SANTA FE, N.M. — Not far from the Plaza, where businesses typically cater to tourist traffic, there’s a new taproom aiming to catch the eye of young locals with new or unusual craft drinks.
What started as joke-like banter between New Mexico Hard Cider owner Craig Moya and Boese Brothers Brewing Co.’s Sam and George Boese about opening a new bar eventually led to a budding business partnership, Desert Dogs Brewery and Cidery.
The taproom, which opened on San Francisco Street Sept. 1, offers favorites from both Moya’s Cerrillos Road cider-based pub and Boese Brothers’ popular Albuquerque bar/brewery, in addition to new drinks that have been developed collaboratively.
After searching in both cities, the business partners fell in love with 112 W. San Francisco. The suite formerly used by the Santa Fe Culinary Academy worked because of its downtown location, outdoor patio and “rustic, Southwestern” feel, said Sam Boese.
Though Desert Dogs has had a flow of both tourists and residents since opening, the owners say their focus is on attracting a local following. Sam Boese says they intentionally stay open later (???) for people who work at nearby restaurants or bars to come and relax after a shift. The bar also includes free foosball, pool and mini-shuffleboard.
“We just want to have something unique downtown,” said Sam Boese.
The most popular beverage so far, according to Sam Boese, is Bell Ringer, a hoppy, unfiltered IPA. When an IPA undergoes filtration, a process between carbonation and fermentation that pulls out some of the yeast, the beer is clearer and less cloudy-looking. But Boese said the process also removes much of the beer’s hoppy scent. “It steals a lot of that aroma,” he said. “Unfiltered IPA [is] very much in your face.”
Another hit is their Showdown Steam, an amber lager incorporating the California Steam Beer style.
Moya and the Boese Brothers discussed flavor ideas with the goal of making drinks not often produced, like different fruit beers or sours, said Sam Boese. They taste-tested them at their pre-existing taprooms prior to the new pub’s opening.
Desert Dogs’ ciders are made at Moya’s cidery on Rufina Street, and the beer comes from the Boese downtown Albuquerque brewery on the corner of Gold and Sixth.
Moya, 30, and the brothers met at Bernalillo’s Mountain West Brew Fest in 2015. They hit it off and began a working relationship, with Moya selling Boese Brothers beers at New Mexico Hard Cider and Sam, 34, and George, 31, selling Moya’s ciders for about a year and a half. The idea of a joint business gradually evolved.
“You meet a lot of people in this industry and some people you just kind of click with,” said Sam Boese. He recently relocated to Santa Fe to oversee the new bar. George Boese is involved mostly with the brewing in Albuquerque, making Sam the primary on-site manager for Desert Dogs, along with Moya.
Some of Desert Dogs beers will be offered consistently, including Bell Ringer, Showdown Steam, Bone Dry and the Sorta Sweet cider. Moya’s Tart Cherry Cider and Boese Brothers’ Patriot Porter will also stay on the tap list long term.
Most of the other 21 selections will switch out seasonally or every couple of days. The new seasonal beer is Oktoberfest, which Sam Boese called a malty, classic German-style lager. The cider options will be the most frequently changed and depend on Moya’s stock of fruit or vegetables.
“We change pretty consistently just so people want to come back,” said Moya.
Future ciders he’s planning include flavors like Chimayó apple, coffee and butternut squash, as well as a malt spice cider for the fall.
Moya said that even with the unusual ingredients, all of which come from crops within a 250-mile radius, locals are always willing to try them, citing his purple carrot wine cider as one of the most popular at New Mexico Hard Cider, part of the Luna complex at 505 Cerrillos.
“If you went and did this in another city, [it wouldn’t work] … Santa Fe and Albuquerque are a little more up to experimenting or trying something new,” said Moya.
On tap are also brews from smaller Albuquerque breweries like Sidetrack Brewing, Dialogue Brewing and Quarter Celtic Brewpub. Most of those brewers do not deliver, and the stock has to be picked up and brought to Santa Fe. But that means “nobody else in the city has it,” according to Moya.
In the next few weeks, he said State Capital Grill will take over the Desert Dogs kitchen and offer Asian-fusion foods like ramen and pork buns.
The Desert Dogs group does have interest in expanding to places like Las Cruces. But Sam Boese said he just wants to approach the brand “authentically” with great products. Moya said his goal is to see chairs filled and for Desert Dogs to become a new favorite hangout.
“We just want to make it work, and make it a spot that people know and then plan [to go] like it’s a destination,” said Moya. “Like, ‘We’re going to go here tonight,’ not just, ‘Oh, what’s this new thing?'”