Posts Tagged ‘Drylands Brewing’

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

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Oh, yeah, there is another one coming.

Farewell to Firkin, we hardly knew ye.

In case anyone missed it on social media over the weekend, the long-rumored demise of The Firkin BrewHouse and Grill came to pass, as their own Facebook page communicated the following:

To all of our loyal and wonderful customers, unfortunately I must state that the Firkin BrewHouse and Grill is closed. More info will follow with an official announcement from the owners. Thank you all for your patronage.

The Crew reached out to the owners for comment, but four days later, we have not heard back, nor do we really expect anything. Hey, it’s human nature to try to move quickly past the bad and refocus on the good. We wish them all luck in their future endeavors, whatever those may be.

It is rare these days when breweries close, though it does happen from time to time. If one counts Marble’s opening in 2008 as the start of the current boom, in that span only four other breweries — Hallenbrick, Bad Ass, Stumbling Steer, Broken Bottle — have closed in the Albuquerque area. As per usual, though, any closing creates some sort of “Is the bubble finally bursting?” type of story or comment online.

No, the bubble is not bursting.

The majority of the breweries in the ABQ area are doing just fine, thank you. None of them have had the type of ugly ownership dispute like Firkin did. When four people open a brewery, and it becomes two versus two before even six months have passed, it is not a good sign, needless to say.

Of course, there are plenty who would argue that Firkin was doomed from the beginning. It seemed to have everything lined up against it.

For a new brewery to succeed, it usually needs to be A) in a heavily foot-trafficked area such as downtown or Nob Hill, B) on a major commuter thoroughfare, C) in a brewery-laden area, but offering up something different beer-wise (not just theme-wise) than the other breweries in this area, or D) in an area with no other competing breweries. Comparing it to other breweries that opened in early 2016, Sidetrack is succeeding because it is downtown. Bow & Arrow is succeeding because lots of folks drive up and down 6th Street. Dialogue is succeeding because of its unique beer lineup. Starr Brothers is succeeding quite a ways away from any other notable brewery.

Firkin, on the other hand, was on an isolated street that did not connect to either nearby Comanche or Candelaria, in an industrial area with two award-winning powerhouse breweries (Canteen and La Cumbre) while offering up nothing particularly different in terms of its beer. Conceptually, a Prohibition era-themed brewery was not a bad idea, it was just located in the wrong place. That led to money problems, which led to the ownership dispute, which ultimately led to its untimely demised.

Albuquerque is still a metro area of 900,000 people with some 30 breweries. No, it does not have a great business rating, or a high per capita income, but there are still room for more breweries, and there will be more growth from the existing breweries.

Craft beer in New Mexico is just fine. This is just another minor blip on the screen.

New breweries update

Hops Brewery now has signage up on the front of its Nob Hill location on Central just west of Carlisle. We will head over there to talk to the owner when someone (me) is done submitting the final images and pages for a certain book.

Beer and a movie, anyone? (Photo courtesy of Flix Brewhouse)

Beer and a movie, anyone? (Photo courtesy of Flix Brewhouse)

Flix Brewhouse is still under construction on the West Side, but they have begun brewing their first batches of beer. Brewer Will Moorman and I have been in touch and once other parts of the building are done in about two weeks, the Crew will take a tour of the forthcoming movie theater with its own brewery. As for the beers we could make out from the labels on the Facebook photo of the taps, Satellite Red IPA, Lupulus IPA, Luna Rosa Wit, Umbra Chocostout, 10 Day Scottish Ale, Golden Ale, and Beer of the Dead (Brown Ale) appear to be on deck.

Blue Grasshopper told us that they hope to have their new taproom, on Coors north of Montano, open before the end of the year. We will have more on this for their upcoming entry in our Look Back/Look Ahead Series, which should be kicking off soon.

Drylands Brewing is now officially under construction in Lovington. Southeast New Mexico is still devoid of craft beer outside the existing places in Artesia (Desert Water and The Wellhead), Carlsbad (Milton’s), and Portales (Roosevelt). It is a little bit surprising that Lovington, best known as the hometown of Brian Urlacher, is getting a brewery before the much larger Hobbs or Roswell, but maybe the small town realized the value of beating those bigger towns to the punch.

Quick beer reviews

Again, if you are not following us on social media, you might have missed all the new beers I was able to get to this weekend. More await, of course, but there were too many intriguing newbies, old favorites, and a special one-off to not get out on the town.

A barrel-aged Scotch ale was sighted amid the chaos at Palmer Brewery's grand opening.

A barrel-aged Scotch ale was sighted amid the chaos at Palmer Brewery’s grand opening.

As always, these are my opinions, I am fully aware others may think the exact opposite. Please share your own thoughts on these beers once you have tried them as well.

  • La Negra, La Cumbre: This is the best version of the barrel-aged imperial stout yet. Grab two bombers, one to drink, one to age. Creamy yet boozy yet smooth yet thick, it is a wonderful batch.
  • Cockness Monster, Palmer: The grand opening was a zoo on Saturday, but luckily just as I walked inside I ran into brewer Rob Palmer. He poured me a 13-ounce glass of the rum-barrel-aged version of his Scotch ale. The rum did not overpower the beer, nor the other way around. It just blended beautifully, a good sipping beer amid the chaos. Congrats to Palmer on the opening.
  • Nitro Chai Chocolate Porter, Nexus: Before dinner arrived, I made sure to sample this fresh batch. The good news is the chai does not drown out the beer. On nitro, though, the beer almost came off as a little too thin on the mouthfeel. I would love to try it on CO2 some day. (Hint!)
  • Turkey Drool, Tractor: This is an annual fall favorite, and oh lordy, it did not disappoint. It starts off subtle, then does a mini-circle pit of spices and flavors on your palate. Let it warm just a tad for full effect. As someone else said, it’s everything good about Thanksgiving dessert in a glass.
  • Vanilla Mocha Double Porter, Red Door: Coffee! So. Much. Coffee! At least at the outset, so this is another one to let warm up a bit. The vanilla and mocha flavors are there, too, but the coffee is strong as can be. If nothing else, the small pour had me wide awake in time for that freaky storm to finally reach the brewery from the Lobo football game.
  • Clark IPA, Quarter Celtic: Before venturing off to help Franz Solo brew a beer (and by help I mostly mean stand there and drink and comment on our football teams’ terrible outings), we both visited QC for their New England-style hazy IPA. Breweries like Trillium, The Alchemist, and more have made this juicier, less bitter style of IPA quite popular in the Northeast, and now QC has brought it to the Southwest. We adored this beer. If you have loved some of the sweeter, maltier IPAs that Bosque has been specializing in of late, you will love this, too.

Now, if the breweries would just slow down a bit on releasing these outstanding beers so I can catch up … they won’t, will they? A beer writer’s work is never done.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister