Hello, friends. I know, I know, we’ve kinda sucked since ABQ Beer Week ended. We went from churning out tons of content to being a bunch of lazy bastards. Well, lazy as far as the blog goes. We’ve been a collection of busy people for various reasons. Franz Solo went to Barcelona (the beer was … not good, everything else was great), Porter Pounder has been working lots of 12-hour days on film sets and also moved from house to triplex (best line from the moving experience: “He has more shelves than the Library of Congress!”), E-Rock has been playing music all over, Shilling has been decompressing after a heck of a semester back in school, and Brandon has been doing, um, something. We’re not sure what, but we’re sure it was important. And yours truly has been less Stoutmeister and more Sportsmeister of late. Between high school sports, the Lobos and the Isotopes I’ve been running myself ragged across two states.

But no more! We are damned determined to get back out there and resume reporting on the local microbrewery scene. June is going to be a busy month. It all kicks off today (Saturday) when the lovely ladies who make up the Babes in Brewland will be tapping the small-batch beer they made with Santa Fe Brewing circa 2 p.m. Yeah, they are just a bunch of overachievers in BIB, making us look like a bunch of slackers and all. (I’m kidding, of course; damn the lack of a special sarcasm font)

The folks at Mimbres Valley in Deming will be moving beer out of their colorful tap room to the Blazin' Brewfest in Las Cruces next weekend.

The folks at Mimbres Valley in Deming will be moving beer out of their colorful tap room to the Blazin’ Brewfest in Las Cruces next weekend.

The following Saturday will see Las Cruces get its first beer festival in the form of the Blazin’ Brewfest co-hosted by High Desert and Mimbres Valley. We are going to try our best to drive down there and check it out.

On Friday, June 14, is SummerBrew, the companion to the popular WinterBrew at the Railyard in Santa Fe. I know I can’t make that one (Isotopes are in town) but Shilling at least said he hopes to take the Rail Runner up and check it out.

We don’t have anything official yet, but word is that the Pajarito Mountain Summerfest will take place on Saturday, June 15. We’ll try and get confirmation.

Also on our schedule, but not yet officially announced, is The Year of Beer at Il Vicino Canteen on June 22. We’ll double-check on that one. Don’t worry, we’ll have a big preview since we promised Dark Ages trivia winner Matthew Schleyer a trip behind the scenes in advance of this event of awesomeness.

Quick brewery review: Thunder Canyon Brewing

I hopped down to Tucson for a few days to work on a couple features for MiLB.com and see some of the old college crew. I wanted to check out Ten Fifty-Five Brewing due to positive word-of-mouth amongst the locals, but sadly they were closed every day but Saturday as they’re focused more on distribution than on-site sales (something that E-Rock noted was almost an unfortunate trend among Arizona breweries).

The delicious Executioner Double ESB slayed my thirst at Thunder Canyon.

The delicious Executioner Double ESB slayed my thirst at Thunder Canyon.

My disappointment went away once I got the call to join two old friends (one of whom I had not seen in a decade) at Thunder Canyon Brewing’s new location in downtown Tucson. With most of the horrific street construction over and done with, it was just a matter of finding a parking space near the corner of 5th Avenue and Broadway. Once I dealt with that minor obstacle I headed inside and found myself in a spacious brew pub. This is the type of location that Tucson has been missing, a place the size of Il Vicino Canteen (when counting the patio, but in Tucson patios are just a dumb idea when it’s 115 degrees outside, so TCB is all indoors).

In addition to a sizable number of their own beers TCB carries almost twice that many from in-state and out-of-state microbreweries, all on tap. Heck, Santa Fe’s Black IPA was even available here (and my friend Kris gave it a big thumbs up and started talking about a trip to New Mexico with his wife; good work, Santa Fe Brewing).

Since it was stupid hot outside (dry heat or not, it sucked) I opted for something lighter on the palate to start. My idea of lighter was the Executioner, a double ESB that checked in at 7.8 percent ABV. This is the type of ESB that the guys up at Second Street would be proud of. It was big but not overwhelming, offering up a nice balance between the sweetness and dryness that one comes to expect from an ESB. It was very smooth and did not have the watered-down feeling that a lot of Arizona brews seem to suffer from.

The Blackout Stout at Thunder Canyon in Tucson was so good it went quickly.

The Blackout Stout at Thunder Canyon in Tucson was so good it went quickly.

For my second beer I had to go with the Blackout Stout, which a number of patrons were enjoying despite the nearly 100-degree temps outside. This is a good year-round stout, with a thick mouthfeel that nonetheless does not feel overly heavy. You do not have to chew this beer. It has a strong roasted quality with hints of coffee and dark chocolate. This is probably the best stout I have ever had in Arizona that was not a specialty seasonal (like the Irish stout at Dragoon, whose name I heard a lot this visit, showing me that Tucsonans are beginning to learn about good beer the way Burquenos learned several years ago).

I also had samples of the Good Vibrations IPA (worthy of a NM-based brewery) and the seasonal rye beer they had on tap (it did not kick me in the face with rye-power, but was instead a nice, slow-sipping comfort beer).

Thunder Canyon is definitely worth the visit if you’re ever in Tucson. It’s close to the UA campus if you’re waiting until football or basketball season to make a visit (which is also after the temps drop back below thermonuclear). There is also the original Thunder Canyon location in the Foothills Mall in the northwest part of town, if for some reason you’re stuck up there.

I would rank Thunder Canyon as 1B to Dragoon’s 1A atop the list of Tucson-based breweries.

Quick brewery review: Mimbres Valley Brewing

This one will be really quick since I only had time to stop in Deming for one beer. But hey, at least I finally stopped. I’ve been driving by Mimbres for years when I was getting off I-10 to take the Hatch Cutoff to I-25. Rather than stop for fast food I headed to MVB for what turned out be some good grub served up by a very nice staff in the non-peak hours of the day.

Only had time for one beer, so of course it was the Pancho Villa Stout.

Only had time for one beer, so of course it was the Pancho Villa Stout.

Rather than go fancy (still had three-plus hours to drive) I just snagged a cheesburger and fries, but it was as good as any gourmet burger I’ve had recently. I won’t say it was as good as the Owl Cafe, but it did remind me of that NM institution and was a heck of a lot better than anything up the road at Burger King or McDonald’s.

This is a beer blog, though, so my choice was (get ready for it, I know you’ll be stunned) the Pancho Villa Stout. I’ve had it before in small samples at Septemberfest but never a full pint. The PVS is a light stout in terms of mouthfeel, but much like Thunder Canyon’s beers it does not have any elements of being watered down. Simply put, it’s a stout brewed for warm weather. The flavor is a little mild, with more strength from the roasted malts at the front of the palate that give way to a very smooth finish at the back end.

I wish I had more time to sample Mimbres Valley’s other beers, but driving 250 miles through some pretty desolate areas on a full bladder was not exactly an idea I was keen on. The good news is that MVB should be at Blazin’ (they’re co-hosting, after all) and if all else fails, they should be back up in ABQ at Septemberfest.

* * *

All right, that’s more than enough rambling from me for now. Hopefully Brandon will get us a Saturday Night Sixer (we know he drank the beer, at least, we hope he remembered to write things down) and we should have more in advance of Blazin’ plus some more news from the ABQ area as we get back out there and start doing our civic duty as beer bloggers.


— Stoutmeister


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s