Psst, hey you, beer lover. Come here for a second. It’s safe, I promise. I’m Stoutmeister, nice to meet you. Did you know there are some awesome upcoming beer events? Yeah, even in the summertime here in New Mexico. I mean, good lord, it’s hotter than hell out there and this drought isn’t going away anytime soon. Doesn’t a cold, refreshing, but full-of-flavor, locally-made beer sound good right about now? You’re in luck because the New Mexico Brewers Guild is putting on multiple festivals in the next four months, including this Friday’s aptly-named SummerBrew at the Santa Fe Farmers Market.
SummerBrew is the seasonal companion to WinterBrew, which was held at the same location months ago. This will be the first SummerBrew, but I have high hopes it will run as smoothly as WinterBrew did the last two years.
With SummerBrew almost upon us and more events right around the corner, I managed to track down (via cell phone) the always-busy Christopher Goblet to chat about what the Guild has in store for us mere mortal beer lovers. He was generous enough to spend 18 minutes or so talking about SummerBrew, looking back on the success of last weekend’s Blazin’ Brewfest in Las Cruces (the Crew missed that one, we apologize to you, gentle readers, and to ourselves for missing out), and then looking to the near future.
The only unfortunate thing is that I will not be able to attend (the Isotopes are home for all of 12 games in the month of June, so of course SummerBrew falls on the night of a home game). But Shilling and Brandon are planning on heading up there. Hopefully they remember to wear their Brew Crew T-shirts (subtle hint, gentlemen) so you can spot them. Feel free to say hello, they’re nice guys. Just don’t bring up hockey, they’re still bitter about their teams not making the playoffs (though at least their teams weren’t horrifically embarrassed in the Eastern Conference Finals like mine was).
Anyway, on to the interview …
Stoutmeister: Give me the origin of SummerBrew, how did it come together this year?
Goblet: We’ve been doing WinterBrew now for two years and it’s been a really popular choice, a really popular event at the Farmers Market. After a really successful WinterBrew I thought why not take on a summer version of the festival. Hold it in a similar style but change up the focus of the beer and the food. So WinterBrew has always been craft beer and comfort food. We’re focusing on the winter styles, porters, stouts, heavier, darker beers. SummerBrew is going to be the antithesis, it’ll be lighter food, fiery, hot foods and the summer styles of beers, kolsch, pilsners. The focus will be more on the seasonality of the beers. It made sense to have the two polar opposites at the same location in Santa Fe six months apart.
Stoutmeister: You’ve been kind of busy though lately. You guys did the Blazin’ Brewfest also. I saw that the turnout looked really good. What was it like in Las Cruces?
Goblet: It was fantastic. We had a really big meeting after the festival. I was out with (La Cumbre’s Jeff) Erway and Nico (Ortiz, of Turtle Mountain), Sam Castella from Little Toad Creek and Rod Tweet from Second Street. We all went out to have some dinner and beers afterwards. Everybody was completely blown away by the turnout. We had 1,250 people for our first festival in Las Cruces. We didn’t do a ton of advertising, it’s not typically our style to drop a load of money on advertising. We do a lot of social media, word of mouth to get the word out. High Desert and Mimbres Valley did a lot of hustling down there to get the word out. It was great. People had a great time. We blew 30 of the 50 kegs we took. We didn’t realize how much beer people would be drinking. Surprisingly dark beers, porters and stouts, were the first kegs to kick, not what you’d expect in 100-degree heat. Erway mentioned we should look into doing a late Octoberfest when it’s 80 degrees instead of 100.
I was ordering breakfast the next morning at the local dive and I heard one waiter talking to his customers about the beer fest. We can’t wait to have another craft beer fest like that. We’re really impressed by Las Cruces and we can’t wait to go back.
Stoutmeister: I was at WinterBrew and was really impressed by the attendance up there. It doesn’t seem to matter what part of the state you’re in, people are really into craft beer.
Goblet: We haven’t had a bad event yet, knock on wood. We don’t want to saturate the market any further. Albuquerque is starting to get saturated with beer festivals, there’s a lot of them. I was talking to Abbey Beverage Co. (Tuesday) and they said every main street in this community has potential for us. It seems the key is having someone who knows the local community. I’m an Albuquerque-Santa Fe guy, so having High Desert down there and Mimbres to hold our hands, those guys know the community. I think the formula is when we focus on local, we focus on quality, our goal isn’t to have 6,000 people show up. We want it to be a comfortable, full event where everybody feels like it’s fun, feels like it’s successful, where nobody has to wait 20 to 40 minutes in line to pour a beer. Nobody wants that. Working with local partners, figuring out how to replicate this model and yet make it new and fresh each time.
Stoutmeister: Going into the details of SummerBrew, what breweries are going to be in attendance?
Goblet: I have the roster for you. I’ve got Chama, Blue Corn, Second Street, Abbey Brewing — they changed their name — Santa Fe, La Cumbre, Nexus, Tractor, Santa Fe Spirits, Bosque, Marble. Unfortunately Sierra Blanca isn’t going to make it because the person who was going to pour just got called up to active (military) duty. (Note: see below for the list of beers the breweries are planning to bring.)
Stoutmeister: Pretty nice lineup. Believe me, I’m going to be sitting at Isotopes Park at a 12-10 game thinking how much I want a beer.
Goblet: So that’s our lineup. Unfortunately we’ll miss (Sierra Blanca), they won’t be able to join us. On the plus side it’ll be better financially for our brewers to make some money. We’ll have the heavy hitters there.
Stoutmeister: When I was at WinterBrew I noticed people were really excited about trying the new breweries, Bosque and Duel.
Goblet: They (Duel) had to back off. They’re still not open and they’re planning on opening July 1 so they’ve really backed off to focus on making sure they’ve got all their ducks in a row.
Stoutmeister: In terms of other events coming up, I see we have the IPA Challenge again.
Goblet: Well, the big one for Albuquerque is the Beer Premier. That’s going to be a brand-new festival. It’s kind of a higher-end concept on July 20 we’re going to be at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. We rented one of the small interior courtyards right next to the restaurant, Bosque de la Fonda. It’s a small courtyard, 600 to 800 people. We’ve got 16 breweries lined up to launch a beer that’s never been tasted before at the festival. So again this kind of continues to speak towards there’s a lot of beer festivals out there, we want ours to stand apart. We want people to know when they see a Brewers Guild event they’re going to get a quality experience and they’re going to get value for their ticket.
This one is a higher ticket price ($30 general admission) and a very cool concept. Sixteen breweries launching a brand-new beer that’s never been tasted before. General admission is 5:30 to 9:30 (p.m.). We’re going to do a $70 VIP ticket and what that includes is that first extra hour from 4:30 to 5:30 you’ll get to mingle and mix with the brewers and then you’ll have a four-course beer-paired dinner at Bosque de la Fonda. So you’ll go to a beer dinner inside a beer festival. And then once you go into the beer dinner we open the gates for all of the other people to come in so once you finish your beer dinner and come out there’s this huge festival happening.
I know for example Monks is going to do a kolsch. They’ve never had a kolsch before. That’s a brand-new beer. I’m trying to get people to tell me all their beers so I can start to advertise what it is. I know Ted (Rice of Mable) has kept his under wraps. It kind of puts the focus on that these guys are always putting out new beers. That’s something you don’t get with traditional (macrobrews). Erway sounds like it’s launching a new beer every week. Il Vicino has a new beer all the time.
Stoutmeister: I think I remember Jeff telling me about this event. He said he had to come up with a new beer but didn’t know what it would be.
Goblet: That’s funny. Our attention has been on the Blazin’ Brewfest. None of us expected that kind of response or turnout. We’re three-for-three, we’ve sold out our last three events. We’ve got room for 1,250 here in SummerBrew. It’s started off a little slow, but folks know us here in Santa Fe and they know about using the RailRunner to get up from Albuquerque.
Stoutmeister: Our two guys are taking the RailRunner up on Friday.
Goblet: I’m not worried about (sales). It seems like our formula is driving people. People like us, they’re coming to our events.
So now it’s Beer Premier in July, so because of that we moved the IPA Challenge to August.
Stoutmeister: Good, it gives me some time to start drinking IPAs again so I’m better prepared.
Goblet: The last couple of years we’ve always done Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. We’ll take our Tuesday and Thursday and we’ll go to Farmington and Las Cruces. Because of that we’ll only get 30 to 60 people to come out for those events because it’s midweek. It’s hard to get people to drink 16 IPAs on a Tuesday. We’ve switched the formula so now it’s Friday, Saturday, Friday, Saturday, with the hopes we’d have at least 100 people at each event and maybe a lot more at the Albuquerque-Santa Fe ones.
(Note: This year’s IPA Challenge will be held Aug. 9 at High Desert, Aug. 10 at Taos Mesa, Aug. 16 at Santa Fe Brewing, and Aug. 17 at Marble.)
Goblet: We’re also working on a Septemberfest plan, we don’t know what to do. We’ve kind of outgrown Marble’s space so we’re kind of thinking we might move it to a new location. There’s pluses and minuses to moving it and not moving it. We’re not sure yet, but we’ve got plenty of time to figure out Septemberfest.
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As promised, here are the beers that have been announced for SummerBrew. As always, these are subject to change, and if you get there late (it’s 4 to 9 p.m., so you should have plenty of time) the best ones may not be available. A special thanks to the breweries that responded. We’ll keep updating this list right up until 4 p.m. on Friday.
Abbey Brewing: TBA
Blue Corn: Schwarzbier (aged on American medium toasted oak for five weeks), Pale Ale (made with just golden promise malt and Eldorado hops), single-hop ESB (dry-hopped with Czech Saaz), Oatmeal Stout
Bosque Brewing: Ember IPA, Cumulus, Pale Ryder, Kindling, Brewers Boot, Olde Bosky
Chama River: Summer Ale, Amarillo Pale Ale, plus two more TBD (IPA will be one)
La Cumbre: TBA
Nexus: Scottish Ale, IPA, Tripel, Cream Ale
Santa Fe: (UPDATED) four beers from the regular lineup will be on hand, plus two from the new sour series, Single-Barrel Sour and an as-yet-unnamed tart sour, plus Kickin Chicken Barleywine aged in reserve barrels. There will also be bottles of Kriek ale and Oud Bruin for sale only.
Second Street: multiple pale ales — Centennial, Chinook, Pajarito, Otowi, maybe Mosaic — plus IPA, of course
Have fun responsibly, everyone! I’ll be getting paid to watch baseball while you’re there, so I can’t complain too much.