Posts Tagged ‘Abbey Brewing Company’

It’s time to gather with 700 of your closest beer-loving friends at WinterBrew.

WinterBrew 2019 is so close we can almost taste all the great beers that will be poured at the Santa Fe Farmers Market on Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. If you were not one of the lucky 700 to get a ticket, well, you might be able to land the extra pass the Crew has in hand for the festival.

I love tapping into New Mexico beer history, so the first person to correctly answer the following question will be the winner. Since this event is in Santa Fe, we stuck with a theme for that town.

Q. What current Santa Fe landmark was a brewery way back in the 19th century? Hint: It currently has a connection to someone famous beyond just New Mexico.

Send us an email at with your answer. We will announce when the contest is over on social media (Facebook/Twitter/Instagram), so keep an eye out there. The winner will be informed directly via email. If you are the winner, just meet the Crew out front at 5 p.m. (we will have our shirts on for easy identification). This is just one small way to give back to you, our loyal readers.

UPDATE: The question was answered correctly on Thursday at 5:30. It was the Jean Cocteau Theater, owned by George R.R. Martin. He’s kinda famous, right?

Now, for everyone that is going, we present the beer lists for 16 of the 18 attending breweries. Hopefully we get the other two before long.

  • Abbey: Monks’ Ale, Monks’ Dark Chocolate, Monks’ Tripel Reserve, Monks’ Grapefruit Wit
  • Bosque: Driftwood Oatmeal Stout, Open Space Haze, Elephants on Parade Tart, Frostbit Wit, Fistful of Churros, Bosque Cider
  • Bow and Arrow: TBA
  • Chili Line: TBA
  • Cloudcroft: Chai Spiced Porter, Oatmeal Stout, Railspike Red Ale, Trainwreck IPA
  • HoneyMoon: Camellia Flor, Camellia Blanco, Cidrucha
  • Lost Hiker: Snowpocolipse (Winter Warmer), Midnight Squirrel Stout, Rye Knot (Belgian Pale w/ Rye), Connectivity IPA
  • Marble: Desert Fog, Double White, Coffee Porter (NEW! Replacing Cholo Smooth), Sympathy for the Pork Chop (Smoked Marzen)
  • Picacho Peak: I Heart Chocolate Porter, Twisted Windmill (DIPA), 575 Scottsman, Dirty Blonde, Javelina Black (American Stout)
  • Red River: Lazy Bear Blonde, Midnight Meadows Oatmeal Stout, Back 40 Farmhouse Ale, Super Bad Medicine Bourbon Barrel-Aged Honey DIPA
  • Rowley Farmhouse Ales: No B.U. IPA, Petite Blanche (available from 5 to 6:10 p.m.), Cote d’Or Double Cerise (6:10-7:20), Sin Barreras Mole Barrel-Aged Stout with fresh raspberries (7:20-9)
  • Santa Fe: 7K IPA, Getta Witness (Witbier), Pepe Loco (Dark Lager), Chicken Killer 2.0
  • Second Street: 2920 IPA, Jackplane Imperial Porter, Agua Fria Pilsner, Boneshaker Special Bitter, 2018 Anniversary Ale, 2018 Skookum (Barleywine), Barrel-Aged Skookum, Chin Gose, Kolsch, MBV Stout
  • Sidetrack: Hobo King Lager, Dark Engine Stout, Turntable IPA, Buzz Bomb, plus cask of Dark Engine with cacao nibs and coffee
  • Starr Brothers: There Gose Them Boyzz, Brown Chicken Brown Cow, Lost City of Gold (Hazy IPA), Zombies in the Manger (Biscochito Stout)
  • Truth or Consequences: Bad Santa (Spiced Winter Ale), Good Juju (American Brown Ale), Irish Red, Palomas Porter, Supernova Hazy DIPA, Truth Serum (Barleywine, in bottles)
  • Tumbleroot: Captain SMASH (Rum Barrel-Aged SMASH Barleywine), Orange Chocolate Stout (nitro), Farmhouse Saison, Pale Ale
  • Turtle Mountain: Tiempo Mañana IPL, Darker than Darkness (Schwarzbier), Stockholm Syndrome (Baltic Porter), Deep Depravity (Barleywine), plus the archived 2016 Depravity and then 2017 Infinitesimus

Those are a lot of big, malty, chewy beers, so make sure to pace yourselves. WinterBrew is always a blast of an event, whether you take the Rail Runner or drive and spend the night in Santa Fe (please do not drive up and back if you are drinking). There will be food inside, but it might not hurt to load up at Second Street Railyard next door beforehand.

See you all tomorrow night.


— Stoutmeister

Red Door abruptly closed its taproom on Wyoming last Friday, but patrons were able to enjoy one last pint or two.

The last month-plus has seen good and bad news coming out of several off-site taprooms around Albuquerque, ranging from two openings to two closings to other potential developments that have left folks wondering if the bubble is bursting. As a public service, we tried to sort through the rumors and figure out the solid facts.

On the good front, La Cumbre Westside and Tractor Westside are both humming along. Tractor opened first on McMahon, just east of Unser, and quickly captured the vibe of its other locations. La Cumbre opened to huge crowds with a touch of the original location blended with a more modern atmosphere. We also got good news that Quarter Celtic will open its first taproom in early 2019.

Then, there was everything else. First came the news at the end of July that Monks’ Corner was closing its doors. The location at Third and Silver was never able to draw in the crowds like Abbey Brewing had hoped, and in the end, the decision was made to shut down that taproom. Whether or not a replacement ever opens is something that will be decided at a later time.

Of course, since then, events might have given Abbey a reason to pause. All of us in the Crew were as surprised as anyone when Red Door abruptly announced the closure of its Northeast Heights taproom at Wyoming and Comanche. The taproom was packed with folks on Friday night, answering the call to help drink up as much of the beer on hand as possible. By the time I arrived around 9 p.m., there were only four house beers and the cider left on tap. All the seasonals were long gone.

I missed owner Matt Biggs by mere minutes, he later told me, but we will be meeting this week to discuss Red Door’s upcoming fourth anniversary. The reason given by Red Door in its social media posts was “a landlord dispute,” which sadly is not all that shocking around Albuquerque. Anyone remember when Pi Brewing had to shut down after its corporate landlord put off repairs to the damaged building for six months? (It had been hit by an out-of-control pickup truck that crashed off Coors.)

The specter of a bad landlord, or something similar, then seemed to crop up with the Soo-bak food truck posted that it was no longer going to park outside Tractor Nob Hill due to an unexplained dispute with the new property owner. That, in turn, led many to suspect Tractor would also shut down its original Albuquerque location, which has been serving folks since 2011. I contacted president/co-owner Skye Devore via email, and she said no one should panic, that Tractor is not closing the taproom.

“The building was purchased last year and we are working on adjusting to the new dynamic, which includes having a cafe next door, but we have no intention of shutting it down,” she wrote. “The food truck situation is delicate. In no way does Tractor want food trucks to cease service and their food will always be welcome in our Nob Hill location.”

So far, it seems this is an isolated incident rather than a radical change to the long symbiotic relationship between Tractor and the food trucks. Considering that the new landlord was also helping Tractor out by giving the brewery the space to expand its walk-in cooler and add more bathrooms, overall the relationship seems to be OK.

Now that everyone is breathing easy again, we feel that we can now report that the Duel taproom in downtown Albuquerque is closing some time in the near future. Real estate ads, like this one on Craigslist, have shown that the space is up for lease, though there has been no official announcement from the brewery in Santa Fe. Events are still listed through Saturday, September 15 on the taproom’s Facebook page, so it seems the closure is not necessarily imminent. We will keep an eye on the situation as it develops.

Before anyone starts screaming that the bubble is popping around here, most of these closures appear unconnected. It is possible to draw the line between Duel and Monks’ Corner, and the general difficulty of staying open downtown. People can point to the crime and other issues there, but we have long felt that downtown is simply a different animal as far as the crowd goes. It is not an area populated with craft beer lovers who want to kick back and relax, but is instead a more high-energy area of rising and falling trends. Basically, the downtown crowd is incredibly fickle, and with a few exceptions (Anodyne, looking at you), it can be very hard for any bar or taproom to gain a foothold there. Then throw in the issues with crime and the ongoing exodus of businesses from the area (which impacts lunchtime and happy hour crowds), and it pretty much conspired to kill Monks’ Corner and, apparently, Duel.

The boom times may be coming to a close, that is true, but it does not necessarily mean a massive contraction is at hand. Breweries and taprooms will not be shutting down en masse, but fewer and fewer are on the docket to open. At present, there are only three confirmed breweries pending for the ABQ metro area, plus three off-site taprooms.

In other words, yes, we have seemingly hit our saturation point. The remaining areas in town that lack craft beer are either too expensive in terms of rent, or too stricken by poverty. Darn, guess we will have to live with the award-winning breweries that are already here, instead of always looking to see who is coming next.

If anyone out there ever has any information for us on our local breweries, please, never hesitate to send it to us at, or contact us via our social media pages.

Until next time, stay positive, Burque.

— Stoutmeister


Monks’ Corner will no longer call this spot at Silver and Third Street home.

As you’ve all heard by now, Monks’ Taproom, Abbey Brewing Co.’s Albuquerque-based taproom, is closing its doors at the end of business on Tuesday, July 31. Yesterday, I reached out to Berkeley Merchant, general manager of Abbey Brewing, and he had this to say in a forthcoming press release:

“We will miss serving our regular guests and neighbors, and collaborating with our colleagues at Sidetrack, Red Door, Duel, and Boese Brothers. Our experiences as part of the downtown community have brought us great pride and satisfaction, and we have enjoyed serving our guests, being part of the craft brewing community, and supporting the industry in general as charter members of the New Mexico Brewers Guild. However, the challenges of providing a highly memorable guest experience at this specific location at this time have led us to the decision to concentrate on the brewing and distribution of our family of Monks’ Ales while we explore new sites for a future taproom.”


Co-owners David Gonzales (left) and Berkeley Merchant (right)

Abbey Brewing will continue to brew and distribute Monks’ Ales wherever you currently purchase them, and they’ll likely appear in more stores and markets in the future. Monks’ Taproom will continue to serve beer up through the 31st, and starting today (Friday), they’ll have plenty of farewell specials on all beer, wine, cider, growler fills, merch, and package. Just follow along on their social media channels for the exact specials available. And, be sure to show them your love and support as they transition out of the corner of Silver and Third.


All hail the Tripel Reserve.

Thank you, Monks’, for always providing a friendly atmosphere in which to drink your delicious Monks’ Ales. May you find a successful place to land, and for the sake of your fans, may you find it sooner than later. To Abbey Brewing Company and the great quality of beer you make here’s to many more years sipping your excellent products brewed in the ancient monastic tradition, cheers!

— Luke


Follow Luke on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro and be his drinking buddy on Untappd: SantaFeLuke

Four New Mexico breweries claimed nine medals at this annual event.

Another beer competition, another positive showing for New Mexico. Four local breweries claimed nine medals total at the Best of Craft Beer Awards in Bend, Oregon, this week.

Flix Brewhouse was the big winner with four medals. Luna Rosa claimed gold in the Belgian-Style Witbier category, while Mr. Brownstone also snagged gold in the English-Style Mild Ale or Brown Ale category. (Good luck not having the old Guns ‘n Roses song getting stuck in your head.) Flix also earned silver in Baltic-Style Porter with Darth Malt and a bronze with Rubus Rosa in Belgian-Style Fruit Beer.

Abbey Brewing earned two medals for two of its year-round offerings. Monks’ Ale took bronze in the Belgian-Style Table Beer or Other Belgian-Style Ale category. Monks’ Tripel, a long-time Crew favorite, picked up silver in the Belgian-Style Tripel or Pale Strong Ale category.

Sierra Blanca likewise brought home two medals. Green Chile Cerveza, one of the brewery’s staple offerings for more than a decade, earned gold in the Chili Pepper Beer category. Cherry Wheat, a gold medal winner at GABF, took bronze in the Fruit Wheat Beer category.

Rounding out the list was Tractor, which picked up a bronze for Mustachio Milk Stout in the Sweet Stout or Cream Stout category.

This is just the first of many brewery competitions set for 2018. The National IPA Challenge will kick off soon enough, and things will not slow down for several months.

Congrats to the winning brewers and we look forward to more awards in the days and weeks to come.


— Stoutmeister

The simply named Monks’ IPA #1 has become the best-selling beer at the taproom.

I recently walked up to the entrance of Monks’ Corner Taproom on Second and Silver in downtown Albuquerque. I was there to talk to them about the year that was and the year that will be, as we do in this series of stories. But, a curious sign was out front; one that would have brought me inside if I had simply been a passer-by. The sign said free cider tasting all day. I thought that was interesting, because I knew Monks’ did not make cider.

As I walked in, I ran into general manager Chris Pacheco, who I had been trying to reach for this story. He is a brand new papa who has been out on paternity leave, and we had not been able to connect. I told him I was there to talk to Thomas (the actual, “in-residence” monk at the taproom). Chris got me samples of the cider. There were two, and they were asking that the patrons pick their favorite. The winner will be chosen as their first house cider, which will be called “Monks’ Original Sin” (as in Adam and Eve, because, you know, it’s made from apples). They are both very light in ABV — one at 2.5 percent and the other at 3.0 percent. The cider is made in partnership with a New Mexico winery. I received my first bit of news before the interview actually started.

Brother Thomas, left, and general manager Chris Pacheco keep Monks’ Corner humming along.

Truth be told, I was a little nervous because it’s not every day that I sit down and have a beer and conversation with a Benedictine monk. At the same time, I was quite fascinated. In order to avoid this story becoming a novella, you can read about the history of Abbey Brewing Co. in New Mexico here. The tradition of monks brewing beer, particularly in Europe, is long standing. In fact, relationships between monasteries allowed Monks’ original primary brewer to have access to the traditional brewing processes of other monasteries.

The Monastery of Christ in the Desert first discussed brewing beer shortly after the turn of this century. I know that was not that too long ago, but it sounds more impressive to say it that way! They brewed their first beer in 2005. Since they did not open the taproom until 2016, it is rather counter to how many other breweries have opened with guest taps prior to actually serving their own beer. Mass production is handled at Sierra Blanca’s facility in Moriarty, so at the taproom they are able to focus on serving the beer and customer interactions, rather than brewing on site.

As I settled in to my Monks’ IPA #1 (that’s the actual name), my purported “quick” conversation with Thomas turned into a rather lengthy discussion about everything from beer, to questions I had about life at the monastery, and even our shared shopping habits. Thomas informed me that Monks’ IPA #1 was their new best seller immediately after it was introduced. It’s not a super hop bomb because they wanted to brew it in what they would imagine a monastic style would have been, had monasteries brewed IPAs a thousand years ago, which they did not.

Beer tourists have been frequent visitors to the cozy confines of Monks’ Corner.

Monks’ Corner Taproom celebrated their one-year anniversary on October 5. Thomas said they are proud of how popular the taproom has been in its first year. Thomas said their biggest challenge has been getting people comfortable with the idea of coming downtown. They were mindful of that when they established the taproom, because it is a light and bright space on a corner. One thing that has surprised Thomas this first year is the amount of “beercationers” they get in the taproom, people who are in town just to experience the Albuquerque beer scene.

Although Abbey Brewing does not enter many competitions due to style guidelines and the difficulty it faces fitting their beers in to those guidelines, Monks’ beers performed very well in the 2017 Copa de Cervesa in Chile. This competition has been around since 2011 and is widely considered to be the most important beer competition in Latin America. Thomas said that Monks’ Ale won two golds for best of style and the Dubbel won a bronze. They are now distributing in Santiago (and Taipei!), but other distribution outside of New Mexico is very limited. In the new year, they will brew an IPA #2, which Thomas said will hopefully have a better name. They will also have a Reserve Dubbel.

One of their main goals in 2018 is to increase taproom foot traffic for both themselves and also for the neighborhood. They are also looking to enhance the customer experience, Thomas said. As part of that, they will start serving from a limited food menu. Currently, customers can go to the adjoining restaurant Maya Cuisine to order food to eat in the taproom, but Monks’ plans to serve more typically beer-friendly options such as cheese and charcuterie plates, pretzels, and the like.

Other enhancements in the works include adding more events and entertainment to the taproom calendar. Chris said they will be extending invitations to local non-profit organizations to have functions, and Monks’ will donate a portion of that day’s beer sales to the organization. It’s all a part of the plan to further establish themselves as a place to gather in downtown Albuquerque.

Peace and joy,

— AmyO

Hello, NMBF, you were wonderful again!

While I was at work Saturday afternoon, a trio of Crew members joined a gaggle of our friends and other beer lovers at the eighth annual New Mexico Brew Fest. Held at Expo New Mexico, it moved back out to Main Street instead of being in the more cramped Villa Hispana. Here are their thoughts and a few photos from the fest I missed (at least agreeing to work Saturdays came with a raise).

AmyO: I really like this particular brew fest, and I am always sad when I can’t go because it often conflicts with a Lobo game or a trip out of town. Happily, I was able to attend this year. I love the super local feel of this one. It reminds me of some of the smaller brew fests in Portland back in the day before they began to get out-of-control crowded. Some people even wore costumes, and many of the attendees seemed pretty beer savvy.

The weather sure cooperated; although it was starting to get pretty warm in the late afternoon, there is always some shade at this venue. I appreciated the food selection this year. I ate the “special” at the barbecue food truck (Nomad’s BBQ). This was a hot link in a bun covered with a TON of pulled pork. It’s exactly the kind of food you need to soak up so much beer. And, it went really well with some of the spicier/fall-style beers. I also saw someone with a really great looking poke bowl. Very different, and a healthier option!

Raise the horns!

My overall favorite beer was probably the Raspberry Nitro Stout from Marble. First of all, having nitro at a festival always rates high for me. The beer was heavy on the raspberry, but not at all sweet. There was a cocoa powder flavor and mouthfeel that also added to the uniqueness. The Tripel Reserve from Monks’ did not disappoint, either.

The best name has to go to Canteen’s Oompa Lupulin DIPA, but it’s even harder to say after you have had some!

Surprises for me as far as beers I did not expect to enjoy as much as I did were the Das Roggen Weiner from Marble, and Palmer’s Double IPA (because there was much less sweetness to it than I thought there would be). A really great palate cleanser after multiple heavy beers was Ponderosa’s Ecliptic Wet Hop Ale.

My big disappointment was that I never got to try Blue Corn’s Imperial Stout. Blue Corn was late to arrive because sadly they had a tire blowout on the way down to Albuquerque. When they finally did get set up, they held the stout to a 4 p.m. tapping. Everyone was ready to leave by that time, so I never got to try it. I did have their oak-aged Scotch and that was lovely.

Franz Solo found his fellow vikings.

Franz Solo: What I loved best about this particular festival was just how local and friendly the whole thing was. Drinking beer under cottonwoods on the old fairgrounds with a great crowd of people and some fantastic local offerings, both beer-wise and food-wise, was simply magical. Highlights for me were Turtle Mountain’s Depravity barleywine which has aged extremely well since last winter; Canteen’s Oompa Lupulin DIPA, which was simply a hop screamer straight out of the gates of hop heaven; Monks’ Tripel Reserve, which is incredibly smooth and clear for a monster of a beer; and the pair of ludicrous offerings from Blue Corn, which brought its ’16 Scotch and ’15 Russian Imperial Stout, which were both stupendous. Having so many Oktoberfest Marzens as well was a real treat to cleanse the palate between some of the bigger brews, and on the whole they were all quite tasty. A grand event for the NM Brewers Guild and for local breweries and local food offerings alike. I look forward to returning to this wonderful NM Brew Fest.

The Crew and friends did a good job of wiping out that ’15 Imperial Stout from Blue Corn.

Brandon: The brewery list seemed smaller this year, but I can’t blame more places for not participating in this event, with just having wrapped up GABF and all. That being said, the breweries in attendance made sure to bring some standout brews, so here’s what popped for me:

  • Featherweight Session IPA, Boxing Bear: Fresh off a bronze medal at GABF. Lighter but crisp malt backing, with grassy, floral, and citrus zest notes. The low ABV made this one a good choice for the warm weather of the day. Who says session beers can’t pack a flavor punch?
  • Depravity Barleywine 2016, Turtle Mountain: Not a palate-crushing, hop-forward incarnation, like some versions of the style. Tons of caramel, burnt caramel, and toffee.  Chewy as all hell, but not a lot of alcohol warmth. A deceptively dangerous barleywine, loved it.
  • 2015 Imperial Stout, Blue Corn: “Oh what a surprise, the DSBC liked a dark beer”… if you expected less, you don’t know our lives. This beer is a beast, it has about four different types of chocolate notes present — dried fruit, oak and vanilla, and warms you to the core. We want more of this black fire in a glass!
  • V.M.O.M.G., Steel Bender: This one was released a few days prior to NM Brew Fest, but this was my first chance to taste it.  Was quite surprised.  Not that I thought it would be a bad beer, but I didn’t expect this to be THAT good. A damn fine take on a traditional seasonal style. Crisp, sweet malt, good spice from hops. Very solid.
  • Oktoberfest, La Cumbre: I’m going to be blunt here … if you missed this one, you’re f****d.  Cans are gone or close to gone, and all kegs are already gone in distribution. If you find any of this lovely beer, drink it while you can.

That is all from us. Thank you to Kevin Hopper for the tickets, and thank you to all the breweries for bringing some of their finest offerings!


— The Crew

The 3rd Annual New Mexico Food Truck and Craft Beer Festival returns this Saturday with 20 breweries in attendance. (Photo courtesy of Food Truck Festivals of America)

The 3rd Annual New Mexico Food Truck & Craft Beer Festival returns this Saturday with 20 local and regional craft breweries providing their beers at Balloon Fiesta Park. The event kicks off at noon and runs until 6 p.m. It will feature some 25 local food trucks. The cost is $5 online and $10 at the gate.

Tickets to buy beer will be sold for $6 apiece at the festival, or attendees can purchase a four-pack of beer tickets for $20. They can also purchase a general admission ticket with three beer tickets online for $18.50.

More information on the trucks and the like can be found via the event’s Facebook page or at the website linked above. Since we are a beer website, the most important information we can provide for all of you is the list of attending breweries and the beers that will be served. There are seven New Mexico breweries/cideries represented.

  • Abbey Brewing: Monks’ Ale, Monks’ Dark, Monks’ Tripel
  • Avery Brewing: Ellie’s Brown, Liliko’i Kepolo, White Rascal
  • Ballast Point: Longfin Lager, Mango Even Keel, Sculpin IPA
  • Breckenridge Brewing: Nitro Vanilla Porter, Dry Irish Stout, Mango Pale Ale
  • Dogfish Head: SeaQuench Ale, Flesh & Blood IPA, 60 Minute IPA
  • Great Divide Brewing: Colette Farmhouse Ale, Yeti Imperial Stout, Titan IPA
  • Green Flash/Alpine: Pure Hoppiness DIPA, Tangerine Soul Style IPA, Passion Fruit Kicker
  • Guns and Oil: Wild Bill (Wheat Bock), American Lager
  • Lagunitas Brewing: IPA, 12th of Never Ale, Hop Stoopid DIPA
  • Nuevo Brewing: Nuevo, Bloody Maria
  • Pecan Brewing: Hoppin Wheat, Pecan Beer
  • Rio Bravo: Roadkill Red, New Mexico Pinon Coffee Porter, Snakebite IPA
  • Sandia Cidery: Apple, Watermelon, Cherry
  • Santa Fe Brewing: Happy Camper IPA, Freestyle Pils, Pale Ale
  • SanTan Brewing: Mr. Pineapple, Devils Ale, Sex Panther Chocolate Porter
  • Sierra Blanca Brewing: Cherry Wheat, Alien Amber, Outlaw Lager
  • Sierra Nevada: Pale Ale, Sidecar, Torpedo IPA
  • Ska Brewing: Modus Mandarina, Mexican Logger, Pinstripe Red
  • Upslope: Citra Pale Ale, Craft Lager, Guava
  • Wasatch/Squatters: Hop Rising IPA, Ghost Rider White IPA, Off Duty IPA

In addition to all of that, Food Truck Festivals of America is offering up a special giveaway to Brew Crew readers for a four-pack of tickets and $40 in truck bucks. Rather than just pick one of you, we would like to test your beer knowledge. The first person to correctly answer the following question will get the tickets (your name will be at will call).

Q: Which New Mexico brewery has won the most medals (gold, silver, and bronze) at the Great American Beer Festival? (As a tiebreaker, give us the exact number.)

Email your answer to

UPDATE: We have a winner already! It took just 10 minutes from the time this story was posted for someone to correctly guess Canteen/Il Vicino, which is the current leader with 12 medals. Thanks to all who participated!

Have fun at the fest!


— Stoutmeister

Thomas Baxter, an actual monk from the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, is often serving beers at Monks' Corner downtown.

Thomas Baxter, an actual monk from the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, is often serving beers at Monks’ Corner downtown.

I recently visited Monks’ Corner Taproom for my final contribution to this year’s Look Back/Look Ahead Series. It seemed fitting to finish at the new taproom location for Abbey Brewing, which likely is tied more closely to centuries old brewing traditions than any other New Mexico brewery. General manager Chris Pacheco was kind enough to sit down with me on a late Friday afternoon and do two of my favorite things — talk about beer and drink beer.

“We did a soft opening on September 29, and then our first day of business was October 5,” Chris said. “So it was kind of a lot just trying to put everything together and make sure that everything was in order. But, it was fun.

“I came on about a month before. I gave my month notice at Chama River, and in the interim time I was kinda spending time both at Chama doing my shifts, and coming (here) trying to hire staff, order cleaning supplies, organize glassware, as well as making sure all of the permits were in hand. It wasn’t just me, though. Thomas Baxter was on a little bit before me. He’s a monk from the Monastery (of Christ in the Desert), actually. He took a year sabbatical to come work with us.”

Wait, what? Is there really a monk working at the taproom?

“A lot of first timers will come in and one of their first question’s is, ‘Are their real monks?’ and a lot of the time Tom is here and he’s like, ‘Yeah, I’m one of the monks from the monastery,’ and that kinda throws them off,” Chris said. “So, there are real monks. Even on the packaging of the beer they are all real monks. If you look at the box it will say the monk’s (actual) name. It brings the story back up front. We get a lot of questions about that. It’s kind of cool. It’s definitely very different … a different kind of model to work with. It makes it interesting and fun but that was also part of the reason why it was easy to buy into it … because of the story.”

It was only a few minutes into our discussion that I sensed Chris’ genuine respect for the tradition that is the foundation of Abbey Brewing. It runs deeper than the name and the brand, and it doesn’t just represent something, it is something. It’s not something that can be described in writing, but rather something that is felt, experienced, lived. Chris described visiting the monastery, near Abiquiu, as a part of employee training.

“It’s definitely an eye-opening thing for a lot of us,” he said. “You have a preconceived notion of what a monastery is going to be. You have some great people with great senses of humor. It’s definitely a reverent place, but they are normal people. We did a day trip. It’s really, really cool. Everyone seemed to kind of get a better sense of what the business is about. It’s not just a taproom. There was something behind it … that was bigger. It went back to a tradition of monastic brewing, and European-style monastic brewing. Not necessarily location-wise here, but with our beer and what we are doing. It definitely taps into that culture of your tradition.”

The Monks’ touch extends beyond the monastery and directly into the taproom, but in more ways than just the beer. It’s part of the expectations for the staff.

“Some of our employee handbook goes back and forth with the Benedictine traditions,” Chris said. “Hospitality is one of the most important things to them and we try to bring that into our environment. Hospitality, quality, and treating everybody fairly is one of the biggest things. We are as accommodating as we can be with everyone until it becomes an issue of safety.”

There was also an effort to incorporate the visible features of the Abiquiu area into the taproom.

“The design of the taproom really has that in mind in terms of the color scheme,” Chris said. “It’s all based on one of the photographs that’s in the back, which is the Chama River Canyon, and it was a nice thing to learn that the color scheme was built around a photo that was taken on the way to the monastery. It’s all trying to tie in to going back to the monastery where it started from.”

Chris reminded me that some of the beer uses hops from the monastery.

“They grow their own hops … and we’re working on a Tripel Reserve right now,” Chris said. “And, if we do any brew that has a reserve title that means they use our local hops. We have to go to the open market like everyone else for most of the other hops.”

There will be a special release party today (Tuesday) at the taproom for the Tripel Reserve. It will run from 6 to 10 p.m. and also feature live art, music, and food specials.

Well, that looks just heavenly. Hello, Monks' Corner, welcome to the party.

Monks’ Corner has found its niche downtown.

Beyond the long history of monastic brewing, it’s also important to point out that Abbey Brewing is a relatively long-established brewery in New Mexico.

“We have been distributing since 2005,” Chris said. “It hasn’t been at a huge scale, but it’s been out-of-state, too, so we have some sort of a reach. It was kinda interesting that they did it that way. That they did the distribution first and then this is the first taproom.”

One of the biggest challenges of new breweries/taprooms seems to be filling taps with enough beer, though Monks’ clearly had a distinct advantage in that aspect. However, opening is never an easy task.

“We had our final inspection on the day of our soft opening,” Chris said. “After that it was almost like a restaurant impossible episode where we had, for the next three hours, all hands on deck to make sure that it looked presentable for opening. We got it done for the soft opening.”

One aspect of Monks’ Corner Taproom that is truly unique is its partnership with the business right next door.

“This is one of the coolest partnerships, just having a restaurant attached within walking distance and you can bring your beer in here,” Chris said. “It’s two different companies, two different staffs, two different owners.”

That’s correct. You can walk about 15 feet from the bar at Monks’ Corner to the ordering counter at Maya, which offers great New Mexican cuisine, salads, and sandwiches. The fish tacos I had were top notch.

“One of the coolest things is that you can, if you felt like you just wanted to have lunch or dinner outside of the taproom, you could come into this side and have a meal away from the taproom ambience, and you can still bring your beer in here,” Chris said. “For me that was one of the most interesting things that I’ve seen from us so far.”

You can order your food from Maya and have it delivered to your table at Monks' Corner.

You can order your food from Maya and have it delivered to your table at Monks’ Corner.

It has been just over four months since opening and Chris still has his game face on.

“Even to this day it still feels like we’re opening,” he said. “It’s a work-in-process. I was really surprised with the neighborhood. With the new building and the neighborhood and all the breweries around here … this community really supports its local breweries. A lot of our business … the bulk of our business comes from people in this neighborhood. You never know what to expect, but this neighborhood has been really good to us so far. I didn’t know what to expect with downtown Albuquerque, honestly, but it’s nice. You see bartenders and such from some of the other breweries that come in and talk.

“One of the cool things that I have noticed is that all these taprooms in this area are extremely different, like aesthetically, (and) like beer style-wise, too. It’s like we all have something to offer the neighborhood and the residents of the neighborhood, which I think is great because it gives us, as consumers, a better choice. It gives you more of an option and it creates a real scene in downtown Albuquerque.”

Looking forward, Chris said he hopes to further embrace the neighborhood by planning some events.

“We really want to do a lot more events, and give the customer something to do along with have a beer, events that make sense for the brand as well as make sense for the neighborhood,” he said. “We want to do live music and incorporate more live music. We are flirting with the ideas of things like Geeks Who Drink or some other sort of trivia, maybe live art installations. Almost, at this point, throw things at the wall and see what sticks.

“I know that at some point we’d like to do a firkin release when it makes sense, and do some releases around some of the reserve beers that are going to be coming shortly. The first one that we will have out is the Tripel Reserve, which will be made with the local hops. So, we want to build an event around that, but it’s still kind of in the planning process.”

Even a brewery rooted in monastic tradition looks to mix things up a bit every now and again.

“There’s been talks of an American style pale ale that kind of leans towards an IPA, which is very unusual for a Belgian brewery to do, but it’s not 100 percent,” Chris said. “There might be a (sort) of a pale ale from us. We are also looking at starting working on some ciders, a sweet and a dry cider. Hopefully we can start expanding our selection. When we opened the doors I think we started with five beers and now we have seven on tap of our own. They’re working on other ones to bring in too.

“One thing I do like, also that I keep on forgetting because it’s almost like an afterthought to me, but we do have 20 taps. We typically have 10 to 15 guest taps on at a time. It’s going to be ever-changing. We have some favorites that will probably not leave the tap, but for the most part it’s an experiment and what we’re going to bring in seasonally will change.”

In addition to the food next door, Chris said he was also enthusiastic about having some smaller, snackier options available in the taproom, options that would pair well with the beer.

“We’re planning on bringing cheese and charcuterie plates also and pairing that with some of the beers that we have,” Chris said. “That’s a project that we are currently working on right now. We always want to have a couple of snack options — some chocolate options that will pair well with some of our dark beers, (or) nuts, almonds, things of that nature. We want it to be something you can eat while you are sitting down, but also want to go in with the thought that it will compliment the beer and vice versa … as well as some of the wine, too.”

Considering the progress made by Monks’ Corner so far this year, and the plans for next year, there is no reason not to be believe that the location is destined to become a staple of the community.

“All and all, I think our beer scene statewide is fantastic,” Chris said. “It’s exciting because as a state we’re still young at making beer, but we’re doing so well. We’re fortunate to be where we’re at after three months of business, but still you always kind of want to look forward and thrive in a thriving community. So, there’s opportunity for all of us and I think the good things is that there is a niche for everyone. There’s room for everybody in this environment as long as the quality is there.”

Be sure and get over to Monks’ Corner next time you are in downtown ABQ to check on the progress and drink some delicious beer. Don’t forget the tasty food options. The Brew Crew wishes Monks’ Corner and Abbey Brewing the best of luck in 2017.


— Deezbeers

Well, that looks just heavenly. Hello, Monks' Corner, welcome to the party.

Well, that looks just heavenly. Hello, Monks’ Corner, welcome to the party.

We know, there have been a lot of grand openings and special events at new places all around town in the last few months. We are confident you can all handle at least one more. Right?

Start doing those growler curls, and prep your palates, for Monks’ Corner is coming to downtown on Wednesday, Oct. 5. This latest entry in the ever-expanding scene in the heart of Albuquerque is brought to us by Abbey Brewing. Located in the southwest corner of the new Imperial Building at 3rd Street and Silver, Monks’ Corner is currently in the final stages of preparation.

Sales rep/beer guru Angelo Orona provided me with a quick tour of the forthcoming taproom on Monday morning. A construction crew was still busy putting the finishing touches on the space.

“The idea is for this to be a focal point for the surrounding community here,” Angelo said. “As you can see, there are a lot of residents. The Imperial Building has a lot of rentals above us. We want to be collaborative with the neighbors and the other breweries that are around here.”

It was years ago when the Crew heard rumors of Abbey looking to put a taproom somewhere along Paseo del Norte. Those plans fell through, but new plans were made with downtown in mind. Once the Imperial Building, a mixed-use development with commercial spaces on the ground floor and apartments above, was complete, the idea of Monks’ Corner finally became a reality.

There is still work to be done with eight days until the grand opening.

There is still work to be done with eight days until the grand opening.

“Berkeley (Merchant) and his wife, Marie, designed this space,” Angelo said of Abbey’s general manager. “Everything’s very deliberate. If you notice, even the paint scheme is reminiscent of the area around the monastery. If you look at photos or if you’ve ever been up there … the cliffs around the monastery, this is the same color scheme.”

The space is 1,800 square feet in total, with room for about 80 patrons. There will be 20 taps, including a cider, made of the Abbey Monks beers as well as rotating guest beers.

“I’m the main person putting together the draft list right now,” Angelo said. “The one thing that I’m trying to focus on here is trying to get a lot of one-off beers, beers where there’s only one keg. I’m going to try to leverage some of my relationships and see if I can get some special stuff.”

That will not happen right away as far as the specialty/rare taps go, Angelo added, but over time.

Crackin’ Crab and Maya will be the neighboring restaurants. Maya is owned by Dennis Apodaca, whose restaurant Sophia’s Place is a popular North Valley establishment. Both restaurants will be joining forces with Monks’ Corner. Fans can expect some special beer and food pairings.

“Absolutely, that’s definitely in the cards,” Angelo said. “The one that I’m excited about is the seafood. … That’s pretty unique and interesting. I know Dennis is pretty innovative with his food, too. The idea is we’ll have some (Abbey) beers featured on his menu that pair well.”

A small, standing-room only patio is on the west side.

A small, standing-room only patio is on the west side.

There are some plans for live music and other events down the line, though those will wait until after the staff gets settled in and develops a consistent routine, Angelo said.

“One thing that we’re really going to focus on here, we were really fortunate to get a gentleman named Chris Pacheco,” Angelo said. “He’s formerly of Chama River. He’s going to be the GM here. He really, really wants to focus on — and I’m on board with this as well — on education of the staff and making sure that this is a place where people can feel like they can confidently ask a question and a get a good answer.”

That education will extend beyond the staff to the customers as well. Angelo is also the man behind Craft King Consulting, so expect a lot of Beer 101-style classes and more to take place at Monks’ Corner.

“Basically, we’re trying to make this a place that has small events that differentiate from other places,” he added.

Monks’ Corner will also have a merchandise area, a cooler for six-packs that can be purchased of Abbey beers, and yes, it will be licensed for growler sales right from the get-go. Now it is just a matter of crossing those final T’s and dotting the last I’s before the doors swing open next week.

Until then, we will keep tabs on any last-minute changes or developments. Otherwise, see you all at Monks’ Corner next week.


— Stoutmeister

Time to head up the mountain again for great beer and a lot of fun!

Time to head up the mountain again for great beer and a lot of fun!

So, you guys down in Albuquerque seem to be having a lot of fun with your “Beer Week” thing.  Lots of events all over town, lots of beer … I can appreciate that. But, some of us don’t get down to Albuquerque very often as we are stuck up in the mountains. Well, we don’t have multiple events every single day, but we do have some big ones every few months. And, this weekend, we have one of the biggest! It’s time for Summerfest at the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area in Los Alamos.

Participating breweries are Abbey, Marble, Bathtub Row (the hometown favorite), Bosque, Boxing Bear, Chili Line, La Cumbre, Santa Fe Brewing, Second Street, Taos Mesa, Tractor, Turtle Mountain, and Black Smuggler Winery. A very respectable lineup. We weren’t able to get beer selections for most, but we do want to call out Chili Line Brewing, which is Santa Fe’s newest brewery. Their head brewer is Xander Pertusini, a Los Alamos native. Their specialty is smoked beers, and they’ll be bringing a smoked IPA and a smoked stout. Intriguing …

Editor’s note: Good thing Reid has yours truly to track down some of the participating breweries’ beer lists. — S

  • Abbey: TBA
  • Bathtub Row: Duck Duck Gose, Kristy Kream, Not Your Daddy’s Stout, Hoppenheimer IPA
  • Bosque: Elephants on Parade, Riverwalker IPA, Azacca SMASH, Scotia Scotch Ale
  • Boxing Bear: Bearzen, Ambear, Paw Swipe Pale, Uppercut IPA, Cider
  • Chili Line: Smoked IPA, Smoked Stout
  • La Cumbre: VMO #2, A Slice of Hefen, BEER, Elevated IPA, Project Dank, Red Ryeot, Malpais Stout
  • Marble: IPA, Double White, Wildflower Wheat, Red Ale, Eldorado Pale Ale, Saison #1
  • Santa Fe: ECS Lemon Skynyrd, rest are TBA
  • Second Street: 2920 Pilsner, Trebuchet, High Wheeler Pale Ale, Rod’s Steam Bitter, IPA, Railyard Red
  • Taos Mesa: TBA
  • Tractor: TBA
  • Turtle Mountain: Bien Tu Helles Bock, Konventional Kolsch, Session Red, plus house beers TBA

If any additional information comes in we will update this list.

As always, this event isn’t just about beer. There’s food and a few bands, of course (and I know that one band, DK and the Affordables, is a lot of fun). But, there’s also bike racing, hiking (take a lift if you’re not keen on climbing up the mountain), and disc golf. There will be a free shuttle that runs between the high school parking lot and the ski area, which is likely a good idea for folks reading this blog. Weather reports are currently predicting rain, and the weather in the mountains can change on a dime in any case, so be ready for anything on that front.

If you’re in northern New Mexico or just need a break from Beer Week, do yourself a favor and head up to Summerfest!


— Reid