Burning Man, Craft Beer and Sustainability: Taos Mesa Brewing

Jan 10 2014, 12:16pm CST | by

Burning Man, Craft Beer and Sustainability: Taos Mesa Brewing

It is Wednesday night in January and the Taproom in Taos Ski Valley is packed. No more than 15 feet wide, skiers stream in and out, sharing a beer after a day on the mountain or filling their growlers before heading home.  Customers ask co-founders Peter Kolshorn and Gary Feuerman for recommendations amid the hustle and bustle.  An offshoot of  Taos Mesa Brewing, the new digs are only a few weeks old but already have the quirky vibe that the flagship brewery is famous for.

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains form a remarkable backdrop for the brewery, whose environmental design was envisioned by Kolshorn. The builder learned sustainable building practices from Michael Reynolds, the architect behind Earthship, an off-the-grid housing provider.

“I injected my design ideas into the very linear, boring quonset,” says Kolshorn.  “We ended up with the great east-facing windows that capture the mountains.”

The building receives between 85% and 90% of its heating from the sun thanks to Kolshorn’s design.  Carft beer company Sierra Nevada is also one of Kolshorn’s inspirations as the company is almost entirely carbon neutral.

“We should be off-the-grid in 5 years,” says Feuerman.  “We are already set up for that, but we ran into capital issues with some of the projects.”

Salvaged materials played a large part in construction, from a concrete bar filled with objects like metal gear wheels and spoons to a dance floor that was built using old tires.  When a Borders Books closed in Santa Fe, the founders paid $200 dollars for almost all the shelving in the store, repurposing the wooden and metal shelves to hold LED lights and help with acoustics. Acknowledging that not all of their salvaging projects have been a success, Irion recalls the enjoyment of the process.

“To give our concrete floor intrigue we threw gallons of crushed glass into the slab as we were floating it,” says Irion.  After spending days grinding it down, they were left with their “poor mans terrazzo” that covers the foyer, bathroom and bar floor.

At first glance the four co-founders, including brewer Jayson Wylie, might seem like an unlikely group, with backgrounds ranging from law to entertainment, but they insist that it has helped make the brewery a success.

“All of our combined skills has made it work.  We were a bare bones budget, raising money just to get building up,” says Feuerman.  The company has 52 investors, including the four founders who own 57% of the company. “We have all run businesses before but nothing like this dynamics on this scale.”

Named one of the coolest breweries in America by Travel and Leisure Magazine,  the brewery is 16 months old and has hopes to distribute to Santa Fe and Albequerque by the summer.

“The original concept for this business came about when my band rented a warehouse a quarter of a mile away,” says Irion.  The band hosted parties in the desert in the early 2000s but after a few hiccups with the police they were shut down.  However, the sentiment lived on.

“There was such a sense of freedom and endless possibilities  that exuded from those performances. I knew I’d spend the rest of my life trying to recapture that feeling,” says Irion, “Gary was in that scene as well, so he remembers. Peter Kolshorn’s thing was Burning Man, so his vision was similar.  Taos Mesa Brewing is our best approximation [of those influences].”

Boasting concerts packed with 500 people, the brewery has quickly become a mainstay of the Northern New Mexico entertainment scene.

“We have two-stepping on Sunday night and techno on Friday,” says bartender Kim Pelton. “That is what is great about it.  There is an eclectic draw.”

Source: Forbes Business

 
 

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