Steel Bender to celebrate anniversary with five days of beer releases, food specials and music - Albuquerque Journal

Steel Bender to celebrate anniversary with five days of beer releases, food specials and music

Samples of beer greet customers at Steel Bender Brewyard, which celebrates five years of business this month. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Life takes some unexpected turns, hurdling people down paths they never imagined.

For instance, buying a 5-acre piece of property in the North Valley for commercial development and ending up owners of a brewery instead.

That’s the origin story of Steel Bender Brewyard, which celebrates five years in business this month. Brothers Greg, Chris and Ethan Chant opened the Los Ranchos de Albuquerque brewery on March 15, 2017 – five years after purchasing the property they had planned to develop for someone else.

To celebrate this surprise, but epic, twist, Steel Bender is offering five days of food specials, daily beer releases and music starting Sunday, March 13, and finishing off on St. Patrick’s Day. Le Chat Lunatique will take the stage at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 15.

Shelby Chant, part owner, wife of Ethan and the marketing director for the brewery, said the three brothers have owned a construction business for years and were in talks with the village about developing something on the property that would be a gathering spot for the Los Ranchos community. She and her husband Ethan were big fans of the craft brewery scene at the time and thought “Why not a brewery?”

“We said ‘Let’s try something small and see what happens,’ ” Ethan Chant said. “There was a line down the street the day we opened.”

Although they loved drinking beer, Ethan Chant said they had no idea how to make it. One of their first moves was to hire their head brewer Robert Haggerty, a veteran in the craft beer community.

Customers enjoy food and beer at Steel Bender Brewyard located in Los Ranchos. The brewery has an indoor and outdoor bar. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

A few years later, they realized their modest brewery wasn’t going to cut it. So what did the builders do? They built.

“We said ‘We are going to need a bigger boat,’ ” Shelby Chant said. “So we built this.”

“This” was an 8,000-square-foot brewing warehouse behind the original taproom. They kept the smaller brewery, which is next to the taproom kitchen, and use it for smaller batches and their sours.

“I call it fun size,” Ethan Chant said. “You know like those little Halloween candies you can put in your pocket.”

Five years and thousands of square feet later, they show no signs of slowing down yet. They are in the works to open a second location and are currently in negotiations for a new property. They have also added additional buildings on the five-acre property they will rent to retailers.

Ethan Chant said the brewery has become more than most of them ever dreamed but it also became exactly what they hoped – a gathering place in the community.

“We liked what a brewery can do,” he said. “It’s about coming together with friends and family and making new friends.”

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