If you are looking for a serene and historic vibe, then Casa Vieja Brewery is your place.
The Corrales brewery is housed in a building constructed in the 1770s. Located at 4541 Corrales Road, the site has served as a French nunnery, jail, a country store and private housing. A remodel of the location turned up an old painting hidden within the structure’s walls, which inspired the name for The Duke’s Red Ale, one of nine signature beers on tap at Casa Vieja. The beers are brewed onsite by head brewer Michael Sharpe.
“It would remind somebody if they opened up an Alaskan Amber,” general manager Gary West said of The Duke’s Ale. “It’s not really hoppy, but it’s more of like a caramely sweetness.”
The Blue Corn Lager is another popular request.
“It is a Southwest-inspired take on a classic American lager (made with) locally grown blue corn with Hallertau Blanc hops,” West said.
The Ghost Stout, which is made with light grains and resembles a chocolate stout, is named for some guests who have never left the building. There have been accounts of paranormal activity happening on the property. A team of paranormal investigators were recently brought in to scope out the place to see what they would discover.
“(It is) music sometimes,” West said of the haunted happenings. “You know, kind of images out of the corner of your eye. Orbs at night on the infrared cameras.”
But the ghostly guests are inviting and patrons continue to return for the brewery’s unique ambiance.
“Everybody seems to come back here because it’s just got that certain vibe to it and nothing evil, nothing threatening. All of the vibes are very warm and welcoming. So I would say if there’s any activity going on, it’s going to be conducive to good.”
One can get quite cozy once they enter this quaint space.
“You come into the main entrance and you can go into the bar if you take a left or you go straight into the chapel, which is the longest room in the house, kind of connecting other rooms together,” West explained. “And if you take a right you can go out to the patio. If you take a left you can go up into two more additional rooms. So it’s very easy to get lost in here. Bring a book, you can definitely find a nice private little corner to crawl up and relax. We have fireplaces inside and heaters outside for the winter.”
Casa Vieja has had several owners throughout its years of existence. It was originally built in the 18th century by Salvador Martinez, as part of the Alameda Land Grant from Juan Carlos Bas I, according to the brewery’s website. The vacated and dilapidated property was later purchased in 1941 by the Harrington family, who relocated from Iowa. The family restored the structure, which had only five of its original 20 rooms intact. The property again exchanged owners in 1950 and was turned into a small hospital. It was sold again in the 1970s and transformed into a fine dining restaurant. In 2016, the Socha family purchased the building and turned it into an event center that evolved into the brewery. Casa Vieja is on the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties.
More information on Casa Vieja can be found at casaviejabrewery.com.
In September, Daniel O’Brien and his wife Molly Smith took over the business from the Sochas, who decided to sell it. O’Brien and Smith convinced West, who had previously worked at Casa Vieja, to come out of retirement and run the brewery.
“I actually used to be their server,” West said. “I used to serve here for three-plus years for the other family that sold to Dan and Molly. Dan’s a musician and Dan would play here on a weekly basis and heard that Gary (Socha), (wife) Linda and (daughter) Maria, were selling and they arranged to purchase it from them. They asked me to come back out of retirement and run it for them. It made sense. It’s just a dream job, a dream opportunity for me. I used to own a restaurant for 24 years. I’m a home brewer, beer drinker, and beer lover, so it just made sense.”