ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Boxing Bear Brewing Company has a couple new things to celebrate with the special release of its DR. INK ME IPA and a new taproom.
The new IPA is a collaboration between the brewery and Gallo Negro Tattoo.
“We kind of had an idea, like about a year ago, to kind of start integrating artists and local artists in the New Mexico scene into kind of like a brewery kind of idea,” said Justin Hamilton, director of brewing operations, co-founder and co-owner of Boxing Bear.
The brewery’s first partnership happened last year with local glass artist Rashan Jones out of High Desert Flameworks on a peach cobbler ale called Just Jonesin’.
“So doing that with Rashan kind of opened the door for this kind of idea to go outside of the norm of doing brewery collabs with other breweries, which is really normal and stuff that we’ve done before, but trying to go in a separate direction and do it with with other artists, other people that are really passionate with their craft,” Hamilton explained.
Returning to some normalcy from the COVID pandemic the brewery recently decided to again work with local artists.
“Something that we wanted to do for a long time was to work with a local tattoo artist or a local graphic designer,” Hamilton said. “So being that we’re kind of in this pool of artists and people know each other, (Gallo Negro Tattoo owner) Josh Escobedo, I actually went to high school with him and I’ve known him from there and he is also good friends with Rashan and other people that we work with in the brewery. So it was kind of a no brainer as far as working with them.”
The brewery wanted to work with an illustrator on this collaboration.
“I knew that I wanted to do work with a tattoo artist,” Hamilton said. “We knew that we wanted to do somebody that was art forward. Someone that, like I said, had that illustration kind of background. So it was obviously because, you know, what we do is so much involved in art as far as like our label work, our poster work. Our general marketing all involves art. So it was fun to get involved with Josh and Gallo Negro because not only were they good friends of ours, but they’re just awesome artists.”
Escobedo was not only directly involved in DR. INK ME IPA’s label art but also its recipe.
“(Escobedo) had a lot of integration on the flavor and the profile of the beer that he wanted to put out there,” Hamilton said. “I really wanted to make a beer that he wanted to drink. Something that was interesting for him and the tattoo community. So being that he was big on West Coast IPAs, that’s the direction we went. And we put together a really fun recipe with some really great hops. And some hops that we’ve never used before or played with.”
The special release was dry hopped with Sabro, Idaho 7 and Citra Hops.
“It’s kind of tasting like stone fruit kind of grapefruit,” Hamilton said. “There’s little hints of coconut there. And it’s just a bitter profile that you would like normally get from a West Coast IPA.”
Special T-shirts were also created as part of the collaboration. The shirts as well as DR. INK ME IPA is available at all Boxing Bear locations including its new Firestone Taproom & Brewery located at 8420 Firestone Lane NE. The IPA is available on tap and in 16 ounce four pack cans.
Boxing Bear recently opened its fourth taproom and future production facility on Firestone Lane NE. It is currently open from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.
“It’s kind of a funny story,” Boxing Bear co-owner Kevin Davis said of the new location. “When this property became available, you know, we kind of outgrew our original brewery (in Corrales). We can’t really fit any more equipment in there and there’s just no room to work anymore. And so, you know, we kind of about a year and a half ago started looking around and just right about when the COVID lockdowns hit is when we found this property.”
The decision to acquire the property during a pandemic was not an easy one.
“I can remember getting together with my partners and saying, well, should we pull the trigger on this property or not?” Davis said. “You know, I can remember all of us pretty much agreeing ‘Oh this COVID lockdown, it won’t last through the summer.’ So it’s been a little bit nerve-racking for us. But, you know, we got through it. And now we’re finally glad to have at least the taproom open and then we’ll be in the course of moving the brewery over properly in the wintertime when we slow down a little bit.”