Kellys Brewery

Kellys logo

 The first Brew On Premise (BOP) to come to Albuquerque brings a new concept to the state, Brew Your Own Beer (BYOB). Expanding from their retail beer sales role, Kellys Brewery has taken over a failed restaurant location less than one mile from the University of New Mexico. Still looking like a motel on the outside, the inside has the appearance of a diner. A half dozen padded booths are joined by another dozen small tables and chrome chairs with a red and white "60's" look. The large paned windows offer lots of light for the dining side of the building with its gray floor and ceiling, and white walls. A few brass ceiling fans keep the air moving but the real work is done by the serious exhaust fans that allow cigarette-smoking patrons to puff away without destroying the pleasure of adjacent beer drinkers. Walls of framed beer and wine posters set a relaxed mood for tasting the available beers.

 The right side of the building hosts the brewhouse; six copper-clad stainless steel vessels, steam-jacketed and easily accessible from the raised floor via one set of steps. Nearby stand the ingredients of pale and dark malt extract in 660 pound barrels, while wheat and black extracts are available in smaller containers. Seven types of whole specialty grains in clear bins lie along one side of the room. A dozen types of pellet hops are stored in a soda-style reach-in cooler that also contains two types of dry yeast, one ale and one lager. Customers get to grind their own grain using a crank-operated Corona mill. For that "special" recipe, liquid glucose and dextrose power are also available.

 BYOB customers make their first visit to choose a recipe from a book created by The Brew Store of Boulder, Colorado. This company also produced the turnkey system design. Water treatment consists solely of basic charcoal filtering. Once ingredients are fully boiled and Irish moss does its finings thing, the wort gets a coarse filtering prior to entering the glycol-chilled heat exchanger. The cooled wort gets inoculated by the yeast slurry inside a "plastic" 15 gallon fermenter that is topped by a removable air lock. Currently one-time plastic bag liners are also used to minimize contamination risks. After the customer leaves, the fermenters are moved to a temperature-controlled room for a week. With fermentation complete, the young beer is optionally filtered before being transferred to 15 gallon stainless ball-lock kegs. 22 hours at 35°F under high-pressure CO2 makes the beer ready for bottling of kegging. Bottling equipment includes a 24 bottle cleaner/sanitizer, four two-line bottler filler stations with CO2 purge, and a hand-operated bottle capper. Label software offers customers the chance to custom design the exterior look of their bottled creations.

 Current capacity limits the availability of house beers on tap but a planned expansion should provide a new pub section and a more congenial drinking atmosphere for sampling the $1.50 pints. Hopefully by this time next year the state's archaic Sunday sales laws will have bit the dust and consumers can enjoy freedom of choice appropriate to a 21st century democracy. Meanwhile, the back kitchen serves up food throughout the day from breakfast til the wee hours of the night. The menu features Appetizers, Sandwiches, Salads, Burgers ($4.75-$5.75), Soups, Desserts, and Dinners: Lamb, Pork, Beef, Chicken, Salmon, Tuna, Halibut, and Swordfish. The lone house beer available was the Pale Ale.A clear amber color, its long-lasting creamy head was accompanied by a medium body, even flavor balance, medium carbonation, clean dry maltiness and short, somewhat hoppy finish.

 Prices for producing 15 gallons range from $74 to about $104, depending on the recipe chosen. Open only since December 20, 1996, its too early to sense the tastes of the Albuquerque BYOB market but brewers Douglas Cochran and Mark Stricklan are prepared to be as flexible as possible to give the guest brewers a memorable and tasty experience.

 UPDATE: As of April a new back bar was opened featuring 20 different house beers. Table seating for another two dozen patrons as well as a half dozen at bar stools is now offered. The smoking policy remains is a state of disarray as management seems unable to devise logical practices and ventilation receives little attention. It seems just a question of time before a few inconsiderate cigar smokers drive off the currently growing number of patrons. Only time will tell.

 UPDATE: Relocation a few hundred feet east to an abandoned auto business now offers plenty of space for indoor and outdoor drinking and dining. Even after giving up some interior square footage to another business there remains seating for hundreds. Large garage doors roll up to create an openness for indoor patrons who choose not to sit out on the expansive patio. Views now include those of the sidewalk level foot traffic of the Nob Hill neighborhood as well as those of the impressive Sandia Peak rising to over 10,000 feet just beyond the city's limits. The beer menu lists 19 all-extract house beers along with their descriptions that include IBUs and alcohol by volume. Prices run about $2.25 / pint. Matt the brewer fires up the six half-barrel brew kettles daily to produce about 70 kegs worth of beer each week. In addition to the house beers another 10 commercial brands join the line up, with the notables including Pilsner Urquell, Bass, Guinness, Alien Amber, Heineken, Fosters, Fat Tire, a cider and a root beer. With the stereo system tuned to a local radio station, entertainment attractions include a silent TV in each overhead corner, two authentic dart boards and a single pool table. Pub lunch fare includes Buffalo Burger, Patty Melt, Salmon Steak Salad, Vegetarian Lasagna, and Green Chili Chicken Soup. The Robust Porter, 6.3%, offers a rich chocolate flavor, medium body and a slight molasses character. Untested were Blonde, Apricot, Golden, Belgian Ale, British Ale, Weizen, IPA, Amber, ESB, Red Ale, Altbier, Brown, Scottish Ale, Dunkelweizen, Belgian Dubbel, Black Bitter, Oatmeal Stout and the 8% Imperial Stout. Kellys remains a local attraction where friends can congregate in an open and airy settings with great vistas and plenty to eat and drink.

Kellys Brewery
3200 Central Ave. SE
Albuquerque, N.M. 87106

Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - December, 1996, Updated April, 1997, Updated June 2004

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