Posts Tagged ‘Icebox Brewing’

The newest brewery in Las Cruces is located in one of the older buildings in town.

Icebox Brewing might just be the most modern, and yet the most historic brewery in Las Cruces. While the brewery has only been open since January, the building it occupies has been around for more than 50 years.

General manager and co-founder Brian Weidauer said that the former home of Sierra Ice and Water at 2825 W. Picacho Ave. seemed to be a natural fit for a brewery.

“We obviously, first and foremost, enjoy beer,” Brian said. “We like the community that craft beer represents, and especially the camaraderie between all the businesses and all the breweries. The owner (John Wright) had an industrial supply business for a long time, a family business, and he recently sold that. I’ve known him for a long time, so we were working together. We paired up with (brewer) Garrett Denmark and started throwing around ideas of what we could build and what we wanted to do.” 

The connections that Wright had to the industrial community led them to a building with a long history.

“We found this building, it used to be an old ice (making) plant,” Brian said. “That’s where the name Icebox comes from. Since Miller has Icehouse, we didn’t want a cease-and-desist letter from them.“ 

Icebox is already one of the largest breweries in Las Cruces by square footage.

The first major brewery in Albuquerque was the Southwestern Brewery and Ice Company, which lasted from 1889 to 1917, and combined both brewing and ice-making. It remained open as an ice plant until the 1970s, though brewing never resumed after Prohibition.

Sierra Ice and Water was never a brewery before, and it certainly does not have a history dating back to the 19th Century, but it does make for a unique setting for a modern brewery.

“We worked hard over the past year or two to repurpose at least this front warehouse and get our brewhouse built, get all the equipment in place, get some recipes developed,” Brian said. “I think our approach to the beers is we kind of make sure most of the styles are very approachable to the general public, but also good enough for the real beer connoisseur.” 

The interior combines a comfortable vibe with the industrial aesthetic.

That approach fits the bulk of the local customers, as well as visitors from nearby El Paso, who are not as well versed in the more eclectic beer styles like people in Albuquerque and Santa Fe are used to these days.

“With the beers that we have, (I) just try to have the styles that are classic and basic, and we can continue to teach people what craft beer is,” said Garrett, who came from nearby Spotted Dog Brewing. “We want to throw some new stuff in there and start working on some kettle sours, and some of the trending beers that are out there, but we also really want to focus on what craft beer is and educate people on that.” 

Icebox has an open brewing area, visible to the entire seating area for its customers. There is a sizable patio out front, facing north toward Picacho Avenue. The bar inside is quite large, but there are plenty of tables as well. There is a small stage for music, and the SoHo food truck is permanently parked outside.

“There’s lots of room for expansion if we need it,” Brian said. “I can show you our walk-in cooler and what we did with that. We had to put everything in (ourselves). We put the sprinkler system in so we could keep the brewing equipment open (for viewing), just separated by the railing. That was very important to us. The investment was made to bring all of that in. Pretty much all of the electrical had to be redone, all the HVAC work is brand new, there wasn’t anything in here. It was kind of a shell of a warehouse.” 

The brewing area is visible from the entire seating area.

There were a few businesses that occupied the building in between the closing of Sierra Ice and Water, but none of them did much to modernize the building.

“We tried to keep the warehouse feel for sure, but make it feel comfortable enough with some little touches,” Brian said. “The big bar was part of our plan, the design from the beginning. We wanted it to be a place where people could sit and talk, make new friends.

“We have two more TVs when we originally even thought we were going to have. There was debate whether we were even going to have TVs for a long time. But, we kind of caved to the fact there’s events on from time-to-time that people are going to want to see. We put four on, but we’re tapped out.” 

Brian said the process of opening Icebox was not all that difficult in terms of dealing with the City of Las Cruces or the State of New Mexico, but he did not have a way to compare it to the struggles that many new breweries face in Albuquerque.

“I can’t relate it to Albuquerque, but I’d say the process overall was fairly smooth,” he said. “There were things we had to change to meet codes, obviously. We had a unique deal where we’re taking a pretty old building and when you repurpose it like that, you have to bring everything up to code. A lot of the things we ran into before we got our final inspection approval had to do with this particular building. It’s just the process, it takes long to come down from Santa Fe and then back to the city.” 

The storage area in the back definitely has the ice plant theme.

The immediate success for Icebox has already led the staff to make the decision to open an offsite taproom.

“We were hoping to really be into some remodeling projects and stuff by June, but it looks we’ll be July,” Brian said. “It’s public knowledge. It’s a Burger Time location up on North Main, 3231 North Main, it’s across from the Lowe’s Home Improvement, right by the I-25/Main Street exchange there.

“Over the years there used to be several neighborhood bars around that area. The liquor license laws and everything over the last 10 to 15 years, it’s disappeared. Right now you have a bar-restaurant up on Sonoma Ranch that’s pretty high up on Highway 70, (and from there to) all the way down to downtown, there’s nothing on Main Street anymore. We feel like it’s a great location for a neighborhood taproom/restaurant, just that local place to go and serve that side of town.” 

If you don’t get the joke here, there is nothing we can do for you.

The Shivering Scotsman (6.4% ABV, 24 IBU) and Black Ice Lager (5.1% ABV, 20 IBU) were both solid malt-forward beers. There are still many more to try, so rest assured that the Crew will return to Icebox on our next trip to Las Cruces.

A big thanks to Brian and Garrett for the beer and the interview on a busy day (Blazin’ Brewfest was just five hours away when we sat down).

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Welcome to Icebox Brewing, the newest addition to the Las Cruces craft beer scene.

Las Cruces is the second largest city in New Mexico, but for years, its craft beer scene was far behind Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and even some smaller towns.

There was High Desert Brewing, which had followed in the footsteps of O’Ryan’s Tavern (closed in 2000), and the Pecan Grill was contract brewing with Sierra Blanca, and that was about it. Then along came Spotted Dog Brewing, Picacho Peak Brewing, and most recently Icebox Brewing.

The north came south when Bosque Brewing opened a taproom across the street from New Mexico State, the alma mater of its owners. Bosque has since expanded to two locations in the same complex, with rumors of a third location now in the works. Silver City’s Little Toad Creek Brewing and Distilling saw an opportunity and pounced, putting a taproom on Main Street. Truth or Consequences Brewing now has plans to open a taproom in town, and Icebox is already eyeing its first offsite taproom.

Craft beer real estate is filling up fast in the city with a metro area population of 200,000 (and counting). Prior to ABQ Beer Week, when I was already in town for the Blazin’ Brewfest, I stopped to chat with representatives of High Desert, Icebox, and Spotted Dog about how their scene is evolving, how a sense of local camaraderie has already taken hold, and what the future portends.

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Get thee to Las Cruces this Friday!

There are only a few beer festivals left in New Mexico that no one from the Crew has attended. One was the Blazin’ Brewfest, but I will be heading down this Friday since it is not falling on my birthday or opposite a metal show this year (it was rather uncanny how many times that happened in past years).

This annual celebration of craft beer takes over Main Street and Plaza de Las Cruces, starting at 5 and running until 9 p.m. Tickets are still available online. General admission is $15 and designated drivers get in for $5, and they typically sell out in advance (though Guild executive director Leah Black said a few will be held back for sale at the gate), so it would be wise not to risk showing up expecting a ticket unless you arrive at the outset.

Blazin’ is a New Mexico Brewers Guild event, and it has drawn 18 breweries from around New Mexico, including all five Las Cruces breweries. Pecan Grill Brewery will be in attendance, but it does not have any beers available as brewer David Allan is currently undergoing treatment for cancer. Eight other breweries are donating beers to be sold by the pint at the Pecan Grill tent, with proceeds going to help the Allan family. Marble will be sending Passionate Gose, while Canteen, La Cumbre, Little Toad Creek, Palmer Brewery, Santa Fe, Sierra Blanca, and Steel Bender will also contribute.

There will be music from DJ D-monic and a number of food trucks on site.

As for the beer lists for the 17 breweries, here is what we have so far. If any others update us between now and the start of the festival, we will share those here.

  • Bosque: Pistol Pete’s 1888, Bosque IPA, Elephants on Parade, Scotia Scotch Ale, Open Space Haze, Pale Ryder, Sour Songs (blood orange and cranberry kettle sour), Rebble Pebble (cocoa pebble brown ale)
  • Canteen: Cabana Lager, Radiohead IPA, La Luz Wheat, Dougie Style Amber
  • Cloudcroft: TBA
  • High Desert: Mango Gose, New England IPA, Cerveza, Ekuanot Pale Ale, Peach Wheat
  • Icebox: Frostbite IPA, Black Ice Lager, Rasp-brrry Wheat, Cold-Hearted Cream Ale
  • La Cumbre: Elevated IPA, A Slice of Hefen, Acclimated APA, El Jugo, Strawberry Gose
  • Little Toad Creek: Smart Blonde Ale, Grumpy Old Troll IPA, Pendejo Porter
  • Lost Hiker: TBA
  • Marble: Double White, Double White Triple Berry, Desert Fog, Cerveza
  • Picacho Peak: Munich Helles, Bitchin Brown, Hefeweizen, Saison, NEIPH, Twisted Windmill (DIPA)
  • Red Door: Unhinged Cider, New England IPA, Vanilla Cream Ale, Irish Red Ale
  • Santa Fe: Pepe Loco, 7K IPA, Happy Camper IPA, Social Hour
  • Sierra Blanca: Alien IPA, Cherry Wheat, Green Chile Cerveza, Desert Pilsner
  • Spotted Dog: TBA
  • Steel Bender: Skull Bucket IPA, Raspberry Dynamite, Lloyd’s 3 O’Clock Kolsch, Compa Los Ranchos Lager
  • Tractor: Haymaker Honey Wheat, Blood Orange Cider, Stonewall Brut IPA with grapefruit
  • Truth or Consequences: Hot Springs Lager, Buckhorn IPA, Paddleboard Pale Ale, Irish Red

Hopefully I will see many of you at the festival. Look for me roaming about or over at the Brewers Guild tent.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Say hello to the forthcoming Thirsty Eye Brewing, under construction now at Broadway and Gold. (Photo courtesy of Thirsty Eye)

It is a relatively quiet week out there, spring winds aside, so it felt like a good time to dust off the old beer notebook.

New brewery updates

We keep waiting for the number of forthcoming breweries to dwindle down, but that has not happened yet. There are currently five breweries with active small brewer licenses around the state which have yet to open their doors, another nine with pending licenses, and a handful of places adding a brewing license to an existing business.

  • 575 Brewing, Alamogordo (pending): This new brewery is being built from the ground up, with foundation construction having commenced on April 19 at 234 W. 8th Street.
  • B2B Garden Brewery, Albuquerque (pending): We do not have any updates on this space, located on Comanche just west of Wyoming.
  • Beer Creek Brewing, outside Santa Fe (pending): Our last trip out there found that business was going well and the brewing system was finally in place. For now, stop by and enjoy a pizza, guest beers, and even some collaboration beers made at other local breweries.
  • Black Snout Brewhouse, Albuquerque (active): The Crew will be stopping in early next week, which means that this brewery is nearly ready to open its doors on Menaul just east of Juan Tabo.
  • Boogie’s Brewery and Distillery, Deming (pending): There are no new updates for this long-awaited successor to Mimbres Valley Brewing.
  • Brew Lab 101, Rio Rancho (active): The projected timetable is for a late May opening. For more info, see our last story.
  • Ex Novo Brewing, Corrales (active): The first test batches are now running in the brewery hall, while renovations continue on the adjacent taproom building across the parking lot. We expect to return soon for a final preview story.
  • La Reforma Brewing, Albuquerque (active): The goal of opening in early June in the old Bosque location, on San Mateo north of Alameda, has not changed.
  • Lauter Haus Brewing, Farmington (pending): Progress continues on this new brewery, spearheaded by former Three Rivers head brewer Brandon Beard. The fun news? They have purchased some vintage arcade games for the taproom.
  • Looking Glass Spirits & Long Lost Brewing, Albuquerque (pending): We finally dug up an address for this newcomer, which will be located at 1803 Sixth Street NW, just three blocks south of Bow & Arrow. There is still no social media with which to follow the progress, so we will remain patient.
  • Piedra Blanca Brewing, White Rock (pending): We have no updates at this time on this brewery located in the town next to Los Alamos.
  • Public House 28, Anthony (pending): Other than the fact that this newcomer has already joined the NM Brewers Guild, we have no new info. It will be located outside Anthony at 10108 Highway 28.
  • Rail Brewery, Santa Fe (pending): We have no new updates.
  • Thirsty Eye Brewing, Albuquerque (active): The Crew has made contact with the owners and we hope to make our first trip over to 206 Broadway Blvd. SE sooner than later. You can follow their progress on Facebook.
  • Turquoise Trail Brewing, Albuquerque (pending): We have no new updates on this brewery, located on Central near Juan Tabo.

In addition to those breweries with pending or active licenses, we did learn more about the mysterious Context Brewing that popped up on the Brew to Do list that we wrote about recently. It is apparently the brewery going into a space at 816 Third Street NW. Former Brewers Guild executive director John Gozigian tipped us off to a possible brewery going into that space, but again, there is no pending license yet, so it figures to be a ways off.

New taproom updates

The home of the future Truth or Consequences Brewing taproom in Las Cruces. (Photo courtesy of T or C Brewing)

Yes, there are also more off-site taprooms still in the pipeline. Because of course there are, right?

  • Blue Grasshopper, Albuquerque (pending): Located in Wells Park, we wrote on this one before, and when there is more news to share, we will head back. We assume a license for the brewery half of the building is still in the works.
  • Boese Brothers, Los Alamos (pending): Our man Reid still has not figured out where this taproom is going to be located.
  • Desert Valley, Albuquerque (active): Progress continues on Wyoming near Comanche, which is where this taproom is replacing the former Red Door spot.
  • Desert Valley, Albuquerque (pending): Wait, what? There are two DV taprooms in the works? Yes, we have now confirmed a second one is indeed happening at 5231 San Mateo Blvd. NE. Located a block south of Osuna and the next taproom listed below, this space was under construction/renovation the last time we drove by.
  • Enchanted Circle, Albuquerque (active): The last batch of construction photos show the bar is in place, and states that the taproom is about two weeks away from being ready for opening at Osuna and San Mateo, in the shopping center on the northwest corner of the intersection.
  • Icebox Brewing, Las Cruces (pending): Even though the main brewery opened only recently, an off-site taproom is already in the works, though its exact location has not been revealed.
  • Picacho Peak, Alamogordo (pending): We have no new updates on this first off-site taproom for the Las Cruces brewery.
  • Quarter Celtic, Albuquerque (active): Construction continues apace up on Juan Tabo between Menaul and Indian School, but no opening date has been set.
  • Truth or Consequences, Las Cruces (pending): Yes, T or C is heading south to Las Cruces for its first off-site taproom, as that city is suddenly filling up fast. It will be located on East Lohman, not too far west from Interstate 25.

We will do our best to keep everyone up to date on all of these forthcoming places, as well as keeping an eye on the news at the existing places. May is going to be one heck of a busy month, including the Blazin’ Brewfest in Las Cruces (which will now be preceded by the new Las Cruces Beer Week!) on May 17 and then ABQ Beer Week, which begins May 23. Throw in some expected openings from some of the places above, and there will be no rest for the weary Crew this coming month.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Head down to Las Cruces this weekend for good beer for a good purpose.

Having a charity as a component of a beer festival is a fairly common occurrence in New Mexico. Having that charity be a brewer battling cancer is not common, but that is the case at Beer for a Cause, a special festival taking place this Sunday in Las Cruces.

Pecan Grill head brewer David Allan has been diagnosed with brain cancer, and the medical bills are understandably quite hefty. His fellow brewers are joining forces to help him out by hosting the festival at Picacho Peak from 3 to 8 p.m. For those who have not been down to visit a brewery in Las Cruces, this is a good opportunity for a good cause to do so (Picacho Peak is located at 3900 W. Picacho Ave., to further help you out).

“He is not only a great brewer and mentor but a genuinely amazing person to have in your life,” High Desert brewer David White said in a press release. “Family and friends are raising money to help in this fight. … Every little bit makes a difference.”

Tickets are just $5 apiece and available at the door. The first 500 people get a commemorative pint glass. This is not a traditional no-limit sampling event, so all pints are $5, though we are fairly certain most of the beers can be tasted before you buy (ask politely). There will also be food trucks, a silent auction, and live music from Jackson Lane, The Smokin’ Blue Band, Triple Jack, and the Derrick Harris Band. All of the proceeds will go to help David in his fight against cancer.

“You should be there, because if you are lucky enough to truly call Dr. Wackadoodle Dave your friend, then you are lucky enough,” his friend, homebrewer Dennis Talley, wrote to us in an email. “I’ve called him that for years because he’s never brewed a ‘normal’ beer in his life! Just like Dave, his beers are truly unique and brewed with passion and detail. My brother without DNA.”

A total of 15 New Mexico breweries are sending one or more kegs to the event. We will update the list as more are identified.

  • Bosque: Elephants on Parade, IPA
  • Cloudcroft: Railspike Imperial Red, Sahti Finnish Ale
  • High Desert: White Walker Stout, Cerveza
  • Icebox: TBA
  • La Cumbre: Elevated IPA, A Slice of Hefen
  • Little Toad Creek: Hop-a-Long Rye IPA
  • Lost Hiker: Ruidoso Blonde
  • Marble: Double White, Cerveza
  • Pecan Grill: Peanut Butter Pecan Porter
  • Picacho Peak: Bitchin Brown
  • Ponderosa: Schwarzbier
  • Sierra Blanca: American Style Lager
  • Spotted Dog: Bier de Chien (Farmhouse Ale), and second beer TBA
  • Tractor: TBA
  • Truth or Consequences: Good Juju (American Brown Ale)

For anyone in the Albuquerque or Santa Fe areas, this is a good opportunity for a quick trip south to try some beers unique to the area, while also supporting a worthy cause.

A big thanks to Deanna Green for sending us the information and for helping to organize this festival on David’s behalf.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister