Beer Notes: Irish Red challenge, brewer shuffle, and more

Posted: March 14, 2014 by cjax33 in Beer Battle, News, Random Stuff
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Dear lord have I had my fill of high school basketball. It’s not over until Saturday, but I’m ready to be done. The good news is I’ve made money for beer! (and other expenses, but hey, priorities)

Anyway, didn’t mean to neglect the site or the current wealth of news, but a man only has so many hours in the day. And the wireless at The Pit sucks. It really, really sucks. I’m just happy I was able to edit E-Rock’s The Week Ahead in Beer back on Wednesday.

So on to the news of the moment and the future and everything in between …

Irish Red Challenge 2

Last year it was E-Rock, left, Franz Solo, and Stoutmeister (not pictured) holding an Irish Red Challenge. This year we hope to have more reds and more Crew members.

Last year it was E-Rock, left, Franz Solo, and Stoutmeister (not pictured) holding an Irish Red Challenge. This year we hope to have more reds and more Crew members.

Last year we did the Irish Red Challenge after St. Patrick’s Day because a certain someone was in Arizona to do some stories from Dodgers spring training. This year, with the Australia trip and all, the Dodgers cut short their time in Arizona to the point where it was not feasible for me to get down there with all the hoops coverage up here. While I am sad to miss the chance to talk to future and former Isotopes (not to mention check out breweries around the state), the good news is that this year the Crew will be able to gather at Franz Solo’s house for a mini-beer battle featuring that most seasonal of beers for March 17.

We will have defending champion Il Vicino, plus Nexus and Turtle Mountain will have Irish reds, and we’re double-checking with all the other local breweries to see if their current red ales are worthy of challenge entry or if they, like TM, will be releasing their Irish reds on St. Patrick’s Day itself. Whether it’s three or more, we will have the challenge.

Oh, and Franz Solo is making an Irish stew with La Cumbre’s Pogue Mahone Irish-style dry stout. Or at least that’s the plan. Expect a post on our shenanigans on Tuesday; follow us on Facebook and/or Twitter for updates from Monday. We don’t promise by the end of the night that things will be properly spelled. We do promise photos of beer and probably the fire pit.

Speaking of that Turtle Mountain special Irish red, it will be the first beer brewed at TM by their new brewer …

The great brewer shuffled revealed

None of the recent movement among local brewers was a terribly well-kept secret, so the ABQ Beer Geek went ahead and revealed it all last week. Contrary to what some may have thought, we were not angered or annoyed by this, it’s his site, he can do what he wants. Most of the breweries followed by announcing the moves on their websites anyway. We will be tracking down all the folks who have changed places for direct interviews in the coming weeks, so if you’re curious what the new faces have in the plans for your favorite breweries, stay tuned.

To recap, the moves went as follows.

Chama River: Zach Guilmette is coming over from Il Vicino to take over as head brewer. Zach has worked hard as the No. 3 brewer at the Canteen for a while now, and the IV staff have told us he will be missed. Nonetheless, this is a great opportunity to run his own operation. We will talk to Zach once he has taken full control, which he said would be by the end of the month. Current head brewer Justin Hamilton is departing to open his own brewery. All details of that move are still being kept hush-hush, but rest assured we will do our best to track it all down when Justin is ready to share it.

Turtle Mountain: After helping to start Rio Rancho’s first brewery many years ago, brewer Mark Matheson is moving on to focus on his winery. Taking over from Mark is former Chama River assistant brewer Tim Woodward. Tim’s first beer will be that Irish red we mentioned above. We hope to sit down with Tim and owner Nico Ortiz early this coming week.

Brewer Manuel Mussen will soon depart Nexus. He has given us many, many good beers over the last couple years and will be missed.

Brewer Manuel Mussen will soon depart Nexus. He has given us many, many good beers over the last couple years and will be missed.

Nexus: Another founding brewer is moving on as Manuel Mussen is heading home to California. We hope to catch him on his way out of town and find out where he is headed. After all, California is not that far away, and we would be remiss not to visit our friend out there. Taking over from Manuel will be La Cumbre assistant brewery Kaylynn McKnight. She will not be the first female head brewer in New Mexico history, but she will be the only current woman to hold such a post. All of that aside, based on the glowing words of La Cumbre owner Jeff Erway (who only gives such praise to those truly deserving), Kaylynn is going to shine while running her own brewery. We hope to sit down with her and owner Ken Carson this coming week as well.

We also hope to eventually get up to Santa Fe and meet the new brewer at Blue Corn. And we will also check in on the replacements in the assistant brewer ranks at Il Vicino and La Cumbre as those spots are filled. The best thing we see from all of this movement is that multiple Albuquerque-area breweries are now producing so many talented people that they are willing to hire from one another, trusting in their fellow establishments. This is a great sign that we will keep our best local talent, well, local.

Random stuff

  • We also hope to visit Bosque and Tractor Wells Park soon to check out the progress on their brewhouses. If nothing else, look for some photo albums on our Facebook page.
  • The now gainfully employed Shilling is planning on a Denver trip in the near future. He will review as many breweries up there as possible. We don’t want him to spend all the money he is now making, however.
  • There is momentum in the coming months for the Crew to take a Taos Trek III, not to mention a trip west on I-40 to the brewery boomtown that is Flagstaff.
  • Yours truly is planning on trips to Las Vegas and Chicago in April and May. It’s for a bachelor party and a wedding. Still, expect some brewery visits and subsequent reviews.
  • We will see what we can learn about this upcoming beer festival at the Buffalo Thunder Casino outside of Santa Fe on March 29.
  • Got any news or story ideas you would like to share? Direct message us on Facebook or Twitter, send us an email (, or heck, if you recognize at a brewery, come on over and tell us in person. We may be bearded men who wear black and listen to a lot of metal, but really, we’re harmless.

Enjoy your weekend, folks, whether it’s filled with hoops, beer, general relaxation, or anything else.


— Stoutmeister

  1. […] the record, in case anyone missed our recent beer notes covering the brewer shuffle, former Chama head brewer Justin Hamilton is set to run the show at […]

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