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Head brewer Paul Mallory and assistant brewer Dominic Crandall toast to a successful year

In 2018, Blue Corn Brewery seemed like quite the dark horse when it won the New Mexico IPA Challenge. To many, it was a win that seemed to come out of nowhere. Seemed, being the operative word. But, why wasn’t it thought of as a major contender?

Perhaps it’s because Blue Corn is mostly known as that cozy little neighborhood staple (at their Southside location), keeping things just safe enough for the steady stream of regulars to come back every week. Or, perhaps that statement is entirely wrong, and we’ve just forgotten that Blue Corn has been making great IPAs (and other beer styles) for years.

Blue Corn has always kept talent working on the brewhouse. Brewers like John Bullard (Bosque Brewing Co.) and James Warren (Santa Fe Brewing Co.), to name a couple Blue Corn alumni, are fine examples of that. Even Marble Brewery president/brewmaster Ted Rice started at Blue Corn as an assistant brewer back in the late 90s. But, it’s because Blue Corn has consistently stacked the deck, and it’s because these talented brewers are given room to grow, and carte blanche on the brewhouse, that they’re able to produce big, great, and award-winning beers on the regular, hitting all the hoppy high notes that the beer-geek-favorite breweries do. And, in turn, Blue Corn makes great brewers out of newcomers and incoming assistants.

Blue Corn regularly sees a changing of the guard, be it in management, or even with chefs and brewers. But, instead of having to overcome huge obstacles associated with change, this time, the transitions were smooth. And, with Paul Mallory still in charge of the tanks, BCBC seems to be hitting its stride and cruising into the new year with higher hopes than before.

In order to get the story on what Blue Corn Brewery’s been up to and what direction they’ll be headed in for 2019, I sat down with Paul and brand-new assistant brewer Dominic Crandall.

As mentioned, Blue Corn had a solid 2018, punctuated by a big win at the IPA Challenge.

“(This year) we had a little bit of increased popularity, increased sales,” Mallory said. “As far as making exciting beer styles, we tried our best.”

Winning the IPA Challenge is definitely the highlight of the year for Blue Corn, he said.

“I think it really had a lot of people re-visit Blue Corn,” Mallory said. “A lot of people have already made up their mind about Blue Corn, so it was nice to have people feel compelled to come in and try our beer once again.”

Back in July, Blue Corn beat out the competition with Gatekeeper IPA at the culmination of the Brewers Guild IPA Challenge at the brand-new Bosque North facility in Bernalillo.

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That’s one happy brewer with his trophy.

Riding the Gatekeeper wave, Blue Corn didn’t have too many low points in 2018. If it could in fact be called a low point, it might have been when assistant brewer Andy Lane moved on to Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery. But, Mallory only calls it a personal low-point, as he quite enjoyed working with Lane.

“He and I felt like he had outgrown the space here, which I’m really proud that we were able to sort of push him out,” Mallory said. “I think he’s ready for bigger and better things. So it’s (still) a bit bittersweet to lose him.”

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Andy Lane (left) is now learning the ropes in distilling at Tumbleroot Brewery & Distillery. Paul Mallory (right) is tall.

Together, Lane and Mallory worked on a lot of interesting beers and styles in 2018.

“For most of the beers I made for the first time, a lot of the one-off batches, I think I’d still like to tweak one or two things,” Mallory said. “But, generally I’m happy with them. But, then every once in a while I did feel like I hit it right on the head on the first try. Like with this beer.”

Mallory gestured to the Scotch Ale in front of me.

“I’m pretty excited about that one,” he said. “We almost treated it like a bock. We added a lot of Munich malt, so it almost has a bock flavor to it, and of course we added the caramel that makes the Scotch Ale a Scotch Ale. It was kind of a merging of two styles. And, that technique worked out pretty well.”

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An “interview pour” of the 2018 Scotch Ale.

Blue Corn also did a series of three different goses this year — Blueberry Gose, Pineapple Gose, and Pomegranate Gose.

“I thought they turned out well,” Mallory recalled. “We took a little lighter approach to the sourness, lighter on the salt to make them more drinkable. Those are beers I’m really trying to make for the customer. We notice they sell really well with fruit in there. I’m curious to see if we make them a little more tart next year, (if) they’ll sell faster or slower.”

Mallory’s kettle sours were among some of his favorite to make (and drink) this year.

“I also really liked the Oktoberfest,” he said. “I went on the lighter side with the color, kind of like a Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest, which might even be more like a Dortmunder, something like that.”

I was fortunate enough to make it in for most of those beers, but I really wanted to talk about some of the stranger brewing trends and styles that he’d worked on. In line with the rest of the industry, this year, Blue Corn brewed a Brut IPA, a sort of champagne-meets-IPA, a style I’m still trying and failing to understand.

“I just did a little research,” he explained. “I found that people were using the enzyme on the hot side, which kind of left it with some residual sweetness. And, I’m glad I took that approach because it was dry, but not bone-dry. It’s all aroma. It kind of drinks more like a pale ale, and it’s nice and effervescent.”

Mallory explained that each new trending style is just a challenge to him. If there’s a new style, whatever it is, he simply wants to make a good, drinkable version of it.

Blue Corn also brewed a hazy IPA this year.

“We have one in the tank right now,” Mallory said. “It should be out soon. It will definitely be on the menu at the beer dinner.”

At the interview Mallory thinks it’s a bit young yet, but he’s happy with the direction it’s going in. For a while Mallory resisted brewing one, but in the end, it was the challenge of the brewing process that ultimately intrigued him to make one.

They’ll also be making their Apparition again this year, which is their white stout with coffee, cocoa nibs, and lactose. This should also be available at the Winter is Here beer dinner, scheduled for tonight at 6:30.

Blue Corn is still gaining a reputation for making great beer, but the brewery is already well-known in Santa Fe for its beer dinners. I asked Mallory how attendance was for 2018.

“I think they did well,” he said. “I think we had better attendance than last year. There seems to be a lot of excitement for them. We have a great time with them.”

Speaking of which …

Blue Corn is hosting its Winter is Here Beer Dinner. Hope you got your tickets! Here’s all the info you need if you’re headed out to join us tonight (even Stoutmeister will be there).

Winter is Here

Please leave your Direwolves at home.

One major development that occurred this year that bears mentioning is the hiring of new assistant brewer Dominic Crandall back in the fall. Mallory headed to the back to finish up part of the brew they’ve been working on sporadically throughout the interview so we could talk to his new assistant.

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DSBC: Where are you from Dominic?

Crandall: Originally, Southern California.

DSBC: Paul was from California. Did you know him? California must have been a tiny place, you know, like Santa Fe.

Crandall: (Laughs) I didn’t. It’s kind of a weird story coming in here. We’re both from California, have the same birthday, same goals, our girlfriends are very similar.

DSBC: You’re both very tall.

Crandall: Same size clothes. (Laughs) I was in California until about ’15, then moved to Los Alamos, graduated high school there. Right after that, moved to Kansas, learned how to machine weld, had two kids. Came back to New Mexico and started working for Bathtub Row Brewery in Los Alamos.

DSBC: Where did you start brewing? Were you a homebrewer?

Crandall: So, I started homebrewing, but I didn’t love it by any means. I actually started at Bathtub Row as a bartender. Then the brewer just got up and left. So they kind of just pushed me back there in the brewery. I wasn’t too excited about it at first, but then I started learning how it was really done, and it was completely different than a homebrew scale. And, I just fell in love with it. There’s the repetition of the brewing and the science behind it, which I love. And, now that I’m here, and it’s a little more professional, it’s even better.

DSBC: What are your favorite beers to brew, or how about drink?

Crandall: Now that I’ve been brewing with Paul, my spectrum has definitely changed. Favorite beers to drink though? Simple wheats, then probably the browns. Definitely the wheat and the complexity. People say, oh, this is light and easy drinking, but there’s a lot of stuff behind it.

DSBC: And, favorite ones to brew?

Crandall: Probably the IPAs, more technical, lot of hops. And, probably these new seasonals we’ve done, (like) the Scotch.

DSBC: What’s been your favorite beer you’ve worked on while you’ve been here?

Crandall: Probably our Black Rye (Black By Popular Demand), because we did pull all the aged-water out of the barrels and use it in the mash.

DSBC: What’s the biggest thing you hope to learn at Blue Corn and from Paul?

Crandall: I struggle with repetition, creating a good schedule, so that’s something I want to see myself get better at. But, in the long run, I would like to become a head brewer and/or start my own brewery. That’s like the big dream.

* * * * *

When Mallory returned, I asked him if he could sum up the year for us. He paused for a moment and then said, “We have a new management team, a great new chef, Chef Josh Ortiz, and I think we’re hitting our stride in the brewery. I think people are starting to notice. We’re all just excited to be in a rhythm here.”

Things are looking bright for Blue Corn as the staff heads into 2019. They’re going to keep their beer dinners going strong. In the immediate future, Mallory said they’ll be doing some bigger beers. On the docket will be … drum roll please … an imperial stout and a barleywine. They’ll be aging some more sours, not kettle sours this time around, but aged sours in the copper tanks (up front). For those, they’ll be experimenting with more Lactobacillus and Brettanomyces.

Blue Corn is also aiming to do more collaborations in 2019.

“We did a few this last year, but not as many as I typically do, so I think we’re going to ramp that up a bit more,” Mallory said.

They are also in the market for more tap handles in Albuquerque.

As far out as this summer, they’ll aim to do more goses due to their popularity. And, for similar reasons, they’ll also be working on Mexican Lagers, both amber and light. So be sure to look for those as they come out.

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Sometimes we spot brewers out in the wild.

On a personal level, Mallory said he is looking forward to do more of the brewers’ gatherings such as the P.O.E.T.S. (Piss Off Early Tomorrow’s Saturday) meetings, which are once-a-month opportunities for the Santa Fe beer and distilling industry members to get together to hang out, talk shop, and of course, drink beer. He’ll be doing more bike brewery crawls with friends. And, Mallory said he will definitely be adding onto his Santa Fe home and working on his shed as the weather improves, something he takes a lot of pride in.

When Stan Hieronymus spoke at the technical conference in Albuquerque, he said a few things about hops and brewing IPAs that stuck with Mallory.

“I pretty much do only bittering hops and knockout hops,” Mallory said. “I don’t do any 5-, 15-, 30-minute hop additions. And, I also boil at a lower volume and then top up with cold water so I’m putting all my ‘into boil’ hops at, I don’t know, 185-188 degrees. So I do that with all my IPAs, pale ales, all my hoppy beers.”

Those tips came before the IPA Challenge.

2018 was a great year to reaffirm that Blue Corn is still headed in the right direction. You should make 2019 your year to get to know them better, or get reacquainted with them. If you haven’t made the trip out to the brewery, there’s no better time than now. Gatekeeper IPA is back on tap (while supplies last), and there are definitely some exciting brews flowing down the pipeline.

For me, Blue Corn Brewery is definitely one of my go-tos here in Santa Fe, as there’s always something new to try on the rapidly-rotating menu. And, if that doesn’t give you the beer-geek-goose-bumps, well, I don’t know how I can help anymore. One thing is for certain, after the IPA Challenge win, they should definitely be on Burqueños radars for next year’s competition.

To a great year of success for the brewery, and to what the future holds for Mallory and crew, cheers!

— Luke

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They shouldn’t let me hold the IPA Challenge trophy.

For more @nmdarksidebc info and #CraftBeer news, follow me on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro.

Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s seven breweries, one in Los Alamos, one in Moriarty, one in Red River, and one in Las Cruces also joining the party.

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.

They say giving is greater than receiving during the holiday season, but we rather enjoy receiving lots of new beers, especially the kind we can take home. In case anyone missed it, Second Street’s Jack Plane Porter, a wonderful cherrywood-smoked beer that was previously only available on tap, is now for sale in six packs. Joining this holiday treat on shelves this week and next are three more beers, with one hoppy/hazy favorite returning to break up the parade of beautiful darkness. First up, Marble is putting Imperial Stout in 12-ounce cans and selling them to all of us today. We will miss the bottles, but drinking one of those 22-ounce beasts tended to end our nights early unless we shared (and we never really wanted to share, it’s so good). It is also on tap, of course, at all three Marble locations, and there will be a food pairing around 5 p.m., if you can wait that long. Speaking of waiting, the lines should be back outside La Cumbre on Friday for the return of Big Door Prize, the tasty hazy double IPA that locals could not get enough of last year. In this case, show up at the brewery at noon, because it might not be there by sundown. Once those beers have gotten you through the weekend, make your way to Canteen on Tuesday for the release of six-packs of Panama Joe Coffee Stout. We already have a friend in North Carolina begging us to send her some, and we gotta imagine the local demand will be high for this award-winning elixir. Clear those beer fridges, people, for more delicious fresh beer has arrived!

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bosque leaves a little something on your pillow in the form of Chocolate Mint Stout. Dialogue keeps it light with Baby Wenzel Session IPA, while also teaming up with Rio Rancho’s 1933 Brewing on 70 Shilling Scottish Ale. Kaktus has a decadent Imperial Chocolate Stout available. Marble wants summer back with Raspberry Peach Pale Ale, while also getting tough with Vünderland, a Belgian strong. The 377 puckers up with Adalie, a strawberry sour aged 10 months in barrels. Toltec rolls out its first Double IPA on Thursday. Tractor brings back crowd favorite Blood Orange Cider, while also adding Belgian Winter White and bringing back Luna de Los Muertos in bottles. Turtle Mountain resurrects a classic in Mr. Hoover’s Steam, while also getting Darker Than Darkness, a new schwarzbier.

Up in Santa Fe, things are quiet, but likely not for long.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of December 10.

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It’s definitely not the best picture of our always-in-motion Metal Mayor, but we were happy to see him at a local brewery.

A long winter nap is becoming more and more tempting, but there are beers to drink, and the Crew kept after them this past weekend.

My weekend started early, as per usual, but it was more of a working weekend, with trips to Marble and Tractor to interview staffers for our Look Back/Look Ahead Series. After leaving Wells Park on Wednesday, I made my way to La Cumbre, as an old friend of the Crew tipped us off that Mayor Tim Keller would be making an appearance. I was not able to bend his ear, but I did still get to enjoy some Pecos Porter and catch up with some readers who were enjoying some afternoon beers. Though the Pecos does not get the hype of other LC beers, it remains a solid, sessionable dark beer that fits the winter chill.

There are two more special Brickie Stout casks to come at Steel Bender.

After a proper metal show with birthday boy Derek on Thursday night, I took it easy Friday night. By Saturday, it was time to head out again. Steel Bender has again had its 4 Casks of Christmas series every Saturday in December. They take the Brickie American Stout and infuse it with some other tasty elements, stick ’em in a cask, and watch everyone enjoy. This edition was special, as our own Franz Solo and old friend David Facey developed the French Toast Brickie. It was a delicious beer, with the sweetness of the maple syrup working in concert with the roasty malts. This Saturday will see another version, Fruity Chocolate Tart. Make sure to grab one or more of these wonderful brews while you still can this holiday season.

Speaking of the holiday season, Crew members found reasons for giving, and reasons to avoid the mass marketing rush and instead indulge in local beer and food.

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The light shined brightly upon Marble Brewery again in 2018.

There are plenty of challenges in life, for brewery employees and beer writers. While Marble Brewery had to deal with some surprising challenges in 2018, I presented myself with the challenge of choosing to interview six key staff members separately, and then typing up those interviews in a very short span of time.

In the end, though, both the Marble staff and I have come out of this year with our heads held high. On two days across two weeks, I managed to corral, in order, Geraldine Lucero (marketing and events coordinator), Tammy Lovato (off-site event and festival coordinator), Barbie Gonzalez (director of tap room operations), Ted Rice (president/brewmaster), Josh Trujillo (brewmaster), and Leah Black (public relations and social media director). Marble is a big company, with so many aspects to cover for our Look Back/Look Ahead Series, so yes, all of their input was needed.

Big picture ups and downs

An unexpected aluminum shortage hit Marble this year, just as it release many, many more beers in cans. (Photo courtesy of Marble)

“2018 for Marble was filled with many highs and many unexpected situations and challenges,” Ted said, noting the positive impact of the big on-site festivals, something Geraldine would cover in greater detail.

The unexpected situations and challenges occurred elsewhere.

“The (aluminum) tariffs were definitely a factor into our ballooning supply chain,” Ted said. “In the heat of summer, at the height of demand, we were shackled. We didn’t have the supplies we needed to put beer in a package and get it to market. That was completely unforeseen and extremely challenging. It was a wrench in the cog of the craft machine that is Marble. So looking towards 2019, we want to alleviate those unforeseen challenges in the supply chain.”

Josh said the brewing staff did manage to learn from the sudden can shortage.

“We learned not to freak out, completely panic and lose your shit when something out of your control goes wrong,” he said. “Really, I think 2018 really reinforced our overall confidence and my confidence in the staff that we have. I really look forward to 2019 and coaching everybody along even further and really getting the best attributes out of all of our employees.”

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Boxing Bear is preparing to open its first taproom in West Downtown, but the brewery is not necessarily planning to stop with just that location.

In the blink of an eye, a little rumor recently whispered to us became reality this week when Boxing Bear Brewing officially announced it was opening a taproom in the former 5 Star Burgers space on West Central.

To get a little better idea of how it all came together this quickly, I sat down with head brewer/co-owner Justin Hamilton.

“So after 5 Star closed, we saw the building (at 1710 West Central),” he said. “We’ve been hunting (for) taprooms. It wasn’t like 5 Star approached us. We were actively looking for taprooms, not just one, but multiple for a long time.”

Boxing Bear was given a short time to make a decision on leasing the space.

“The timeline was really quick,” Justin said. “Five Star was one of our accounts, so that gave us the heads up. That spurred our interest in that location and that allowed us to pursue (it). We also know there’s lots of breweries looking for that perfect taproom space, so we had to really try to harness it as quickly as possible. I love that location. It’s so much culture, a really, really up-and-coming area. It’s right down the street from the revitalized El Vado (Motel), it’s literally across the street from Albuquerque staple Duran’s, and we’ll be right next to Amore Pizza. All those things are a sure fit for us.”

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Winter is Here

If this isn’t the type of beer dinner that you would think we would be happy to present, you must be new around here.

It’s almost time for Blue Corn Brewery’s winter beer dinner! If you haven’t snagged your tickets yet, I’d get on that right away, as these things have a nasty habit of selling out like iheartradio concerts. On December 13, Blue Corn Brewery is bringing us a special pairing of wintry beers and the foods that love them, in a special event sure to live up to, well, every Blue Corn beer pairing dinner that’s preceded it.

I recently got a hold of Blue Corn head brewer Paul Mallory for a few words on his upcoming event.

DSBC: How did you and Chef Josh come up with the food and beer pairings?

Mallory: Chef Josh, (Manager) Michelle and I sat down and discussed ideas. I told Chef Josh what beers we had coming up and which beers I could brew to go with his menu. We often like to serve our seasonal beers for the dinners, so our guests can have something different each time they come for an event. We are pouring four beers that haven’t been brewed before, and many of them are malty and appropriate for the season and weather.

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Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s seven breweries, one in Los Alamos, one in Moriarty, one in Red River, and one in Las Cruces also joining the party.

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.

My, how time flies in these parts. It seems like just the other day La Cumbre Brewing had opened its doors and introduced us to Elevated IPA and Malpais Stout. This week, the award-winning brewery celebrates its eighth anniversary, introducing us to Ocho Anniversary Ale on Saturday. The Ocho is red wine barrel-aged sour brewed with cherries, plus it is totally fair game to unleash every quotable line from Dodgeball while you are drinking it (or so we declare). The all-day party will also feature live screen printing from Screen Kings from 1 to 5 p.m., followed by the band Moonhat performing from 7 to 10. Other events include tap takeovers at Fire & Hops in Santa Fe today at 5 p.m. and at Tap That in ABQ on Friday at 5. La Cumbre will also be selling One Albuquerque T-shirts starting today, with the potential for a special appearance by a certain metalhead around 5 p.m. (no, not just me, someone a bit more famous and well-liked in these parts). Happy anniversary, and thanks for all the brews, La Cumbre!

UPDATE: We missed this initially, but Second Street is also celebrating its anniversary this Saturday. From 5 p.m. onward, a special menu from all three locations’ chefs will be available, featuring dishes like New Orleans-style BBQ shrimp as an appetizer, plus seared blackened scallops with green chile risotto, 24-hour pot roast, chicken piccata, stuffed poblano pepper, and New Orleans beignets for dessert. Check the Facebook page of the original location for more details. There will also be the tapping of the 2018 Anniversary Ale, plus Half Broke Horses play the original at 7 p.m.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bosque drops two new brews in Gone Crazy Hazy DIPA and Three Point No, a fruited wheat. Bow & Arrow has a fresh batch of Cosmic Arrow Brett Saison, plus the burly new Buffalo Plaid Baltic Porter debuts Friday. Boxing Bear throws a combo with Murkito Hazy Pale Ale and then the CeleBEARtion on Saturday, with the latter being a hoppy, bourbon barrel-aged ale being released on tap and in bottles. Canteen tunes it up with Radiohead IPA. Kaktus has a slew of new brews including One is the Loneliest IPA, Bock, Oatmeal Stout, Brown Porter, Paleo Pale Ale, and Thurvaytha. La Cumbre also has some Limon Quercus on tap, plus bottles of the Pina Quercus. Marble can’t be stopped with the Doppelator. Quarter Celtic plays it up with Xylophone Rock, an American pilsner. Sidetrack shines a little light on some more Sunburst Pale Ale. Starr Brothers stays up late with Rock ‘n Roll Hazy Nights IPA, plus Zombies in the Manger, the biscochito stout, returns later this week. Steel Bender, by popular demand, brings back a limited amount of Figgy Pudding on Thursday. The 377 gets a little crazy with The Duke, a vanilla graham cracker porter sour. Tractor rolls out more Chocolate Milk Stout and adds some Veruca Salt, a gose.

Up in Santa Fe, Blue Corn brings light to the dark with Whiteout Stout on Friday. Rowley Farmhouse Ales spaces out with The Petit Blanche – Galaxy. Second Street soars through the sky with Red Comet.

Out in Moriarty, Sierra Blanca sticks with tradition and goes dark with more Whiskey Stout.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of December 3.

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The Pining for Breakfast Maple Brown at Red Door joins the pantheon of wonderful dessert beers in town.

The weekend was humming along at such a nice pace, and then the Steelers went out and f@#$ed it all up for me. It’s hard being a sports fan, but these days it’s easy being a beer lover. My weekend actually kicked off back on Thursday with trips to Marble Downtown and Marble Heights to interview a number of staff members for an upcoming Look Back/Look Ahead Series article. Naturally, I also got to partake in a few beers, because that’s the reward in advance for the hours of upcoming transcription.

First up, Ye’ Olde Ale is a delicious concoction made in collaboration with the Marble Beers in Manchester, England. A proper, 9.7-percent ABV English strong ale was aged in port wine barrels, with a little bit of brettanomyces thrown in for fun. The result is a complex beer that, in many ways, probably should not work together, but the warming alcohol and thick malt mixes wonderfully with the funky brett and sweet wine flavors. Also available were the Northside IPA and Alpha Acid Trip (Triple IPA), both of which had many of the best characteristics of what I still love in the style, with a piney touch to go with the more fruity and floral hops, plus enough of a malt backbone to keep them from drying out the palate. I also had more Reserve Ale, which has already run its course in bottle form, but remains on tap for now. It is a delightful batch this year, so if you have not had it, you are dead to me. (Just kidding. Well, maybe.)

From there, I grabbed a friend and headed over to Red Door for the release of the new Pining for Breakfast Maple Brown. I have had my fair share of maple-infused stouts in recent years, but for a lighter beer in color and mouthfeel, this brown held up well and did not allow the maple to turn it into a sugar bomb. The folks at New Mexico Piñon Coffee supplied the beans that brought in a nice coffee character to help balance everything out. Red Door has been churning out some quality seasonals for a while now, so make sure to snag a pint of this one and raise it high in honor of head brewer Matt Meier and his staff.

For Friday night, I trekked to the west side to catch up with a good friend and finally indulge in a long overdue pizza-and-beer night. We found room at the bar at the Blue Grasshopper location off Coors. While a number of the beers I wanted to drink had run out, the remainder (Boxing Bear’s Body Czech, La Cumbre’s BEER and Dunkelweizen) were more than enough. Throw in some really good pizza and even better company (thanks, Jess!), and it was a good night.

I picked up a trifecta of excellent brews from a beer-trading friend (thanks, Majin!) and stayed in on Saturday, a little too worn out from work to venture beyond the confines of home. As for Sunday, well, at least I didn’t punch the TV or anything. How a team blows a 23-7 lead at home is beyond me.

As for the rest of the Crew, two of them ended up joining forces for part of their weekend, while another ventured out of town for one of her favorite annual festivals.

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It was a busy, but fun year for Bombs Away.

It’s been a busy first year for Bombs Away Beer Company owners John and Hilary Degnaro, and they show no signs of slowing down, as we found out for our annual Look Back/Look Ahead Series.

By 3:30 p.m. on the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving, the side streets outside the brewery were lined with cars, and the taproom was already packed with thirsty patrons ready to celebrate the long holiday weekend ahead.

Another recent holiday weekend was a significant landmark for the brewery — the Degnaros adopted Veteran’s Day 2017 as their first official opening. But, local residents and employees from Kirtland Air Force Base wouldn’t have noticed too much fanfare either for last year’s grand opening or for their one-year anniversary, since Hilary said it isn’t really their style.

Nevertheless, the brewery has had a considerable list of accomplishments in just a little over a year since opening.

“We’re sitting in the major accomplishment,” John said as he enjoyed a beer on the patio, which was completed near the end of July this year.

“(The patio) really opened up the square footage of the taproom,” Hilary said. “It’ll be standing-room-only in there, which amazes us.”

“People find us,” she continued. “We don’t put up a lot of signage. People like that it’s kind of a hidden gem.”

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Dave Merkin, workin’ it. Hails!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Well, if you’re a Target shopper, it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas way back in September. Well, now that Turkey month is basically over, and we’re sleighing full-speed toward Saturnalia, it’s time to get our holi-day-drinking priorities straight.

Let’s face it, either we did the shopping or we didn’t. And, whether we’ll be enjoying some well-earned end-of-the-year-relaxation, or we’ll be last-minute dashing through the snow through packed parking lots toward pre-picked-through aisles, you deserve a good, hearth-warming craft beer. It’s been a long year, am I right?

Let’s take a breath together. Ah, that’s the good stuff.

Maybe it’s your first time in New Mexico, or maybe you’re simply new to our blog and didn’t know, but every year, Santa Fe Brewing Company hosts the “12 Beers of Christmas,” a special event during which, from the 13th to the 24th of December, SFBC taps a fun, usually Christmas- or Winter-themed (typically one-off) special beer to celebrate the season in style.

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