Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

The frame has gone up and the foundation has been poured for the future Tractor taproom in Los Lunas, the brewery’s original home.

Twenty years ago, Tractor Brewing came to life in the Village of Los Lunas. Five years ago, it left the village behind, moving all of its brewing operations to Albuquerque. Later in 2019, it will move back to Valencia County in the form of its fourth offsite taproom.

To get a better read on this version of you can go home again, I sat down with Tractor president/co-owner Skye Devore. Her brewery already has three offsite taprooms in Albuquerque — Nob Hill, Four Hills, Westside — but the opportunity to add another was too good to pass up.

“Because we wanted to do another something, and we feel like Albuquerque has got a lot of Tractor right now,” Skye said. “We thought it would be a good idea for something not in Albuquerque, but I don’t want to drive too far, so Los Lunas seems perfect. There’s a lot going on there economically right now.

“I remember when we were there before, it used to be so hard to convince anybody to drink craft. Now it’s just not like that anymore. Now it’s a great place to be.”

The brewery will be located off Main Street, not far from the Facebook Data Center.

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The calm before the storm … of fun! Marble will celebrate its 11th anniversary with a huge street party this Saturday.

Marble Brewery is growing up fast, with its 11th birthday coming up this weekend. Naturally, being Marble and all, the staff is throwing a huge fiesta for all of its loyal patrons, with additional events and beer releases sprinkled throughout the week.

To get the lowdown on all of it, I sat down with marketing director Geraldine Lucero, who is the keeper of all celebratory knowledge at 111 Marble Avenue.

“We’ve got an event planned every night this week,” she said. “We kicked it off with our Brew Club appreciation party on the deck (on Monday). It was just our way of saying thank you to all of our loyal patrons that have been there. A lot of them have been Brew Club members for a long time. So we just gave them some free food, our way of saying thank you, that we love you, and without them we couldn’t do it. That’s what this whole week is about, saying thank you by giving (our customers) these awesome events to be entertained with.”

The beer dinner is nearly sold out tonight, while the 19.2-ounce cans will go quickly Saturday.

Next up on the event calendar is a first-time beer dinner collaboration between Marble and a popular Nob Hill restaurant.

“Tonight we are doing a beer dinner at Frenchish in Nob Hill,” Geraldine said. “Josh (Trujillo) and I met with Chef Jennifer James and her team. It’s been a weeks now, but we hosted them here to taste some beers and work on a menu. It’s going to be her first beer dinner, I believe. She said it’s a little out of my element, but she’s such a talented chef that I’m really excited to see how the dinner goes tonight. We’re close to that, a close sellout, too. We have a few seats left for that. My goal is to sell out every event this week.”

Call (505) 433-5911 to see if you can still get a reservation. The cost is $75 per person for a four-course dinner that starts at 6 p.m.

“We’re really excited about that,” Geraldine said. “We’re going to feature the last keg of the 111 Rosé that John Heine brewed. We’re bringing eight Marble team members. I’m just really excited. I love beer dinners, I love Jennifer James, and I love Frenchish. I sought them out and asked them to have this beer dinner with us because they’re amazing.”

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Despite its hidden location, customers are finding their way to Cantero.

The best laid plans do not always come to fruition. We sent one of our writers to Cantero Brewing back in the fall, only to have him then move to California for a new job. After deciding that he was never going to actually send us the story, I trekked over to the brewpub at 3351 Columbia Dr. NE to catch up with brewers David Rosebeary and George Gonzales.

“I think it’s been going really well, actually,” David said. “We’ve been really busy. We hit that normal lull around wintertime. That’s definitely a lesson learned. Other than that, we’ve just been more familiar with our brewhouse. I feel like the quality of the beer is getting better and better.”

Located in the Brewery District just a few blocks from Canteen Brewhouse and La Cumbre, Cantero has managed to find its niche since our first visit thanks in large part to its extensive food menu.

“I think so, and also we’ve been using beer in our recipes,” David said. “Like our chicken and waffles, we use our (red chile) stout in their syrup. We have a pretty close relationship with our kitchen. Whenever (our chef is) choosing stuff, he’s also asking us for pairing ideas.”

The food menu at Cantero has been a major draw.

That synergy between the kitchen and brewing team has helped. A sizable lunch crowd arrived on a weekday as the interview took place.

Of course, much like the brewery there before it, Cantero has had to deal with its somewhat remote and random location, just south of Aztec and a block east of the I-25 northbound frontage road. So far, though, customers have managed to find their way.

“A lot of people are saying they finally made it in,” George said. “We’ve had people who had us on their to-do list, but they finally tracked us down. We did do a Groupon that got us some exposure. We had a pretty good success with that, it got a lot of people to finally make it in.

“That was a big part of the Groupon that we did was that it featured food as part of the deal. That way they get exposure to the whole product that we offer. Hopefully they come back for the beer.”

David said for the most part, customers are finding Cantero simply through social media and the like.

“Basically, that’s it,” David said. “We’re just really focusing on natural growth. We’re not trying to do too much to coerce people into coming. We want them to come of their own accord. We’ve got a lot of word-of-mouth.”

The weekday lunch crowd found their way to the brewpub.

Like so many breweries that have come before, in that spot and elsewhere around town, finding out what the public wants in the styles of beer has proven to be a bit of a surprising challenge for Cantero.

“That’s how it’s been going; it’s pretty interesting to see what hits and what doesn’t,” David said.

“It’s a tug of war between the serving tanks, we’re trying to log what’s been selling and what’s not, and then all of a sudden we’ll face a lull,” George added.

“It’s really hard to figure out,” David said. “Springtime we’re figuring more sours are going to be working its way out, but even on some of the nicer days it seems the darker beers are working. That’s sort of been a surprise.”

As if they were speaking of me, I ordered a Deaf Dog Brown, which was smooth, creamy, and not-too-sweet.

“The brown is going to stick around, it’s one of our favorites,” George said. “It’s not the fastest seller but it’s definitely steady. That’s the one in the last month or so it went boom. I was thinking warmer weather, we were going to dial in the lagers and some of the lighter offerings, but people are digging the dark.”

The rich and creamy Deaf Dog Brown.

David and George do have the advantage of a 1-barrel pilot system alongside their 10-barrel brewhouse, which gives them the chance to play around with some unique beers without ending up with too much left over.

“Definitely keeping things steady is (key),” David said. “We have our pilot system that we like to brew on, so there’s some funky offerings coming from there, some fun stuff coming.”

The duo is looking everywhere and anywhere for what might be the next beer style to hit it big.

“I have friends in other areas,” George said. “I have a friend who works in a beer bar in New York. He’s a genuine geek, working on his doctorate there at NYU, but he’s also a bit of a beer geek. I try to see what’s happening over there. We’re trying to see different trends, if we can get an early jump on something, which would be nice.”

One area where the brewers have seen growth on the national market is with beers with a lower ABV (alcohol by volume).

“I’ve noticed, even as far as national brands, the craft ones, gravitating toward smaller beers with bigger flavors,” George said. “I really like how some substantial some people’s 4-percenters are. I think that might be something we’d like to approach, to give that lighter option, get a few lawnmower beers out there.”

David mentioned he would like to see some hop-forward beers with a substantial amount of flavor, but sticking to the lower ABV trend.

“Not so much toward the session IPA (trend),” George added. “For me that was never really a hit. I wanted to like them, but I never really found one. But, I like the idea.”

Brewers George Gonzales, left, and David Rosebeary, from a prior visit of ours to Cantero, are quite proud of that old workhorse of a boiler back there.

Neither David nor George had ever brewed on a commercial scale before, but both said they are a lot more in sync with the main brewhouse and the old-school boiler in the back.

“The boiler has actually been doing” — knocks on wood — “really well the last couple months,” David said. “We’re working with our boiler guys and they’ve got it dialed in pretty well. The brewhouse, I think, has been performing well and we’re definitely getting more comfortable with it and used to it, so brew days have been going a lot more smoothly.”

“Scaling (up) has been a lot less problematic,” George added.

With things settling down internally, Cantero will be participating in more events this year, starting with Albuquerque Beer Week in May.

“We have an event here for Beer Week, we’re going to do a beer release, (but) I’m not comfortable saying what that is going to be quite yet,” David said. “We’re going to be doing a beer release and probably a food pairing as well.”

There is also a potential block party with Canteen, Palmer, and Red Door tentatively scheduled during Beer Week, assuming the City of Albuquerque approves, George said. Cantero will also be part of the biggest event of Beer Week.

“We’ll be at Blues & Brews,” David said. “We’re starting to get out there a little bit more. We don’t want to participate to the detriment of what we have on stock here. We want to participate, (but) we’re just trying to hedge our bets a little bit.”

We still dig this old truck that’s permanently parked out front.

A big thanks to David and George for taking time out of their brew day to chat. We look forward to what they have coming down the pipeline, particularly that multi-brewery block party if it comes to pass.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Duel Brewing gives up the fight

Posted: April 4, 2019 by Luke in Brewery Obit, Interviews
Tags:
DawsonAtDuel

Former Duel general manager Mark Dawson

In the Dark Side Brew Crew, we like to think of ourselves as champions for the industry. We’re not gotcha journalism, never have been. We’re here to tell the stories of all the state’s breweries, your stories. We can only ever hope that they’re all stories brewed up with good vibes and happy endings, but unfortunately that isn’t always the case. It’s a difficult thing to write about a brewery’s end, especially when, for years, we’ve considered much of the staff to be our friends. But, it wouldn’t be right not to write on the negative stories as well.

It’s very easy to let the story slip by, say nothing, and navigate away from what might be treacherous waters, but our coverage of the New Mexico brewing industry would be incomplete if we didn’t do a story on Duel Brewing’s untimely closure.

We first reached out to Duel’s owner, Trent Edwards, days after the closing of Duel’s Santa Fe location. After receiving no response, we let it go for a time, until I sort of bumped into and met Mark Dawson. I was having a beer at Rowley Farmhouse Ales one night after the gym, and I couldn’t help but overhear the bartender saying that he had just left his job as former general manager of Duel Brewing.

My journalistic curiosity, paired with his need to tell his tale, led to a series of conversations and emails, all resulting in a collaboration on the story of the end of Santa Fe’s Belgian-style brewery.

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Yeah, it was crowded for a couple hours at the farewell fiesta for Bosque’s San Mateo taproom.

The Bosque San Mateo taproom closed out its nearly seven-year run with a farewell fiesta on Saturday. The only thing is, Bosque will still be brewing at that location, even with La Reforma Brewery set to take over the taproom space this summer. How it will all work going forward comes down to one word — synergy — as 8900 San Mateo NE moves into the future.

To get all of this cleared up, I sat down with La Reforma co-founder John Gozigian, Bosque chief experience officer/owner Jess Griego, and Bosque chief executive officer/owner Gabe Jensen.

“There’s a lot of confusion over who’s behind each thing,” John said. “So La Reforma is a project that was put together by me, Jeff Jinnett, and some investors we brought in. Bosque is involved as well. They contributed basically the entire physical plant, brewing and kitchen equipment, and are substantial owners of the company, too.

“There’s been a lot of synergies developed as the project has moved forward. We’ve figured out a lot of efficiencies and synergies that I think will be good for both businesses. One of the coolest things that’s happening is the current brewers at Bosque San Mateo are going to remain on site and be the brewers for La Reforma. And, they’re also going to be brewing all of Bosque’s one-offs and seasonals for the foreseeable future.”

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The New Mexico Brewers Guild Board of Directors has selected Marble’s Leah Black as its next executive director.

The next step in the evolution of the New Mexico Brewers Guild will come with the appointment of its new executive director, who just happens to be someone familiar to most people involved in the local craft beer community.

Marble Brewery public relations and social media director Leah Black will officially succeed John Gozigian on March 25. The Board of Directors chose Leah based on her connections throughout the industry, her marketing background, and her enthusiasm for, well, just about everything.

“Social media is my passion, but the beer industry (as a whole) is my passion,” Leah said. “It’s really hard, because I have a big chunk of my heart here (at Marble). But, I also am a firm believer in paying attention to what the universe brings to you.”

Initially, Leah did not apply for the job. The Board eventually reached out to her and others who seemed like good candidates.

“We advertised that the position was available, we advertised through our newsletter, on Indeed, and also on Brewbound dot com,” John said. “A lot of the resumés we were getting through employment websites, nobody really had relevant experience. We did get a handful of resumés from the local beer community and we actually had several good candidates. It was a tough decision, actually.

“When we weighed each candidates’ skills and personality, reputation within the community, everything gelled around Leah. We didn’t get much through our traditional sources. What the Board decided to do was reach out to people in the community that they thought would be good candidates.”

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The exterior of the renovated space that will house Differential Brewing at 500 Yale SE.

Three years after we first spotted the pending license, Differential Brewing (also known as Brewstillery) is finally ready to open its doors in Southeast Albuquerque. The grand opening starts this Friday at 4 p.m. and runs through the weekend. In advance of all that, I met up with head brewer Peter Moore for a tour of the property at 500 Yale SE, which is one block south of Coal on the east side of the street, not far from Quarters and the UNM sports facilities and Isotopes Park.

Rather than go for a fancy mishmash of treated wood and industrial metal, like so many other breweries in town, Differential will have a bit of a throwback look and feel.

“We’re looking for our vibe as brewery dive,” Peter said. “We all grew up in kind of the punk scene. It’s like a Joe’s except people aren’t chasing people out with knives, that kind of stuff.

“It doesn’t look pretty, but it’s functional.”

The north end of the taproom figures to be a popular spot for people watching.

The taproom space is an old gas station/garage, while the brewery room is located in an adjacent building on the property. There is a small patio beneath the garage doors facing Yale, and a much larger patio on the north side of the building. The entire property is owned by the Nellos family, who own Quarters, and Tino Nellos is one of the owners of Differential, along with Anthony Hanson, the former liquor store manager.

“That’s how we were able to get a hold of the buildings and that kind of stuff,” Peter said. “That has saved us a lot of money not having to pay rent while we’re doing construction. That would have wiped us out.”

Like so many others, Anthony was a homebrewer first, and that love of beer led him down the path of wanting his own brewery.

“I had been a homebrewer for over a decade,” Anthony said. “(Tino) had the property here and we thought that was the location to do it. Peter just happened to stumble into our orbit and was like, I can show you how to do that for real real. I used to run the liquor store down the street, so I know that side of the business just fine.”

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The new project from outgoing Brewers Guild executive director John Gozigian.

The news that New Mexico Brewers Guild executive director John Gozigian was stepping down at the end of March did not catch us by complete surprise when it was announced last week. We were aware of John being involved in a new project coming to replace the Bosque San Mateo taproom/brewery, and seeing as how the Guild bylaws prohibit the director from having a financial stake in any brewery, that meant his time would eventually be up.

That time is almost here, so I sat down with John over lunch on Monday to talk about his new project, La Reforma, as well as his time with the Guild and what is coming down the line.

“It’s been in the works for a little while,” he said. “When Bosque announced that they were going to developing the Open Space (location), and I learned that they were basically going to leave the space on San Mateo, it got me to thinking. I never intended to get back into the brewing industry. Even less so, was I interested in getting back into the restaurant business.

“But, from an entrepreneurial point of view, you look at a second generation restaurant/brewery space becomes available, and you can potentially cut in half the cost of developing it for that use. The infrastructure is already there.”

John said he talked to managing director Gabe Jensen and ended up “shocked” that no one had approached Bosque about taking over the space. That led to John making a call to an old friend.

“I ran the idea by my former Marble and Santa Fe Dining partner Jeff (Jinnett) about his level of interest in getting back into the brewery/restaurant business,” John said. “Jeff was kind of the same mind I was after we left Marble, don’t need to do (another) brewery, don’t need to do a restaurant. It’s like the Mob, you know, every time you try to get out, they pull you back in. We tend to gravitate back to what we know and what our area of expertise is.”

Our first photo of John Gozigian as Guild executive director was snapped at Starr Brothers three years ago. My, how time flies.

It was Jeff who came up with the idea for La Reforma, which will bring a new theme and approach to a brewery in a town loaded with options.

“Over the years, Jeff had always talked about the restaurants he went to when he was a kid in Mexico City, because he grew up there,” John said. “He would go to these carnitas restaurants, these huge places that specialized in carnitas and tacos, and it was a real family (friendly) thing. There was beer, too. We had talked over the years that if we ever did a brewery again, we would do a Mexico City-style culinary experience, and do some Mexico-style beers, lagers, obviously.”

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Boxing Bear is preparing to open its first taproom in West Downtown, but the brewery is not necessarily planning to stop with just that location.

In the blink of an eye, a little rumor recently whispered to us became reality this week when Boxing Bear Brewing officially announced it was opening a taproom in the former 5 Star Burgers space on West Central.

To get a little better idea of how it all came together this quickly, I sat down with head brewer/co-owner Justin Hamilton.

“So after 5 Star closed, we saw the building (at 1710 West Central),” he said. “We’ve been hunting (for) taprooms. It wasn’t like 5 Star approached us. We were actively looking for taprooms, not just one, but multiple for a long time.”

Boxing Bear was given a short time to make a decision on leasing the space.

“The timeline was really quick,” Justin said. “Five Star was one of our accounts, so that gave us the heads up. That spurred our interest in that location and that allowed us to pursue (it). We also know there’s lots of breweries looking for that perfect taproom space, so we had to really try to harness it as quickly as possible. I love that location. It’s so much culture, a really, really up-and-coming area. It’s right down the street from the revitalized El Vado (Motel), it’s literally across the street from Albuquerque staple Duran’s, and we’ll be right next to Amore Pizza. All those things are a sure fit for us.”

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Winter is Here

If this isn’t the type of beer dinner that you would think we would be happy to present, you must be new around here.

It’s almost time for Blue Corn Brewery’s winter beer dinner! If you haven’t snagged your tickets yet, I’d get on that right away, as these things have a nasty habit of selling out like iheartradio concerts. On December 13, Blue Corn Brewery is bringing us a special pairing of wintry beers and the foods that love them, in a special event sure to live up to, well, every Blue Corn beer pairing dinner that’s preceded it.

I recently got a hold of Blue Corn head brewer Paul Mallory for a few words on his upcoming event.

DSBC: How did you and Chef Josh come up with the food and beer pairings?

Mallory: Chef Josh, (Manager) Michelle and I sat down and discussed ideas. I told Chef Josh what beers we had coming up and which beers I could brew to go with his menu. We often like to serve our seasonal beers for the dinners, so our guests can have something different each time they come for an event. We are pouring four beers that haven’t been brewed before, and many of them are malty and appropriate for the season and weather.

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