Brewery designed as entertainment destination
FARMINGTON – During his time as the guitarist for his family’s bluegrass band, Foxfire Bluegrass, Brian Haisman said he certainly enjoyed the experience of creating music, but didn’t particularly relish the attention that comes with being onstage.
So Haisman gave up the musical life and became a gravedigger. But somewhere deep within him, his creative side still sought an outlet, a need that wasn’t being met by running a backhoe.
So he changed directions again. Haisman and his father David — who espouses the notion that life should be an adventure — had been watching for years as brew pubs and craft breweries popped up all over the country, becoming increasingly popular in the inter-mountain West in particular. They wondered when someone would open another brewery in Farmington besides the Three Rivers Brewery downtown, which has grown steadily over the course of its nearly 20-year existence to occupy most of a city block.
They finally got tired of waiting and decided to do it themselves. Late last week, their new venture — the Farmington HUB, Brewery and Grill — opened at 914 E. Main St., and, as head brewer, Brian Haisman now finds himself back in the creativity business. The new business occupies the spot where the Mongolian Grill was located.
Last week, as the business saw a flurry of last-minute activity in anticipation of its opening, the younger Haisman couldn’t keep a wide grin off his face as he looked ahead to his new line of work.
“When I was a kid, we made our own soda pop — root beer, sarsaparilla — and I really enjoyed that,” he said. “When I turned 21, Dad suggested I start making beer, so I thought I’d give it a shot.”
For the last nine years, Haisman has been honing his brewing skills, working his way up from kit beers to all-grain brewing. The HUB’s brewery hasn’t been set up yet — the elder Haisman estimates the business is still 45 days away from serving its first beer brewed in house — but Brian could hardly contain his excitement last week as he strolled through his new brewhouse, trailing his fingers on the shiny, stainless steel fermenting tanks.
But both Haismans understand their new venture will depend on much more than quality beer to become a success.
“It’s all about entertainment,” Brian said. “You can go anywhere and get great food … It’s the atmosphere, the community we’re trying to build here. When we were in the family band, we weren’t the best band out there, but we had fun. The audience could tell we really enjoyed what we were doing.”
The Haismans plan on promoting that atmosphere at the HUB.
“We’re going to be having karaoke, open mics, trivia, live music and other special events,” David said, outlining his plan to make the brewery an entertainment destination where the walls are covered with work by a rotating roster of local artists. “Rather than being a sports bar, we’re forming a production company — HUB Productions — that will produce videos that we will feature on our screens."
The Haismans are emphasizing inclusivity at the HUB, which they picture as a 21st century version of the classic English, Irish or Scottish public house, a community gathering spot that more often than not was simply the living room of a house. Brian said that creating a welcoming, comfortable atmosphere will be the key to what he and his father hope to accomplish with the HUB, and he acknowledged the challenge of continuously meeting that standard had given him a slight case of the jitters last week.
“Not about brewing the beer,” he said, when asked if he was fretting over the HUB’s opening. “About the rest, dealing with people on a daily basis? In our bluegrass band, we interacted with people every day. To keep that level of energy up every day, that’s the part I’m nervous about.”
The HUB’s initial list of offerings will be an abbreviated one. The restaurant is open and is serving a full menu of standard pub fare, and Santa Fe Brewing Company products are available on tap. But live entertainment probably won’t be offered for a few weeks, until the kinks in the restaurant’s operations are ironed out, David said.
As the build-out continues, the brewery will come on line in March, and a sizable wooden deck, crowned by a fire pit and accessible through a slide-up garage door, will be constructed come spring. Brian envisions that area serving as the site of weekly jam sessions, where informal gatherings of local musicians will unfold before a roaring fire.
The Haismans also plan on constructing a grill area at the north end of the dining room that will be patterned after a food truck. Diners will be able to step up to the grill and order tacos and other such fare in an informal, self-service fashion.
Various parts of the dining room will feature accordion doors so that they may be partitioned to accommodate groups for meetings or private parties. Twenties Night events are planned where one of those rooms is converted to an old-fashioned speakeasy, and patrons dressed in period costumes knock on the door and recite a password to gain admission.
For those who favor simpler pleasures, Brian plans on constructing a bar top with inlaid board games so that visitors can stay amused as they linger at the HUB over a pint of handcrafted beer or one of the varieties of Raven’s Brew coffee it offers.
And who knows what else might unfold under the roof of the HUB? Brian likes to cite the fact that most of the U.S. Constitution was drafted during nightly meetings in pubs, while the portly German monk and Reformation rabble-rouser Martin Luther is said to have come up with many of his famed 95 Theses while downing a pint or three at his favorite local watering hole.
Soon, Brian will open a portion of his brewhouse to the local home brewing community. He’s setting up a small system independent of the main brewery through which local brewers can brew a keg of their favorite recipe and have it sold on tap at the bar, creating their own product names and logos as part of the experience.
The Haismans aspire to create a business that leaves patrons with a memorable experience — and they know many of those patrons will come from outside the immediate area. Craft beer lovers are known to spend their vacations visiting as many breweries and brew pubs as they can, and David plans on taking the opportunity to promote the entire region when he meets folks who fall into that category.
“We had three guys from Seattle in here the other day,” he said, explaining that even though the business wasn’t open yet, he gave the visitors a full tour and tried to give them a sense of what the HUB will be like, as well as what the Four Corners has to offer. “So they left here with not only an appreciation for Farmington, but also for the whole area. I’m an unofficial ambassador for Farmington and the Four Corners.”
As for the notion that Farmington may not support more than one brewery, David pointed to the craft brewing boom across the United States and said he’s heard reports that there are 30 to 40 applications for breweries pending in the Albuquerque area alone and that the figure nationwide could be as high as 1,500.
All that figured in to his decision to jump into the business with his son.
“I can’t say this was our grand plan in life, to operate a brewery,” he said, smiling. “But we saw a need in our community to produce something like this.”
Mike Easterling is the A&E editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4610.