RIO RANCHO – Sawdust and concrete are the only visible items in what will soon be Rio Rancho’s newest brewery.
The Brew Lab 101 Beer & Cider Co., which will open at the end of May, has taken over the space where the House of Football once was in the Country Club Plaza. The brewery’s space extends farther east into what used to be a nail salon for a total of 4,200 square feet.
Although there is still much work to be done, owner Scott Salvas couldn’t be happier with the progress his new business has made.
Just last week, with financial help from some of his business partners, Salvas poured concrete and installed custom railing that will be the Brew Lab’s patio.
“I thought a patio would be a good idea since the sun sets on the back of the plaza during happy hour, leaving us in the shade,” Salvas said. “Plus, look at the view of the mountains. I couldn’t have found a better spot.”
Salvas’ initial choice for a location a little bit up the road with less square footage fell through at the last minute.
“I had to go to the city to try and rezone the other space for a brewery, and when everything was almost done, the owner backed out,” Salvas said. “This was my No. 2, my backup place, and now that I am here, I think I ended up with the best option, given the ease and the space I have to work with.”
Salvas said he had the idea of starting a brewery after winning numerous amateur awards for his ciders and beers over the past eight years.
“It’s been a long journey,” he said. “I’ve been brewing beer at home for years, and like most brewers, I started with a Mr. Beer kit.”
An engineer by trade, Salvas already had a passion for science and using recipes.
“Over the years, my beer started to elevate and have consistency, so I thought I would try brewing on a larger scale,” he said.
Salvas said that after he ran the numbers to see if it would be feasible to open a brewery, he found several investors who believed in his product enough to move forward.
“It just sort of all came together, and then it just took off,” he said. “Two years later, we are sitting here preparing to open in a couple of months.”
Salvas said he looked for a place in the Northwest Albuquerque/Rio Rancho area because he felt this area was underserved when it came to local breweries.
“(Finding a site for) a brewery is hard work, because you have to find a place with enough space that has enough parking, that is zoned appropriately for alcohol, (and) not too close to a school, church or military installation – and the landlord has to be into having this type of business,” he said.
Salvas said the brewery will create 12 to 20 jobs, depending on how business is in the first few months.
The brewery’s hours will be from 3 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 3 to 11 p.m. Friday; noon to midnight Saturday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays.
On tap, Salvas will serve an India Pale Ale; a porter; a red beer; and possibly a whitbier, a Belgian-style beer.
“I am always creating things, so I may have a special beer for the month or seasonal beers, like an Oktoberfest,” he said. “You just never know what creation I may come up with.”
Salvas said he will also have three styles of cider on tap at all times.
“I can’t stress enough the importance of our ciders,” he said. “Most places don’t do cider, because you have to have a separate license, a wine license in essence, to make it. But I have both, and I am proud of my process.”
Salvas said the brewery may offer food in the future, but for now he wants to partner with restaurants in the plaza, such as Joe’s Pasta House.
“I want to set up a system where patrons can text their order to the adjoining restaurants and they can get their food delivered to them here,” he said. “Plus, I plan on having food trucks set up next to the business, so food will be taken care of here.”
Salvas said the theme of the brewery will be science-based, with beakers for sample glasses, chalkboards for writing equations, and a double-slate counter top, like in science class, for patrons to sit at and visit.
On the east wall, he’s installing a huge window so customers can view the brewing process. On the north end of brewery, Salvas is putting in a stage for bands to perform and will have a section for kids to play.
“For me and my partners, this is a side business for us; we all have day jobs. … So this is a passion business. It’s what we like to do. We don’t do it because we have to do it; we do it because we love it,” Salvas said.