Posts Tagged ‘Bombs Away Beer Co.’

Bombs Away has attracted a diverse crowd to the Southeast Heights.

Bombs Away Beer Company was the last new brewery to open in 2017, but it has quickly made an impact on the local craft scene.

I recently visited the brewery in the Southeast Heights to add it to our Look Back/Look Ahead Series. I was lucky enough to sit down with all three owners, John and Hilary Degnaro, and David Kimbell, who is also the head brewer. John jumped right into reflecting on the work of the past year, which saw Bombs Away go from a concept to a fully functional brewery.

“A year ago we were working on this tap room portion of the building. That’s where we spent the majority of our focus when it came to renovations here,” he said. “On the brewery side of the building, we basically did whatever we had to over there, mainly mechanical. But, over here we made it look like it is. It wasn’t anything like this. Literally the three of us built all of the stuff in here — we painted the tables, we did the framing, all the floors. This was a shell of a room. If you look at the ceilings you can see that metal frame of the building. That’s what the whole thing was taken back to, all four walls and the ceiling.”

The look and feel of Bombs Away is a direct result of the vision and work of the ownership team. It has a trendy, modern industrial feel that is warm and comfortable. Hilary explained some of the thought behind the design.

“We’ve frequented a lot of breweries around the country, and I think that you get kind of a lot of ideas of what you like and what you don’t like,” she said. “So there were some things that we specifically wanted to stick with, as far as materials. We really wanted concrete tables and we really wanted wood somewhere, but we really wanted to also put metal in places to keep it industrial. But, what was really important to us was that all of the materials we were going to use were not reflective of sound, so that we could try and keep this place as quiet as possible so that conversations could be easily carried on.”

Keeping the brewery cozy, and dampening the noise, was the most important part of its design.

John added that creating the right vibe was of key importance.

“As far as the design, the building, and the atmosphere, that was the number one,” he said. “And, it will always be my number one (priority), is making sure that the place sounds right, because that sets the stage for people to have a good time and enjoy themselves.”

Aside from the areas that are visible to the public in the taproom, assembling the brewery also was a very hands-on affair, with many brewing elements being collected over the years, including the bad-ass horizontal mash tun that was featured in Stoutmeister’s pre-opening story.

Of course, the owners still had to procure some of their equipment, which became a grim situation when their original supplier didn’t deliver. Fortunately, there was somebody else out there to fill in.

“That was and still is a nightmare, but we found a different supplier for the equipment we did need and they were awesome to work with,” John said. “They had the stuff on a truck and coming to us before we even paid for it. They were on the ball.”

Head brewer David Kimbell has kept plenty busy in churning out many, many beers.

David was not about to be slowed down by an equipment delay.

“We were pilot brewing the whole time, once every week to two weeks, I’d say. I had a pretty good idea on how to dial everything in,” he said.

It helped that the Degnaros already had that system.

“We have a 1-barrel pilot system that used to be John’s homebrew setup, and so when we couldn’t use the big setup, a lot of recipes were being made on their so that we could prepare,” Hilary said. “We could split the batch and then share it with people for tasting and giving us feedback on it. David could take half and we could take half to our house so that we could kinda critique it ourselves as well.”

In spite of the challenges, and as a result of the effort and determination for quality brews, Bombs Away opened with one of the more impressive beer showings in recent memory, as AmyO noted when she visited during the soft opening phase.

“We put so much work into the place,” John said. “Why rush to open the doors when in another three or four weeks of brewing would give us the comfort to brew and have the beers the way we want them, and have a good variety to put out? Honestly, if it was not up to our standards, it wouldn’t have come out of the tap.”

It’s hard to pick among all the beers just for a flight of six.

Bombs Away’s beer selection has brought in a diverse group of customers, including people from the southeast neighborhoods, active-duty military, veterans, and beer geeks alike.

“I feel like our clientele is pretty well versed on the craft beer scene,” David said. “I would say we have a pretty good two or three different drinkable beers that a person who is maybe not well versed on craft beer can drink. That’s important to us, to have drinkable beer.”

One clear indication of the beer quality is that restaurants are already trying to setup pairings.

“We have had two restaurants basically say to us, ‘Hey, your beer is great, if you ever want to do something let us know,’” John said. “Honestly, for us, we’re still figuring out how to make the taproom work. With time we can get into (keg distribution). We’re definitely making sure that we take things at a pace where we can do it right, hopefully as close to the first time as possible.”

The owners seemed a bit hesitant to share too much and/or over-commit for what will be coming down the pipe in the first full year of operation; however, they said they definitely have their minds in the right place.

Could some of those kegs be headed off-site in 2018? It’s possible.

“We may do some barrel aging,” David said. “I’m probably going to do IPA Challenge … we’ll do IPA Challenge, I don’t see why not.”

There could be some limited bottle releases in the future as well.

“We are just starting to lay down the plans for what we want to do for bottling,” John said. “We would like to do very special releases, things that will only be available here for purchase, things that will be very limited. We gotta look at that and establish a budget for it.”

The upcoming project that the team is most enthusiastic about is the patio.

“I mean, really, the big plans for the winter are really the patio, (and) like everything else we will build that ourselves,” John said. “It’s not going to be too complicated, but it will still take a lot of time.”

By all accounts, Bombs Away Beer Company has had a stellar debut and laid a foundation for high expectations as we look ahead into 2018.

The Crew wishes Bombs Away the best of luck going forward, and I thank John, Hilary, and David for taking the time to chat with me.

Cheers!

— Deezbeers

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The Crew had just a wee bit of fun at WinterBrew.

After taking Monday off due to the holiday, we are back today with a look at what were the best beers that we tried up at WinterBrew back on Friday. It was another outstanding event, one that every craft beer lover in New Mexico should attend at least once. The sell-out crowd of 700 was a jovial bunch, enjoying the many unique beers being poured from 18 New Mexico breweries.

As for the Crew, well, we all had our favorites. If the others want to chime in here at some point, I will add them to the story. In the interest of not going two weekdays in a row without content, here are a few of my picks for the best of the fest. (Note: Due in part to the Rail Runner arriving in Santa Fe about 10 minutes late and then the decision by security to close all booths 30 minutes before the event was supposed to end, I did not get to all 18 breweries.)

A crowd of 700-plus enjoyed beers from 18 breweries.

La Santa Oscura, Blue Corn: This is a delightful spiced holiday black lager that is still on tap at the brewery in Santa Fe. Flavors of chocolate and cherry mix in with the Chimayo red chile for a nice, warm kick at the end.

Coyote Waits, Bow & Arrow: At last, I got my hands on the barrel-aged version of this imperial mole stout. It is a big, thick beast of a beer, and the barrel effects bring out more and more of the spice, yet it never overwhelms the palate. It is still available at the brewery.

Galactica DIPA, Marble: Apparently this single-hop, double IPA thing is becoming a trend. Even with just Galaxy, this is a complex, wonderfully big beer. It is not yet on tap at any Marble location, so drink up the rest so a handle becomes available.

Sin Barreras, Rowley Farmhouse Ales: Alas, this specialty imperial stout does not appear to be available at the brewery, but everyone can hope for its eventual appearance. Big flavors of coconut and maple left us all wondering, is it a breakfast beer or a dessert beer?

14K IPA, Santa Fe: This one was a bit of a one-off joke, but it still leaves us hopeful for a future edition of an imperial-strength version of the hugely popular 7K. We would also like to thank the SFBC staff for donating a couple of sixers of 7K to our beer fridges.

XX ESB and Breaking Plaid Scotch Ale, Second Street: A pair of big, malty brews from the new Rufina brewhouse caught our eye. The latter is more sweet than peaty, akin to a heftier version of the Scottish at Nexus. The best news, besides being on tap, is that some of the Plaid is being saved for barrel aging.

Dark Engine Stout on cask, Sidetrack: If you have never had any of the cask beers at Sidetrack, now is the time. There is a batch currently available with dark chocolate added to the beer for an even more decadent flavor.

The Judy, Steel Bender: At some point a break was needed from the big malts and hops, so this seemed like a perfect time to try this sweet saison made with peaches and brett, then aged in Chardonnay barrels. There are still a few bottles left for sale at the brewery, so get them fast, as they are quite worth it. Drink this and dream of spring.

2017 Barleywine, Taos Mesa: Our friends from the north came down not with White Walkers, but instead a different beast. It is big, boozy, and not for the faint of heart. On your next ski trip (assuming we ever get snow), make sure to check this one out.

Infinitesimus Imperial Stout, Turtle Mountain: One of the first big beers we tried was this heavy, chocolate-y behemoth. This is more than worth the trip out to Rio Rancho for anyone living on the East Side of Albuquerque. Or the West Side. Or the South Valley. Or, really, anywhere in the state.

We’re pretty sure Karim liked most of the beers he tried.

As for the rest of the Crew, as their thoughts trickle in, I will share them here:

Jerrad: WinterBrew 2018 was certainly a memorable night, perhaps a bit fuzzy after tasting a few of the killer imperial/double styles available. The libations that stood out for me at this event would have to be Bow & Arrow’s Coyote Waits BA Stout, with its smooth touch of spicy heat on oak and dark/roasty malts. On the other end of the spectrum, Bombs Away Brewing Company’s B.A.B.C. IPA was wonderful with its hazy, softer NE-style IPA approach. A few other notable mentions would go to Rowley Farmhouse Ale’s Aromatherapy IPA, Steel Bender Brewing’s The Judy saison, and Rio Bravo Brewing’s Grab ‘Em by the Putin Imperial Russian stout.

Kristin: While I couldn’t try that many beers since I was working the event, I loved Second Street’s Breaking Plaid Scottish. The smooth malty flavor masked its 9.1-percent ABV. This is both a good and bad thing.

* * * * *

That is all from us. Hope those of you that went enjoyed it as much as we did, while for the rest of you, make sure to get those tickets for 2019!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

To everyone that got tickets in time, we will see you Friday night!

The good news is that the beer lineup at WinterBrew looks excellent. The bad news is that the event is sold out. For those who got tickets, well, here ya go, the full slate of beers that have been reported to the Crew.

There are 18 local breweries attending from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Santa Fe Farmers Market. Most of the Crew will be taking the Rail Runner north, which departs the Los Ranchos station at approximately 4:41 p.m., dropping us off around 6. If you are going, and want to hang on the train, we will be in the last car.

Anyway, what you really want is a list of the beers being poured. We have 17 of the 18 breweries so far, and will continue to update this as more lists appear in our email inbox. To help everyone out, we are picking the top beer on our list for each brewery, either one we have had before or one we are dying to try. Remember, that’s just our opinion, you are totally free to disagree and drink something else instead.

Blue Corn

Top pick: La Santa Oscura. Luke swears by this holiday-themed dark lager. Cocoa nibs, lactose, cinnamon, and Chimayo red chile add to the fun.

The rest: Blue Corn Mexican Lager, Roadrunner IPA, Oatmeal Stout

Bombs Away

Top pick: Coffee Stout. This one is so new it doesn’t even have an official name, but it could wind up being called Shockwave. Or, we’ll just probably go with delicious.

The rest: Willie Pete Wit, BABC IPA, Bombshell IPL

Bosque

Top pick: Fresh Start Breakfast Ale. We have sung the praises of this maple-and-coffee delight of a stout many times. This is the last of it, so be prepared to fight us for the last pour.

The rest: (deep breath) Lager, 1888 Blonde Ale, Elephants on Parade, Scotia, IPA, Down in the Hollow Brown, Open Space Haze 120 West and 41 South, Honey Porter, Nathan Ginger Red Ale, Galaxy Far Far Away

Bow & Arrow

Top pick: Coyote Waits. The barrel-aged imperial mole stout is back, with that wonderful kick of spice mixed in.

The rest: Savage Times Sour IPA, Thirsty Land Foraged Series (Grisette with Navajo Tea), Nomadico IPA

Boxing Bear

Top pick: Low Rye-der IPA. Hey, it’s new for us, so we will jump on a new dose of hops with copious amounts of rye mixed in, at least as a break from the big and malty.

The rest: Featherweight Session IPA, Iron Lung Smoked Porter, Uppercut IPA, Chocolate Milk Stout

Duel

Top pick: Grunewald Imperial Porter. It has been a while since we have had this behemoth of a beer. The best part is if we like it as much as the last batch, we can always head to the brewery (or taproom) to pick up a bomber to take home. Take note, this and the Titian will not be tapped until after 6:30 p.m.

The rest: Bad Amber, Duchamp, Fiction, Cezanne Magnifique, Dark Ryder, Titian

La Cumbre

Top pick: Business Hammock. Yet another tasty, hazy IPA, this one will make its debut mere hours after another, In the Money, goes on tap and for sale in bombers down at the brewery. Double up on the juice!

The rest: A Slice of Hefen, Malpais Stout, Project Dank, Mind Phoq

Marble

Top pick: Galactica DIPA. OK, so apparently the big, hoppy beers are not as rare as we anticipated. That being said, of course we will snag some of this out-of-this-world hop bomb.

The rest: Double White, Pilsner, Imperial Red, Cholo Smooth

Rio Bravo

Top pick: Level 3 IPA. The brewery just redid the recipe for this one, so we are intrigued to see what the staff has created.

The rest: Snakebite IPA, Roadkill Red, La Luz Lager, Pinon Coffee Porter, Grab ‘Em By the Putin, BA Cherry Wheat Cuvee, Lemongrass Wit, plus possibly Cascade Pale Ale and either Blueberry Gose or Ruby’s Ruckus

Roosevelt

Top pick: Green Chile Beer. Hmm, bringing the spice from the plains? That’s a bold thing to do in Santa Fe.

The rest: Portales Pale Ale, Clovis Point IPA, Happy Heifer Hefeweizen

Rowley Farmhouse Ales

Top pick: Sin Barreras. The imperial stout is back, this batch made with coconut and maple. It is always a delight.

The rest: Aromatherapy (IPA), Ab Initio Festivus, Cote-d’Or Cerise Redux

Santa Fe

Top pick: 14K IPA. Wait, what is this? A single keg of 7K that has been amped up so much that the brewery staff dubbed it 14K? Sold!

The rest: 7K IPA, Lustgarten, Imperial Pastry-Free Porter, Black IPA 2.0, Freestyle Pilsner

Second Street

Top pick: Breaking Plaid Scotch Ale. The first beer made at Rufina is a malty beast. We look forward to finally getting some in our glasses.

The rest: Cereza Negra, Agua Fria Pils, 2920 IPA, Civil Rye, Low Winter Sun Sour, XX ESB

Sidetrack

Top pick: Dark Engine Stout. Yes, there will be a cask of this wonderful elixir. They added dark chocolate and coconut. Hey, ever festival needs a proper dessert beer.

The rest: 3:10 to Belen Brown, Buzz Bomb, Pub Ale, Turntable IPA

Steel Bender

Top pick: The Judy. Snag a bottle pour of this saison, aged in chardonnay barrels with brett and peaches. There are not many bottles left at SBB.

The rest: Red Iron Red, Skull Bucket IPA, Brickie American Stout, Die Dunkel Seite

Taos Mesa

All beers TBA

Tractor

Top pick: Russian Imperial Stout. Oh, hello there Luna de los Muertos. We have missed you!

The rest: Mustachio Milk Stout, Spiced Cider, Turkey Drool, Delicious Red Apple Cider

Turtle Mountain

Top pick: Infinitesimus Imperial Stout. A big beast of darkness to finish things off (alphabetically speaking).

The rest: Arsenal Porter, SCH, Depravity Barleywine, Count Hellesarius

* * * * *

A big thanks to the breweries who responded promptly when we asked for their lists. It is always appreciated.

Enjoy the festival!

— Stoutmeister

Bombs Away Beer Company has brewed a new red IPA in honor of Air Force Tech Sergeant Phillip A. Myers, who died in Afghanistan in 2009.

In the short time it has been open, Bombs Away Beer Company has become a frequent hangout for many active-duty service members from Kirtland Air Force Base, as well as the many retired military who live in Albuquerque. This Veterans Day, BABC is giving back with a special beer brewed in honor of an Air Force sergeant who lost his life serving his country.

Phil’s Incendiary IPA is the creation of not just head brewer David Kimbell, but also Casey Pascoe, who served in the Air Force with BABC owner John Degnaro. The beer was made to honor Tech Sergeant Phillip A. Myers, who died in Afghanistan on April 4, 2009, when he was just 30 years old, leaving behind a wife and two children. Proceeds from the sale will go to the EOD Warrior Foundation, a charity that supports veterans from Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal and their families.

“We were approached by the Explosive Ordnance Disposal shop on base that they were putting together a charity fundraiser and they wanted to know if we wanted to be a part of it,” John said. “We said yes. It was actually a golf tournament, so we sponsored a hole. After that they said do you want to put up an item for a silent auction as part of the charity. I said yeah, but I don’t really know what to auction.

“I kind of kicked it around a little bit, so we came up to auction off basically a brew day. The winner of the auction would come in, they would brew the beer, and then we would eventually release the beer and proceeds would go back to the charity.”

Then it was just the matter of the right person winning that prize in the silent auction.

“Highest bidder, that was me,” Casey said. “I’d been here (to BABC) before. I’d seen the progress they had done on making the brewery. When I saw that at the auction, I was like I had to get that.”

Of course, winning the prize was one thing, making the beer was another.

“I’d never brewed before, so I think after the golf tournament we all ended up here,” Casey said. “The soft opening we all ended up back here. I let them know that I had won the auction and was looking forward to brewing some beer with them.”

Casey had a good idea of what kind of beer to make.

“It was between Casey and David to come up with how the beer is going to look, as far as what style,” John said. “Casey said, ‘I want to do a red and I want to name it after a fallen EOD tech named Phil Myers,’ who was a friend of both of ours.”

The incendiary part of the beer name holds double meaning.

“It’s in the EOD or ordinance world, it’s the color of the bombs, they have a red stripe on them,” Casey said. “And, Phil was a red-headed dude with a big ginger beard because when he was deployed he was out of regs, like most of us were, because we were out in the middle of nowhere. We didn’t have all the stuff to shave every day. I think that would be the best (name).

“I think that that also falls in line with the names of the beers they already have up on the board. Phil was a bit of an incendiary fella himself, I guess you could say. Everything he touched kind of caught fire, whether it was being a mentor to me as a young airman, or just everything he did he excelled at.”

Air Force veteran Casey Myers, up bright and early, brewing beer for the first time in his life.

Phil would probably have been amused to know just how much hard work Casey put into the beer.

“Learning to brew with David in the back, I didn’t realize how much work that was,” Casey said. “It’s a lot of work. I think I went home that day and I put the kids to bed at 7 and I hit the pillow at 7:30. I learned a lot.”

As for the beer itself, it should satisfy the hop-loving palates of Burquenos.

“I guess you could say what Casey wanted was something with a lot of citrus aroma, so I used a lot of citrus-forward hops (like) Citra, Centennial,” David said. “There are some dark fruit notes in there (too). It makes for a very malty IPA.”

Phil’s Incendiary IPA will go on tap this Saturday for Veterans Day. Also, BABC will be launching its brewery membership, with special discounts for active-duty service members and retired military.

Raise those pints high this weekend.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The ups and downs of having a full kitchen, or not, continue to vex many local breweries.

A small news item crossed our desk today (Monday) when we found out that Turtle Mountain is adding new items to its food menu. This is something that happens all the time in the restaurant business, where the palates of diners and their interests ebb and flow, often unpredictably. While several of the dishes look like things we have to try (hello, Ruidoso Ribs), it got us thinking again about the ongoing issue of breweries and food.

A few years back, the success of Marble and La Cumbre seemingly heralded the new model would be kitchen-free, relying instead on food trucks and neighboring restaurants. The brewpub was a dying breed, but a funny thing happened on the way to all of this happening. The brewpub did not die, it just had to be revamped and reborn, much like the restaurant industry as a whole (though that whole is far slower to adapt to change, as we see in the current decline in the national chains as more and more close here in ABQ and other parts of the country).

The most recent trend has seen breweries that previously had little or no food expanding to full kitchens. Bosque just had a few appetizers and panini-press sandwiches, until the decision was made to go the full kitchen route. The opening of the second, larger Las Cruces taproom saw the arrival of a full kitchen down south, while Nob Hill has recently expanded into the old Wise Pies space so it can also have a full kitchen, much like the original San Mateo location (and that full kitchen will head to the new mothership location being built along the Interstate 25 frontage road).

Boxing Bear expanded its kitchen and menu, while Tractor added a small food menu to its new Four Hills taproom. Now comes the word that Tractor will turn the old merchandise nook at Wells Park into a small food area as well (if you went to the Stranger Things Arcade Carnival before Halloween, you saw a preview of this).

Rio Bravo had long ago kept a space for a future kitchen, located just on the south side of the main bar area. After struggling with food trucks (more on that below) for a while, the decision was finally made to essentially outsource the in-house food production to The Burger Stand, which already had locations in Taos and Santa Fe.

As more new breweries seek to open, most, if not all, are advertising that they will indeed have in-house food. The most recent new brewery to open, Bombs Away Beer Company, did not open with any food, but its owner already mentioned that he has a space set aside for what seems like an inevitable addition of a small food prep area.

The need for in-house food is seemingly being driven by two things. First, the consumer demand is there. Second, the food truck situation in town has been slipping, from what a number of brewery owners have told us. Many of the best food trucks have either shut down or been so successful that they have been able to open brick-and-mortar restaurants. The best of what remain are now stretched thin across the metro area due to the proliferation of so many taprooms and breweries. While established, large breweries like La Cumbre, Marble, and Tractor are still able to keep the best of the best food trucks parked outside, other breweries have struggled immensely to fill out their schedules with reliable trucks.

Food is still a tricky thing for breweries. A kitchen, whether limited or full, adds another layer of inspections and regulations, many of them even tighter than what exists for beer production. Having food on site is no guarantee of increased business. It certainly did not save the Firkin Brewhouse or Albuquerque Brewing, or perhaps most prominently, Chama River. Even places with well-established reputations for having top-notch kitchens, like Nexus and Turtle Mountain, are constantly having to adjust and adapt to the changing tastes of consumers. One could debate whether or not people are even pickier about food than beer, but it often seems that way around Albuquerque.

It can also be debated as to where the food-versus-no-food debate falls geographically. Desert Valley opened its West Side taproom with a full kitchen and has gone to great lengths to promote it as a food-first establishment. After initially opening the Nexus Silver taproom sans food, the decision was recently made to begin serving food there. It can be argued that food is almost necessary in areas with a denser neighborhood population, like Nob Hill or the Northeast Heights, as opposed to the more nightlife-oriented aspects of downtown, the Brewery District, and Wells Park (though things are changing at some of the breweries located in that district).

The issue can then become how customers view and treat brewpubs versus breweries. Reading the less-than-kind comments online for many brewpubs, they often seem to focus mainly on the food itself and the service, rather than the beer. Food seems to be more polarizing than beer, while the expectation of service is often higher in what many regard as more of a restaurant than bar setting. It often seems that for every benefit about having a kitchen, there is a significant drawback as well. Finding the balance in between is an ongoing challenge, with no easy answers.

What is the future of the brewpub model? Cantero Brewing is gambling that it will be of the popular farm-to-table variety, as the forthcoming brewery fights to overcome the fact it took over the old Firkin space, one of the least desirable physical locations for any brewery. The other newcomers will have to make up their own minds.

As always, we want to know what all of you think, so we designed a rather simple poll below. Add your comments here or on social media. The more the breweries know about what we want from them in terms of food is better for everyone involved.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The finished interior of Bombs Away Beer Company looks great.

I recently took a peek at the website for Bombs Away Beer Company for clues as to when they would open. I was shocked to find out they already had. Apparently, they just had a soft opening a few days prior. Although I already had plans right after work that day, curiosity and impatience got the best of me. I decided I had to stop by there, even if it was just for a few minutes, and at least try a couple of beers. It turns out they don’t sell the sampler pours individually, and I didn’t want to ask for a few free samples and leave without buying any beer, so I took on the challenge of consuming a full sampler of six beers in just over 10 minutes. (I was not driving, FYI.)

I am very glad I did. Unlike with many new breweries, the beer did not suffer from a lack of carbonation. This was not “thin” beer. There are also an impressive number of house-brewed beer styles on tap for a new operation.

I briefly spoke with brewer David Kimbell and told him that I was impressed by the quantity of beer out of the gate, as well as the carbonation levels. Kimbell, who is a first-time head brewer (although he has brewing experience at La Cumbre, Santa Fe, and Kellys), said he did go through multiple batches before he decided the beers were ready for public consumption. I guess I chose my samples well, despite being pressed on time, because Kimbell said that their amber is a little under-carbonated, but that it works fine for the style. I didn’t try the amber, so I cannot compare it to the others. He also said he is still trying to dial in the lager. I did not choose the lager, either.

The beers I did sample were: Willie Pete Wit, Short Fuse Blonde, Wild Card Spiced Ale, Brisance Bitter, B.A.B.C. IPA, and Low Order Porter. Descriptions of their current beers can be found on their website. My favorites were the Bitter and the Porter. The Bitter was very true to style and very easy-drinking. It’s not overly complex, but highly satisfying. The Porter was all roasty goodness with coffee and tobacco notes (in my opinion).

A delightful first flight of six of the eight available beers.

It was hard to choose favorites because all six were beers I could see myself ordering again. Perhaps the only minor letdown for me was I would have liked more spice on the Spiced Ale. It’s a good beer, I just expected more of a fall seasonal taste. The IPA is a New England-style, hazy IPA. For those looking for over-the-top hops, this is not that kind of IPA. It worked for me because I like a lighter IPA style.

The space is inspiring and they did a wonderful job with the décor. Kimbell said they built everything themselves (tables, bar, etc.). The location, at 9801 Acoma near Moon and Central, is very convenient for beer lovers who work at Kirtland Air Force Base and Sandia National Labs. Until I looked at their website, I had no idea there was a Skyline Heights neighborhood of Albuquerque.

Despite the lack of formal announcements that they are open, there were about 15 to 20 patrons in there when I stopped by early on a Tuesday evening. I have a feeling that those people looking for a Southeast Heights brewery hangout have fully acquired their target.

Cheers!

— AmyO

Get ready to raise those La Cumbre pints soon, Arizona!

It was clearly time to clear out the old notebook once again …

La Cumbre expands distribution to the west

Last year, when I sat down with owner/master brewer Jeff Erway for our Look Back/Look Ahead Series article, he said that Arizona was definitely his next target for out-of-state distribution. The only thing he was lacking at the time was a distributor. Well, it appears he found one.

La Cumbre announced on social media that it will indeed expand to the Grand Canyon state, debuting in the Phoenix area on October 9 and moving out to the rest of the state in the weeks that follow.

“The responses on our Twitter account and Facebook and things like that has been overwhelmingly from Arizona,” Jeff told the Albuquerque Journal. “Arizona seems like the state that’s most thirsty for La Cumbre beer.”

La Cumbre will become the third New Mexico brewery to distribute in Arizona, joining Marble and Santa Fe. It also distributes in Colorado.

The Roswell mystery solved

For all the growth in craft beer in New Mexico, the fifth largest municipality in the state still has not attained its own craft brewery. Roswell, smaller only than Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Rio Rancho, and Santa Fe, has oddly been a craft beer dessert. If nothing else, it seemed like at some point, maybe an out-of-town brewery would at least put a taproom there. Well, that day is about to arrive.

Milton’s Brewing, headquartered in Carlsbad, has officially announced on social media that it will be opening a taproom in Roswell. Milton’s Off Main is slated to open at 315 N. Main St. later this year. It will mark the first off-site taproom for Milton’s and, as noted above, the first true craft taproom in town.

Obligatory forthcoming breweries update

Yeah, we dig that logo. As local as local can be.

As per usual, here is the latest info (if we have any) on the next wave of breweries. Take note, we only list those who have a pending small brewer license with the State of New Mexico.

  • Bare Bones Brewing now has an active license with the state, but the Cedar Crest brewery has yet to open. There are no updates on the brewery Facebook page, either, but we gotta imagine it is getting close. Keep an eye out.
  • Bombs Away Brewing also has an active license. We feel confident in saying it will be the next brewery to open. Stay tuned for an update sooner than later.
  • The only new pending license since our last check is for a place calling itself the Brewstillery. It is located somewhere in the 87106 zip code in the southeast part of town. If anyone out there has information on this new addition to the list, please contact us.
  • Cantero Brewing has its equipment now in place, per its social media. Looks like it is getting close and may be able to open before the year is out.
  • Guadalupe Mountain Brewing has also received its equipment down in Carlsbad. It should be getting close as well.
  • We solved two mysteries with one Instagram inquiry the other day. It turns out that High and Dry Brewing, which has an account, is one and the same with Volume 31 Brewing, a mystery pending license holder we spotted a few weeks back. The brewery will go by the former name, with a nice hot air balloon motif (surprisingly, a first for a local brewery, as far as we can recall). High and Dry will be located at 529 Adams St., which is just south of Lomas.
  • Lava Rock Brewing has a “coming soon” sign now posted outside the building on Unser just north of Ladera. We will take that as a good sign (pun intended).
  • Lost Hiker Brewing has a public hearing pending with Ruidoso Downs residents and officials on October 10. After that, it should be good to go to bring local craft to the mountain town.
  • Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery is also making progress in Santa Fe, per its social media pages. It is in the market for a brewer/distiller and bottle shop/market manager. If you have interest in either position, email the Crew and we can forward your info to the owners.
  • We do not have anything new on the following forthcoming breweries: BLUE (Albuquerque), Elkins Brewing (Grants), Glencoe Distillery and Brewery (Ruidoso), Switchback Brewery (Cloudcroft), and Toltec (Albuquerque).

As always, if there are any news tidbits we have missed, please drop us a line via social media or at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

All right, we gotta admit, a horizontal mash tun is odd, but the paint job is perfect.

The target is in sight at long last for Bombs Away Beer Company, which aims to join our craft beer community this year. It will be the first brewery in the Southeast Heights, located at 9801 Acoma, right near the intersection of Central and Moon. I had the chance to sit down with brewer David Kimbell and owners John and Hilary Degnaro last week to go over everything about their forthcoming brewery.

“I was in Afghanistan as an explosive ordinance disposal technician, that was my previous job in the Air Force,” John said. “I wanted to move on from that, try something else, so I spent the next couple years deciding what the next thing would be. I narrowed it down to (owning) a brewery and then I spent pretty much about five years to the day putting this together as far as getting the money together, what kind of brewery do I want to have, what equipment to take, so on and so forth.”

To make that final step, John needed a brewer. Enter David, who has brewed and worked previously at La Cumbre and Santa Fe after getting his start in a part-time role at Kellys.

“I had a business in college I started and ran for about four years,” David said. “Got out of that, didn’t know what I was going to do. I’ve always been into craft beer. I’m from Farmington originally so in high school, Three Rivers, all my buddies worked there. I took about a five-week road trip all over the West Coast, Portland, San Francisco, everywhere. I slept in the back of my truck the whole time. I checked out breweries and right before I left to do that I had already lined up a job at Kellys working part-time. As soon as I started I knew I wanted to open up a brewery, and now I’ve been lucky enough to meet these guys.”

There is plenty of stainless steel in the back of Bombs Away.

David spent just shy of two years at La Cumbre, where he credits the likes of owner/master brewer Jeff Erway, director of brewing operations Daniel Jaramillo, and head brewer Alan Skinner with imparting so much of the knowledge he needed to run his own brewhouse.

“(Jeff) was amazing,” David said. “Man, I learned everything from there. I worked at a couple other breweries, but at La Cumbre, the passion level there is out of the roof and obviously the talent is out of the roof. Learning from Daniel and Alan, I wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t for them.”

David also later added that Santa Fe Brewing brewmaster Bert Boyce has been a great mentor during the process of opening Bombs Away.

While Bombs Away is joining an increasingly crowded craft scene in town, John said the relatively isolated location should keep them from being swallowed up.

“Well, first off, I don’t think the scene is (too) crowded,” John said. “There are more breweries here than there used to be, but that doesn’t make it crowded. Secondly, we’re in a part of town there’s really not a whole lot going on. There’s a whole lot that’s starting to come in here, but we’re the only brewery over here.”

Because of that, Bombs Away will not be overly thematic, even with its obvious military ties and location close to Kirtland Air Force Base.

We’re digging the light fixtures made out of old explosive rounds.

“I’d like a nice touch of that but I’m not going to say that’s what we’re setting out to do,” John said. “Yeah, absolutely, we want to hire vets, not just because of my background or our location, I just think they’re good people to employ. That’s something we’re keeping on the forefront, but I’m not saying you’re going to walk in here and see an all-vet staff. We’re not going to go with a military theme in the place. There’s a touch of it here and there.”

As the pictures show, the interior is fairly spacious and welcoming. There is an exterior area earmarked for a future patio, but it will not be part of the brewery out of the gate. The interior will have more than enough room for folks to enjoy their beer. John said he does not plan on having too many televisions or live music.

“I think a place like this to me is about people meeting and hanging out, having conversations, enjoying your beer,” he said. “I think really as long as the atmosphere is welcoming and comfortable, that’s all we really to do on our side is have a comfortable place where people can have a conversation. Provide the great beer and the rest kind of takes care of itself.”

There will not be a kitchen, but David said he already has connections to food trucks from his time at La Cumbre, so expect one to be parked outside most nights.

The bar area is just about ready to go. It will feature 15 taps.

The tap system had just been installed by the time I visited. There will be 15 total taps, giving David plenty of room for creative seasonals in addition to the year-round beers. Style-wise, David said he will not stick strictly to the guidelines for his beers, but he will not being going overboard, either.

“It’s (going to be) the beer we like to drink,” John added. “Drinkability, that’s high on our list.”

The sizable brewing room in the back has quite the unique setup. Rather than buy a whole brewhouse, Bombs Away has assembled its own equipment.

“I think something interesting that we’ve put together, it’s not a traditional brewhouse,” Hilary said. “Early on, we had all the stainless steel sitting in our backyard from different industries all around the country. The majority of everything here has been used somewhere else.”

The brewhouse is made up of a horizontal mash tun (see the top photo) and a 10-barrel kettle. There are 15-barrel fermenters in place, giving David the flexibility to go big with his beers or make smaller batches.

Another look at the non-traditional brewhouse.

There are also offices and an a side room that could be used for private gatherings. The building is big enough for potential expansion if necessary in the future. For now, though, it is just about getting those doors open.

“I don’t think we really want to give a timetable at this point,” Hilary said. “We’ve been wanting to open for a year. At this point, we just want to hold ourselves to it.”

“The City of Albuquerque hit us with (a delay),” John added. “We had almost five months where we sat on our hands thanks to our wonderful planning department. It’s to the point where we really don’t want to put a time on it, every time we have it’s always been a mess. We’ll be open when we’re open.”

Still, based on their progress to date and the fact their small brewer license with the State of New Mexico has been approved, the Crew will project an autumn opening for Bombs Away.

“One thing I’d like to add is I have a desire, there’s not much going on in New Mexico, but the beer scene is killing it and I have the desire to make this the best beer scene in America,” David said. “I think we’re getting there, the beer quality is amazing here for the most part, but I want to make sure we’re up there when we open.”

That is exactly the kind of confidence and enthusiasm we want to see from a new brewery.

Take note, Bombs Away is already looking to start the hiring process for servers and beertenders. You can email your resume to bombsawaybeer@gmail.com.

All of us in the Crew look forward to heading back over to Bombs Away right before it opens to try the beer and see the finished product ready to go.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

It is curtains for Draft Station’s Albuquerque location. (Photo courtesy of Draft Station)

Well, it’s Friday, and the little bits of news are starting to bunch up. Here we go …

R.I.P. Draft Station, and Sandia Chile Grill, too?

It appears that two more local beer spots have closed their doors. One is now confirmed, the other seems likely but is not official.

First up, Draft Station ABQ posted on Facebook that they were closing again due to problems caused by the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project on May 5. Since then, there were no posts, and multiple people told us that the taproom appeared to be permanently closed. We were then told by another brewery that their orders for future beers have been canceled. A final confirmation then came in when we contacted an executive with parent company Santa Fe Dining, and he emailed us back to confirm that yes, Draft Station ABQ is now permanently closed.

It was always a tough sell for the local version of the big hit up in Santa Fe. While that location is in prime real estate overlooking the Plaza, the ABQ location was stuck too far from the other downtown breweries/taprooms and then just a bit too far from Old Town. Throw in the impact of A.R.T. on business (you could not turn into the parking lot from westbound Central), and it proved to be the final coup de grace. There is always the chance that Draft Station could live again (scroll down), but for now, may it rest in peace.

Meanwhile, as I posted in The Week Ahead in Beer (no worries if you missed it), by all accounts Sandia Chile Grill is closed as well. Efforts to reach them by phone have failed as the number listed has been disconnected. They have not made a social media update in some time, but then again they never were very active online. A quick drive past the location found the doors closed, but the signs were still up, including their new T-shirts in the window. The tables and chairs were still inside as well.

However, we checked the State of New Mexico website and found that their small brewer license is listed as expired. There are no applications pending for a new or renewed license under either Sandia Chile Grill or Oso Loco Brewery.

If anyone out there knows the full story with SCG, please contact us.

More new places? More new places

Meanwhile, there are three new small brewer licenses pending. The Sandbar Brewery and Grill will indeed be making its own beer in the location at 4100 San Mateo. For those thinking, “hey, that location is familiar,” it was formerly home to Sneakerz, a sports bar probably best known for having (you guessed it) sand volleyball courts on the premises.

UPDATE: We previously wrote — The prior location of the Sandbar was up near Journal Center. Many, many moons ago we reported on how they were teaming up with the long-since-defunct New Mexico Craft Brewing out of Las Vegas to serve their beer at the indoor sand volleyball facility. That partnership did not last, but we are glad to see the Sandbar owner(s) sticking with craft beer. — But, as it turns out, this Sandbar has no relationship to the previous Sandbar. Our apologies for the mistake.

The stated goal of Sandbar is to open this summer. We will keep everyone updated as to their progress.

Another new name on the list is Toltec Brewing, which has a zip code listing of 87114. That is the West Side, running from the river to Albuquerque’s western city limits. The northern boundary is Rio Rancho, the southern boundary is roughly Paseo del Norte. Currently, Marble Westside and Boxing Bear are in this zip code, so clearly Toltec could be just about anywhere out there that commercial properties exist. There is no additional information online that we could find, social media or otherwise. If anyone out there knows more about Toltec, please drop us a line.

The final newcomer is another place we knew about in advance. Guadalupe Mountain Brewing is set to become the second operational brewery in Carlsbad. We have already been in touch with their owner/brewer, so expect a story from us in the coming months. You can already follow them on Facebook.

The great mystery taproom speculation begins

A reader alerted us to the fact that the developers of the Snow Heights Promenade are planning on adding a 2,800-square-foot taproom to the complex located on the southwest corner of Eubank and Menaul.

Our friends at the Albuquerque Journal followed up on the Snow Heights Facebook post with this tasty morsel about a “soon-to-be announced ‘award-winning local brewery’ that’s looking to open a 2,800-square-foot taproom at the site.”

All right, let us play the guessing game. We can rule out just about any brewery that has opened since the start of 2016, since none of them are really in position financially to open a taproom yet. We can then throw out any brewery that has maxed out its number of taprooms (Bosque), has a taproom somewhat nearby (Marble, Canteen), or a forthcoming taproom nearby (Red Door, Tractor). Taking the award-winning comment above, we gotta figure it is a brewery that has won multiple major medals/awards, which to the general public usually starts with the Great American Beer Festival. So who does that leave?

  1. Boxing Bear: The reigning GABF Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year is a logical candidate. The taproom would certainly bring their beers to a new audience. This one almost makes too much sense, doesn’t it? Still, nothing official yet from the BBB staff.
  2. Chama River: If the Draft Station is truly closed, maybe it is due to moving here. Technically, it was always under Chama’s license, so that could work. But, then again, it would not come with the name of the award-winning brewery attached.
  3. La Cumbre: Well, now, wouldn’t that be interesting? It’s pretty far from the main brewery, though certainly not as far as Boxing Bear. Owner Jeff Erway has talked in the past about the reasons he has not opened a taproom, ranging from not wanting a location too close to a bar or restaurant that has carried LC beers since the beginning, to wanting a good landlord tenant relationship (if not outright ownership of the taproom building). We will call LC the dark horse candidate.

Could it be another brewery besides these? Sure, anything is possible, but these are the most logical candidates. Good ahead and speculate away in the comments or on social media. We will see what the final is when the developers and brewery in question are ready to announce it to the public.

More new brewery tidbits

These are all the other breweries or off-site taprooms with pending licenses with the state.

  • Bare Bones Brewing is closing in on a new location after their original space fell through in Cedar Crest. It will still be somewhere along Highway 14 in the East Mountains.
  • Bombs Away Beer Company is busy with the buildout of their space near Central and Moon. We await a chance to visit when they are ready, so yes, we are in contact with head brewer David Kimbell.
  • Drylands Brewing continues with its buildout in Lovington. Search for their Instagram page and you can keep track of their progress. It is looking good.
  • Hops Brewery in Nob Hill remains in limbo. We have no idea what the current delay is about.
  • Lava Rock Brewing continues with its buildout on Unser north of Ladera, as does Truth or Consequences Brewing down south. The latter now has an active license, but is not yet open.
  • We have nothing new to add on Glencoe Distillery and Brewery in Ruidoso (license active, but no other info), Switchback Brewery in Cloudcroft, or Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery in Santa Fe. If anyone out there has info, as always, please contact us.

That is all from us for now. Got a tip? Want to share something without announcing it to the world? Direct message us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or via email at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

It sure looks like Hops Brewery is getting close to opening in Nob Hill.

Goodness gracious, beer notes on a Friday. Whatever has come over me?

Brewers Association takes a stand against offensive labels

An emerging point of contention for craft beer has been the use of blatantly sexist or offensive labels and imagery by certain breweries. Luckily, New Mexico breweries have largely managed to avoid these sorts of things, but it has become a battleground issue in other states.

Well, the Brewers Association weighed in on all of it at the just-wrapped Craft Brewers Conference in Washington D.C. To say that the BA brought the hammer down might be a bit of an over-simplification, as it remains to be seen how it will all play out in terms of penalties and the like, but it is a big step forward to getting craft beer away from a juvenile mindset. Craft beer is still an industry dominated by white males working on the production side. That does not mean it should act like a stereotypical bad college fraternity.

Here is the exact wording the BA sent out in a press release Thursday:

“The BA updated its Marketing and Advertising Code to help brewers maintain high standards and act as responsible corporate citizens. New language has been included to address that beer advertising and marketing materials should not use sexually explicit, lewd, or demeaning brand names, language, text, graphics, photos, video, or other images that reasonable adult consumers would find inappropriate for consumer products offered to the public. Any name that does not meet the Marketing and Advertising Code that wins a BA produced competition including the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) or World Beer Cup will not be read on stage or promoted in BA materials, and will not be permitted to use the GABF or World Beer Cup intellectual properties in their marketing. Additionally, the BA has convened an Advertising Complaint Review Board should an issue arise that warrants further review and action.”

This should make for a fascinating GABF in October, especially if multiple medal winners are not read aloud during the awards ceremony. More information can be found on the official BA website.

If you want to share your thoughts or ask questions about all of this, please do so via any of our social media outlets. Or, if you would prefer to contact us directly, use nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Southwest Bacon Fest returns

We almost completely forgot about the Bacon Fest until Marble shared the fact it is taking the aptly named Bacon’s Best Friend to the event, which runs this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Balloon Fiesta Park.

Unlike the Food Truck Festival organizers, we were never contacted by the Bacon Fest P.R. people, so it slipped through the cracks. In a late scramble, we sent out an email to 11 of the 14 attending breweries for whom we have current contact information. Unfortunately, many key brewery staffers are still en route back from the aforementioned CBC, so we only heard back from three (so far). If any others update us with their lists, we will add them here.

  • Marble: Bacon’s Best Friend (Rauchbier), Double White, IPA, Red Ale, Pilsner, DANG Pale Ale
  • Quarter Celtic: Pedro O’Flanigan, Crimson Lass, Quarter Porter, Clark IPA
  • Rio Bravo: La Luz Lager, Snakebite IPA, Lemongrass Wit, Cherry Sour, Pinon Coffee Porter

We still hope to hear back from Bosque, Boxing Bear, Canteen, Chama River, Kaktus, Palmer, Starr Brothers, and Tractor. We do not currently have contact info for Abbey, Cottonwood (Desert Water), or Santa Fe.

Hops Brewery looks like its almost ready

Based on that photo way up at the top, it sure looks like Hops Brewery is getting ready to open soon in Nob Hill. The current Albuquerque Rapid Transit construction should not get in the way too badly, so the Crew will be keeping an eye out if an official announcement appears. It has been a long, long road for Hops, which we first heard about as far back as early 2013. Let us hope only a few final touches need to be applied before they can start serving beer.

Otherwise there is nothing new to report on the new brewery front. We have not heard that Bare Bones Brewing has found a new home in the Cedar Crest area after their initial space fell through over issues with a new landlord. Bombs Away Beer Company has joined the NM Brewers Guild, but beyond that and a physical address near Moon and Central, there is nothing new there, either.

Oh, and Desert Valley Brewing officially has an active small brewer license. The main operation is still located next to the Craftroom near Menaul and the I-25 frontage road. The old Stumbling Steer space they are taking over will be an off-site taproom. They have a pending license for that with the state now.

If anyone out there hears about news involving new or forthcoming breweries, please send it to us using the usual ways (email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

See some of you downtown Saturday for the Easter Beer Hunt and/or Tart at Heart 3.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister