Santa Fe Brewing Co.
Santa Fe, NM
Beers currently on tap
The Santa Fe Brewing Company is a small operation with just a handful of friendly employees. Next time you are in the neighborhood, stop by, grab a cold one and say hello.
We are located in sunny Santa Fe, New Mexico right at the “top of the Turquoise Trail.”
A Brief History of the Santa Fe Brewing Company
Once upon a time in 1988…
The Santa Fe Brewing Company set its sights a bit higher than the delicacy of Milwaukee’s Best. Using custom square vessels and open-top fermenters obtained from the defunct Boulder Brewing Company, Mike Levis began brewing the Pale Ale that remains the Santa Fe Brewing flagship today.
Over the next decade, the New Mexico State Fair and the Great American Beer Festival, amongst others, took notice. As a faithful following and regional renown grew, the company added the Nut Brown and Wheat varieties to its regular offerings, and established a tradition of unique and flavorful seasonal brews.
In 1997, with the arrival of Brian Lock, Dave Forester, Carlos Muller, and Ty Levis, the company was ready to expand its century-old tradition.
Moving to their location just off the Turquoise Trail, the brewery increased its capacity to 15-barrels, and brought its brews to a wider audience in New Mexico, and parts of Colorado. They then opened a tasting room, and invited the public to sample the fares from the brewer’s barrel. Shortly after came Chicken Killer Barley Wine, known as the finest drink ever to be named after a Death-Dealing Dachshund.
In 2005, times are changing and more beer is brewing…
Muller and Forester have officially bid farewell to the Turquiose Trail Tasting Trough, leaving Lock and Levis to carry the brewery into the 21st century. The brewhouse has finally found it’s permanent home also on the Turquoise Trail, just up the road from it’s former rental and with the help of a brilliant, yet crazy Hungarian named Alfonz Vizsolay, the new 30 bbl brewery and bottling line is complete! With the ability to brew ten times the beer, Santa Fe Brewing will be going abroad (well, to a few other states at least). Distribution into Colorado, Arizona, Oklahoma and Texas are in the works and will be available to those states in 2006.
A Brief History of Beer (and the Santa Fe Brewing name)
The year was about 4,000 B.C. (in fact, it was so long ago that most people alive at the time weren’t even sure what year it was). Some guys living in Sumeria figured out (probably accidentally) how to brew barley into beer. The Gilgamesh Epic, recognized as one of the world’s first great works of literature, describes a primitive man transforming into a civilized one.
Enkidu drank seven cups of beer and his heart soared. In this condition he washed himself and became a human being.
Clearly beer was also a boon to gender relations; it’s a compromise still widely honored today women will let men drink beer if the men will bathe and act like human beings.
Everyone thought it was such a good idea, that they started civilizations left and right, and went roaming around the world looking for ideal geographic conditions to brew beer. For the next 6,000 years, entire cultures coalesced, subdivided, conquered each other, and split up again, in a thinly veiled attempt to brew better beer. By the 17th century, through a combination of taste and international trash-talking, some Czechs and Bavarians had most of the world convinced they were the pre-eminent brewers of all time.
Meanwhile, in the southwestern region of North America, the native peoples were brewing a beer made from the fermentation of maize, but lacked an effective P.R. campaign.
The year was 1877, when miners were real miners, vacqueros were real vacqueros, Tewa warriors were real Tewa warriors, and yellow beer brewed by European immigrants in Milwaukee and St. Louis was real yellow beer brewed by European immigrants in Milwaukee and St. Louis. But high-speed refrigerated interstate transport wasn’t yet real high-speed refrigerated interstate transport; in those days, there were more than 4,000 commercial breweries in the U.S.
Santa Fe, New Mexico already boasted breweries serving beer “at once foaming with vim and freezing with cold”, according to a reporter from The New Mexican, who further encouraged readers to visit “…that fountain of health and imbibe freely of the elixir of life.” (Cynics might speculate whether this particular writer had an open tab).
But Santa Fe, ever a hotbed of hip, wasn’t content with mere breweries.
Advertisements proclaimed the local brew “Guaranteed equal to any St. Louis or Milwaukee beer!” But published menus also show that the brewers’ talents were not confined to yellow beer; they were also offering Ale, Porter, and “Native Wine” (a precursor to the Chicken Killer? Hmmm). And at $14 per barrel, one might surmise that not just the reporters were imbibing freely during those years.
Indeed, famed southwest anthropologist Adolph Bandelier noted in his journal:
April 27, 1889. Went to Mass. In the afternoon to the brewery. It was “Bock” day.
April 28, 1889. Unwell, as might be expected; could do nothing at all.
After ownership had changed hands a few times during the years, in 1892, “The Santa Fe Brewing Company” was first incorporated under that official name. But dark clouds were on the horizon. Interstate transport was quickly becoming more refrigerated, and more rapid. Those brewers back east were ready to take advantage. They were big enough, they were smart enough, and doggone it, people really liked those Clydesdales.
By 1896, the Santa Fe Brewing Company had closed its doors… but not for good.
As it turned out, staying open a few more years wouldn’t have mattered small brewers already pressured by national competition were about to face a larger force: the federal government.
1,568 breweries closed in January of 1920 when Prohibition became national law over President Woodrow Wilson’s veto. (Good for Woody, at least he tried!) This law would not be repealed for 13 long boot-legging moonshining years.
During the next 50 years things didn’t get any easier. Medium-sized brewers gobbled up small brewers, large brewers gobbled up medium-sized brewers, and humongous brewers gobbled up large brewers, until only a handful were left in the country.
Eventually, the lack of variety in the brewing industry led a bunch of people to take a lot of drugs, play trippy music, and flip off mainstream society. After several years of excessively using the word “boogie”, these folks abruptly got new haircuts and decided that mainstream society was actually just fine, if they could get filthy rich, buy BMWs, move to the suburbs, and wear ridiculous jogging suits. Once everybody calmed down and started wearing denim, plaid, and fleece, they decided how cool it was to drink beer made in your own town.
Fortunately, the latter is still the case today. People still like to drink beer, especially beer that is made locally. There must be some kind of comfort that comes from knowing the source of your buzz.
Santa Fe Brewing Co.
35 Fire Place
Santa Fe, NM 87508