Posts Tagged ‘Hub City Brewing’

It can be fun to go outside the ABQ metro area and visit small-town breweries like Hub City in Belen.

Recently over on Facebook, the website Brew to Do shared a full list of all the active breweries in New Mexico. The goal is to give beer lovers in this state, and beyond, a checklist for some fun in-state pub crawls and road trips.

That got all of us thinking about how many of the breweries on there (87, including the as-yet-unopened Brew Lab 101 and Ex Novo, the still-not-yet-brewing-their-own-beer Beer Creek, and Context Brewing, which is planned for a spot near Third Street and Slate but does not yet even have a pending small brewer license) that we in the Crew have managed to visit.

We all pretty much have the ABQ metro area and Santa Fe covered. My only exceptions are Casa Vieja in Corrales, 1933 Brewing in Rio Rancho, and Chili Line and HoneyMoon in Santa Fe. Overall, I have now been to 58 breweries in the state, including an impromptu “why not?” trip down to Hub City Brewing in Belen on Saturday afternoon (more on that below). Other Crew members who added up their personal totals were current front-runner AmyO (62), plus Brandon (47), Kristi (44), Reid (44), Jerrad (43), Luke (41), Franz Solo (37), and Maureen (27).

This is a handy list for your future travels. (Courtesy of Brew to Do)

As a beer writer/editor, it is sort of my duty to hit up as many of these breweries as possible. I have gone on past lengthy road trips to the breweries around the Taos area, as well as the breweries in the southeastern part of the state. More have opened in those areas since my last trips, showing how easy it is to fall behind as more and more of New Mexico’s smaller towns gain breweries of their own.

Before anyone asks, here are the 25 breweries I have left to visit, though I have to attach asterisks to Abbey Brewing, since while you can visit the Monastery of Christ in the Desert in Abiquiu, you cannot drink the beer there (they formulate recipes at the monastery; the beer is brewed for distribution at Sierra Blanca in Moriarty), and as of our last check, Route 66 Junkyard Brewery in Grants was not brewing its own beer due to problems with its equipment. That might have changed. So here are the 23 places I know are brewing beer, and you can drink it there, grouped geographically for future trips.

Northern New Mexico (7): 550 Brewing, Aztec; Blü Dragonfly, Cimarron; Callahan West, Mosquero; Colfax Ale Cellar, Raton; Enchanted Circle, Angel Fire; Second Alarm Brewhouse, Jemez Springs; Taos Trail Inn, Ojo Caliente

ABQ/Santa Fe metro areas (4): 1933 Brewing, Casa Vieja, Chili Line, HoneyMoon

Southeastern New Mexico (4): Black Cock Brewery, Roswell; Drylands, Lovington; Guadalupe Mountain, Carlsbad; Hopscotch, Artesia

Southern Mountains (4): Bonito Valley, Lincoln; Cloudcroft Brewing; Lost Hiker, Ruidoso Downs; Tall Pines Beer and Wine Garden, Ruidoso

Las Cruces metro area (4): Icebox, Pecan Grill, Picacho Peak, Spotted Dog

Admittedly, that northern trip would be pretty unwieldy to do in a single run (it is far from Aztec to Mosquero), but hey, these are good goals to aim for as a beer writer, or even just a beer lover who does not write about the industry.

The little brewing system at Hub City can’t churn out beer fast enough to keep up with customer demand.

Spurred on by that list and with that aforementioned free time on a Saturday, as there were no sporting events, metal concerts, or any other beer-related events going down in ABQ, I did the 40-minute trek to Belen to check out Hub City. Like a lot of the other small-town breweries, it had its own little charm. Unfortunately, much like it was when AmyO stopped by long ago, Hub City did not have its own beers on tap. Technically, then, I will probably have to go back to count this to my total.

Owner Tom Greer and his wife Cindy told me that the 1-barrel brewing system does not keep up with the brewery’s mug club, a long list of names posted on one of the walls near the bar. Tom said every time he does have a beer ready to go, he will share it on Facebook, but the mug club gets the news a day earlier, and oftentimes they wipe out that supply overnight. Hey, it is a good thing to have that sort of loyal local following. For all of us traveling beer drinkers, we are but a tiny drop in the bucket when it comes to attendance. Still, Tom and Cindy were kind and welcoming to all of us visiting for the first time, while also taking care of a couple of their regulars who had shown up for a green chile cheeseburger special.

The little pub is located next to the Rail Runner stop in Belen. They have different events every day, be it food or music or other entertainment, and a good supply of guest taps. I am not sure how things will work out for them once the new regulations for small brewer license holders go into effect in the second half of the year, which require a minimum of 50 barrels brewed or 50 percent of all beer sales to come from beers brewed on site. Tom handles the brewing now, so he may have to upgrade his system or add some full-time help (former Bathtub Row brewer Hector Sanchez is no longer employed at Hub City).

Check out the old-school labels on the two bottles on the left, found on the Hub City shelves.

Hopefully everything works out for Hub City. It is a charming spot owned by good people. The old building is filled with all sorts of fascinating items, from some old-school beer bottles that Tom has collected over the years, to a foosball table and a record player with stacks of vinyl nearby.

So where will your next beer trip take you? We are curious among all our readers as to who has been to the most different breweries in the state. Leave us your travel records in the comments here or on social media, or drop us a line at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

I might just have to combine a Las Cruces beer tour with the upcoming Blazin’ Brewfest on May 17, in case anyone was wondering where my next destination may be, though I can always hit up those nearby places in the interim. See you around the breweries near and far.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Valencia County has its first brewery since Tractor left Los Lunas.

Before she left on an overdue vacation, AmyO and her boyfriend Dave were already down in Valencia County last weekend when they decided to stop by Hub City Brewing in Belen. The new brewery had opened in December, but none of the Crew had been able to trek down to check it out down at 202 De Soto Ave., right by the Rail Runner station.

As of right now, AmyO said there was not a whole lot report. Hub City has been serving guest beers from Santa Fe and Sierra Blanca, but it has yet to make its own beer. She was told that the hope is to start brewing in the next two weeks or so. It has been a long, complicated process just to get the joint open, so patience has been a virtue for the owner and staff, which includes brewer Hector Santana Jr., formerly of Bathtub Row.

AmyO snapped some additional photos of Hub City during her brief visit.

The interior is small but cozy.

Guest beers are already on tap.

The 1-barrel brewing system is already in place. It was developed at a test lab by Coors in Boulder.

The Crew will head back to Belen once Hub City has its own beers available, at which point we will get the full story of how the brewery came to be and what are its plans for the future.

Until then, it is back to basketball coverage for me.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Oh, it’s that time of year, when just about everyone is doing some sort of year in review, like, um, us. But, in lieu of that today, we instead present some piping-hot beer notes for you all!

Brewers Association issues annual report

Yup, it was another good year for craft beer. (Courtesy of the Brewers Association)

Yup, it was another good year for craft beer. (Courtesy of the Brewers Association)

The good folks at the Brewers Association sent us a ton of stats about 2016 for craft beer across America. Here are the highlights:

  • As of last week, there were 5,005 craft breweries in the United States. About 99 percent of those are still independent of the InBev/Evil Empire. By the count of the Crew, there are currently 68 active craft breweries in New Mexico. There are more active small brewer licenses, but some are wineries that currently do not also brew, others are places like Corrales Bistro Brewery, which keep the license in order to have lots of guest taps, but no longer brew themselves.
  • The growth rate is currently at eight percent. Sure, it’s not what it was, but at a certain point, it had to slow down. As long as it doesn’t drop into the negative, the industry is still strong.
  • Sorry, all you wild ale/sour lovers, but IPAs are still the biggest craft beer brand, accounting for about 25 percent of all sales. Everything defined as sessionable, from pale lagers to pilsners and such, has increased by 33 percent and is now responsible for five percent of the total sales.
  • Home brewers are still making an impact. Around 1.2 million people still home brew, accounting for 11,000 jobs at home-brew stores and the like. That has produced some $700 million in revenue. Considering how many brews he has made this year, Franz Solo is responsible for a good chunk of that.
  • Beer tourism is becoming such a reality that sites like Travelocity are starting to create lists pertaining to the best beer cities to visit. Albuquerque, for the record, ranks at No. 10 for large metro areas, ahead of Minneapolis and just behind Madison, Wisconsin. Portland (Ore.), Denver, and Seattle are the top three.
  • Congressional support is seemingly strong for the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act. Let us hope the recent elections did not change anything, but since this is the type of bill that could lead to more jobs, the current governmental obsession, it could pass in 2017.

The press release concluded with this: “This has been an exponentially exciting year as the beer community continues to grow and evolve. It is incredible to watch local brewers innovate and validate the new way the world views the U.S. beer scene,” said Julia Herz, craft beer program director, Brewers Association. “Much of the dialogue in 2016 centered around the craft brewer definition, who qualifies as a small and independent brewer, what independence means to beer lovers, beer quality and beer appreciation. We will renew our efforts in 2017 on behalf of our members and the beer drinkers around the world and continue to advance the amazing beverage of beer.”

Cheers to that!

Another new brewery? Another new brewery

The Rail Cafe in Belen is home to the new Hub City Brewing. (Courtesy of Hub City)

The Rail Cafe in Belen is home to the new Hub City Brewing. (Courtesy of Hub City)

The State of New Mexico has a site where all the listings for current and pending owners of small brewer licenses can be found. Among the pending was Hub City Brewing, which was supposed to be located in Belen right near the Rail Runner station. It was a pretty old application, so we just figured it was a dead project and no one had bothered to remove it.

Oh, not so fast. As it turns, Hub City is now open and making beer in the Rail Cafe in Belen, giving Valencia County its first brewery since Tractor pulled up stakes and moved to Albuquerque in early 2014. As of a couple weeks ago Hub City had six beers on tap — Helles Lager, ESB, Red Fox (European-style red ale), London Porter, Rocky Racoon IPA, Smoky Sadie (dark lager).

The Crew will head down there at some point to see what is up and how the beers taste and all that. Congratulations to everyone involved in getting those doors open. Welcome to the New Mexico craft beer scene!

As for the rest …

The other breweries with pending small brewer licenses in New Mexico are:

  • Bare Bones Brewing, Cedar Crest
  • Bombs Away Beer Co., Albuquerque (near Eubank and Lomas)
  • Drylands Brewing, Lovington
  • Hops Brewery, Albuquerque (Nob Hill)
  • Lava Rock Brewing, Albuquerque (near Ladera and Unser)
  • Steel Bender Brewyard, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque
  • Truth or Consequences Brewing

NMDSBC anniversary party is coming

You don't have to mosh with us ... but it would be a lot cooler if you did.

You don’t have to mosh with us … but it would be a lot cooler if you did.

Believe it or not, the Crew has been around since January 2012, so we decided a five-year anniversary party was a good idea. Luckily for us, the good folks at Tractor agreed, and they will be the hosts for our shindig on January 21 at 8 p.m. We brewed a Baltic porter for the event, which we are calling Vulgar Display of Porter, and have at least two bands already lined up. The Extinction and Jagged Mouth will be performing on the patio, weather permitting, or inside if it is too cold/snowy/rainy. Admission is, of course, totally free. We are hoping to have some new T-shirts for sale, plus if I am able to get things rolling, we can debut an upgraded, revamped website that night as well.

Come out and support local music, a local brewery, and hang with us. We promise, we will not throw you into the circle pit without asking first.

And, as always, if you come across any news regarding our local craft beer scene, drop us a line on social media or at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister