Posts Tagged ‘Cantero Brewing’

After two years, it was nice to drink you again, Irish Handcuffs.

Before we dive into our latest round of beer adventures, a little business comes first. Starting Thursday, the Crew will have live coverage from the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Yours truly, plus Franz Solo and Luke, all have press passes that will get us into the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday afternoon sessions, plus the awards ceremony Saturday morning. We will get you all the news you need as it happens, so long as we have not consumed too much beer as to render our brains useless.

Life is a struggle, sometimes.

We do have the list of competition beers from the New Mexico breweries, which will we will publish in advance of the awards ceremony so you all can follow along. Look for that no later than Saturday morning.

Wish us luck up there. It is rather easy to get completely overwhelmed, but with enough of us attending, we should stay on track this time around.

As for this past weekend, I actually made it out to quite a few places. Friday lunch was at Canteen, where the Piggly Wiggly remains one of my all-time favorite pulled pork sandwiches. I washed it down with some Hank ESB, which is just as biscuity and English as ever. Eli, forever an awesome bartender and fellow metalhead, also gave me a sample of the Wet Hop Pale Ale, which sure tastes like a much, much bigger beer, with a delightful blast of both piney and berry hop flavors.

After the Lobo men’s soccer game on Friday night, I popped in at La Cumbre and faced a vexing decision between Make IPA Clear Again and Wet-Hopped Elevated. The former won out, and it remains an excellent example of a tough, bitter old-school West Coast IPA (Luke reviews the latter down below). For Saturday, I took a trip to Red Door, where I lucked out and found a car leaving its parking space (it pays to gamble sometimes). Once inside, I did the smart thing and hung out with head brewer Matt Meier, and we were later joined by Bombs Away head brewer David Kimbell. We consumed some of the not-too-sweet, not-too-boozy Double Vanilla Cream Ale, sampled the latest batch of the New England IPA, and then I personally capped my night with some Dunkel, which AmyO also tried when she was there earlier (see below).

Following a rough day at work on Monday, I was able to make it to the Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day Festival at Quarter Celtic, where there was still just a little bit left of the 2016 Irish Handcuffs Imperial Stout. Man, aging is doing that beer wonders, just highlighting all the barrel flavors and how they blend beautifully with the strong, thick base stout. I cannot wait to try it again on the actual St. Patrick’s Day.

Enough from me, here is what a couple of the others found around their respective towns this weekend. As always, these are just our suggestions. Let us know what some of your favorite beers/places of the weekend are in the comments!

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It’s go-time, at last, for Cantero Brewing!

In case anyone out there was unaware, the newest brewery in the Duke City will open this Saturday at 11 a.m. Cantero Brewing is holding its soft opening after a long, laborious process to get to this point. There will be at least five house beers on tap, the kitchen will be up and running, but as always, please be patient if things are crowded. The staff is still learning, the beers are still young, but there is plenty of optimism that now, finally, everything is going to be all right.

To learn a little more about what has been going on up to this point, I sat down Thursday with brewers David Rosebeary and George Gonzales, and brewery spokesperson Kane Oueis, while his wife, owner Katey Taylor, was busy zipping around making sure everything was ready for a friends-and-family opening that night.

“A lot of people said it’s taken a lot longer than normal for you guys to open, but it was honestly because we were fine-tuning everything,” Kane said. “We’re honestly perfectionists. We’re just not going to do it until we’re ready.”

“Why open your doors one day and shut them down the next day because they noticed one little bugaboo?” George added.

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The long-awaited opening is finally in sight for Cantero.

The Crew was invited to come get a sneak peek at the upcoming Cantero Brewing Company at 3351 Columbia Dr. NE in Albuquerque. If the address sounds familiar, it is because that is the site of the former Firkin Brewhouse.

I was anxious to get in there and see how much it has changed, and boy, has it. There is much more (and much larger) brewing equipment installed in the back now. In fact, they already are looking at needing more space.

The new equipment is just about ready to go.

Space is already at a premium in the back.

The brewpub area has transformed into something more modern and sleek. I remarked how it kind of reminded me of the feel of Toltec Brewery on the Westside near Cottonwood Mall, although it is a different layout overall. I found out that some of the work was done by the same contractor. It is bizarre, considering I have no design or construction background that my crazy brain picked up on it somehow.

Booths line the wall near the door to the kitchen and brewery.

The stone work is beautiful, and that in fact goes along with the name. Although I do know some Spanish, my fairly limited vocabulary did not include the word Cantero, so I had to ask what it means. It turns out it means stone cutter. So, there you go.

The sleek-looking interior of the taproom.

Some quick items to note. The targeted opening date is September 15. The staff said they plan on doing four or five house beers — American ale styles — to start with, and then add seasonals to the rotation. Some guest taps and wine will be served as well. There is a kitchen and they will have a full menu. The taps are ready to be installed (probably this week).

The cozy patio should be a draw for patrons.

The beautiful patio out front on the east side of the building will have about seven tables with both four-tops and a couple of two-tops, as well as a built-in area that fits seven.

Please enjoy the pictures and look for more information soon on their opening.

Cheers!

— AmyO

Lincoln is home to New Mexico’s newest brewery. (Photo courtesy of Bonito Valley Brewing)

Live from Portland, er, well, almost alive from Portland, here are some little beer tidbits that have been popping up on our radar over the last few weeks.

August brewery openings

Bonito Valley Brewing in Lincoln is now open, becoming the latest addition to the long list of small-town breweries in the state. Located at 692 Calle La Placita (Highway 380) in the middle of town, BVB will celebrate its grand opening through the weekend. If anyone stops by, take some pictures and send us some tasting notes! And yes, there is a beer called Billy the Kid Amber.

Over in Artesia, Hopscotch Brewing has its grand opening set for Friday, Aug. 10. The brewery is located at 1 Cottonwood Road on the north side of town, which was formerly the home of Desert Water Brewing (it closed earlier this year).

Up in Cimarron, Blu Dragonfly Brewing is now open, though its own beers are not yet ready. The BBQ is ready, however, so if you are up north, chow down and enjoy some guest taps. The brewery is located at 301 E. 9th Street.

Meanwhile, in the ABQ metro area, rumors persist that Cantero Brewing and Rio Rancho’s 1933 Brewing are close to opening. We are dispatching AmyO to take a tour of Cantero on Sunday, after which we will have a better idea of how close it is to opening. If anyone out there has info on 1933, please send it along.

Checking out the OG version of Ex Novo

The cozy taproom at Ex Novo Brewing in Portland.

During my long trek through the breweries of Portland on Thursday, I made sure to spend some time at Ex Novo Brewing. There will be an Ex Novo in Corrales in the future, and I talked briefly with owner Joel Gregory after the IPA Challenge. He said right now that spot is just a field of dirt as they clear it in preparation for construction, but the brewery in Portland is of course fully functional.

The space is tall, with some high ceilings that make up for the lack of width. The taproom area is out front, opening directly into the brewery. There was a good-sized list of house beers and seasonals. I went with the Perle Haggard Pils and Parliament Dunkadelic, and the flavor lived up to the awesome names. The food menu was short but solid, and I wolfed down a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich with fries.

Overall, the staff was great, the vibe was positive, and things moved quickly and efficiently even with a big crowd on hand. There were young and single folks, old dudes like me, and several families. If Ex Novo can translate all of that to its Corrales location, it should be pretty darn popular with New Mexico beer drinkers as well.

Oh, and other breweries that are definite must-visits if you are ever up here on a beercation:

  • Hair of the Dog Brewing, which is within walking distance of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, a jumbo-sized Explora and quite fun when you need a break from all the beer. The beer is quite good, too, but be forewarned, many of the house beers average between 7.5-10 percent.
  • Modern Times Belmont Fermentorium, which is a fully functional brewery from the guys in San Diego, loaded with all sorts of good beers made there and trucked up from SoCal. I tried a Suggestion of Mass, a monstrous (11.3% ABV) dessert stout collaboration made with Florida’s J. Wakefield Brewing.
  • Wayfinder Brewing, which has been open about a year-and-a-half, is making some tremendous lagers. It’s just a little off the beaten path, but was overflowing with people as I left to meet my friend at Ex Novo.
  • Ecliptic Brewing, our final stop for the night, is just tremendous. Huge selection, great outdoor seating area, and then it was 10 o’clock and everything closed. Boo.

Anyway, I am gonna go grab some brunch and then check out McMenamin’s Bagdad Theater. Tonight, there will be Great Notion. And probably a few other places. Bless this town.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Hey, we know that brewer! Toltec’s Kaylynn McKnight and co-owner Diana Navarrette are getting the brewery ready for an opening this spring. (Photo courtesy of Toltec Brewing)

It has been a while since we busted out some Beer Notes, but the news was piling up in our inbox, so here we go again.

New brewery updates

By our count, there are 20 forthcoming breweries, plus one that just opened. Alas, there is also another that closed, as we note below. First up, the breweries with active small brewer licenses.

  • Callahan West Brewery (Mosquero): The brewery is open in this small town in Northeast New Mexico. It is located at 22 Main Street, on the west side of town, next to the Headquarters Restaurant. Details are scarce at this point, but there is a fledgling Facebook page, and we suppose it could make for an interesting summer road trip.
  • Cantero Brewing (ABQ-Brewery District): Slow but steady progress is apparent, with the brewing system now set up. We will drop the owners another line and see if we can get an advance tour/preview.
  • Elkins Brewing (Grants): There is still no website, no social media, or anything else about this brewery. If anyone out there has information, please send it over.
  • Red River Brewing: The staff seems to be putting the finishing touches on the interior of the completed building. Hey, someone had to benefit from the mild winter up north. It should be only a matter of time before we add Red River to our next Taos Trek (which we are way, way overdue to do again).
  • Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery (Santa Fe): Plenty of positive signs abound to the point of where we have to imagine it will be the next to open. Tumbleroot has begun brewing and distilling, and in addition is starting to book musical acts for its stage. Look for a preview in the coming weeks.

The snow finally showed up, but not before most of this new brewery was built. (Photo courtesy of Red River Brewing)

Now for all the breweries with pending small brewer licenses, who are, by and large, further away from opening.

  • 1933 Brewing (Rio Rancho): Located in the old Fat Squirrel building on Southern, we have seen construction getting underway. There is also a Facebook page and a website, finally, though neither have any real information.
  • BLUE (ABQ-Downtown area): We have no new updates about this brewery, which a source told us would be located somewhere along Broadway near Lead/Coal, similar in size and scope to Sidetrack.
  • Bonito Valley (Lincoln): The brewery’s Facebook page said it hopes to open by the summer along Highway 380 in Southeast New Mexico.
  • Brewstillery (ABQ-UNM area): We still have no information on this place.
  • Casa Vieja (Corrales): The existing event space may look to do some small batch beers, but will mainly use the license to sell beer and wine at the events it hosts.
  • Cloudcroft Brewing: Formerly known as Switchback Brewery, it will instead be named for the town it will call home in the mountains in Southern New Mexico. A full build-out is now underway, with a very rustic look to the site, which is quite appropriate.
  • Hollow Spirits (ABQ-Wells Park): The distillery/brewery has hired a head distiller, Trey Allen, but no projected opening date (or even month) has been listed.
  • Hopscotch Brewing (Artesia): First, the good news is that Deepwell Brewing is alive and well under a new name. The bad news is that it will take over the building previously occupied by Desert Water Brewing, which closed recently. Still, soon Artesia will be back to having two breweries, and that is a good thing.
  • Icebox Brewing (Las Cruces): There is a Facebook page, but beyond the address of 2825 W. Picacho Ave., there is no additional info.
  • Leaf & Hive (Santa Fe): One of two places looking to open in the capital city that will offer up mainly products that require a brewing license, but are not necessarily beer. The Facebook page says it will be honeybrew, a “heirloom cultured sparkling tea.”
  • Sourdough Mine Restaurant and Brewery (Socorro): Located in the old Twisted Chile space off the main plaza, the restaurant is already up and running.
  • Tall Pines Beer and Wine Garden (Ruidoso): This beer/wine bar has been in operation for a while. It remains to be seen how much (if any) beer it plans to brew.
  • Toltec Brewing (ABQ-West Side): The exterior signage is now covering all the entrances at 10250 Cottonwood Park NW. Inside, the brewery area appears ready, while the the taproom area is getting the final paint job. We can also confirm that former Nexus brewer Kaylynn McKnight will be running the brewhouse, while Adam Galarneau, formerly of Bosque, Marble, and Turtle Mountain, will be the general manager. Those are two talented and experienced people, a good sign of the commitment of the Toltec owners to putting their brewery on the map from the get-go.

That’s some swanky signage! (Photo courtesy of Toltec Brewing)

There are three other breweries we know are on the way, but have not yet applied for a license. We recently previewed Ex Novo Brewing and its plans to open in Corrales. HoneyMoon Brewery, a kombucha-centric operation, is coming to Santa Fe. Blu Dragonfly is coming to the northern town of Cimarron and has already joined the NM Brewers Guild far in advance of its opening.

If there are any other new breweries out there that we missed, please let us know.

We can also report that Guadalupe Mountain (Carlsbad) and Lost Hiker (Ruidoso) are now open and serving their own beers.

Politics and beer don’t mix here or anywhere

Well, so much for this legislative session.

One of the best things about breweries is how they are (usually) delightfully free of the venomous political discourse that has infected our country. Sadly, politics has a way of getting into the beer, and it rarely turns out well for any beer drinker, regardless of his/her affiliation.

Here in New Mexico, even after it passed both houses in the legislature, Senate Bill 204 died with a whimper when outgoing Governor Martinez killed it with a pocket veto. SB204 was designed to give breweries the ability to obtain private celebration permits. Currently, only distributors have these permits. Who knows why the governor did not like this bill, which had bi-partisan support.

It could be worse, however, as craft brewers in Maryland suffered a devastating defeat in Annapolis. Small breweries in Maryland face significant restrictions in how much beer they can brew and sell. Efforts to lift many regulations have failed, as the combination of macrobreweries and distributors have been opposed to giving craft breweries any advantages. Hopefully more progressive politicians will take another look at the situation next year.

Meanwhile, the announcement of pending tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum imports have left some in the craft beer industry worried. Those worries may be valid, as this story in the Wall Street Journal shows. (Thanks to Boxing Bear’s David Kim for the link.) A rise in the price of American steel and aluminum would benefit the manufacturers, but not everyone in the market may be able to afford those increases. That could hamper an industry that uses a hell of a lot of both metals. Ultimately, though, it is still early in the process, and time will tell what the full impact will be on the brewing industry.

Sampler tray

  • Little Toad Creek got some good news when its first taproom outside Silver City cleared a major hurdle. The City of Las Cruces has given its approval for the location at 119 N. Main St. Now all that remains is for state approval, which hopefully will come in advance of the Blazin’ Brewfest in May.
  • Red Door is looking to hire a new head brewer. We are working on finding out the details behind the departure of founding brewer Wayne Martinez.
  • Tart at Heart is returning to Sister for a fourth time on April 14. We will have more details as we get closer to this fun annual event.
  • Second Street will host the first Pilsner and Crab Fest at the Rufina Taproom on June 16-17. It will not be a competition, but a celebration of the style. We would love to see what other breweries bring to at least give us all the opportunity to do a side-by-side tasting.
  • Rejoice, haze lovers, for the Brewers Association has heard your cries. Three new hazy or juicy ale categories (pale, IPA, double IPA) have been added to the official ranks of the Beer Style Guidelines. Other categories have been added as well to reflect the ongoing evolution of craft beers. Click that link for more details.

That clears out the notebook for now. If anyone out there ever has any craft beer news to share, big or small, drop us a line at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com, or via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or just tapping on a Crew member’s shoulder if you spot one of us out and about at a brewery, taproom, or beer bar.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Cheers to the BA for all it does.

Yeah, it is definitely that time of year. The recaps and top 10 lists are being posted, the year-in-review stories are rolling along (like, uh, our Look Back/Look Ahead Series). When it comes to recapping the year in craft beer for the entire country, no one sums it up best quite like the Brewers Association.

It was another big year for craft beer, to say the least.

“Craft brewers continue to thrive, if at a slower pace, fueled by a passionate community dedicated to bringing innovation, jobs and beer across America—on Main Street and beyond,” said Bart Watson, the chief economist of the Brewers Association, in a press release. “Today, 83 percent of the population lives within 10 miles of a local brewery, meaning that the positive impact of breweries is being felt in communities all over the country.”

OK, that is pretty cool. What other stats does the BA have for us?

  • The number of breweries nationwide has now surpassed 6,000, with 98 percent of those falling under the craft banner. By the Crew’s count, 68 of those are in New Mexico, with at least six more active licenses for places that have yet to open their doors, but should in the next couple months (more on that down below).
  • All those breweries have created 456,373 jobs, a 7.5-percent increase from 2014. In turn, that has generated $67.8 billion for the U.S. economy, a 21.7-percent increase. Craft breweries in turn donated $73.4 million to charities.
  • The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act has support from both parties and will potentially pass through both houses of Congress and become law during this current session. So, yeah, I guess we will have to say that Congress will do one good thing.
  • It appears the term “beercation” is becoming more and more of a reality. The average craft beer drinker visits 3.5 breweries near home and 2.5 breweries within two hours driving distance (take note: the press release did not say whether this was 3.5 per week, per month, or per year; for the Crew, it would certainly be per week, sometimes even per day, when we are feeling frisky with our Lyft/Uber accounts). A survey by the BA found that 64 percent of craft drinkers like to visit breweries to try new beers on a regular basis. We will raise one to that.
  • The New Mexico stats on the BA website are for 2016, but they still tell a positive story. By the end of that year, there 57 breweries, ranking 26th in the country. More notably, the 3.9 breweries per capita (100,000 adults) ranks 11th nationwide. Breweries had an economic impact of $333 million (40th) or $226.26 per capita (35th). A total of 111,237 barrels (32nd) were produced, amounting to 2.3 gallons consumed per adult (21st).

Yeah, it is still a good era for craft beer. Here is hoping it continues into 2018 and beyond.

Embrace the darkness at beer bars, too

The quality of dark beers around town is straight fire.

Our friends over Rock & Brews wanted you all to know that the current dark beer lineup is fairly epic. As fun as it is to hit up the breweries first, don’t forget the beer bars, as they often pull in some exclusive styles from out of state that you can usually only get in bottles or cans.

Rock & Brews currently has Dogfish Head’s Vanilla Oak-Aged Worldwide Stout, which is otherwise a pricey purchase in four-pack bottles. The ubiquitous Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout lines up next to Worldwide. There is also the most recent iteration of the ultimate beer geek beer, Stone’s Imperial Farking Wootstout. The real surprise gem, though, is Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout. No, really, it is on tap. If that hefty price tag for a bomber is scaring you off, but you really want to know if it is worth it (we think so, but we’re biased), head over to Rock & Brews to try it first before you commit to a 22-ounce bottle or two.

Down at Sister Bar, at least as of the Gatecreeper show this past Monday (gotta say, impressive crowd showing, ABQ-area metalheads), there is still some of La Cumbre’s La Negra on tap. It has been out at the brewery for a while, so get some while it lasts (if it’s even still there, we apologize if it is gone by now).

Nob Hill Bar & Grill has a strong lineup, which you can find anytime via Untappd. The current black beasts of ahhh available are Bell’s Black Note and Kalamazoo Stout, plus 2016 and 2017 Bourbon County Brand Stout, and two old favorites in Oskar Blues Ten FIDY and Stone Xocoveza.

So much dark beer, so little time.

New breweries update

Hello to a new small town brewery!

Sticking with tradition in beer notes, here are the most recent updates on all the forthcoming breweries across New Mexico. As always, we only list breweries with pending or active small brewer licenses with the State.

  • BLUE (Albuquerque): Nothing new on this small brewery located somewhere near Broadway and Lead/Coal.
  • Bonito Valley Brewing (Lincoln): A newcomer to the list located in a small, historic town west of Roswell along Highway 380. There is a Facebook page that says the owners are aiming for a summer 2018 opening.
  • Brewstillery (Albuquerque): We still have no info on this combo operation in the Southeast.
  • Callahan West Brewery (Mosquero): The small town brewery has been in touch with the NM Brewers Guild about joining up in 2018, so it appears to be a go.
  • Cantero Brewing (Albuquerque): Now armed with an active license, the final parts of construction are underway.
  • Elkins Brewing (Grants): We have no new info on this business.
  • Glencoe Distillery and Brewery (Ruidoso): The license is active, but there is still no website that we can find, nor any social media. It remains a mystery.
  • Guadalupe Mountain Brewing (Carlsbad): The license is active here, too, and beer is now being brewed. We await the announcement of opening, which could come any week now.
  • High and Dry Brewing (Albuquerque): Construction appears to be mostly complete down near Adams and Lomas. The Crew is in touch with the ownership and we are working to set up an advance tour when they are ready.
  • Hollow Spirits (Albuquerque): Construction continues on this new combo spot in the Wells Park neighborhood. It is the brainchild of former Red Door co-owner Frank Holloway.
  • Lava Rock Brewing (Albuquerque): The West Side brewery is getting closer and closer to opening on Unser just north of Ladera.
  • Lost Hiker Brewing (Ruidoso): Yes, the license is active, now only a few final touches must be completed and there will be local beer in the mountains down south. Keep track of the progress on the Lost Hiker Facebook page.
  • 1933 Brewing (Rio Rancho): Another newcomer to the list, we have no info beyond a name and a zip code for RR. It is unknown if this brewery is related in any way to the former 1933 Brewing of Fort Collins, Colo., which closed at the end of 2016.
  • Red River Brewing: All this mild winter is not helping the ski industry up north, but it should enable RRB to finish construction and remain on track for an early 2018 opening.
  • Switchback Brewery (Cloudcroft): There is still no info online on this place. We would like to remind everyone, though, that there is a Switchback Brewing in Vermont, so a name change may ultimately be necessary.
  • Toltec Brewing (Albuquerque): The forthcoming West Side brewery took a big step by hiring a head brewer, but we have been asked not to reveal the identity of this individual just yet. Let us just say, however, that we are excited.
  • Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery (Santa Fe): There are lots of construction photos on Facebook, so it looks like a good bet to open sooner than later. The small brewer license is now active.
  • The pending licenses for off-site taprooms remains as follows — Little Toad Creek in Las Cruces (new!); Ponderosa at El Vado Motel redevelopment (getting close); Santa Fe Downtown Taproom; Starr Brothers Alehouse (location TBA); Tumbleroot in Santa Fe (they will not sell beer out of the production facility down the street). Also, the Milton’s taproom in Roswell has an active license, but it is not yet open as far as we know.

That is all for now. As always, if you know anything about anything, please drop us a line at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com or contact us via direct message on Facebook or Twitter.

Have a great weekend, and good luck with any last-minute Christmas shopping!

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