It has to be said: It does not feel like winter out there.
Hopefully that does not end up jinxing us all to a week of wind, snow, and ice, but this has been one mild winter. Nonetheless, in keeping with the spirit of what should be the season, the New Mexico Brewers Guild will once again be putting on WinterBrew a week from today (Friday) in Santa Fe.
For those that did not attend last year, WinterBrew is a festival featuring only New Mexico breweries and a few eateries, offering up samples of delicious, winter-themed beers (lots of stouts, porters, etc.) and food to pair with it. It all takes place at the Santa Fe Farmers Market within the Railyard district, just a few steps away from where the RailRunner lets people off. The event runs from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., though only the truly daring would probably spend all five hours there. For folks in the ABQ metro area, you can hop on the RailRunner from either downtown (4:26 p.m. departure) or Los Ranchos/Journal Center (4:41 p.m.) and arrive in Santa Fe just after 6. The train back leaves around 9, right as the festival ends, or of course you can stay overnight in Santa Fe.
At last check, about half the tickets had already been sold, so log onto the Brewers Guild website and purchase yours. They cost $17 online, plus there is a $3 service charge. In other words it is about the going rate for a beer festival these days. You get a 6.5-ounce sample glass and a ticket for a free pint of your choice at the end of your visit. Most food items cost between $2 and $5. All in all it is a pretty good deal.
Among the highlights for me, personally, during my visit last year were the opportunities to try Blue Corn’s barrel-aged Imperial Porter, Second Street’s Outlier Special Bitter, and of course it was the very first time I ever got to try a beer from Duel Brewing, which had not yet opened. If it had been open, I probably would not have had that second full sample glass of Dark Ryder, whose 13-percent ABV I was blissfully unaware of when brewer Todd Yocham handed it over.
There will be big beers and new beers this year as well. While members of the Brew Crew have already been able to sample The Stumbling Steer’s new offerings on their pilot system, WinterBrew will mark the first chance for the rest of the crowd to try ABQ’s newest brewery (which should open next month). General manager Sonny Jensen said they will be bringing their Imperial Stout (which we didn’t get to try) and their Double IPA (we tried it; hop heaven), plus a third surprise beer.
At present the Brewers Guild site lists 17 participating breweries. We have confirmed that Bosque, La Cumbre, Marble, Nexus, Santa Fe, Second Street, Tractor, and Turtle Mountain will be in attendance along with The Stumbling Steer. Also listed are Blue Corn, Blue Heron, Chama River, Duel, High Desert, Monks, Roosevelt, and Taos Mesa.
With one week remaining, not many of the breweries have set their beer lists in stone. Santa Fe told us that they will probably be bringing stalwarts like Kickin’ Chicken barley wine, Happy Camper IPA, Black IPA, Saison ’88, and Java Stout, plus they hope to bring over their Imperial Rye Smoked Porter, a beer made in collaboration with their Kansas City distributor.
Tractor hopes to have Barley Wine, Black IPA, Milk Chocolate Stout, Russian Imperial Stout, Hard Cider, and Man Der Damm, a light lager.
Turtle Mountain plans to bring Hybrid IPA, Triple Play Pale Ale, Hazelnut Brown, and Cabo Lager.
We will continue to compile the final beer lists and run them next Thursday or Friday. The odds are good that all of the breweries will be bringing some excellent beers, new and old, for us to try.
Until then, make sure to stop by your favorite breweries this weekend. Fill up those growlers for the AFC and NFC Championship Games on Sunday, too.
As for the Crew, we are off to tour Tractor’s new Fourth Avenue taproom and brewhouse this evening. Look for a story on that, with lots of pictures, on Monday.