Brewing a Success Story
Truth or Consequences Brewing Company co-owner and Chief Beer Officer, John Masterson.

Brewing a Success Story

How CNM helped the owner of Truth or Consequences Brewing Company boost his business
March 11, 2020

Truth or Consequences has long been known for its hot springs. Now it’s becoming known for its beer, too.

That’s thanks to Truth or Consequences Brewing Company, which opened in 2017 and has brought new life to the town’s historic downtown. Located in a building from 1926 and right on the main drag, the brewery is run by John Masterson and his wife Marianne Blaue.

“People in town have been incredibly welcoming and generous and we’re really excited to be here,” John says.

John and Marianne, who previously lived in Montana, then Seattle, came across Truth or Consequences by accident. They were headed to Silver City for vacation but drove down from the Albuquerque Sunport too late and ended up spending the night in a T or C hotel.

 When they got up the next morning, the couple walked through downtown, saw some of the local art, and were immediately charmed. The following weekend they came back for the local art hop and were so wowed they decided to move.

“I told my wife, ‘let’s get a beer and talk about how we can make that happen,’” John says. “But we looked around and quickly realized there was nowhere to get that beer.”

That’s when a light bulb went off. John, who’d been a homebrewer for 10 years, realized they could move down and start a brewery as a way to make a living. Less than one year later they’d left Seattle, bought a building, and started the process of designing and building a brewery.

A photo of John smelling a beer.

It was during the design phase that John learned about CNM’s Brewing and Beverage Management program. While the architects and engineers figured out how to outfit a historic building, John started spending Mondays and Tuesdays in Albuquerque taking three different classes: Beer Production & Styles, Brewing Equipment & Maintenance, and Draught Beer Technology.

The Brewing Equipment and Draught Beer Technology classes were particularly helpful. The equipment class helped him do everything from layout his setup to design a complicated and robust water treatment system that would allow him to take T or C’s hard water and turn it into a variety of different high-quality beer brewing waters.

In his own words, John says CNM’s Draught Beer Technology class was “mind-blowing.” As a homebrewer, he hadn’t worried about how to properly pour a pint but immediately became aware of how important this skill is when you run a brewery.

“I didn’t realize that there are nine different variables you need to consider when pouring a good pint,” John says. “Thanks to that class I was able to learn about what it takes to pour a beautiful pint every time and pour in a way that doesn’t waste any beer, which is important when you’re running a business.”

Photo of a freshly poured IPA.

Because John and Marianne started the brewery in a town that wasn’t used to craft beers, their first beer was an approachable, light-bodied, straw-colored ale they called Cosmic Blonde. It immediately caught on with most people.

“People loved it,” John says, “but I still had cowboys come in, order the Cosmic Blonde and say things like, ‘man, this craft beer is too strong!.’”

So John, who calls himself the Chief Beer Officer, went back to the drawing board and launched another beer called Airstream Ultra, an American light lager that was thirst-quenching, only $3 per pint (as opposed to the normal $5), and very easy to drink.

Photo of John unloading grain.

Nowadays, the brewery offers those two beers, plus all the standards you’d expect to find: IPAs, reds, an American Wheat, barley wine, and a host of seasonal beers. John doesn’t can the beers, but you can take a growler or a 32-ounce crowler home with you. All told, the brewery produced 350 barrels of beer last year and is set to do 500 this year. They just opened a taproom in Las Cruces and are thinking about opening another taproom somewhere else in southern New Mexico later this year. All told they currently employ 22 people.

Looking back, John says he feels lucky to have found T or C and CNM. He knows both the community and college helped the business succeed.

“To receive such a high level of training at a community college that was only two hours away was amazing and absolutely key for the business,” he says. “We love it down here and we look forward to growing.”

Photo of John outside the brewery.