Boxing Bear Brewing Company
The Albuquerque beer scene is interesting. While the city is not known as a mecca for craft beer enthusiasts, there are several breweries churning out interesting offerings, and the brewing community seems tight knit in New Mexico’s largest city.
Boxing Bear Brewing Company entered the fray in 2014. Kevin Davis, owner of Southwest Grape and Grain, spearheaded the opening of the brewery with Boxing Bear partners Justin Hamilton and David Kim.
The brewery is in a building that has housed several restaurants over the years, near the Rio Grande at 10200 Corrales Road NW. It sits adjacent to Southwest Grape and Grain.
From Baseball to Brewing
Kim and Davis worked together as baseball coaches. Kim was an avid homebrewer and began teaching Davis how to brew. Caught with the bug, Davis got his own brewing system, which eventually led to his opening Southwest Grape and Grain to fill a need in Albuquerque for a homebrew shop stocking specialized grains.
“My wife told me, ‘You love this. Why don’t you open a brew shop?'”, recalled Davis.
Davis soon learned brewing techniques from Albuquerque’s La Cumbre Brewing Company, and the fire was lit for Davis and Kim to take the next step.
While Davis and Kim are proud of their homebrewing and recipes, they understood their limitations when it came to opening a commercial brewing operation. Boxing Bear brought on Hamilton as head brewer and partner. Hamilton cut his teeth as a professional brewer at Chama River Brewing Company in Albuquerque before coming over to Boxing Bear to operate its 10-barrel system.
“We were smart enough to know that we wanted to open a brewery and wanted it to be successful. We knew the two of us didn’t have the experience with large-scale brewing,” said Davis, whose son Dylan is an assistant brewer at Boxing Bear. “David and I knew we would need someone who knew what he was doing. . . . I love homebrewing, but I didn’t have any illusions about making that transfer (to commercial brewing).”
It’s a good thing Hamilton is a professional, since Davis said he was surprised by how much knowledge one needs to run a commercial brewing operation. Davis told We Like Drinking that Hamilton has taught him “a lot about what I don’t know.”
The brewery was not originally going to be called Boxing Bear, but the owners would have found themselves in a trademark lawsuit if they went with the first choice. So, Hamilton’s dogs (one named bear and the other a boxer) became the inspiration for the brewery name and allowed Boxing Bear to come up with the tagline “Beer With a Punch.”
Boxing Bear Brewing Company offers six year-round beers in its rotation and several seasonal offerings. There are 12 taps at Boxing Bear and 13 total offerings including a cider. The Bohemian Pilsner is a highlight, with a very clear look and a clean finish. My favorite of the regular rotation was the Standing 8 Count Stout, a true Irish dry stout. It’s not a session ale by any means at 6.3 ABV, but Boxing Bear got the roasted malt right in this one. The most popular offering is the Uppercut IPA, but the Paw Swipe Pale Ale is popular with local restaurants.
Boxing Bear is open seven days a week; Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. There is also a sandwich menu available, but the focus is clearly on the beer at Boxing Bear. The brewery is also looking at expanding to retail sales in the future.
The Albuquerque beer community is richer for having Boxing Bear in the field. The beers are solid, and it’s a relaxing place to have a couple of pints.
“You can always expect quality beer, a quality product” said Davis. “We pay our servers to go to my brewing seminars (through the homebrew shop), so they understand beer and what it takes.”
The brewery is hosting Bear Fest on May 24. Check out the news section on the Boxing Bear site for more information.
Boxing Bear on Facebook: pages/Boxing-Bear-Brewing-Co/1390238394583090