Talk about a leap of faith! Just a little more than a year after owners David Crosley and Teresa Dahl-Bredine moved their brewing and distilling operations from Lake Roberts into a former skating rink in Silver City’s warehouse district, the husband-wife team has opened the Little Toad Creek Brewery & Distillery taproom in the heart of Las Cruces.
Written and photography by Rob McCorkle
The Little Toad owners managed to get all of their needed licenses just in time to open Friday, May 11, on the afternoon of the Blazin’ Brewfest when New Mexico suds slingers took over Plaza de Las Cruces across the street from the city’s latest establishment serving craft beer. Like Bosque Brewery across the street from the university, Little Toad Creek doesn’t make its beer onsite, but has it shipped in from out of town from its “mother ship” operation.
“We have found Las Cruces to be friendly and welcoming, much more like a small town than we expected,” Teresa says. “We’ve been greeted with nothing but kindness and enthusiasm across the board.”
The owners leveraged a $25,000 grant from the city’s Renovate Main Street coffers to implement $80,000 in renovations to attorney Jose Coronado’s former law office and spent an additional $40,000 on equipment and furniture. Teresa says friends helped refurbish the antique walk-in cooler and build furniture. She also credits the Las Cruces Economic Development Department for its support during the three months-long renovation project.
The result is a 3,000 square-foot space featuring a minimalist décor with a trendy warehouse vibe. Plentiful seating is available at the bar, at a dozen or so tables, wall counters, a custom, wood-slat booth; and outdoor tables. Large garage-style doors facing Main Street can be rolled up and down depending on the weather.
The strategically located taproom, two doors down from Dragonfly on Main Street, takes its mission to serve the finest adult beverages a step farther by serving not just beer, but New Mexico wines and liquor to make tempting cocktails like the Gila Rita concocted with tequila distilled and bottled in Silver City. The owners were able to purchase small brewer and distilling licenses to serve their New Mexico crafted libations at various in-state locations.
General Manager Erick Schack says fresh kegs of craft beer and distilled spirits will be delivered from Silver City to the Las Cruces location weekly or more often as needed. Little Toad, he notes, has no kitchen but will offer a few snack items such as soft pretzels, almonds, and a cheese and olive nosh plate. Customers will be able to purchase food from a rotating lineup of food trucks parked out back.
Little Toad is partnering with Dragonfly to offer meals delivered to the taproom from its daily menu, as well as offerings from a Jazz Brunch menu from noon to 4pm on Sundays. Derrick Lee’s band will perform during Jazz Brunch on Sundays and the brewery will feature other live music from time to time. (Check Little Toad’s Facebook page for the latest information).
Little Toad Creek offers more than half dozen beer styles on draft, ranging from lighter lagers and blondes to moderately malty brown and copper ales to hoppier varieties like the Grumpy Old Troll IPA and a robust Pendejo Porter. Patrons can order flights of various styles in five-ounce tasters. If you like what you sample, you can pick up a six-pack to go for $10.99. Take home a taste of New Mexico with Little Toad spirits by the bottle, including gin, vodka, spiced rum, silver and reposado tequila, aged whiskey, and a coffee liquor called Toad Kauphy. Several other homemade spirits from Taos, Santa Fe, and Aztec are offered, as well.
During Happy Hours (3-6pm Monday through Thursday and 11am to 4pm Fridays), drink $4 pints and enjoy a dollar off wine and specialty cocktails. Fans of Moscow mules can buy a copper mug for $15 and enjoy $2 off their specialty drink. Join The Mug Club by purchasing a $15 mug and enjoy $4 pints every day and $10 growlers.
Little Toad Creek Brewery & Distillery derives its unusual name from its original location. It opened as an inn and tavern in 2012 along Sapillo Creek (“sapillo” means Little Toad in Spanish) near Lake Roberts at the edge of the Gila Wilderness. A small brewery was added to the operation the following year and later expanded to a 2.5 barrel system producing 300 barrels a year.
In 2014, David and Teresa opened a corner brewpub in downtown Silver City, becoming a major commercial hub in the bustling historic district. With their original brewing license in Mimbres due to expire, the owners acquired a $100,000 local economic development grant through the New Mexico Economic Development Department to help purchase in 2015 the 1930s era Silver City Liquor Company building in the warehouse district that operated in the 1960s as the Silver Skate Rink. The former rink has been revamped to serve as a brewing and distilling operation. In early 2017, a new $400,000 15-barrel brewing system capable of producing 279,000 gallons, or 9,000 barrels, of craft beer annually went on line.
And, now with the fruits of their considerable labor realized, David and Teresa have brought their handcrafted beers and spirits, as well as their enthusiasm and marketing acumen, to the shadow of the Organ Mountains, where things are finally falling into place.
“We’ve got a ways to go yet working out all of the kinds at the new spot,” Teresa says, “but we feel very positive about the decision to open our second tasting room here in Las Cruces.”