One of the best parts of being a beer blogger is whenever we get the chance to sit down and talk about beer with brewery owners or the brewers themselves. E-Rock and I, Stoutmeister, had another opportunity to hang out with one of our local brewers and discuss the past, present, and future of his labors. On Wednesday afternoon we met up with Goat Head Brewing’s Majin Garcia at Il Vicino Canteen.
Confused? Well, Goat Head is a brewery without a brewery, if that makes sense, so we had to meet somewhere, and Majin picked the Canteen. Do not fear, however, you can drink Goat Head beers down at Back Alley Draft House downtown, and before long Goat Head’s homeless status will end.
Majin had hoped to open his brewery long before now, but circumstances outside his control have pushed things back.
“Goat Head is still happening,” Majin said. “Our goal is to be open in 2013.”
Anyone who has sampled Goat Head’s beers at Back Alley or at local events such as this past Hopfest knows he or she is in for a treat. We have been fans of Goat Head for a while now, and one of the best beers Majin has ever created is now about to go on tap at Back Alley.
Starting Saturday at 5 p.m., Back Alley will offer up The Maple’s Shade, the mutual choice of myself and Shilling as the best beer we tried at Hopfest back in August. In addition to the Dark Side Brew Crew, the ABQ Craft Beer Drinkers Group and the Babes in Brewland will be on hand for this special tapping event.
“It’s an 11.8-percent (ABV) imperial stout made with Belgian candi syrup and maple syrup,” Majin said. “I decided to brew The Maple’s Shade again due to the many requests I have received.”
The supply of The Maple’s Shade will not be extensive, for obvious (ABV) reasons.
For those who did not attend Hopfest or those that somehow missed trying this amazing elixir (shame on you!), Majin offered up a full description of what you are in for:
“I’ve done a lot of experimentation with dark Belgian candi syrup. I originally brewed it with only dark Belgian candi syrup. It was good, but I felt that it needed more complexity so I added maple syrup”
The name of the beer, Majin added, was inspired by the Rush song “Trees,” adding a little metal element to his creation.
Majin has been brewing for some time now, though he did not start out a beer lover in his early 20s due to the common likings of the general beer drinker of that time (Budweiser). As craft beer became more mainstream he quickly developed a taste for beer the way it was meant to be brewed.
“I literally woke up one day and made the decision to start brewing.” Majin said. “I did one batch from a kit, determined to grasp the concept of brewing, one partial mash and straight into all grain.
“I was brewing from three to five times a week. At home I have four chest freezers and six refrigerators that I used for fermenting. I wanted to know everything about brewing and I wanted to know now. The first book I read was Palmer’s ‘How to Brew’. I found an online version and read it repeatedly. It was the first book of many that pointed me in the direction of what has become a passion and addiction.”
Majin has spent many years not only making beer but trying all the different beers he could get his hands on. The more beers you try, the more aware you become of what ingredients and what elements of the brewing process define what makes a great beer.
“Before deciding we would go forward to open for the public I wanted to ensure I exercised my palate regularly for quality control,” he said. “I believe the key to crafting a great beer lies upon the depth of one’s palate.”
Now that he is moving forward with brewing for the public, Majin is working hard on all of his plans for Goat Head. He said the exact location has not been decided on as of yet. The areas of interest are the northwest side or the northeast heights.
“I personally think both areas of the city are somewhat untapped,” Majin said. “Both locations have pros and cons. We will to continue to weigh them and make a decision from there.”
Goat Head will not be a small operation, either.
“Our plan was originally to go with a 15 barrels brewhouse,” he said. “As it’s going right now, if we open sooner than later, I think we’re going with either a seven- or 10-barrel system. If we can find a 15-barrel system for a decent price, we will move on it.”
“But if we can’t, I’m happy. Seven barrels will be a bit more time consuming and labor intensive, but look at these guys (Il Vicino), they’re doing just fine with seven barrels, feeding all the restaurants and what have you. As long as we can get open, that’s our biggest concern.”
Majin said he is continually working on crafting an IPA that would “be comparable to or hopefully someday exceed some of the IPAs we have right now (in New Mexico).”
That beer would be one of four or five year-round beers on tap, along with “something light (like) a pilsner or blonde ale, some sort of pale ale or amber, a stout and an IPA. Those are all the house beers we plan on having tapped.”
The rest of Goat Head’s offerings will be a unique mix of seasonal styles and other specialty beers, but like any good craftsman, Majin was not about to spill all of his secrets.
“What’s going to set us apart will be mentioned at a later date. We plan on doing something different than what’s currently offered at most breweries here in New Mexico. We want to set ourselves apart from the others.” he said.
Whatever Majin has planned, count all of us in the NMDSBC as being excited.
Until Goat Head Brewing opens its doors, we will be enjoying whatever Majin concocts for Back Alley, starting this Saturday with The Maple’s Shade. Join us if you can, but remember, it is an 11.8-percent behemoth, so when we say drink responsibly, we really, really mean it.