Archive for the ‘New Brewery Preview’ Category

The Thirsty Eye Brewing command staff, from left, general manager Amelia Salas, co-owner Shawn Turung, co-owner David Mahlman, co-owner Kim Arthun, and brewer John Kofonow.

The surge in the number of neighborhood pubs around Albuquerque is showing no signs of abating. While the empty spaces on the map have been filled elsewhere, the East Downtown (EDo) neighborhood still lacked a spot to call its own.

That will change Friday when Thirsty Eye Brewing holds its soft opening at 206 Broadway SE. Located next to the Exhibit 208 Art Gallery, on the east side of Broadway near Gold, Thirsty Eye is the creation of a group of friends and colleagues. Gallery owner Kim Arthun, retired architect David Mahlman, and Shawn Turung are the partners, and they have hired brewer John Kofonow and general manager Amelia Salas to help them turn a concept into reality.

“We didn’t want to walk anywhere for beer,” Kim said with a smile. “I’ve been a part of it on the drinking side of it back to the early days of Kellys and Il Vicino in its little closet room, just tasting whatever they had. We used to go over there for their Wednesday brewer’s mystery keg. I think at that time there was maybe four places in this town.”

Later, Kim and his friends were part of a traveling group of artists and Sandia Labs employees who frequented the breweries every Wednesday.

“I’ve never been a homebrewer, but I’ve drank at every brewery, tried every beer,” Kim said. “I love what they are, the community, they’re like American pubs. In this day and age, where everything is electronic and people don’t talk a lot, the thing that I like the most about the ones I really like are that you can sit down at the bar, have two people on either side of you (that) you’ve never met before and by the time you leave, you’re friends, you end up drinking together for the next five years. In this day and age, I don’t see that a lot.”

(more…)

20190526_151549

Second Alarm Brewhouse has made itself a popular draw in scenic Jemez Springs.

Jemez Springs is a lovely little town in the Jemez Mountains. Despite living in Los Alamos, which is a little less than an hour drive away, I hadn’t visited the place in several years. Sure, you can get to Albuquerque by going “the back way” (coming out on Route 550), but it takes a little longer than the traditional route down I-25. It’s also quite windy, with many tight turns in spots. It can be quite sketchy in the winter, as you might imagine. But, it’s very scenic and full of vistas and natural beauty. I was reminded of this when we finally got around to visiting one of New Mexico’s newer breweries, Second Alarm Brewhouse.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, we decided to combine hiking with our beer-seeking. Judging by the number of cars at the various trailheads and campgrounds, half of New Mexico had the same idea. We eventually stopped at Battleship Rock and hiked around a bit, but, ah, less than planned. The pull of lunch was strong. We headed into Jemez Springs and found Second Alarm with no trouble; it’s basically the first thing you see on the right/west side of the road. (Given the town’s size, nothing should give you much trouble, really.) Parking can be tricky on the main street, but there were several free spots in the lot in back.

20190526_151622

There’s a fair amount of seating on both sides of the bar.

The building also houses Monica’s Firehouse Grill. “Fire” is a common theme here, since the building is an old firehouse. It’s a symbiotic relationship, with Second Alarm handling the drinks. I had made arrangements to speak with Cody Lewis, one of the owners, but he wasn’t in at the moment. The beer selection was very good, with guest taps from Bosque, La Cumbre, Tractor, and others dominating. They have good taste, at least! Second Alarm had their own kolsch, hefeweizen, and porter on tap; sadly, the IPA was out. An IPA is a good test for a brewery, and it’s also my favorite style, but we’ll have to go back to test that one. The other three were solid brews, I thought.

20190526_151732

The food menu may have staples, but they’re delicious!

We ordered from the menu, which features burgers and New Mexican fare. My wife focuses on meat while I’m mostly a vegetarian, so we complement each other in that sense. We both agreed that the burritos were very good. We would stop again even without the beer.

Cody showed up, and we settled down for a brief interview. My first question was how it all got started.

“We’ve been in the works for about 18 months now. My uncle recently retired from Sandoval County Fire Department,” Cody explained. “And, he was kind of wondering what to do in retirement. He’s big into craft beer, loves, loves craft beer and is friends with this guy, who’s now our master brewer. And so, we just decided, why not?”

Why not, indeed? Those are probably the exact words that have started many a brewery. I asked if they felt bad about competing with Los Ojos, the restaurant and bar across the street that’s been around forever. They tend to have more mainstream beers and liquor drinks, so it’s a mutually beneficial relationship, Cody said.

“We get people in that want a margarita or whatever, so we send them down the road,” he said. “And, people that want a good beer, they come over here.”

The grand opening was last November. They were originally hoping to open on Memorial Day 2018, but there were issues getting their small brewer license. One thing led to another, and May turned into November, the dead of winter.

“This is the slowest time for tourism in this area,” Cody said. “Oh, yeah, we were nervous. (But), we didn’t have any trouble at all. We opened our doors and it’s been good ever since.”

Initially, plans were to have Monica Tolleson subcontract and handle the food side of things with a food truck in front. It didn’t take long for them to realize that it made more sense to just use the existing kitchen on-site.

“We have a whole commercial kitchen,” Cody said. “We do the beer side, and it’s worked really well. Yeah, it’s a nice relationship we’ve got there.”

The building itself has a long history. As mentioned earlier, Cody’s family has been involved with the fire department, so there’s a lot of sentimental attachment to the place. Much of the interior is preserved, and it still has a firehouse vibe. Some modifications had to be made, of course, and some are still to come. They plan to restore the garage doors so that there will be an open concept layout, with seating outdoors on nice days.

The brewer is Dan Garcia, who is retired from the Army. He’s been homebrewing for about 15 years, and he recently completed the CNM brewing certification program. He clearly has the chops for the job.

20190526_151644

Guest taps currently outnumber the house beers, but that will hopefully change down the line.

Because they’re limited in brewing capacity, Cody said they plan to contract out some of their brewing needs. In particular, they can’t keep up with demand for their IPA. Long-term, they would like to have at least nine of their 16 taps filled with their own brews.

Cody said doesn’t mind hosting other people’s beers, though. It gives his customers access to different things to try. In particular, he’s found that ciders are something new to many locals. I asked about future exotic recipes.

“What I would like to see is gin-and-tonic beer, hopefully, something that we could produce that would kind of be that flavor profile that some of that that gin flavor coming in, without actually having gin in it,”Cody said.

That should be interesting!

A high priority for Cody is working with other small, local breweries. He’s friends with the owners of Cantero Brewing in Albuquerque, and he mentioned that he’d also like to work with Brew Lab 101 and 1933 Brewing, both in Rio Rancho. New Mexico’s brewing scene has always had a lot of camaraderie, and the crew from Second Alarm will fit right in.

Further down the road, Cody said they would like to get into craft distilling. While not nearly as popular as brewing beer, there are a growing number of distilleries in New Mexico. Apparently, though, making that happen has logistical problems all its own.

“There’s a lot of strange requirements as far as the size of your building, how you access the distillery versus the brewery, the equipment if on the same premises has to be completely separated with separate entrances,” Cody said.

To make things easier and minimize changes to the building, they may end up opening a second location for the distilling.

Cody explained how Jemez Springs itself was bigger many years ago. There were more restaurants and things to do.

“It kind of dwindled,” he said. “A lot of the owners of the restaurants have passed on and then their kids didn’t want to run them. So they just shut down. We’ve been able to provide quite a few jobs. And it’s been nice, and I’m excited so far.”

It’s clear that he loves his town and is happy to be a part of its growth.

I want to thank Cody and the rest of the staff for their time and excellent, friendly service. We will look forward to returning soon.

Cheers!

— Reid

20190526_151655

The Second Alarm story in their own words.

The sun was shining brightly on Ex Novo Brewing in Corrales during an industry-only sneak preview night.

Members of the Crew joined brewery staff members from around the metro area at a special industry-only sneak preview of Ex Novo Brewing on Tuesday night in Corrales. To say that the almost-finished product is impressive would be an understatement, and that is not just coming from your humble beer writers.

The layout of the space is all but complete, with the brewery building occupying the southwest corner and the separate taproom building and its large patio in the northeast corner along Corrales Road. An opening date, however, is still not set until the final approvals come in from government officials. Nonetheless, it is hopefully going to be very, very soon for the general public to enjoy some beers in the taproom.

Brewery staff members from around town gathered in the cozy Ex Novo taproom.

In case anyone missed our past stories, Ex Novo was originally founded and still operates in Portland, Oregon. Owner Joel Gregory, however, is a Corrales native, and with few avenues left in crowded/expensive Portland to expand his brewery and its distribution, he elected to build a second brewery in his hometown.

(more…)

The road to opening has been a long one for Black Snout Brewhouse.

It is the same story, but different. A new brewery seeks to open in Albuquerque. It optimistically targets a specific event-filled weekend as when it wants to open. Then it learns the hard way that the permitting and regulatory process involving the City of Albuquerque is a grueling process that takes far longer than it ever could have imagined. Throw in some unreliable subcontractors, and the process has dragged on far longer than was planned.

Thankfully for Black Snout Brewhouse, the end of the long road is seemingly in sight, more than three months after co-owner Josh James had hoped to open in time for the Super Bowl.

“I can go on and on about the City,” Josh said. “I’m sure you’ve talked to everyone (in the past). Between plumbers and between the City we’ve had like a three-or-four-month delay. It’s been wild, and they don’t care.”

After covering the local craft beer scene for more than seven years, all of us in the Crew have heard plenty of tales of woe throughout the process of getting a brewery open. Still, there are always new head-scratching moments.

(more…)

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.”

(more…)

Owner Scott Salvas said he got the biggest sign possible to announce his forthcoming Brew Lab 101 in Rio Rancho.

The partial federal government shutdown has left many pending breweries in limbo, but that does not mean their owners are giving up the dream of opening in 2019. I trekked out to Rio Rancho on Wednesday afternoon to meet the owner of one of those forthcoming breweries, Brew Lab 101 Beer and Cider Company.

Owner/brewer Scott Salvas is doing everything he can to get ready for when the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is reopened, which will put him good position for a possible late May opening.

“It’s coming along,” he said of the space inside two suites in the shopping center at 3301 Southern Blvd., which is just a block or so west of Turtle Mountain. “If the government would get open to help me with the licensing stuff, that would be nice.”

Brew Lab 101 is taking over the former House of Football location for its taproom, while a former nail salon in the adjacent space will be home to the brewhouse and equipment.

“I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what (size) space did I want,” Scott said. “I originally wanted 3,000 square feet. We were looking at a space down the street. Unfortunately that deal fell apart literally two days before I was going to sign the lease, which is why I’m not open right now. That was only 3,200 square feet. Then I saw these two spaces up here.”

Owner/brewer Scott Salvas has plenty of room in which to operate.

The current shopping center has everything from a gym to a trampoline center for kids called to Elevate, to the long-established restaurant Joe’s Pasta House. It also has a lot of empty suites, the curse of the modern retail center, but also a boon for prospective business owners looking for a bargain.

That, plus Scott’s desire to see if he can translate his award-winning homebrews into an actual brewery, all combined to make Brew Lab 101 an almost reality.

“I had a passion for beer brewing,” Scott said. “I’ve been brewing for about eight years. I just started brewing beers and then having parties. I have a couple big parties a year. People would come and I think through the years the beer got better. People started giving me really good comments. Folks started encouraging me to think about it.”

(more…)

The sizable Ex Novo production brewery building is nearly complete in the center of Corrales.

It is almost a Merry Christmas for craft beer lovers living in Corrales. They can look to the heart of the village and see their own craft brewery rising up.

Ex Novo Brewing has gone from concept to almost-completed structure at 4895 Corrales Road. The 10,000 square-foot production brewery has taken shape in a lot on the west side of the street, across from the fire station and Corrales Bistro Brewery.

This will be the second Ex Novo, as the original is in Portland, Oregon. Owner Joel Gregory, however, is a Corrales native, and he wanted to bring his brewery home. Joel invited me to visit the construction site on Thursday afternoon.

“The last time we talked, all I had was dirt,” Joel said, referring to our first interview last year over beers at Steel Bender. “Now look at it.”

(more…)

A new brewery is coming to the Northeast Heights in early 2019.

The surge of breweries opening in the Albuquerque metro area has finally slowed to a trickle. Only five new pending small brewer licenses are listed with the State of New Mexico, and two of those (BLUE, Brewstillery) have been pending for so long, they might just be dead projects.

We know that Ex Novo Brewing is coming to Corrales, but it is still a ways off. We know almost nothing about the mysterious place called Colonia.

The only forthcoming brewery that we knew was progressing towards opening sooner than later was Black Snout Brewhouse, all courtesy of its Instagram feed and a short story from Albuquerque Business First. After a quick email exchange, I met up last week with co-owner Josh James at the still-unfinished space at a shopping center on the southeast corner of Menaul and Juan Tabo. Nestled in among a Ross Dress For Less, Goodwill, and Mario’s Pizza will be the latest brewery in town, looking to make its mark in a relatively under-served area.

“We kind of want to do a sports-themed brewery,” Josh said inside the 3,731-square-foot space. “What I wanted to do was like TRVE, like heavy metal, kind of dark, but I don’t think Albuquerque is ready for that. My wife (Natasha) and I are huge sports fans, so we went with that.”

At present, all Josh and Natasha, his co-owner, have is a hollowed-out space. There has been work at setting in the plumbing for the brewery and bar in the back, but otherwise it is currently just concrete floors and walls. Josh expressed optimism that construction would begin in earnest soon, possibly even this week.

“Right now, we have our federal license approved, we have our taproom approved,” he said. “We’re waiting on the State, it’s in legal review right now. Hopefully in like January, late January. I want to be open for sure by the Super Bowl. I’m just hoping and praying. Now comes a whole new set of headaches with permits and plan review.”

The initial plan calls for opening with a 1-barrel brewhouse, similar to what High and Dry Brewing is operating.

“We’re kind of doing it in a couple phases because I wanted to get going,” Josh said. “To open with we’ll be a nano brewery. We’ll be undersized for sure, but once we open, we get going, I collect a little bit of funds, then we’ll go into a 5-barrel system. Right now I’m getting quotes.”

The interior of the future brewery is bigger than it looks, as co-owner Josh James was happy to show us.

As many other brewery owners have learned, opening a brewery is not cheap.

“I didn’t want to take out loans or anything of that nature, this is all just self-funded,” Josh said. “It’s unbelievable. … This is an insane amount of money (an estimated $100,000), but it’s just my wife and I. This is our dream. Breweries are popping up everywhere, but this is in our (neighborhood). It is what it is, but no one is going to stop us from our dream, for sure.”

The current location at 11500 Menaul NE was sort of a four-times-a-charm for Black Snout.

“This is our third and final spot where we’ve tried to open a brewery,” Josh said. “We wanted to open one out in Placitas. I knew the owner of Anasazi Winery, his name (was) Jim Fish. We were like two weeks away from signing a draft. I was going to buy a half acre next to his winery and build like a production brewery out there and see where it went. He ended up passing away, so that kind of went out.”

Josh and his wife then looked at spots in Albuquerque. The first ran afoul of the apparent proximity to BJ’s Brewhouse.

“We tried down at Winrock Town Center,” he said. “There was some sort of conflict of interest, they didn’t want any other breweries, especially no little guys in there.”

From there, Josh looked at a spot that Cantero Brewing also had its eye on, but in the end neither ended up there.

“Finally, we landed on this spot where we thought this was cool,” he said. “This was like two years ago on San Pedro and Paseo (del Norte). It’s just now starting to go up. Like I said, a year before that, I had one meeting with the commercial real estate agent. He said he had spot, but I just never heard anything.”

In the end, Josh looked right near the area where he grew up.

“My wife and I came by and this was the spot if we’re going to do it,” he said. “I know the neighborhood, I grew up in the neighborhood, I know a lot of the neighbors. I went to high school at Eldorado, I went to middle school up here at Hoover. I remember when I was 10 years old, kicking the curbs, being a little punk walking around in my little death metal shirts.”

Josh did spend a day last week brewing with the staff at Starr Brothers, but otherwise he is following in their footsteps as a homebrewer looking to make the leap to the professional ranks.

“I’ve been homebrewing for 12 years now, never anything professionally,” Josh said. “I took the old college route, I got my undergraduate (degree) in civil engineering. I kind of did that. I got into brewing once I had graduated from college and then I got a job out in Phoenix. My buddies and I on the weekend, we would get together at Four Peaks Brewing over in Tempe. That’s what piqued my interest.”

Josh noted that “after years and years of getting some recipes together which we feel are of high quality,” he ended up with a spare bedroom full of 10 or so beers fermenting at a time. Natasha then decided it was time to give him that final push to get the ball rolling, which finally got Josh started on the project six years ago.

Those recipes will now create an initial beer lineup that will of course include an IPA or two, plus some fruited hefeweizens, a SMASH beer that Josh said he plans to simply call “Brewski,” and perhaps a Baltic porter. Oh, and of course the Black Snout Stout, which like the brewery is named for the family dog.

Slowly but surely, the far Northeast Heights is becoming a destination for craft beer drinkers, with Quarter Celtic opening a taproom just to the south of Black Snout on Juan Tabo, plus of course the existing taprooms by Canteen and Tractor on Tramway, and Marble Heights and Lizard Tail at Eubank and Montgomery.

We wish Josh a lot of luck going forward. There is still a lot of work to do if he is going to get the brewery open by the first weekend of February. If he does, we will be happy to add Black Snout Stout to our annual Stout Challenge. We will do our best to keep everyone up to date on the progress at Black Snout and all the other forthcoming breweries around the state.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

It’s go-time, at last, for Cantero Brewing!

In case anyone out there was unaware, the newest brewery in the Duke City will open this Saturday at 11 a.m. Cantero Brewing is holding its soft opening after a long, laborious process to get to this point. There will be at least five house beers on tap, the kitchen will be up and running, but as always, please be patient if things are crowded. The staff is still learning, the beers are still young, but there is plenty of optimism that now, finally, everything is going to be all right.

To learn a little more about what has been going on up to this point, I sat down Thursday with brewers David Rosebeary and George Gonzales, and brewery spokesperson Kane Oueis, while his wife, owner Katey Taylor, was busy zipping around making sure everything was ready for a friends-and-family opening that night.

“A lot of people said it’s taken a lot longer than normal for you guys to open, but it was honestly because we were fine-tuning everything,” Kane said. “We’re honestly perfectionists. We’re just not going to do it until we’re ready.”

“Why open your doors one day and shut them down the next day because they noticed one little bugaboo?” George added.

(more…)

That red building back there is the future home of Blue Grasshopper’s brewery and taproom in the Wells Park neighborhood.

The brewing conditions at the original Blue Grasshopper Brewery and Pub in Rio Rancho have always been more than a bit cramped. That will be changing in the future, but not through any expansion of that location. Instead, Blue Grasshopper is building a full-sized brewery in a renovated warehouse on the corner of Summer and Second Street in the Wells Park neighborhood.

I stopped by to visit brewer Peter Apers, who is overseeing the construction, on a smoky morning a couple weeks ago. (Remember the compost fire in the South Valley? Yeah, those were some unpleasant conditions to drive into.) Peter gave me a quick tour of the half of the 10,000 square-foot building that will be home to a taproom and a kitchen. The construction/demolition that day was largely focused on the half where the brewery will go.

“We needed a place to brew beer,” Peter said. “Neither of our places over there (on the West Side) really have the room. Rio Rancho can benefit from a full kitchen, so we need to get that brewing system out of there.”

The small brewhouse will become the pilot brewery at the new location, right on the north side of the bar/taproom area where customers can watch the brewers at work.

“This will be our pilot brewing system section,” Peter said. “We’re going to bring that small brewery over from Rio Rancho. We’ll do our recipe development here. The big space that you saw next door is going to be our main (brewing) area.”

The new brewhouse has not been ordered yet, but it could be one of the biggest in town.

“It’s still open for discussion, anywhere between 24 and 48 (barrels), but time will tell,” Peter said. “We’ll see how our beers are developed here and how that justifies growing that quick. If not, we’ll just do a co-op in there and put in a brew system we can co-op with the smaller brewers, give them a chance to go bigger. We have the space.”

A shot from earlier in the summer, courtesy of Blue Grasshopper, showing the ongoing interior construction.

Blue Grasshopper will still carry a large swath of beers from across the state. Peter said the cold room they are building can hold around 200 kegs, with the expectation of 100 beers on tap at any time.

“We’re going to represent all the brewing in New Mexico,” he said. We’re trying to get as many of their beers as we can. That’s been the whole idea from the beginning.

“The more beer you put on tap, the more space you need. It’s tough for our existing places to make that switch. They don’t the space to put in the (bigger) cold rooms, or the time to tear it all apart. It’s a bit premeditated.”

There will be a full kitchen on the south side of the taproom area to support all of that beer.

“This area also needs food,” Peter said. “There’s a lot of breweries here, but there’s really no food. For (Rio Bravo and Tractor) it was an afterthought, and it’s tough to do. Here we do it (in advance).”

Blue Grasshopper will also have a sizable patio on the east side of the building facing Second Street. As for the opening date, that is a long way from being set.

“We’re somewhere in the middle,” Peter said. “We’re taking it easy, baby steps. We’re in no hurry.”

There are still issues with the surrounding neighborhood that are beyond the control of Blue Grasshopper and the other nearby breweries. Peter said he hopes over time that the City of Albuquerque will be able to come with an actionable plan to deal with those issues.

“I think this area has tremendous potential as a brewery district, and it’s affordable,” he said. “That’s why we’re taking our time because (the City) is still trying to figure out how to grow this area, so to speak … figure out the infrastructure, all that stuff.”

The Crew will be sure to keep track of the ongoing progress for Blue Grasshopper. Thanks to Peter for the quick tour and interview.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister