Release the hounds as Tractor celebrates its 15th anniversary

Posted: October 16, 2014 by cjax33 in Events, News

There is something almost eerie about a brewery taproom being so quiet before it’s open. Such was the case when I stopped by Tractor Wells Park on Wednesday morning. It won’t be the case the next time I’m there Saturday night.

Tractor is turning 15. Shenanigans are imminent.

Tractor is turning 15. Shenanigans are imminent.

That’s because Saturday is Tractor’s Quincenera, a 15th anniversary party for the ages. There will be live music, live artists, an auction, and oh, yeah, plenty of beer.

I was joined Wednesday morning by Antal Maurer of the brewing team and Carlos Contreras, Tractor’s events coordinator. The first thing they did was introduce me to the newest Tractor brew which will debut Saturday when the event kicks off at 5 p.m.

“So we have our special release this which is this,” Antal said. “It’s our anniversary wheat, (but) we’ll probably name it something more exciting between now and then. So it’s a wheat base and then we’ve added 25 grapefruits worth of meat as well as candied peel. Once we did all the candying ourselves as far as boiling it down until we got the bitterness out of the peel and then adding the sugar to the peel. So both the meat and the candied peels were added to the fermenter at knockout, along with some coriander, some cinnamon, and some ginger.”

The decision to do a special wheat beer was drawn in part from the popularity of Tractor’s regular Honey Wheat.

“One of our strong points has always been that our Honey Wheat is one of our staple beers,” Antal said. “It’s always been kind of an introductory beer for people who are learning about craft beer. I think that’s one thing that Tractor does really, really well. We’re very un-pretentious and we’re very open to educating people about craft beer. What better place to start than Honey Wheat or a wheat beer?

“(So) that’s one of the reasons we’ve gone with the grapefruit. It’s something that kind of stands out as a Tractor signature, being able to play with the grapefruit. Galena and Fuggles are the hops, there’s a little bit of Maris Otter. Two Row is our base malt, a little bit of Acid Malt to help out with the grapefruit as well.”

Going with a wheat beer in the fall might seem unusual as most breweries move away from the style after the summer, but since ABQ is still nice and warm during the day, it’s still a transitional period between the seasons.

“I’d say it’s a nice segway into fall from a nice, refreshing wheat beer that you would enjoy in the summer, but then a little bit of spice and a little bit of bitterness that’s going to make it a bit of a fall session beer,” Antal said. “Although it is about 6.7 (percent) ABV.”

Antal poses with Tractor's special anniversary wheat. It only took Carlos about 10 or 12 tries to get the picture right. (Photo courtesy of Tractor Brewing)

Antal poses with Tractor’s special anniversary wheat. It only took Carlos about 10 or 12 tries to get the picture right. (Photo courtesy of Tractor Brewing)

For those who prefer other styles of beer (or, like me, have allergy-related issues), Tractor will have some other new beers and some returning old favorites on tap as well Saturday. Antal said there will be a Red Rye, a new take on the popular C+C IPA, and a new Berry Cider.

As for the entertainment, Carlos provided a summary of all that will be seen and heard.

“So on your events first and foremost you have Porter Draw, they’ll go on at 5 (p.m.). So we have music basically from 5 to close, almost. Porter Draw will play 5 to 7. Keith Sanchez will play 7 to 9. Then you have Flo Fader who will DJ from 9 to almost close.

“On top of those guys you’ll have live painters and face painters. You’ll have people painting Dia de los Muertos-themed paintings that will go up for auction. And then Sparrow, who works here, she and her mom are going to be doing Dia de los Muertos face paintings.”

Local artists James Montoya, who specializes in Dia de los Muertos paintings (you can see some at Red Door and Tractor Nob Hill), and David Santiago, who did all of Tractor’s can designs, will be among those present.

There will likely be some brewery tours being held as well. And if you’re worried about all the beer without any food, fear not, for Mystique will be the food truck on site.

While we were chatting about Saturday, assistant brewer Josh Campbell stopped by to fill me in on two of the Crew’s favorite Tractor beers which are coming up. I even got to try one of them, though it’s far from being ready, but it is quite tasty already. The Luna de los Muertos, Tractor’s epic Russian imperial stout, has just gone into the fermenter and projects to be ready in one month.

“It’s a little boozier than I’m used to,” Josh said. “It’s got a little more of an alcoholic note to it. It’ll mellow out, it’s still young. But usually you’re starting to get a little more raises right now. We brewed it a little bit later and it hasn’t quite gotten there yet. But it’s wicked good.”

Oh, and Turkey Drool, that wonderful holiday beer that is a cacophony of flavors, is scheduled to be brewed this coming week. Thank the beer gods for that brew! A happy Thanksgiving is all but guaranteed!

Until then, the Crew will see all of you at Wells Park on Saturday night. Who knows, maybe they’ll even let us lead one of the tours. (Probably not. We might start drinking the Luna straight from the fermenter.)


— Stoutmeister


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