Greetings everyone, Stoutmeister here with the 16th post in our Look Back/Look Ahead series for 2014-15. Normally I would list the previous entries, but that’s starting to chew up space, so just go ahead and click on the category link above in the byline and you will find everything we’ve written so far in this series. We hope to get the remaining entries published by the end of January.

Brewer Zach Guilmette, left, was a brave man to let the Brew Crew into his workplace.

Brewer Zach Guilmette, left, was a brave man to let the Brew Crew into his workplace.

Prior to the event-laden weekend that just passed, I made it over to Chama River early in the day to chat with brewer Zach Guilmette once again. It was his brewery’s turn in this series, though I was a little worried we had covered a lot of the ground back in October after we chatted following his return from the Great American Beer Festival with a shiny gold medal for his Class VI Golden Lager. Thankfully, Zach still had some tales to tell of the year gone by and what is to come here in 2015. Unlike most of his fellow brewers around Albuquerque and Santa Fe, Zach does not have to worry about expansion plans, or distribution plans, or pretty much anything but the beer itself.

“Yeah, this brewhouse runs well,” Zach said. “Who wouldn’t want a new toy like a hopback or something exciting? But the reality is I can make great beer on this brewhouse. We don’t have any intention of expanding it at this time. All we have to do here is keep brewing.”

Zach and assistant brewer David Facey both came to Chama River in February 2014 from Canteen Brewhouse. They took the reins from Justin Hamilton (now at Boxing Bear) and Tim Woodward (now at Turtle Mountain).

“We will officially be here a full year next month,” Zach said. “It’s been a whirlwind, I’d call it, of a year. I’m excited for that. Lots of new beers, meeting new people as well, getting a chance to steer my own ship. The first year has been really rewarding, a chance to kind of spread my wings, so to say, with styles of beer. Experimenting with hoppy beers and different styles. Of course malty beers I did a lot of those with Canteen. I think just for that reason it’s been great, just for the diversity of beers I’ve been able to brew.”

Working at a brewery is not always glamorous, nor is it always just about brewing.

Working at a brewery is not always glamorous, nor is it always just about brewing.

The toughest adjustment for anyone going from assistant brewer to head brewer always seems to be dealing with the aspects of running a brewery that do not actually involve brewing.

“Recipes and brewing, that was the easy part,” Zach said. “Understanding how to schedule your brews, making sure you don’t run out of anything, scheduling help as well as taxes, all these new things. It kind of created a real challenge right in the beginning there. It all came at once. Now a year later I’m really comfortable with those aspects. Now I can get back to new recipe development.”

The De-cen-ni-ale Russian Imperial Stout was a delight.

The De-cen-ni-ale Russian Imperial Stout was a delight.

While at Canteen, Zach said his forte were the big, malty beers like Panama Joe Coffee Stout. Coming over to Chama River has allowed him to tackle some styles that were usually left up to Brady and Doug.

“I’d say one of the most exciting beers was brewing Radioactive IPA,” Zach said. “It was only because I hadn’t brewed a really hoppy beer before. I’d never entered any of my own beers in the New Mexico IPA Challenge. I brewed it for the third time in December and it’s starting to come around. I change it a little bit each time. Every beer you steer it toward a certain goal, that you may have in mind, whether that’s an award (category) or flavorful style or it’s kind of just public enjoyment or acceptance, stuff like that.”

Radioactive was certainly a hit at the Challenge, finishing with 72 votes for third place overall behind Bosque and Marble.

“With the four special taps we have here, it gives me a chance to play around,” Zach said. “One of the more enjoyable specials I had fun with was the Kolsch. We brewed another Kolsch (last) week. I think what I’ve come to really enjoy is a clean, light beer like that, whether it’s a Kolsch or a lager, being able to balance something delicate, creating a delicate, subtly balanced beer.”

Chama River brewer Zach Guilmette poses with his GABF gold medal and Class VI Golden Lager. (Photo courtesy of Chama River)

Zach poses with his GABF gold medal and Class VI Golden Lager. (Photo courtesy of Chama River)

Zach certainly made his mark with a clean, light beer when he brought home gold from GABF for Class VI.

“Playing with the house recipes here was one of my most exciting chances to do what every brewer wants to do, which is make your house beers your own, put your own twist on it,” Zach said. “That’s something (the gold medal) I’ll probably take with me the rest of my life. One of the goals I set for myself a year ago, and not thinking it would happen so soon, but was eventually to win a medal for a house beer. To say the beer we have on every day is a medal winner. That was a great thrill for me.”

As for 2015, with no major plans for expansion or renovation, Zach and David can remain focused on just making lots of great beer.

“I’d like to brew a saison series,” Zach said. “I’m going to do four saisons, the first of which will be a plum saison. The second one I release I call Lemon Jester. That’s going to be with Sorache Ace — Sorache Ace has become the (main) hop for saisons — it brings out a lemon character in a saison that would be pretty interesting. And then Sine Qui Non. The last one will be Woot King on Red. Woot King is going to be the first one I brew but the last one I release. It’s going to be aged in a red wine barrel, hopefully Cabernet. I want to call it Woot King on Cabernet, but I can’t guarantee I’ll get a Cabernet battle.

“All four of these will vary. One will have flaked rye and an interesting spice character. Another will be just pilsen, wheat, a little dex, and the simplest recipe you can imagine. None of them will have spice added. All four of them will have spice characteristics added by the yeast. So I’ll be playing with fermentation temperatures and pitch rates to try and manipulate the yeast and create different characters. Saison is one I want to focus on and enjoy and learn more about.”

There is plenty of room in the back of Chama River for more good beer.

There is plenty of room in the back of Chama River for more good beer.

While most of the other beers Zach wants to brew are further down the line, one pop-culture tie-in beer will arrive fairly soon. Saul-utations will be an India Pilsner Lager brewed just in time for the upcoming debut of the TV series Better Call Saul on AMC. The Albuquerque-based show filmed part of an episode at the Chama Microbar downtown, so Zach wanted to pay tribute. The beer will debut at viewing party for the debut episode of the Breaking Bad spinoff series on Sunday, Feb. 8.

Beyond that, Zach said he hopes to get Chama back out on the festival circuit this year. They missed out on WinterBrew last Friday as they were a little busy having a week-long celebration of their 10th anniversary.

“Absolutely. I definitely want to attend at least 10 festivals,” Zach said. “David Facey and myself are putting a list together of the festivals we’d like to attend. We certainly want to make a presence in New Mexico as a whole. I want to go to Pajarito (SummerFest) this year, I haven’t been up there and I know that’s just a great festival.

“We definitely want to be out there. Festivals are fun, you can bring beer to the people. It’s also a chance to release new beers to people. It can be their first chance to try one of our new ones.”

Thanks to Zach for taking the time out to chat. His De-cen-ni-ale Russian Imperial Stout, brewed up and even bottled in a limited run for the 10th anniversary, was a wonderful monster of a beer. We look forward to everything else he comes up with this year.

And who knows, maybe we will even get to do another batch of Obey the Darkside Stout, too.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

DuelLookBack201420153

Every year the Crew sits down with our local breweries, giving them a chance to take a look back at the year they’ve had and recap for you, beer fans, their wins, their loses, and the challenges they may have faced along the way. We also give them the opportunity to tell us what we should be looking forward to in the year to come. As the Santa Fe Correspondent, I’ve done my best to cover the four breweries in the Santa Fe area. My final Look Back/Look Ahead article in the series found me at the Belgian-style brewery, Duel Brewing.

The snow had come to Santa Fe that day, but there were still a few loyal patrons who had made the trek to their favorite local watering hole. They gathered around the bar, sipping Belgian-style suds from tulip glasses, discussing such things as painting and hunting, all in the same breath. An eclectic mix of modern tunes played lightly from Pandora’s box, and a suit of armor stood sentry, high above, in place of a bouncer that’s never needed.

After ordering a What Wood Amber Do, I sat down with Todd Yocham, the head of brewing operations. Brewer Michael Karr joined us soon after.

Let’s talk about how the year went for Duel. How’s business?

Todd: Good. You know, for our first year, really. 2014 was our first full year of business. It was nice. We learned a lot.

And what were some of the highlights of the year?

Todd: Surviving. (Laughs) That’s a highlight. Working on those high-gravity beers. Paying attention to those techniques, and gettin’ that all figured out. Really it was a learning year. We learned a lot about running a business, a lot about what to do, what not to do. We tried a whole lot of things as far as running a taproom and all that kind of stuff. One of the major highlights would be all that we’ve learned this year.

You guys have come a long way since opening up in July of 2013. How would you say 2014 was different? How would you say Duel has grown?

Todd: Well in 2014, we started distributing bottles, so that was pretty big for us. We started out doing some kegs that didn’t pan out for us. It’s the size of our system. We can’t make enough beer of the type of beer we make. Selling 11-percent beer and being competitive in the market, when you only make…well, we have a three-barrel system. We brew 10 barrels at a time. But like most breweries, we multiple-brew to get our fermenters full. But still, the market doesn’t understand 11-percent beer, and I’m sure they don’t understand paying a lot more than $125 a keg for beer. Learning about the market was definitely one way we’ve grown since we started.

You mentioned distributing bottles, you guys have Goya in there, Marcel, several others.

Todd: We have a bunch of beers in bottle.

Michael: Over the last year, we’ve had at least 10 different styles in bottles.

And they’re available in specialty shops like Susan’s in Santa Fe, places like Jubilation and Total Wine in Albuquerque.

Todd: Yeah, and they’re getting to be in more and more places. There’s several Kelly’s that have Duel, some in Quarters, places like that.

Michael: We also want to get into some larger stores that support local businesses, like Whole Foods, Trader Joes …

DuelLookBack201420151

Goya’s going fast!

Absolutely. It’s nice to see the local guys up on the shelves and be able to recommend them when someone’s in the store asking for something new, different, or challenging. Speaking of challenging, Goya is a big beer, 15.9 percent. How do you measure a gravity like that? I think my hydrometers kick out at 24 Plato or something like that.

Todd: Something like that. We use refractometers.

Michael: We start with a refractometer, and it goes plenty higher than that. Which is good, because we have plans!

Todd: You can get specialty hydrometers that’ll go higher. But, yeah, 32 Plato starting gravity on that beer.

What were some of the challenges Duel faced this year? Every brewery and business faces them.

Michael: One challenge is trying to maximize our efficiency with what we have. Not being able to expand as quickly as we would like to. So doing as much with what we have. That’s been the challenge, and we’ve inched closer to that.

Todd: When we started, we just had the three-barrel fermenters. In 2014 we added the 10-barrel fermenters, and started triple batching most of our beers.

And that was just how you had to do it. How many times a day do you guys brew?

Todd: Three. Every brew is usually three brews in one session, and usually only one of those a week. I usually come in, in the morning, and start, and Mike comes in in the afternoon and finishes up.

Michael: Todd’ll take off sometime in the evening after he’s already been here for 12 hours. And then there’s still several hours afterwards. Sometimes I have someone come in and help me finish, ‘cause it can go as late as 3 (a.m.). But, between the two of us, we just overlap and just pound out a brew day.

One challenge this year was not reaching the goal for the crowd-funding project on Maintstreet Crowd. Has that affected business as usual? The show must go on, right?

Todd: Yeah. It was just one of those things we tried. We heard from lots of people that they wanted a stage, and they wanted live music all the time, and we said, ‘Okay, we can’t do that yet …’ but so we were approached to do the crowd-funding thing with the City, and so we went ahead and did it, and said, ‘All right, let’s see if this works.’ I don’t know if we were too ambitious or what was going on, but we didn’t even come close. And so we shut that chapter and moved on.

Were there any lingering effects of that venture?

Michael: One of the effects was that we re-committed to being about beer, because (while) entertainment is important, and we need that in this town, but it was also taking a lot of our time.

So it was just more of a refocusing on the purpose, which is bringing the beer to the people.

Michael: Exactly. Focusing on why this place is here to begin with.

DuelLookBack201420154

Todd: We decided to focus on the beer and the atmosphere, trying to make as cool a place as we could make to come and drink beer. And sometimes there’s live music, and sometimes we’re just playing stuff on Pandora, and it’s usually a pretty cool and eclectic mix of things goin’ on in here. People like coming in for the atmosphere. They like coming in a place that’s chill, and everybody talks to each other, and that’s pretty cool.

You guys hired some new folks this year, can you tell us about them?

Michael: We just recently hired someone that’s just starting out.

Todd: A probationary guy, scrubbing floors and cleaning kegs. The biggest thing, in the back of the house, is our chef. We got a chef. He completely transformed our food. Nicholas Haupt is our chef.

Michael: He was hired in July.

Todd: He’s completely revamped how we do things. He’s added some really cool specials. And he’s kicked our food into a higher gear, so to speak. In the beginning, food wasn’t even really a consideration. But then we thought, alright, we should probably serve people somethin’, if we’re gonna pour 11-percent beer. That’s the responsible thing to do. So we started making decent sandwiches.

The sandwiches were good. What kind of plates are coming across the table now?

Todd: Oh, we have beer-steamed mussels. We had quail several times. He does some amazing salads. He has bison sliders that he cooks up. We had a blood-sausage special once. It was amazing!

Which goes along with Duel’s whole eclectic theme …

Todd: Yeah, definitely.

Michael: And he uses the ingredients and the beer as much as possible. So spent grain, spent coriander, spent orange peel find their way into the recipes that he’s cranking out back there.

Does he ever bug you guys for some wort?

Todd: Oh yeah. He pulls wort. He does things with that, too.

So the food and the beer here now have a very close relationship.

Todd: Well, yeah. The brewery and the kitchen are the same space, basically. We’re not exactly on top of each other, but we’re talkin’ to each other. The kitchen and the brewery are always functioning together.

That’s a good way to function. OK, so looking at 2015, is there any big news for Duel?

Todd: You know, I’d love to say there’s big news. We have big ideas, but I don’t know if we have huge news. We’ve got three of these spaces. We’re rockin’n’rollin on bottling beer, and gettin’ our beer into the market. I would hope that 2015 is just more of this steady growth, more of this steady incline in our business, now that we’re focused on what we’re doing. There’s a lot of breweries that have had some big plans this year; we’re happy to just climb the ladder a little bit.

If you’re still climbing, business must be good, right?

Todd: Right. I think there’s good things coming for Duel this year. And maybe there’ll be some surprises we haven’t even considered yet.

Most importantly, what about the beer? Any special brews in the works? Any ideas, special recipes you guys are kicking around?

Michael: I don’t know if we can give too much information away …

Todd: No secrets. I mean, we’re pushin’ the boundaries on the level of how much we can take alcohol. We’ve learned a lot this year on how to brew high-gravity beers.

Michael: We hit 16(-percent ABV). So, you know, we have some other ideas in mind, and we’ll see where we can take it.

Todd: Well, Goya’s 15.9. It was right on the edge.

Michael: It was so close to 16.

15.9’s a good number.

Todd: 15.9 works, and we’ve got concepts to push that a little bit higher on some beers that we haven’t made yet. So, we’re gonna go there.

Michael: So that’s exciting. We want to develop some new recipes, while continuing to make the beer that we’ve committed to year-round. And what we can do with sours and barrel-aged beers is something that we’ve only begun to explore.

Todd: We now have a dedicated sour program. Our original three-barrel fermenters are all only doing sours at this point, and so there’s always something making sour. Coming up at Defrost Fest at Blue Corn and WinterBrew, there’s a beer gettin’ released that I think is gonna open some people’s eyes on what beer can be.

Any hints as to the style?

Todd: I’ll give you the name. Stille of the Night. And you’re just gonna have to figure it out when you get there. And it was made in August.

DuelLookBack201420155

What WOOD Amber Do

I just had your What WOOD Amber Do (Belgian-style sour amber ale), so are beers like that going to become more commonplace?

Todd: Yeah, we’ve got some barrels back there, and as they empty, we refill them with what we’ve got going on.

Michael: We just did that today, actually, just filled a couple casks that should be ready in a year.

Todd: We’ve got some Brett casks that just got a healthy dose of Grunewald. So in about a year, we’ll have a big batch of Brett-infected Grunewald.

Let me know! Big fan of the Grunewald.

Michael: I can tell you that, as it was going in, and as the air was being displaced and coming out into my face, it smelled amazing! This is gonna be a great beer!

Todd: We also had a pale ale that had been in a barrel with Brett-lacto for a year, and that’s comin’ soon. It’s gonna be pretty limited though.

You guys have a dedicated sour program. In your opinions, do you feel like that’s the direction New Mexico beer is moving in?

Todd: It’s where we’re going. It’s a natural progression for us, being Belgian-style. The farmhouse, the whole-Belgian-French style. A lot of people, when they find out we’re Belgian style, if we don’t have something sour, they’re disappointed.

I think it mimics the sort of natural progression of the public palate. As they’re discovering new beers that they enjoy, they’re willing to try more interesting, more challenging styles of beer, like sours and goses.

Todd: Right.

Michael: Exactly.

Now, I know you’ll be at WinterBrew and our editor will be releasing that list before the event. But what are you guys particularly proud of bringing? Goya will be there, right?

Michael: Just in limited, little samples.

Todd: It won’t even be in the regular pint. We’re taking sample cups. You get a taste. At the event, people’ll be able to buy a bottle of Goya if they want to. There’s already going to be a bit of drinking going on.

Yeah. You don’t want to contribute to the delinquency of adults. I get it. At 15.9 percent, I think folks will understand.

Todd: Mike and I were really proud of the fact that we got Goya to go where it went.

Would you say that was your favorite brew of the year?

Todd: It was a pain in the ass! (laughs) It was a pain! There was nothing simple about making it. And it wasn’t easy! But the effort was worth it in the end.

Any final thing you’d like to say to New Mexico beer fans?

Todd: They’re the best beer drinkers there are. We’ve got world-class beer in a state that doesn’t have a lot of people. And we still have a lot of people drinking beer. That tells me that this is really a beer state. We’re not Colorado. We don’t have Denver with just millions of people drinking beer. We’ve got a very small population in this state, but we love our craft beer.

Michael: Even though we didn’t go to GABF this year, we were very proud for New Mexico …

Todd: Super proud!

Michael: … and for the showing that the breweries made there. It was awesome.

We’re small but mighty.

* * * * *

DuelLookBack201420152

Business-wise, Duel has enjoyed a nice, steady growth this year, and is fast becoming a much more prominent brewing presence in New Mexico. In the brewhouse, they pushed the physical limits of their small space and capacity, reaching gravities of nearly immeasurable height, but not only that, they are also pushing the limits of what we know to be beer and beer style. As true artists of the Post Craft-Beer Renaissance Belgian Impressionism, Todd and Michael are re-inventing old styles and creating new ones, like the Bier De Port (which, we were lucky enough to taste at Defrost Fest and if you’re lucky, you’ll get a taste at WinterBrew). Google that style and you won’t find it under any BJCP guidelines. But wait a year and you might find 50 examples of that special beer in breweries all over the country. For Duel, expansion plans will come in time, I don’t doubt that one bit, but they’re already finding ways to reach new heights and push new boundaries.

Cheers!

— Luke

Greetings everyone, Stoutmeister here with the 15th post in our Look Back/Look Ahead series for 2014-15. Normally I would list the previous entries, but that’s starting to chew up space, so just go ahead and click on the category link above in the byline and you will find everything we’ve written so far in this series. We hope to get the remaining entries published by the end of January.

Snag a stout and start interviewing. It's a winning formula.

Snag a stout and start interviewing. It’s a winning formula.

After hitting Canteen in the morning on Monday, I trekked across town to meet with Turtle Mountain owner Nico Ortiz and brewer Tim Woodward in the afternoon. First off, let me just say that having Paseo del Norte done makes the westward drive a heck of a lot better, even if I did get stuck behind a slow-moving construction vehicle on Unser. Regardless, I made it to TMBC, snagged a pint of the tasty Stauffenberg Stout, and got down to asking some questions about how 2014 went and what looms in 2015.

The biggest change at TMBC in the past year was the addition of the bearded brewer to Nico’s left.

“For the first time in 15 years we had a new brewer, which was definitely the biggest change,” Nico said. “In our 16 years of history we’ve only had two people make beer for us, well, two head brewers. So that was a huge change. We ditched all of the recipes we had up until March of 2014 when Tim got hired. We started out with 100-percent, brand-new recipes, which is highly unusual but necessary in this situation.”

Tim Woodward has made himself at home as TMBC's head brewer.

Tim Woodward has made himself at home as TMBC’s head brewer over the last 10 months.

Tim was previously the assistant brewer for Justin Hamilton (now at Boxing Bear) at Chama River. Going from there to TMBC was a bit of an eye-opener, but it was a challenge Tim was more than willing to accept.

“I think for me it’s kind of hard to pick out one specific highlight that was so great here at Turtle Mountain,” Tim said. “To come in and basically rebuild from the ground up the entire brewery, the beers, the attitude about the beers, the whole nine yards, there aren’t words to describe the experience. To receive overwhelmingly positive reviews for our house beers that have come on and the excitement over some of these specialty beers that I’ve gotten to produce. Building from the ground up is profound.”

It was not just about creating a new beer lineup, however.

“Unfortunately we had eight years of delayed maintenance come and bite us in the ass,” Nico said. “So Tim and I are currently dealing with that as far as just issues of things not being maintained as well as they should have. So that costs money when it hasn’t been done for so long. That’s going to be on 2015’s list of stuff to get done. We had enormous change, but change for the better certainly.”

The equipment in the back of Turtle Mountain has needed a little overdue TLC.

The equipment in the back of Turtle Mountain has needed a little overdue TLC.

It was not an easy decision for Nico to part ways with founding brewer Mark Matheson and bring in Tim, but it was a necessary one. After years of being far removed from the rest of the metro area brewing scene, TMBC has now seen Cazuela’s begin to brew in Rio Rancho, Blue Grasshopper just opened, and Kaktus (Bernalillo), Boxing Bear, and the Marble Westside Taproom have also moved into the area.

“It was Jeff (Erway) who told me the news that I didn’t want to hear that I knew, that I needed to switch brewers,” Nico said of La Cumbre’s owner/brewer. “It was also Jeff who came in (afterward) and said these beers are good. That’s obviously good. We had some solid entries into GABF last year. The comments were good and considering these were new recipes on a new system and everything, 2015 should be better now that Tim is getting more familiar with how the system works.”

Tim said there are still times he wonders if he has taken on too big of a task to revamp the beer menu, fix up the brewing system, and more.

“There’s still times when I ask myself that,” he said. “I feel like that if you’re in a position of responsibility, if you don’t every once in a while ask yourself what the (heck) you’re doing, then maybe you’re not doing it right in the first place.”

All of those old TMBC beer recipes have been tossed out in favor of newer, better recipes.

All of those old TMBC beer recipes have been tossed out in favor of newer, better recipes.

“I still ask myself that 16 years after the fact,” Nico added with a laugh.

“It was nice, literally Tim walked into what amounted to a brewery startup that blessedly had historical cash flow and a solid team,” Nico said. “But he was in essence starting from scratch. Essentially there were no recipes. It was a clean slate. That would be, for most brewers, that would be frightening. There’s obviously a lot riding on the learning curve being as steep as possible to get good beer through the pipeline as quick as we can.”

Ultimately, Tim embraced the challenge while reminding himself that perfection in brewing, like in life, is almost impossible to attain.

“I kind of knew this at Chama, but one of the most important things to take away is that nothing ever goes the way you think it will,” Tim said. “Even if you’ve transferred a beer a million times, there’s always going to be something quirky that happens. That’s always the name of the game, especially in brewing. It just seems like if you feel like you’ve learned all of this, you’re dead wrong.”

One other bit of positive news for TMBC was that finally, after years of wrangling, the City of Rio Rancho approved the construction of a new parking lot to ease the overcrowding in the existing lot and the surrounding street curbs.

“By July 30 we have to have this parking lot done, which is obviously crimping our ability to fix some of the eight years of deferred maintenance,” Nico said. “As soon as that project is done and we can get ourselves back to full strength, it will be good. The additional 50 parking spaces this summer will be welcome.”

On a final note about 2014, Nico said he noticed an upswing in returning customers, many of whom had bailed out on TMBC years ago for other breweries.

“Personal highlights, just people actually coming in and say they stopped coming into Turtle Mountain because the beers weren’t as good as they used to be and having those people coming back in and saying they’re coming back in because the beers are good,” Nico said. “Anytime people told that to me that was a personal high for 2014.”

A big new festival is among the potential highlights for 2015

TMBC is hoping new legislation will enable them to distribute their beers beyond the confines of the restaurant.

TMBC is hoping new legislation will enable them to distribute their beers beyond the confines of the restaurant.

One of the biggest things that could happen for TMBC this year is not actually in the hands of Nico and Tim.

“From a business standpoint, the (NM Brewers) Guild has put forth several initiatives in front of the (State) Legislature this year,” Nico said. “One of which corrects a significant disadvantage that restaurant breweries have over those that operate just on brewers licenses, that we cannot distribute our own beer. So that is a big initiative that we’re pushing to basically provide for all brewers license holders.

“If that does indeed get passed and signed come July 1, we’ll be able to start distributing our own beer, which has gotten to become much more important in defending our turf, so to speak. So within Rio Rancho and my side of town, I want to be able to take my beer and put it on tap where I like. It also helps just marketing our product. That is a huge thing. We’re working really, really hard to get that licensing, that change through.”

TMBC will, as always, be heavily involved in two of Rio Rancho’s biggest festivals, Pork and Brew in the summer and Oktoberfest in the fall. But there is also a new festival being planned that could dwarf everything else this state has ever seen.

TMBC will be busting out the festival gear at a new location in 2015.

TMBC will be busting out the festival gear at a new location in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Turtle Mountain)

“The big change this year is Bernalillo opted to sever its ties with the wine festival on Labor Day Weekend (and) it’s now going to be a beer festival,” Nico said. “The Great Southwest Beer Festival in Bernalillo I think is what they’re calling it. It’s going to be a full-day affair all day Saturday and all day Sunday.

“We’re looking forward to bringing the 27 years of Bernalillo experience with the wine fest to bear on a beer festival, which we’re hoping is going to be by far the biggest beer festival this state has ever seen. We’re looking forward to that. That will most certainly be from a Guild festival that will be the biggest event we have.”

The wine festival used to attract anywhere from 15,000 to 20,000 patrons over three days, while this new beer festival aims for 10,000 over two days. Do not worry, the Brew Crew will be on top of this story as the year continues.

In the meantime, Tim will be hard at work in the brewery, focusing on the beers and a few special treats here and there.

Tim has been aging beer in two Pinot Noir wine barrels in the back. They should be ready soon. (Photo courtesy of Turtle Mountain)

Tim has been aging beer in two Pinot Noir wine barrels in the back. They should be ready soon. (Photo courtesy of Turtle Mountain)

“At the end of 2014, Nico and I procured a couple of Pinot Noir barrels from Gruet (Winery),” Tim said. “We’re hoping for one, possibly even two bottle offerings this year. They’re going to be very specialty. We’re both very excited about that.”

“The anniversary is March 22, so we’re hoping that which is resting in the two barrels will be ready to roll for our 16th anniversary (party),” Nico added. “Obviously we’ll make that determination sometime next month. I’m excited to see. We did some barrel-aged stuff a few years back but it wasn’t a whole-hearted effort, I’d like to say. This is certainly a whole-hearted effort.”

TMBC fans can expect some of their favorite seasonals to become short-term fixtures in the lineup in terms of always appearing around the same time of year.

“In addition to that of course we’ll have what will hopefully become our regular seasonal specials, featuring things like the Marzen and the Kolsch,” Tim said. “I still want to brew a classic American lager in July for Independence Day. I’ve also got some plans that I’ve dreamed up for some rather esoteric styles. I’m not going to go too in-depth on those yet, because we’re still working out details, see if we can actually make them viable or not. I have some fun ideas. I’m kind of maybe stretching my legs a little bit, seeing if I can do some bizarre, creative, fun beers.”

TMBC did win the Brew Crew’s Oktoberfest beer competition, so we are all looking forward to that beer returning along with many others. Tim said he hopes at least one or more of his beers will make an impact beyond just with the members of a beer-writing website.

“We’re dying to collect some hardware this year at GABF,” Tim said. “We’re jonesing for some medals to hang on the wall. We’re going to be working hard on making the styles we want to submit and making sure they’re exactly to the style guidelines up there. We’re just excited to keep on trucking and slowly continue to build this awesome company up, get the beer out there a little bit further.”

Nico said he was happy to have someone whom he knows can handle all aspects of the brewing side of the business, which frees up Nico to focus on the big picture.

“I’ve got my things I’m looking to get done,” Nico said. “Tim is responsible for making sure that we exercise eight years of deferred maintenance on the brewery and get the brewery 98 percent fully operable. I’m hoping by the end of 2015 I’ll be able to go to local establishments and see my tap handle on there, knowing that we now have the ability to self-distribute our own beer. There’s lots of things coming down the pipeline.

“2015 should be an exciting year. Obviously the competition is out there, so we have to make sure our game gets raised. I’m sure this year there will probably be a shakeout at some point. There’s a lot of breweries and I’m sure not everybody is going to survive. We’ve got to make sure we’re one of those that will survive. I don’t have any fear that we won’t. But, like I said, you have to come to work every morning with a little fear in the back of your mind with a little fear or you don’t have any motivation.”

Now that getting from east to west is a lot easier and faster, all of us in the Crew plan to visit TMBC more regularly in 2015. The pull of better beer always helps, too. We look forward to seeing how Stauffenberg Stout stands up against the rest during our annual Stout Challenge this coming Super Bowl Sunday.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The first beer festival of 2015 is upon us. WinterBrew is set for Friday at the Santa Fe Farmers Market from 4 to 9 p.m. The event, run by the New Mexico Brewers Guild, has already sold out all 750 of its tickets. So for those 750 lucky people, this preview is for you. For everyone else, um, live vicariously through us?

One of the best festivals every year is set for Friday.

One of the best festivals every year is set for Friday.

As always when we preview festivals, the number one question is “what beers are being poured?” Before we get to that, take note of some important things.

How to get there: You can drive up or take the RailRunner. We recommend the latter, though you won’t be able to attend for the full five hours. It leaves the Downtown ABQ stop at 4:26, Montano at 4:35, and Los Ranchos/Journal Center at 4:41. You’ll arrive at the Santa Fe Railyard at 6:03 p.m. if everything goes to schedule, so that’s still almost three hours of drinking time.

Don’t drink on an empty stomach: There will be food vendors on site, including Blue Corn, Second Street, Santa Fe Culinary Academy, and Bambini Philly Cheese Steaks. Food plates are supposed to range from $2 to $8. If you have the time, though, we always recommend you eat a late lunch to keep your stomach full before all the sampling starts.

Beyond the samples: You do get a ticket for one free pint of your favorite beer. You can purchase additional pints afterward.

WinterBrew does get crowded, but pace yourself and you will get all the beer you need.

WinterBrew does get crowded, but pace yourself and you will get all the beer you need.

Our best advice: Pace yourselves. It’s a fairly confined space, but things tend to move pretty quickly. Whether you are there for all five hours or less, there is plenty of time to try all the beers you want. And it never hurts to ask what may be on tap at the breweries, so you can focus only on the exclusive beers.

All right, without further adieu, here are the beer lists we received for most of the 17 participating breweries. If we get the missing lists in time, this article will be updated, have no fear. (UPDATED: We got Duel and Tractor, look below!)

Abbey — Monks’ Ale, Wit, Dark Ale, Dubbel Reserve, Tripel Reserve, and maybe Kirstall Weissbier (which is brand new and may or may not be ready in time)

Blue Corn — Gee-Eyed Stout, Road Runner IPA, two more TBD

Blue Heron — Aurora IPA, Penasco Porter, two more TBD

Bosque — Slack Jaw Imperial Porter, Slack Jaw on nitro, Jet Black Winter on cask, Mystery Man IPA, Fall Out Pils, Bosque Lager, Pale Ryder, Scotia Scotch Ale, Old Man Jameson

Boxing Bear — Chocolate Milk Stout, Iron Lung Smoked Porter, Paw Swipe Pale Ale, Black Eye-PA, and either Ambear Ale or Uppercut IPA

Duel — Titian, Dark Ryder, Grunewald, Fantin, Bad Amber, Marcel, plus sips only of Goya, Tableaux 15, Still of the Night (there will also be some bottles for sale, including Goya)

La Cumbre — Slice of Hefen, Malpais Stout, Elevated IPA, Project Dank, Cafe Con Leche, Simcoe Pale Ale, Red Ryeot

Marble — Imperial Stout, Double IPA, Red Ale, Double White

Ponderosa — Nikolaus Spiced Lager, Ghost Train IPA, The Dark Demon ICDA, Imperial Sawmill Stout

Red Door — Stormtrooper Imperial IPA, O.D.B., Gateway Blonde, Trappe Door Wheat, Roamer Red, Unhinged Cider

Roosevelt — we did not hear back yet

Santa Fe — Pale Ale, Hefeweizen, Black IPA, Java Stout, Kriek, BB-Aged Imperial Smoked Rye Porter, Double White IPA, Barrel-Aged Sour State Pen Porter

Second Street — Fulcrum IPA, Pivotal IPA, Mosaic IPA, Rod’s Best Bitter, Foreign Extra Stout, Bastogne Special Bitter (featuring Mosaic), Cream Stout, Kolsch

Sierra Blanca/Rio Grande — Milk Stout, Alien Imperial Stout, Pancho Verde Chile Cerveza, Alien Amber, Desert Pils, Bone Chiller Brown Ale, Sun Chaser Pale Ale

Taos Mesa — we did not hear back yet

Tractor — Double Sickle DIPA, Wonder Weisse, Luna de los Muertos Russian Imperial Stout

Turtle Mountain — Heidelberg Helles, Munich Dunkel, Hopshell IPA, Cafe Bella Coffee Porter

Franz Solo, Mrs. Solo, Luke, and I will all see you at the Railyards!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with the reunified edition of The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s four breweries and one newcomer down in Socorro also joining the party. We tried hard to keep the state edition going, but without participation from the breweries outside the I-25 corridor, it was futile.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

The big beer event of the week is WinterBrew up in Santa Fe on Friday, but that will get its own special article that I plan to run Thursday (with as many beer lists from the 17 participating breweries as I can get). The other big beer event of the week is Chama River’s 10th anniversary party, which will take place starting tonight (Wednesday) and run through Saturday. For those thinking “hey, they’ve been there for more than 10 years, haven’t they?” you are partially right. Chama originally opened as Blue Corn Albuquerque, but they changed the name, the menu, and more back in 2005, so that’s the anniversary they are celebrating. Tonight is Pint Night, where 10 percent of all beer sales will be donated to Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Thursday is the anniversary beer dinner. It’s $65 per person and by the time you read this they might be sold out, but check and see by calling 505-342-1800. It’s a six-course meal paired up with six beers. It will also be the first chance for folks to purchase bombers of the De-cen-ni-ale barrel-aged imperial stout. That monster of a beer (I got an advance sample from brewer Zach Guilmette, it might be the biggest, thickest, meanest barrel-aged imperial stout in New Mexico history; I’m not kidding, it’s straight up Kaiju monstrous) will then be available for sale starting Friday. Saturday will then be the 10th Anniversary Reception from 7 to 10 p.m., with live music, beer samples, and appetizers. Finally, Sunday will see a Chama tap takeover at the Draft Station ABQ, with proceeds to benefit Animal Humane New Mexico. You can even stop by and adopt a dog or cat from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Find a best friend and grab a pint? Win-win.

On the new beer front, things are picking up this week. Back Alley has fresh batches of Pre-Prohibition Malt Tonic and Poth’s Pilsner. Boxing Bear has busted out the Black Eye-PA. Chama River is tapping the Collaborator Doppelbock that they made with Blue Corn (it’s on tap there as well), plus the De-cen-ni-ale Russian Imperial Stout will be on tap by week’s end. Kaktus tapped Chinook IPA and Czech Pilz. La Cumbre’s Bohemian from Burque will go on later this week. Marble busted out some 2013 Imperial Stout and also has a Quad on tap. Nexus is getting into the DIPA game with Nexus Maximus. Pi has a fresh batch of ESB plus the new Peppermint Porter and Pumpkin Abbey Ale. Tractor is going big with the Double Sickle DIPA. Turtle Mountain has unleashed three new seasonals in the Munich Dunkel, Battle Royale Red, and Phantom Sun Pale Ale.

Up in Santa Fe, Blue Corn has Gee-Eyed Stout, an Irish dry stout. Second Street has Mosaic IPA and the award-winning Rod’s Steam Bitter back on tap. Down in Socorro, Twisted Chile has a fresh batch of KC’s Traditional Irish Stout plus the new Swartzbar Black Lager.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of Jan. 19.

To break down each “capsule,” I listed the brewery (with Web page linked), its phone number and hours of operation. Under “Beers” are the new or seasonal beers on tap for this week.

Albuquerque metro area breweries

ABQ Brew Pub — (505) 884-1116

(Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–midnight, Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–2 a.m., Sunday 10 a.m.–midnight)

Beers: Petrus Aged Ale, Petrus Aged Red. Petrus Aged Ale and Red are high alcohol barrel-aged sours from a family-owned brewery in Flanders. Several times a year, ABP serves up the latest creation by local brewing hero and winner of the Samuel Adams Longshot competition, Ben Miller, or seasonal releases by Monks Brewing.

Back Alley Draft House — (505) 766-8590

(Hours 4 p.m.-11 p.m. daily)

Beers: Pre-Prohibition Malt Tonic, Poth’s Pilsner, Ladron’s Con Fuego, Back Alley Red, California Common, Soroche IPA. In case you missed it, we recently interviewed BADH’s new brewer, Brandon Venaglia. There are some exciting times coming, including a possible expansion. The Malt Tonic and Poth’s Pilsner are back after a short absence.

Events: Sundays will now be Service Nights at Back Alley, with $2 off all beers for service industry workers. Bring your server’s ID and you will be rewarded.

Bosque Brewing Company — (505) 750-7596

(Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun noon-8 p.m.)

Beers: Prospector Milk Stout (all locations), Rio Grande Tortoise Black IPA (brewery only), Old Man Jameson (brewery and Nob Hill only), Acequia IPA, Pumpkin Spiced Ale, Whirlpool Lager (brewery and Las Cruces only), Bosque Dark Lager, Chocolate Brown (Nob Hill only), Jet Black Winter, Olde Bosky Porter (Las Cruces only). The GABF bronze medal-winning Acequia (6.5% ABV, 90 IBU) is back on tap. The Whirlpool Lager (5.9% ABV, 45 IBU) is a Mosaic-infused blast of happy. It hits you with big hop flavor at the beginning and then washes out with some sweet, smooth malts on the back end. It’s a uniquely wonderful beer. The Old Man Jameson (5.2% ABV, 18 IBU) is a tasty Scottish-style Export; think of it as a session version of Scotia Scotch Ale. The Bosque Lager will now be on tap year round, replacing the Kindling, which moves to the seasonal list (this is much as Driftwood Oatmeal Stout replaced Olde Bosky earlier this year). I got to try the Prospector Milk Stout (6.5% ABV, 20 IBU) when it debuted recently. It’s smooth as silk and a little less sweet and more robust than most milk stouts. It still retains a lot of stout character, which is a nice change from the more Left Hand-influenced versions. The Rio Grande Tortoise (6.5% ABV, 80 IBU) was brewed in collaboration with Turtle Mountain and is available at both breweries. The PSA is nearly out, so hurry over to help finish it off so a new beer can be tapped.

Cask: We’re waiting to hear what will be available this Friday.

News: The Bosque Public House is now located on Girard just south of Central. Bosque has also opened a taproom in Las Cruces, located in the former Mimbres Valley space across from New Mexico State at the corner of University Ave. and Espina St.

Bosque has a happy hour running from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and all day on Sunday. Look for special menu items and get $1 off your favorite pints.

Boxing Bear Brewing Company — (505) 897-2327

(Sun-Thurs 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri-Sat 11 a.m.-11 p.m.)

Beers: Paw Swipe Pale Ale, Hairy Mit Hefe, Standing 8 Stout, Ambear Ale, Uppercut IPA, Chocolate Milk Stout, Iron Lung Smoked Porter, Black Eye-PA, Apple Bear Hard Cider. The Chocolate Milk Stout is hugely popular with Boxing Bear regulars, so hurry over before they drink it all up. The Iron Lung Smoked Porter (6.1% ABV) and Apple Bear Hard Cider (5% ABV) went on tap recently. The Black Eye-PA (6.2% ABV) is hoppy yet malty black IPA. Two of the Crew’s favorites are the Standing 8 Stout (6.3% ABV, 45 IBU) and Ambear Ale (5.2% ABV, 35 IBU).

Cask: Word is that Boxing Bear is taking a short break from casks. When they return, we’ll let you know.

News: Boxing Bear now has a happy hour. 10-, 16-, and 22-ounce beers are all discounted from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Growler Happy Hour then runs from 6 p.m. to close on those nights. Get $2 off a growler fill and $1 off a half-growler (they call ‘em “squealers”).

Also, every day at lunchtime (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), for just $10 you can get a pint and a panini of your choice.

Events: Karaoke Night on Wednesdays at Boxing Bear is no more. They will look for another weekly event in the future.

Broken Bottle Brewery — (505) 890-8777

(Mon–Weds 4-11 p.m., Thurs-Fri 4 p.m.–midnight, Sat noon–midnight, Sun noon–10 p.m.)

Beers: Cracked Cork Barley Wine, End of Days Tripel, Twig and Berries Sahti, Drunken Hobo Milk Stout, Tom Selleck Ale, Rip Van Winkle Vanilla Stout, Nacho Brau. The Drunken Hobo will soon replace the Mulligan Stout in the regular lineup, or so Franz Solo was told when he visited recently. The Nacho Brau is another of Franz’s favorite seasonals. Get over to BBB before he drinks it all up. Two old favorites are back in the burly Cracked Cork and End of Days. New to the menu is Twig and Berries. A Sahti is a Finnish style of beer using some unique grains as well as juniper berries. If you’re one of the lucky few to not be allergic to junipers, have at it!

Events: B3 has $3 beers every Tuesday from open to close. On Wednesday, B3 will be hosting their open mic from 8-10 p.m., with signups starting at 7:30 p.m. Check out B3’s karaoke night every Thursday starting at 8 p.m.

Canteen Brewhouse — (505) 881-2737

(Sun–Thurs noon–10 p.m., Fri–Sat noon–midnight)

Beers: Irish Red, Pils Plz, Wine Barrel-Aged Belgian Golden, White Shine (White Wine), Sasquatch Scotch, Dark Side Baltic Porter, Schwarzbier, Black Rye PA, Panama Joe (aged in bourbon barrels). This year’s edition of Solstice Blackout is now available — Sasquatch, DS Baltic, Schwarzbier, Black Rye PA, Panama Joe are all on tap plus the Dark-n-Lusty Stout. It’s all six beers in sample format for $6. Trust us, it’s worth it, but it’s almost done for the year as the Panama Joe is nearly out (to be replaced by a TBD beer). Again, a huge thank you to head brewer Brady McKeown for letting us brew our Baltic Porter on his system. The resulting beer is a burly blast of smokiness, plus chocolate and toffee. Let it warm a tad (we recommend a full pint) and you will get a massive, multi-flavor profile. As for the rest, we loved the malty sweetness of this year’s Sasquatch. The Schwarzbier is a tart, earthy little beer. The Black Rye PA is pretty much a blast of rye goodness. And the Panama Joe, aged in bourbon barrels, needs a bit of warming to help the coffee and stout flavors catch up to the bourbon. Don’t worry, all of these dark beers are worth it. At least, we think so.

News: The last barrel-aged beer in the back, waiting to be tapped, is American Stock Ale in rum barrels.

Cazuela’s Seafood & Mexican Grill — (505) 994-9364

(Open daily 8 a.m.-10 p.m.)

Beers: Papacabra (Double IPA), Panama Red, Acapulco Gold (Mexican Lager), Hefeweizen, Chupacabra IPA, Piedra del Fuego Stoned Cream Ale, Beer for My Horses (Oatmeal Stout), Inebriator (Doppelbock). E-Rock and I had a chance to sample the Piedra del Fuego (5% ABV), which we both recommend. According to Cazuela’s menu: “This cream ale uses red-hot stones to super caramelize the sugars, creating a nutty, toffee-like flavor.” The Inebriator (8% ABV) and the Papacabra (9.7% ABV) are the biggest beers in the lineup.

Events: Cazuela’s now features a live guitarist every Friday.

News: Cazuela’s Beer for My Horses won a bronze medal in the oatmeal stout category at the World Beer Cup in Denver and also captured a gold medal in the stout category at the 2014 State Fair Pro-Am.

Chama River Brewing Company — (505) 342-1800

(Sun–Thurs 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–midnight)

Beers: Rise ‘n Shine Breakfast Stout, Collaborator Doppelbock, Gold Pale Ale, Coney Pale Ale. The Collaborator (7% ABV, 25 IBU) was brewed with the team at Blue Corn; it replaces the Rye on the Hog. Chama recently brewed up Rise ‘n Shine (5.8% ABV, 30 IBU), a traditional breakfast stout. Also debuting recently was the Gold Pale Ale (5% ABV, 45 IBU). The Coney Pale Ale (5.5% ABV, 45 IBU) is a mellow but still punchy little delight made with Mosaic and Falconer’s Flight hops, but it will soon be replaced by the De-cen-ni-ale Russian Imperial Stout (10% ABV, 85 IBU), which was aged in bourbon barrels.

Events: Chama River’s 10th anniversary blowout party begins tonight. For more info, see above or check their Facebook page.

Kaktus Brewing — (505) 379-5072

(Hours Mon-Thu 2-9 p.m., Fri-Sat 11:30-10 p.m., Sun 11:30-9 p.m.)

Beers: James Blonde, Winter Warmer Ale, I’ll Be Bock, ESB, Traditional Amber, Chinook IPA, Oatmeal Stout, Czech Pilz. The Chinook IPA and Czech Pilz joined the lineup this past week, joining a lot of other recent additions to taps. Sounds like a trip up I-25 may be in order soon. Kaktus is located at 471 South Hill Road in Bernalillo, for those who have still not made the trek.

Events: Kaktus has several new weekday specials including $3 pints on Monday, $9 growlers on Tuesday, $6 bison nachos on Wednesday, and $8 Frito pie and beer on Thursday.

The Desert Darlings belly dancers will perform from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sunday. If you’ve never seen the Desert Darlings in person, you’re missing out.

La Cumbre Brewing — (505) 872-0225

(Open every day at noon)

Beers: Cafe Con Leche, Munchener Dunkel, Simcoe Pale Ale, Dunkel Jefe, La Llorona Baltic Porter. This year’s batch of Cafe Con Leche (7.8% ABV, 30 IBU) is a standout, or so says Franz Solo and I. It’s available on tap and for sale in bombers. Brandon and I enjoyed the outstanding La Llorona Baltic Porter (8.9% ABV, 45 IBU). The Simcoe Pale Ale (5.5% ABV, 37 IBU) and Dunkel Jefe (5.4% ABV, 15 IBU) are back, but that Dunkel is nearly out, soon to be replaced by Bohemian from Burque. Oh, and don’t panic about Project Dank and Red Ryeot no longer appearing here as seasonals. They are now part of La Cumbre’s regular lineup.

News: La Cumbre’s new and improved website is now up and running. Check it out by clicking the link here. Their online calendar now includes what food trucks will be serving, plus live music and a current draft list.

Events: On the live music front, Ziatron performs Saturday from 7 to 10 p.m.

Yoga is back at the taproom every Sunday at 10:45 a.m.

Lizard Tail Brewing — (505) 717-1301

(Mon–Weds noon-9 p.m., Thurs–Sat noon-midnight, Sun noon-7 p.m.)

Beers: Whiptail Weisse, Bluetail Blonde, Horned Honey Pale, Reptilian IPA, Chameleon Amber, Basilisk Brown, Sanddigger Dubbel, Desert Night India Black Ale, Black Bearded Rye Stout, Smoot-tailed Oatmeal Stout, Prairie Lizard Porter, Biscochito Brown, Belgian Strong Dark, Belgian Abbey. Lizard Tail is up to 14 beers with a fresh batch of Belgian Abbey (7.1% ABV, 25 IBU). That and the Belgian Dark Strong (9.7% ABV, 30 IBU) are the newest additions, as one can probably tell since they have yet to be given lizard-themed names like the rest of the lineup. So far Lizard Tail has shown themselves to be more malt-forward than hop-centric. The oatmeal stout and porter are solid, while the IBA has shown improvement since its debut.

News: Lizard Tail’s happy hour runs seven days a week from 3 to 6 p.m. You get $1 off food, flights, and pints.

Take note that Lizard Tail now opens at noon every day.

Events: Lizard Tail will host Geeks Who Drink every Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Marble Brewery — (505) 243-2739

(Mon–Sat noon–midnight, Sun noon–10:30 p.m.)

UPDATED >>> Beers: Double IPA, 2014 Imperial Stout, 2013 Imperial Stout, Quad. The Brett IPA (6.8% ABV) and Barley Wine (10% ABV) are available in bombers but are not on tap anymore. The nitro tap is currently empty after you all drank up all the Porter. This year’s batch of Imperial Stout (11% ABV) is a big, bold beast of a beer. If the bourbon flavor is too much, just let it warm for a bit and it will mellow out and the stout flavors will come forward. And if you feel like a taste comparison, some 2013 Imperial Stout (11% ABV) is back for a limited time. New to taps is a hefty Quad (10.3% ABV), a big old blast of Belgian bad-assery. There is also the rotating “black handle,” which tends to feature some impressive “secret” beers.

Cask: Check out Marble’s cask (a.k.a. “real” ale) selection on tap every Friday at the Downtown Pub.

Events: Brewery tours occur at the Downtown Pub every Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

Nexus Brewery — (505) 242-4100

(Sun–Thurs 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–midnight)

Beers: Dry Stout, Nexus Maximus, Warp 10 Golden Strong, Beam Me Up Scottish. The new Beam Me Up (9.5% ABV, 32 IBU) uses the same malt bill as the first batch from three years ago, but with a modified hop mix. The result will set it apart from the first two versions. Brewer Kaylynn McKnight has just unleashed Nexus Maximus (7.6% ABV, 100 IBU), a big old DIPA that will have you chanting its name like you’re back in the Roman Coliseum. The Dry Stout is bold and thick, the kind of burly beer you want in the winter (or year-round if you’re like us). Another fairly recent addition to taps is the Warp 10 Golden Strong, an English-style golden ale.

Events: Nexus serves up Happy Hour All Day on Tuesday featuring $3 pints. Also on Tuesday, Nexus will be hosting their comedy open mic, Young Dumb and Full of Comedy, starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Sun Room.

While “The Walking Dead” is done until February, you can still play Walking Dead pinball in Nexus’ community room. It’s one of four pinball machines now available for some nostalgic fun.

Pi Brewing at Nicky V’s Neighborhood Pizzeria — (505) 890-9463

(Sun–Thurs 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–10 p.m.)

Beers: PiPA, West Coast Red, Bourbon Vanilla Porter, Pre-Prohibition Pilsner, ESB, Peppermint Porter, Pumpkin Abbey Ale. While Pi Brewing is not open to the public yet, they are able to brew and serve their beers next door at Nicky V’s. The IPA and West Coast Red are both good hoppy beers. We’ll keep tabs on when Pi itself opens. For now, grab a pint and some tasty Italian food. The PiPA will now be a regular beer, replacing the Unchallenged IPA. The scrumptious Bourbon Vanilla Porter is back, replacing the Robust Porter. New to taps this week are the Peppermint Porter and Pumpkin Abbey Ale, while a fresh batch of ESB is on tap as well.

Ponderosa Brewing Co. — (505) 639-5941

(Sun 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Mon–Sat 11 a.m.–11 p.m.)

Beers: Ghost Train IPA, Rip Saw Red, Crosscut Kolsch, Dunkelblitzen, Chocolate Pumpkin Porter, Marbelous (Imperial Rice Lager), Nikolaus Spiced Lager, Bavarian Belle Hefeweizen, Imperial Sawmill Stout, The Dark Demon ICDA. Ponderosa is located at 1761 Bellamah NW, which is just east of Rio Grande and due north of the NM Natural History Museum, in the bottom floor of a swanky-looking apartment/retail complex. New to taps is The Dark Demon (8% ABV, 110 IBU), an imperial Cascadian dark ale (basically a black IPA). The Marbelous (7% ABV, 32 IBU) was brewed as a tribute to Marble’s Ted Rice, whose staff has helped Ponderosa in their early months of existence. The Nikolaus (5.2% ABV, 30 IBU) is a Weihnachtsbier, a traditional Bavarian dark lager brewed for the holidays. The Bavarian Belle Hefeweizen (4.8% ABV, 15 IBU) debuted recently and may become a regular fixture in the lineup. Brace yourselves for the new Imperial Sawmill Stout (8.2% ABV, 65 IBU).

News: The next batch of brews will include Dunkelweizen and Ella Single Hop Pale Ale.

Red Door Brewing — (505) 633-6675

(Mon–Thurs 2 p.m. to midnight, Fri–Sun noon to midnight)

Beers: (Regular) Gateway Blonde Ale, Roamer Red, Threshold IPA, Paint it Black Milk Stout, Unhinged Cider, Trappe Door Wheat. (Seasonal) Strong Scotch Ale, Stormtrooper Imperial IPA, O.D.B. (Oaked Dark Belgian). The first Red Door seasonal, Strong Scotch Ale, finally has some company with the new Stormtrooper (8.4% ABV, 110 IBU), the biggest beer they have brewed to date. The O.D.B. is quite a treat as well. The Trappe Door Wheat, a Belgian-style if you couldn’t guess by the name, replaces the Trapdoor Wheat in the regular lineup. After a short absence, the Unhinged Cider is back on tap.

News: Take note of Red Door’s new weekday schedule for the winter months as they will now open at 2 p.m. instead of noon. Weekend hours remain the same.

Red Door received a new shipment of their popular red T-shirts recently, so head on over and buy a few.

Sandia Chile Grill — (505) 798-1970

(Mon–Sat 8 a.m.–8 p.m., Sun 8 a.m.–6 p.m.)

Beers: Irish Red, Rattlesnake IPA, Smoked Stout. We’re still trying to get a current beer list from SCG. If we get one, we’ll update the list.

News: Congrats to SCG on sweeping all three medals in the mead category at the 2014 State Fair Pro-Am, while also claiming a silver medal for Barb’s Barrel Hefeweizen.

The Stumbling Steer — (505) 792-7805

(Sunday-Wednesday 11 a.m.-midnight, Thursday-Saturday 11 a.m.-2 a.m.)

Beers: Bang Up Blonde, Hefferweizen, Pig Sticker Pale, Iron Horse IPA, Rawhide Red, Boneyard Brown, Hop Trough (Double IPA), Soiled Dove (Imperial Stout), Black IPA. While the brewery is being built in the back of the Steer, all of their house beers are being brewed off-site, but still using brewer Kirk Roberts’ recipes. The DIPA and the Stout are limited to two per customer, due to their high alcohol content (10% and 9.5% ABV, respectively). The Black IPA is the current seasonal beer, plus there are often one or two cask beers.

Tractor Brewing Company — (505) 433-5654 (Nob Hill Tap Room), TBA (Wells Park)

(Nob Hill is open Monday-Wednesday 3 p.m. to midnight, Thursday 3 p.m. to 2 a.m., Friday-Saturday 1 p.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday 1 p.m. to midnight; Wells Park is open Monday-Thursday 3 p.m. to close, Friday-Sunday 1 p.m. to midnight.
 Last call 30 minutes before close. 
No package after midnight.
 Brewery tours Saturday at 1 p.m.)

UPDATED >>> Beers at Nob Hill: Little Red Rye-ding Hood, Mustachio Milk Stout, Pilsner #15, Berry Cider, Barn Burner Pale Ale, Chocolate Milk Stout.

UPDATED >>> Beers at Wells Park only: Jack the Sipper, Double Sickle DIPA, Apple Cider, Ebony & Ivory, Turkey Drool. All of the Nob Hill seasonals are also at Wells Park, which has 24 total taps (Tractor’s five regular beers have two taps apiece). We love us some Turkey Drool (8% ABV) this time of year. It’s a brown ale with all sorts of holiday-themed spices and other added ingredients. This year’s batch is arguably the best yet. The wonderful Lauren Poole also showed us that if you mix the Drool with Mustachio to create Turkey Milk, it’s absolutely stupendous. The Little Red (5.8% ABV) has a malty rye kick and is just $2 a pint. Jack the Sipper (7% ABV) is Tractor’s take on a spiced pumpkin ale. The new Double Sickle DIPA (7.6% ABV, 110 IBU) is not an overwhelming hop bomb, but has a nice malty backbone to balance itself out. The Chocolate Milk Stout should tide over your sweet tooth. The Barn Burner (6% ABV, 52 IBU) is a bitter little pale ale that uses 40 pounds of El Dorado hops. The Ebony & Ivory (5.5% ABV, 25 IBU) is a “pale stout,” made with pale malt, pale chocolate malt, and caramel malt. It smells like a stout, but tastes like something a little different. Also look for fresh batches of the Pilsner #15 at both locations.

News: Congrats to Tractor and their Mustachio Milk Stout, which won in the Best of Albuquerque competition from ABQ the Magazine.

Mustachio’s bigger, meaner brother, Luna de los Muertos Russian Imperial Stout, is aging in the back, including some in a barrel. Oh, man, that could kill us … but we’d die happy.

Currently, all pints of Little Red RYE-ding Hood are just $2 and you can fill your growler for just $5. Time to make room for a new beer on tap!

Events: The pLOUD music series is back at Wells Park on Thursday with Moonhat going on at 8 p.m.

This Saturday features the return of the In the Mix series with Cloudface spinning at 9 p.m.

Tractor will be pouring beers during many of the events at the Revolutions Theater Festival. Check out the calendar for more info.

Also, every first Monday of the month at both Tractor locations is Beer for a Better Burque night. For every pint you buy $1 can go to one of four charities that have partnered with Tractor. You can also opt to purchase a special growler with the logo of your favorite charity.

Turtle Mountain Brewing Company — (505) 994-9497

(Kitchen hours: Mon–Tues 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Wed–Thurs 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Sun 10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Reminder: TMBC closes early when business dictates. Please call.)

Beers: (House) McDay’s Cream Ale, Oku Amber, Parasol White IPA, Hopshell IPA, Heidelberg Helles, Stauffenburg Stout. (Seasonal/specialty) Cafe Bella Coffee Porter, Munich Dunkel, Battle Royale Red, Phantom Sun Pale Ale. To help us out for now and the future, brewer Tim Woodward broke down what will be the regular beers on tap (under House) and the current list of seasonals. That’s a pretty solid regular lineup. I personally really enjoyed the new Stauffenburg Stout (it replaced the Piedra Lisa Porter in the regular lineup) and Amber, the latter of which trumps most of its genre in terms of flavor. The Heidelberg Helles (5.1% ABV, 25 IBU) has rejoined the regular lineup for good, or so Tim hopes. The newer beers here are the Dunkel (4.7% ABV), Phantom Sun (4.8% ABV), and Battle Royale (6.5% ABV). The red is hoppier than most, more akin to Marble’s Red than an Irish red. The Phantom Sun is a tart little sucker. The Dunkel is comparable to the one at La Cumbre.

Santa Fe breweries

Blue Corn Brewery — (505) 438-1800

(Daily 11 a.m.–10 p.m.)

Beers: Monks Mesa (Belgian Blonde), Toro Blanco White DIPA, Collaborator Doppelbock, Gee-Eyed (Dry Irish) Stout. The Monks Mesa (4.5% ABV, 15 IBU) is a Belgian blonde table beer. The Toro Blanco White DIPA (9.1% ABV, 100+ IBU) is not to be taken lightly. The Collaborator (7% ABV, 25 IBU) was made with the brewing team at Chama River and is available now at both locations. The new stout (4% ABV, 40 IBU) should be at WinterBrew.

News: Blue Corn just brewed up this year’s batch of Barley Wine. It should be on tap in a few weeks. Check their Facebook page for pictures. Also on deck is a Scottish export.

Duel Brewing Company — (505) 474-5301

(Sun 11 a.m.–8 p.m., Mon–Tues 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Wed–Sat 11 a.m.–midnight)

Beers: What WOOD Amber Do (Barrel-Aged Amber Ale), Fiction (IPA), Fantin (Double Pale Ale), Marcel (Witbier), Whistler (Blonde), Titian (Golden Strong), Dark Ryder (Dark Strong), Goya (Imperial Stout). The lineup got a shakeup recently with some big beers joining the rotation. Dark Ryder and Tititan check in at 11-percent ABV, while Goya (15.9% ABV) is a monster of a beer. You can buy Goya in bombers at the brewery or down in ABQ at Jubilation. The most recent addition to taps is What WOOD Amber Do, which has to be the first barrel-aged amber we have seen. Hopefully brewer Todd Yocham will bring some to WinterBrew so we can try it. (HINT!)

Events: The life drawing session is $25 and is held each Sunday morning from 11-1 (although they are not open to the drinking public till 1 p.m. on Sun). You get the beverage of your choice, a Brussels-style waffle made with their own yeast and beer and then served with a Grunewald Syrup. Everyone then draws from a nude model. People can sign up through the website or call the brewery to reserve a spot.

Duel has live music this Friday and Saturday. First on Friday, David Berkeley will perform with Ben Wright, Paul Feathericci, and Josh Martin starting at 7 p.m. Saturday will feature Karen Jonas performing also at 7 p.m.

Santa Fe Brewing Company — (505) 424-3333

(Mon–Sat 11 a.m.–10 p.m., closed on Sunday)

Beers: Double White IPA, Black IPA, Deviator Doppelbock, Full Mast Kilt Scottish Ale. The first beer in the new Ever Changing Series is a Double White IPA, which Luke of the Brew Crew bullpen recently reviewed. The Kriek, which won a bronze medal at GABF this year, is on sale around the state in bombers. It will soon be on tap in Albuquerque for the first time. Look for it today at Nob Hill Bar & Grill and Thursday at Rock and Brews.

Events: $1 off growler refills in the tasting room on Mondays. $2 pint Tuesdays at the Eldorado Taphouse. On Wednesday, there is a $2 pint special in the tasting room, and the Sangre de Cristo Craft Brewers’ Meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the tasting room as well on the third Wednesday of every month. On Thursday, there will be $1 off growler refills at the Eldorado Taphouse.

News: SFBC will soon be opening a taproom in Albuquerque. Here are all the details that Luke could find. It sounds promising.

Second Street Brewery — (505) 989-3278 (Railyard), (505) 982-3030 (original location)

(Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Sunday noon-9 p.m.)

Beers: Kolsch, IPA, Cream Stout, Rod’s Best Bitter, Boneshaker Bitter, Pivotal IPA, Mosaic Pale Ale, Mosaic IPA, Rod’s Steam Bitter. Get ready for fresh batches of the Mosaic IPA and Steam Bitter, which won a medal at the 2013 GABF. Right now Second Street pretty much covers everything from hoppy to medium malty to their classic Cream Stout. The Pivotal IPA and Boneshaker Bitter are often available for purchase in four-packs of cans.

Events: Every Wednesday night, the Railyard location will have Open Mic Night hosted by Ben Wright.

Live music is back this week at both locations. At the original location, the Gregg Daigle Band plays Friday and Broomdust Caravan performs Saturday. MVIII Unplugged will be at the Railyard location Friday and Blues Revue performs Saturday.

Other breweries you need to visit

Twisted Chile Brewing — (575) 835-2949

(Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri–Sun 11 a.m.–11 p.m.)

Beers: Pilabo Pale Ale, Venom IPA, English Porter, Zia Pilsner, 790 IPA, Hose Co. 1 Red Lager, KC’s Traditional Irish Stout, Swartzbar Black Lager. Located in Socorro at 115 Abeyta St. W, Twisted Chile is the first brewery there to brew on site since Socorro Springs outsourced their brewing to Eddyline in Colorado several years ago. I got to head down there recently and enjoyed all the beers I sampled. Kudos to Twisted Chile for bring quality craft beers back to a town that needed ‘em. The newest beers on tap are the Irish Stout and Black Lager, the latter of which is brand new. Other recent additions are the 790 IPA (7% ABV) and the Hose Co. 1 Red Lager (6% ABV). The Zia Pilsner (5.25% ABV) is done in the German style. The Venom IPA (8.2% ABV) is the biggest beer on tap, as the name might imply.

Events: Tonight (Wednesday) is Open Mic Night hosted by Johnny Dean starting at 6 p.m. There will be food and drink specials.

* * * *

That’s all for this week! If you have any questions or comments, leave them below or contact us on our Facebook page.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Greetings everyone, Stoutmeister here with the 14th post in our Look Back/Look Ahead series for 2014-15. Normally I would list the previous entries, but that’s starting to chew up space, so just go ahead and click on the category link above in the byline and you will find everything we’ve written so far in this series. We hope to get the remaining entries published by the end of January.

Changing the name from Il Vicino to Canteen was the most noticeable change in 2014.

Changing the name from Il Vicino to Canteen was the most noticeable change in 2014.

This time around I went over to Canteen Brewhouse on Monday to talk about how their last year went and what they have in store for us this year. Head brewer Brady McKeown was busy with helping in the two-week renovations over at Il Vicino Nob Hill, so general manager Ror and the always chatty brewer Doug stepped in for a change.

The biggest change this year for Canteen was, well, calling themselves Canteen. After being the Il Vicino Brewery Canteen for a few years, the brewery in effect separated itself from the restaurant. It mostly has to do with certain licensing issues in New Mexico, as the brewery could not distribute their beers anywhere but the IV restaurants (something the Brewers Guild is hoping to change via the State Legislature this year). Overall, it was a fairly smooth transition, Doug said, with a few exceptions.

“Most people know us because we’ve been here for so long,” Doug said. “It’s just same place, different name. But all the branding with the shirts and that stuff, that was tough. We had to redo all our growlers, T-shirts, glassware, coasters.”

Doug did note that if you still have old IV shirts or growlers or stickers, those are collectors items now.

We didn't have Brady to pepper with questions during this visit to Canteen.

We didn’t have Brady to pepper with questions during this visit to Canteen.

Another transition in the back saw a new assistant brewer jump on board after Zach Guilmette departed to run the show at Chama River.

“We picked up a new guy, Scotty, who’s perfect,” Doug said. “Fits right in, easily trainable, wants to brew, used to home brew so he has a little bit of knowledge. Used to be a baker, so he’s been in kitchens, so he understands cleanliness, measuring stuff out, things like that. It’s the little things that some people don’t realize when it comes to brewing. They just see shiny and a bunch of flash, people up there looking like they know what they’re doing. This guy really wants to do it.”

Canteen celebrated 20 years of existence as a brewery during the summer and also went out and made some waves in the beer awards circuit. Dougie Style Amber, named for its creator, won gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival and North American Beer Awards. Canteen also snagged a silver at GABF for St. Bob’s Imperial Stout ’07 and a bronze for the Irish Red at NABA. Panama Joe Coffee Stout also snagged a silver at the World Beer Cup.

“It was a good year,” Doug said. “Can’t argue with it. Won a bunch of awards for beer. That’s kind of nice. That’s kind of a little extra.”

2015 should feature plenty of change

The next time Franz Solo or any other Crew member helps with a brew at Canteen, it could be on a much bigger brewhouse.

The next time Franz Solo or any other Crew member helps with a brew at Canteen, it could be on a much bigger brewhouse.

Canteen will be upgrading their equipment this year, starting with the pending arrival of a new 15-barrel brewhouse. The current seven-barrel brewhouse was bought back in the 1990s when the original Rio Bravo Brewing closed. It has more than run its course while producing a ton of good beer over the year. There was not much else Doug and Ror could go into detail about as far as expansion plans go, at least not yet.

“That’s kind of up in the air,” Doug said. “I know we’re going to expand capacity. There are some other plans they want to unleash, but I’m not sure if I can say anything about it right now. But it’s going to take some time for them to get it worked out. But once it does, they want to hit the ground running, that’s what I heard. So it could be some big stuff happening here hopefully within a year, we’ll see how long it takes for them to get stuff in and for we to get it set up.”

Other rumored plans include a full kitchen that would greatly expand Canteen’s food menu, though those details also remain under lock and key for now.

Doug shows off the new crowlers that you will soon be able to fill with purchased beer at Canteen.

Doug shows off the new crowlers that you will soon be able to fill with purchased beer at Canteen.

As we stood there talking, Ror did finally explain why there were a bunch of 32-ounce aluminum cans sitting atop a nearby pallet, looming over the brewery floor.

“So there’s this elephant in the room,” Ror said. “It was supposed to happen a month ago, the crowlers. We’ve got a crowler machine, we’ve got 32-ounce cans, but we don’t have any labels. So it should happen in the next week.”

For anyone who has not been to Ska Brewing or Oskar Blues in Colorado recently, crowlers might be somewhat of a mystery item.

“You get a can, you fill it like a growler, cap it, rinse it off, stick a label on it,” Doug said. “It’s recyclable, you can bring it back in. It’s kind of an interesting angle that Colorado breweries are doing it. I guess we’re the only ones in New Mexico that are going to start it.”

Ror said customers can buy one at a time or more, with Canteen hoping to help out with carrying multiple crowlers out the door after purchase.

“We’re trying to find a sleeve to hold the four-packs,” Ror said. “You can be the hit of the party if you show up with four 32-ounce different beers.”

“It’s good for camping, for traveling,” Doug added. “I think they’re going to fly off the shelves. That’s the beginning of the step up, we’re trying to get into the (distribution) market here.”

One of the many medal-winning beers at Canteen this year.

One of the many medal-winning beers at Canteen this year.

As for some new beers, fans watching the Canteen Facebook page saw that the popular Milk Chocolate Cherry Stout will be back Valentine’s Day weekend. Other beers on the way include a new steam beer, a Kentucky Common, and a Helles lager.

“I want to do some more barrel stuff, but I can’t think of anything off hand,” Doug said. “Malt Madness is coming up in a couple months (in March), we do the brackets. I’m compiling the teams, getting the rosters ready.”

There will also be a fresh new batch of Exodus IPA, nicknamed “Extra-dus” by Doug, that will be out soon. It will be Canteen’s entry in The Brewing News’ National IPA Challenge, which of course last year was won by La Cumbre’s Project Dank.

The Milk Chocolate Cherry Stout will soon be back at Canteen.

The Milk Chocolate Cherry Stout will soon be back at Canteen.

Beyond the new brews, things will stay quiet for a while on the festival front for Canteen, which is just fine with the staff.

“I guess the first thing we’re going to do is the Chocolate Coffee Fest with Panama Joe and Chocolate Cherry,” Ror said. “March and April is when beer fest season is going to start up again. It was kind of nice to have a lull, we put everything back in the trailer.”

Ror and Doug said as more details are ironed out and things begin to get rolling on the potential expansion/distribution/renovation front, they will make sure to alert us in the Crew so we in turn can alert all of you, dear readers. Fear not, 2015 shall be another fun year with Albuquerque’s best bunch of mad beer scientists.

And we have a lot more content due out this week, including The Week Ahead in Beer (as always), Turtle Mountain and Chama River’s LB/LA series entries, plus our preview of WinterBrew with beer lists for all the participating breweries on Friday. And maybe some other little things here and there. Just bear with us if WordPress/Facebook go wonky again as they did when we tried to post the Second Street story earlier.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

SecondStreetLookBack20142015Pic1

We’re letting Luke play around with making our photos snazzier. Let us know what you think of them, dear readers.

Every year the Crew sits down with our local breweries, giving them a chance to take a look back at the year they’ve had and recap for you, beer fans, their wins, their loses, and the challenges they may have faced along the way. We also give them the opportunity to tell us what we should be looking forward to in the year to come. As the Santa Fe Correspondent, I’ve done my best to cover the four breweries in the Santa Fe area. Two of them have already posted. For my third installment, I had a beer with brewer Rod Tweet of Second Street Brewery.

Another Thursday, another brewery I think to myself as I slog through the cold wind toward my destination. As soon as I step inside, however, my day instantly gets better. That’s the magic of a local pub, isn’t it? A little warmth and a beer to wash away the memory of a particularly hard day. Tonight the pub is already packed with families and friends enjoying a good meal, and guys and gals out for a good brew or two. In one corner, there are children laughing and playing games, in another there’s a beer group in serious contemplation of the new German yeast strain (that’s right, I asked). I take a seat and order a big beer, the Trebuchet, an imperial IPA, something I’ve never seen on the menu before. One taste and I wonder where this has been all my life.

My interviewee, head brewer Rod Tweet, is still wrapping up a bit of top-secret brewery business with right-hand woman Colleen Sager and a fellow whose name is so familiar to me, it might as well be silk-screened on a T-shirt. It’s warm inside, the fire is lit, and my beer is as hoppy as any hophead could hope for. Again, I’m fast reminded of why I always love coming in, and why this is one of our fearless editor’s favorite venues when in Santa Fe. (True enough. — S) Off the record, I’ve been here long enough to know that it’s one of the best venues Santa Fe has to offer. That’s why there are two locations.

Rod joins me shortly. He’s sporting the plaid and the beard. Something in my head says, you can take the brewer out of Oregon, but you can’t take the Oregon out of the brewer. But I kid, Mr. Tweet. Immediately I think of some of the (few) things I know about Rod, about his originally coming from an engineering background as many brewers do, and how Sierra Nevada had changed his life on a camping trip in California all those years ago. And he’s probably the same guy to drink a beer with now as he was then. He’s got a very specific twinkle in his eye, the kind a man gets when he absolutely loves what he does. I only recognize it now, ever since I started writing for the Crew. But Rod’s one of the busiest men in the business, I tell people frequently. And respecting that, I jump right into the interview.

So this year Second Street turned 18. The brewery can legally vote, buy cigarettes, and fight for our country. How was Second Street’s year? What were some of the highlights of 2014?

We had a great year, actually. We were busy, and got our numbers up a little bit. We paid for the Railyard (location), which is five years old now. And we’re kinda looking at what we should do next now. But they’re on their feet. I mean, it’s a work in progress down there, so we’re still workin’ on it. But yeah, we had a great year, as far as business. No complaints.

No complaints. How about struggles or challenges? Any to note this year?

Let’s see. I don’t know. It always seems like such as struggle. (laughs) I think we just set an ambitious agenda for ourselves, for the restaurant and the brewery, and I wouldn’t say it was a struggle exactly, but everyone was working real hard, staying busy to keep everything where it should be. In the brewery, we were focusing on a lot of new quality projects, and also more yeast strains than we’ve ever used at one time in there, which has been awesome, and a lot of fun, but just adds to the brainwork of scheduling …

SecondStreetLookBack20142015Pic3

Second Street began canning some of their beers for the first time in 2014.

Second Street also began doing some canning this year in a limited way with Mother Road Mobile Canning, which was not without its own set of technical challenges.

We had a lot to learn, getting beer into a can; getting it ready to package. It’s a lot different exercise than our normal brewpub process. So, we learned a lot, but that’s been great.

With Mother Road Mobile Canning, you canned the Boneshaker Bitter and the Pivotal IPA. I spoke with those guys earlier this year. How was it working with them?

It was really good. They’re a good outfit to work with. They’re real together, professional. They were actually pretty easy to work with. It was really just the logistics of us having 20 barrels of beer ready that can disappear from our taps, and getting it ready in a way that satisfies what they need to get it into their equipment. We also had to learn about getting the artwork ready for the can, and the shrinksleeves with another party. But, you know, it went pretty well. It’s been really well-received. We’ve got some good attention with it. We’re entertaining the possibility of introducing a third one.

That was my next question.

And we’re selling it all out of here. It’s a little more work, you know. But our customers like it, and it’s another alternative to a to-go package, in a way, except it has a shelf-life.

It’s a different animal than the growler.

Right, with the growler, you can have any beer you want. With the cans you can’t, but the cans have a longer shelf-life, and they’re a single-serving. So I think there’s a place for businesses our size to utilize canning in that way.

Now, this year was Cask and Curry’s first year. You Celebrated the one-year anniversary in November. How did those dinner events go?

They went real well. The kitchen did a great job. Chef Jason (Gleichman) did a great job getting the food presented for that. It’s a ton of work, for him, but they went great. You mentioned the Cask and Curry, which we do every month now. We spent last year getting better at that. If I may say so, I think the food offering now, the curries we’re doing, are really, really good. And, I’m not trying to do a commercial for ya, but it took us a while, and the casks are now consistent.

For those who don’t yet know, Second Street’s Cask and Curry is a special dinner, where, once a month, traditional Indian food is paired with a special beer on cask.

It’s all Indian, pretty traditional. Chef Jason comes up with the recipes. The casks have been coming out great now. It took a little while to get them coming out consistent. They’ve been great, though. Honestly, our focus for this coming year is to get the word out a little bit better about that. I think it’s really a quality, unique offering and we need to do a bit better job of communication on it. So, we’re definitely going to continue doing that. We’ve talked about adding one night down at the Railyard, but we’re not quite ready to do that.

I certainly look forward to getting out there for the event. This year you had yet another list of great beers beyond the usual line-up, including beers like the Chinook Imperial Porter, Pivotal IPA, Red Comet, Outlier Special Bitter, and the Quark, which I really liked.

Yeah, no. The Quark was great.

It was a good, fun, Berliner Weisse.

It’s challenging for the non-aficionado.

Definitely. So, out of all those, this year, which were some of your favorite recipes to develop and brew?

That’s a good question. Well, the Pivotal and the Fulcrum and the Trebuchet are part of a family.

The Trilogy, right?

That’s right. And John (Walker), who works with me in the brewery, those three have sort of been our baby.

SecondStreetLookBack20142015Pic2

Second Street’s brewing team had a busy year in 2014.

Each one is almost one step up from the other.

That’s exactly what it is. We did the Pivotal, just because we wanted to showcase those hops.

And then Fulcrum was brewed for the IPA Challenge, right?

Yeah, the Fulcrum we really liked. And we thought, you know, we should really work this out a little bit more. It’s great, and it’s different. On paper they look almost the same, but they’re pretty different when you taste them. And we thought, this is so good (and) we don’t want them to go away. So we’re going to do Pivotal and Fulcrum, and we needed a third member. And that’s where Trebuchet comes in (the bigger, more floral imperial IPA). So roughly our plan is to, on an ongoing basis, rotate Pivotal and Fulcrum, and then get the Trebuchet in three or four times a year. So that’s been really fun and really satisfying this year.

We sort of ran wild with the hops this year. We bought anything that our heart desired, and put as much in the beer as we wanted, so that’s been really fun. There’s some other beers, too. The Boneshaker, I like that beer a lot, and it really got some support from the people.

And putting it in a can didn’t hurt.

Yeah, that helped, too. Also, let’s see, some of the big beers have been a lot of fun.

They’re typically bigger beers than you’ve done in the past, am I right or … ?

Well, we’ve always done them; I just think they’re better now. This year we just kept trying to roll things out, as I kept finding hops, like the Huell Melon Pilsner, that’s been really cool to try a brand new hop. It’s out of Germany. Cascade is one of its parents and it’s a really great lager hop, in my opinion. We also introduced another yeast strain that we’ve really run with. It’s kind of opened up things to us, too.

What sort of yeast strain?

It’s a dry-fermented British strain, a dry isolate of another strain. I’ve never worked with it before, but it’s awesome. You can get some good British character and it dries things out, which British yeasts don’t do. One of our other house strains is British, but it leaves a richer beer. I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot of other beers we did this year.

I’m sure a lot of brewers out there would say that every beer they make is their favorite, but if you had to pick one, which beer was your favorite to brew this year?

Well, Fulcrum was one.

Cool. I like how it’s grown, how it’s evolving. It’s kind of your project that you’re continuing to work on.

Yeah, thanks, I’m glad you’re an appreciator. John and I put so much effort into those. Lots of meetings, and we’re really serious about it. We have some really good IPAs in the state. We really do. And I respect those beers. And John and I were thinking, you know, I want an IPA where I can have three of them without killing me off. And that’s where the Pivotal started. It’s bright. It’s really bright, bright citrus with a clean finish. So that’s the bright one. Fulcrum is like the darker, more brooding cousin of it, more depth, more of that lingering, interesting character, but still with that clean finish, more complexity. More of that long, deep, contemplative vibe. The Trebuchet is basically just amping it up to imperial. That’s the sipping version.

That’s why I’m still working on this one. Looking forward, is there any big news for the brewery in 2015?

Well, there are some things in the works. They’ve been in the works, for quite a while. We’ll probably be talking more about that in the near future.

Any tiny hints for our readers?

We may go into some limited amount of packaging. We’ll probably leave it at that, for now.

Fair enough! Okay, so an integral part of Second Street Brewery is the live music (for both locations). You had bands like Broomdust Caravan and Busy & the Crazy 88s, and singers like Eryn Bent, even Maxwell Hughes, formerly of the Lumineers played through there as well. As a major venue for live music in Santa Fe, what can locals expect to see in 2015? Any big names on the lineup?

Well, we only book a few months out. So, I guess I don’t have any long-term over-arching news on that yet, but you can definitely expect more of the same.

And so there’s live music pretty consistently on Fridays and Saturdays, right?

Right, and then we have an open mic on Tuesdays down at the Railyard, hosted by Ben Wright. It’s awesome. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Ben, but he’s one of the more accomplished and ambitious people in town here.

I’ve heard him around town a few times. And he hosts the events?

Yep.

And it’s Tuesdays?

That’s right.

Excellent. So, this year, Second Street Brewery partnered with the Santa Fe Conservation Trust to make the Boneshaker Bitter (where 25 cents of each can sold of the Boneshaker Bitter went to help protecting and maintaining public biking and hiking trails). And you had RescueFest back in September, benefiting Atalaya Search & Rescue. Does Second Street already have any plans to do anything like that this year?

So the Boneshaker Bitter is still ongoing. We’re probably two-thirds to our goal of 20,000 pints with that. So we’re getting close. And we did the Atalaya Alt Beer and the Search and Rescue event, we’ll most likely repeat that.

So maybe an annual RescueFest?

Yeah, we’ll most likely be doing that. And those kind of events are great. You really can’t go wrong with that sort of thing.

You get to support local businesses and help local charities. It’s a win/win.

Yeah, definitely. It’s part of our place in Santa Fe, and it’s what the people want.

Speaking of special events, Second Street hosted the first leg of the IPA Challenge this year. I’m sure those events bounce around breweries, but will Second Street be hosting any other beer-centric events in 2015?

There are a couple things we’re talking about. They aren’t really on the calendar yet. We’re just brainstorming right now. But yeah, you can expect some.

Does Second Street plan to participate in any of the brewfests around the state this year? I know you guys definitely do a few of them.

We do pretty much everything these days.

I assume you’ll be at WinterBrew?

Of course.

Note: Stoutmeister will have a full list of beers Second Street is bringing and it will run in his WinterBrew Preview on Thursday.

So, current trends in beer culture are barrel-aging and sours, do you plan to work with barrels or wild yeast strains this year?

Yeah, we did start, finally, barrel-aging last March. So it takes a little time.

Of course.

So we have actually started that, it just hasn’t bared any fruit yet, but we’ll probably be seeing that now in 2015. Well, we did the Preacher’s Share, which was in the Santa Fe Spirits Barrels, and that turned out great. We’ve got a small amount of that rat-holed back there, but not much of that is left. We have a sour red in apple-brandy barrels, also from Santa Fe Spirits, which should be mentioned if possible because they were nice enough to give us the barrels. And then we’ve also got a Strong Belgian Trappist in Dolchera Barrels from Vivac Winery.

They’re up by Dixon, right?

That’s right. And we’re actually brewing another Belgian beer with Bastogne, something dark that’s gonna get blended in with the barrel-aged Belgian. So we’re admittedly new at this whole barrel thing, but we’ve definitely got stuff in the works now. We decided, last year, that we were gonna get ourselves up to speed on that so, we’re getting there.

What about other beers in general? What are you excited to brew or tweak for 2015?

(At this point in the conversation, I hear a mother ask her son, “Warren, do you want Chicken Tenders?” He replied, “No, I want beer!”)

We’ve got five or six new things we’re working on. It might seem cliche, but I tend to be very hop-centric, too. I get pretty excited about finding out about and getting new, offbeat stuff. So, I’m always up for that. We’ve (had) a contract for quite a bit of Huell Melon and Mandarina Bavaria, so we’re gonna be workin’ more with that. And sometimes it’s taking something that we have, already, and really improving it, honestly. So we’ve been doing quite a bit of that sort of thing. And we have four house strains (of yeast) now, which is getting fairly common. We usually have a fifth around. We’ve always done quite a bit of variety, but we kind of started doing that last year, and you can expect more new stuff getting put together because we got all this to work with. You know, one thing I am looking forward to, though, is in February we do Ringwood beers. Nothin’s new about Ringwood, but I love that yeast. In February, we’ll be doing the Outlier (and) Halifax Strong Pale Ale. The Outlier is awesome. The Halifax needs a little … fine-tuning. And there’s the Winter-Warmer. And March, has always been stouts, but we may change that up a little bit.

Can’t wait for that Winter Warmer! Finally, is there anything you’d like to say to the readers and the NM beer drinking public?

Keep it up. We get good support from beer drinkers in New Mexico. Even though we have such a small population in our state, we have a lot of really good brewers that work here, and we have a lot of good beer here, and the more people that get out and take advantage of it, the better it is.

* * * * *

As long as I’ve lived in Santa Fe, three things have been true about Second Street Brewery: 1) every weekend it’s been a great venue for live music, 2) the pub fare has always been fresh and filling, and 3) Rod Tweet has always brewed what Rod Tweet’s wanted to brew. Those three things have been their recipe for success. 2014 was yet another example year where if you make a great, quality product, people will come out and buy it. It’s a good business model, really. In 2015, we can certainly expect more of the same great stuff that makes Second Street an easy choice, whether it’s just for an after-work attitude adjustment, or a hot sandwich and few live tunes. Those things won’t change. Why fix what ain’t broke? But as you’ve read, new and exciting projects are in the works, or in the barrels, as it turns out. And the new epic IPA trilogy will continue on as strong as ever. Those are all reasons enough to renew your membership to one of the most un-exclusive and unpretentious clubs in town. For locals and ‘locals for a day,’ Second Street is your place.

SecondStreetLookBack20142015Pic5

There’s always something good on tap at Second Street.

Cheers!

— Luke

Hello and happy 2015, ABQ beer lovers! I recently spoke with Clint Coker, brewer at Sandia Chile Grill, as part of the Dark Side Brew Crew’s Look Back/Look Ahead series. For those of you that are unfamiliar, Sandia Chile Grill is a New Mexican restaurant in Del Norte Center on the corner of Wyoming and San Antonio near Sports and Wellness. They have been brewing beer in this restaurant location for a few years now.

Sandia Chile Grill has made the most out of its small brewing space in the Northeast Heights.

Sandia Chile Grill has made the most out of its small brewing space in the Northeast Heights.

Originally, Clint was going to be brewing on the day of our interview, but he said the weekend was so busy he decided to put it off until next weekend. He will be brewing one of their flagship beers, an Irish Red that Clint said gets a lot of positive feedback. The brewing operation is very small and is actually inside the main seating area of the small restaurant. However, they would like to see that change.

For a little background, I asked Clint about his brewing experience and how he got started.

“Basically how it all started is as kids, my cousin and I always wanted to make alcohol,” Clint said. “We started making alcohol on the mountain where we were living (Cloudcroft). It didn’t go very well. As time went, we were working around this grill, making food, producing salsas and stuff out of our brew pot. It was kind of going slow. We didn’t have a market for it. Distributors were kind of pushing on us, making us not want to do it anymore. So we didn’t. My cousin convinced us to start making beer. We started out just the way everyone else did at the home brew shop.”

Clint said that was four years ago.

“We had our FDA background which really kind of helped us as far as food goes, you know, basic sanitation, what you can and cannot do … Our real big turn was propagating our own yeast,” he said. “Being able to turn a fast beer was basically everything for us.”

Sandia Chile Grill's small brewing system is located in the front of the restaurant.

Sandia Chile Grill’s small brewing system is located in the front of the restaurant.

In last year’s Look Back/Look Ahead story, Clint mentioned a large reduction in fermentation time. I asked him how that was progressing.

“It’s actually gotten a lot better,” he said. “When we first started we had IPAs that would ferment out 40 days, stouts that would ferment out 100 days. That is just way too long. Now with our own yeast, our own monoculture, the strain that we do have, I can get a Hefeweisen fermented out in four days, in your glass by five days. I can get that same stout that was 100 days in 10 days. It’s really gone good. The meads that we do as well, that was six months to a year and a half. We are down to about eight to 13 days, depending on the alcohol.”

Speaking of the meads, Sandia Chile Grill has received numerous awards for them. I wanted to know — what are the future mead plans for SCG?

“Mead is actually one of the easiest alcohols you can make,” Clint said. “It’s one of the oldest known to man. Once you know what you are doing, I would recommend it to anyone who brews or wants to make alcohol, just because of the ease. It’s something you can do in a half an hour. If you ferment it out right, in 10 days you are drinking it. And it’s some of the finest alcohol you can have. Keeping in mind it depends on what fruits you are using, where they are from and how they are pasteurized, whether you have to have heating elements or not. If you have clean, dechlorinated water, and, say a grape juice that has no preservatives in it, nothing that’s going to harm your yeast, it’s all cold processed.

“Mead is a big passion of mine and is something that ever since we started I wanted to be the pinnacle of our company. You won’t find mead out there on the market, and what you do find really isn’t mead. It’s not the fine alcohol that they made 3,000 years ago. It’s been out of the masses for about 300 years. You see really low versions of it, like 10-percent-ers that don’t have enough honey, fermented out really fast … it’s people trying to make a beer and not really knowing what it is. Last year we took 30 gallons of mead to Hopfest. Fifteen minutes in, I didn’t have anybody in my line. I’m starting to bum out. Then a couple of people tried it. By the end of the day, I served over a thousand samples and I ran out.”

Note: here is where I confessed to being one of those people at Hopfest who were a little skeptical, but I tried it and I liked it.

Beer may be the backbone, but mead is the passion of SCG's brewer.

Beer may be the backbone, but mead is the passion of SCG’s brewer.

“Even the people who have had (other meads) are skeptical,” Clint said. “What they have had before has really given a bad name to mead. Not only what an enjoyable drink it can be, but also what a nice experience it can be. Because once you really do get time to take a bottle home, it’s a different ‘drunk’ than you will get off of anything. It kind of lingers. You get enough, and you can get a 10-hour drunk. No headache, no hangover, none of that going on.”

Whoa. That is a very interesting theory. Something for the readers to be careful about! In this case, you might say ONLY try this at home, folks.

For those who do not want to brew their own mead, SCG has you covered.

“So this year we are bringing out four products,” Clint said. “One of them is on my line now. It is a braggot, a style of mead made with grains. Honey being the base, grain being the flavor. We made a wild one since it was our first. We took our Irish Red (and then) I cooled it down separately right out of the boil, added honey, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. It’s 12 percent right now and it is carbonated. You can purchase it in a 10-ounce glass for $7 a glass or you can buy a bottle for $20 for a 32-ounce bottle. I have another one that I am working on carbonating now. It’s wheat and pilsner malt with a base of honey and Bing cherries. It is 12 percent as well. It will be ready in a few days. The honeymoon mead and legacy meads we featured at Hopfest will be ready before then.”

Switching to the topic of IPAs, over the past few years, Clint admitted to struggling with putting out a solid IPA for the Albuquerque market. That struggle is over, he said.

“We finally have an IPA,” Clint said. “It took us about 20 IPAs to finally get it. The Rattlesnake IPA finally has a home. It’s about 120 IBU, running seven percent. It’s Cascade and Chinook hops, Cascade dry-hopped. It’s really nice and definitely becoming one of our flagships.”

Clint said he thinks people are still demanding quality IPAs, but with a slight caveat.

Brew baby, brew!

Brew baby, brew!

“I don’t think it’s getting hoppier,” he said. “If you look at the demographics of IPAs across the nation, I think it’s going down. I think really what’s going on with New Mexico, is with us eating such hot foods with our chiles and our spices, our palates are different.

“I think that our customers are going to drink the bigger IPAs. When you go into competitions here, if you don’t create an IPA like that you are not going to win. These are not standard IPAs. They are creating double and triple IPAs to accommodate our market. A standard IPA is pretty much what you will get around the country, (but) not in New Mexico. It is very hard to keep up with the demand of what people expect an IPA to be here in town.”

I asked if Sandia is still working with Desert Water Brewing or collaborating with anyone else. Clint said they are not because they plan on changing how they brew to a system that is more economical and green. Their methods are going to change and they are keeping the details to themselves, at least for now.

Clint also has a plan for 2015 festivals/competitions.

“We are going to join New Mexico Brewers Guild and start going to some of their stuff,” he said. “We did two or three events last year. I want to try to do 10 events this year and really get out there. Now, people might be disappointed with what we bring, because I’m not going to bring beer. The only thing I am going to do at these events from now on is the mead.”

SCG will be at more festivals in 2015, but they will only take their meads.

SCG will be at more festivals in 2015, but they will only take their meads.

That is understandable, since their current brewing capacity requires that they keep most of what they make to serve at the restaurant and to fill growlers. So I asked Clint about the bigger picture, and if he could pick one word to describe last year in the local brew industry.

“Not really,” he said. “Some people do well, some don’t. Last year was a big push for breweries coming in to the business and 2015 isn’t going to be anything less. We are going to see a huge wave of people trying to get into the brewery business. You’re not trading up. You are going to work just as hard or harder being a brewer than anything else you were. Hopefully you can make a product that’s going to bring it.

“Albuquerque is becoming saturated with breweries. It’s going to continue. By 2016/2017, you are going to see who has beer and who doesn’t. In just those two years, a lot of people who got in business are going to go out of business. The ones who have a really good product and stick with what people want are going to survive. The staples — Marble, Il Vicino, and La Cumbre — they are already making their name. They’re not going anywhere. It’s all the little guys like us that really have to worry about it. So we’ll have to step it up.”

Keeping the production level and quality high enough to make it through are the biggest obstacle that SCG will face in the future.

“It is, yeah,” Clint said. “A lot of professional brewers I talk to around town are already not the happiest with the quantity of beer they are producing this year. It’s just going to be one of those things that are going to happen.”

To wrap up, I asked a couple of general questions.

What do you think has changed the most for you?

“Talking about how to grow our brewery, how to get more product out,” he said. “The location we are in now is so small we are really limited in what we can produce. 2015 will be about change and about larger production space.”

If you could predict a new breakout style trend in local beer, is there something you see coming or have a feeling about?

“Sours might be one of the next things,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s anything that’s going to take hold, though. It’s a real small demographic. I see a lot of product aimed towards women starting to come out. Ciders are huge.”

For fun, let’s say somebody gave you a large fund grant that you could use just for brewing locally. You couldn’t take it and go live in the Caribbean or anything — what would be the first thing you would do?

There was no hesitation at all in his response.

“Start a propagation lab,” he said. “The yeast is the most important part of what we do. If you don’t have enough yeast, you’re just not going to get there. We don’t reuse anything. Everything comes from an original pitch right out of the jar. (In fact, that would require less room than I imagined — AmyO.) … About 100 square feet. You could have everything you needed. If we increase our beer production, protocol on how we propagate our yeast will have to change. I would need people to help me do it — clean room, gloves, washing hands in and out, the whole nine yards. Here, I am the only one who deals with it.”

Thanks, Clint, for taking the time to talk to me on a very busy weekend. All in all, it sounds like there are some significant changes coming up for Sandia Chile Grill. We wish them well and look forward to seeing increased exposure for them at festivals and competitions.

Cheers!

— AmyO

Greetings everyone, Stoutmeister here with the 11th post in our Look Back/Look Ahead series for 2014-15. Normally I would list the previous entries, but that’s starting to chew up space, so just go ahead and click on the category link above in the byline and you will find everything we’ve written so far in this series. We hope to get the remaining entries published by the end of January.

Yes, it took a while to convince brewer Kaylynn McKnight to pose like this when she took over at Nexus last year.

Yes, it took a while to convince brewer Kaylynn McKnight to pose like this when she took over at Nexus last year.

This time around I trekked over to Nexus Brewery to chat with brewer Kaylynn McKnight and owner Ken Carson. 2014 was a year of one major change — Kaylynn succeeded founding brewer Manuel Mussen — and some smaller but equally important efforts to further improve the dining and drinking experience. One major change that did not happen was the opening of a secondary location, but that is not to say it is out of the realm of possibility for 2015.

“It was a little rough to start,” said Kaylynn, who officially took over on St. Patrick’s Day. “When I came into this place there were a lot of things that needed to be fixed, updated, and remodeled. So the first six months I was here I focused on that. I kind of didn’t know where to start when I first got in. Eventually got everything that really needed to be fixed our updated done. The last three months I’ve been really focused on recipes and making beer, which has been really nice.”

Kaylynn had worked as an assistant brewer at La Cumbre, where she learned the ropes from Jeff Erway and Daniel Jaramillo. Even then, they could not prepare her for everything she would have to deal with as a head brewer working on her own.

“At first it was a little bit of a shock,” she said. “But in brewing beer, you know what needs to get done, when it needs to get done. It’s kind of on its own schedule. You just have to be paying attention and you’ll know when to transfer a beer or (cold) crash a beer. It’s pretty much the same, but being independent on my own has been kind of nice, actually.

“It wasn’t too hard. I’m still used to the whole process coming from Cumbre. You know, you brew it, you ferment, you move it, you drink it.”

There was a lot of work to do in the back of Nexus when Kaylynn took over.

There was a lot of work to do in the back of Nexus when Kaylynn took over.

Most of that early work revolved around making Nexus run as efficiently as La Cumbre.

“Cleanliness (and) organization were two things that this place really needed when I stepped in,” Kaylynn said. “Just even knowing the right chemicals to use, I changed a lot of that, what sanitizers to use and just being a little bit more thorough and detail-oriented than Manuel was. That’s something I definitely took from working with both Jeff and Daniel.”

Ken agreed that the brewery half of Nexus needed some work.

“We’ve basically spent a lot of this (past) year fixing things,” he said. “I think we fixed a lot of the problems we had in the brewery. I know we did. Kaylynn did a great job on getting that stuff out of the way. It was stressful but it had to be done and so we did it.”

Kaylynn did not institute any major changes on the beer front, just a modification here and there, while bringing some of her own recipes to tap for the first time as seasonal beers.

The excellent Scottish Ale is the one beer that will never change at Nexus, mostly because it's the owner's favorite.

The excellent Scottish Ale is the one beer that will never change at Nexus, mostly because it’s the owner’s favorite.

“A couple of the recipes I tweaked,” she said. “The one I have not touched is the Scottish Ale, that’s Ken’s favorite, so that one stays the same. Most of the recipes were pretty solid, they just needed a little bit of help. I had to go and recalculate IBUs on a lot of the beers. Manuel was using a home brewer program rather than what tool that I usually use called Hop Bitterness Calculator. That’s more for professional brewers.

“I wanted to up the IBUs on the IPA and make it more of an IPA instead of a pale ale. The Cream Ale I tweaked just a little bit to make it a little bit smoother. Other than that, the Red has remained pretty much the same. I’m still working on the Porter recipe, trying to make that a little bit smoother. Everything recipe-wise pretty solid when I got here, just needed a little bit of help.”

Kaylynn liked a couple of her seasonal beers in particular and has some interesting ideas of what to produce this year.

“I really liked the Alt Bier, that was the first recipe I did on my own here,” she said. “Actually I’m a big fan of the Dry Stout right now. I kind of want to experiment more with some single-hop pale ales, learning about some of the hops here I haven’t used, get a little more comfortable with them. I’m a big fan of saison. I’d really like to do a couple more maybe like Belgian or saison recipes and just spice them up a little bit more, make them more exciting.”

For the overall business, Ken said 2014 was a good year as Nexus focused mainly on improving the internal processes rather than overreach trying anything new.

The Crew has always agreed that Nexus' food is wonderful.

The Crew has always agreed that Nexus’ food is wonderful.

“Well, it was an interesting ride,” Ken said. “We had record sales through the middle of the year, a lot of those prompted by repeat showings of ‘Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.’ We won several awards this year from The Alibi, then we won Albuquerque the Magazine, and I think we have from (Local) IQ. Almost every foodie-type organization that gives out awards we at least picked up a couple of awards from each one of those. It’s not just the soul food, it’s also things like Frito Pie. It’s kind of interesting we can still pull that off.

“By far the biggest sales item we have on our menu is chicken and waffles. That still is the leader in sales in regards to food. On the beer side, it’s basically been pretty consistent with the sales. It’s going proportionally, stayed about the same at about 60 percent food and about 40 percent other. And the other is comprised of T-shirts and glasses, (but) about 35 percent of that is beer. It’s a good percentage.”

Ken said stability was the keyword for how he handled things in 2014.

“I completely revamped and remodeled the kitchen with new, higher-tech equipment in order for us to get the food out faster,” he said. “We were getting into situations where the restaurant was full, we were not able to get the food out on a timely basis. The Yelp comments we’re getting now, and on Friday I was out working the floor, people were shocked at how fast we were getting food out.”

The one thing that did not happen in 2014 was the opening of a second Nexus location. Though they talked about taking over the old J.B.’s restaurant next to the Plaza Inn, that deal fell through due to cost concerns.

“I know we were talking about another location last year, but that never happened,” Ken said. “I really want to find a place where I don’t have to leverage, I don’t have to borrow a lot of money. I also don’t want to pay an exorbitant rate in lease rates and stuff like that. I think with the proliferation of new breweries coming into the Albuquerque area, you need to keep your foundational expenses as low as possible. However, I do believe the market is still wide open throughout the city for taprooms, to have neighborhood taprooms. I think that’s the way things are going to go.”

Overall, 2014 was good to Nexus.

“It was a good year,” Ken said. “The bottom line is it was a good year for us. I think the growth rate was around 30 percent and that’s not bad.”

2015 will feature more beer and hopefully maybe finally that elusive taproom

This location did not work out for Nexus' taproom, but owner Ken Carson is still intent on opening a taproom.

This location did not work out for Nexus’ taproom, but owner Ken Carson is still intent on opening a taproom.

Now that Kaylynn has her brewery in good working order, she hopes 2015 will enable Nexus beers to really take off and re-enter the discussion for the best in the metro area.

“I would like to be a little bit busier, just keep brewing more beer, focus definitely on quality at the same time, just keep making our beers here better and better,” she said. “I was looking back at the last Look Back/Look Ahead interview and we were talking about opening a taproom then and I think we’re still trying to get to the stage of opening so we can focus more on selling our beer — I think we might have a little bit of food in it — but it would be mostly about selling our beer.”

Ken said that definitely fits his plan of having an eventual 50-50 split of revenues between food and beer.

These fermenters will soon have company in the back of Nexus.

These fermenters will soon have company.

“I would say that a lot of the reason why I didn’t go into the (second taproom) was spending money redoing things internally, reinvesting in the business to improve customer service and improve the way we do things,” he said. “I’m ready to go for it this year.

“We’ve increased our capacity, the other thing is we’re primed, we’ve increased our number of tanks to double our production. Maybe not 100 percent, but at least 90 percent. We can probably do twice as much beer as we have previously. We have a fermenter coming this month, hopefully, a 15-barrel.”

Nexus has four new serving vessels in the back, giving Kaylynn the opportunity to brew more beers and keep the lineup fresh.

“Me and Ken have talked about (how) he wants to have a good amount of stronger, imperial beers on tap at all times,” she said. “He kind of wants that to be our thing, to do like maybe styles that not a lot of people have done before. I was thinking since I liked my Alt Bier so much, maybe do an imperial alt. We already do the Imperial Cream. That’s the direction he’d like to go in. I’m always open to anything. Being a first-time head brewer, I’d like the opportunity to just make some recipes and figure out what I do well and what I don’t.”

Kaylynn said Nexus will not be at WinterBrew next week in Santa Fe, but they will be getting back out there more later in the year.

“I’m going to start getting back into festivals in the next couple months,” she said. “When I first started I was having trouble keeping up with the beer. Now that I have those new tanks it’s nicer.”

Nexus' ugly sweaters were quite the hit in 2014. We just posted this photo of them again because seriously, who would wear this in public?!

Nexus’ ugly sweaters were quite the hit in 2014. We just posted this photo of them again because seriously, who would wear this in public?!

Ken said the theme of 2015, Nexus’ fourth year, will be “building the franchise.”

“Right about this time is when an organization needs to start establishing a real solid foundation of how they do things and how they train their employees,” Ken said. “We’re going past that mark when you get to what you call maturity. We’re in that little gray area right before you hit that five-year mark, which is an interesting point. We’re continuing to just try to do improve our services. I am looking at some new menu items to add to what we do, to kind of change things up. But it’s probably not going to be a drastic change from where we are right now. It’s just going to be an enhancement.”

Employees like Kaylynn will always help keep Ken grounded, he said.

“I don’t want to lose track of providing great service and a good experience for our customers and focus on doing things right and not get too distracted,” Ken said. “Because I can, I can get distracted doing too many things. Kaylynn helps me focus on that. It’s a good balance, because she’s kind of a conservative. (Note: she laughed at this comment.) Well, I guess in some ways. I’ve always had that dynamic of having good employees that help you see reality.”

All of us in the Crew are looking forward to another year of good beer and tasty food from Nexus. To whet our appetites, Kaylynn said look out for a Double IPA (7.7% ABV, 100 IBUs) due out late this week or early next week. We figure that will just be the start of goodness this year.

Oh, yeah, and for the love of the beer gods, get over there and help drink up the Dry Stout (if the name bothers you, forget it and just enjoy the beer) and the new Beam Me Up Scottish is excellent as well. Throw in some chicken and waffles and what more could you really need in life?

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with the reunified edition of The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s four breweries and one newcomer down in Socorro also joining the party. We tried hard to keep the state edition going, but without participation from the breweries outside the I-25 corridor, it was futile.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

There are quiet a few special tappings and events this week, with thankfully none of them happening on the same night. Tonight (Wednesday) is the Cuvee Rouge Release Party at all three Marble locations. The tapping of this special sour is at noon, but things really kick off at 5 p.m. at the downtown pub. The Cuvee Rouge will be paired with crispy duck egg rolls served by Street Food Institute. Meanwhile, this Thursday is the annual Defrost Fest at Blue Corn’s southside location in Santa Fe. The event pairs up cask beers from multiple breweries with special food dishes created by Blue Corn’s chef David Sundberg. It begins at 6 p.m. and costs $20 per person. You get three-ounce samples of each cask beer, plus a pint of your favorite, and appetizers. The casks are from Blue Corn, Bosque, Chama River, Duel, Santa Fe, and Second Street. RSVP by calling 505-438-1800 or emailing manager@bluecornbrewery.com. You can find more info on their Facebook page. If that’s not enough for you, Santa Fe is serving up four specialty beers dredged up from the cellar for Martin Luther King Day (Monday) from noon to 10 p.m. The beers are Whiskey Barrel Stout, Hot Hef (Green Chile Hefeweizen), Kicken Chicken (barrel-aged sour version), and Wet Hop IPA (made with New Mexico-grown Latir hops).

On the new beer front, it’s a very quiet week. Bosque has a new Dark Lager at their Nob Hill taproom. La Cumbre is getting a little German with a fresh batch of Munchener Dunkel.

Up in Santa Fe, Blue Corn will tap a Collaboration Doppelbock and a Dry Irish Stout on Saturday. Second Street has fresh batches of Mosaic Pale Ale, Pivotal IPA, and Huell Melon Pilsner.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of Jan. 12.

To break down each “capsule,” I listed the brewery (with Web page linked), its phone number and hours of operation. Under “Beers” are the new or seasonal beers on tap for this week.

Albuquerque metro area breweries

ABQ Brew Pub — (505) 884-1116

(Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–midnight, Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–2 a.m., Sunday 10 a.m.–midnight)

Beers: Petrus Aged Ale, Petrus Aged Red. Petrus Aged Ale and Red are high alcohol barrel-aged sours from a family-owned brewery in Flanders. Several times a year, ABP serves up the latest creation by local brewing hero and winner of the Samuel Adams Longshot competition, Ben Miller, or seasonal releases by Monks Brewing.

Back Alley Draft House — (505) 766-8590

(Hours 4 p.m.-11 p.m. daily)

Beers: Ladron’s Peak, Ladron’s Con Fuego, Back Alley Red, California Common, Witbier, Soroche IPA. In case you missed it, we recently interviewed BADH’s new brewer, Brandon Venaglia. There are some exciting times coming, including a possible expansion. The Red, Cali Common, Wit, and IPA are all back after a short absence.

Events: Sundays will now be Service Nights at Back Alley, with $2 off all beers for service industry workers.

Bosque Brewing Company — (505) 750-7596

(Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun noon-8 p.m.)

Beers: Prospector Milk Stout (all locations), Rio Grande Tortoise Black IPA (brewery only), Old Man Jameson (brewery and Nob Hill only), Acequia IPA, Pumpkin Spiced Ale, Whirlpool Lager (brewery and Las Cruces only), Bosque Dark Lager, Chocolate Brown (Nob Hill only), Jet Black Winter, Olde Bosky Porter (Las Cruces only). The GABF bronze medal-winning Acequia (6.5% ABV, 90 IBU) is back on tap. The Whirlpool Lager (5.9% ABV, 45 IBU) is a Mosaic-infused blast of happy. It hits you with big hop flavor at the beginning and then washes out with some sweet, smooth malts on the back end. It’s a uniquely wonderful beer. The Old Man Jameson (5.2% ABV, 18 IBU) is a tasty Scottish-style Export; think of it as a session version of Scotia Scotch Ale. The Bosque Lager will now be on tap year round, replacing the Kindling, which moves to the seasonal list (this is much as Driftwood Oatmeal Stout replaced Olde Bosky earlier this year). I got to try the Prospector Milk Stout (6.5% ABV, 20 IBU) when it debuted recently. It’s smooth as silk and a little less sweet and more robust than most milk stouts. It still retains a lot of stout character, which is a nice change from the more Left Hand-influenced versions. The Rio Grande Tortoise (6.5% ABV, 80 IBU) was brewed in collaboration with Turtle Mountain and is available at both breweries. The PSA is nearly out, so hurry over to help finish it off so a new beer can be tapped.

Cask: We’re waiting to hear what will be on tap this Friday, if anything considering the holiday.

News: The Bosque Public House is now located on Girard just south of Central. Bosque has opened a taproom in Las Cruces, located in the former Mimbres Valley space across from New Mexico State at the corner of University Ave. and Espina St.

Bosque has a happy hour running from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and all day on Sunday. Look for special menu items and get $1 off your favorite pints.

Boxing Bear Brewing Company — (505) 897-2327

(Sun-Thurs 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri-Sat 11 a.m.-11 p.m.)

Beers: Paw Swipe Pale Ale, Hairy Mit Hefe, Standing 8 Stout, Ambear Ale, Uppercut IPA, Chocolate Milk Stout, Iron Lung Smoked Porter, Apple Bear Hard Cider. The Chocolate Milk Stout is hugely popular with Boxing Bear regulars, so hurry over before they drink it all up. The Iron Lung Smoked Porter and Apple Bear Hard Cider (5% ABV) went on tap recently. Two of the Crew’s favorites are the Standing 8 Stout (6.3% ABV, 45 IBU) and Ambear Ale (5.2% ABV, 35 IBU).

Cask: Word is that Boxing Bear is taking a short break from casks. When they return, we’ll let you know.

News: Boxing Bear now has a happy hour. 10-, 16-, and 22-ounce beers are all discounted from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Growler Happy Hour then runs from 6 p.m. to close on those nights. Get $2 off a growler fill and $1 off a half-growler (they call ‘em “squealers”).

Also, every day at lunchtime (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), for just $10 you can get a pint and a panini of your choice.

Events: Every Wednesday (except today) is now Karaoke Night at Boxing Bear. It runs from 6 to 10 p.m.

Broken Bottle Brewery — (505) 890-8777

(Mon–Weds 4-11 p.m., Thurs-Fri 4 p.m.–midnight, Sat noon–midnight, Sun noon–10 p.m.)

Beers: Cracked Cork Barley Wine, End of Days Tripel, Twig and Berries Sahti, Drunken Hobo Milk Stout, Tom Selleck Ale, Rip Van Winkle Vanilla Stout, Nacho Brau. The Drunken Hobo will soon replace the Mulligan Stout in the regular lineup, or so Franz Solo was told when he visited recently. The Nacho Brau is another of Franz’s favorite seasonals. Get over to BBB before he drinks it all up. Two old favorites are back in the burly Cracked Cork and End of Days. New to the menu is Twig and Berries. A Sahti is a Finnish style of beer using some unique grains as well as juniper berries. If you’re one of the lucky few to not be allergic to junipers, have at it!

Events: B3 has $3 beers every Tuesday from open to close. On Wednesday, B3 will be hosting their open mic from 8-10 p.m., with signups starting at 7:30 p.m. Check out B3’s karaoke night every Thursday starting at 8 p.m.

Canteen Brewhouse — (505) 881-2737

(Sun–Thurs noon–10 p.m., Fri–Sat noon–midnight)

Beers: Irish Red, Pils Plz, Wine Barrel-Aged Belgian Golden, White Shine (White Wine), Sasquatch Scotch, Dark Side Baltic Porter, Schwarzbier, Black Rye PA, Panama Joe (aged in bourbon barrels). This year’s edition of Solstice Blackout is now available — Sasquatch, DS Baltic, Schwarzbier, Black Rye PA, Panama Joe are all on tap plus the Dark-n-Lusty Stout. It’s all six beers in sample format for $6. Trust us, it’s worth it. Again, a huge thank you to Brady McKeown for letting us brew our Baltic Porter on his system. The resulting beer is a burly blast of smokiness, plus chocolate and toffee. Let it warm a tad (we recommend a full pint) and you will get a massive, multi-flavor profile. As for the rest, we loved the malty sweetness of this year’s Sasquatch. The Schwarzbier is a tart, earthy little beer. The Black Rye PA is pretty much a blast of rye goodness. And the Panama Joe, aged in bourbon barrels, needs a bit of warming to help the coffee and stout flavors catch up to the bourbon. Don’t worry, all of these dark beers are worth it. At least, we think so.

News: The last barrel-aged beer in the back, waiting to be tapped, is American Stock Ale in rum barrels.

Cazuela’s Seafood & Mexican Grill — (505) 994-9364

(Open daily 8 a.m.-10 p.m.)

Beers: Papacabra (Double IPA), Panama Red, Acapulco Gold (Mexican Lager), Hefeweizen, Chupacabra IPA, Piedra del Fuego Stoned Cream Ale, Beer for My Horses (Oatmeal Stout), Inebriator (Doppelbock). E-Rock and I had a chance to sample the Piedra del Fuego (5% ABV), which we both recommend. According to Cazuela’s menu: “This cream ale uses red-hot stones to super caramelize the sugars, creating a nutty, toffee-like flavor.” The Inebriator (8% ABV) and the Papacabra (9.7% ABV) are the biggest beers in the lineup.

Events: Cazuela’s now features a live guitarist every Friday.

News: Cazuela’s Beer for My Horses won a bronze medal in the oatmeal stout category at the World Beer Cup in Denver and also captured a gold medal in the stout category at the 2014 State Fair Pro-Am.

Chama River Brewing Company — (505) 342-1800

(Sun–Thurs 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–midnight)

Beers: Rise ‘n Shine Breakfast Stout, Rye on the Hog, Gold Pale Ale, Coney Pale Ale. Chama has brewed up Rise ‘n Shine (5.8% ABV, 30 IBU), a traditional breakfast stout. Also debuting recently are Rye on the Hog (7.3% ABV, 35 IBU) and Gold Pale Ale (5% ABV, 45 IBU). The Coney Pale Ale (5.5% ABV, 45 IBU) is a mellow but still punchy little delight made with Mosaic and Falconer’s Flight hops.

News: Chama River’s 10th anniversary blowout party begins Jan. 21 and runs through Jan. 25. It will include a special pint night, a beer dinner, a tap takeover at Draft Station, and, oh yeah, the debut of “De-Cenn-I-Ale,” a monstrous imperial stout that will be bottled (!) in addition to being on tap. I got to have an advance taste, so when I say monstrous, I’m talking Godzilla. Straight up Kaiju, folks. You’ve been warned. We’ll have more details as we get closer to the dates in question.

Kaktus Brewing — (505) 379-5072

(Hours Mon-Thu 2-9 p.m., Fri-Sat 11:30-10 p.m., Sun 11:30-9 p.m.)

Beers: James Blonde, Winter Warmer Ale, I’ll Be Bock, ESB, Traditional Amber, Maltz IPA, Roaster London Porter, Oatmeal Stout. There was another big tap turnover recently. Gone are the Gunslinger Brown, Helles, Red, German Alt, Jabberwocky IPA, and Peppermint Stout. The newest guys are the Winter Warmer, I’ll Be Bock, Traditional Amber, Maltz IPA, and Oatmeal Stout. Sounds like a trip up I-25 may be in order soon. Kaktus is located at 471 South Hill Road in Bernalillo, for those who have still not made the trek.

Events: Kaktus has several new weekday specials including $3 pints on Monday, $9 growlers on Tuesday, $6 bison nachos on Wednesday, and $8 Frito pie and beer on Thursday.

The Desert Darlings belly dancers will perform from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sunday. If you’ve never seen the Desert Darlings in person, you’re missing out.

La Cumbre Brewing — (505) 872-0225

(Open every day at noon)

Beers: Cafe Con Leche, Munchener Dunkel, Simcoe Pale Ale, Dunkel Jefe, La Llorona Baltic Porter. This year’s batch of Cafe Con Leche (7.8% ABV, 30 IBU) is a standout, or says Franz Solo. It’s even on cask right now in addition to being available on a regular tap and in bombers. Brandon and I were equally complimentary of the outstanding La Llorona Baltic Porter (8.9% ABV, 45 IBU). The Simcoe Pale Ale (5.5% ABV, 37 IBU) and Dunkel Jefe (5.4% ABV, 15 IBU) are back as you all drank up the supply of the 4th Anniversary Barley Wine and the Gracias Por Fumar. Oh, and don’t panic about Project Dank and Red Ryeot no longer appearing here as seasonals. They are now part of La Cumbre’s regular lineup.

News: La Cumbre’s new and improved website is now up and running. Check it out by clicking the link here. Their online calendar now includes what food trucks will be serving, plus live music and a current draft list.

Events: On the live music front, Jade Masque performs Saturday from 7 to 10 p.m.

Yoga is back at the taproom Sunday at 10:45 a.m.

Lizard Tail Brewing — (505) 717-1301

(Mon–Weds noon-9 p.m., Thurs–Sat noon-midnight, Sun noon-7 p.m.)

Beers: Whiptail Weisse, Bluetail Blonde, Horned Honey Pale, Reptilian IPA, Chameleon Amber, Basilisk Brown, Sanddigger Dubbel, Desert Night India Black Ale, Black Bearded Rye Stout, Smoot-tailed Oatmeal Stout, Prairie Lizard Porter, Biscochito Brown, Belgian Strong Dark, Belgian Abbey. Lizard Tail is up to 14 beers with a fresh batch of Belgian Abbey (7.1% ABV, 25 IBU). That and the Belgian Dark Strong (9.7% ABV, 30 IBU) are the newest additions, as one can probably tell since they have yet to be given lizard-themed names like the rest of the lineup. So far Lizard Tail has shown themselves to be more malt-forward than hop-centric. The oatmeal stout and porter are solid, while the IBA has shown improvement since its debut.

News: Lizard Tail’s happy hour runs seven days a week from 3 to 6 p.m. You get $1 off food, flights, and pints.

Take note that Lizard Tail now opens at noon every day.

Events: Lizard Tail will host Geeks Who Drink every Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Marble Brewery — (505) 243-2739

(Mon–Sat noon–midnight, Sun noon–10:30 p.m.)

Beers: Double White, Imperial Red, Pumpkin Noir, Imperial Stout, Brett IPA, Barley Wine, Nitro Porter, Cuvee Rouge. The Brett IPA (6.8% ABV) and Barley Wine (10% ABV) are available on tap and in bombers. The Nitro Porter is the latest entry in what Marble hopes will be a consistent series of beers on the nitro tap. This year’s batch of Imperial Stout (11% ABV) is a big, bold beast of a beer. If the bourbon flavor is too much, just let it warm for a bit and it will mellow out and the stout flavors will come forward. There is also the rotating “black handle,” which tends to feature some impressive “secret” beers. The Double White and Imperial Red brought home gold medals from GABF.

Cask: Check out Marble’s cask (a.k.a. “real” ale) selection on tap every Friday at the Downtown Pub.

Events: Brewery tours occur at the Downtown Pub every Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

For more on the Cuvee Rouge release party tonight (Wednesday), see the intro above.

Nexus Brewery — (505) 242-4100

(Sun–Thurs 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–midnight)

Beers: Dry Stout, 2013 Barley Wine, Warp 10 Golden Strong, Beam Me Up Scottish. The new Beam Me Up (9.5% ABV, 32 IBU) uses the same malt bill as the first batch from three years ago, but with a modified hop mix. The result will set it apart from the first two versions. Brewer Kaylynn McKnight popped an aged keg or two of the Barley Wine. We’ve been able to get over there and try the Dry Stout and came away quite impressed. The Dry Stout is bold and thick, the kind of burly beer you want in the winter (or year-round if you’re like us). The second most recent addition to taps is the Warp 10 Golden Strong, an English-style golden ale.

Events: Nexus serves up Happy Hour All Day on Tuesday featuring $3 pints. Also on Tuesday, Nexus will be hosting their comedy open mic, Young Dumb and Full of Comedy, starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Sun Room.

While “The Walking Dead” is done until February, you can still play Walking Dead pinball in Nexus’ community room. It’s one of four pinball machines now available for some nostalgic fun.

Pi Brewing at Nicky V’s Neighborhood Pizzeria — (505) 890-9463

(Sun–Thurs 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–10 p.m.)

Beers: PiPA, West Coast Red, Bourbon Vanilla Porter, Lost Grain English Summer Ale, Pre-Prohibition Pilsner. While Pi Brewing is not open to the public yet, they are able to brew and serve their beers next door at Nicky V’s. The IPA and West Coast Red are both good hoppy beers. We’ll keep tabs on when Pi itself opens. For now, grab a pint and some tasty Italian food. The PiPA will now be a regular beer, replacing the Unchallenged IPA. The scrumptious Bourbon Vanilla Porter is back, replacing the Robust Porter.

Ponderosa Brewing Co. — (505) 639-5941

(Sun 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Mon–Sat 11 a.m.–11 p.m.)

Beers: Ghost Train IPA, Rip Saw Red, Crosscut Kolsch, Dunkelblitzen, Chocolate Pumpkin Porter, Marbelous (Imperial Rice Lager), Nikolaus Spiced Lager, Bavarian Belle Hefeweizen, Imperial Sawmill Stout. Ponderosa is located at 1761 Bellamah NW, which is just east of Rio Grande and due north of the NM Natural History Museum, in the bottom floor of a swanky-looking apartment/retail complex. The Marbelous (7% ABV, 32 IBU) was brewed as a tribute to Marble’s Ted Rice, whose staff has helped Ponderosa in their early months of existence. The Nikolaus (5.2% ABV, 30 IBU) is a Weihnachtsbier, a traditional Bavarian dark lager brewed for the holidays. The Bavarian Belle Hefeweizen (4.8% ABV, 15 IBU) debuted recently and may become a regular fixture in the lineup. Brace yourselves for the new Imperial Sawmill Stout (8.2% ABV, 65 IBU).

News: The next batch of brews will include Dunkelweizen and Ella Single Hop Pale Ale.

Red Door Brewing — (505) 633-6675

(Mon–Thurs 2 p.m. to midnight, Fri–Sun noon to midnight)

Beers: (Regular) Gateway Blonde Ale, Roamer Red, Threshold IPA, Paint it Black Milk Stout, Unhinged Cider, Trappe Door Wheat. (Seasonal) Strong Scotch Ale, Stormtrooper Imperial IPA, O.D.B. (Oaked Dark Belgian). The first Red Door seasonal, Strong Scotch Ale, finally has some company with the new Stormtrooper (8.4% ABV, 110 IBU), the biggest beer they have brewed to date. The new O.D.B. is quite a treat. The Trappe Door Wheat, a Belgian-style if you couldn’t guess by the name, replaces the Trapdoor Wheat in the regular lineup. After a short absence, the Unhinged Cider is back on tap.

News: Take note of Red Door’s new weekday schedule for the winter months as they will now open at 2 p.m. instead of noon. Weekend hours remain the same.

Red Door received a new shipment of their popular red T-shirts this week, so head on over and buy a few.

Sandia Chile Grill — (505) 798-1970

(Mon–Sat 8 a.m.–8 p.m., Sun 8 a.m.–6 p.m.)

Beers: Irish Red, Rattlesnake IPA, Smoked Stout. We’re going to dispatch AmyO to re-establish our lines of communication with Sandia Chile Grill.

News: Congrats to SCG on sweeping all three medals in the mead category at the 2014 State Fair Pro-Am, while also claiming a silver medal for Barb’s Barrel Hefeweizen.

The Stumbling Steer — (505) 792-7805

(Sunday-Wednesday 11 a.m.-midnight, Thursday-Saturday 11 a.m.-2 a.m.)

Beers: Bang Up Blonde, Hefferweizen, Pig Sticker Pale, Iron Horse IPA, Rawhide Red, Boneyard Brown, Hop Trough (Double IPA), Soiled Dove (Imperial Stout), Black IPA. While the brewery is being built in the back of the Steer, all of their house beers are being brewed off-site, but still using brewer Kirk Roberts’ recipes. The DIPA and the Stout are limited to two per customer, due to their high alcohol content (10% and 9.5% ABV, respectively). The Black IPA is the current seasonal beer, plus there are often one or two cask beers.

Tractor Brewing Company — (505) 433-5654 (Nob Hill Tap Room), TBA (Wells Park)

(Nob Hill is open Monday-Wednesday 3 p.m. to midnight, Thursday 3 p.m. to 2 a.m., Friday-Saturday 1 p.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday 1 p.m. to midnight; Wells Park is open Monday-Thursday 3 p.m. to close, Friday-Sunday 1 p.m. to midnight.
 Last call 30 minutes before close. 
No package after midnight.
 Brewery tours Saturday at 1 p.m.)

Beers at Nob Hill: Little Red Rye-ding Hood, Turkey Drool, Mustachio Milk Stout, Javi Light Lager, Berry Cider, Barn Burner Pale Ale, Chocolate Milk Stout.

Beers at Wells Park only: Jack the Sipper, Winter Hop IPA, Apple Cider, Ebony & Ivory, La Llorona Amber. All of the Nob Hill seasonals are also at Wells Park, which has 24 total taps (Tractor’s five regular beers have two taps apiece). We love us some Turkey Drool (8% ABV) this time of year. It’s a brown ale with all sorts of holiday-themed spices and other added ingredients. This year’s batch is arguably the best yet. The Little Red (5.8% ABV) has a malty rye kick. Jack the Sipper (7% ABV) is Tractor’s take on a spiced pumpkin ale. The new Winter Hop IPA (6.4% ABV, 70 IBU) uses a blend of fragrant hops and caramel malts for a unique twist on the popular style. The Chocolate Milk Stout should tide over your sweet tooth. The Barn Burner (6% ABV, 52 IBU) is a bitter little pale ale that uses 40 pounds of El Dorado hops. The Ebony & Ivory (5.5% ABV, 25 IBU) is a “pale stout,” made with pale malt, pale chocolate malt, and caramel malt. It smells like a stout, but tastes like something a little different. La Llorona returns to taps this week.

News: Congrats to Tractor and their Mustachio Milk Stout, which won in the Best of Albuquerque competition from ABQ the Magazine.

Mustachio’s bigger, meaner brother, Luna de los Muertos Russian Imperial Stout, is aging in the back, including some in a barrel. Oh, man, that could kill us … but we’d die happy.

Currently, all pints of Little Red RYE-ding Hood are just $2 and you can fill your growler for just $5. Time to make room for a new beer on tap!

Events: Solos on the Hill is tonight at Nob Hill as Cali Shaw performs at 8:30 p.m.

The Thirsty Thursday series is back at Wells Park with Russell James Pyle going on at 8 p.m.

This Saturday is a pretty darned big show at Wells Park. Christian Gallegos’ “The Heart Show” will showcase many of his works of art. To celebrate, two big bands will be performing — Reviva and Red Light Cameras! It all starts at 6 p.m. and runs until midnight.

If that’s not enough, Sunday will feature the return of I’ll Drink to That at Wells Park at 4 p.m. This special benefit show is a mix of poetry, comedy, music, and more.

Tractor will be pouring beers during many of the events at the Revolutions Theater Festival. Check out the calendar for more info.

Also, every first Monday of the month at both Tractor locations is Beer for a Better Burque night. For every pint you buy $1 can go to one of four charities that have partnered with Tractor. You can also opt to purchase a special growler with the logo of your favorite charity.

Turtle Mountain Brewing Company — (505) 994-9497

(Kitchen hours: Mon–Tues 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Wed–Thurs 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Sun 10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Reminder: TMBC closes early when business dictates. Please call.)

Beers: (House) McDay’s Cream Ale, Oku Amber, Parasol White IPA, Hopshell IPA, Heidelberg Helles. (Seasonal/specialty) Stauffenberg Stout, Cafe Bella Coffee Porter, A Little Somethin’ Pumpkin, Devil to Pay Double IPA, Wild Hunt Winter Warmer. To help us out for now and the future, brewer Tim Woodward broke down what will be the regular beers on tap (under House) and the current list of seasonals. That’s a pretty solid regular lineup. I personally really enjoyed the Porter and Amber, the latter of which trumps most of its genre in terms of flavor. The Heidelberg Helles (5.1% ABV, 25 IBU) has rejoined the regular lineup for good, or so Tim hopes. The newer beers here are the Stauffenberg Stout, Cafe Bella Coffee Porter, Devil to Pay DIPA (7.7% ABV, 125+ IBU), a hop monster for the holidays brewed with Cascade and Chinook, and the Wild Hunt Winter Warmer (7% ABV, 31 IBU), which was brewed with orange peel, nutmeg, fresh ginger root, clove, and molasses.

Santa Fe breweries

Blue Corn Brewery — (505) 438-1800

(Daily 11 a.m.–10 p.m.)

Beers: Monks Mesa (Belgian Blonde), Toro Blanco White DIPA, Collaboration Doppelbock, Dry Irish Stout. The Monks Mesa (4.5% ABV, 15 IBU) is a Belgian blonde table beer. The only other seasonal currently tap is Toro Blanco White DIPA (9.1% ABV, 100+ IBU). All of you thirsty people in Santa Fe, plus thirsty tourists, have consumed all of the remaining specialty beers. Don’t worry, though, brewer James Warren is hard at work in the back cranking out more as fast as he can. The Collaboration and Stout will be out this Saturday.

News: Blue Corn just brewed up this year’s batch of Barley Wine. It should be on tap in a few weeks. Check their Facebook page for pictures. Also on deck is a Scottish export.

Events: See above in the intro for more information on Thursday’s Defrost Fest.

Duel Brewing Company — (505) 474-5301

(Sun 11 a.m.–8 p.m., Mon–Tues 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Wed–Sat 11 a.m.–midnight)

Beers: What WOOD Amber Do (Barrel-Aged Amber Ale), Fiction (IPA), Fantin (Double Pale Ale), Marcel (Witbier), Whistler (Blonde), Titian (Golden Strong), Dark Ryder (Dark Strong), Goya (Imperial Stout). The lineup got a shakeup with some big beers joining the rotation. Dark Ryder and Tititan check in at 11-percent ABV, while Goya (15.9% ABV) is a monster of a beer. You can buy Goya in bombers at the brewery or down in ABQ at Jubilation. The most recent addition to taps is What WOOD Amber Do, which has to be the first barrel-aged amber we have seen. Hopefully brewer Todd Yocham will bring some to WinterBrew so we can try it. (HINT!)

Events: The life drawing session is $25 and is held each Sunday morning from 11-1 (although they are not open to the drinking public till 1 p.m. on Sun). You get the beverage of your choice, a Brussels-style waffle made with their own yeast and beer and then served with a Grunewald Syrup. Everyone then draws from a nude model. People can sign up through the website or call the brewery to reserve a spot.

Santa Fe Brewing Company — (505) 424-3333

(Mon–Sat 11 a.m.–10 p.m., closed on Sunday)

Beers: Double White IPA, Black IPA, Deviator Doppelbock, Full Mast Kilt Scottish Ale. The first beer in the new Ever Changing Series is a Double White IPA, which Luke of the Brew Crew bullpen recently reviewed. The Kriek, which won a bronze medal at GABF this year, is on sale around the state in bombers. It will soon be on tap in Albuquerque for the first time. Look for it on Jan. 21 at Nob Hill Bar & Grill and Jan. 22 at Rock and Brews.

Events: $1 Off Growler Refills in the Tasting Room on Mondays. $2 pint Tuesdays at the Eldorado Taphouse. On Wednesday, there is a $2 Pint Special in the SFBC Tasting Room, and the Sangre de Cristo Craft Brewers’ Meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Tasting Room as well on the third Wednesday of every month. On Thursday, there will be $1 Off Growler Refills at the Eldorado Taphouse.

See above for SFBC’s barrel-aged event on Monday.

News: SFBC will soon be opening a taproom in Albuquerque. Here are all the details that Luke could find. It sounds promising.

Second Street Brewery — (505) 989-3278 (Railyard), (505) 982-3030 (original location)

(Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Sunday noon-9 p.m.)

Beers: Kolsch, IPA, Cream Stout, Rod’s Best Bitter, Boneshaker Bitter, Pivotal IPA, Mosaic Pale Ale, Red Comet, Huell Melon Pilsner. Get ready for fresh batches of the Pivotal IPA, Mosaic Pale Ale, and Huell Melon Pilsner. Right now Second Street pretty much covers everything from hoppy to medium malty to its classic Cream Stout.

Events: Every Wednesday night, both SSB locations host Game Night. SSB has game boards and dominoes or bring your own … oh yeah, they also have discounted pitchers!

Live music is back this week at both locations. At the original location, Barb Wire plays Friday and Bill Hearne performs Saturday. Swing Soleil will be at the Railyard location Friday and Alex Maryol performs Saturday.

Other breweries you need to visit

Twisted Chile Brewing — (575) 835-2949

(Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri–Sun 11 a.m.–11 p.m.)

Beers: Pilabo Pale Ale, Venom IPA, English Porter, Zia Pilsner, 790 IPA, Hose Co. 1 Red Lager. Located in Socorro at 115 Abeyta St. W, Twisted Chile is the first brewery there to brew on site since Socorro Springs outsourced their brewing to Eddyline in Colorado several years ago. I got to head down there recently and enjoyed all the beers I sampled. Kudos to Twisted Chile for bring quality craft beers back to a town that needed ‘em. The newest beers on tap are the 790 IPA (7% ABV) and the Hose Co. 1 Red Lager (6% ABV). The Zia Pilsner (5.25% ABV) is done in the German style. The Venom IPA (8.2% ABV) is the biggest beer on tap, as the name might imply.

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That’s all for this week! If you have any questions or comments, leave them below or contact us on our Facebook page.

Cheers and Happy New Year!

— Stoutmeister