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A dream come true

SANTA FE, N.M. — Pending city and county approvals, Santa Fe could welcome a new brewery and craft distillery as early as November, along with the revival of the space that housed the old Club Alegria.

The club, at 2797 Agua Fria near Siler Road, has a long history, both as a Latin music club and for hosting rock and country acts like Wilco, Joe Ely, Billy Joe Shaver, Marcia Ball and, at a 2006 closing show, hip-hop legends Public Enemy.

Jason Kirkman, left, and Jason Fitzpatrick are co-owners of Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery going in the old Club Alegria space on Agua Fria in Santa Fe. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Jason Fitzpatrick, 36, and Jason Kirkman, 45, co-founders of Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery, are currently overseeing a demolition and exploration process at the building, while a construction permit for a “family-friendly” taproom and marketplace is planned with a maximum indoor/outdoor seating capacity of about 400 people.

Kirkman said everyone who has come in since they leased the building in April has a memory of being at Alegria. The new place will honor that history with photos on the wall from the club’s glory days.

John Penny, a carpenter, salvaged an 80-year-old barn in Andale, Kan., and hauled it to Santa Fe to be used to turn the old Club Alegria into Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

The two also plan to have live entertainment, food trucks stationed outside, and the courtyard in the back will have a designated area for kids to play and yard games for adults.

“I think the community around here is excited to see it back,” said Fitzpatrick of the old nightclub space, which is on the edge of the burgeoning art district around the Meow Wolf art installation.

Fitzpatrick and Kirkman met in 2015 while working for Los Alamos’ Bathtub Row Brewing Co-op. They both took the job with identical goals: learning skills to start their own business.

Bathtub Row had started that same year, and both wanted to work from the ground up before going out on their own. “That was an opportunity for us to learn the brewing side, managing side, creating all these systems from scratch,” said Kirkman.

Fitzpatrick, Bathtub Row’s general manager at the time, who previously worked on the business side of Albuquerque’s Marble Brewery, hired Kirkman, a former elementary school teacher who had made beer as a hobby after a brief stint working for brewery after college in the ’90s.

The two decided to become business partners after several months at the Los Alamos brewery. In the summer of 2016, they started the process of making their dream of a brewery and distillery a reality.

John Penny is a carpenter helping turn the old Club Alegria into Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery on Agua Fria in Santa Fe. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Their company’s name, Tumbleroot, was chosen because they’ve both “tumbled” through various career paths and cities, but they’ll have “roots” by using local materials in their products and living in Santa Fe

Their drinks will change with the seasons, said Fitzpatrick, based on both locally grown products and international flavors. They also plan to package and bottle seasonal brews.

Cocktails at Tumbleroot might include ingredients that can be harvested from Kirkman’s large family garden or purchased from the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market. He said his garden has juniper that can be used in gin recipes and other herbs like lavender, sage, mint and basil that can be infused into the spirits. Other seasonal crops like prickly pears can be frozen and preserved so they can be infused year-round, said Kirkman.

The beer menu is set to include eight drafts: three mainstay beers, a farmhouse, pale ale and IPA, and five rotating seasonal brews. A cider and guest beer will also be on tap. Winter beers they’ve already decided on are a hot Belgian tripel, a warm strong ale and an orange chocolate stout. A dark chocolate cherry beer will be bottled.

“(It is) not only seasonal ingredients from around New Mexico, but seasonal styles from around the world,” said Fitzpatrick.

Spring would include more lager-like flavors and summer feature lighter, hoppier, wheat beers. The spirits, from organic products, will include locally made botanical and London dry gin, agave spirits, various flavors of dark and light rum, blue corn bourbon and vodka.

A majority of their beer and spirits will be barrel-aged, the duo said, and the grain-based spirits will be distilled from the beer.

The business is seeking a conditional use permit for a brewery and distillery site within the Turquoise Trail Business Park, on Bisbee Court off N.M. 14 just south of the Interstate 25/Cerrillos interchange, with space for packaging and storage, as well as a small tasting room.

The Santa Fe County Commission unanimously approved the Bisbee Court location’s liquor license this week, and city licenses for the taproom will be decided Oct. 25. If all is approved, the two hope to have everything opened by November.

There’s already a growing number of local breweries in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, but Fitzpatrick said he doesn’t feel in direct competition with most of them because of Tumbleroot’s desire to put its primary efforts into sales at its main location and taproom rather than distribution at stores.

Kirkman agreed, adding that the overall experience of coming to the taproom to grab a drink or listen to some music would be just as important as the beverage products themselves.

“We’re looking to really take care of our own community,” said Fitzpatrick.

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