News

HoneyMoon Brewery Closing Effective Immediately

Commercial distribution deal with Admiral Beverage might still be a go, but the taproom and brewery are already gone

Food (Alex De Vore)

After roughly five years in business in Santa Fe, HoneyMoon Brewery’s Ayla Bystrom-Williams tells SFR the taproom at the Solana Center, as well as the business’s hard kombucha brewing operations, will cease effective immediately.

The news comes mere months after the locally-founded company belonging to Bystrom-Williams and longtime life/business partner James Hill inked a deal with the Admiral Beverage distributors that promised to put HoneyMoon’s proprietary hard kombucha in regional or even national retail markets. Bystrom-Williams says there’s still hope in that department, as she and Hill have been speaking with a number of contract brewing outfits around the country in recent months that could potentially brew HoneyMoon product and sell it in Santa Fe and beyond.

“A couple months ago, anticipating our deal with Admiral would go well—which it has—we had to find ways to make more product,” Bystrom-Williams explains. “We started talking to these companies, but we’ll...have to see. The taproom and onsite brewing are done for good, and we hope people will still be able to get our products, it might just take a couple months to make that happen.”

HoneyMoon as a brand concept flared into existence following Bystrom-Williams’ and Hill’s participation in the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s New Mexico Small Business Technical Assistance Program circa 2014. They also took part in the SFid business accelerator program through Albuquerque’s ABQid accelerator, as well as the Miller Lite Tap The Future Business Plan Competition. That last one netted the couple $200,000 for their business, allowing Hill the time to create the variety of HoneyMoon products we know today. They opened the taproom in 2018.

In the now, Bystrom-Williams says HoneyMoon had already shipped out a good chunk of product before announcing the closure, meaning fans might still be able to find some in local stores. As for the events aspect of the taproom, Bystrom-Williams says she’s heartbroken.

“We’re kind of the venue you play when you want to make it to the other venue,” she says. “I’m devastated no one will have that anymore, but it has only been two hours since we told our landlords and someone apparently already wants that space, so maybe they’ll do something like it.”

Local MC and DJ Raashan Ahmad, for example, kicked off his popular Love & Happiness dance night series at HoneyMoon, and it has since become a full-blown phenomenon attended by hundreds at venues like Tumbleroot Brewery & Distillery. Longtime HoneyMoon bartender Kyle Perkins also reportedly had plans in the works for new live music events.

But, according to Bystrom-Williams, a combination of long hours and staffing shortages led to extreme exhaustion on her part. HoneyMoon won’t close with her and Hill in serious debt, she adds, but money had become a concern “in the grand scheme of things.”

“We don’t owe people money the way we did during COVID, but the problem is that with a company trying to grow we just can’t continue the path of always owing money and barely being able to buy ingredients—I don’t know how many times I can do the dance,” Bystrom-Williams tells SFR of running the taproom and brewing operations. “Stepping away from this comes off as a failure, but we’re embracing it as a super-positive thing: We made a great product, built a great brand. This is a healthy decision. You keep telling everyone you’ve got it, you’ve got it—until you don’t got it. Not talking about it hurts you, but we feel really loved. We feel sad because there’s still so much love coming in.”

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