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25 Years! From Nico’s Desk …

25 years ago, back on Monday, March 22nd, 1999 at 11 am, a very naïve yet enthusiastic 29 year old aspiring brewpub owner welcomed Mayor John Jennings and the Rio Rancho Chamber of Commerce Red Coats to help him celebrate the opening of what had been his dream since he was 16 years old.

Turtle Mountain Brewing Company was born.

Since that fateful day, my Father’s namesake brewpub has opened and closed outposts in Sandia Park in the East Mountains and in Mariposa here in Rio Rancho. We were featured as a “Fabulous First” brewpub in Brewpub Magazine in 2000. In 2013 we were recognized as a Best Place to Work by both the Albuquerque Journal and Albuquerque Business First. We won a Gold Medal for our Wooden Teeth American Lager at the 2018 Great American Beer Festival. And we opened our new Enchanted Hills location in December of 2021, soon to be home to our brewing operations.

Our biggest achievement, however, is that we are still around 25 years later. Through Y2K, the bursting of the dot-com bubble, the 2008 real estate meltdown, and last, but certainly not least, COVID. Through 6 different Mayors, numerous City Managers and iterations of the Governing Body, Turtle Mountain has not only survived but thrived in Rio Rancho. We have become “a place where regulars and visitors alike could come in and feel like they are part of the family”. My goal was a place that felt like “Cheers”. Mission accomplished.

The number of restaurants that make it to celebrate their 25th Anniversary is very small indeed, so we are pulling out all the stops to commemorate this remarkable achievement. Our 25th Anniversary Beer is a tribute to New Glarus Belgian Red, my ultimate deserted island beverage. This delicious elixir tastes like cherry pie in a bottle, not too tart yet not too sweet. We brewed this beer with Montmorency cherries, just like at New Glarus, and aged it for 4 months in American oak whiskey barrels. This will be a beer worthy of 25 years.

While our trusty and reliable Earthstone wood-fired oven has been the beating heart of Turtle Mountain’s kitchen for the last 25 years, we like to do something different when celebrating Anniversaries. For our XXth Anniversary back in 2019, we hosted a multi-station ticketed buffet complete with prime rib and seafood, and we really enjoyed how that turned out.

Drawing inspiration from that event, Chef Shine and Chef Sam are creating a feast that will transport attendees from Rio Rancho to Rio de Janeiro. Starting with a selection of salads, guests on this culinary journey will enjoy a variety of pork, chicken, lamb, white fish and steak paired with sides such as fire-roasted pineapple, lobster bisque and four grain rice pilaf, all served at your table. To accommodate as many celebrants as we can, there will be a lunch service from 11am – 3pm as well as hourly seatings at 5pm, 6pm and 7pm. Turtle North will host this event, while Turtle South will also have
25th Anniversary specials.

We hope all of you, our friends and family, can join us for the special evening, so that once again we can raise a glass together and toast to “25 Years of Cheers!

– Nico Ortiz, Proprietor

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