It doesn't matter where your grandparents were from: on St. Patty's day, everyone is Irish. And what's more Irish than a neighborhood pub filled with that hot cereal smell that tells you the beer is a-brewin'? Opening just in time to honor the dude who kicked all the snakes out of Éire, a new brewpub is lighting up the old northeast corner of Lomas and San Mateo and welcoming Burqueños in search of great beer. Before they fully opened their doors, Alibi was able to speak with Co-owner Ror McKeown and Head Brewers David Facey and Brady McKeown to get the inside scoop on the newest brewery in the Duke City: Quarter Celtic.
“In the past, Brady, Dave and I have worked together in the brewing industry so it was nice to come together and strike out on our own,” said Ror over the cacophony coming from the brewery section, clearly visible behind a plexiglass partition. “It's now or never since it's really starting to ramp up on the brew scene. We'd been with Il Vicino and the Canteen for the last 25 years ... Brady was one of the original brewers back in the day. He's been doing it a long, long time so we thought it was time to go out and get him his own place. Since there are so many breweries we figured we should act now while we can get our little piece of real estate.
“We thought this neighborhood was underserved and everyone in the neighborhood is really excited. We want to be the neighborhood pub.” For this friendly group of guys, community is what it's all about. Brewpubs are a social gathering place, a watering hole in this dusty high desert; Ror feels that, as much as they want to promote their beer and food, these sorts of places are really all about friendships, expounding, “We want to know the people who come here. We want them to hang out.” The team dreams of revitalizing the rather hollow and ghostly looking corner by being a strong downstairs anchor that will draw new business (and life) into the shopping center.
When I questioned him about the name of the place, I discovered that they do in fact have a Celtic heritage. “Growing up, people would always say, 'Hey, here come the Irish boys!'” laughed Ror while admitting that their blood only runs one eighth green. However, “Eighth Celtic doesn't sound as nice as Quarter Celtic. But all of us do have some Irish or Scottish lineage. And it allowed us to have some fun with the theme all the way down from our ambience to our menu and beers.” Craning my head back and glancing up at the high wall that runs over the taps and kitchen, I see the family crests of each of the six founders proudly displayed.
Speaking of taps, I was able to sneak behind the brewery partition and get a few words out of David and Brady about their greatest passion. While Quarter Celtic will have guest taps for their buddies in the business like cider from Red Door and will pour grape juice from wineries like Casa Rodena and St. Clair, they'll also be brewing up everything from seasonals and hefeweizens to sour beers and barrel-aged brews as the creative mood strikes them. When asked if they had any specific flavors in mind for their beers, Brady responded, “We've experimented for many years and refined our palettes so we know what we enjoy. We brew what we like with the hope that other people will like it too,” with David adding, “Being in Albuquerque, we feel it's important to come out with some pretty aggressive IPAs—it's kind of what this town calls for so if you don't have one as your flagship—really aggressive in flavor and hop character—you're not going to do so well. We're trying to stay true to what this town expects.” David was also pretty proud of the Rye't Side of Dublin RyePA, boasting, “We use rye and it brings out a nice spicy characteristic that can easily be overwhelmed or underwhelmed, and I think we hit a nice sweet spot that stands true.”
And for those vegans and vegetarians of Burque who can't enjoy a good ol' fashioned Guinness, ya'll will be delighted to hear that Quarter Celtic can be added to your no-kill list. “All of our beers will be vegan friendly,” Brady deadpanned, “but many, many hops were harmed in the making of our beers.”
As the Irish proverb goes, “A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures”—but if those don't work, try a beer. As Albuquerque continues to grow as a brewski destination, check out the Irish boys for both the friendly atmosphere and their general outlook on life: “We take this really seriously but at the end of the day, we can take a step back and say, 'I make beer for a living and that's pretty darn cool.'”