Archive for the ‘Taproom Preview’ Category

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.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

There will soon be more Hops in the Village

Posted: May 21, 2019 by amyotravel in Taproom Preview
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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.

Cheers!

— 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.

Cheers!

— 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.

Cheers!

— 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.

(more…)

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.”

(more…)

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