Pete Kassetas, left, and Cody Huffmon, owners of Downshift Brewing Company Outpost 1706, prepare for their October soft opening. The old town bar is open all day. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)
Visitors to the Old Town now have another family-friendly place to rest their feet and have a beer.
Downshift Brewing Company Outpost 1706 had its soft opening during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, and the mood began to flow steadily in early December. The taproom is located on the top floor of Plaza Don Luis at 301 Romero Street NW.
The name pays homage to the year Old Town was founded and the fact that the new venture represents a career change and pace for the owners and head brewer.
The owners are former New Mexico State Police Commissioner Pete Kassetas and his nephew Cody Huffmon. Kassetas said none of them have experience or a desire to become a seasoned brewer. Instead, they hired Eddie Gutierrez, someone with a lot of experience who is well known in the brewing world. Gutierrez has been a brewer at Saint Arnold Brewing Company in Houston for eight years, the last four years as head brewer. He graduated from New Mexico State University with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering.
Kassetas said they hope to have some of their beers on the market by March. Until then, guests can still sample local craft beers with guest taps from Marble, Steel Bender, La Cumbre, and Ex Novo breweries.
They also serve cocktails, including Bloody Marys and a New Mexico-style margarita made with jalapeños or green chili and using spirits from local distilleries.
Kassetas said they obviously want to appeal to tourists because of the location, but they also want Outpost 1706 to become a place for locals.
A woman sits in a pew and looks out the east-facing window at the 1706 Old Town outpost of the Downshift Brewing Company. (Elaine D. Briseño/Journal)
“It’s such a great area,” he said. “They have tourists. You have people who live in Old Town. people who work here. We want to make this a destination.”
Kassetas said when they designed the spot, they wanted something that was authentic to New Mexico but not overly touristy. Artist Izzie Arév painted a black-and-white mural on one wall depicting images of tumbleweeds, a rattlesnake, a roadrunner, a pueblo, a Chilean ristra, and other images one would associate with New Mexico.
Kassetas said the bar top is made from an alligator juniper tree from the Gila National Forest. Old church pews from Cuba provide intimate seating areas from which visitors can look out over the plaza through large windows.
Chairs and tables are set out on the terrace surrounding the taproom, offering views of the historic Old Town Square and the Catholic Church of San Felipe de Neri. In fact, the church is so close that Kassetas said they had to ask the church for a special permit to open their doors.
There is no kitchen, but guests can bring in food or have it delivered.
The brewery is open Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday from 12pm to 8pm and Friday and Saturday from 12pm to 10pm. They are closed on Mondays.