“Why don’t they pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting anybody from learning anything?
If it works as well as prohibition did, in five years Americans would be the smartest race of people on Earth.”
“I’ll drink to that.” Such was the rampant sentiment with which Americans welcomed the repeal of the notorious 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which had prohibited “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors…” For more than a decade Prohibition had not only wrought dramatic increases in alcoholism and crime, it had created a lucrative black market for liquor. Gangsters such as Al Capone and thousands of bootleggers across the fruited plain basically fulfilled American demand for intoxicating liquor with a supply of unregulated, often lethal alcohol. Franklin Roosevelt, made the repeal of Prohibition integral to his campaign platform, calling Prohibition a “complete and tragic failure.”
Roosevelt made good on his campaign promises, culminating in the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which repealed Prohibition in 1933. In a proclamation declaring the repeal, Roosevelt urged Americans to “drink responsibly” and “… not bring upon themselves the curse of excessive use of intoxicating liquors, to the detriment of health, morals and social integrity.” In the first year after repeal, the federal government collected more than $258 million in alcohol taxes. Those millions–which accounted for nearly nine percent of the government’s tax revenue–helped finance Roosevelt’s New Deal programs in the ensuing years
Despite alcohol generated tax revenues, 1933 was, in many respects, not a very good year for the country. Tens of thousands of Americans hit road and rail in search of work. Unemployment peaked at 25.2% (one in four people), the worse year of the Great Depression. The United States banking system had to be propped up by the government to prevent the panic of masses withdrawing their money from banks. Continuing drought in the Midwest made once arable lands into dust bowls. Despite these seemingly insurmountable challenges, 1933 was also a year for rebounding and rebuilding–for the American people to prove once again that they had the resiliency and wherewithal to weather any storm and emerge stronger and more united.
Rio Rancho’s 1933 Brewing Company, which opened its doors in August, 2018, is named for the year in which the unpopular era of Prohibition ended. 1933 marked a turning point in America’s recovery, especially economically. The federal government enacted measures to strengthen the financial system, restore public confidence in banking, and help to dispel the pervasive sense of hopelessness that impacted every aspect of daily life. You get a sense for that renewed sense of optimism in the 30s-era jazz music piped in through the restaurant’s speakers. Edison-style lighting helps set an intimate mood while antique furnishings will transport you to that transitional era. So will the large antique gears and sprockets from the factories that employed so many people in the 1930s. One of the few remaining vestiges of its days as Fat Squirrel is the 20,000 Lincoln penny bar top.
The 1933 Brewing Co. is located at the home for nearly ten years of Fat Squirrel, an English pub-themed restaurant and tavern. According to its website, it specializes in developing unique, small batch craft beers and artisanal craft foods. Thank goodness for that. If the restaurant served foods celebrating the 30s, its menu would be replete with such delicacies as canned Spam, mock apple pie (made with Ritz crackers because apples were too expensive) and meatloaf (sadly made mostly with filler because meat, too, was expensive). Instead, the Brewing Company’s menu is fairly contemporary with a few surprises. It’s segmented into appetizers, salads, entrees, burgers, sides and sandwiches.
2 September 2018: Perhaps the most interesting among the appetizers is pastrami adovada fries featuring housemade smoked pastrami. Alas, the adovada is made with cumin, the bane of my existence. Because we couldn’t bring ourselves to try this starter, we ordered chile con queso and green chile salsa. Described as homemade, the queso on the con queso is Velveeta which some people argue isn’t even real cheese. Authenticity not withstanding, the con queso is creamy and generously endowed with roasted red and green chile. The chips are low in salt and formidable enough for Gil-sized portions of con queso or salsa. That green chile salsa has got a bite to it. The chile isn’t solely for decoration.
2 September 2018: Sadly, despite offering pastrami on the aforementioned adovada fries, the menu doesn’t list a pastrami sandwich among its four sandwich options. My Kim’s consolation prize was the NM Turkey Panini (house-roasted turkey breast layered with smoked Gouda, green chile, avocado, lettuce and onion on sourdough). We were pleasantly surprised to find that sourdough wasn’t just a type of bread, but a good descriptor for the bread’s yogurt-like acidity and tanginess. That bread is a nice canvas for a myriad of ingredients which go well together, especially the smoked Gouda and green chile. Instead of standard house-cut fries or sweet potato fries, we paid a small up-charge for Brussel sprouts fried with an Asian honey glaze. The slight bitterness of the Brussel sprouts contrasts nicely with the sweet Asian honey glaze.
2 September 2018: My friend Bruce “Sr. Plata” Silver, author of Sr. Plata’s Chicken Fried Steak Trail might be disappointed that the menu doesn’t include his favorite dish, but he’d get over it quickly should he order the chicken fried chicken which is smothered in a green chile gravy and served with mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables. The breading is rather coarse, perhaps seasoned breadcrumbs, but the chicken itself is tender and juicy. As usual, my preference would have been for even more of the green chile gravy. Instead of mashed potatoes, ask for the mac n cheese ( a slight up-charge), al dente macaroni cooked in a smoked Gouda cheese sauce. It’s good stuff. So are the sauteed vegetables which have a pleasant smokiness.
16 August 2019: In 2013 just before the Super Bowl, two Georgia men were arrested for allegedly stealing $65,000 worth of Tyson frozen chicken wings from a cold storage business where they worked. Had they not been caught, I might have tried to contact them to pull a job for me and steal the recipe for the three housemade sauces–Buffalo, BBQ and Korean BBQ–the 1933 Brewing Co. offers with its chicken wings. The Korean BBQ sauce, in particular, really stands out with its balance of sweet, spicy and savory notes. It’s wholly unlike the sometimes cloying bulgogi sauce some fusion restaurants use. Alas, the wings must have come from hummingbirds. Only a more meaty bird would be worthy of these sauces.
16 August 2019: Unlike terms which have multiple definitions, the term Rubenesque has only one. It relates to the works of painter Peter Paul Rubens whose works centered around pleasingly plump nude women. A second definition (with liberties taken on the spelling) should be added for Reuben sandwiches constructed from an Dagwood-sized stack of corned beef (or pastrami), sauerkraut, Russian dressing, melted Swiss cheese and grilled rye bread. As chronicled on this blog, there are a number of Reubens across the metropolitan area constructed of pleasingly plump (Rubenesque) proportions. The Rio Rancho Reuben (house-cured, smoked and sliced corned beef layered with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and spicy mustard on toasted marble rye) at the 1933 Brewing Co. is as big as any of them. Unlike its storied brethren, however, the corned beef isn’t especially tender and the spicy mustard takes some getting used to. Mind you, it’s not a bad Reuben. It’s just not in the rarefied air of other Rubenesque sandwiches.
16 August 2019: There are seven burgers on the menu, the most adventurous of which is topped with the restaurant’s smoked Gouda mac n cheese. All burgers feature house-ground beef patties and most come with standard fixings: house burger sauce, tomato, lettuce and onion on a brioche bun. When you’re craving umami (a term used to describe a pleasant savory taste), only the Mushroom Swiss Burger (grilled burger topped with Swiss cheese and garlic mushrooms) will do. We’re not talking canned mushrooms here. We’re talking fleshy fungi from a forest somewhere, the good stuff. It would have been better stuff as a mushroom duxelle (sautéed mushroom, shallot and herb mixture). Still, a very good burger.
In its annual “Hot Plate Awards” edition for 2019, Albuquerque the Magazine bestowed a well-deserved award to the 1933 Brewing Company for its “hot fries.” “It takes precision, quality and a certain unique flair to earn a Hot Plate Award” and the pastrami adovada fries have “shown all those traits, and then some.”
Nearly a century has elapsed since the challenging year for which this brewery-restaurant is named. In that century, one without the shackles of Prohibition, brewing has improved significantly. So has the culinary fare offered at establishments such as the 1933 Brewing Co.
1933 Brewing Co.
3755 Southern Blvd., S.E.
Rio Rancho, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 16 August 2019
1st VISIT: 2 September 2018
# OF VISITS: 2
BEST BET: Chicken Fried Chicken, Green Chile Salsa and Con Queso with Chips, New Mexico Turkey Panini, Chicken Wings, Mushroom Swiss Burger, Rio Rancho Reuben
11 thoughts on “1933 Brewing Co. – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)”
It gladdens by heart, Gil, that you are sedulously sleuthing for the next great Reuben and spending simoleons of your own and not mine. I take it from your review that the Reuben at 1933 is not a threat to replacing the current chiseled four on the Mount Rushmore of Reubens: 2G’s, Bocadillos, Farmacy and Vinaigrette?
Still thinking about the Reuben at 2G’s and am now convinced it is the four-hour slow-roast of the corned beef that separates good from great. Granted, there is a firmer style of corned beef that some prefer to the melt-in-your-mouth style, but I am now a zealous devotee that genuflects at the altar of the slow-roast style of 2G’s.
Went there today for a quick lunch. Made a HORRIBLE mistake and ordered a Bacon-Blue Hamburger [sounds great, right]. I asked for it medium rare, the server told me they only cook burgers medium WELL or Well done. I asked they try to make it as pink as possible. What a disaster — I’ve had fast food burgers that were not as OVER done as today’s. Gave my feedback to the server, don’t know if the kitchen or management will get, or even care.
I like to read your reviews, but eloquent prose aside, more objectivity would be welcome.
Thank you, Bob. I consider all feedback a gift and suggestions an opportunity to do something better, but I’m not quite sure what you mean by “more objectivity.” By definition, something that is objective is “not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.” All restaurant criticism is based on a reviewer’s opinion (personal feelings) during a specific snapshot in time. There’s no way any critic can write about a restaurant without personal feelings being integrated into the review. Without personal feelings and opinions, a review would be nothing more than synopses and descriptions of ingredients and dishes.
I hope you respond as I welcome all constructive criticism that can help me improve in some way.
That is what I call “double extra crispy super well done” which about half of all burger palaces in Albuquerque deliver even if you ask for “raw.”
I’m sorry to read about that “standard” if by the reported ex-Toro Burger chef at 1933, altho I understand its health and liability concern, albeit I don’t recall reading at least once a week about illness/death incidents. That got me thinking about Steak Tartare as “pure” hamburg* , let alone if ya top it with a raw egg… Am sure there are many articles, but thought this one http://tinyurl.com/ybpxqrc6 interesting/succinct with reference to a hamburger.
In any event, what’s described is not what I experienced and enjoyed at Toro Burger to write “You can truely taste that burgery flavor and “feel”…the texture.” altho my last visit thought it could be a tad more pink. To me, though I’ve never tested/researched on a grill, but it seems it’d take a certain skillset to cook a 1/3-1/2# hamburg to be pink-centered AND hot. Is it possible to do it with just a 1/4#er of the same diameter?
* How about ground beef being “hamburg” and cooked ground beef a hamburger?
Caveat: Oh my…walked into what used to be one time my most regular place to eat. Sorta looked the same, but missed the ever present, convivial hostess, tho a hostess did appear. Same layout still, including the great communal tables fronting the bar which, however, is missing its small array of hard liquor.
Yea, Yea it’s a different place with new owners and its not an English-Scot-Mic place, but does that mean there should not be a bit of Craic which, to be fair, was waning in the last several months of Fat Squirrel? Perhaps the lack of (sports?) monitors that hung opposite the bar is meant to engender more person-to-person interactional frivolity. I mean Geesh, isn’t 1933 supposed to be replete with “Happy Days are here again!”? Have waitstaff nowadays become simply ‘transporters of vittles?” (Gotta High-Five Nicky with credit for being selective in hiring staff who had a tad certain ‘Joie de vivre’ in both of her places. Still miss the Butlery-like-service of Casey who moved early-on to Indigo Crow.)
– Besides the fact I’ve run out of prunes, what’s my curmudgeoness about? No! it is not about they do not have a $2.50 PBR! Yes, I ordered what I’d raved (Commented therein) almost yearly when the joint was FS, i.e. The Fish and Chips. While “they” say size doesn’t matter, today’s 3 pieces are reduced to slightly large “tenders” vs that of any one being the size of an extended hand with closed fingers, almost. I.e. I used to take the option for 1 piece. The Batter: Any…well All, Fried Fish is, IMHO, about the Batter being fried crispy/golden brown and with a taste; what fish it encases doesn’t matter…it could be wet newsprint for that matter! This offering bordered on ‘mushy’; it should be taken off the menu. The accompanying Fries, like many places, can’t hold a candle to the Dog House’s or Mickey D’s. Alas, I wouldn’t have missed the bowl of ‘peas mash’, with all due respect if it be someone’s GrandMa’s favorite recipe.
– Alas, someone is going to come along and say “Ya gotta move on Old Man…times they are a-changin!” Fine, but I value my $$$ in exchange for a product of value and await to read that the F&Cs are otherwise. This used to be the Premier offering in Metro ABQ.
– Lastly… I would assume great expense (including business downtime) was made converting the private room to holding beer brewing vats/kettles. Today, there are no “house brews” being tapped pending “permitting” folderol.
– As such…at this point I need a couple of glowing affirmations about what I’ve considered as one of the best GCCB (as from The Toro Burger) is now ensconced herein, for me to chance a return.
– Sorry this is a bit sour. I hope the owners will find it helpful to review for their future success which I’d like to wish them imagining how tough a row it is to hoe putting together such a venture.
PS: My computer is getting little to access from the website and Facebook offers nothing to nonFacebookers.
BOTVLR – For some great fries try this offering from Toltec Brewing: Gilroy Garlic Fries – described on Chef Davids new menu (which rolled out this past Wednesday) as Seasoned fries, gilroy garlic, parmesan, parsley. They were delicious last night! As was our appetizer – the Brisket Taquitos – White corn tortillas – New Mexico beef, harissa creama, pickled vegetable salad. Both items are on the Happy Hour menu at a reduced ($6 VS $8) price before 6pm. The garlic fries were fine accompaniments to our (kitchen slpit) Royale Burger which seems to just get better and better every time! FYI: David is not stingy with the garlic!
Ryan and James, the chef and server from the now closed Toro Burger in Rio Rancho are now chefing (is that a word?) at 1933. We spoke with one of the owners, Trish and also Ryan the other evening.
As it was at Toro, the food is homemade which sometimes takes longer, but I’d wait for homemade vs. food service food any day.
We’ve been to 1933 twice and enjoyed it. The chocolate/orange bread pudding is lick your plate clean delicious!
I had no idea Toro Burger had closed–not long after being named one of Yelp’s 50 best restaurants in Albuquerque. Had I known Ryan and James are now at 1933 Brewing Co., I certainly would have visited with them. Let’s hope Chef Ryan recreates some of his fantastic Toro burgers at 1933.
Yes, we were bummed about Toro closing. We visited at least twice a month usually. I’m not surprised though, that James and Ryan were quickly picked up by 1933.
We spoke with Trish, one of 1933’s owners and she let us know that they haven’t firmed up their menu yet, which is why there isn’t one on FB or their website. So Ryan may have some input.
Thank you, MaryAnn. Let’s hope a pastrami sandwich is one of the menu options soon to be introduced. Ryan’s housemade pastrami is fantastic! So are the burgers he offered at Toro.