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A touch of Mexico: La Reforma offers microbrews, cocktails, traditional foods

La Reforma Taqueria Brewery and Distillery owners Jeff Jinnett, left, and John Gozigian. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

La Reforma Taqueria Brewery and Distillery is bringing a little bit of Mexico to Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights.

The space is a three-in-one experience offering customers traditional handheld foods, craft beers and cocktails inspired by Mexico City. The menu includes tacos, tortas, burritos, and quesadillas that can be filled with your choice of carnitas (braised pork shoulder), carne asada (marinated flank steak), al pastor (rotisserie-broiled marinated pork), or pollo asado (grilled and marinated chicken). Taco options also include pescado (tempura-battered white fish) and aguacate (tempura-battered avocado). Depending on what you order, cilantro, onion, guacamole, salsa, and crema are some of the fresh toppings that complement the menu items, as well as housemade corn tortillas for the tacos.

La Reforma will be brewing beers that perfectly pair with its food menu. La Ref Lager uses crisp Tettnanger hops to balance the corn sweetness from the flaked maize to create a lager with a nice bitterness and aromatics. For guests looking for a slight jolt to the taste buds, the Michelada is the Reforma lager with a savory spicy michelada mix with a salt-chile rim. The Turbia Hazy IPA will satisfy any hop-head craving. Another beauty of a beer is the Hi-Wit, a Belgian wit made with the fruity and tart hibiscus flower.

Maximilian, a Munich-style dunkel, might seem out of place, but it’s right where it should be, according to co-owner John Gozigian.

“La Reforma was a political movement in Mexico in the 1860s, and around that time of that movement they brought in emperor Maximilian from France,” Gozigian said. “… He didn’t last very long – I think he got beheaded – but one thing he got accomplished was he brought in German-speaking people to Mexico and they started the brewing industry; that’s why Mexican-style beers are based on German styles, like Mexican light lagers are basically a pilsner, and the dark lagers are like a dunkel.”

La Reforma distills its own vodka, rum and agave spirits that it incorporates into its cocktails, which will be available on tap. The Reformarita is made with La Reforma agave spirit, pineapple juice and simple syrup. Angel of Independence also features the agave spirit, with hibiscus syrup and fresh lime juice. El Tri is a nod to the famous Mexican rock band that features La Reforma’s vodka, rum, and agave spirit mixed with fresh lime juice and watermelon agua fresca. The Hi Tai is a take on the Mai Tai made with hibiscus syrup, orgeat syrup, pineapple and orange juices. The Reforma Libra features the distillery’s rum with Mexican Coca-Cola. It is a take on the classic Cuba libre cocktail.

Gozigian and his business partner, Jeff Jinnett, had been kicking around the idea of opening a carnitas restaurant for several years. Both have a background in breweries. Gozigian and Jinnett co-founded Marble Brewery along with Ted Rice, Marble’s current president. Gozigian also is the former executive director of the New Mexico Brewers Guild and stepped down to open La Reforma. Jinnett grew up in Mexico City and lived there until he was 13 years old. The two saw an opportunity when Bosque Brewing Co. decided to build a new brewery and taproom in the Bosque Open Space, near Interstate 25 and Venice NE.

“This space was already built out for a brewery-restaurant,” Gozigian said. “Another thing was I asked the Bosque guys if they planned on taking this brewing system to their new brewery, and they said ‘no,’ and it just made sense to pitch an idea to them, so I just pitched the idea of how about if you instead of selling the brewing system for pennies on the dollar, why don’t you leave it behind and I take over the space and in exchange you’ll get equity in this business? They liked the idea, and they liked the concept.”

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