It was a sad day a while back when news came in that Marble’s Septemberfest had been canceled for 2013. A bad case of “festival fatigue” was blamed for the end of this popular event. Yet the thirsty public cried out for Marble to still do something to celebrate the end of summer and start of autumn, and Marble has responded.
The Son of Septemberfest will make its debut this Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. Unlike its predecessor, this event will be held on the patio and inside, rather than in the back parking lot. Tickets ($15 apiece) are selling fast (there are only 300 being sold) so hurry down to any Marble location and pick them up as fast as you can. The odds are there will be no tickets left at the door Saturday. Heck, the Brew Crew alone gobbled up four tickets; we can’t even imagine how many the ABQ Craft Beer Drinkers Group and the Babes in Brewland picked up.
As for the format itself, your $15 will get you a tray of beers from 12 different New Mexico breweries. Each brewery will supply one beer apiece (the full list is below) and you get a decent (2.5-3.0 ounces) sample. In the end, pick your favorite and get a commemorative Oktoberfest-style mug of goodness.
To help further prepare everyone for the event, I (Stoutmeister) went over to Marble on Wednesday afternoon (amid the worst allergy attack I’ve had since that one super-duper-windy day back in April) to talk to Marble’s co-founders Jeff Jinnett and John Gozigian about the change in format and what beer lovers can expect from this first major fall festival of beer.
Q: What was the actual impetus for changing the format of Septemberfest?
Jeff: We didn’t have to (change it). We’ve done Septemberfest the last four years in our parking lot and it got larger. We invited all the New Mexico breweries for a sampling fest. There’s so many festivals that we find that among all the breweries, even for us with a larger staff, are experiencing what I consider festival fatigue, especially at this time of year. Everybody is so busy cranking out beer that it’s hard to attend these festivals. Not only that, but the time and cost it takes to put on a festival in our own parking lot is incredible. So we originally thought we’ve got events going on almost every single weekend. There are events sponsored by the (New Mexico Brewers) Guild, events sponsored by Feel Good Festivals, events sponsored by the city. Breweries were totally booked up. We thought we were going to give ourselves a break and not do Septemberfest.
Q: So what changed your minds?
Jeff: Then we had such an overwhelming response from our customers, “Hey, that was our favorite event! We loved Septemberfest!” We thought well, why don’t we try another format? Let’s experiment with some festival formats that we haven’t done before, come up with some new parameters that would make it just as much fun for our customers. It won’t take fencing off our own parking lot and working with the city for months for permits. It won’t require all the breweries to send their staffs down and take their Saturdays off and come down here.
Q: How will the new format work?
Jeff: What we’re going to do is have the entire festival on our licensed premise so that we don’t have to mess around with any type of special permits or anything like that. We invited 12 breweries to participate. So they are welcome to attend, they are welcome to represent their beer, or they’re welcome to come and just enjoy the beer. They can participate in any way they feel comfortable. We’ll have our staff pour the beer. Because of the somewhat limited number of beers that will be available — under the old format we might have had 40 or 50 beers instead of 12 — we’re going to do larger samples and keep it a little bit smaller. We’re going to do live music. We’ve asked each of the breweries to do a special beer.
It’s going to be interesting. It’ll be a little smaller, a little more intimate, but it’s still going to be a lot of fun. The breweries we’re excited to have on board because it doesn’t take as much work or carry any risk. It’s the first time we’ve done this event format, so we’ll see how it goes. The good thing is you can do more events because the upfront cost and planning and effort that goes into is not as intense as the large parking lot festivals. The perception of our guests, the customers, is it’s just as much fun.
Q: So it sounds a lot closer in format to the IPA Challenge.
Jeff: It’s similar to the scenario of the IPA Challenge. People will spread throughout the brewery, on the patio; we’re going to have servers going around with trays for each of the different styles so you don’t have to wait in line. The beers will be brought out and circulated through the crowd. People can grab their seats with their friends and enjoy the beer.
Q: The IPA Challenge was awfully crowded at Marble. Was that the big reason for limiting this event to 300 tickets?
Jeff: We don’t want to oversell it to where it’s uncomfortable. Even 300 is pretty crowded.
John: For IPA Challenge everyone showed up at once. Spreading this out from noon to 5 is better.
Q: This all sounds a lot easier for the breweries and yourselves.
John: If we do a festival like this we can actually have a good time. We’re not managing so many aspects. It’s still going to be a lot of work but it’s an environment we’re used to.
We can actually walk around, sit down with people and talk about the beer. We’re not hidden behind a booth.
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In other good news from Marble, they are adding more fermenting tanks soon to increase their capacity. As John put it best, it is not much fun for the brewers in the back if they are only churning out the regular beers and not getting to have some fun with seasonals and specialty styles.
So as for those beers, as of Tuesday these were the dandy dozen that you will be able to sample from at Son of Septemberfest. And please note, this is not a blind taste test nor is it a competition. That being said, if people pick something other than an IPA for their festival-ending mug, we in the Crew will be greatly surprised. We know you, New Mexico beer lovers, and IPA is ingrained in your souls at this point.
Blue Corn – Smoked Porter, 6.5% ABV
Abbey Brewing – Tripel, 9.2% ABV
La Cumbre – Project Dank, 7.5% ABV
Il Vicino – Belgian IPA, 7.2% ABV
Chama River – Apricot Wheat, 5.5% ABV
Nexus – American Amber Ale, 6.1% ABV
Santa Fe – Oktoberfest, 6.0% ABV
Second Street – Citra IPA, 6.7% ABV
Marble Brewery – 111 Farmhouse Ale, 7.1% ABV
Bosque – Chinook IPA, 7% ABV
Sierra Blanca – Oktoberfest, 5.6% ABV
Taos Mesa – Old 96 Sticke Alt, 6% ABV
For me, the only beers on this list I have had are Nexus’ American Amber and Santa Fe’s Oktoberfest (albeit last year’s version), so I’m looking forward to trying all of these, even the styles I usually don’t partake in. Hey, at worst I might earn an extra badge on Untappd. The Blue Corn Smoked Porter, Sierra Blanca Oktoberfest, and Taos Mesa Old 96 Sticke Alt top my list in advance. We’ll see if anyone comes in and pulls an upset.
Got any questions about Son of Septemberfest? Message us on Facebook or send us an email at email@example.com (or leave a message here). Or contact the friendly folks at Marble. But again, get your tickets in advance as this event will likely sell out before it starts Saturday at noon. And hey, just remember you can grab a pint of beer when you go to any Marble location when you buy your ticket. It’s a win-win.
See you all on Saturday!