Graduates of CNM: TJ Frederic

TJ was in CNM’s first brewing cohort and recently became the head brewer at Tractor Brewing Company
October 12, 2021

Back in 2016, TJ Frederic was about to move his family from southeastern New Mexico to the East Coast in order to attend one of the few brewing programs available at that time. He’d been working as a restaurant manager but had a growing family and needed a more consistent schedule. Brewing was a passion and where he wanted to go.

Thankfully, just before the move, TJ heard about a new brewing program about to start at CNM. The timing was perfect so instead of moving thousands of miles away, he and his family relocated to Albuquerque and TJ enrolled. 

“When CNM opened its brewing program it was an absolutely no-brainer,” he says. “I was really excited to have a program here in New Mexico.”

At CNM, TJ was part of the college’s first brewing cohort and graduated with an associate degree in Beverage Production and Management in two years. While at CNM, TJ also met Skye Devore, the co-owner of Tractor Brewing Company. He inquired about a job and she said there was nothing available in the brewing area. But, because TJ has managed restaurants (he has a bachelor’s in Business Administration), she told him he could help run the company’s taprooms.

He did that for a year, and then finally got to move to the back where he did anything that was asked. He ran deliveries, washed kegs, and eventually became a shift brewer, then an assistant brewer. His dedication, along with his training at CNM, helped him move up the brewing chain faster than normal, and just a couple months ago he was named a Head Brewer.

Today, TJ is in charge of everything beer related. He sets and oversees the brewing schedule, makes sure canning and delivery happen on time, is constantly working to refine the company’s beers, and is also in charge of new beer development.

“I’m someone who loves logistics, so I’m well-suited for that part of the job. But I also love the innovation part,” TJ says. “The beer industry changes daily. Five years ago no one had heard of a hazy IPA and now they’re everywhere. There’s a constant demand for fresh tastes and ideas and that’s what keeps me involved and energized.”  

TJ says he’s jealous of brewing students in CNM’s current program. He got high-quality training that’s served him well, but the program has only gotten better and the college has invested heavily in new equipment so students come out with even more hands-on experience. 

The one thing that hasn’t changed, he says, is the community that CNM helps build for the brewing students. TJ says he’s still in touch with several people from his cohort and regularly asks for help from people he met while going through the program.

“The brewing industry is definitely competitive, but also really friendly,” he says. “I know I can always pick up the phone and call whoever I need for help, and I want to be available for upcoming students as well.”

For anyone considering the brewing program, TJ says now is the time. It might seem like the market is saturated, but he says it’s just the opposite. With all the new breweries in Albuquerque and beyond there’s lots of demand for people who love brewing beer.

“Now is a great time to get involved,” he says. “The future of beer is definitely exciting.”