BACKWARD, FORWARD & A BULLARD
I’ve said it many times before: the past 15 months have been great. From the time we opened, there were many aspects that have gone beyond our dreams and some that have, frankly, fallen short. When we decided to open the little brewpub, we nicknamed it “The Lab.” There was even some consideration of actually naming the pub “The Lab,” but we decided it didn’t fit the Bosque vibe. However, the concept was still there. Opening “The Lab” had a two-fold purpose: get to market and give us an outlet to work on more beer styles than we were able to in a home brewing setting. The dream was always to open a packaging/distribution brewery; the reality was that we didn’t have the expertise, experience or financial backing to do so. If you want to see some strange looks, go to a bank and ask them for crazy amounts of money to open a brewery and tell them you have no experience whatsoever. When we opened Bosque Brewing Co., it was never with the intention for us to remain a brewpub. We planned to move to a larger system and begin packaging and distributing ASAP. But first we needed to be established, and that’s what the last 15 months have done for us.
As I look back, it’s funny to see how naïve (some would even call it arrogant) we were when opening. I remember right before we opened reading an article with some prominent players in the Albuquerque brewing scene being asked what they thought it took to succeed in craft beer. Jeff Erway was quoted as saying, “I hope the number of small brewers opening now, they are willing to put in the hours it takes to survive. We all have to kick ourselves in the ass in order to succeed.” I hadn’t met Jeff at the time, although of course I knew of him, and he didn’t know me from Adam. I remember taking that kind of personally, thinking to myself, “Of course it takes hard work, anything worth doing takes hard work.“ As anyone in this business knows, Jeff was right. Although most things worth doing take hard work, the brewery business is on a different level. I took that as a challenge. We’ve proven we were willing to put the hours in to survive, but holy crap, it was freak’n hard. Definitely harder than I thought it would be. When we set out on this venture, the plan was for me to do all the brewing, all the cellar work, be acting CEO, maybe even do a little bar tending in my off time. Jotham and Kevin were going to take turns helping me brew twice a week, and maybe we’d hire my little brother to help clean up once in a while. Somehow, I was planning to do all that and come up with new beer styles, become an expert on yeast, draft-tech, do festivals, learn how to barrel-age, and become an expert brew master… I thought, “That should happen in about six months, right?” Obviously, it didn’t happen that way. Arrogance? Maybe. Naïveté? Absolutely!
Enter Ryan Jameson. Remember that name because you’re going to be hearing it a lot over the next few years. Ryan stepped up and really caught on to brewing quickly. Then Ira came aboard and made the brewing team even stronger. We even have a couple other guys that show promise in the back, but being the team players that they are, they’ve been helping out where it is needed most, kitchen and serving (which, by the way, we have the best front-of-house crew in the state). Ryan’s been at it for a year now and Ira a little less than a year. I can’t imagine where we’d be without these two guys. Ryan has freed me up to run the business and fine tune our beers and brewing processes. I’ve still been the guy technically in charge of brewing, but Ryan runs the show. Somehow, due in no small part to Ryan and Ira’s diligent hard work, we were able to garner a little name for ourselves, start distributing to 10 different restaurants and keep up with a demand that we created at a brewpub in a less-than-stellar location. As I look back at the last year, I’m really proud of our brew team and how far we’ve come with very little training or experience. It has also made me realize how little I know about brewing. The expansion of brewing capacity, moving into packaging and adding a second location has become a full-time job. I’ve essentially fallen into a CEO/COO position, and the demand on my time is going to be even greater as these new branches of the company are launched.
As Bosque grows into this new phase of expanding production and moving into packaging, we’ve decided to also expand the Bosque brewing team with someone who has the experience to lead us into this next level. There are so many good brewers out there in the area, both heading up breweries of various sizes and the up-and-comers. However, there was one brewer who really caught my attention. Then he won some awards, and he caught a lot of people’s attention. I was hoping it wasn’t too late at that point. After our first meeting, it was obvious to me that he was the right person for the job. To my delight, I found out that the feeling was mutual. I wanted him to meet the rest of the founding members, and it wasn’t very far into the conversation that I could tell we were sold 100%. Like I said, he has recently won awards. He won two silver medals at the GABF last year and also won the ever-coveted New Mexico Brewer’s Guild IPA Challenge. In fact, he didn’t just win the IPA Challenge, he crushed it, garnering 33% of the total votes out of 14 breweries and gaining more votes than places 2 through 5 combined. I’d like you to meet John Bullard, the newest member and Head Brewer of the Bosque Brewing team. I say “meet” him, but most of you reading this post probably already know of him. While the awards are impressive and his beer speaks for itself, as I got to know John, it was obvious that he was going to fit in at Bosque. He exudes Bosque culture. His passion for quality beer is something to be admired, and again, aligns with Bosque’s passions and values. John has studied under the greats in the area, all guys who produce world-class beer. We are very excited for the bright future of Bosque and to have John help us navigate the adventure! Cheers, John Bullard!
Founding Brewer and Director of Operations