Santa Fe Brewing Company owner Brian Lock stands on the patio of the second floor of the future multi-story taproom and waves his hands over the sandy lot in front of him. He’s describing what the future holds for the missing piece of the puzzle that has been a long time coming for the brewery’s original location at 35 Fire Place on the far Southside of Santa Fe.
A tentative timeline for completion of the expansion is late fall or early winter, depending on how construction goes. Across from The Bridge, the original venue that was on the property when Lock bought it, and between the first taproom and the cannery is the partially constructed shell of a brand new brick three-story taproom. The first and second floors are for patrons, with corporate offices on the third floor. The offices for staff will be complete with large windows, a kitchen, a rooftop spot for both “shotgunning parties” and “million-dollar views.”
Second-story rooms are set to be available to rent out for private events, and there will also be a new brewhouse. Brewery visitors will enter the three-story taproom by walking through a beer garden on winding concrete paths with fire features and dozens of evergreen trees transplanted from Lock’s hop farm on the Rio Grande.
“In the middle, right as you walk in, there’s gonna be a center sunken fire pit, almost like a mini amphitheater. That’s also the drainage for all of the beer garden … We’ll probably have a couple other fire features towards the entrance,” Lock tells SFR. “All of these trees were transplanted from our hop farm. … I still have a bunch more I plan to put in on the exterior property lines just to start to create a forest in here. That’s the ultimate goal, just to have a really huge outdoor beer garden experience for Santa Fe because there’s really, I don’t think, anything quite like it.”
Santa Fe Brewing has expanded quickly and powerfully since Lock opened the original taproom on Fire Place and bought out his partners in 2003. In 2015, the company was awarded a $250,000 Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) grant for expansion, according to the New Mexico Economic Development Department. The company promised to grow to 64 jobs by Jan 1, 2020. As of the first quarter of 2019, the current headcount is 41.
For now, the future beer garden is a busy, loud construction site as Lock guides SFR through a tour of the taproom, planned to have only one television and a piano, in order to encourage people to talk to each other. Lock didn’t want even one television, but says he was “outvoted.”
Patrons sitting at the bar will look straight into the cannery, which has been running since 2010, to watch as thousands of brightly colored aluminum cylinders are filled with beer. They may also walk outside to grab food from a semi-permanent food trailer that will have a kitchen.
There will be self-guided tours to view the cannery from above and retail sales from a walk-in cooler, plus T-shirts and other beer-related items for sale in the brick-and-mortar merchandise store attached to the taproom. Rebranding the complex at Fire Place so people can more easily distinguish it from the company’s multiple other locations is also in the works, along with the physical expansion.
“That’s what I think people’s confusion is if they’re like, ‘I’m going to the Santa Fe Brewing.’ Well, which one? They have one in the Eldorado taphouse, they have one downtown at The Brakeroom, and they have one out here; they have the Green Jeans one, I’m opening another one in Tin Can Alley,” Lock tells SFR, the last two locations referring to Albuquerque. “This one has never had a name that made sense for it. People remembered it by The Bridge at Santa Fe Brewing … We’re looking at naming the whole complex so people can refer to where they’re going.”
The Bridge, a taproom and popular outdoor venue in the summer for concerts, is also like to get a new name and be used more as a space for weddings, receptions, graduation parties and conferences. But not until the construction is finished on the new taproom and corporate headquarters. For now, it will continue to be a concert venue.
The first brews in the new brewhouse should be up and running by mid-September, Lock tells SFR.
“It’s going to be a much larger operation and we’ll have capacity then to grow to 150,000 barrels with everything in place. We’re on track for 40,000 [barrels] this year, so we could triple our size. We’re set up to grow,” Lock says, talking about just the new brewhouse within the next five to 10 years.
Santa Fe Brewing distributes in out-of-state to Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri, and Lock says brewers are working on cider recipes to launch canned cider next year.