Turtle Mountain celebrates 20 years of beer and success

Turtle Mountain Brewing Co. owner Nico Ortiz stands with one of his kegs. “Bock is the kind of beer we made for the 20-year anniversary; it’s a strong German lager,” he said.
(Amanda Britt/ Rio Rancho Observer)

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — The oldest brewery in Rio Rancho, Turtle Mountain Brewing Co., is set to celebrate its 20-year anniversary March 22.

Owner Nico Ortiz first opened Turtle Mountain in 1999, in a 3,200-square-foot space down the street from its current location on 36th Street, off of Southern Boulevard. Since 2006, he has tripled the size of his company in terms of building size, revenue, number of employees and difficulty in running the business.

“We are the oldest active brewery-restaurant in the Albuquerque metro area,” Ortiz said. “Back in 1999 and into the 2000s, we were one of many; now we are the oldest. We have survived the test of time.”

Despite the construction on Southern, Turtle Mountain has remained one of the most successful businesses in the Rio Rancho area.

“The nice thing about being 20 years old is that we have people who just love to come here,” Ortiz said. “They make it a normal part of their routine.”

Ortiz said he is very fortunate that the construction has not impacted his business.

“It has inconvenienced a lot of other people, but it certainly has not inconvenienced us,” he said.

To celebrate the hard work and success over the past two decades, Turtle Mountain is hosting a private event — “Bock-N-Ale-Yeah!”— where employees will serve a high-end buffet and homemade Bock-style lager. Another beer that will be served is what Ortiz calls a “Dobbel Equis Speinenator,” a play on words to commemorate two decades in the business.

“We are going to have a bunch of stuff, none of which is normally on the menu,” Ortiz said. “It is something special for our 20th anniversary. In the restaurant business, if you’ve made it to 20 years, you’ve done something right.”

Last week, he said five seats were left for the reserved-seating

Ortiz said he’s looking to expand his business in the upcoming years. Doing this will increase gross receipts taxes, which act as sales taxes, generated from local businesses to fund public services.

“We’re looking at expanding, possibly in Enchanted Hills. The northern part of Rio Rancho is very under-served,” Ortiz said. “Enchanted Hills has a ton of people — with the road expansion through Bernalillo, it is only going to get busier out there.”

Ortiz attributes the success of his business to the great products the company puts out, as well as the dedicated employees, some of whom have worked at Turtle Mountain for 10 to 15 years.

“This business has a mortality rate that is 85 to 90 percent over the course of time. For (us) to make it to 20 years means that (we are) five out of a hundred restaurants, so, yeah, we are going to celebrate,” he said.