from the early days, good or bad, please send us an email at

In the meantime, raise a glass this week to the Eskebacks, all their past employees, and their customers, for bringing the brewpub concept to our state at the dawn of our current brewing industry.


— Stoutmeister

Marble, you have truly come a long way since 2008. (All photos courtesy of John Gozigian unless noted.)

The Albuquerque craft brewing scene of early 2008 was barely a scene at all. A series of closures in the years prior had left just three operational breweries within the city limits — Chama River, Il Vicino, Kellys — plus two in nearby suburbs, Tractor in Los Lunas and Turtle Mountain in Rio Rancho. There were only two breweries regularly packaging and distributing beers in the state, Santa Fe Brewing and Sierra Blanca in Moriarty, which had just bought out Albuquerque’s Rio Grande Brewing a year earlier.

Then, on April 23, hundreds of people lined up outside a revamped warehouse at the corner of Marble Avenue and First Street. It was a brewery unlike any other in the state. It packaged in the back, but also sold beer on tap out front. There was no kitchen to be found. It was just beer, a concept that no one had done on a large scale in New Mexico up to that point.

Marble Brewery was born, and so was the current craft beer scene in Albuquerque, and really New Mexico as a whole.

President and founding brewmaster Ted Rice sat down with me last week to once again recap the history of his brewery as it prepares to celebrate its 10th anniversary this week.

Back in 2008, Ted had come from Chama River, which he had transformed from just another brewpub into an award-winning operation. Along with his original partners, John Gozigian and Jeff Jinnett, he set out to start a new brewery that left the brewpub model behind.

“I vividly remember the day we went shopping for buildings to open this new brewery that we knew would be 100-percent beer-focused, no restaurant,” Ted said. “The building on 111 Marble Avenue was the last one we looked at. We said this was perfect in regards to proximity to downtown, availability of parking, and inside it was already kind of split up in a way that one-third of it was (the future) pub and two-thirds was production.”

Inside the brewery in 2008. It’s changed just a bit since then.

John and Jeff named it Marble Brewery after the street outside, Ted said. From there, he and Daniel Jaramillo (now of La Cumbre) got to work transforming the empty warehouse into a workable space for making beer.

“When I looked at the space, it was about 5,000 square feet for brewing,” Ted said. “Coming from Chama, where I was producing 1,600 barrels a year annually, brewing about 5,000 barrels in 5,000 square feet, it seemed like plenty of beer in plenty of space to do it in. We ended up selling 5,000 barrels in our first full calendar year. From there, it was just a matter of fitting as much equipment into this space as we could. Eventually that led to our little fermentation penitentiary outdoors.”

Ted said the equipment, everything from the forklift to the bottling line to the brewhouse, came from a defunct brewery in South Bend, Indiana. It was loaded onto trucks and shipped west. (For those who are curious, the original brewhouse is still in operation at Smog City Brewing in Torrance, California.)

“I don’t think I ever set up a brewery from start to finish before,” Ted said. “I’d worked in maybe three or four other breweries and toured numerous (others). I’d never built one from the ground up. This space evolved over time as we put in new equipment, but for the most part the foundation has named the same. It didn’t really seem all that hard to put together.

“Daniel Jaramillo and I cranked out the first batches to get us open. I’ll never forget that reception on opening day. We were just packed to the gills from the get-go. That let us know that this town was yearning and craving for more beer, new beer, and a new fun space to enjoy it.”

Look at those two youngsters back in the day!

A big inspiration for Marble was the old Chama River Microbar downtown on Second Street behind the Sunshine Theater.

“It was a different model, for sure,” Ted said. “I’m not saying that we invented it. Nobody in town was focused on production and consumption. We saw the success of the Microbar on Second Street. It was just a 400-square foot box that sold beer. So we’re like, let’s have a brewery that’s eventually going to bottle, can, and keg, and a place where people can come sample the beers. I think it was maybe (not) originally thought of as a pub, (but) maybe where people would sample and have one beer and then grab some package beer to go. It evolved into a community beer appreciation hub.”

The idea that people would show up en masse and just enjoy beer with no food was revolutionary for New Mexico. Numerous other breweries would eventually follow that model, starting with La Cumbre in December 2010. Others would stick to the brewpub model, though often with a twist like Nexus in May 2011. The point is that Marble was the brewery that showed how much Albuquerque wanted good craft breweries. That boom has yet to ebb, with 30 breweries now in operation within the city limits, another half-dozen in the suburbs, and many more in the planning stages.

“I think the state and nation on a whole was getting (ready), because you saw it across the nation that a lot of breweries opened just after we did, but I definitely feel as though our success (here) inspired and created a lot of momentum for people to follow a single model,” Ted said, “and have the confidence that the communities and beer-drinking public were ready for beer-focused operations that embraced patrons from noon to midnight.”

Those old wood floors were part of the character in the original pub space.

It was not always the smoothest evolution from the grassroots start to the massive operation that Marble has become. There were taprooms that worked (Westside) and those that did not (Santa Fe). The revamped logo and imagery, from the old colored marbles to the maverick, was met with mixed responses when it debuted in early 2014. Then there was the fact that Marble outgrew its original footprint in record time.

“There was a point where the tanks were so close to the brewhouse, you couldn’t fit a scissor lift in there, you had to watch your head,” Ted said.

The massive downtown expansion, which eventually included an expanded patio, the rooftop deck, and of course the towering fermentation hall, greatly eased a lot of the crush for the staff and customers. The addition of the second brewery, the MavLab, inside the Heights taproom in 2016 also freed up the downtown brew team to focus on the core beers for packaging, while brewmaster Josh Trujillo got to play mad scientist again and keep the on-tap variety fresh and funky.

“I always forget, there were many pints in between then and now, but I knew when we first opened that IPA would be number one from my experience here in town,” Ted said. “We had some of our other offerings like the Oatmeal Stout and an Amber. It was at Stan Hieronymous’ suggestion that I include a wheat beer in the lineup, because he talked about how powerful the Blue Moon brand is and how much volume they do as one style. It was more than the whole portfolio of Sam Adams. The first one I developed was Wildflower Wheat. Since then I added Double White and I think we’ve seen where that’s gone.”

Double White is now the top-selling beer at Marble, but it does not hold the title of the most awarded beer. That goes to the Pilsner, which was not on the initial menu in 2008, but came about as time went along.

“We had a kolsch in the early days,” Ted said. “I might have tinkered with a blonde ale at some point, I can’t recall. We worked our way up to brewing our Pilsner, which is one of our proudest classics.”

The downtown brewery and taproom in 2008.

The downtown brewery and pub in 2016. Not much has changed, right? (Photo by Mario Caldwell.)

Marble started with eight beers on tap, Ted said. That number has grown by just a bit.

“Now, with the expansions and innovations that we’ve done, with the addition of the Heights brewery, the MavLab, now we have up to 17 beers on tap here downtown and maybe close to 25 on the Westside,” he said. “Now we’re at the space where we can brew the classics that we love, the IPA, Red, and Double White, and have those available for distribution and then have the MavLab with Josh Trujillo at the helm crafting a continuous stream of fun and innovative flavors. We might have had eight beers on tap in the beginning and now at one location we’ve got 25, so that’s pretty cool.”

Marble was also one of the first breweries to embrace live music as part of its taproom experience. There are probably more than a few bands and individual musicians who owe a lot to Marble and the other event-hosting breweries in an era where music venues seem to be closing on a regular basis.

“From the get-go when I saw this space, I said let’s put a stage over here,” Ted said. “Live music has always been one of my passions. I was walking by our patio the other day and I thought to myself this was pretty cool. We’re back in music season with the (nice) weather coming up. I think enjoying a great pint, hanging out with your friends, and listening to live music is just something I can do every single day. We’re happy to support the local scene when it comes to music. We never charge a cover to come see our bands. Seeing bands is an amenity down here and we love to support it.”

Ted Rice showing off the fermentation hall to the Crew when it opened in 2016. (Photo by Mario Caldwell)

Marble was also one of the first local breweries to go all-in on social media as the best means of communicating with its customers. It just had to hire the right person to run that part of the business.

“We knew it was important to have a dedicated, experienced professional communicating with a clear, consistent voice about what we love and what our brand is all about,” Ted said. “So, having the expertise of Leah Black on board has obviously gotten word out about Marble’s events. It can’t just be your (random) bartender anymore banging out tweets, at least for a company our size. Three locations, distribution, music, food trucks, new beers, it’s a never-ending conversation.

“That’s one of the things I love about our operation. We’re not just manufacturing beer for distribution. We’re crafting character and celebrating it every day.”

A big thanks to Ted for being willing to go through the history of Marble a second time (the first was for a certain book that I wrote). And for the full pint of Stout Americano, which is still tasting delicious and more people should be buying right now (hint).

We will have more on Marble’s 10th anniversary later this week as the staff shares their thoughts on what 10 years means to each of them.


— Stoutmeister

A certain beer writer will be appearing on a live podcast recording and signing copies of his book tonight at High and Dry Brewing.

Shameless self promotion is not usually my thing, but I felt compelled to share this event. Tonight (Friday) at 7 p.m., High and Dry Brewing will host a live recording of the City on the Edge podcast featuring yours truly. We will be delving into the history of Albuquerque’s brewing scene, which of course I wrote about in Albuquerque Beer: Duke City History on Tap.

City on the Edge focuses on different aspects of local history, politics, culture, and more. Co-host Ty Bannerman, who has written for the Weekly Alibi and numerous other local publications, is a big craft beer fan. He asked me to come on board and chat about the book and how the scene continues to evolve (such as Chama River closing last year). After I am done yapping about the past, High and Dry brewer/owner Andrew Kalemba will hop on to talk about the newest brewery to join our scene.

High and Dry just had a huge opening weekend, with lines down the block from its location at 529 Adams NE, which is just south of Lomas. Many of the brewery’s own beers were wiped out by thirsty first-time customers, so Andrew has been busy cranking out new batches.

I will have a few remaining copies of the book for sale for $20, which I will be signing as well. If you have procrastinated in the past about picking one up, well, this may be your last chance until perhaps ABQ Beer Week. Of course, if you already have a copy and do not have a signature, please bring it by and I will sign it free of charge.

Or you can just swing on by, enjoy a beer at a fresh new brewery, and I figure at some point we will be taking questions from the audience.

Cheers to the weekend!

— Stoutmeister

A little beer history for the weekend

Posted: August 5, 2016 by cjax33 in Beer History
Want to listen to Stoutmeister talk about the local beer scene? Here is your chance.

Want to listen to Stoutmeister talk about the local beer scene? Here is your chance.

As I prepare to ramble tomorrow (Saturday) about beer to an audience at the library where I work, progress is being made on the Albuquerque beer history book I am writing for The History Press, a division of Arcadia Publishing. One thing I obtained this week from fellow author Jon Stott was a chronology of breweries in New Mexico, at least those that have arrived since 1988. Needless to say, pre-Prohibition records are spotty at best.

The most fascinating part of this list is all the breweries that no longer exist. Many came and went long before I, the oldest active member of the Crew at 38, could even partake in beer (legally, at least). Some I knew about, others are names I never heard of before. To start a little weekend discussion, all of us in the Crew would love to hear back from everyone out there who may have visited one of these places back in the day. Of course, if there is anyone out there who worked at the breweries that were in the ABQ metro area, and may have some old photos lying around, please contact us at

After this, everything I find for the book will be going into the book (planned release May 2017), but when I am allowed to share some small tidbits, rest assured I will do so here.

Here are all the breweries that came and went from the late 1980s to the current decade. They are ordered by their start date, not their closing date or location. Thanks to Jon for the list!

  • Embudo Station Brewing (1989-2008): Originally founded by Mike Eskeback, who of course would later go on to open Eske’s in Taos.
  • Manzano Mountain Brewing, Tijeras (1991-92)
  • Russell Brewing, Santa Fe (1992-96)
  • Assets Grill and Brewery, Albuquerque (1993-2005): Heimat House was the most recent business to fail in this location on Montgomery.
  • Rio Bravo (original version), Albuquerque (1993-97)
  • Old West Brewery, Mesilla (1994-2000)
  • O’Ryan’s Tavern & Brewery, Las Cruces (1994-2000)
  • Rio Grande Brewing, Albuquerque (1994-2007): Sierra Blanca bought out this brewery and effectively merged it into their operations in Moriarty.
  • Elephant Butte Pizzeria and Brewery (1995-97)
  • Alamogordo Brewing (1996-99)
  • Cabezon Brewing, Albuquerque (1996-2004)
  • Volcano Brewery, Rio Rancho (1996-98)
  • Wolf Canyon Brewing, Santa Fe (1996-2000)
  • Alvarado Brewing, Albuquerque (1997-98): The owners of the original Rio Bravo attempted to start over with this operation, without success.
  • Bavarian Lager Cellar, Albuquerque (1997-98): It was located on the corner of Wyoming and San Antonio, in the same shopping center as where Sandia Chile Grill currently resides.
  • San Ysidro Brewing, Albuquerque (1997-98)
  • Big Tesuque Brewing, Santa Fe (1998-99?)
  • Socorro Springs Brewery (1999-2010): Technically still open, though 2010 was when they stopped brewing their own beer and instead outsourced it all to Eddyline Brewing in Colorado.
  • Dry Gulch Brewery and Grille, Albuquerque (2000-02)
  • Milagro Grill and Brewery, Bernalillo (2001-05)
  • Pinon Brewing, Los Alamos (2005-07)
  • Corrales Bistro Brewery (2007-12): Also technically still open, though they also stopped making their own beer and are now just a taphouse featuring other local brands.
  • Silver City Brewing (2007-10)
  • Hallenbrick Brewery, Albuquerque (2009-11): It will always go down as the first place I ever met Leah Black.
  • Mimbres Valley Brewing, Deming (2010-14)
  • Bad Ass Brewery, Albuquerque (2011-12): Arguably the worst reviewed local brewery of all time. Space now occupied by Lizard Tail, though they completely cleaned out the joint.
  • Broken Bottle Brewery, Albuquerque (2012-15)
  • New Mexico Craft Brewing, Las Vegas (2012-15)
  • The Stumbling Steer Brewery and Gastropub, Albuquerque (2013-14)

Share those memories, and enjoy your weekend, everyone! If you want to come hear me ramble on Saturday at 11 a.m., the Cherry Hills Library is located on the northwest corner of Harper (what San Antonio becomes east of Wyoming) and Barstow.


— Stoutmeister