Santa Fe Brewing Company
Forward-thinking, environmentally friendly, technologically advanced and the oldest brewery in New Mexico
Santa Fe Brewing Company has a long history in the Southwest brewing tradition, dating back to the late 1800’s when it was first incorporated in 1892. The name survived a number of closures during prohibition and the conglomeration of American brewing following that period, but the company was finally officially resurrected in 1988 when Mike Levis acquired an original 7-barrel brewing system and began brewing the Pale Ale that remains the Santa Fe Brewing Company’s flagship brew today.
A few macro beer lovers thought the new craft brew was terrible, but enough people liked it to push him and his partners to upgrade and purchase some old brewing equipment from the Boulder Brewing Company. The group continued experimenting and eventually came up with their Porter, called Santa Fe Nut Brown Ale, which is still brewed today.
In 1996, the original owners passed the brewery down to some youths named Brian Lock, Carlos Muller, Dave Forester, and Ty Levis who is Mike Levis son. These new owners relocated the brewery to a larger space, upgraded the brewery to a 15-barrel frankenbrew system, and began distributing their great beer all over New Mexico and parts of Colorado. With their growth, many people began to realize the potential beer had and how great it could be, but sadly most of America still consumed their beloved macro beers.
Levis was determined to kick start the local brewing tradition, and over the next decade, a number of beer festivals and competitions took notice of the brand and its growing lineup of unique and flavorful seasonal craft beers.
In 2003, American craft beer was finally on the rise and Santa Fe had a reputation for making high quality ones. Brian Lock bought out the other partners and relocated the brewery once again, this time expanding to a 13,000 square foot building at the top of New Mexico’s Turquoise Trail.
Around this time, Hungarian mad man, Alfonz Viszolay showed up at the Santa Fe Brewery offering to help build the bottling line. He went on to become a crucial part of the brewery’s history, helping with the engineering and installation of every piece of equipment that has since been added to the brewery.
In 2010, the technology to put beer in cans became accessible to small brewers, and a small canning system was installed in their brewery. At this time, the first ice-cold Happy Camper IPA rolled down the canning line into Lock’s hand. He then made a point of saying “you can shotgun these,” and proceeded to do so.
The Happy Camper IPA and canned craft beer popularity boosted the brewery to new heights. The production began increasing and Santa Fe Brewing Company began shipping beers all over the Southwest.
In the past ten years, Santa Fe Brewing Company has grown even more, adding in their canning line, expanding distribution, building an underground barrel cave for aging sour beers, and hiring Bert Boyce as the new Brewmaster to carry on the tradition of making the highest quality craft beers.
The brewery also started its own hop farm in Rinconada, New Mexico, right alongside the Rio Grande. Here, four varieties of estate grown hops are being harvested (including Neomexicanus, a wild hop indigenous to Northern New Mexico and one of the only native North American hops suitable for brewing).
Today the brewery produces almost 40,000 barrels of beer a year, and their canning line allows them to can 275 beers each minute.
Santa Fe Brewing Company continues to grow, and their beers can now be enjoyed at three different taproom locations, including the newest Albuquerque space that was built completely out of recycled shipping containers (one of the few ways the brewery shows its dedication to sustainability). The brewery is also solar powered and relies 100% on natural well water (meaning no water is wasted). While incredibly environmentally friendly, Santa Fe also garners serious awards for its lineup of premium craft beers - two of which were selected for this month's feature. We are excited to feature this fantastic brewery in our monthly beer subscription club. Enjoy!