Well, that was fun.

We're just happy to have survived you, oh wonderful event.

We’re just happy to have survived you, oh wonderful event.

ABQ Beer Week 2013 has come and gone, and now that a certain baseball team is on the road, ol’ Stoutmeister here has a chance to catch up and recap the last two days of events, Friday and Saturday. These were a couple of big days for the Brew Crew with our Dark Ages show on Friday and Blues & Brews on Saturday. Oh, yeah, and I turned 35, so I guess it was big for me personally. I’ve never had a beer festival on my birthday before. It was, shall we say, a tad insane.

First up, a huge thank you to everybody involved in Beer Week. From Marne Gaston and her staff at Feel Good Festivals,  all the local brewery staffs and local bar staffs who participated, all the people who generously volunteered their time instead of just drinking beer, and to all the folks in the general public who came out to all the events, thank you for all your hard work, your kindness, and for just being the best bunch of folks on the planet for 10 days.

So anyway, onto the last couple of events.

* * * *

For not exactly being the kind of guys who have ever put on an event before, we got through pretty unscathed.

For not exactly being the kind of guys who have ever put on an event before, we got through pretty unscathed.

The Dark Ages was a blast. For an event that we conceived in about a month, I feared it would be completely disorganized and haphazard. Thankfully, we had the awesome Lauren Poole in charge of producing, plus Skye and her staff at Tractor working hard to help procure the beers and set up ArtBar for our event.

As for the Crew, well, we rehearsed our Monty Python inspired opening about 30 minutes before the event. Poor E-Rock got there just in time from his earlier gig to follow us in the line of Beer Monks; he didn’t have a chance to learn the chant we came up with:

Pie jesu domine, we prefer the darker beers (pause, drink)

Pie jesu domine, we like our malts roasted black

Pie jesu domine, we do not like the hoppy

The audience laughed, so I guess we did something right there. From there Lauren and I introduced the various acts, which ranged from Red Light Cameras’ Barney Lopez playing a song on a ukelele atop a ladder to Sam Tynker drinking a beer from eight feet away via a tube through his nose to E-Rock leading his friends in a series of covers from Dark Side of the Moon. Lauren led the band House of Wine into action, while two of our the Crew’s friends did a belly-dancing routine.

The talented Morgan Harris was one of our favorite acts during Dark Ages.

The talented Morgan Harris was one of our favorite acts during Dark Ages.

Oh, and there was also a lovely, extremely flexible young lady silencing us all with her amazing acrobatic routine. We were so blown away I think I was the only one to bother to snap a photo. Thank you, Ms. Morgan Harris, you were amazing.

In between the acts we kept everyone guessing with some beer trivia, with prizes from us (we gave away some of our T-shirts that you may have spotted us wearing all week), Bosque Brewing, Broken Bottle, and more. Heck, we even gave away two free VIP tickets to Blues & Brews that were handed to us during the show. Thank you to Alan Markey from Premier Distributing. We also gave away a free brewery tour with the Crew to our newest follower on Facebook, Matthew Schleyer. He started following us during the show and we pulled his name out of Shilling’s hat just minutes later. His wife also won a prize during the trivia rounds.

So what were the trivia questions? Test your own knowledge here. The answers will be at the bottom of the post.

1. Why do the bubbles in Guinness go down?

A) It’s a visual illusion; B) It’s an effect of being made with nitrogen instead of CO2; C) It’s created by the secret malts Guinness uses

Stoutmeister, left, writes down the trivia answers while Porter Pounder does, um, something important.

Stoutmeister, left, writes down the trivia answers while Porter Pounder does, um, something important.

2. Where did La Cumbre’s Jeff Erway get his start as a brewer?

A) Chama River; B) Turtle Mountain; C) Il Vicino

3. Where was the original location of Il Vicino’s brewery?

A) Downtown; B) Off Comanche near I-25; C) Nob Hill

4. What ingredient gives a milk stout its creamy body and sweetness?

A) Lactic sugar/lactose; B) Chocolate malts; C) A special type of hops

5. Which of the following was NOT a beer from Broken Bottle?

A) Rob Van Winkle Vanilla Stout; B) Fat Willie’s Smoke Stout; C) Pied Piper Porter

6. What was the most read Brew Crew story of all time?

A) Our in-depth interview with Jeff Erway; B) Our explanation of how Tractor briefly lost the ability to sell growlers; C) The review of our second Super Bowl Stout Challenge

E-Rock, left, wore his Spartan helmet and played the oud alongside his friends Sam, center, and Stephen.

E-Rock, left, wore his Spartan helmet and played the oud alongside his friends Sam, center, and Stephen.

We closed the night with a jam session by E-Rock and the many other musicians we had in the house. We also had a total of nine dark beers on tap including Odell’s Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout (a huge thanks to Ryan Bogart from the Colorado brewery for the last-minute donation!), Bosque’s Olde Bosky porter, Broken Bottle’s The Incident Black IPA, Il Vicino’s Black IPA, La Cumbre’s Baltic Porter, Marble’s Stout Americano, and Tractor’s Double Plow Oatmeal Stout, Nut Brown, and Milk Stout.

Thank you to all of our performers, everyone from Tractor and Blackout Theater Company who helped us out, and of course to all the cool people we met in the audience, including some who came from as far away as San Diego. We’ll be sure to do another Dark Ages show for Beer Week 2014 that will be even bigger and better. Don’t miss out next time!

* * * *

The crowd was great with all the space to move around in at Blues & Brews.

The crowd was great with all the space to move around in at Blues & Brews.

So after some stroke-of-midnight birthday shenanigans over at Anodyne with fellow May 4ther Sam Tynker and our friends, I made it home around 4:30 a.m. I may be older, but I’m not wiser. After about 5 hours of sleep, Franz Solo rolled by and we headed out to lunch/brunch with Porter Pounder. From there, it was off to Blues & Brews, which was held outdoors for the first time at the Isleta Amphitheater. The location had its pluses (plenty of room to maneuver) and minuses (the location is a tad remote), but overall things went very well. Heck, I was only sunburned on one small part of my neck that I missed with the sunscreen. That alone is a miracle for this Scottish-Irish-Polish-American.

We stopped by to talk to old friends at Tractor, Bosque, Broken Bottle, Back Alley Draft House, and more of the local booths. We also introduced ourselves to the staff at New Mexico Craft Brewing Co., which is opening soon in Las Vegas. Others we talked to included the owners of the Grain Hopper, Rio Rancho’s homebrewing store, and the folks who are bringing Utah’s Uinta Brewing into the state at long last.

We implore you all to find this awesome beer from Uinta. Just be careful with it, tis a monster.

We implore you all to find this awesome beer from Uinta. Just be careful with it, tis a monster.

For Franz Solo and I, our favorite three out-of-state beers were Lagunitas’ aptly named Hop Stoopid, Green Flash’s Double Stout Golden, and Uinta’s monstrous (13.2% ABV) Labyrinth Imperial Black Ale. Others that stood out to me were Butte Creek’s Organic Porter, Durango Brewing’s Hop Hugger IPA, Mad River’s Steelhead Extra Stout, Pagosa’s super sweet Peach Ale, Ska’s Vernal Minthe Stout, Stone’s Smoked Porter, and Uinta’s Dubhe Imperial Black IPA.

In terms of New Mexico beers, we gave big thumbs up to Back Alley’s IPA, Blue Corn’s Gold Medal Stout, Bosque’s new version of the Boss Pale Ale (it’s sweeter, but with a hoppy bite still present), Broken Bottle’s The Incident, Cazuela’s Inebriator Dopplebock, Chama River’s White Elephant (for Franz) and Summer Ale (for myself), NM Craft Brewing’s Roundhouse (Nitro) Stout, Sandia Chile Grill’s (Nitro) Milk Stout, Santa Fe’s Imperial Java Stout, and Tractor’s Maibock. I do not want to pick just one favorite out of the bunch. They are all worth seeking out, along with the many other great beers brewed all across this great state of ours. Beer Week may be over, but please, don’t stop supporting our local breweries!

The birthday boy closed his day at Blues & Brews with Tractor. What, you're shocked by this? Have you not been paying attention?

The birthday boy closed his day at Blues & Brews with Tractor. What, you’re shocked by this? Have you not been paying attention?

There was a lot of beer that we did not try, but we had to try and stay somewhat lucid. Well, Franz did, I was not quite as lucky (again, older, not wiser). We also had a conversation with Tractor about a little something that might be pretty big for the Crew in the future. We’ll have more on that once we talk some more and transition from theory to actual plan.

Anyway, I again want to say thank you to everyone involved with Blues & Brews. Especially Marne, who does an incredible job of organizing all of this. Marne, you have earned the right to do absolutely nothing for a week but kick back and relax! Blues & Brews was a splendid event and just about the best birthday present this old guy could ever ask for.

So until we’ve all recovered in time next week’s American Craft Beer Week, I bid you adieu from all of us in the Crew. We’ll be back out there soon enough supporting our local breweries. We have (at least) three more beer festivals in June to prepare for!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

(Trivia answers: 1. B, 2. A, 3. C, 4. A, 5. C, 6. B)

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