Posts Tagged ‘Steel Bender Brewyard’

Day Three will show you no mercy, but it will show you plenty of fun.

After Friday’s events, we can understand if some of you want to take it easy today.

Beer Week, though, has no concept of mercy, because it’s gonna be a big one. The 505 Collaboration beer is releasing all over town, O’Niell’s is throwing a Beer Olympics, Santa Fe is having a party, Rio Bravo is having a music festival, the Hash House Harriers are running amok, there’s food pairings everywhere … back on your feet, people!

There is fun to be had.

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: Beer Olympics. Where: O’Niell’s Juan Tabo. When: 1-5 p.m. Cost: $10 per player.

Details: I stopped by O’Niell’s a while back to ask them about this fun-looking event. Basically it involves teams of four people, each with a special skill to win one of four events. There will be trivia, so take your most knowledgeable beer geek friend. There’s cornhole, and we’re sure you have that one friend who just dominates that game. There’s an obstacle course, which will be similar to bussing tables, so take your friend with the most server experience. Finally, there will be a mini-keg toss, so take your friend who’s either from Scotland or just spends a lot of time at the gym. There will also be beer specials from four Colorado breweries — Boulder Beer, Left Hand, New Belgium, and Oskar Blues.

Why you should go: Sure, you can just sit around and drink beer all day, but why not put your talents to use in a better way? (And still drink beer while doing it.)

All the other great events

What: Candemonium Charcuterie with Upslope. Where: M’tucci’s Italian. When: 11 a.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Stop by and get cans of different Upslope beers paired with different charcuterie offerings. This is an all-day event. Why you should go: Fuel up before everything else starts.

What: Odell Special Tapping. Where: Gecko’s (both locations). When: 11 a.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: St. Lupulin Extra Pale Ale shall be tapped and there will also be pint glass giveaways. Why you should go: Holy hops bless you to start the day.

What: Santa Fe Brewing ABQ Beer Week Bash. Where: Green Jeans Farmery. When: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: All of Green Jeans will be permitted, so grab your beer and wander about, but the biggest party is on the SFBC rooftop deck where Chef Marie Yniguez of Bocadillos will be overseeing a cookout. There will be live music from Eugene (5-7 p.m.) and Garry Martin Beasley (8-10 p.m.), with lots of special tappings and giveaways. Watermelon Mountain Ranch will also be on hand looking for good homes for rescued pets. Why you should go: Feast, dance, drink, and maybe even find a new best friend.

What: 505 Collaboration Beer Release. Where: Bosque, Boxing Bear, Broken Trail, La Cumbre, Marble, Ponderosa, Quarter Celtic, Red Door, Starr Brothers, Steel Bender, Tractor. When: All day. Cost: No cover charge. Details: The annual release of this Brewers Guild benefit beer is upon us! A team of ABQ brewers got together at Steel Bender last month to create a Golden Strong (8.74% ABV, 25 IBU) that will rock your world. Why you should go: Celebrate collaboration and help raise funds for the Guild.

What: Passing the Torch Festival. Where: Rio Bravo. When: 1-7 p.m. Cost: $12 for adults, $8 for ages 12 and under. Details: The RBBC patio will become a music fest as The Big Spank, Keith Sanchez and the Moon Thieves, Red Light Cameras, and Le Chat Lunatique perform. There will be food trucks, live art, craft vendors, a kids tent, and more. It all benefits the NMARB youth music program. Why you should go: Support local music, both what’s here now and the talent coming up through the pipeline.

What: Pig Roast and Marble Special Tapping. Where: Freight House. When: 1-10 p.m. Cost: $15 per person. Details: Head up to Bernalillo and enjoy a whole pig roast, with Marble providing a special keg of a one-of-a-kind beer. Why you should go: Explore the mystery of the beer and feast.

What: Founders Sampling. Where: Jubilation. When: 2-4 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Sample a slew of new Founders beers, including Doom, a barrel-aged imperial IPA. There’s also a chance to enter a giveaway for a counter-top grill. Why you should go: Free beer! Free stuff!

What: Hash House Harriers Brewery Run/Walk. Where: Canteen Brewhouse (starting point). When: 2-7 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Join our friends Matt and Dana (of Babes in Brewland fame) as they lead the HHH team and folks of all running/walking skill levels on a 5-kilometer trek to breweries starting at the Canteen on Aztec. Why you should go: Get some exercise with your beer today, just remember to wear lots of sunscreen.

What: Beer and Tapas Pairing. Where: Ponderosa. When: 4-7 p.m. Cost: $7. Details: A different beer and tapas pairing will be available each day. Why you should go: You need some food in your belly to go with all this beer.

What: Family Style Dinner featuring Upslope. Where: Eclectic Urban Pizzeria and Tap House. When: 7 p.m. Cost: $25 per person. Details: Get a full meal of delicious food paired with Upslope beers. There will be live music by Anna Rudolph. Why you should go: It’s not like you actually want to make dinner tonight, right?

What: Mother Road and Tractor Collaboration tapping with Le Chat Lunatique. Where: Tractor Wells Park. When: 7-11 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: The two breweries made two beers, an Altbier and a Double IPA, and now we all get to enjoy them while grooving along to some gypsy jazz. Why you should go: Great music and new beers to try.

* * * * *

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The silo alone is hard to miss at Steel Bender.

This past Friday featured one of the better perks that comes with writing about beer, namely getting to experience a brewery before it opens to the general public. Steel Bender Brewyard welcomed four members of the Crew and representatives from multiple local breweries in for a special soft opening, giving all of us an advance look, and taste, at the first brewery in the Village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque.

We will say, right off the bat before anyone asks, that there is no firm grand opening date yet. Steel Bender will announce it, hopefully this week, and the Crew will make sure to share that information. Right now they are waiting on the completion of the main driveway off Second Street. The brewery is located along the west side of the road, which as many know is paralleled by a small drainage ditch. A much larger bridge/driveway had to be built for the brewery to accommodate multiple vehicles passing over the ditch, and construction is not yet complete.

For all of us on Friday, we had to come in via Fourth Street and a narrow alleyway, but upon arrival we were greeted by one of the largest parking lots of any brewery in town (go ahead and rejoice just at this fact). The brewery itself is located on the east end of the development, all of which is owned by the Chant family. Steel Bender will serve as the anchor tenant for what they hope will become a focal point for the entire Los Ranchos community.

The simple exterior of the building’s north-facing side.

Facing east and with a great view of the Sandias in the distance will be the brewery patio. The outdoor bar, which will have its own set of taps, was not yet finished, and the patio furniture was not yet in place as well. Two nice cornhole boards had arrived (they light up at night), so there will be some games to play outside where people can gather.

Inside the building was an impressive combination of stylistic designs, mixing metal, brick, and wood. The ceilings were high, but the sound was never overwhelming. The bar sits at the center, with plenty of seating wrapping all the way around it. There are separate tables and booths on all sides as well. There is even an expansion area on the south end, with pseudo-garage-like doors that can be pulled down to make it into a private dining area. Overall, the taproom had a warm, inviting feel to it. The staff, many of whom you will probably recognize from other breweries, were top-notch and able to handle the sudden onrush of thirsty brewers and beer writers.

The bright and inviting interior of the taproom.

There is a solid menu of pub food, with burgers, chicken, salads, appetizers, and more. Brew Crew Bullpen member Tom and I both got the pulled pork sandwich, whose sauce was made with the Blue Bullet Stout. The flavor was different than, say, the Piggly Wiggly at Canteen, but it was equally good and stands on its own. The fries were also on point as a side.

As for the beer, five of the six house beers were on tap, plus the two collaboration beers that Steel Bender has already brewed — Steel Maverick, a Belgian-style red made at Marble (natch), and Steel Can Porter, an American porter made over at Canteen. The other five included the aforementioned Blue Bullet Stout, an Irish dry stout available on CO2 and nitro, as well as the Lloyd’s 3 O’clock Kolsch, The Village Wit, Sparkfitter Amber, and Skull Bucket IPA. Only Red Iron Red was not quite ready for its debut, but it should be available by the time of the grand opening.

The Kolsch was quite tasty, and should be a winner with the warm summer months coming up. The Wit was popular as well with the crowd, while the other house beers drew mixed reviews. I enjoyed the IPA more than others, while the stout came up a little short for me. Of course, these are all the first batches, and with a brewer of the quality of Bob Haggerty, we expect they will improve quickly as he dials everything in on the system and hones in his recipes.

Well, hello there, inaugural flight!

Speaking of Bob, once we were finished stuffing our faces and talking to the many, many people we knew as they milled about, he took us on a tour of the brewery, starting in his barrel room. The small space is located on the west side, with a 60-60 feature, namely that it will always be kept at 60 degrees and 60-percent humidity, Bob said with a wide smile. He already had some barrels that he purchased from his old friends at La Cumbre, namely the brandy barrels that just recently held this current batch of Gracias Por Fumar.

“These will probably end up with a brett stout in them, I’d guess,” Bob said. “I’m a fan mostly of wine barrels. I like to brew with wine barrels. I’m not much of a spirit guy with beers. I think most of the time spirits overpower what I’m trying to do with the beer. When it’s done well, it’s really good. … But, I just don’t care for that. These will probably be for the stout and I’m going to put them against the wall in the expansion space. I’m going to line those walls with barrels, so that’s going to be sort of my brett room. Anything that’s just brett is going to sit there for about three months.”

There be barrels here, just waiting to be filled.

As for the barrel room, expect some even funkier creations to be in the works.

“This is going to be for more of the multi-culture sour beers,” Bob said. “My ambition, and I hope to be able to do this, is to do a gueze-style beer. I want to do a one year, mix it with a six month, mix it with fresh, put it in a bottle, let it ferment for six months in the bottle and that’s it.”

Needless to say, the only person more excited than Bob at this point may have been our friend Karim.

We moved into the main brewery room, which is still all bright and shiny.

Where the magic happens.

“Here it is, a 15-barrel Premier system,” Bob said of his brewhouse. “I’ve got three 15-barrel (fermenters) and a 30. The silo is right outside that door. I just decided on my base malt, so we’re just about to fill it up.”

Bob also just had his keg washer arrive, which should help with all the kegs he purchased from La Cumbre. Those will eventually have the Steel Bender logo on them.

For those who need a reminder of Bob’s background, he was originally a chef living in Maine when he decided he needed a change. He started working at Oxbow Brewing, and after the owner/brewer was injured in an accident, Bob said he had to take over. When Mrs. Haggerty took a job at the University of New Mexico some time later, Bob found employment at La Cumbre.

“I was at La Cumbre for about two-and-a-half years,” he said. “Then I had a chance to start (a new brewery), so I left, but that failed to launch. I started talking to the Chants, but it was too far out. So, I hooked up with Ponderosa and was there for a few months, and then I found out when this was really going to happen, I jumped at the chance. I took a couple months off to spend with my family (first), and then it’s been nose to the grindstone here since October.”

Our tour guide for the evening, Mr. Bob Haggerty.

Bob was extremely impressed by how Ethan and Shelby Chant have put everything together.

“One of the coolest things about this place is that everything was kept in house,” Bob said. “The Chants built this. They brought everyone, we’ve got plumbers, electricians, and metal workers, they’re all here, not contractors. This is the anchor for the development. When they were building the place, this was what they wanted. This is the building they’re going to use to shop it out. Hey, we can do anything. We just set up a brewery. You look at all the work here in here, it’s so clean. The workmanship is so awesome. All the overhead stuff is done well.”

That includes leaving room for additional tanks.

“We’ve got room for three more, we’ve got three more stubs there,” Bob said of adding fermenters. “So I think what we’ll do, as business picks up, is pull one of those 15s, put a 30 in its place, put two more 30s, and a 30 bright. That will enable us to package.”

Ah, yes, packaging, the biggest question breweries find themselves having to ask earlier and earlier these days.

“It’s just one of those things, the market is what the market is,” Bob said. “There’s lots of people getting into distribution. If this taproom is booming and we’re making good money, why the hell would we get into distributing?”

For now, the beer will be just available off this rather awesome tap system.

Initially, at least, it will not be about six-packs of cans or bottles, or mass producing the house beers for packaging and distribution to all four corners of New Mexico.

“My first thought was having the 750-(milliliter bottles) and 500s,” Bob said. “I’m a Belgian guy, I love Belgian styles. This is my first round. Everything that’s happening right now is the first round to get people (in the door). This is the first draft, but my passion is really for esoteric styles, Belgian stuff. I don’t brew to style.”

The more general house beers will always be available, but ultimately, the goal is to give the beer at Steel Bender a different identity than what is found elsewhere in town.

“There’s so much going on here in Albuquerque, that if you don’t come in with a niche, if you don’t come in with an angle, then you’re going to compete (directly) with Boxing Bear and La Cumbre and Marble,” he said. “You’ve got to come in with your own thing and I’m kind of looking at that as my thing. We’ll see where it goes.”

If the brewery does end up being a huge hit, Steel Bender has a fair amount of flexibility when it comes to future expansion.

“This is the anchor of the development,” Bob said. “There are, I think, four more pads. There are three more pads that need to be built first, then the fourth is being reserved to see what happens here. The fourth one is about 14,000 square feet right behind us. If this goes well, we’ll see what happens next.”

A forward-thinking, well-planned brewery is just the kind of newcomer we want to see joining our local scene.

It’s called Steel Bender, so yeah, it’s pretty metal.

All of us in the Crew who attended the soft opening — myself, Luke, Julie, and Tom — would like to thank the Chants and Bob for the invitation and the hospitality. The food and beer were top-notch for a brand-new place, and the overall atmosphere is warm, welcoming, and above all, fun!

As soon as Steel Bender has its grand opening, the Crew will be back for more. After all, combined with Bosque to the east and Boxing Bear to the west, it forms what Luke has already dubbed “The Beermuda Triangle.” We can see ourselves getting lost here quite often.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The brewers at Starr Brothers were all too happy to receive the official NMDSBC Stout Challenge trophy.

The brewers at Starr Brothers were all too happy to receive the official NMDSBC Stout Challenge trophy.

Every now and again, a story, even a short one, slips through the cracks. A few weeks back, I visited Starr Brothers and got a quick tour of the brewery’s expansion, took some photos, and I completely forgot to post anything.

Time to rectify that. As noted in our Look Back/Look Ahead Series story, Starr Brothers has expanded into the space next door, knocking out the wall in order to expand their brewing area. The photos I took should show most of it, but basically head brewer Rob Whitlock has a lot more room to maneuver. They have added multiple tanks, and have a second, larger walk-in cooler that will be used for distribution. Yes, Starr Brothers is sending kegs to other places now, though there are no plans to move into canning or bottling (at least not yet).

The pictures will tell the rest of the story.

The new walk-in cooler is quite a bit larger than its predecessor.

The new walk-in cooler is quite a bit larger than its predecessor.

More fermenters? Yup.

More fermenters? Yup.

starrbrothersexpansion3

There is still a lot of open space back there for future expansion.

If this all means Rob can keep Foggy Monocle, the oatmeal stout that claimed top honors at the Crew’s 2017 Stout Challenge, on tap at all times, then everyone wins. See how much the official Stout Challenge trophy makes Rob smile up above? Yeah, a good stout does that for us.

Desert Valley moves west

One of the forthcoming breweries in Albuquerque is taking over some familiar turf. Desert Valley Brewing, which is associated with the same folks who own The Craftroom and Sandia Hard Cider, is moving into the brewing space that never was for The Stumbling Steer.

The Steer fizzled out in 2015, with the building then taken over and chopped into different storefronts. Part of the restaurant area became Vernon’s Open Door, but financial problems eventually sank that operation, much like the Steer before it. The brewing area, which was never put into service before the Steer’s demise, was supposed to have become a brewery that would serve its beers via all the various Vernon’s and Wise Pies properties, but that idea never got off the ground. Now, finally, an actual brewery is moving to take over that portion of the property.

The restaurant portion of the building is being taken over by the owner of Matanza, though whether he will open a west-side version of the popular Nob Hill eatery/beer bar, or try a new concept, is unclear right now.

For now, Desert Valley’s small brewer license is still listed as pending on the State of New Mexico’s website, and it is unknown how long it will take them to get things running out there (for instance, we don’t even know how much of the brewing equipment is in place, or if some may need to be added, replaced, or repaired). Rest assured, we will try to touch base with the team behind Desert Valley and learn more.

Updating the rest of the newcomers

They're not gonna open small in Los Ranchos. (Courtesy of Steel Bender)

They’re not gonna open small in Los Ranchos. (Courtesy of Steel Bender)

There are seven other breweries with pending licenses in varying stages of development, plus one more about to open.

Steel Bender Brewyard in Los Ranchos already has their license approved and has begun brewing. They still project a mid-March opening and should have an announcement shortly as to the exact date of their grand opening. At least two notable brewers have stopped by to look around, and both came away quite impressed. The Crew will be visiting Steel Bender as soon as there are beers to taste and everything is relatively settled.

As for the other seven, we have no new updates on Bare Bones Brewing (Cedar Crest) or Bombs Away Beer Company (Albuquerque). The magic of social media has informed us, via lots of pictures, that the buildout is underway for both Drylands Brewing (Lovington) and Truth or Consequences Brewing.

Lava Rock Brewing, the new project from former Firkin Brewhouse brewer Aaron Walters, is moving along on the west side on Unser north of Ladera. The aim is still for a summer opening.

We had not heard anything new on Hops Brewery in Nob Hill until a recent visit to another brewery revealed that Hops was now buying grain and getting ready to brew its first beers. The long-delayed project may finally be nearing its opening, but as Hops still does not have any website or social media accounts, that is all we know for now.

Finally, a new name to file away, Glencoe Distillery & Brewery, which is set to open a few miles east of Ruidoso. The original newspaper story did not mention brewing, so our guess is that was added later on to the plan. Hey, it works for Broken Trail up here, maybe it will work in the mountains down south, too.

For every opening, a closing

Twisted Chile gives Socorro its first in-town brewing operation in years.

Twisted Chile will be bidding farewell soon, though a new owner could bring it back eventually.

OK, not quite, but there have been a couple brewery closings of late. For those that missed it on social media or in The Week Ahead in Beer last week, Twisted Chile will be closing its doors in Socorro. After originally listing April 1 as the grand finale, March 25 will now be the end of the line, at least for the current owners. The brewery name, recipes, and food menu are for sale right now, but in a twist, the brewing equipment is actually owned by the property owner.

Yes, Albuquerque Brewing is closed. We have most of the story as to why, but they have asked us to withhold sharing any of it until all the legal issues are cleared up.

We have still not received word as to when Pi Brewing expects to reopen. The repairs to the outer wall, damaged by a car way back on New Year’s Day, have taken a lot longer than anyone expected. Rest assured, though, Pi will be back.

National IPA Challenge update

No brewery in America has ever pulled off back-to-back victories.

There will be no three-peat for Bosque, but other New Mexico IPAs are still in the running.

The National IPA Challenge, put on every year by The Brewing News, is well underway. Two of the four brackets have concluded, Session IPA and Specialty IPA. The latter saw Dialogue Brewing’s Belgium Citrus IPA reach the finals, and even though it lost to 42 North Brewing’s White Oak Borderland IPA, it was still a heck of an accomplishment for a brewery that isn’t even six months old.

As for the big brackets, the sizable New Mexico contingent in each has been whittled down. There are only 16 beers left, with two from our state left in the Imperial IPA bracket and three in the regular IPA bracket.

The last two imperial entries are Bosque’s Moon Cannon and Second Street’s Imperial IPA (both of which are currently available on tap, FYI). Moon Cannon will face Knee Deep’s Lupulin River, while Imperial IPA takes on Two Roads’ Two Juicy. If both advance to the quarterfinals, they will face each other.

As for the main bracket, Bosque’s back-to-back reigning champion Scale Tipper was knocked out in the third round by another hop powerhouse, Fat Heads’ Head Hunter IPA. The survivors from New Mexico are Quarter Celtic’s Clark, La Cumbre’s Project Dank, and Boxing Bear’s Bear Knuckle. If they all advance to the quarterfinals and move on from there, New Mexico could end up with three of the final four. It will not be easy, however, as Clark takes on Lawson’s Finest Liquids’ Hopcelot IPA, Project Dank battles Flying Bison’s Buffalo IPA, and Bear Knuckle goes paw-to-toe with Sunriver’s Vicious Mosquito, which knocked out Dialogue’s Centennial IPA back in the second round.

We also got this fun little statistic from Boxing Bear’s David Kim: “Some fun data to show just what NM is doing year after year in this competition. From 2014-2017 NM has had more beers reach the round of 16 (14 beers) than any other state. Oregon is second with 13, California is third with 11, and Ohio is fourth with 7 beers. All other states had no more than 3 beers reach the “sweet 16” of this competition.”

We’ll just go ahead and change the state slogan to “The Land of Hopchantment.”

Sampler tray

  • No news is good news, right? We are still waiting to find out when House Bill 398, the companion piece to the defeated Senate Bill 314, is going to be heard in committee. This legislative session is nearing its end, so plenty of political fireworks remain. Rest assured, the minute we know something, you will, too.
  • For those who say the Crew is too focused on Albuquerque and Santa Fe, we hear you. Look for a story on Farmington’s Three Rivers Brewery in the near future, plus we do intend to hit up lots of other breweries, new and old, in the coming months, from Roosevelt in Portales to Milton’s in Carlsbad to Enchanted Circle in Angel Fire, and as many others as our schedules allow.
  • Word on the street, and social media, has plenty of collaboration brews coming up in the next few weeks and months. Steel Bender has brewed with Canteen and Marble, while Chama River and Nexus have something new coming soon. Marble, in fact, is putting the word out to breweries around town to come brew together at the Northeast Heights location. We would almost think brewmaster Josh Trujillo is bored or something, but at the rate he keeps churning out awesome new seasonals, that can’t possibly be the case.
  • We will have a full preview of La Cumbre’s Cask Ales Festival on Thursday. Also, the early reveal of the Albuquerque Beer Week schedule is almost upon us. It kicks off May 25.

That is all for now, or at least all I can remember. If anyone out there has beer news, notes, and tips to share, contact us via social media or at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

We gotta admit, Dialogue Brewing just looks like it will be another cool place to hang out. (Photo courtesy of Dialogue Brewing)

We gotta admit, Dialogue Brewing just looks like it will be another cool place to hang out. (Photo courtesy of Dialogue Brewing)

We have been doing our best to keep track of all the forthcoming breweries around town. Recently, we have been lucky to get first-hand updates on the progress of Steel Bender Brewyard and Colfax Ale Cellar in Raton. In addition, Ale Republic has opened in Cedar Crest and Rowley Farmhouse Ales is now open in Santa Fe. There are still a few that remain, which we have divided into three categories as per the status of their application for a small brewer license from the State of New Mexico.

Approved licenses

In addition to the aforementioned Colfax Ale Cellar, the following breweries are good to go as far as the State is concerned, all located in Albuquerque — Dialogue Brewing, Flix Brewhouse, and Hops Brewery.

Dialogue, located on 1st Street and Kinley (just five blocks north of Marble), is the furthest along of the group. Their Facebook page is a great way to keep up to date on their progress. They appear to have finished the buildout and have begun brewing their first beer(s). We hope to get over there, possibly next week at the earliest, and get you all the final scoop.

Come on, Flix construction crew, get it ready for Rogue One! (Photo courtesy of Flix Brewhouse)

Come on, Flix construction crew, get it ready for Rogue One! (Photo courtesy of Flix Brewhouse)

Construction is continuing at Flix, the movie theater with its own brewery, located on the West Side at Coors and La Orilla (two lights north of Montano). They are still projecting to open by the end of the year, with the aim of being ready in time for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in December. We do not know who the brewer will be, or what beers they will serve (word is they serve house beers and other local brews at their other locations around the country). Hopefully they reach out to us in the near future so we can fill in the blanks.

As for Hops Brewery, well, the last we heard in an Albuquerque Journal article back in April was that it was planning to open in Nob Hill over the summer. Well, we are past Labor Day and there is still no sign they are opening. Hops still has zero online presence — no website, no social media of any kind — so it has been tough to learn much more about them.

Colfax said they were hoping to be open by the time the Crew is driving to and from the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Oct. 6-8. The last set of pictures posted at the end of August on their Facebook page showed the brewing area is nearly complete as far as construction goes, but they still have to start making beer. We will try to stop by regardless, probably on the way back if Brandon goes through with his insane “let’s leave at 4 a.m.” plan for the 6th.

Pending licenses

These breweries are at different stages in the process, but all still await their licenses. They are Bombs Away Beer Co., Drafty Kilt, The 377 Brewery, Truth or Consequences Brewing, and the aforementioned Steel Bender Brewyard. All but TorC are located in Albuquerque.

We will be visiting next week! (Image courtesy Drafty Kilt Brewing)

We will be visiting next week! (Image courtesy Drafty Kilt Brewing)

Drafty Kilt is the furthest along of that group. How far? Brewer/owner Mike Campbell, formerly of Cazuela’s and Tractor, called me Thursday and said they are brewing their first beer next week. I will of course be heading over there to check out the place, while also getting some info on the old days from Mike for that ABQ beer history book I am writing. Drafty Kilt is located at 4814 Hardware Dr. NE. Hardware runs north-south between McLeod and Lumber, just west of San Mateo. Lumber is the street you would turn down to go to the Movies 8 for $1 flicks on the weekend.

At last check with brewer Lyna Waggoner, The 377 is still a ways away. The brewery, located near Yale and Gibson, is still in the process of buildout while awaiting all the necessary licenses and permits. They did have some beers ready for the Mountain West Brew Fest last weekend. Alas, none of the Crew was able to make it up to Bernalillo to sample those.

Now that is a distinctive logo. (Image courtesy of Truth or Consequences Brewing)

Now that is a distinctive logo. (Image courtesy of Truth or Consequences Brewing)

TorC Brewing is a long ways off, but the owners remain hopeful it will not take too long to get things ready once the various state, federal, and local permits come through. We are in contact with them on Facebook, so we should be receiving updates when they have something to share.

As for Bombs Away, well, we still have nothing but a name and a vague idea of where they might be located in zip code 87123. That area is bordered to the west by Wyoming, north by Lomas, east by the Sandia Mountains, and south by Kirtland Air Force Base. Considering the name, we expect it may be located either close to the base or near the Four Hills community. If anyone out there knows anything about Bombs Away, please contact us.

Still just rumors

Things are fairly quiet out there as far as breweries that are pure rumors go. Among the ones we have heard of lately, there is another looking to open in Cedar Crest, just down Highway 14 from Ale Republic. At least a couple people spotted a mention in a local newsletter about a brewery opening somewhere near the Greenside Cafe and Triangle Grocery, which would actually put it within walking distance of Ale Republic. This could be the rumored Bare Bones Brewery, which was said to be opening down in Edgewood before it allegedly eyed a new spot north of I-40.

Another still on the watch list is Lone Sun Brewing, which has a sign up along the Paseo del Norte frontage road, about halfway between Jefferson and Edith. So far, though, it is just a coming soon sign, nothing more.

There are no other projects that we have heard of, but of course, we are always looking for any information. If you know about any of the breweries listed above or about some others in the works that we do not know about, please get in touch with us at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com or you can contact us via direct message on Facebook or Twitter.

Until then, we will just have to be content with all of our existing, award-winning breweries.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Say hello to the next major brewery in the metro area!

Say hello to the next major brewery in the metro area!

Scan a Google map of Albuquerque and search for breweries. Take note of the areas of the metro area that are empty. One of those beer-less places is the Village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque in the North Valley. Come early 2017, that will change.

The Chant brothers (Greg, Bryce, Chris, and Ethan) and brewer Bob Haggerty, formerly of Ponderosa and La Cumbre, are teaming up to create Steel Bender Brewyard. I got the chance to sit down with Ethan Chant, his wife Shelby, and Bob at Boxing Bear last week to learn about their plans, which are three years in the making.

Steel Bender will be located near 2nd Street and Paseo del Norte.

“I talked with someone at work today and they said wow, there’s nothing there (brewery-wise),” Shelby said. “We’re right next to the Rail Runner station. We’re right on the Bosque Trail and Paseo. We want those cyclists to come in on the weekend, the runners, anyone in that area who wants a place to go meet up.”

The entire plan developed from a purchase of property three years ago.

“We bought this chunk of land off Paseo and 2nd, it’s in Los Ranchos,” Ethan said. “The Village of Los Ranchos had been asking us, ‘What would be something you guys would think would be a good idea to bring the village together, sort of a communal gathering place?’ My brother (Chris) said, ‘It would be awesome with a brewery.’ That was three years ago and they were all over it.”

Ethan said the communal nature of breweries was too hard to pass up for his family, that’s been developing properties in Albuquerque for several decades, and for the Village.

“So we were all over it, the Village was all over it,” he said. “It happened to be (one of) the fastest developments in the Village because one, we know what we’re doing. We know how to file all the forms correctly and that kind of stuff. (And two) it’s something they really wanted.”

The exterior of Steel Bender is coming together.

The exterior of Steel Bender is coming together. This will be the side of the building that will feature the patio. (All photos courtesy of Shelby Chant)

At one point, through friend and familial connections, the Chants began talking to the owners of Stone in Escondido about possibly having a satellite brewery of the California giant. Ultimately, though, that idea did not come close to happening. Meanwhile, the local brew scene was exploding all around town.

“Way back when, we (had already) loved Chama when Jeff (Erway) was there,” Ethan said. “Then Jeff left and we were sad. Then Justin (Hamilton) took over and we were happy. Then Marble started bottling, and we started to think that we had really good products here. We were really comparable to the Southern California IPAs. I think we can do something here.

“We decided instead of doing out(side the state), we can have the opportunity to open a new brewery that’s going to be good for the Village and good for a brewer who’s an assistant brewer, which was our original thought. It just made sense that we could do it and hire a really good brewer. Once again, it’s three years ago.”

Steel Bender will have plenty of space from floor to ceiling.

Steel Bender will have plenty of space from floor to ceiling.

The Chants began to do their research by talking to as many different local breweries as possible. From Bosque to Marble to La Cumbre to Chama River to Canteen to Boxing Bear and so on, they compiled all the information they would need to open a brewery that could live up to the standards of those places. The final step was to find the right brewer.

“It’s been a fun process,” Shelby said. “It really, really has. Coming in here and getting the final stamp of ‘you must get Bob’ from Erway. We were in here late on a Saturday night. We were the last ones in here and Jeff and Laura walked in. Oddly enough, we went to high school with Laura Erway, graduated with her brother. We sat there and we had already talked to so many people about Bob who could not say enough about (him). Jeff said, absolutely, that’s who you need.”

Bob is a certified Cicerone who started out at Oxbow Brewing in his home state of Maine before moving west. He worked at La Cumbre and then became head brewer for a short time at Ponderosa.

“Daniel (Jaramillo) was the one who introduced me to Bob,” Ethan said. “You know Bob’s resume in terms of being a Cicerone. Even beyond that, his character is great, but what everyone was saying was his palate was unbelievable.”

Instead of having a brewmaster in Portland, Oregon, overseeing his every move, Bob will have considerable freedom and some brand-new equipment to play with at Steel Bender.

“The construction is moving at a great pace,” Ethan said. “The brewery equipment is scheduled to come in November. It’s a Premier System. It’s basically what they have here (at Boxing Bear), for all practical purposes.”

Looking inside the construction area.

Looking inside the construction area.

Ethan said they project to open the second week of January, after the holiday madness has passed. Then Bob will take the reins and unleash his own creations.

“As much as people will drink,” Bob said of how much beer he plans to make in the first year. “It’s a 15-barrel system that’s coming in. We’re going to start off with three 15-barrel fermenters and a 30-barrel. I think we’re going to open big. There’s already some talk about the location (being) great. So I think it’s going to open big and from there it’s going to go strong.”

Right from the start, Steel Bender will also have a cool feature that should lead to some unique and potentially awesome beers.

“When I was drawing up plans at Chama, it was next to our old office, Zach (Guilmette) was still working there, and he said, ‘You know what would be cool? If you put in a barrel room.’ We’re building a climate-controlled barrel room,” Ethan said.

“You know how most places have windows where you look into the brewery? For us, you’ll have windows looking into the brewery as you approach the building. … Our showpiece will be the barrel room, which will make it look more elegant or rustic.”

Odds are they will have a smaller forklift inside for the barrel room and all.

Odds are they will have a smaller forklift inside for the barrel room and all.

Steel Bender will also have a full kitchen in place, though they do not intend to go the route that others have chosen in the past.

“It’s a brewery that serves food, it’s not a restaurant,” Ethan said. “Sometimes with a restaurant menu you start to go a little crazy and then suddenly you’ve got a phone book for a menu. I’ve been really, really trying to make sure what we serve, it’s going be small. We’ll have salads and burgers and brats and appetizers.

“We don’t want to settle for the food. We don’t want to settle for the beer. Albuquerque’s bar is high.”

One of the items they hope to offer will be a cheese plate that will be designed to specifically pair up with the house beers. Ethan said they want to make it more than just a typical brewery/eatery experience, but rather a place where people can learn more about the beer they are drinking.

“We want to make it a playground for the palate,” Bob said.

There will also be a sizeable outdoor patio with some features that were unique until recently.

“What I’m really excited about, the patio is going to be huge,” Ethan said. “We’re actually going to have a bar on the patio.”

“Well, at the time it was novel, but thanks, Marble,” Bob added with a laugh. “I actually went to their (Northeast Heights) taproom, they did a heck of a job.”

There will be a feature, inside and out, that was inspired by places Ethan’s friend has visited in Austin, Texas.

“In terms of emulating Austin, we’re going to have their backyard games,” Ethan said. “We’re going to have cornhole and other stuff on the outdoor patio. Then the tables inside, we’re going to have inset board games. Once again, that’s part of that communal aspect, with people, hanging out.”

The actual Steel Bender for which the brewery is named.

The actual Steel Bender for which the brewery is named.

Steel Bender already projects to be one of the bigger breweries in the metro area, but do not expect them to shoot for the moon in their first year.

“We’re prepared to be as big as makes sense, if that makes sense,” Ethan said. “I want Bob to be happy, first of all. Also, one of the great pieces of advice that Erway gave me was don’t feel like you have to expand. You can get caught up in that. There’s a lot of fun stuff that we can do but it’s just gotta grow organically. We don’t want this to be a burden. This has been a delight so far. It’s going to be difficult, it’s going to have all the aspects of work. (But) we get to create, we get to share this with people.”

And, for anyone who thinks Albuquerque is over-saturated with breweries, the Steel Bender team does not think that is anywhere close to being true.

“We hear this all the time and I know you hear this, is there are a brewery bubble?” Ethan said. “The reality is, if there’s a market for good products, then there’s not a bubble. The rule is it has to be a good product.”

The Crew will keep tabs on the progress of Steel Bender. Then we look forward to stopping in between visits to Bosque and Boxing Bear.

Just keep the barrel room locked. We have been known to try to steal barrels of imperial stout. Allegedly.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister