Archive for the ‘Taproom Preview’ Category

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.

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Nexus Blue Smokehouse hosts its grand opening today.

The long wait is finally over today (Tuesday) as Nexus Blue Smokehouse holds its grand opening at 1511 Broadway Blvd. SE. Located on the west side of the street, just three buildings south of Avenida Cesar Chavez (the first two are a gas station and an Albuquerque Police substation), Nexus Blue will be open from 4 to 9 p.m.

I was lucky enough to be invited to a sneak preview on Friday night, which granted me an advance tasting of the menu and a chance to take some photos of the finished space. Only the main dining area was open, so it was a bit crowded, but that is to be expected. As owner Ken Carson noted in our Look Back/Look Ahead Series article, the plan is for Nexus Blue to do mainly takeout orders at the outset. If you are planning to sit down at the taproom and enjoy a meal, please be patient.

Customers order their food at the front counter, and servers will then bring it to you in the dining area if you are eating on site.

The food, of course, is the star here. Nexus Blue has a barbecue-centric menu of smoked meats, with only a few of the more classic Nexus dishes (chicken and waffles, fish tacos) available. With the rest of the Crew unavailable, I was a good son and brought my parents to the sneak preview after they finished their stint as volunteers at the new Brain exhibit at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History (hint: you should also check that out).

Your barbecue options feature smoked meats by the half-pound, five sandwich/taco options, or mega meals like The Spread and The Big Feed. The Spread can feed four to five people, with one pound of brisket or burnt ends, plus one pound of pulled pork or two hot links, plus a half-chicken or half-rack of ribs, plus two sides (pints). The Big Feed is all of the above plus six pieces of fried chicken, with quart-sized sides.

The half-rack of ribs, brisket, and french fries all went quite well with a pint of Scottish Ale.

Since there were only three of us, we each picked a different item off the menu, selecting a half-rack of ribs, a pulled pork sandwich, and a half-pound of brisket. For sides, we ordered french fries and smoked BBQ beans. The pulled pork and brisket were quite good. There is also a BBQ sauce station, so you can decide how much sauce, and what kind, you want on your meat(s). The other smoked meat options are hot links, burnt ends, and a half smoked chicken, plus of course a full rack of ribs. Additional sandwich options include a brisket, burnt ends, and hot links, plus there are brisket tacos. Other sides include mac n cheese, fried okra, coleslaw, potato salad, collard greens, and fried pickles. There are also a couple of dessert options in biscuit bread pudding and cherry/peach cobbler.

I am leaving out the prices, just in case anything has changed since Friday, but I found everything to be reasonably priced. Heck, my dad agreed, and if you can get a 75 year old to agree on the cost of food, that is a plus. Most of the main dishes were in the $8-to-$12 range.

Owner Ken Carson, center, stepped in to help his staff keep things flowing.

As for the beer, they had the regular Nexus offerings on draft, including the Cream Ale, Red Ale, Scottish Ale, Chocolate Porter, and Imperial Cream. There are eight taps in total, so a seasonal or two might pop up from time to time.

Overall, we were impressed with Nexus Blue on its first night of operation. As we have said many times in the past, please be patient and courteous with the staff of any new taproom/restaurant/brewery. They are still learning how everything works, especially as things get busier and busier. The important thing is the food is delicious, the beer is what you have come to expect from Nexus, and the space is a warm and inviting one. Do take note that the parking lot on the north side of the building is not a big one, so please endeavor to carpool if you are traveling with a large group.

We will see some of you here before the soccer game this weekend!

Whether you stop by today, later this week, or pregame the New Mexico United match on Saturday, have fun and try not to eat your body weight in smoked meats. We cannot promise that we will not attempt to do just that.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Boxing Bear is preparing to open its first taproom in West Downtown, but the brewery is not necessarily planning to stop with just that location.

In the blink of an eye, a little rumor recently whispered to us became reality this week when Boxing Bear Brewing officially announced it was opening a taproom in the former 5 Star Burgers space on West Central.

To get a little better idea of how it all came together this quickly, I sat down with head brewer/co-owner Justin Hamilton.

“So after 5 Star closed, we saw the building (at 1710 West Central),” he said. “We’ve been hunting (for) taprooms. It wasn’t like 5 Star approached us. We were actively looking for taprooms, not just one, but multiple for a long time.”

Boxing Bear was given a short time to make a decision on leasing the space.

“The timeline was really quick,” Justin said. “Five Star was one of our accounts, so that gave us the heads up. That spurred our interest in that location and that allowed us to pursue (it). We also know there’s lots of breweries looking for that perfect taproom space, so we had to really try to harness it as quickly as possible. I love that location. It’s so much culture, a really, really up-and-coming area. It’s right down the street from the revitalized El Vado (Motel), it’s literally across the street from Albuquerque staple Duran’s, and we’ll be right next to Amore Pizza. All those things are a sure fit for us.”

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The beers are now flowing out in Tijeras.

For the past three weeks, Lizard Tail Brewing’s Rock Canyon Taproom in Carnuel has been operating in a soft opening mode. That all changes this Saturday when they will have the grand opening celebration. The party includes live music all day, headlined by The Real Matt Jones at 7 p.m.

New tap handles adorn the space.

I recently paid a brief visit to the taproom previously owned by Grant Brewing out of Chama. The interior was already really nicely appointed, so not a lot needed to be changed. They did fill it in with more tables and some visually stunning pieces of art.

There is new signage, of course, and naturally all-new beers. There were seven Lizard Tail beers on tap, as well as a watermelon cider from Sandia Ciders, plus several other local beers in bottles and a few wines by the glass were also available.

The new beer list, mostly courtesy of Lizard Tail.

Enjoy the pictures, and if you get a chance, stop by and have a beer and a visit. The staff are super welcoming and very excited to be a part of bringing beer, music, food and fun back to Tijeras Canyon.

Cheers!

-AmyO

 

We borrowed this image from Red Door since we have never been to the bowling alley that will house the new taproom in Clovis.

Red Door Brewing has set its sights a bit further east than ever before. The brewery’s next taproom will not even be in Albuquerque, but instead in a town that has no local brewing of its own.

“I was in Clovis at one point,” owner Matt Biggs said. “When you’re down in a place like Clovis there’s a definite lack of options for people there. When you tell them you’re down there and you’re with a brewery, they get really excited for you to go out there. We went down for a bit and we had been looking there for a year now, but nothing had worked out.”

Even as its Northeast Heights taproom closed, Matt kept hoping for something to come together in Clovis. It turned out that another brewery failing to close the deal left the proverbial door wide open for Red Door.

“Roosevelt Brewing was supposed to move into the bowling alley there,” Matt said. “That fell through last minute and the bowling alley had met our events person, Norah (Doss), and they called us because they knew we were interested in the city. It kind of worked out for us. The bowling alley had changed ownership and he didn’t want to do food and beverage service, so he reached out to us. That will be our first out-of-city taproom.”

Hooks’ Alley, formerly Main Line Bowl, will be the new home of a Red Door taproom. It marks the first time a brewery has taken on such an endeavor, and the first real craft beer presence in Clovis.

“I think figuring out the needs of the market (comes first), and then after the first few months and just have a presence,” Matt said. “When you have a remote (taproom), you have to have a good manager that you can trust down there, and making sure we’re making the trip frequently to keep them on it.”

Since Red Door has had its eye on Clovis for a while, Matt has already gotten a pretty good idea of what the market wants.

“We went there and did a couple of events,” he said. “The first one we did we took four half-barrels for a one-night event that was going to be four hours long, and we ran out of beer after about two hours. We had a 40-person-deep line the whole time. We went to our distributor who had a warehouse nearby and picked up a couple of sixtels and we were fine.”

The actual process of converting the bowling alley cafe into a taproom will not be nearly as hard as it was to set up the two previous Red Door taprooms.

“It’s pretty much ready to go, it definitely needs some aesthetic upgrades, so that’s primarily what we’re going to be doing,” Matt said. “We’re not going to be doing major construction, which is super nice. It was a bowling alley cafe, so it’s got a place for beer, wine, it’s got a full kitchen. We’re not stressing out the design of it.”

At this point it is all about waiting on the approval of the State of New Mexico.

“It’s more about the permitting,” Matt said. “We’ve never had to deal with the New Mexico Health Department because Albuquerque has its own. They’re very similar to AGD, so the permitting can take some months. But, basically once we’re permitted we can take beer down there and start serving it. We’re really looking forward to it.”

Matt said the Side Door Kitchen, the company-owned food truck at the main brewery location, has already helped Red Door prepare for how to handle the kitchen in Clovis.

“Our manager here (Ali Cattan) has an extensive food background, menus, pricing stuff out, getting supplies, it’s a pain, but you see everybody is trending toward food at this point,” he said. “I think there’s the realization that beer (alone) doesn’t cover the bills.”

All of us in the Crew wish Red Door the best of luck tapping into the untapped market of Clovis. The next time we are out that way, we will have to hit up the bowling alley for a couple games and a couple pints.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

There will soon be two locations to get your Quarter Celtic beer-and-food fix!

We got some good news earlier today (Monday) in the form of an email from Quarter Celtic Brewpub co-owner Ror McKeown. He let us know that QC’s first taproom is now in the works at 1930 Juan Tabo, between Indian School and Menaul, with a projected opening date that “will loosely be February/March 2019.”

The taproom will be about 3,000 square feet, making it smaller than the original pub at San Mateo and Lomas. The taproom will still serve about 10 to 12 beers, like the original, and will have the full food menu as well. It will seat roughly 90 people, Ror wrote.

The location is on the east side of Juan Tabo, just north of Indian School and south of Menaul. Long ago, it was the location of the original Tomato Cafe.

QC will be joining what is quickly becoming a potentially crowded little area for beer. The new Black Snout Brewhouse will open in a few months at 11500 Menaul in a shopping center on the southeast corner of the Menaul/Juan Tabo intersection. That brewery has a pending small brewer license with the State of New Mexico.

Boxing Bear was long rumored to be opening a taproom in the still-unbuilt Snowheights Promenade at Eubank and Menaul. The status of both the taproom and the development is unknown at this time.

As more updates about the new QC taproom become available, we will share them with all of you.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

 

Quite a few of the Lizard Tail beers will soon be available at their first off-site taproom.

I was pretty bummed out when I found out that the Grant Brewing Taproom in Carnuel (just east of town in Tijeras Canyon for the uninitiated) was shutting its doors earlier this summer. It was a great spot to stop when you are heading to the East Mountains.

Then I learned that the friendly folks from Lizard Tail Brewing (located at 9800 Montgomery Blvd NE, Suite 7) have come to save the day. I stopped in over the weekend to grab a pint on my way to dinner and was able to speak with Lizard Tail owner Dan Berry.

Although I knew they were reportedly going to take over the spot in Carnuel, I had no idea it was happening so soon. Yes, it was already a completed taproom space, but these things always take longer than anyone imagines due to the various permits and regulations.

The old Grant Brewing taproom in Carnuel will soon become the Rock Canyon Tap Room.

I almost fell off my barstool when I asked Dan if Rock Canyon Tap Room, their new name, had a target opening date yet, and he said he is hoping for sometime in mid-September. As in next month, not next year. As always, it depends on local/county government paperwork, so we cannot lock in an exact date right now.

Dan said they should have seven of their own beers on tap, plus some cider. They will also sell local wines. Additionally, they plan on adding a kitchen, which is something Grant did not have.

Good luck on the new taproom, Lizard Tail! I can’t wait to rock some beer in the canyon once again.

Cheers!

— AmyO

It’s go time today at noon!

It is rare that we write “Happy Monday!” at any point during the year, but we will make an exception today. That is because the La Cumbre Westside Taproom is opening at noon, and last night I was one of the lucky folks who was invited to a secret soft opening.

The space is spacious, even if one of the LC staff told me he already thinks they should lease the empty space to the west and knock out the wall. That could still be an option, of course, but for now it should be able to hold plenty of thirsty beer lovers who have grown weary of crossing the Rio Grande to get their favorite LC beers.

The taproom is situated toward the southern end of the large shopping complex anchored by Sprouts on the southeast corner of Coors and Montaño. You can enter from either road, though certainly there will be advantages to driving up from the south or from west to east. The building is slightly askew, so the front windows and entrance are at a slight north-by-northeast angle. The patio is located somewhat to the northeast corner, sticking out a bit away from the main building. There is plenty of seating out there, and yes, plenty of shade.

Inside, the bar is in an L shape, with the longer part facing toward the west. There were 18 (!) taps available, including some new beers like the tasty Thunderbolts and Lightning (Bohemian pilsner). Yes, there may have been a quick singalong between one of the beertenders and I after she asked me what beer I had tried. The Dortmunder was the other refreshing lighter beer for a hot day, but fear not, because all you hopheads will have plenty of Project Dank, Sun Fade, and Full Nelson, plus a new session hazy IPA called Carmen. The sour, Mood, is also available, along with many other beers. There is a cooler filled with cans if you want to take some beer home, too.

There are tall tables by the front window, shorter tables in the center, and booths along the west wall. Throw in plenty of bar stools, and while it will certainly be crowded today and likely for a while, there should be enough room to keep everyone happy.

The staff is a veteran group, with quite a few faces that will probably be familiar to you from other breweries. There are quite a few Bosque expatriates, including Adam, Tony, and Mindy. It is the right group of people to handle what will likely be a significant crush of people. There is plenty of parking in the shopping center as well, so that should not be a problem. Just be careful driving through, what with all the shoppers going to and fro.

Above all, just remember to have fun today, or whenever you are making your first visit to the taproom. It is a slick, swanky place, staffed by good people, and filled with good beer. Be patient and polite as they deal with the onrush of what should be many, many folks this week.

Congrats to Jeff, Laura, Jenn, Cory, Alan, Daniel, and everyone else at La Cumbre, and thank you for the chance to be among the first to try out your awesome new space.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

La Cumbre’s new taproom is ready to go!

Franz Solo here on the cusp of your weekend to announce the opening of La Cumbre’s taproom this coming Monday, the 20th of August. Located on Albuquerque’s west side at the new shopping center on the southeast corner of Coors and Montaño, this is quite a lovely addition to those of us who live in the Taylor Ranch neighborhood and surrounding areas.

The exterior is complete.

To say that I’m just a little excited for this is entirely an understatement. Since moving into Taylor Ranch in 2012, one of the few things that was missing from our neck of the woods was a stellar taproom, and we always hoped one would land right around Coors and Montaño. Our hopes have been answered, and man, I’m happy to have La Cumbre here. I had a few moments to chat with owner Jeff Erway and snap a few photos of the nearly completed space, so without further ado …

It’s mighty cozy inside.

Franz Solo: All right, so we finally got a taproom. So what does this mean for La Cumbre and how excited are you?

Jeff: You know, I wasn’t excited when we got started, but I’m pretty darn excited now, because it’s that feeling of accomplishment. Except this time, it wasn’t the vast majority of it just being my wife (Laura) and myself getting it all done. It has been a total team effort and the place looks really good because of that. Everybody came up with plenty of stupid ideas and amongst those stupid ideas a few really good ones rose to the top, and we took those and ran with them.

Owner Jeff Erway is one happy man with that beer menu in place.

Yeah, I’m really proud of the way it looks and how it came out. The general contractor did a great job and as much as anything I’m really excited to see — we know our clientele at our original taproom, it’s hardcore beer geeks — obviously we know that many of them will be coming here as well, but we also know that there will be a totally different group of people coming here as well, which I’m excited to see who that is.

Solo: Heck of a nice patio with the hop-themed metalwork.

Jeff: Thank you very much. We are really pleased with how it came out.

The hop design is quite fun outside.

Solo: I also like that this is quite modern, but you kind of kept the rustic look of the original alongside it.

Jeff: I did. I tried as much as I could. We used lots of recycled wood. We’ve got an arcade game over there with 1,100 different games or something, every single awesome game you played in the 80’s and 90’s we’ve got there. We have a shuffleboard table because it’s something I’ve always loved when I was up in Taos, playing late night shuffleboard. We found a woodworker at Real Woodworks, John, that we really wanted to partner with and I think he just did a killer job creating exactly what we were trying to go for.

Classic arcade games? Oh, the hours we will spend playing these!

Gonna be playing a lot of this as well.

* * * * *

So starting next week, we on the Westside have our own taproom at which to “Get Elevated” and I for one could not be more excited. From the start, there will be 18 distinct beers on tap and also of note, this is the first taproom I’ve seen that has incorporated outlets with USB ports at every booth, along the wall, and under the bar as well to suit our modern device needs for constant power, which is a very nice touch. Head over this coming week and check out the long awaited La Cumbre taproom in all its glory. 

Soon, all those tables and booths will be packed!

Skål!

— Franz Solo

Ponderosa’s taproom at the revamped El Vado Motel is now open.

Greetings fair readers, Franz Solo here, the other day upon learning that the El Vado taproom for Ponderosa Brewing had opened for business, I was tasked by Stoutmeister with checking it out. As it happens, the historic El Vado Motel, which first opened in 1937 and will reopen after some pretty awesome looking renovations this July, is just two minutes of a bike ride from my usual stopping point on the river by Tingley Beach.

The El Vado Motel sits just over the river on the south side of Central at New York (2500 Central Ave. is the precise address). So after a lovely late morning ride by the Rio Grande in the wonderful June heat (yes, I am a bit crazy to enjoy biking in the afternoons of June through August), I stopped in the just-opened taproom to have a look.

There are 10 Ponderosa beers on tap.

The space is wonderfully rustic, with all of the charm you’d expect for an 80-plus-year-old building, matched flawlessly with modern lighting, fixtures, and so forth. The El Vado taproom has 10 Ponderosa beers on tap at present, and is open daily from noon to close (around 8 p.m., but that is subject to change).

The patio off of the taproom itself is spacious and quite a lovely spot in which to have a pint and a bite to eat, especially once more food options arrive in the other available “pods” on site. When I rode up, several people were enjoying tacos from one of these such establishments which looked quite tempting indeed.

The patio area includes this awesome fountain.

At the back is the motel proper, which from the exterior looked like quite a nice place for both tourists and staycationers alike. The proximity to Tingley Beach, Rio Grande, and the ABQ Biopark makes this quite a nice addition to the area which, is already a lovely part of town in which to spend the day.

(You can also stop by to check out Metal the Store, an awesome clothing and merch space created by Brew Crew friend Michael Wieclaw, which is already open in the El Vado complex. — S)

Another shot of the cozy interior.

So head down and check it out for a pint or two, whether you bike (just head east on Central off the main Bosque bike trail for a couple of blocks) or perambulate down the freshly paved and finally completed Central. 

Until our next adventure, I bid you adieu!

Skål!

— Franz Solo