BY ALEXIA SEVERSON
Las Cruces Bulletin
LAS CRUCES – Stepping into Icebox Brewing Company, you may feel like you’ve left town. With exposed ductwork, concrete floors, an outdoor patio and a view of the brewing equipment, the new brewery offers a unique addition to the growing craft beer scene in the Las Cruces area.
Icebox, located at 2825 W. Picacho Ave., officially opened its doors on Jan. 23, joining the ranks of six other local breweries, including Picacho Peak Brewing Company, Spotted Dog Brewery, Pecan Grill and Brewery, Bosque Brewing Company, Little Toad Creek Brewery & Distillery and High Desert Brewing Company.
“We’ve had some people come through that have said that this reminds them of other breweries in different cities, like up in Colorado and stuff,” said Brian Weidauer, general manager and co-founder of Icebox. “There are definitely some other breweries around that have a similar concept but nothing here.”
Weidauer runs Icebox along with owner John Wright and head brewer and co-founder Garrett Denmark. After realizing the opportunity for more breweries in southern New Mexico, plans to open Icebox began in late 2017. The name “Icebox” pays tribute to the fact that the building, built in 1959, was once an ice plant. A couple photographs of the ice plant from around the early ‘70s are hung on one of the walls of the brewery.
“A lot of people in town will remember it as City Ice Service or Sierra Ice and Water,” Weidauer said. “It was not only ice service for the residents of Las Cruces but also for semitrucks that would drive through.”
Weidauer said the facility is ideal because it offers room to expand in the future, if the demand for the product is there. Opening the brewery on the west side of town was also an opportunity to fill a need for more food and beverage businesses and places to hang out in the area.
Along with Icebox’s unique look and feel, it’s the only brewery in Las Cruces and Mesilla that has its brewing equipment open to the taproom. And it’s one out of only a handful of breweries in town that brews its beer locally.
“We brew the beer right here where everyone can see the equipment,” Weidauer said. “The other breweries and taprooms, their equipment is behind glass, or in a different facility or not even on site.”
Icebox offers eight core styles of beer on tap year-round, along with four to six rotating seasonal or specialty beers.
Denmark said the goal in creating Icebox’s menu was to offer beers that were “approachable,” so both craft beer and non-craft beer drinkers could find something they enjoy.
“I try really hard not to brew to one style,” Denmark said. “I have hoppy beers and softer beers and more sessionable beers. We also run a lot of different yeast strains through this brewery, which gives us a lot of different flavor profiles, which I chose on purpose.”
So far, the brewery’s best-selling beer has been the Icebox Light, a light lager.
“It’s our equivalent of a light domestic beer, like a Coors Light or Bud Light,” Weidauer said. “We realize a lot of people like to drink light beer, so we didn’t want to have anyone shy away from coming because they think craft beer is heavy or really hoppy.”
A close second is the Frostbite IPA, he said.
In addition to serving beer, Icebox has partnered with Rio Grande Vineyard & Winery in Las Cruces to offer wine, and Ruby Soho food truck, which offers burgers, sandwiches and more during brewery hours.
Since opening, Icebox has already garnered a high response from the community, with a full house on the weekends, Weidauer said.
Las Cruces residents Sam and Shirley Gutierrez, who were at Icebox on a Wednesday evening in early February, said they have become frequent visitors to the brewery.
“This is our third or fourth time, and we just love it here,” Shirley Gutierrez said. “All the beer is good, the people are good, all the servers are wonderful.”
Sam Gutierrez said the history of the building adds to the ambience of Icebox.
“If you walk into this place and you know that this used to be the ice house, just the history alone, I mean, it’s the perfect setting; it’s like it was meant to be,” he said.
On the same day, Las Crucen Ernesto Moralez stopped by Icebox for the first time to sample the beer. Moralez said he likes the location and that the brewery might give the neighborhood a needed boost.
“The craft brewery scene, it’s a huge thing right now,” Moralez said. “It’s nice to see Las Cruces keeping up – I think we’re doing a pretty good job with it.”
More breweries in the area creates more competition, which Moralez said he thinks is a good thing.
“If there’s other breweries that are making better beer, it kind of brings up the game for everyone else, so I think it’s healthy,” he said.
Alexia Severson may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.