Portland may be considered beer heaven, but forgive me if I spend eternity in beer purgatory here in Albuquerque. Portland (the hipster city, not the lobster city) is reputed to have 30 breweries in a city of 580,000 residents. Albuquerque is catching up quickly with three more breweries looking to open in the coming months. The only question is whether our city has enough craft drinkers to support that growth.
If my visit to Tractor Brewing’s new Nob Hill tap room is any indication, brewpubs may overtake Olive Garden as Albuquerque’s favorite destination. The tap room has only been open a month, yet Tractor is already doing a brisk business, often filling the entire patio area. The location doesn’t hurt, either. I’ve always felt that even a mediocre business has a fighting chance in Nob Hill, just from the sheer number of people the area attracts. But Tractor draws the crowd by serving beer that’s come a long way since Head Brewer Dave Hargis took over more than a year ago.
Tractor plans to introduce live music in the near future. There is no kitchen, but five Nob Hill restaurants offer delivery, and there are plenty within walking distance.
Owner Ken Carson found the initial transition from bank executive to brewery owner more daunting than he anticipated. And that’s not even including the extra months of downtime—waiting for contractors to take care of all the little details that kept Nexus from opening its doors. “In the banking industry, things sort of stay the same regardless of the amount of customers coming through the doors that day,” he says. “I just have to remember that the brewery is going to have its good and bad days, and not get too caught up in head-counting. If the beer’s good, people will come.”
The brewery is attracting quite a following, both for the beer and as a soul food gastropub. The menu offers specialties of Southern-fried po’boys and the delicious marriage of chicken and waffles. It’s just the place to take your soul-food-craving friends while still getting your craft beer fix. And there’s live music, too. Nexus has bands booked two to three nights a week.
Sounds like a good life.