Archive for the ‘New Brewery Preview’ Category

The newest addition to the ABQ craft beer scene is on the west side.

A first visit to a new brewery often includes meeting a lot of new faces. My visit to the forthcoming Toltec Brewing this week, on the other hand, included a couple of familiar faces in key roles.

This was by design for Toltec owners Robert and Diana Navarrette, who sought plenty of advice from other brewery owners, which included hiring the most experienced staff possible.

“Very important,” Diana said. “We don’t know anything about (making beer). We know good beer when we taste it and good food when we taste it.”

To that end, they hired former Nexus head brewer Kaylynn McKnight to run the brewhouse, while also picking up former Turtle Mountain/Marble/Bosque manager Adam Galarneau to oversee the front-of-house staff. Throw in chef David Ruiz, formerly of the Pueblo Harvest Cafe, and Toltec has a strong team to lead it right from the start.

The brewery is considerably bigger than it looks from the outside.

The brewery is located at the corner of Cottonwood and Old Airport Road on the west side of Albuquerque. That puts it close to Boxing Bear, Desert Valley, and Matanza in what is becoming a crowded area for craft beer. Having an experienced staff was essential.

“We’ve had consultants that have helped us and kind of showed us the way,” Robert said. “We pursued them knowing that they knew what they were doing and they were proving. We started with Kaylynn and we knew that she won awards. We wanted someone just like that, because we didn’t want to be some run-of-the-mill place. We want some place that’s a favorite place to come.

“With David, we felt the same way. He’s going to try to outdo the beer because he’s very self-motivated. Adam came highly recommended, and of course having done this (before), most specifically at Turtle Mountain, we needed that experience. It was imperative that we put together a good team because as owners, we’re here to provide what is needed, but we need the input of these three individuals to make this place go. That’s our goal, to basically showcase the service, the food, and of course the beer.”

The commitment of the owners made each of the staff members eager to sign on board.

Kaylynn was gracious enough to recreate the pose from her first picture at Nexus several years ago.

“I really liked the idea of working with Robert and Diana,” Kaylynn said. “You guys are awesome people. It’s always a huge perk to work with good people. When they told me all the equipment was going to be brand-spanking new and shiny and awesome, so that was a definite draw. It seemed like a good move, the next step (in my career).”

Getting back to the west side was important for Adam, but not the only factor.

“Being close to home was key,” Adam said. “I looked in the windows and saw the space and thought this would be a lot of fun. And then I got a phone call from Robert and we met and (they’re) two of the nicest people I’ve met. I was pretty stoked at the opportunity to come over here, and then I heard Kaylynn was working here and I was happy for that, too.”

The lure of starting something new appealed to David as well.

“I think especially after meeting with Robert, kind of hearing what his plan was for this place, having a brand-new kitchen,” David said. “I did some research on Adam and Kaylynn and heard nothing but great things about them. Cooking here (in Albuquerque) for five years now, the biggest thing I’ve noticed is that you can go to a place that has really great beer, but sometimes the food really doesn’t match. My goal was to get into this beer market by having excellent food to match great beer.”

There will be a patio on the west side of the brewery that can fit 40 to 45 people, Adam said.

David said his menu is taking shape.

“The style that we’re definitely going to be doing is more of a gastropub,” he said. “Basically bar food that’s been elevated. One of the dishes I’m excited about is green eggs and ham. You’re taking things from our childhood and things that are whimsical but actually making it functional for the restaurant. We’ll of course be doing some amazing burgers. All the beef will be pulled out of New Mexico. We’re going to be working with some farmers in the co-op as well. We’ll be doing wings, burgers, a couple sandwiches, and a couple elevated salads as well. I’m really, really excited to be able to showcase a livelier menu, I guess you could say, for a brewery.”

As for Kaylynn, she is also eager to get started on creating her beer menu.

“I’ve got a couple ideas,” said Kaylynn, who will be working on a brand-new, 7-barrel brewhouse. “I definitely want to do an amazing IPA. That’s mandatory in New Mexico and Albuquerque. It’s the owners’ favorite (style), so it’s got to be a bad-ass IPA. I’ll probably do a house altbier; I love altbiers. A rye lager, I’m going to try that out, see if it works, just a light lager with some rye spice in it. We’ll see if people like that, and if they don’t, we can change it. What else? Agave wheat, stout, and pale ale, I think. That’s the lineup, plus four rotating seasonals.”

David and Kaylynn said they are planning out some beer dinners in the future. “I’m soooo excited to be doing beer dinners,” she said.

The tanks are ready inside the walk-in cooler.

The buzz has been building about Toltec for a while now, not just among the public but among the other breweries. As for when the brewery will open, well, that is still up in the air as the final inspections have to take place. The hope is for an early May opening, Robert said.

“We’ve been trying to be patient about putting word out simply because we’ve been delayed a few times in opening,” Robert said. “So now that we’re getting a little closer, we’ll push a little harder. From the brewing community especially, from the brewpubs that we visit, they’re (asking) when are you opening. They’re really excited for us to be open. It’s exciting to have their backing.”

Having a gold medal-winning brewer like Kaylynn at the helm has certainly helped in getting that support from the industry.

“Lots of the other brewers in town have offered help,” Kaylynn said. “If you need a bag of grain or yeast or anything, come on over. We have it, you can borrow it. They’ve been really supportive. They want us to open, they want us to start making good beer for the community.”

The brewing area is nearly ready to start production.

The Crew will keep everyone up to date on just when Toltec gets that final green light to open. Until then, we will wait patiently for what should be another standout addition to our local scene.

A big thanks to Robert, Diana, Kaylynn, Adam, and David for taking the time to sit down for a chat.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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This rendering should give everyone a good idea of what Ex Novo Brewing will look like in Corrales.

A big Northwest brewery is coming to a small Southwest town. Ex Novo Brewing of Portland, Oregon, will open a new location in Corrales, which happens to be the hometown of its owner, Joel Gregory.

Joel and I sat down over lunch and brews at Steel Bender a while back. He just got the green light on financing this week, meaning the project is now going ahead in full.

“We’re doing it in phases,” Joel said. “Phase One is going to be a 10,000-square-foot production brewery. There’s going to be a little place that’s like a coffee shop, a little bitty building that we’re going to use as a tasting room. We’ll have a lot of outdoor seating, not a ton of seats inside. That’s Phase One.

“Then, after we get off the ground here and see what’s the market like, Phase Two will include more brewery space, another few thousand square feet in the brewery, and then like a full pub with a giant beer garden, and a barn for barrel aging and events.”

The brewery will be located in the heart of Corrales, specifically at 4895 Corrales Road, just a block north of the Corrales Bistro Brewery (which no longer makes its own beer). Joel founded Ex Novo almost four years ago, and the brewery has made a name for itself in the extremely packed Portland scene. Expanding the operation in Oregon, though, was proving to be more than a bit of a challenge. That led Joel to cast an eye towards his hometown.

“It’s a big, two-part thing,” Joel said. “I’m from here. I’ve been in Portland for 10 years this summer. I love it up there, I really do, but it’s a long way from family and I really like the direction that Albuquerque in general is headed, both in the beer scene and in general. I happen to know a lot of cool people that I grew up with that are part of that movement to continue making Albuquerque awesome.”

Another view of the production side of the future Ex Novo.

Physical space in Portland is at a premium, at least when it comes to expanding a brewing operation. Joel said that the popular Great Notion Brewing recently took over one of the last available buildings to increase its production.

“Portland is great, but there’s only so much you can do that’s awesome,” he added. “In a place like that, most things have been done before. My wife and I have looked for ways to come back here. The brewery is still in its toddler phase, it’s about three-and-a-half years old now.

“About a year ago, it really dawned on me that it would be possible since we’re at capacity. Do we expand in Portland? Look for more production space or try for something out of town? To be able to come home and to bring things that I’ve learned, what I’ve experienced, and the brand that we’ve built back with us and relocating here full-time, is kind of like a dream.”

Joel has spent enough time around the Albuquerque beer scene to know that simply copying and pasting what works in Oregon will not work here.

“It’s a great way to come home, not leaving something behind or sell it off or anything, we’re going to continue on what we’re doing,” he said. “It won’t be exactly like Portland, it’s a different town. Some things will be the same, some things will be unique to the Albuquerque area. I’ve been dreaming about it for a couple years what it would be like to do something here. It kept coming back to being from Corrales and spending most of my upbringing in the valley.”

Incorporating the outdoors into the brewery was something that appealed to Joel. He said the new Ex Novo will be built around its patio/beer garden, rather than adding that to a building down the road.

“Obviously Albuquerque has got so much great outdoor experiences to see day-to-day, whether it’s just abundant sunshine or the valley where things grow and it’s beautiful,” Joel said. “I think more breweries should focus on that and bring people into that. If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it in the valley somewhere. It’s going to have an oversized lot where people can come (hang out). We’re going to focus on the outdoor aspect of it. Drinking beers outside, you can have the kids along, let them run around and play, not stress out. It’s awesome, I’ve experienced that in some places, but not in Portland, it doesn’t have the space.”

Ex Novo owner Joel Gregory is bringing his brewery to his hometown of Corrales.

Joel said his family here, particularly his father and sister, helped him find the right location in Corrales. That site was formerly occupied by the Rancho de Corrales, which burned down in 2012. The original building was built in the 1800s and was later the rather infamous Territorial Bar from 1972 to 1987.

“That’s perfect, there’s nothing else, it’s a blank slate, we get to build something,” Joel said. “That’s always been a dream. When you start a new brewery you always end up in a warehouse somewhere. We get to build something and design it. Anyone that’s been in this business (knows), to not have to retrofit, but to build it from the ground up, that’s also a lot of pressure. That’s the gist of it.”

Joel said he has been friends with Bosque Brewing co-owner Jotham Michnovicz long before that brewery started. While we were at Steel Bender, head brewer Bob Haggerty also stopped by to say hello, having met Joel in the past. Those connections will help Ex Novo not only get off the ground here, but help Joel and his staff understand what New Mexicans expect from a craft brewery.

“Way before I thought about opening anything here, it’s good to see what makes different methods work,” he said. “Albuquerque is super unique. I am looking forward to seeing how it changes in the next five years, how it evolves.”

Ex Novo produces a wide range of beers, from Eliot IPA to The Most Interesting Lager in the World to Damon Stoutamire (truly, Bear Down).

“I would say if there’s anything we love to do it’s bringing balanced and drinkable, a lot of session beers,” Joel said. “Our IPAs tend to be less on the bitter side, more on the balanced side. But we do make 13-percent (ABV) imperial stouts.”

Yeah, Joel brought the Crew a box of beers. That Nevemore Barleywine tucked in there was excellent. Quaker Shaker was another favorite, along with the New England-style IPA.

Ex Novo will hire a new staff for the Corrales location, rather than simply import folks from Portland.

“We’ll be hiring a head brewer to run the day-to-day in Corrales,” Joel said. “My current head brewer is going to be elevated to director of brewing operations. He’ll be the boss of this head brewer and the head brewer in Portland. He’ll make sure consistency is being maintained. He’ll be living in Portland, but coming down here quite often.”

The setup will be similar to what Ponderosa Brewing has, but Joel said his Corrales brewer will have more freedom, especially with the setup that he or she will have inside the brewery.

“We’re going to have a 20-barrel brewhouse and a 5-barrel brewhouse,” Joel said. “Obviously the 20-barrel will be geared toward production and packaging of our core beers. The 5-barrel will be the pub-only reserve stuff. We’re going to do more R&D, yeast propagation, all the things you want to have. Sometimes it’s a crazy beer, but sometimes it’s mild. Those might not sell that well, either. It’s important to not be constrained having 20 to 60 barrels of it.”

The first two beers that figure to be brewed and packaged here will be the aforementioned Eliot and Mexican-style lager.

“A couple core brands, our Mexican lager in six-packs, and our IPA, Elliot, we’ll probably jump right into those,” Joel said. “First year, we’re not looking at crazy numbers, maybe 2,500 barrels, something like that would be a fine target. We’ll have to feel the market out and the demands for the stuff we have. I think those two beers, obviously the IPA, I think it’s one of the better ones in Oregon in package, but we’ve got to come strong with the IPA game here.”

There will also be a lot of seasonal and specialty brews coming out of the smaller brewhouse that will be available on tap.

“We’ll be doing the cool stuff and doing the seasonal stuff with labels, keeping things fresh and interesting,” Joel said. “We’ve been dabbling in the New England IPA category. I think we did the right thing. We’ve been brewing it for a year. We don’t want to do it too frequently. We’re trying to figure out what we like about it. There’s a lot of examples out there right now, but not all of them are good. We just released our first batch in cans. We have some kettle sour stuff in cans. We brew up a lot of seasonal stuff. In Portland, we’ll probably release 70 new beers a year. We’ll probably do that here, if not more, with the 5-barrel.”

Joel said he hopes to get some of the specialty beers distributed in kegs to bars and restaurants, rather than only offering up the standards. In Portland, he said, breweries almost never distribute their core bands that way, but instead focus on a constant rotation of new and exciting styles.

“It leaves room for brewers to do more experimental stuff in larger volumes and distribute it more,” he said. “I think that’s really fun for beer people to go to any bar or restaurant and find beers they’ve never had before.”

This shows lots of parking. That is always a good thing.

That Phase Two construction of a barrel-aging room will be important in that regard.

“We’re super into barrel-aged beers,” Joel said. “We want to do a lot of mixed cultures, lots of wild and spontaneous. Just doing the gamut of beers. We haven’t had the space to really do that (in Portland). If we were here, we’d have one of the biggest barrel-aging programs in the state, but up there we don’t have nearly as much space as we’d like to have.”

All of that sounds quite good to us in the Crew. Our bicycle enthusiast members love the idea of someday riding the Bosque trails from Bosque North in Bernalillo, to Ex Novo, to Boxing Bear, to Steel Bender, and beyond. We will keep everyone as up to date as possible on the progress of Ex Novo. Until then, if any of you are traveling up to Portland, make sure to stop in and say hello to a New Mexico native at his brewery.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The new production facility in Bernalillo is coming together at last.

Bosque North has been a long time coming. After numerous delays, fits and starts, and plenty of headaches, the old Jackalope Building on Highway 550 in Bernalillo is finally taking shape. I took up brewmaster John Bullard on his invitation to stop by for a visit on Friday. We grabbed our hard hats and headed into the construction zone.

Virtually nothing is left of the old building, save for the huge metal beams and trusses that made up its skeleton. A new skin of metal has (almost) the entire building covered. Inside, everything is taking shape, from the brewery area, to the upstairs offices, and what will eventually be the taproom areas where customers can come and enjoy a pint right next to the actual Bosque wilderness. The building sits atop a hill on the west bank of the Rio Grande, leading to some truly spectacular views from what will eventually be the second-floor outer patio.

The front entrance will lead customers into the downstairs portion of the taproom, while also allowing them to look into the brewery beyond.

Rather than continue to try and explain it all in words, here are a few of the many photos from inside and outside the building.

There will be an outdoor bar for those who just want to chill on the downstairs patio.

The main brewery floor already has the 30-barrel brewhouse in place, plus a whole lot of 90- and 120-barrel fermenters.

The brewhouse was made to fit the existing structure.

Another view of just how big the tanks are inside the brewery.

A look at the loading ramp around the back (north) side of the building.

The silo is in place, but John said it will get a paint job with the Bosque logo soon.

Looking up at the second floor, where there will be a patio area for customers.

Inside the big tower on the southeast corner of the building. Customers can hold small, private events in here.

Customers will be able to look down into the brewery below.

The Bosque staff will have their offices in the northeast corner of the building.

Did we mention the awesome views from the second floor? The Sandias look a bit different from this angle, as John pointed out. Also of note, the widening of 550 is underway to try to help alleviate the horrific traffic problems in the area.

Looking to the northeast gives a clear view of the brewery’s namesake wilderness. Not visible in this photo, but visible from the deck on a clear day are the mountains above Santa Fe, too.

A huge thanks to brewmaster/tour guide/jack-of-all trades John Bullard.

As one can tell from the photos, no firm opening date has been set for Bosque North. The vision of what it will become, however, is clearer than ever. We cannot wait to return, sans hard hats, and enjoy a pint or two from that second floor patio. A huge thanks to John for the tour.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The site of a future brewery on Highway 14 south of Santa Fe.

I first met Rich Headley of Crossed Sabers Hops and the forthcoming Beer Creek Brewing Company this past November at the inaugural meeting of the Agri-Brew Roundtable for hop growers, breweries, and farmers alike. From just this meeting alone I knew Rich was an exuberant, knowledgable, and resourceful character of just the kind we need in the brewing community.

At his invitation, Stoutmeister and I headed up just south of Santa Fe to visit the site of the soon-to-be minted Beer Creek Brewing. Rich has been around the brewing community for some time now, having worked on building various brewery systems with his previous business, and he got the idea to start a brewery of his own after his friend Rod Tweet (of Second Street Brewing) suggested that he needed to be a brewer after having tasted his homebrews over the years. As Rich put it, the process all snowballed from there with the creation of Crossed Sabers Hop Company, and then procuring the right location for his brewery it’s been quite a wild ride.

The rustic exterior sets the mood.

The historical stone-fronted building (formerly the Raven Rock Cafe) which will house both the brewery and pub lies just off of Highway 14 south of Santa Fe on the road to Cerrillos and Madrid. The charm of the location is palpable, with a classic rustic flair, and breathtaking views of the mountains from the south side of the building, which is also where the brewhouse will be located (not a bad view for a brewer at all).

It’s rather rustic inside, too.

The interior will undergo significant renovation to modernize the space, while leaving a good deal of the original character of the space intact. There was no word yet on what sort of beers we are to expect initially, but we anticipate good things to come from here given what we discussed about brewing and such. The walled-in flagstone outdoor patio on the west side of the building is quite spacious, with established trees for shade, a large fireplace, a fountain, and access to power for potential live music all of which should make for a lovely biergarten in the future.

Eventually there will be a brewhouse in this room, not just Stoutmeister talking to the owners.

The plan is to keep some of the multi-room aspect of the house, with a main bar area and other separate rooms, each with their own vibes. There is a full kitchen on site, from which they will start making their own pizza with a full menu of pub food to follow. Just off the kitchen is a patio that came with a large smoker for making BBQ, ribs and the like (sounds like a delight to us in the Crew), which will come a bit later as well. The brewhouse area is just south of the kitchen and will be a 5-barrel system. The stated intention is to open late winter/early spring of this year, starting with house-made pizza sales to be followed by the full opening of the brewery later this year.

This is not a small outdoor patio.

We were also invited to visit the Crossed Sabers Hop farm, which is ambitious in both scale and scope, and raring to expand if all goes to plan (which looks quite promising). The goal is to potentially double yield from this year to next year, and then the sky’s the limit. Currently being grown on site are Centennial, Brewers Gold, Cascade, Chinook, and Columbus, which form the backbone of many of our American-style brews from pale ales to stouts alike.

The 2018 hop crop was a long way from being planted yet, but the harvester is ready to go.

The group of individuals involved in both the hop growing and brewery venture are excellent friends and as close as it gets to a large family, so it certainly seems that planning and delegation of tasks and responsibilities was done quite well in advance. Rich serves as the organizer and front man for the group. Ryan McArdle is the designated CFO (chief financial officer), while his wife Caitlin is the ranch foreman and hop wrangler. Kelly McGuire will serve as the sales manager. Peter Goodwin and Matt Olev are the primary owners, with Olev as serving as the general manager of the ranch where the hops are grown. Jami Nordby, who recently cut his teeth with Rowley Farmhouse Ales, will be the head brewer.

We look forward to seeing what comes of both of these endeavors. We will have more on both Beer Creek Brewing and Crossed Sabers Hop Co. as we get more information on a finalized opening date, and as the hop-growing season moves along.

Until our next adventure,

Skål!

— Franz Solo

The long road to opening is nearly over for Lava Rock.

The first of two finish lines is in sight at Lava Rock Brewing. After enduring many a delay, the newest brewery on the West Side will open, sans its own beers, this month. That second finish line, the one with its beers on tap, well, that is still obscured by the sluggish bureaucracy of the City of Albuquerque.

I met with brewer Aaron Walters for a quick tour of the nearly finished space last week at 2220 Unser Blvd. NW, just north of Ladera. The taproom, with guest taps installed, and kitchen are ready to go, and the doors should be open to the public before February ends. Look for an official announcement on the Lava Rock Facebook page soon.

The brewery, well, that will take longer.

“The brewhouse, which may or may not be,” Aaron said, pointing to the equipment that is set up, but not actively in use. “The whole boiler situation is what we’re having. We got close to installing a new one. Then we thought the cost to install one and to buy the equipment, it’s almost cheaper to buy a new system here in the States and have that installed. We may just risk that and bring a new one in, but it’s not 100 percent, yet.”

Issues with the control box on the brewhouse have kept Lava Rock from starting up its own brews.

It all stems from a change in how the City of Albuquerque operates. In the past, the City has allowed breweries to send over all the information on their systems before installing them, to make sure everything is up to code in advance. This time, though, the City inspectors said the system had to be installed and in place before they could inspect it.

“We wasted tons of money just waiting and waiting, not doing anything,” Aaron said. “That’s the sad thing, with stuff like this, they tell you to get your license … it changes, since last time it was just send us a picture of your equipment. This one they said, no, we want it set up, we want to see it in the physical location where it’s supposed to be. Wait a minute, now we have to order it, so what if it doesn’t pass inspection? Which it didn’t, so now we’re screwed.”

The problem, according to the City, is with the electrical system.

“This has been a thorn in our side dealing with the City and stuff,” Aaron said. “When we got this thing, I specified some things as UL (Underwriters Laboratories) listed, which is this, the main (control) cabinet. Years ago, they said you only need to have the main cabinet UL listed, we don’t care about anything else. Anything but that can be CE-listed. Now they’ve changed it, all of a sudden, nope, we want everything has to be UL-listed. Anything with electronic parts has to be UL listed.”

Eventually, beer will be made here.

With all of that still up in the air, and money going only in one direction, the ownership team at Lava Rock decided it was time to open, even without the brewery operational.

Aaron said he was still hopeful that he can brew some small batches of his own beer and have those available.

“We’re maybe, possibly doing our beers on the small batch, small scale until we get our system situated,” he said. “Of course that’s up in the air. I hope so, so I can at least get some of ours out there.”

When the beers are ready, big or small batch, Aaron has most of his recipes ready to go.

“I’m thinking right now, I’ll do what everyone is doing with the two IPAs, have one IPA that’s going to be regular and one that’s going to be rotating on a seasonal tap,” he said. “I’m thinking about doing a porter, a red, an amber, a wheat, and a variation of the stout I did before, the java stout. Eventually I’d like to get into putting a lager on tap, but I want to see how our flow is running. I don’t want to tie up a fermenter.”

The taproom/restaurant two-thirds of the building is ready to go.

Aaron and his father, Bill, who is part of the ownership team, were previously part of the short-lived Firkin Brewhouse in the Brewery District. That operation failed due to a combination of a fallout between the partners, as well as the fact the location was barely visible to the public. Lava Rock, on the other hand, sits on a busy north-south street, close to Interstate 40 and near several growing neighborhoods.

The closest craft beer establishment is the Nexus Silver taproom, 2.4 miles away to the east on Coors. The next closest breweries are Flix Brewhouse (5.3 miles) to the north and Ponderosa Brewing (5.2 miles) to the southeast, on the other side of the Rio Grande. That leaves Lava Rock on a virtual island as a potential neighborhood pub.

“We’ve had a really big response, people driving by, walking in to ask if we’re open,” Aaron said. “At minimum, we’re getting three or four phone calls a day asking if we’re open. It’s been really responsive, which is great.”

There will soon be customers to fill all these bar stools.

The building in total is nearly 6,000 square feet. It can hold 150 people inside and another 80 on the patio, which is still under construction. Considering all the desert sand outside, that should be fine while Albuquerque gets through its windiest months.

On the food side, the full menu includes brewery staples like a Bavarian pretzel, nachos, and wings for appetizers. The entrees include multiple sandwiches and hamburgers, including the option to build your own burger from a long list of ingredients.

The food and guest taps will start things off for Lava Rock this week. Then it is just a matter of being as patient as possible while the rest of the process works out with the City.

“It’s been up and down, man, like it always is,” Aaron said. “Everybody tells stories about what they’ve gone through (trying to get open). It sucks.”

We wish Aaron and the Lava Rock team nothing but good luck from here on out.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Say hello to the newest brewery in Albuquerque.

High and Dry Brewing is hoping that going small will lead to big things. The newest brewery in Albuquerque, located at 529 Adams St. NE, is set for its grand opening February 10. To gain a little advance insight, I stopped by to chat with brewer/owner Andrew Kalemba last week.

Andrew was in the midst of finishing up a batch of beer, one of six he aims to have on tap for the grand opening. For now, High and Dry is carrying six guest taps and is open to anyone who wants to come by and check out the space.

From the outside, it appears small, but the inside is spacious, able to accommodate 88 customers. There is even more room in the back with the brewing equipment, leaving plenty of future room to expand. High and Dry will open with just a 1-barrel brewing system.

“We’ll put out five barrels a week,” Andrew said. “We’ll always have six of our beers on and we’ll have a rotating list of six guest taps. It should be complimentary, too. This is an IPA town, so we’ll have a little bit extra of that on hand.”

No, that’s not creepy, not in the least.

The building itself has a fair amount of history. Long ago, it was a meat processing facility. More recently, it was a tattoo parlor. Some of the artwork from the parlor will remain on the walls in the back, including a rather noteworthy painting of the creepy twin girls from the movie The Shining. Those will not be going anywhere, even if they give a customer the willies. (Can a REDRUM Ale be in the future?)

High and Dry will open with five year-round beers, an IPA, pale ale, red ale, American wheat, and a coffee stout. The coffee will come from Humble Coffee Company, which is owned by Mike Baker, who is one of the other main partners in the brewery. For the most part, though, Andrew and his wife Ashley, an Albuquerque native, will be running the show. Their goal is to create a true neighborhood space, similar to what Sidetrack has accomplished downtown.

“All of our partners who are here in town live within a mile,” Andrew said. “It is truly our neighborhood.”

The first batches of High and Dry’s beers are getting ready for the grand opening.

Andrew was inspired to go with this sort of model by his time living in Austin, Texas, which is where he met his wife.

“It was about eight years ago, like one morning I woke up and decided I want to learn how to make beer,” he said. “I can’t remember exactly what it was, but there was something that triggered me. I would see all these really massive operations and I (knew) that’s something I truly can’t do on my own. So I went to the homebrew store and I went headlong into it.”

How deep did Andrew dive? Well, it almost bordered on madness.

“I did it a few times and then I got more curious,” he said. “Following recipes was not all that interesting. Why am I doing this? That first year a really good friend and I, we brewed two batches a weekend for eight months straight, five-gallon batches. That’s where we really cut our teeth.

“Around that time, I was living in Austin, you’d see all these little small (breweries) popping up. It gave me some perspective, you don’t have to be big.”

Austin, though, has become increasingly expensive. That caused Andrew to look to his wife’s home state.

“We immediately started thinking, how could we scale this idea,” he said. “A lot of it was working on a business plan. New Mexico, fortunately, is a lot less costly. I don’t think we’d be able to do anything at this size in other places. We spent quite a few years on the business plan. It became an obsession.”

The taproom is a cozy place.

Andrew did take some courses through the Sibyl Institute, he said, but for the most part he has simply learned through the trial and error of brewing. The five main styles of beer are the five he has brewed the most often, while his first seasonal will be another he has brewed in the past.

“These are the five recipes that really stuck out of the rolodex of experimenting over the years,” Andrew said. “Our first seasonal that we’re going to do is going to be a brown heavily dosed with anise. I know everyone is doing biscochito browns and that sort of stuff. This is a similar idea.”

While the beer will be a main focus, the entire taproom area is of course an important part of the experience as well. There is a patio out front, with space between that and the street for food trucks. Andrew said Roadrunner Grill will be “let’s call it our house food truck.” Artisan Valley Smokehouse is likely to take a Friday slot, and other trucks will appear as well.

The game room is ready to go.

Andrew said there is also a plan in place for a significant addition to the outdoor experience in the future.

“Hopefully, as far as future plans, we’ve gotten approval to do a rooftop deck,” he said. “This whole building is poured concrete, so everything is safe, you can build that on top of it. That will be nice.”

Inside, the taproom features a game room with a shuffleboard table. There is room to add other fun activities as well.

Eight years after he first started brewing, Andrew Kalemba is ready to introduce his beers to the world.

The taproom is open at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and then noon on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The High and Dry staff is inviting anyone and everyone to stop by and check out the place before the grand opening.

“We’ve got the doors open for people in the neighborhood pop in,” Andrew said. “We’re just practicing until the big day.”

The Crew will head out to check on the beers at the grand opening or soon after. Until then, we wish everyone at High and Dry the best of luck getting ready. Thanks to Andrew for taking the time to chat even while still quite busy making beer.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The finished interior of Bombs Away Beer Company looks great.

I recently took a peek at the website for Bombs Away Beer Company for clues as to when they would open. I was shocked to find out they already had. Apparently, they just had a soft opening a few days prior. Although I already had plans right after work that day, curiosity and impatience got the best of me. I decided I had to stop by there, even if it was just for a few minutes, and at least try a couple of beers. It turns out they don’t sell the sampler pours individually, and I didn’t want to ask for a few free samples and leave without buying any beer, so I took on the challenge of consuming a full sampler of six beers in just over 10 minutes. (I was not driving, FYI.)

I am very glad I did. Unlike with many new breweries, the beer did not suffer from a lack of carbonation. This was not “thin” beer. There are also an impressive number of house-brewed beer styles on tap for a new operation.

I briefly spoke with brewer David Kimbell and told him that I was impressed by the quantity of beer out of the gate, as well as the carbonation levels. Kimbell, who is a first-time head brewer (although he has brewing experience at La Cumbre, Santa Fe, and Kellys), said he did go through multiple batches before he decided the beers were ready for public consumption. I guess I chose my samples well, despite being pressed on time, because Kimbell said that their amber is a little under-carbonated, but that it works fine for the style. I didn’t try the amber, so I cannot compare it to the others. He also said he is still trying to dial in the lager. I did not choose the lager, either.

The beers I did sample were: Willie Pete Wit, Short Fuse Blonde, Wild Card Spiced Ale, Brisance Bitter, B.A.B.C. IPA, and Low Order Porter. Descriptions of their current beers can be found on their website. My favorites were the Bitter and the Porter. The Bitter was very true to style and very easy-drinking. It’s not overly complex, but highly satisfying. The Porter was all roasty goodness with coffee and tobacco notes (in my opinion).

A delightful first flight of six of the eight available beers.

It was hard to choose favorites because all six were beers I could see myself ordering again. Perhaps the only minor letdown for me was I would have liked more spice on the Spiced Ale. It’s a good beer, I just expected more of a fall seasonal taste. The IPA is a New England-style, hazy IPA. For those looking for over-the-top hops, this is not that kind of IPA. It worked for me because I like a lighter IPA style.

The space is inspiring and they did a wonderful job with the décor. Kimbell said they built everything themselves (tables, bar, etc.). The location, at 9801 Acoma near Moon and Central, is very convenient for beer lovers who work at Kirtland Air Force Base and Sandia National Labs. Until I looked at their website, I had no idea there was a Skyline Heights neighborhood of Albuquerque.

Despite the lack of formal announcements that they are open, there were about 15 to 20 patrons in there when I stopped by early on a Tuesday evening. I have a feeling that those people looking for a Southeast Heights brewery hangout have fully acquired their target.

Cheers!

— AmyO

All that scenery around Truth or Consequences was just screaming for a brewery. Or at least that’s what we heard.

Typically when one thinks of Truth or Consequences, Elephant Butte Lake often is the first thing to comes to mind. However, a new crew has been making some serious strides to turn things around in hopes of bringing craft enthusiasts, visitors, and the locals all together.

In the heart of downtown T or C (as it’s often referred to) sits a small brewery that is definitely making its mark on the town. Walking in the doors at Truth or Consequences Brewing, your attention is immediately drawn to the dramatic wooden trusses and the polished concrete floors. If you’re like me, your attention then darts to the new shanks and taps on the wall beyond the inviting and clean look of the bar.

After ordering a beer, I sat down with co-owners John Masterson and his wife Marianne Blaue.

“T or C used to be a real party town,” John said. “There used to be 16 bars within a two-block radius of where we are now. There are now zero, and that’s just due to liquor law changes and the inflation of the value of liquor licenses. I’ve talked to a lot of the older residents around here who talk about the 70s and 80s, and how it used to be a challenge to try to have a drink at every bar downtown. It’s a recreation paradise. There’s miles of trails all around the mountain, then we have New Mexico’s largest body of water, and the Rio Grande for tubing and fishing. We even have the spaceport!”

Originally from Missoula, Mont., then Seattle, John and Marianne decided to plant their roots in New Mexico, and they haven’t looked back.

Welcome to Truth or Consequences Brewing.

“We discovered this town two years ago,” John said. “We both worked in the tech industry in Seattle for about four years. We pursued our tech dream, but after (that) we just needed something different. So, we decided to move somewhere that was the complete opposite in terms of weather, topography, and local economy. We had decided to do a New Mexico road trip, and we were on our way to Silver City after looking at ‘Things to Do in New Mexico’ on a two-week road trip. After renting a car and starting our drive, we realized that there was no way we would make it to Silver City before dark, so we decided to stop in Truth or Consequences because it had a Holiday Inn and the town had a funny name.

“We woke up in the morning and decided to take a walk to get breakfast. We just fell in love with the town. While we were walking around, we were talking about how amazing the town is and how we should maybe get a vacation home or something. We knew we wanted to come back. So, we decided to get a beer and talk about it. We looked around, and there was nowhere to get a beer. And the pieces kind of fell together. We were ready to pull the rip cord on the Seattle scene, but there was nowhere to get a beer. So, we had to create a place to get a beer.”

John certainly isn’t new to brewing. He has been homebrewing for more than 10 years, is a recognized contest winner, and also has some experience in a few of CNM’s Brewing & Production Management courses.

“My first batch of homebrew was when I was still in school in Missoula, Montana,” John said. “I really just wanted good, cheap beer. When I went to the store, I could either get good beer or cheap beer, but there wasn’t really good cheap beer. So, that was the inspiration for me to start making my own. Fast forward another 10 years, I had a really sweet 10-gallon setup and a four-tap kegerator, and I got a lot more into the art and science of it all. I actually won a local homebrew contest. The prize was that I got to go to Big Sky Brewing and brew my recipe with the head brewer, Matt Long. He scaled up my homebrew recipe and scaled it up to their 40-barrel system. That was my first time brewing in an actual brewery. It was a really exciting experience!”

Guest taps are flowing three nights a week.

In a scene that is blossoming with innovation and pushing the envelope, T or C Brewing is looking to really make its mark on the map, especially with its geographical position benefiting beer lovers by bridging a large gap between the larger breweries in the north towards Albuquerque and its surrounding areas, and the southern portions of the state, namely Las Cruces. Speaking of geography, the area of T or C brings also another interesting boon to its communities, and possibly even the brewing process.

“We hope to become a destination brewery for people to add to and check off their list,” John said. “That’s really what we strive for, actually. We hope that by becoming a destination brewery, we will also help bring business to the town. You know, this is a hot springs town. A lot of these hotels have hot springs in the rooms. That’s hot mineral water warmed by lava from the Earth! A lot of folks say it’s healing water. It has lithium in it and almost no sulfur in it.”

In such a small community, the prospect of a new watering hole downtown has seemingly garnered a great deal of support from the city itself, especially as it has slowly transformed during its creation into a smaller music venue as well, with a stage and open area just short of the brewhouse equipment, yet large enough to accommodate even the most eccentric of dance routines.

“We have had a lot of community support,” Marianne said. “We had to get a variance from the city 18 months ago when they bought the building, so the community has been anxious for us to open for a year and a half now. We have been engaging the community with newsletters updating them on their progress.”

The goal is to begin brewing and filling these tanks in August.

Even without a larger sign in place out front, newsletters taped to the windows had achieved the goal of drawing in locals to investigate the new brewery, and garner a great deal of anticipation for the grand opening, proving that this town is definitely in need of a much needed craft beer.

“We want to have our grand opening party near the end of September,” Marianne said. “We will officially be out of the soft opening stages, and we plan to have at least three of our own beers on tap by then. Also, by the end of September, we hope to have a pretty flushed out event calendar. We have some amazing talent in this town, and we are located in an ideal place for touring artists. We have noticed that the whole community really comes together when we have live music playing.”

Truth or Consequences Brewing plans to have at least three of their beers on tap by the end of August, but don’t worry if that doesn’t seem like much now. John expects to not only have a solid staple lineup of beers fitting for the southern New Mexico feel and weather, but hinted at a particularly exotic ‘Unholstered’ line of unconventional and experimental beers.

At the time of this interview, the brewhouse was still in the process of being assembled, but will be a definite reason to make the trek back south once things are up and running. They are currently open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. until they are ready to add their own beers to the lineup, at which point they plan to be open seven days a week.

Thank you to John and Marianne for taking the time out of their busy schedule to talk. All of us in the Crew wish them luck in their endeavor.

Cheers!

— Shawna

All right, we gotta admit, a horizontal mash tun is odd, but the paint job is perfect.

The target is in sight at long last for Bombs Away Beer Company, which aims to join our craft beer community this year. It will be the first brewery in the Southeast Heights, located at 9801 Acoma, right near the intersection of Central and Moon. I had the chance to sit down with brewer David Kimbell and owners John and Hilary Degnaro last week to go over everything about their forthcoming brewery.

“I was in Afghanistan as an explosive ordinance disposal technician, that was my previous job in the Air Force,” John said. “I wanted to move on from that, try something else, so I spent the next couple years deciding what the next thing would be. I narrowed it down to (owning) a brewery and then I spent pretty much about five years to the day putting this together as far as getting the money together, what kind of brewery do I want to have, what equipment to take, so on and so forth.”

To make that final step, John needed a brewer. Enter David, who has brewed and worked previously at La Cumbre and Santa Fe after getting his start in a part-time role at Kellys.

“I had a business in college I started and ran for about four years,” David said. “Got out of that, didn’t know what I was going to do. I’ve always been into craft beer. I’m from Farmington originally so in high school, Three Rivers, all my buddies worked there. I took about a five-week road trip all over the West Coast, Portland, San Francisco, everywhere. I slept in the back of my truck the whole time. I checked out breweries and right before I left to do that I had already lined up a job at Kellys working part-time. As soon as I started I knew I wanted to open up a brewery, and now I’ve been lucky enough to meet these guys.”

There is plenty of stainless steel in the back of Bombs Away.

David spent just shy of two years at La Cumbre, where he credits the likes of owner/master brewer Jeff Erway, director of brewing operations Daniel Jaramillo, and head brewer Alan Skinner with imparting so much of the knowledge he needed to run his own brewhouse.

“(Jeff) was amazing,” David said. “Man, I learned everything from there. I worked at a couple other breweries, but at La Cumbre, the passion level there is out of the roof and obviously the talent is out of the roof. Learning from Daniel and Alan, I wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t for them.”

David also later added that Santa Fe Brewing brewmaster Bert Boyce has been a great mentor during the process of opening Bombs Away.

While Bombs Away is joining an increasingly crowded craft scene in town, John said the relatively isolated location should keep them from being swallowed up.

“Well, first off, I don’t think the scene is (too) crowded,” John said. “There are more breweries here than there used to be, but that doesn’t make it crowded. Secondly, we’re in a part of town there’s really not a whole lot going on. There’s a whole lot that’s starting to come in here, but we’re the only brewery over here.”

Because of that, Bombs Away will not be overly thematic, even with its obvious military ties and location close to Kirtland Air Force Base.

We’re digging the light fixtures made out of old explosive rounds.

“I’d like a nice touch of that but I’m not going to say that’s what we’re setting out to do,” John said. “Yeah, absolutely, we want to hire vets, not just because of my background or our location, I just think they’re good people to employ. That’s something we’re keeping on the forefront, but I’m not saying you’re going to walk in here and see an all-vet staff. We’re not going to go with a military theme in the place. There’s a touch of it here and there.”

As the pictures show, the interior is fairly spacious and welcoming. There is an exterior area earmarked for a future patio, but it will not be part of the brewery out of the gate. The interior will have more than enough room for folks to enjoy their beer. John said he does not plan on having too many televisions or live music.

“I think a place like this to me is about people meeting and hanging out, having conversations, enjoying your beer,” he said. “I think really as long as the atmosphere is welcoming and comfortable, that’s all we really to do on our side is have a comfortable place where people can have a conversation. Provide the great beer and the rest kind of takes care of itself.”

There will not be a kitchen, but David said he already has connections to food trucks from his time at La Cumbre, so expect one to be parked outside most nights.

The bar area is just about ready to go. It will feature 15 taps.

The tap system had just been installed by the time I visited. There will be 15 total taps, giving David plenty of room for creative seasonals in addition to the year-round beers. Style-wise, David said he will not stick strictly to the guidelines for his beers, but he will not being going overboard, either.

“It’s (going to be) the beer we like to drink,” John added. “Drinkability, that’s high on our list.”

The sizable brewing room in the back has quite the unique setup. Rather than buy a whole brewhouse, Bombs Away has assembled its own equipment.

“I think something interesting that we’ve put together, it’s not a traditional brewhouse,” Hilary said. “Early on, we had all the stainless steel sitting in our backyard from different industries all around the country. The majority of everything here has been used somewhere else.”

The brewhouse is made up of a horizontal mash tun (see the top photo) and a 10-barrel kettle. There are 15-barrel fermenters in place, giving David the flexibility to go big with his beers or make smaller batches.

Another look at the non-traditional brewhouse.

There are also offices and an a side room that could be used for private gatherings. The building is big enough for potential expansion if necessary in the future. For now, though, it is just about getting those doors open.

“I don’t think we really want to give a timetable at this point,” Hilary said. “We’ve been wanting to open for a year. At this point, we just want to hold ourselves to it.”

“The City of Albuquerque hit us with (a delay),” John added. “We had almost five months where we sat on our hands thanks to our wonderful planning department. It’s to the point where we really don’t want to put a time on it, every time we have it’s always been a mess. We’ll be open when we’re open.”

Still, based on their progress to date and the fact their small brewer license with the State of New Mexico has been approved, the Crew will project an autumn opening for Bombs Away.

“One thing I’d like to add is I have a desire, there’s not much going on in New Mexico, but the beer scene is killing it and I have the desire to make this the best beer scene in America,” David said. “I think we’re getting there, the beer quality is amazing here for the most part, but I want to make sure we’re up there when we open.”

That is exactly the kind of confidence and enthusiasm we want to see from a new brewery.

Take note, Bombs Away is already looking to start the hiring process for servers and beertenders. You can email your resume to bombsawaybeer@gmail.com.

All of us in the Crew look forward to heading back over to Bombs Away right before it opens to try the beer and see the finished product ready to go.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The “coming soon” part of the sign will be removed July 1!

I’m happy to say that I have an update on what may be one of the longest anticipated brewery openings in the Albuquerque area for some time. Hops Brewery has been a project in the making for years, with a prominent location on Central Ave. in Nob Hill.

I’ll confess that I have been regularly driving by, hoping to see a sign with an opening date. This past Saturday, I was heading to lunch in Nob Hill and noticed that the front overhead door on Hops Brewery was open and there appeared to be some activity inside. After further investigation I met Austin Shull, son of Hops Brewery owner Jim Shull. Austin was kind enough to allow me to take a look around the inside of the nearly finished brewpub. I walked back past Hops again after I finished lunch down the street, and this time father and son were both at work inside. I interrupted what they were doing just long enough to get the inside scoop. I started by asking Jim to share the story of Hops Brewery to this point.   

The work is ongoing, but the finish line is in sight.

“It’s been an idea we have had for a while since the last 5 or 6 years and I had been in the restaurant business before and got out of that about a little over 15 years ago but decided that a brewery-slash-brewpub, looked like a pretty good idea,” Jim said. “So, we actually started with a location and got our brewers permit down in the village of Los Ranchos, and got through zoning and got to the point of the village trustees (telling me that) I was 285 feet away from Taft Middle School, but they had done variances before in the past. One of the trustees had a problem with it and so that ended that, which put us, of course, back to square one. You have to amend all your plans and find another place. And, at about that time this building came on the market, so we bought this building and went through the whole permitting process and planning process.”

Jim was quick to acknowledge that he can’t complain about the Central location that he ended up with, but his challenges were not yet over.

“And then we had some opposition from the neighbors, mostly the neighbors across the street,” Jim said. “That appealed our zoning decision way back when, so that stalled us for a while. We had to go through a few appeal processes and legal costs and stuff like that. And, then we finally got over that hump and then just standard building codes and that kind of stuff. So, it’s been a long haul but we are getting close. We can see daylight at the end of the tunnel for sure.”

All the equipment will be out of the way for the grand opening.

Aside from all of the legal/zoning/code challenges, the father-son team has also taken on a very labor-intensive, hands-on involvement in the building of their business.

“We’ve had some trades like dry wall guys and an electrician and that kind of stuff, but as far as we helped them do everything and then of course we would dig the trenches for the plumbing and took the plaster off the ceiling,” Jim said.

Austin interrupted, “How many tons?”  

“Ten tons, (that’s) 20,000 pounds,” Jim quickly responded.

“20,000 pounds of plaster, insulation, wiring … from the ceilings,” Austin clarified.  

OK, so then let’s get to it — what about the beer?

“We hired Ken Wimmer,” Jim said. “He’s a retired school teacher who has been brewing beer for over 25 years and really, really knowledgeable. In fact, he just got back from Scotland for three weeks, and so he’s made us six real good beers, four of which we made in-house, and then two where he went down and actually used Rio Bravo’s system along with their brewers John (Seabrooks) and Ty (Levis), and came up with something we could make a little bit bigger volume and a little bit more economical then a barrel at a time.”

Will there be food?

“We are going to have a limited food menu, 10-12 items, some appetizers, a few sandwiches,” Jim said. “I think we’re going to try opening for lunch.”

The bar will have 40 taps, 32 of which will be guest beers from other New Mexico breweries.

Drum roll please — is there an expected opening date?

“July 1 to the public, and hopefully soft openings a week to 10 days before that,” Jim said. “And, I know Ken wanted to invite you guys like before we open, just without the public here, just you guys so he can talk beer to you guys. That was one of his deals right from the get-go that we gotta do that before we open, and he’s just waiting for me to pull the trigger on when it’s time.”

Well, you don’t need to ask me twice. I didn’t think I could be any more eager to see Hops Brewing open, but after seeing the inside and talking to Jim and Austin Shull, my anticipation has only grown. Even though work inside is ongoing, the place already looks beautiful. I would describe it as being sleek, modern, and clean enough to be a trendy new bar in Nob Hill, but at the same time having the warm and inviting environment that one would expect in a neighborhood pub. The bar itself is very impressive, so impressive that it’s almost the only thing I remembered to get pictures of while I was there, with an eye-popping 40 taps.

“So, we will have 32 guest beers,” Jim said. “Of course, we will have a few New Mexico wines as well.”

I asked Jim if there was anything else he wanted to make sure he said before I let him and his son get back to work, and I think he very effectively summarized what he had spent the previous 10 minutes explaining.

“I want to apologize for the long delay,” Jim said. “It’s just it’s probably more work than anybody can imagine, and when you are trying to do 90 percent of it yourself, it even becomes longer than that. But, we haven’t skimped on anything, and we had to kind of rebuild a building even before we started.”

Thank you to Jim and Austin Shull for taking the time to talk to me, and for all of the effort they have put into Hops Brewery. The Crew wishes them the best of luck on finishing up the final touches this month. Can’t wait for more updates and, as always, we will keep you in the loop.

Cheers!

— deezbeers