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Turning 2: Steel Bender marks second anniversary with weekend celebration

What a difference a year makes, at least when it comes to Steel Bender Brewyard.

Steel Bender marks its second year with a new brewing operation and a larger reach. It recently signed a distribution agreement with Admiral Beverage, meaning Steel Bender products will soon be available throughout New Mexico..

Steel Bender has signed a distribution agreement with Admiral Beverage to distribute throughout New Mexico. Its packaged beer, including its Compa Los Ranchos Lager, will hit store shelves around the state. (Courtesy of Josh Santisteven)

“We started doing some self-distribution, I’d say about a year after we opened up, with friends we knew at restaurants that wanted to carry our beer,” Steel Bender co-owner Ethan Chant said. “We were doing it with one of the bartenders who would drive out there and drop off kegs. We bought a van, and that van got too small in a hurry. We got another guy, Adam (Auden). We brought him aboard, and he organized the distribution. Instead of selling kegs to just friends, it started taking off like crazy. We were fortunate a couple of chains wanted to start carrying our beer. We didn’t have enough people to deliver the beer and didn’t have the space to brew that much beer.”

To accommodate the expansion in distribution, Steel Bender built another brewery to accommodate demand. The new brewing area is expected to open on March 22. Steel Bender will then have the green light to produce beer in the new facility.

“It is an 8,000-square-foot operation, seven more tanks, 30 to 60 barrels,” Chant said. “In contrast, (the system) we first bought were 15-barrel. It has transformed a tremendous amount. As much as we wanted to do distribution on our own, if we wanted to go throughout the state, we had to partner with someone. We’re really excited.”

Steel Bender is marking its growth and another year with a celebration that starts today and runs through Sunday, March 17.

Today is the release of Steel Bender’s Daydream Belizer Belgian Ale, which boasts big and fruity Belgian notes. The cold-pressed, medium-roast Guatemalan coffee from local coffee roasters Pour Vida Coffee introduces a smooth, nutty character. The 100 percent Belize Mayan Mountain Chocolate from Los Ranchos’ Eldora Chocolate provides the perfect amount of chocolate sweetness, according to Steel Bender’s Facebook event page.

Saturday festivities will include the release of two Steel Bender ciders: Los Ranchos Cider in bottles and CE-1 Cider Expedition on tap.

“We’ve been making cider now for 6 to 8 months,” co-owner Shelby Chant said. “We have basically been testing batches of cider to get to the cider we love. … The first bottle is called Los Ranchos Cider. We got 7,000 pounds of apples from the orchard, (that is) walking distance in the village. The only thing in the cider is water and pressed apples from the incredible orchard and yeast, that’s it. It is a dry cider, and we’re really excited. Our first bottled cider has that name because it is made with village apples.”

CE-1 Cider Expedition features apples grown at the base of the San Juan Mountains. There are nine varieties of apples in the cider as well as one pear variety, water and yeast. Guests who enjoy the cider might also want to purchase the suggested pairing of Brie en Croute with housemade green chile jelly created specifically for the cider.

The festivities wrap up on St. Patrick’s Day with the release of Mulvaney’s Irish Red on nitro. There also will be $1 off Blue Bullet Stout. Steel Bender’s chef Jason Baczkiewicz also will be doing a gammon boxty and some corned beef and cabbage egg rolls with horseradish for the event. Baczkiewicz recently made some minor tweaks to Steel Bender’s menu has added 10 new items. Its smoked meats, including smoked pork and smoked chicken, have been so popular with patrons it plans on adding pork spare ribs to the mix.

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