Archive for the ‘New Brewery Preview’ Category

Say hello to the newest brewery in New Mexico, right off Exit 85 on the east side of Grants.

Every now and again, it feels good to get out of Albuquerque, even if only for a few hours. Our state has so much natural beauty, that even in this heat, it can be fun to explore the places we may not have been in years. Of course, beer makes any trip to the wilderness even better, especially when it is in a nice, air-conditioned brewery right next to one of the hottest places in the state.

Last week, Franz Solo and I ventured out to “Mordor,” also known as El Malpais National Monument, just south of Grants. After hiking in to the Lava Falls and enjoying the sense of near total isolation, we headed back up the road and went one exit further west to find the newest brewery in Grants. Elkins Brewing, which opened only a few weeks ago, is located south of Interstate 40 at Exit 85. It is a thoroughly charming little spot marking the entrance to the Lavaland RV Park, due west of the El Malpais visitor center.

We sat down at the bar and ordered a flight of the four available house beers — Blonde, Gose, Rye Ale, Bad Handle IPA — before brewer/owner Kade Elkins came out to say hello. Kade has to be the first brewer we have ever met sporting an Old West look.

You would be smiling, too, if you finally got to open your own brewery after 20 years of making beer at home.

“I’ve always wanted to have a brewery,” he said. “Definitely when I was in college was when I started, but maybe even back in high school. I was always interested in fermentation. I made all sorts of alcohol, moonshine-type stuff. I didn’t drink any, it could have killed someone.”

(more…)

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If you’re gonna build a brewery in the mountains, go big.

A little back story: When I began learning about beer, real beer, all those years ago, it was because I had a dream of opening a brewery in a very specific location. This dream led to homebrewing, joining the local homebrew club, writing about beer for the Dark Side, and then working for a brewery for a minute or two. Long ago, I had wanted to open a brewery in Red River, one of my favorite mountain towns, a place I go every year for Oktoberfest. It’s been quite a few years after I had that initial dream, and since, I’ve found my place in the industry as a writer instead. And, though I no longer have any inclination to run a brewery, I still believed, wholeheartedly, that Red River wanted a brewery; no, it needed one.

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RRBC at Bacon & Brews prior to opening. From center to right, owner Michael Calhoun, son Chris Calhoun, and wife Sharon Calhoun. (I’m sorry I don’t know the other two nice ladies.)

Red River Brewing Company (RRBC) officially opened its doors to the public on Friday, May 25, right at the start of Memorial Day weekend. And, for one family, it’s been quite the ride from which they still have yet to come down.

I recently visited Red River with family from Norway. During that time, I was able to schedule an interview with the owner and his son, at some point between a hike and a chairlift ride. Though they wouldn’t be open for a couple of hours, owner Michael Calhoun let me in through the back with the grain. And, standing there next to the shiny brewhouse, I asked him how it all got started.

“The Calhoun family has always been into craft beer,” Michael said. “Sharon, my wife, and I grew up here. We were born and raised in Red River. And then, we were in Los Alamos for a while. When Bathtub Row (Brewing Co-op), opened up, we were having such a fantastic time at that place, that we realized that Red River could really benefit from having a brewery up there. And, my wife and I were looking for an excuse to get back up here to Red River. My dad, who’s involved in this business, had this awesome piece of land. This location, it’s phenomenal! My brother is an architect, and he was itching to do another project here in Red River. So, all these planets just lined up, and it just made sense. Everybody in the family was on board, so we just decided to do it.” (more…)

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Welcome to the scene, Tumbleroot!

It’s been a couple weeks now since the new brewery/distillery and concert space/taproom have been open, and it already seems as though new life has sprung up in Santa Fe’s brewery/entertainment/nightlife community. With all inspections passed, Tumbleroot’s doors have finally swung open at both of their locations. That’s right, both of their locations. In two short weeks, Santa Feans have already found their way to the hip new joint on Agua Fria Street to grab a beer or cocktail, and enjoy some excellent entertainment while they’re at it.

On three separate occasions, four, if you’re counting a purely personal stop, I visited the brewing facility and the taproom. On two of those trips, I sat down with the co-founding Jasons, Jason Fitzpatrick and Jason Kirkman. And then, on a separate instance, I brought the brewers from another local brewery to visit and conduct an across-the-board cocktail and spirit tasting of Tumbleroot, or an all-in-fun inter-brewery raid. Because, friends, I am but one beer writer.

First off, I met with co-founder and general manager Jason Fitzpatrick. Over a Pale Ale, in a small office, just behind the large stage, I asked him how it all got started.

“My partner Jason Kirkman and I worked up at Bathtub Row,” Fitzpatrick said. “And, the reasons that we went up there, separately, was to learn how to open a brewery.”

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Co-founder and GM Jason Fitzpatrick has come a long way since bartending on the Plaza.

Before that, Fitzpatrick worked at Marble Brewery, beginning as a bartender on the plaza in Santa Fe (now the Draft Station), and ending as vice president of Marble. He’s been in the industry for eight years, but he’s been in the restaurant and bar industry for sixteen years, between Scottsdale, Ariz., Los Angeles, and Santa Fe.

At Bathtub Row, he met Kirkman, where they’d worked together for about five months, before heading up to Denver for the Great American Beer Festival. There, they got to spend some time together, really talking about what it would take to open a brewery.

“We thought we had a similar aesthetic,” Fitzpatrick said. “And, just this idea of community and creating this sort of taproom. And, our skills really complemented each other well, because I’m on the business side, and he’s on the brewer/distiller side.”

As they toured around Denver, collecting inspiration and tossing around ideas, the idea of Tumbleroot was born.

Tumbleroot Bisbee (Production Facility)

32 Bisbee Ct, Santa Fe, NM 87508

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Co-founder and brewmaster Jason Kirkman never stops working.

Co-founder Jason Kirkman, head of brewing and distilling operations, is in charge of what goes into and comes out of the tanks, of course with input from his brewers and Fitzpatrick.

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Brewer Aaron Costello sniffs something delicious off the still, formerly of Chili Line Brewery and the local homebrew club.


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Brewer Brandon O’Brien brewed many different seasonal beers at home, including saisons and a chocolate coconut stout. From local Santa Fe homebrew club.

Kirkman was a biochemistry major in college who started homebrewing after taking a microbiology class, and his first job after college was working at a commercial brewery. He’d taught for years, but homebrewed all the while.

“(Kirkman’s) a bit of a savant when it comes to taking the ingredients and knowing what the end-product is going to be before doing it,” Fitzpatrick said.

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Kirkman takes every issue, large or small, seriously.

Kirkman has been homebrewing for over 20 years, but he’s worked the past couple years at Broken Trail Brewery and Distillery, learning how to become a distiller.

I finally caught up with the elusive (and very busy) Kirkman at the production facility in their much smaller, but no-less gorgeous wood-topped taproom. I asked him a few questions about the production side, as what sounded like A Tribe Called Quest bumped some ill beats in the background.

“We’re utilizing the brewery for the fermentation side of the distillation process and spirits production,” Kirkman said as he leaned over the bar. “We start with 100-percent organic base ingredients. If we’re going to do a rum, we’ll take some kind of cane product. We’ve been using organic evaporated cane sugar for the white, the gold rum. Basically evaporated cane juice, so it’s still got flavor and minerals and all that. And then, we’ll add our house yeasts. We’ll use beer yeasts. We’ll use some dry spirit specific yeasts. We’ve been throwing in a lot of French Saison yeast for spirit fermentation, for a little character and attenuation. For the Agave, we use 100-percent blue agave nectar, so we’re using a tequila specific yeast.”

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Fermenters ready for anything. They have to be.

Tumbleroot does all of its base fermentation utilizing the 10-barrel brewhouse, brewing equipment, and fermenters. The staff then puts it through the still, and, depending on the type of spirit, for example, if it’s a vodka, they’ll make a neutral spirit, pure distilling at a very high proof up to 95 percent of alcohol (the highest you can get off of a regular distillation of alcohol coming off the still). Tumbleroot doesn’t charcoal filter its spirits, as the staff wants people to taste some of the base ingredients in there. They want more natural flavor in what they’re creating, which is closer to the European way, Kirkman said.

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Be still, my heart.

When it came to choosing their spirits, the staff knew they wanted a full bar at the taproom. And, in order to do that, they distilled with variety in mind, also thinking along the lines of what spirits do we want to make for good cocktails?

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Just one of the incredible craft cocktails available at Tumbleroot.

“That’s why we have two types of gin, for different kinds of cocktails,” Kirkman said. “We have different kinds of vodkas (that are) great mixers. Our rums are more highly distilled than a lot of sipping rums that you age. Given time, we’d love to have more rye whiskeys. But, right now it’s basically cocktails, right? And, with our plan, we’re doing everything from basic ingredient to glass. We’re actually making mixers, simple syrups, our own vermouth, our own bitters.”

As far as beer philosophy goes, Kirkman said they’re focusing on seasonals. They want to have a regular rotation of seasonal beers and then a few that remain year-round, like their IPA and Farmhouse Ale. One seasonal they just released only days ago was their Maibock, which is the last of the spring rotation. They plan to have season-specific beers, but always present a wide variety in their seasonal rotations, with a sort of formula to their releases. Kirkman said they want to always do lagers, always a Belgian style, always an American style, and always a dark beer.

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Bourbon Barrel Belgian Dark Strong Ale with Cherries. Because hell yes. (Available in bottles only, amigo.)

As for barrel-aging, they currently have a Bourbon Barrel Belgian Dark Strong Ale with cherries on the menu.

“We’re infusing spirits and beer,” Fitzpatrick said. “We want to go back and forth in the barrel. So we’re going to get some barrels. For example, our next barrel project is getting some kind of barrels and putting our Navy Strength Gin in them. And, once the Navy Strength Gin is done, we’ll do a Barleywine that goes into those barrels. Once the Barleywine’s been in there, we’ll go back to spirits. So those barrels are going to be used multiple times. We’ll go back and forth between spirits and beer. We have our Rye Whiskey on now that was aged for 14 months. We have a bourbon in a barrel right now, and a Farmhouse Whiskey — it’s our Farmhouse beer recipe, distilled as whiskey. And, those will turn into beer barrels after we empty them.”

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The first of many projects to bear fruit. Ha!

Right now, Tumbleroot has a lot of irons in the fire, from 12 wine barrels full of sours, the Barleywine project, and barrel-aging more spirits. Kirkman talked of actually getting three different spirits barrels, and putting the golden Barleywine into each different barrel for very different effects. Now it’s just finding the time and the manpower to do it all.

The future of Tumbleroot production is wide open at this point. Kirkman said they’re going to focus on refining the base recipes. He’s looking forward to a rotating field beer in the summer, with wild-harvested ingredients or ingredients acquired from a local farmer. He’s definitely got more barrel projects in mind, bigger spirits that take more time to age, like Anejo, more whiskeys, and so on.

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The supply is already impressive.

Tumbleroot currently brews three times a week on its 10-barrel system, producing about 30 or 40 barrels a week, while sneaking in a fourth brew. But, of course, not all of it is beer.

“Each distillation, each 10-barrel fermentation, depending on what we do, can yield about about two-to-300 bottles,” Kirkman said. “And, that’s pretty much a weekly thing. That’ll keep us ahead, and then we can start distributing. But right now, with demand, I’m going to run out before I can make everything.”

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Tumbleroot’s 10-barrel system is already getting quite the workout

Tumbleroot’s Agua Fria Taproom, Stage and Marketplace

Location: 2797 Agua Fria St, Santa Fe, NM 87507

It took the Jasons and company just six months to transform the remnants of old Club Alegria into Santa Fe’s newest playground (for both children and adults), currently housed by Tumbleroot. But, it started long before that.

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Now that’s a patio.

They signed the lease on the Agua Fria location on October 24 of last year.

“It really took us a year to get to that point though,” Fitzpatrick said. “Part of it was going through the city process, special use permit and all that. We didn’t want to start doing work until we knew we’d be able to be in this space.”

Any issues they came across, they worked through them, and like any brewery trying to open within the city limits, they had to deal with city obstacles. And, if you’ve ever read one of my articles about a brewery opening in Santa Fe, you already know it ain’t easy like Sunday morning. The construction process took six months for them to become compliant, but then there was also meeting the goal of hitting the visual aesthetic they had in mind since GABF.

Opening two spaces at once wasn’t the original plan. Ideally, they wanted it to be once space. They looked for different spots around Santa Fe for a whole year. It just didn’t work out for the Jasonic Duo. After walking the Alegria space, they said they both loved the potential. They believed it was exactly what they wanted for the bar space, the stage area, the wide open hall. But, they also knew, right away, that they wouldn’t be brewing and distilling on site. This space was what they had in mind for the Tumbleroot experience, but a separate production facility was now necessary.

There are now eight taps at both locations, from which flow Kirkman’s creations.

Beers:

  • Tier 1: Dortmunder, Farmhouse, Irish Stout
  • Tier 2: Citra Pale Ale, IPA, Honey Hibiscus Wheat
  • Tier 3: Imperial Red Ale
  • Tier 4: Bourbon Barrel Belgian Dark Strong Ale with cherries

Spirits

  • Grain Vodka
  • Botanical Gin
  • London Dry Gin
  • Blanco Rum
  • Oro Rum
  • Plata Agave
  • Repasado Agave
  • Rye Malt Whiskey

Cocktails

Front-of-house operations manager Joe Haggard came up with the special cocktails mixed at Tumbleroot. Very well versed in mixology, he put together the special list, in collaboration with Kirkman and Fitzpatrick as seen in the picture below.

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There is a science to all of it.

Food

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They cut a hole in the fence for food trucks to serve people more easily. Genius.

They plan to keep their food situation simple, offering snacks but mostly utilizing food trucks to keep their patrons fed.

Music

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The Tumbleroot stage has plenty of bands coming soon.

Tumbleroot has music four nights a week. Tuesday is a songwriter’s showcase hosted by Bill Palmer. Wednesday is an open-mic night hosted by sound engineer, Jason Reed. Fridays and Saturdays, Tumbleroot hosts full bands from both in and out of state. The staff said they will also be working with AMP Concerts to bring in national shows, which they aim to be booking for late summer/early fall.

The occupancy is 400, both inside and out. Tumbleroot is open from noon to 10 p.m. from Sunday through Wednesday, and from noon to midnight Thursday through Saturday. Which, if I may note, is awesome to have another place open past 10 in this sleepy city.

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A familiar sight. Fitz, still doing what he loves, serving up a good time.

In Fitzpatrick’s words, what makes this space unique for Santa Fe is “what we’re able to do because of our size.

“That we can create kids’ areas,” he said. “We have intimate lounge areas. We have a bar that we created, so that people sit across from each other, and can meet and talk — without TVs, so that everybody’s not just staring at a screen, but instead, across the bar, interacting. So I think it’s the flexibility of the space. It can become so many different things, and from hour to hour, change.”

Tumbleroot officially opened the taproom on April 19. The production facility (taproom) officially opened on April 6.

For the future of Tumbleroot, Fitzpatrick said he wants to create community, or help foster community. That’s the focus of the Tumbleroot taproom space. A big part of what they want to do at the taproom is host different events, such as artist markets and fundraisers all built around the the local community. And, next year they plan on distribution, with accounts solely around Santa Fe, for now. Soon, however, they hope to build a real name for themselves within the yet unsaturated craft spirit business.

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Take the time to sit back and relax with all that Tumbleroot has to offer.

I’ve visited both spaces and tried everything on the menu at least once. The new Tumbleroot taproom is certainly something to behold. It’s a giant, but a gentle one. It has the funny tendency to make you want to return. And, though they’re dialing in the recipes for the beers, everything I had was solid, though different approaches than one might be expecting in some cases. Don’t expect heaps of heavy-hitting hops here, at least not yet anyway. The spirits are top-notch, light years beyond even our favorite store-bought high-end hooch, but then again, Santa Fe doesn’t produce bad spirits. Perhaps it’s all the churches? I kid. And, the cocktails are inspired, refreshing, and full of flavors that you can easily pick out, if you spend enough time sipping. And, sip you should, lest these spirits turn to poltergeists in larger numbers.

Something great and powerful has come to Santa Fe. But, something deeply welcoming, too. The bartenders and servers are some of the nicest you’ll find in the area, and the seats and smooth wood of the bar tops just beg you to sit a spell and relax. Bring the family, bring your buddies, or bring a date. All are welcome, and well-received. If you need service, just ask for a Jason. There may be more than two around.

For my full-on brewery raid, where I brought the brewers of Rowley Farmhouse Ales to taste everything Tumbleroot had to offer, stay-tuned for my next article. Until then, to exploring broadly, connecting deeply, cheers!

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— Luke

2017NMIPACround2-3

For more #CraftBeer news, and @nmdarksidebc info, follow me on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro. Untappd: SantaFeLuke. Instagram: lostgramsofluke

 

 

 

 

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

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