No one got sunburned!
Well, that’s how we all looked back on NM Brew Fest 5 after a long, rough Sunday (our football teams, real and fantasy, didn’t help our hangovers, either). OK, we also looked back at the many great beers we drank and how much fun we had. From the VIP barrel-aged beginning all the way through to the end, this was one of the best festivals of the year. The fact it was almost entirely local didn’t hurt. It was great to see all the familiar faces from the breweries together in one place.
Kudos to the Brew Fest organizers for combining the VIP early entry with the barrel-aged beers. It was a wonderful beginning, and that extra span of time gave us all a chance to actually enjoy the beers rather than feel like we were pressed for time to get from station to station. So if we absolutely positively had to rank the best of the fest (barrel-aged only) …
1. Canteen’s St. Bob’s Imperial Stout ’07
2. Marble’s Imperial Stout
3. Marble’s Barley Wine
4. Pi’s Bourbon Vanilla Porter
5. La Cumbre’s La Negra 2013
Mind you, the gap from one to five is about as small as can be. And others argued for a different order (Marble’s Imperial Stout seemed to produce the most varied opinions, from love to meh). Other special beers we got to try included Odell’s Jaunt and Trellis, two Rochefort Trappist ales (#8 and 10), and Deschutes’ Black Butte XXVI. Thanks to Christopher Goblet and the Brewers Guild for providing those for us to sample.
As for the “regular” part of the festival, things went well as the lines never got too long (after the zoo debacle, hallelujah), and as per usual the crowd was great. There was no Comanche Creek nor Taos Mesa, but otherwise all the other breweries showed up with most of the beers they had promised.
Among the favorites, having consulted with the crowd, were Blue Corn’s Gold Medal Oatmeal Stout, Bosque’s Pumpkin Spice Ale, Canteen’s Dougie Style Amber, Cazuela’s Beer for my Horses (oatmeal stout), Chama River’s Cosmic Dog (coffee stout), La Cumbre’s Full Nelson (DIPA), Marble’s Brett IPA, Ponderosa’s Chocolate Pumpkin Porter, Red Door’s Paint it Black Milk Stout, Second Street’s Rauchbier, Stumbling Steer’s Imperial Stout, and Turtle Mountain’s Oktoberfest.
Just about all of those beers are on tap at breweries around the ABQ and Santa Fe areas. For all of you who could not make it out to Brew Fest, head to your closest brewery and see what everyone is buzzing about.
And a special congrats to La Cumbre’s Jeff Erway, who was presented with his award from the Great British Beer Festival for Best American Cask Ale. Project Dank claimed that honor earlier this year, but we guess it takes a while to ship the plaque from Britain to New Mexico.
As for the Crew, festival season may be at an end for 2014, but we’ve still got plenty of stories to work on. I have an interview with Marble’s Ted Rice coming up to talk about everything from their GABF haul to future expansion plans and more. There are still more breweries on the way, so we’ll keep tabs on how those are progressing around town. Adam is working on a series about just what are the best bars for craft beer around ABQ (Luke will mirror that for Santa Fe). We’ll also be heading back to Blue Grasshopper when their beers are ready and we still need to visit Twisted Chile down in Socorro. Oh, and a pumpkin beer challenge is coming up for the Crew as well. Don’t worry, the beer scene is going to keep us plenty busy.
Good to see so many of you out there this weekend. We’ll see you around the breweries.