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ABQ brewery opens one taproom, eyes another

A bartender pours a pint of the Uppercut IPA beer at the Boxing Bear Brewing Company last year. Boxing Bear head brewer Justin Hamilton says the company has been in expansion mode in recent months.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It’s been a busy May for Boxing Bear Brewing Co., one that saw the brewery open one taproom and announce plans to build another.

Earlier this month, Boxing Bear, which operates a brewery in Corrales near Cottonwood Mall, announced plans to open a third location in Northeast Heights, at a multi-use concept complex being built by developer Art Gardenswartz, later this year.

“We’ve been really wanting to get into the Northeast Heights for quite a while,” said Kevin Davis, co-founder of Boxing Bear.

The announcement came less than two weeks after Boxing Bear held a grand opening for its taproom in west Downtown, at 1710 Central Ave. SW, at the start of May.

“It’s kind of an iconic neighborhood,” Davis said of the location. “It’s one of the older established neighborhoods in town.”

Boxing Bear also began canning a few of its beers this year, albeit on a smaller scale than other Albuquerque breweries. Between the cans and the new taprooms, Davis said he expects the brewery to produce nearly 3,000 barrels of beer in 2019, up from around 2,000 the prior year. Davis said the total leaves them well short of the totals produced by Marble and La Cumbre, Albuquerque’s largest breweries , but places Boxing Bear squarely in the next tier .

“We’re hanging in there,” Davis said. “We’re gonna hold our own, there’s no doubt about that.”

Boxing Bear Brewing Co., which opened in the summer of 2014, has taken a circuitous route to opening a taproom in Northeast Heights. Davis said he and other staffers have been hearing for years at beer festivals and other events that east-side residents have wanted the brewery to establish a nearby taproom for years.

Davis said the brewery had plans to move into Northeast Heights around two years ago, but the deal ultimately fell through after the developers couldn’t secure the funding needed to bring the project to fruition.

However, the brewery ultimately got another crack at the neighborhood, after Gardenswartz began developing a new mixed-used development, which will be known as Bridges on Tramway, at the corner of Tramway and Candelaria NE. Gardenswartz said he acquired the site for the development — formerly home to a Hastings — last fall. His vision for the property is a mix of offices and retail operations including a yoga studio, a coffee shop and a brewery, aimed at nearby residents looking for a place to spend time in the mornings and evenings.

“The coffee shop and the brewery are the key anchors, in my opinion,” Gardenswartz said.

Gardenswartz said several other tenants haven’t been finalized yet, but Boxing Bear formally came onboard earlier this month, securing a 3,500-square-foot space. Gardenswartz said he expects Bridges on Tramway to open this fall, though the brewery still needs to go through the city’s zoning process.