Archive for the ‘New Brewery Preview’ Category

Owner/brewer Sean Lawson welcomed the Crew to Turquoise Trail Brewing for the first time.

The blank spots on the map continue to fill up with breweries and taprooms.

Turquoise Trail Brewing is the latest addition to the East Central corridor, landing at 11016 Central SE, a short drive east of Bombs Away and west of the Tractor Four Hills Taproom. The new brewery has quietly opened, as its own beers are not on tap yet, but owner/brewer Sean Lawson said he needed to start making some money back on a property that he has been leasing for a calendar year now.

“I’m really hoping to have the brewery up and operating in four to six weeks,” Scott said. “I’ll have my own beer on tap in two months. I think that’s pretty realistic.”

For now, there is a wide range of guest taps, many from breweries far, far from the location next door to the Dion’s at Elizabeth and Central. I grabbed a pint of Dialogue’s Nugget to the Rack imperial amber and sat down to find out just what in the world possessed Sean to open Albuquerque’s 35th brewery.

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The Black Snout interior provides ample seating for individuals, couples and groups to gather for a fresh brew and sports entertainment. Future plans also include patio seating out front.

On the first day of summer, a steady flow of thirsty people made its way to Black Snout Brewhouse when the newest Northeast Heights watering hole on Juan Tabo and Menaul opened its doors to the public on Friday.

Since our last visit a little over a month ago, the finishing touches have been put in place right down to the shine on the concrete floor, which by 7 p.m. had already seen some wear from the scuffle of feet throughout its opening day.

“It was spotless at 2 o’clock,” said owner Josh James, in between working back in the brewery, behind the bar, and out on the floor greeting guests and waiting tables, along with his wife/co-owner Natasha and about half of their eight total employees.

As expected on the first day, there was a decent amount of chaos, and the staff was somewhat slow to greet me and take my order at the bar when I first arrived, but that quickly changed after I sat down at a table.

Besides some minor back and forth with the fire marshal, Josh said the last leg of preparations for opening went fairly smoothly, and now he and Natasha are ready to take the next steps as brewery owners.

“Now that we’re open, thank goodness, the first thing I want to do is sleep,” Josh said.

The lounge seating area is a perfect spot for kicking back and watching a game. Soon, window shades will be added to further enhance the viewing experience on sunny New Mexico afternoons.

Otherwise, the immediate plans are to settle in and make minor changes as needed. Currently, the north wall is lined with TVs broadcasting a variety of sports channels, and already patrons are asking what will be done with the still mostly blank south wall.

Josh said that eventually he will add some more TVs to that side as well, but with future plans for a restaurant in the space next door, he doesn’t want to put too much money into something that will only be temporary.

“I don’t want to say just yet, but it’s going to be super exciting,” he said when asked for more details about the restaurant. “It kind of goes along with our theme here.”

The sports bar theme is supported in part by collaborations with local athletes, and organizations including Jackson’s MMA, in a business relationship that Josh said he hopes will be good for both the brewery and the community. Donated sports memorabilia already adorns the walls and the space behind the bar. Additionally, what Josh described as a “pretty exciting” endorsement announcement is in the works for the near future.

There is, of course, one more important element to the equation — the beer itself. Currently, Black Snout has three flagship beers: Half Guard Hefe, South Paw Porter, and Triple Double Hazy Pale Ale, along with the limited release, Gummy Bear Hazy Pale Ale.

The limited release Gummy Bear Hazy Pale Ale is fruity and delicious. Plus, it looks really cool in a pint glass.

The first attempt at brewing the Gummy Bear four years ago didn’t go too well, Josh said, and he has tried it again three or four more times since then. Brewer Josh Olivas got the final product right just in time.

“We ended up nailing it on the head when we were not sure if (the brewery) was going to work out,” he said.

Made with actual gummy bears, the brewing process is very specific and requires knowledge of water chemistry. Only one other brewery does it, Josh said, but in a completely different way. The initial aroma is tropical and fruity, like a handful of multi-flavored gummy bears, and the taste is a mild citrus with a very light hop finish. It’s rare that I can drink an entire pint of pale ale, but this one went down easily. Many others must have enjoyed it as well, as it was the best seller on opening day.

I also sampled the Half Guard Hefe and the South Paw Porter. Banana aromas and flavors shine in the Half Guard. Backed up by spicy cloves, it is banana bread in a glass. On first sip, the South Paw is pretty much what I would expect from a typical porter, but the finish is like biting into a bar of dark chocolate.

“We felt like we hit a home run on all of these beers,” Josh said.

In about a week, you can try them all at once when the first flights are unveiled. Growler fills will unfortunately not be available due to the quantity limitations of the 1-barrel brewing system, which Josh says comes with some challenges, but they are working to nail it down.

Guest taps from Santa Fe Brewing and Brew Lab 101 round out the current selection. In the future, Josh said he hopes to develop Black Snout’s relationship with these and other local breweries.

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The beer selection is small, but packs a punch.

As new breweries continue to open in the Northeast Heights and throughout Albuquerque, Josh said that their goal is not to compete with anyone else, but instead to support American-made beer and the local community.

“We’re just trying to be Black Snout,” he said.

Thanks to both Josh and Natasha for taking a few minutes of their busy first day to talk with me, and congratulations on the successful opening of their new brewery!

Cheers!

— Maureen

Stoutmeister needed some help reviewing La Reforma Brewery, so he brought along Erin and Dan (who took the photo, but you probably know him as the guy in the Crew shirt who sometimes wears a kilt).

La Reforma Brewery officially opens today (Monday) at 8900 San Mateo Blvd. NE, but a few of us in the industry — or industry adjacent — were invited to a soft opening Friday night.

While I am perfectly comfortable reviewing the beer the general setup of a new place, I am quite possibly the worst person imaginable to review authentic Mexico City-style food, mainly due to a specific allergy. With that in mind, I brought along my friends Dan and Erin, both of whom took a vacation to Mexico City back in March.

It’s the old Bosque space re-imagined.

First up, the space is both the same one you were used to with Bosque being there, but also there are subtle changes. The bar is still up front, but the tables have been changed around to have a more personalized dining experience (no more community tables). The TVs are still up there on the wall, but we forgot to ask co-owners John Gozigian and Jeff Jinnett if they will be showing soccer games in the future. We will let them announce watch parties online.

The initial beer lineup had three of the four beers available for us to try. La Ref Lager, Maximillian (Dunkel), and Turbia Hazy IPA were ready, with Hi-Wit (Hibiscus Belgian Wit) not quite ready for us, but it will be on tap today. There are also a Michelada made with the La Ref, Bosque guest taps (see our previous story as to how Bosque and La Reforma are sharing the brewery), and six cocktails made with the spirits distilled on site.

From left to right, La Ref Lager, Turbia Hazy IPA, and Maximillian Dunkel were all solid house beers.

We each ordered a flight of the three beers, with Dan and Erin opting for Micheladas, then a cocktail each, before Dan switched to a lager to finish and Erin had one more cocktail. They mostly just made yummy sounds when it came to the Micheladas and cocktails, which were also at many of the other tables around us.

My own take on the beers was that the La Ref was quite the standout. It tastes like a high-end cerveza, with the Tettnanger hops and corn sweetness combining for quite the sweet beer. At just 4.8-percent ABV, it hits the spot without leaving you too loopy.

The old bar is still there, but note the windows looking into the brewery and the kitchen.

The Maxmillian (5.5% ABV) is a Munich-style dunkel. It is a solid beer, but could use a little more flavor. Franz Solo is our resident German beer expert, so at some point I will need to utilize his palate to figure out exactly what is missing with the Max, but if anyone else out there wants to try it and let us know your opinion, please do so.

The Turbia (7.2% ABV) is neither too juicy, nor too hoppy. It ends up somewhere in the middle, with even the non-IPA fans at the table enjoying it. We will see what the haze-heads think of it, as I could see the recipe changing based on their whims to either juicier or hoppier.

The Mexico City-style quesadillas were a huge hit, as was that jalapeno green sauce.

Now, as for the food, here are the quick reviews that Erin emailed over shortly before slipping into a food coma at home:

  • The jalapeño “salsa de Lupe” was reminiscent of the purest CDMX flavors. This particular batch was also hot enough to knock you on your ass before you even threw a punch.
  • The carnitas burrito was so packed full of flavorful ingredients that we didn’t even have room in our stomachs for the tacos we ordered. But, I have a feeling they will be amazing on the re-fry!
  • If you’ve never had true Mexican-style quesadillas, do yourself a favor and order them here. You’ll never want to order Americanized quesadillas ever again for fear of utter disappointment.
  • The “El Tri” was a refreshing summer cocktail that was deceptively … alcoholic. The Michelada was spot-on. The crisp, bright lager was a flawless base that complemented the michelada mix all too well.

We also need to point out that our server was excellent (we made sure to tell her bosses), and the service overall for a brand-new brewery/eatery was impressive. As always, please be patient as some kinks will still need to be worked out here and there, especially when things get really busy at peak hours. The good news is that the owners are not new to any of this, so they should be able to straighten things out in a hurry and have La Reforma operating like a well-oiled machine in record time.

A big thanks to John and Jeff for the invitation, and to Erin and Dan for coming along to be my official food tasters (they have volunteered for future missions as well).

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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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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.”

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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.”

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