'We’ll open when we open, but we think January is a pretty safe bet' - OffKilter Brewing's Mike Campbell
BY EFRAIN VILLA
Another year draws to a close. People reflect, bond with family and engage in all those other holiday activities us jaded types are quick to scoff at or side-eye. I only just became aware of side-eyeing, and I’m not sure I have it down; after all, one cannot side-eye oneself in the mirror unless … never mind. I’m here to talk beer, not ocular gestures.
On the topic of misalignment, OffKilter Brewing Co.’s Mike Campbell says his new place is “a celebration of Scotland and all things slightly skewed,” so my fellow side-eyers will fit right in. Campbell, a two-decade brewing veteran, notes that he hopes to open the location (4814 Hardware NE) in January, but experience tells him things in the brewery biz don’t always go as planned.
“If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother,” Campbell laughs. “We’ll open when we open, but we think January is a pretty safe bet.”
After two decades of being the venerable brewer at places like Tractor, La Cazuela and several other successful ventures, why open a brewery now? “I guess it all started with me sleeping with the investor’s daughter,” Campbell jokes, describing the family venture being backed by his mother-in-law. His wife and business partner, Sheryl, known locally as the “Brew Widow,” is certainly no bystander in the brewery. As a former president of the Dukes of Ale brew club and the business manager behind Mike’s success, she brings her own extensive industry experience to the operation.
In addition to the celebration and sleeping with future business partners, December gifts us with stress. For the collegiate set, the month marks a frantic hurtle toward finals and research papers and, not infrequently, a scholar’s last chance to score a decent grade. Dana Koller of Kaktus Brewing in Bernalillo plans to do his part to combat end-of-year anxieties by opening a second Kaktus taproom in the old Amore space (2929 Monte Vista NE) across from UNM’s Main Campus.
A soft opening week ending Dec. 23 is planned for groups in the Duke City to “rent” the facility for free, says Koller. “We think it’s a nice way to introduce ourselves to Albuquerque. People will be able to have a private holiday party at our place. All they have to do is ensure there’s a minimum food order of $500 for their group. Plus they’ll get a sneak peek at our new place.” The location’s grand opening is slated for Thursday, Dec. 31, aka New Year’s Eve.
The Kaktus satellite location hopes to embody a colorful, productive vibe. “I was thinking we could host academic talks on Mondays with very aggressive specials and designate that as a student-only night,” Koller says. “When you’re in school, it’s sometimes hard to meet [like-minded] people in fun settings that don’t involve crazy bar scenes.”
I propose that the first lecture be an intercultural examination of the pervasiveness and complexities of the side-eye gesture’s implications for social justice. Happy New Year!
ABQ Free Press stringer / bon vivant Efrain Villa chronicles the Albuquerque brewing scene in his ABeerQ column. Reach him at aimlessvagabond.com