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Coffee and beer: Thirsty Eye Brewing offers java choices to draw morning crowd

Along one of Albuquerque’s busiest streets is the little oasis Thirsty Eye Brewing Co.

Thirsty Eye Brewing Co. owner Kim Arthun and assistant manager Ellen Mahlman with some of the beers from the EDo brewery and coffee shop and art gallery. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

There is more to the business than just brewing beer. Thirsty Eye has a coffee program that helps satisfy patrons’ caffeine fix as early as 7:30 a.m. daily. It now offers a seasonal house brew called Rio de la Casa roasted by locals Cutbow Coffee Roastology. Other caffeinated options include cafĂ© au lait; espresso; Americano; Red Eye!, which is a double shot of espresso with the house brew; cappuccino; latte and mocha. Several teas and a nonalcoholic kombucha named Blue Butterfly, made with green tea and butterfly pea flowers, also are available.

“We liked the idea of maximizing the space,” said Thirsty Eye co-owner Kim Arthun. “Breweries are closed in the morning. Coffee shops, they start winding down in the afternoon, and then their spaces sit empty. Our idea was, why don’t we combine the two, maximize the space? So far, it’s worked out.”

The idea to open Thirsty Eye started when the space became available to lease.

“I had the gallery next door Exhibit/208 for 20 years, and we moved down to this location in 2010,” Arthun said. “(Co-owner) David Mahlman was our landlord, and this was originally his architecture office. David has designed numerous public works all over the city. He retired four years ago, and he was trying to lease this space. I’ve been into the craft beer thing since the beginning. I’ve watched the whole thing kind of blossom. This just seemed like a really good fit for the gallery in terms of financially supporting it, make it sustainable. Running a contemporary gallery isn’t a moneymaking effort, so we really needed something to sustain it.”

Arthun, Mahlman and co-owner Shawn Turung have strong backgrounds in art but not in brewing. Through a network of friends, they were introduced to brewer John Kofonow, who attended the American Brewers Guild Craftbrewer’s Apprenticeship program and interned at Chama River Brewing Co. before it closed.

“John’s been a graphic designer and web designer for UNM, the School of Education,” said Mahlman. “I think he’s been at UNM for 20 years, and he wanted to transition into brewing, so he was the perfect match for us because he wanted to be part time. We only needed a part-time member. He’s once a week now. We have a four-barrel system. It’s a small nanobrewery. In two months, he’s put out eight different styles, with awesome reviews so far, even brewers coming in to check out what’s going on and saying it’s solid beer. He’s meticulous. He’s an artist, but he’s a chemist too.”

House beers include Citrus Buzz, an orange blossom honey wheat; Cashmire Blond, a blond ale with cashmire hops; Hello EDo, an American pale ale; el Ojo Rojo, an amber ale; el Drac, a West Coast IPA; Down in the Hollow, a brown ale; and Rented Tux, a vanilla porter. There are also guest taps featuring some other New Mexico brewery offerings, and there are house wines from local wineries on the menu. Food trucks also set up shop, usually on Saturdays, and help curb patrons’ appetites.

Patrons can sip their drink of choice and take in the hanging art inside the taproom area or head out back to a shaded patio. There has been discussion of adding a hot yoga and mimosas on the patio starting the end of this month. Exhibit 208 shares the patio space, and guests can peruse the gallery and enjoy a Thirsty Eye beer or other offering during opening receptions. The gallery’s current show, “Iron Clad II,” showcases works by Jack Craft and Ted Laredo through Aug. 3.

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