Archive for the ‘Taproom Preview’ Category

The forthcoming Bow & Arrow Rambler Taproom will be smaller than the main location, but it will feature much of the same aesthetic charm.

The recent rumors of an Albuquerque brewery heading to the Four Corners proved to be true earlier this week, as Bow & Arrow Brewing officially announced it will be opening its first offsite taproom in Farmington. The Rambler Taproom is aiming for a winter opening, said Bow & Arrow CEO Shyla Sheppard, and is the product of a long search for a second location that had started in Albuquerque.

“We’ve been looking for a while,” she said. “Actively looked all over Albuquerque and the metro area. We explored quite a few properties, actually. But then again, as you know better than most people, there’s a lot of movement taking place right now in the market. Maybe there’s a future opportunity for us somewhere here, but for our first offsite, the more we looked at the Four Corners area, (we found that) it’s very much in line with how we’ve positioned ourselves, branded ourselves being about the American Southwest, and the Four Corners is really kind of the gateway of all of that.”


Red Door will be moving its downtown taproom out of this space to a more visible spot on Central. (Photo courtesy of Red Door)

A few quiet months have passed for Red Door Brewing since the last announcement regarding a taproom. In this case, though, it is not a new taproom on deck, but a taproom on the move.

Confused? Well, we sat down with owner Matt Biggs and brewer Matt Meier to figure out just what is going on with the location at the corner of Gold and Fourth Street on the ground floor of the Simms Building.

“We decided we weren’t doing enough when it comes to taprooms, so we decided why not uproot and move another one?” Meier said.

He was joking. Sort of.

The taproom will be on the move to 509 Central Ave. NW, a block north and a block west of its current spot. The space was previously Zullo’s Bistro, and before that it was Blackbird Buvette.

“More people knew it as Blackbird, I think,” Biggs said. “That’s more of our (goal) as well, taking it back to that vibe, which was a real cool place to hang out, that was kind of trendy, but also really relaxed. It has a phenomenal patio.”

The most unique aspect of the spot has to do with licensing.


Enchanted Circle is already building out a patio area outside of the new taproom.

During my brief first visit for one pint during their opening week, I was unable to try any of Enchanted Circle’s food, due to the City of Albuquerque neglecting to supply the green sticker (even though the staff said that the City said they would have it in time for the opening) to the first off-site taproom for the Angel Fire brewery. I went back over the weekend to try some of the menu items as well as more of the beer.

One change was already immediately evident as Dave and I pulled into the parking lot on the northwest corner of Osuna and San Mateo. It was clear they were in the midst of building a patio out in front of the building. It was good, and surprising, to see even more progress so soon after their opening.

I felt the same pleasant vibe walking in there the second time as I did the first. They honestly have done an amazing job transforming the space, so much so that it is easy to forget you are in a strip mall. Dark wood, Tiffany-style table lamps on the large bar, and some barrel tables contribute to an upscale pub feel.

Both times that we visited, we sat at the bar and had the same wonderfully exceptional service from our bartender. Also both times, owners Steve and Shelley Larson were on-site and pleasantly hands-on. I asked Steve about the patio and he said even though it looks like they just started cutting out the space, they hope to have it open within two weeks! It will be covered with fabric and have misters, so it should be a cool spot to hang out with your pup, even in the summer. Steve and Shelley are animal lovers, and they wanted a dog-friendly option for their customers.

One thing to be prepared for upon arrival: an overwhelming number of beers to choose from. Enchanted Circle continues to brew at their original location in Angel Fire and transport it to Albuquerque, up to 35 kegs at a time in a van. They have a ton of equipment up there, a 20-barrel system with 400 barrels in process, and motivated brewers. A big reason the Larsons wanted to open a taproom in Albuquerque is to move the huge amount of beer they were producing. They just can’t move the quantity in Angel Fire.

There were more than 20 of their own beers of many styles on tap during my visit, and a couple of guest taps. Steve was extremely generous with the samples, meaning we tried a lot. With that quantity, I expected some to have off-flavors, but I didn’t find any. Steve said that one of the more unusual beers on tap (a plum sour that was cloudy and creamy) is one of their more popular styles in the Albuquerque taproom. This would never be the case up in Angel Fire, where they constantly have to run big batches of both their pilsner and lager. In fact, just after we arrived, the first person who sat next to us ordered a pint of this plum sour. While it’s true that there are no over-the-top hop bombs, there are a few IPAs. And, if you can’t find a style of beer you like here, well, maybe you just don’t like beer.

The food menu, in contrast, is concise, but well thought-out in terms of a variety of options. There are appetizers, a few salads, several burgers, sandwiches, fish and chips, and pot pies. Weeknights feature a different dinner special each night. We ordered a pulled pork sandwich with a side salad, and a gyro with fries to try and get a feel for how some of their beers paired with different menu items. Shelly also brought us a complimentary small sample of the artichoke appetizer to try. We finished with a heaping serving of the Bourbon Bread Pudding. Yes, I had to take home half of my food!

Our writers were gifted with just a few beers to sample.

Dave and I both chose the Juicy Pale Ale #1 for our pint to start off. Some of our other favorites from the samples were the Lemon Shandy (way, way too easy to drink, especially for that upcoming patio!), Nice Day IPA, Glory Hole IPA (with food), Raspberry Nubbin Fruit Lager, Shred-It Red, and the Whiskey Barrel Belgian Quad. We only learned after ordering it that the Juicy Pale Ale #1 is the first beer they have brewed with hops extract. They are going to try a series of it to determine the best version.

As far as what paired best with our food, the Raspberry Nubbin and the 70 Chilling (smoked) Scottish Ale both paired differently, but equally well, with the pulled pork. The Hells Bells Helles Lager unsurprisingly took the top spot with the gyro. The Glory Hole IPA was the right match for the artichoke dip, and we much preferred the Glory Hole with food than without. And, finally, the Whiskey Barrel Belgian Quad was the only beer that could stand up to the sweetness and richness of the bread pudding. Well, except strangely for our Juicy Pale Ale; that sort of worked in a weird way also, just not as good as the quad. Dave said that eating the bread pudding with the quad totally tricked his brain into thinking that the quad tasted like a port wine. He was honestly kind of blown away by that.

There were some small, nitpicky things with the food that I am sure will get worked out. They were out of several things we wanted due to a mix up with the supplier. Next time, I would ask for a small side of extra BBQ sauce for the pulled pork. It was a good sauce, and it was only spread on top. Now, the pork was totally flavorful and juicy enough without the sauce, but I like my sauce, so that’s probably just my preference! And, the presentation could be tightened up a bit. I did only see one person working in the kitchen, and it’s a pretty big taproom, so this might be why. It was mostly noticeable with the gyro; it was a bit messy. The tzatziki was haphazard, and the small amount of lettuce was placed between the meat and the pita, so it got really hot and wilted. It would look better and retain more integrity if it was placed on top, but again, that’s some minor and hopefully constructive nitpicking.

I want to return for a weekday happy hour in hopefully a couple of weeks to try the Juicy #2. I am also looking forward to a unique appetizer that is quite the deal during happy hour — a smoked salmon spread, with toasted mini bagels and toppings. I am a sucker for happy hour offerings that are different from the norm. Now, which of those 20-plus beers will be the one that goes best with the smoked salmon?


— AmyO


Sam, left, and George Boese in front of their new taproom

If you’ve followed my posts religiously (and I assume you all have), you may have noticed a pattern to my posts. Bathtub Row had a good year, the ski hill is having a festival, Bathtub Row hired a new brewer, etc. I think the ‘Tub and ski hill are wonderful places, but living in small-town Los Alamos means not having a whole lot to write about when it comes to breweries. Meanwhile, my Brew Crew brethren can’t keep up with the brewery openings in Albuquerque. (We are trying, but it is hard. — S) Well, that is changing! Opening just 100 yards or so from the ‘Tub is Boese Brothers’ fourth taproom. I sat down with the brothers, Sam and George, to get the scoop.

Many of you are already familiar with Boese Brothers’ other locations — the original on Gold Street in downtown ABQ, another in the far NE Heights on Tramway, and a taproom/taco shop called Desert Dogs near the plaza in Santa Fe that they opened in conjunction with New Mexico Hard Cider. The original brewery opened in just 2015, so they have been rather busy. The brothers said they felt that they needed to look outside of Albuquerque again for their next spot.

“We’ve been looking around for a while at a couple different places. Some other places in Albuquerque, but it seems pretty saturated to us. The place in the Northeast Heights is pretty far away from anything else. So that kind of worked for us. But, you know, Los Alamos seems like there’s a pretty strong drinking population here,” Sam said. I beamed with a strange sort of pride at hearing that. “(We were looking at) nice towns and this is a really nice town. We didn’t have to go very far.”

Yes, Los Alamos is a nice little town. There’s only one other brewery, Bathtub Row, which also opened in 2015. If you just want a place where you can get a good beer, there are several other nice bars/restaurants in town that fit that bill.


The opening date is just around the corner.

Folks from the neighborhoods along Juan Tabo have been asking us for some time when the long-awaited Quarter Celtic taproom was going to open. While we still do not have an official opening date, we did get to enjoy an invite-only sneak preview Monday night.

The new spot is located at 1930 Juan Tabo Blvd. NE, on the east side. It is just north of Indian School. The taproom is smaller than the original brewpub at Lomas and San Mateo, but it has the same beers on tap, and a full kitchen with the same menu.

You know it’s a Quarter Celtic staff when they don’t take themselves too seriously.

The staff was up to the task of taking care of everyone in attendance Monday. There were a few faces who will be familiar to customers of the original, but all of the newcomers have been prepared for the task at hand.

Most of the space is the dining area, with the kitchen in the center. It is not quite as open as the kitchen at the brewpub, but you can still smell the food as it is cooking, so if you are not hungry before arriving, you will be after a few minutes. Hmm, it’s almost like they planned it that way.

That cool old-timey lamp post over there caught our eye.

The bar is over in the south side, where a few small TVs are on the walls above. The taproom is still more of a place to eat and talk to people than a sports bar, which is just fine with us.

Quarter Celtic has kept the same vibe at the new location, but it still feels a bit different, which is just fine. If you are a fan of the original, but it was a little too far away to visit frequently, then this should be a perfectly good option for some corned beer and cabbage, and a pint of Crimson Lass.

The bar area makes for a cozy corner.

Thanks to Ror and Brady McKeown for the invitation. We will enjoy our second Winchester in ABQ.


— Stoutmeister

It sure looks like a Blue Grasshopper. (Photo courtesy of Darlaina Chapman)

Over the weekend, the Crew was made aware that Blue Grasshopper had opened its third location down in the Wells Park neighborhood. This will eventually be home to their brewing operation, replacing the small space at the original taproom in Rio Rancho.

Located at Summer and Second Street (specifically 1401 Second NW), we took a very early look last year while it was still under construction. The taproom portion is now ready for business. AmyO talked to the general manager of the Westside ABQ location and found out that the total space amounts to about 10,000 square feet, with half of that for the taproom.

Visitors to the taproom told us that it has the same pizza-led menu, with a wood-fired oven in place. There are about 50 taps of beer from all around the state.

Owner Greg Nielsen sent us a message that the grand opening will be the weekend of June 8-9, after ABQ Beer Week is over. Until then, please enjoy these photos from two of AmyO’s friends who visited over the weekend.

Some nifty artwork already adorns the walls. (Photo courtesy of Darlaina Chapman)

The bar area around the pizza oven. (Photo courtesy of Brian Polansky)

There is plenty of space to move around. (Photo courtesy of Brian Polansky)

The stage area for live music. (Photo courtesy of Brian Polansky)

Looking from the bar toward the entrance. (Photo courtesy of Brian Polansky)

We will have a full story on the new site soon, once we are also done with Beer Week coverage. Thanks to AmyO for tracking down much of this info.


— Stoutmeister

There will soon be more Hops in the Village

Posted: May 21, 2019 by amyotravel in Taproom Preview

The future home of Hops Brewery’s Los Ranchos taproom, as teased by the brewery on Facebook.

Savvy searchers may know that Hops Brewery in Nob Hill is actually incorporated as Los Ranchos Brewing, LLC. There is a good reason for that, as Hops Brewery is finally opening a long-awaited taproom in the Village of Los Ranchos. This is a plan that has been about five years in the making.

I tracked down Jim Shull, co-owner, to ask him for some details. The taproom will be on North Fourth Street and should open sometime in June, hopefully earlier in the month. (We were asked not to share the specific address as to not bother their neighbors.) This is where they live and it will be great for them to have a neighborhood-style taproom.

It will have a “smaller bar” feel, so Jim said it will be a totally different feel from the massive space of the nearby Steel Bender Brewyard. Perhaps one of the best parts about this location is the availability of patios. The front patio should open right away, or soon after the taproom opens. There is additional room to expand and have a back patio. The taproom space also backs up to the irrigation canal trail, making it a great destination for bicyclists.

The size of the space is approximately 2,500 square feet. The seating will be about the same capacity as the location in Nob Hill, Jim said. The kitchen will have a smaller footprint, however, and they hope to rely mostly on food trucks, supplementing them with an abbreviated menu from the Nob Hill location.

The tap handles are already in place. (Photo courtesy of Hops Brewery)

The total number of taps will be 20, which will breakdown in a 50/50 split between their own beers and other local taps. Because, Jim said, there are good beers all around this town; they are not afraid to put on guest taps. It seems to work for them at the location on Central.

This will be a hop, skip, and a jump — or super quick bike ride — from my neighborhood nearby. Welcome to the Village, Hops. Or, I guess, welcome home.


— AmyO

The next Red Door taproom in Roswell is in a rather large building. (Photo courtesy of Ali Cattan)

The other day, during a routine check of pending small brewer and small brewer offsite licenses, a new one popped up that caught our eye. The timing and the location stood out, in particular, as a busy Albuquerque brewery is making another move far to the east, and now a little bit south.

Red Door Brewing is heading to Roswell for its third offsite taproom, just a few months after its Clovis taproom opened up. I sat down with owner Matt Biggs and head brewer Matt Meier to talk about this latest endeavor, which they expect to open this fall.

“Yeah, we weren’t really looking right away, but I was in Roswell for a hunting trip last year and came across a building that was super cool,” Biggs said. “It’s down in the industrial area. It was an old barbecue restaurant. I want to say (before that it was) an old rail station. It was in a cool, industrial part of town. Anyone that knows Roswell there’s like a massive silo you can so from most of the town. It’s right across from that, a couple blocks off Main Street.”

Specifically, it is located on the northeast corner of the intersection of Railroad Avenue and East Third Street. That puts it two blocks east of Main Street/Highway 70 and one block north of East Second Street/Highway 380, the two main roads through Roswell.

“So I went and talked to people about it,” Biggs said. “The owner was super motivated to do something with it. It just kind of worked out. We actually kept kicking the can down the road to make sure Clovis was operating smoothly. We were supposed to execute a lease on Roswell in January, I think. We told them we weren’t ready. Clovis opened, had normal opening hiccups, so I spent about a month, not quite a month getting those resolved. Now it’s operating relatively smoothly. I’ve got a killer staff down there. They’re all trained up, all ready to go. We’ve kind of gotten our beer deliveries down.”

The pavilion across the street from the taproom will be used for special events. That’s Red Door operations manager Ali Cattan to give an example of the sheer size of the space. (Photo courtesy of Matt Biggs)

With the Clovis taproom locked down, that turned Biggs’ attention to getting Roswell going.

“It’s set up as a restaurant with a draft line, so very little,” Biggs said. “We’ll probably update the kitchen a little bit. There’s an event side of it. So basically the building we’ve leased is a three-component building. One side is the restaurant. One side is a covered breezeway that is actually kind of an indoor/outdoor patio. We’ll roll up the doors on it so it’s completely open. Then there’s an event space. The event space can’t be utilized because it’s not sprinkled, so once we kind of finalize that we can use it for special events.

“Then across the street is this massive pavilion that used to an old cotton warehouse. I want to say it’s ballpark 10,000 square feet. It’s just an old industrial warehouse. They’ve taken the siding off of it, they’ve electrified it, there’s water running into, there’s a barn owl living in the rafters, which is great because it keeps the pigeons down. We’ve also leased that as well. All of that we can utilize, the pavilion mostly for special events. It’s across the street from the restaurant, so we can’t operate it off the same license.”

To help prepare the brewery, Meier got some new toys to play with to keep up with the already increased demand between Clovis and the fact Red Door is now canning its Vanilla Cream Ale.

“In the preparation for this and with the shock of what Clovis was capable of, we bought four new tanks,” Meier said. “We got those in (a couple) weeks ago now. We’ve got three more 30 (barrel) fermenters and a 30 bright, which is going to be huge for us.”

“I think it’s over doubled our production,” Biggs added.

“Now, from my point of view it’s kind of funny, all right, we’ve got Clovis stable, we’ve got Clovis into a rhythm, I know what to expect, and it’s going to get all thrown upside down when Roswell opens,” Meier said.

Red Door will also have a new canning run soon, with Irish Red joining Vanilla Cream in package, keeping Meier plenty busy before Roswell opens.

Another view of the taproom building looking from south to north. (Photo courtesy of Ali Cattan)

As for the local response, Biggs and Rael found a receptive audience so far among the local politicians.

“We actually were just down there last week, and Dustin and I gave them a very short heads up,” Biggs said. “They were really nice and super welcoming. The mayor and the city councilor that manages our district and the city manager all bought us lunch. They were super enthusiastic. They’re pumped to see something going into that space. It’s been vacant for a little bit. I think they’re really excited to have another brewery in that district (near) the Main Street area. Black Cock (Brewery) is in a different part of town.”

Roswell is the fifth largest town in New Mexico after Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Rio Rancho, and Santa Fe, so it is about time that it gets another craft brewing option. We wish Red Door plenty of luck keeping up with all of its far-flung and nearby customers.

A big thanks to the two Matts for meeting up today.


— Stoutmeister

The Desert Valley taproom at Wyoming and Comanche is now open.

With no Champions League games to watch and the weather actually holding up for a change, I decided to make the short drive down Wyoming to check out the Desert Valley Brewing taproom that recently opened next door to Poki Poki Cevicheria.

The DV taproom effectively takes the place of the Red Door Brewing taproom that closed back in August, but it is not in exactly the same space. The setup of the complex has Suite A occupied by a coffee shop, Sweet Cup, in the northeast corner, Suite B by Poki in the northwest, Suite C by Desert Valley in the center, and Suite D by Kody’s Smoke Shack. Red Door was in Suite D at 3517 Wyoming NE.

Poki Poki is still next door, but you have to go outside to access it from the taproom now.

Now located smack-dab in the middle, Desert Valley has an open doorway into Kody’s, so one can order food in one space and enjoy it with a beer/cider/mixed drink in the other. The actual taproom space is fairly simple, with a small number of short and tall tables flanking around a bar in the middle with 20 taps, 12 for beer and the rest for Sandia Hard Cider’s offerings. Desert Valley also has a distillers license now, so you can order mixed drinks if beer or cider are not your cup of tea, so to speak.

There is also an upstairs area with some TVs in the overhang above. It almost feels like sort of a reverse image of the old Red Door spot, albeit with a different decor.

They have a loft upstairs much like Red Door used to have in the adjacent suite.

Of the 12 Desert Valley beers on draft, I went with the Dark Side Stout, which checks in at 9-percent ABV and 39 IBUs. It’s a drier stout, with some pronounced roasted and almost licorice/star anise flavors. The rest of the lineup is varied from hoppy to malty, heavy to light (in ABV and appearance), and if I had more time, I would have sampled a few more. Trying the barbecue is also on the agenda for a return trip.

The parking lot is still too small, and a car attempting to leave out the Wyoming entrance/exit and I almost collided as I pulled in (you cannot really see around that corner), but otherwise the building setup is pretty much as it was during the Red Door era. Just be aware that the lot will fill up quickly during the busier hours.

We will be back to try some of the other 12 beers on tap. There are also eight ciders.

Another craft beer and food option in the Heights is always welcome. We will be back to try Desert Valley and Kody’s Smoke Shack again.


— Stoutmeister

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

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

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

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

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

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