Greetings, beer lovers! Rejoice, for one of the best weeks of the year is upon us as ABQ Beer Week returns beginning this Thursday. This is pretty much the single busiest week-plus (it’s technically 10 days long) of the year for the Dark Side Brew Crew, but fear not, we are all well-prepared for the onslaught of beer goodness.

It's back, it's bigger than ever, and we couldn't be happier.

It’s back, it’s bigger than ever, and we couldn’t be happier.

Well, almost. Porter Pounder picked a bad time to visit friends and family on the East Coast. And my friend Bikram picked an unfortunate time to get married … in Chicago. So I will not be at nearly as many Beer Week events as I had hoped. I’ll miss Blues & Brews for the first time, but Franz Solo, Mrs. Solo, and Brandon will have that event covered. My consolation prize is drinking lots of beer in Chicago that I can’t get here (yes, Three Floyds, I know you’re over in Indiana, but I’m still coming for you!). Don’t worry, I’ll still be keeping an eye on things from the Midwest and I’ll be updating our daily reports that will let you know everything you need to know on every given day of this wonderful week.

The Crew will use every available resource we have to ensure you have the most up-to-date information on the who-what-when-where of Beer Week. We will endeavor to uncover every beer that will be available at the various tastings, special tappings, and tap takeovers all across the Duke City. We should even have some special correspondents helping us fill in the gaps when one of us has work getting in the way. Or if a flight is delayed. Hey, I said Chicago, people. Its airports aren’t exactly known for getting people to-and-fro in a timely manner.

This entire event would not be possible without the wonderful Marne Gaston, who faced an even bigger challenge this year than in the past. No, it was not due to more events (though there are more). It had to do with the fact that Marne set up almost all of this while very, very pregnant. Her daughter has now joined the world, and she (plus grandma) accompanied Marne for a quick chat about Beer Week.

“I think surprisingly not too bad,” Marne said of how things have been going in terms of balancing Beer Week and motherhood. “That’s mostly because Monica (Mondragon, of ABQ Craft Beer Drinkers Group) has been helping me at times with the website. Because the website takes so much time to update, because everybody’s always changing their minds. ‘I’m going to do this, no I’m going to do that, we don’t want this to cost that, we’re going to have a band.’

“I think having the venues know now what Beer Week is and kind of what events do well and what events work for them, they were really good about getting me information earlier this year.”

Marne, like all of us in the Crew, has been asked many times why there aren’t more new breweries coming to town, or old favorites bringing new and unique beers instead of what is just on the shelves at Jubilation and Total Wine.

“People want new stuff, (but) there’s a lot of reasons we don’t get it,” she said. “The distributors want it, most of them want it. They beg for it. We have to prove that we are worthy, I guess. Which is what’s happening. It’s why we have some new stuff this year. Hopefully every year it will get better. If we show them that we will pay for it, we will drink it, we will show up, then we will be more likely to get it.”

Again, thank you, Marne, for all of your hard work. And thank you, Monica, for helping out this year. And thank you, Patrick Cavanaugh, the co-founder of Beer Week who prefers to work behind the scenes and not do interviews (nothing wrong with that). We appreciate what you all have done for the craft beer scene in our fair city.

So anyway, onto the nitty gritty stuff. Every day during Beer Week we will have previews of all the events, why you should go, how much they might cost, and so on. But for now, he’s our quick run-through with our early picks for the best events each day.

Thursday (13 total events)

Battle of the Beer Geeks, Tractor Wells Park, 6 to 8 p.m., $7 for five samples and a pint of your favorite: Picking just one event on this busy day was not easy. “That’s a tough day” to pick just one, Marne said. “There’s a lot of good stuff. But hopefully there’s enough things that go on for multiple hours where people can go to more than one.” So why pick this? OK, fine, we’re being a little selfish as this is the event we’re involved with this year. We brewed up Hammer Smashed Stout, as Brandon wrote about on Monday. It will go head-to-head with some hoppier beers brewed up by the Babes in Brewland, Dukes of Ale, NM Wort Hogs, and ABQ Craft Beer Drinkers Group.

UPDATE: Shortly after this story was originally published, Mrs. Solo noticed that Beer 101 disappeared from both Marble’s and Beer Week’s official website. She called Marble and learned that the event has been canceled due to construction issues at the Downtown Pub. If you already purchased a ticket, please contact Marble at (505) 243-2739 about getting a refund.

Other events to consider: Chama River “Tap the Source” Beer Dinner, Beers of Belgium Tap Takeover at O’Niell’s Nob Hill, 505 Collaboration Beer Release Party at Marble (the 505 will also be available at Il Vicino, La Cumbre, Nexus, and Turtle Mountain)

Friday (8 events)

Second Annual Tower of SOUR, Back Alley Draft House, 5 to 10 p.m., $12 for flight of four samples, plus pint of your favorite: Brandon attended this event last year at BADH and enjoyed himself. Admittedly, sours are not for everybody (like me), but if you do like them, this is the event to attend. Basically there will be eight sours available, divided into two flights. We’re awaiting the list of beers from BADH. Look for more info in our Friday preview.

Other events to consider: Goose Island The Ogden Tapping at Two Fools, Oskar Blues Special Tapping at Horse & Angel Tavern

Saturday (9 events)

Fleur de Rouge Special Release Party, Marble, 2:30 to 6 p.m., no cover charge: Our friends, the Babes in Brewland, created this beer last summer at Marble. They barrel-aged what remained of the original batch and will release it downtown, with a special toast involving the group members kicking things off at 2:30. We’ll let the Babes describe what they did with their beer: “Fleur de Rouge is a white wheat ale brewed with hibiscus, rose hips and orange peel originally released during the summer of 2013. This batch has been barrel aged for close to a year in Chardonnay barrels then blended with a barrel aged Saison. The result may have lost its pink color, but certainly gained in oaky flavors from the barrel and matured to something quite special!” There will also be live music, food trucks, and more. You can taste this beer at Marble West Side, too, but you won’t get to hang out with its creators unless you are downtown.

Other events to consider: NM Brewers Guild Golf Tournament at Santa Ana, The Ale Trail Trolley Tour, 10 Drink Minimum Special Brewers Edition at Tractor Wells Park, Breweries of Colorado Tap Takeover at O’Niell’s Juan Tabo

Sunday (4 events)

ABQ Blues & Brews Craft Beer Festival, Sandia Casino, 2 to 8:30 p.m., $25 advance general admission, $30 at the door: B&B usually finishes Beer Week, but this year it’s smack dab in the middle. Back indoors (yay!) at Sandia Casino, this huge event will feature dozens of local and out-of-state breweries. I won’t be there, but if I was, I would head straight for Mother Road Brewing of Flagstaff, Arizona, which will be setting up shop here for the first time. There will be plenty of others to check out. Fear not, we’ll have a preview to let you know what’s new (or fairly new) and what you must try.

Other events to consider: 2nd Annual New Belgium Sunday Revival Beer Brunch at Nob Hill Bar & Grill, Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout Special Tapping at Two Fools, Stone Brewing Tap Takeover at Sister Bar

Monday (4 events)

La Cumbre Vanilla Bean Malpais Stout Special Tapping, Two Fools, 4 to 7 p.m., no cover charge: It’s a pretty light schedule on Memorial Day. Our pick is this tapping, where they took some delicious Malpais and added vanilla beans. Hopefully Jeff Erway can save me a small growler (HINT) for when I get back. Or just make this again and serve it at La Cumbre or Two Fools. It would go great with World Cup matches! (again, HINT)

Other events to consider: Memorial Day Festival at Marble, Alaskan Brewing Tap Takeover at ArtBar, Stumbling Steer House Brews in $7 Drink-it-and-Take-it Pint Glasses

Tuesday, May 27 (7 events)

New Mexico vs. California Rare Beer Night, The Stumbling Steer, 4 to midnight, cost varies by beer: We don’t have a lot of details on this event (yet), but basically the Steer will have several rare styles of Sierra Nevada beers, including some on cask, going up against beers of the same style from breweries around New Mexico. We’re awaiting the final list of NM beers, but we know that SN is sending firkins of Sno Wit Whole Cone Imperial IPA and Torpedo Extra IPA, plus many others.

Other events to consider: Marble Beer Dinner at Farm & Table, 5 Star 5, Il Vicino Great Heart Two Fools Whisky Stout Special Tapping at Two Fools

Wednesday, May 28 (9 events)

Stone Beer Dinner, The Stumbling Steer, 6 to 9 p.m., already sold out: Hopefully you’re one of the lucky people to get your ticket in time to this mondo event. Franz Solo and Mrs. Solo will be joining you. It is a five-course dinner, with each course paired with a specific Stone beer. There will also be an introductory sixth pint of Go To IPA, plus there will be additional beers available, including some rare cask beers. Decadence, thy name is The Stumbling Steer.

Other events to consider: Food Trucks Beer Dinner at Marble, Breakfast & Beer at Cazuela’s, Boulder Beer Black IPA Special Tapping at Two Fools

Thursday, May 29 (12 events)

Casks & Cupcakes, Tractor Nob Hill, 4 to 6 p.m., no word on cover charge: Certain beers go very well with sweet foods, so with that in mind, Tractor has teamed up with Caked by Bittersweet for a lineup of, you guessed it, cupcakes and casks. We will get a full list of what you will be eating and drinking, but I have a feeling it will all indulgent goodness.

Other events to consider: Marble Brewery Beer & Cheese Pairings, I Believe I Wood! New Belgium Loves Blackberry Whiskey Barrel Beer Tapping at Two Fools, Nexus Beer Dinner at Prairie Star Restaurant

Friday, May 30 (7 events)

Cask Ale Night, Marble Brewery (both locations), all night, no cover charge: The closing theme of Beer Week is clearly casks, casks, CASKS! We will endeavor to find out just what beers are being prepared for this event at both Marble locations.

Other events to consider: Left Hand Special Tapping at Two Fools, Goose Island Sampling at Jubilation, Local Beer Night at The Stumbling Steer

Saturday, May 31 (6 events)

Cask Fest, Il Vicino, noon to 4 p.m., $20 tickets ($15 for mug club members): Head on over to the Canteen for some delicious, unique beers on cask. The mad scientists have been hard at work preparing for this event. Tickets are going fast, so get yours quickly before it sells out (do not expect there to be any tickets at the door).

Other events to consider: Beer Breakfast at The Stumbling Steer

* * * *

We hope to see a lot of you out at Battle of the Beer Geeks on Thursday, and all of the other events around town. Just please, drink responsibly. We want Beer Week to remain a positive event for Albuquerque.

If you have any questions, or want to volunteer to be a correspondent during Beer Week, you can contact us via email (nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com), Facebook, Twitter (@nmdarksidebc), or through the comments on any of our articles. Also, make sure to bookmark the official ABQ Beer Week events page!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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