Posts Tagged ‘Hops Brewery’

These guys are gonna be the next brewery to open in Albuquerque this Friday!

All of us in the Crew figured we would have a nice, relaxing June after ABQ Beer Week ended. Then, a new brewery opened. And, another one. And, another one. It has left a lot of people’s heads spinning, trying to remember what is open, and what is still on deck. To help out everyone else, and maybe even to help ourselves, we present the great guide of everything that has opened since about May 20, will be open soon, and what is much further down the road.

ALREADY OPEN

Ex Novo Brewing, Corrales: If you have not been to this most excellent NM version of the popular Portland, Oregon brewery, you are missing out. Its beers are now popping up at bars and restaurants around town, and you can pick up six-packs and four-packs, but really, you should drive up Corrales road a ways and enjoy the most excellent taproom that is adjacent to the big production brewery. It is right across the street from the fire station and Corrales Bistro Brewery (which does not, alas, brew its own beer). Just please remember to adhere to the strict 30 MPH speed limit.

Enchanted Circle Brewing Taproom, San Mateo and Osuna: The Angel Fire brewery’s taproom also opened during Beer Week. They have a full kitchen, and all the beers from up north. They are tucked into the same shopping center as Amy’s Donuts, right near Cliff’s amusement park.

Blue Grasshopper Brewing Taproom, Second Street and Summer: The latest addition to the Wells Park brewing scene is almost a carbon copy of the other two Blue Grasshopper locations, and that is just fine. Enjoy a wood-fired pizza and a huge beer list (mainly guest taps). They are still working on building the brewery in the other half of the building.

Hops Brewery Taproom, Los Ranchos: Located at 7226 Fourth Street, north of Osuna/south of Paseo del Norte, this charming little spot has a lot of beer, not much parking (carpool, please), and a limited food menu, but it often has food trucks pulling up for special occasions.

Thirsty Eye Brewing, Broadway and Gold: The neighborhood pub for EDo (East Downtown) is now open, serving coffee starting at 7:30 a.m. and beer in the afternoon/evening. We got a full preview of this spot from the good group of people who have made it a reality at 206 Broadway SE.

La Reforma Brewery, San Mateo and Alameda: We got to chow down in advance of the opening of this brewery in the old Bosque taproom space at 8900 San Mateo. The taqueria food, done Mexico City-style, is excellent, the beers are tasty, and as a result we think this is gonna be a popular joint for a long time to come.

Brew Lab 101, Rio Rancho: We did a full preview a while back, but now this long-awaited addition to the RR scene has opened as of Tuesday night. Featuring beer and cider, it is just west of Turtle Mountain on Southern, past the post office and before you get to Joe’s Pasta House. Speaking of which, you can bring in food from there and other local establishments so that you do not drink on an empty stomach.

ALMOST BUT NOT QUITE OPEN

Black Snout Brewhouse, Juan Tabo and Menaul: The good news is that we will be able to move these guys to the open list as of Friday night. The grand opening is set, so make sure to head on over and tell us what you think of the beers, the space, the whole thing. One of our writers is planning on a review to run early next week, just in case you want us to test the waters first.

Quarter Celtic Brewpub Taproom, Juan Tabo: Just around the corner from Black Snout, the QC taproom is very close to opening. How close? We just got invited to a soft opening/trial run for the spot. It should be ready for everyone well before July 4 rolls around.

FURTHER DOWN THE ROAD

Among those breweries still in the planning/built-out stages are the B2B Garden Brewery, on Comanche just west of Wyoming; Turquoise Trail Brewing, on Central near Juan Tabo; Hausammann Brewhaus, on Central across from UNM; Looking Glass Spirits & Long Lost Brewing, on Sixth Street just a few blocks south of Bow & Arrow; Desert Valley Brewing’s taproom on San Mateo, just a block south of where Enchanted Circle opened; and Tractor Brewing’s taproom in Los Lunas.

Breweries outside the ABQ metro area still on the docket include 575 Brewing (Alamogordo), Boogie’s Brewery & Distillery (Deming), Lauter Haus Brewing (Farmington), Piedra Blanca Brewery (White Rock), Public House 28 (Anthony), and off-site taprooms from Boese Brothers (Los Alamos), Icebox (Northeast Las Cruces), Lost Hiker (Downtown Ruidoso), Picacho Peak (Alamogordo), Red Door (Roswell), and Truth or Consequences (Las Cruces). Oh, and then of course there are the new Bosque taprooms coming to Santa Fe and Las Cruces (yes, a third one), but those do not have pending licenses yet with the State of New Mexico.

Got all that? We will do our best to keep you continuously updated. In the meantime, enjoy the new ones, support the old ones, and just in general have fun with the vast variety of breweries that we have across New Mexico.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The new Hops Taproom in Los Ranchos is ready for its grand opening this weekend.

Now that I am back at work (yay, money), the beer news is starting to pile up, so let us get to a few pertinent items.

First, though, in a moment of self-promotion, I will be giving a free talk about the history of brewing in Albuquerque this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the Special Collections Library, which is located on the northwest corner of Central and Edith, directly across from the Artichoke Cafe. I will have copies of Albuquerque Beer: Duke City History on Tap for sale ($20, cash only), and this talk will include the story of how an Old West shootout impacted the first Southwest Brewery in 1884.

Moving along …

Here a taproom opening, there a taproom opening

We already chronicled how the third Blue Grasshopper location at Summer and Second Street opened its doors during ABQ Beer Week. It was far from alone among new offsite taprooms holding soft openings.

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Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s seven breweries, one in Los Alamos, one in Moriarty, one in Red River, and one in Truth or Consequences also joining the party.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

The weekend kicks off with the First Friday ArtWalk downtown on Friday night, with both downtown breweries participating. Boese Brothers hosts the Cruel Arts Summer Pop-up, with music from DJ Alxxs Garza, from 6 to 11 p.m. Sidetrack has Adobe Disco with DJ Eldon from 6 to 10. Grab a beer, enjoy some art, and listen to some music to kick off your weekend. Saturday is the annual Pride Parade in Nob Hill, and the Tractor taproom will be ready for the festivities. Rise & Pride kicks off at 9 a.m. with a Cider-mimosa and Michelada bar. DJ Bea will start spinning at 11 a.m., followed by DJ Nicolatron at 2 p.m. Up the street at Hops Brewery, the doors will open at 11, with all pints $1 off for anyone wearing anything Pride related. Nob Hill Bar & Grill will have one keg of Bell’s Sparkleberry on tap, too. Over at nearby High and Dry, they will be releasing the Love Bless America Citrus IPA at 6 p.m. Then on Sunday, Cantero is offering Pride Boards, a rainbow flight of special beers, for just $6.50, with all proceeds going to the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico. If there are any other events or specials at breweries in relation to Pride, please drop us a line and we will update this intro.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bombs Away is on target with version six of Hazy Chain DIPA, plus it also has a Common on tap. Bow & Arrow continues its Rad Vista Pilsner series with a batch made with Styrian Dragon hops. Boxing Bear goes big with Double Dry-Hopped Simcoe Albu-Murky Hazy IPA. Canteen has fresh batches of Irish Red and Laid Back Lager. Cantero is experiencing a Sour Grapes Ale. Ex Novo brings its popular Perle Haggard Pilsner to tap here, while also feeling a bit British with Where the Mild Things Are. La Cumbre tapped a tasty Maibock. Marble goes big with Alpha Acid Trip, a triple IPA, and Basic Brunch, a Mimosa-style beer, plus it has cans of Double White Triple Berry available. Toltec rolls in with Cascade Pomelo. Tractor adds a Gose and Stonewall Brut IPA with grapefruit.

Up in Santa Fe, Rowley Farmhouse Ales teams with Perennial Artisan Ales to release American Hero, a new pilsner.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of June 3.

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There will soon be more Hops in the Village

Posted: May 21, 2019 by amyotravel in Taproom Preview
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The future home of Hops Brewery’s Los Ranchos taproom, as teased by the brewery on Facebook.

Savvy searchers may know that Hops Brewery in Nob Hill is actually incorporated as Los Ranchos Brewing, LLC. There is a good reason for that, as Hops Brewery is finally opening a long-awaited taproom in the Village of Los Ranchos. This is a plan that has been about five years in the making.

I tracked down Jim Shull, co-owner, to ask him for some details. The taproom will be on North Fourth Street and should open sometime in June, hopefully earlier in the month. (We were asked not to share the specific address as to not bother their neighbors.) This is where they live and it will be great for them to have a neighborhood-style taproom.

It will have a “smaller bar” feel, so Jim said it will be a totally different feel from the massive space of the nearby Steel Bender Brewyard. Perhaps one of the best parts about this location is the availability of patios. The front patio should open right away, or soon after the taproom opens. There is additional room to expand and have a back patio. The taproom space also backs up to the irrigation canal trail, making it a great destination for bicyclists.

The size of the space is approximately 2,500 square feet. The seating will be about the same capacity as the location in Nob Hill, Jim said. The kitchen will have a smaller footprint, however, and they hope to rely mostly on food trucks, supplementing them with an abbreviated menu from the Nob Hill location.

The tap handles are already in place. (Photo courtesy of Hops Brewery)

The total number of taps will be 20, which will breakdown in a 50/50 split between their own beers and other local taps. Because, Jim said, there are good beers all around this town; they are not afraid to put on guest taps. It seems to work for them at the location on Central.

This will be a hop, skip, and a jump — or super quick bike ride — from my neighborhood nearby. Welcome to the Village, Hops. Or, I guess, welcome home.

Cheers!

— AmyO

We’re off to a metal show, but you should be off to indulge in the casks at Quarter Celtic.

Sometimes life leaves you with difficult decisions to make. In our case for this Beer Week, it was whether or not to stay in town or make an overnight run to Denver to see one of our favorite metal bands.

The chance to see Insomnium won out today.

For the rest of you who probably can’t make the drive up (work and all, right?), you can still make us jealous by hitting up some of the fun events today, particularly a certain mini cask fest.

Featured Event

Every day we will pick what we consider the biggest, most interesting, most unique event. This does not mean you should go to only this event and ignore the rest. All of them deserve your attention, but realistically, you can probably only attend a few. So we will make our daily pick, and you can either jump on it, or declare the Crew is foolish (we kinda are) and pick your own.

What: Mini Cask Fest. Where: Quarter Celtic Brewpub. When: 4-9 p.m. Cost: $5 per flight.

Details: Quarter Celtic will tap four special casks out on the patio. Grab a flight of all four — Pedro O’Flannigan on oak wood chips, Pedro with Mosaic hops, Crimson Lass infused with chai tea, Mor-Buck IPA double dry hopped with Azacca distilled hop cloves — and/or a pint of your favorite.

Why you should go: Two variations of a World Beer Cup medal winner? Plus the Lass and IPA? Oh, man, maybe we should turn the car around.

All the other great events

What: Rebel Donut Pairing. Where: Tractor Four Hills. When: 3-7 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Four special Rebel Donuts will be paired with four Tractor beers. Why you should go: Donuts and beer. Donuts and beer. Need we say more?

What: Marble and M’tucci’s Pairing. Where: Marble Heights. When: 5-8 p.m. Cost: $25. Details: Instead of beer and cheese, this time around it will be a tray of cured meats paired up with some delicious Marble beers. Tapped for this event are Session White, Amber, Kentucky Julep, and Rita. Why you should go: It’s rare to see M’tucci’s this far across the river, so take advantage and get some noshing in with your weekly (daily?) visit to the taproom.

What: Brain Gang Trivia Beer Edition. Where: Canteen Brewhouse. When: 6-8 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: The weekly trivia event goes with a full beer theme (of course). You can win anywhere from $10 to $25 in Canteen house cash, and it’s free to join. Why you should go: Win beer trivia to get beer money. What a brilliant concept.

What: Star Wars Themed Beer Crawl. Where: Bosque Nob Hill, Kellys Brew Pub, Hops Brewery, Tractor Nob Hill. When: 7-10 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Go full cosplay and head out from Bosque’s Public House. There will be trivia, prizes, and $1 off your first pint at each location. Why you should go: Oh, come on, you started the month wearing costumes for May the 4th Be With You, so put ’em back on and go enjoy some beer and fun.

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Got any questions, comments, complaints? Send them to nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com, or leave them here on our site, on Facebook, on Twitter (@nmdarksidebc), or on Instagram.

Enjoy yourselves out there, but please, do it responsibly.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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Victory is theirs!

When a new brewery opens up in Albuquerque, it’s only a matter of time before the Dark Side is there on the scene to report our findings back to you good folks. Well, as it turned out, this particular brewery opened up a couple weeks ago, while our editor was on the road for a wedding. Franz Solo and I were more than happy to step in and get the story on the brand new space to open up in Nob Hill, Hops Brewery.

While I waited for Franz to finish up his own brew day, I took the opportunity to chat with head brewer Ken Wimmer about himself, his beers, and the direction in which he hopes to help Hops along. But, before I get to my brief interview, I’ll start with a dad joke. “Mayan: Hey, wanna beer? Other Mayan: I’m working on this calendar, but I guess if I don’t finish it won’t be the end of the world.”

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It’s a darned comfy space inside.

DSBC: How long have you been brewing?

Wimmer: I’ve been brewing off and on since the mid-80s. And, until I took this position, like most of us, I started out as a homebrewer. I brewed in my kitchen and in my garage.

DSBC: How’d you get the gig?

Wimmer: Actually, it’s funny, someone told me this place was opening, and said, “Ken, it’s right up your alley.” I said, “Who wants to hire me?” A couple weeks later he said, “Ken, I’m not kidding. Get in there and talk to these people.” And, I said, “OK, what’s the worst that could happen? I make some good friends, and find a new place to drink some beer.” And, I brought in a bunch of my homebrews. We talked beer. I said, “This is an audition. Try my beers.”

DSBC: Before Hops, where did you work?

Wimmer: I’m a retired school teacher.

DSBC: So, you wouldn’t have a problem teaching your ways to an assistant brewer, if need be?

Wimmer: Not at all. In fact, I’ve taught several folks, here in Albuquerque, how to brew.

DSBC: Homebrewers are no strangers to inspiration. What inspired the beer list?

Wimmer: It started with the honey wheat. The owner’s wife asked for something light, easy drinking. They’re light lager drinkers. So, I developed that recipe strictly for them. And, they loved it. And, it turned out that a lot of others loved it, as well.

The Warm Scottish Nights, my Scotch Ale (was second), because I work on a pilot system. (So) before we go to a big system, I wanted to see how it would handle a big beer.

As mentioned in our preview article, Hops crafts their recipes on their pilot system, and they contract brew through Rio Bravo Brewing. Also, please take note that after Summerfest, Hops was reduced to just two of the six beers we talk about below, Honey Wheat and Chica.

DSBC: You have six of your beers on tap. What inspired the others?

Wimmer: My Chica (Pale Ale), I enjoy the aroma of hops, but I’m not big on the real high bitterness. So, I wanted to make a pale ale that had a great aroma, but wasn’t over the top on the bitterness. So, I developed Chica. And, the two main hops in that (are) Chinook and Cascade, so Chi-Ca.

“Dad Joke” is actually from a buddy of mine who brews with me quite often. He wanted to try a beer from pre-Prohibition era, and so the Dad Joke is a Kentucky Rye Common. And, so we tweaked that until we got it where we wanted it. I changed it again. I need to change it back. It’s still a good beer. It’s just not where I want it, just yet.

DSBC: Why “Dad Joke?”

Wimmer: Because it’s rye and corny of course. (Laughs)

DSBC: Ha. And what about your milk stout, The Tipsy Cow?

Wimmer: A buddy of mine was having a party. He’s a big stout fan. And, we thought, well, what can we come up with here? So, I thought, you know, I’ve been wanting to do a real milk stout, something similar to Mackeson’s. So, I really overloaded it with the lactose, and realized, you know what? That kind of worked. I thought I could always tone that back in future generations of it, but it was one of those beers that just worked on the first round.

DSBC: Let’s see, we (also) have the English bitter, The Irish Tan.

Wimmer: I’m a big British beer fan. I like the ordinary bitters. And, basically here, the closest you can get is the ESBs. A lot of the ordinary bitters that you find in this part of the world, they’re still closer to an IPA than an English bitter. So, I specifically wanted something a little more malty. Still had a nice little hop balance to it, was easy drinking, light in color, so I came up with this. I was looking at it, and said, you know, this has a nice little orange color to it … and, oooh! It’s not an Irish red, but maybe it’s a nice Irish tan.

DSBC: Which is your favorite house beer?

Wimmer: The one I just ordered.

DSBC: My favorite is the first one after a long shift. That and the next one. So, Ken, what do you have planned for Hops as you go forward?

Wimmer: Seeing what the customers want. Number one is customer service.

DSBC: Now, I know people are going to start coming in and asking for an IPA. This is Albuquerque, and this brewery is called “Hops.”

Wimmer: Oh yeah, and I will develop one, but I’m not going to compete with the big beers that you see at La Cumbre and Bosque. If I do an IPA, it’s going to be more of an East Coast style, or even a British style.

As for seasonals, we’ll have three or four standard beers, and everything else will be rotating. And, you know, some people are going to love one beer, and if it’s a great beer, it’ll stay. If it’s not, maybe it’ll disappear forever, or maybe it’ll be a seasonal that comes back only once a season.

DSBC: What did you think sets Hops apart from other ABQ breweries? Or, what niche does Hops fill?

Wimmer: I think the niche we fill is that we’re in Nob Hill, and we’ve got the whole Nob Hill vibe going. And, the bar is gorgeous.

DSBC: Not to mention a 40-tap list.

 

Wimmer: Exactly.

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Head brewer Ken Wimmer is off and running.

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Franz joined just as I was wrapping up the interview, and both of us were ready to try the beer. Franz, having the better palate than I, will walk you through the experience.

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A solid start of a flight.

So, this past Monday, after a lovely brew day making an oatmeal stout in honor of my wife’s upcoming graduation, the chance came that Luke and I were both free of commitments, and we took advantage of such a rarity and headed over to the newly opened Hops Brewery. Our luck was even better than expected as we ran into Hops Brewery’s brewer, Ken Wimmer who joined us as we enjoyed a flight of his creations. We began with their Honey Wheat, which had a light, crisp mouthfee,l and to my estimation a good gateway brew with a tasty malt base.

We ventured onward to the Chica (pale ale), which has quite nicely balanced malts, but does need a bit more whirlpool and more aroma from the hops to up the ante to the next level. In the current form it is more akin to a British pale than to an American pale ale, in my opinion. That may well change with further iterations.

Dad Joke (the name is part of a penchant for humor in this abode, which I found to be quite catching and excellent) begins sweet with rye and corn making for a solid California common, though it needs a tad more work on the finish, but a good solid start. We tend to see far too few of the California common beer style in Albuquerque, so I was pleased to find it on the initial rotation at Hops.

Next up we had the Irish Tan, an English bitter. This was spot on style, with a nice light bitter helping of hops with a sweet middle and a warm, bready finish. I’d certainly enjoy a few of these watching EPL or Bundesliga on the numerous large televisions throughout the establishment.

My personal favorite was Tipsy Cow milk stout. A blast of lactose with good, toasty aroma and flavor fills the mouth with dark goodness. Good dark roasted malts pervade and this is damn tasty all around. For 4.5-percent (ABV), this tastes closer to a 6-percent stout.

This town needs more milk stouts of this caliber, and that is a great start for Hops Brewing. Our final beer of the flight was Warm Scottish Nights Scottish ale. It begins with a sweet aroma and peated malt in the back. The flavor is sweet, then bready, then lingering notes of the crust of a Creme brûlée and smoked dark fruits. I wholeheartedly recommend a pint if this one, as well, and let it warm up a hair to release a plethora of different and distinct malty notes.

The guiding principle for the beers at Hops is British bases, and then mixing malts to achieve certain types of flavor combinations. I love that the name of the brewery is Hops and yet it’s a malt-forward brewery at least from these initial house beers. This is to Burque what Second Street is to Santa Fe, a true bit of English malty brews swimming in a sea of hop havens. This is not to say that there are no hoppy beers on tap here; quite the opposite with many local taps of quite a few of our favorite year-round hop bombs.

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Where do we recognize those chairs from? Oh, Hello Deli!

Two plus years of construction were needed to completely redo the space. This was two years very well spent, as there is a modern, yet cozy vibe to the joint. I bid you all to head over and enjoy a pint or two, and maybe catch a game or hang out on the front patio.

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Plenty of TVs for watching EPL, Bundesliga, World Cup, etc.

Well, Albuquerque, Hops Brewery has opened at long last, a true labor of love for owner Jim Shull, general manager Lauren Shull, head brewer Ken Wimmer, and manager Mario Ruiz. Ruiz, having spoken to us during the visit, told us exactly how much work went in before the brewery and bar space were up and running. It took two-plus years of construction, from ceiling to floor and wall-to-wall, as Franz mentioned above. These folks worked around the clock and built the place by hand and hard labor. Keep that in mind as you admire the well-thought-out atmosphere, which perfectly fits within the Nob Hill area. Think of the consideration that went into each detail as you enjoy one of the frothy house brews. With 40 taps, 12 or so food items planned, 10 TVs, and plenty of seating, Hops is well-equipped to become a favorite hang, a great go-to to just grab a beer. And, parking was not a problem at all, despite A.R.T. It may be a place named “Hops,” currently without an IPA, but it certainly fills a niche too often overlooked, and serves as proof that we are more than a hop across the pond away from an oversaturation point. Welcome to ABQ, Hops. To your continued success, we raise our glasses.

Cheers!

— Luke and Franz

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Luke is from Santa Fe, NM, currently living in Albuquerque. If it’s about beer in New Mexico, he, along with the rest of the Dark Side Brew Crew, will get the story.

The “coming soon” part of the sign will be removed July 1!

I’m happy to say that I have an update on what may be one of the longest anticipated brewery openings in the Albuquerque area for some time. Hops Brewery has been a project in the making for years, with a prominent location on Central Ave. in Nob Hill.

I’ll confess that I have been regularly driving by, hoping to see a sign with an opening date. This past Saturday, I was heading to lunch in Nob Hill and noticed that the front overhead door on Hops Brewery was open and there appeared to be some activity inside. After further investigation I met Austin Shull, son of Hops Brewery owner Jim Shull. Austin was kind enough to allow me to take a look around the inside of the nearly finished brewpub. I walked back past Hops again after I finished lunch down the street, and this time father and son were both at work inside. I interrupted what they were doing just long enough to get the inside scoop. I started by asking Jim to share the story of Hops Brewery to this point.   

The work is ongoing, but the finish line is in sight.

“It’s been an idea we have had for a while since the last 5 or 6 years and I had been in the restaurant business before and got out of that about a little over 15 years ago but decided that a brewery-slash-brewpub, looked like a pretty good idea,” Jim said. “So, we actually started with a location and got our brewers permit down in the village of Los Ranchos, and got through zoning and got to the point of the village trustees (telling me that) I was 285 feet away from Taft Middle School, but they had done variances before in the past. One of the trustees had a problem with it and so that ended that, which put us, of course, back to square one. You have to amend all your plans and find another place. And, at about that time this building came on the market, so we bought this building and went through the whole permitting process and planning process.”

Jim was quick to acknowledge that he can’t complain about the Central location that he ended up with, but his challenges were not yet over.

“And then we had some opposition from the neighbors, mostly the neighbors across the street,” Jim said. “That appealed our zoning decision way back when, so that stalled us for a while. We had to go through a few appeal processes and legal costs and stuff like that. And, then we finally got over that hump and then just standard building codes and that kind of stuff. So, it’s been a long haul but we are getting close. We can see daylight at the end of the tunnel for sure.”

All the equipment will be out of the way for the grand opening.

Aside from all of the legal/zoning/code challenges, the father-son team has also taken on a very labor-intensive, hands-on involvement in the building of their business.

“We’ve had some trades like dry wall guys and an electrician and that kind of stuff, but as far as we helped them do everything and then of course we would dig the trenches for the plumbing and took the plaster off the ceiling,” Jim said.

Austin interrupted, “How many tons?”  

“Ten tons, (that’s) 20,000 pounds,” Jim quickly responded.

“20,000 pounds of plaster, insulation, wiring … from the ceilings,” Austin clarified.  

OK, so then let’s get to it — what about the beer?

“We hired Ken Wimmer,” Jim said. “He’s a retired school teacher who has been brewing beer for over 25 years and really, really knowledgeable. In fact, he just got back from Scotland for three weeks, and so he’s made us six real good beers, four of which we made in-house, and then two where he went down and actually used Rio Bravo’s system along with their brewers John (Seabrooks) and Ty (Levis), and came up with something we could make a little bit bigger volume and a little bit more economical then a barrel at a time.”

Will there be food?

“We are going to have a limited food menu, 10-12 items, some appetizers, a few sandwiches,” Jim said. “I think we’re going to try opening for lunch.”

The bar will have 40 taps, 32 of which will be guest beers from other New Mexico breweries.

Drum roll please — is there an expected opening date?

“July 1 to the public, and hopefully soft openings a week to 10 days before that,” Jim said. “And, I know Ken wanted to invite you guys like before we open, just without the public here, just you guys so he can talk beer to you guys. That was one of his deals right from the get-go that we gotta do that before we open, and he’s just waiting for me to pull the trigger on when it’s time.”

Well, you don’t need to ask me twice. I didn’t think I could be any more eager to see Hops Brewing open, but after seeing the inside and talking to Jim and Austin Shull, my anticipation has only grown. Even though work inside is ongoing, the place already looks beautiful. I would describe it as being sleek, modern, and clean enough to be a trendy new bar in Nob Hill, but at the same time having the warm and inviting environment that one would expect in a neighborhood pub. The bar itself is very impressive, so impressive that it’s almost the only thing I remembered to get pictures of while I was there, with an eye-popping 40 taps.

“So, we will have 32 guest beers,” Jim said. “Of course, we will have a few New Mexico wines as well.”

I asked Jim if there was anything else he wanted to make sure he said before I let him and his son get back to work, and I think he very effectively summarized what he had spent the previous 10 minutes explaining.

“I want to apologize for the long delay,” Jim said. “It’s just it’s probably more work than anybody can imagine, and when you are trying to do 90 percent of it yourself, it even becomes longer than that. But, we haven’t skimped on anything, and we had to kind of rebuild a building even before we started.”

Thank you to Jim and Austin Shull for taking the time to talk to me, and for all of the effort they have put into Hops Brewery. The Crew wishes them the best of luck on finishing up the final touches this month. Can’t wait for more updates and, as always, we will keep you in the loop.

Cheers!

— deezbeers

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

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