Archive for December, 2014

Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with the reunified edition of The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s four breweries and one newcomer down in Socorro also joining the party. We tried hard to keep the state edition going, but without participation from the breweries outside the I-25 corridor, it was futile.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Welcome to the second of two major holiday weeks. To help you all out, we’ve gotten a listing of (almost all) the breweries’ holiday hours. Take note, some breweries are closed for New Year’s Day. These are the hours for today (Wednesday), AKA New Year’s Eve. Let this be your planning guide for last-minute growler fills.

  • Back Alley: unknown, contact the brewery
  • Bosque: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
  • Boxing Bear: regular hours
  • Broken Bottle: closes at 8 p.m.
  • Canteen: noon-10 p.m.
  • Cazuela’s: regular hours
  • Chama River: regular hours; dinner specials start at 4 p.m.
  • Kaktus: party starts at 7 p.m., ends at 1 a.m. (see more below)
  • La Cumbre: noon-8 p.m.; closed New Year’s Day
  • Lizard Tail: open till midnight
  • Marble: noon-9 p.m.
  • Nexus: unknown, contact the brewery
  • Ponderosa: last call will be at 9 p.m., same on New Year’s Day
  • Red Door: noon-9 p.m.; closed New Year’s Day
  • Sandia Chile Grill: unknown, contact the brewery
  • Stumbling Steer: unknown, contact the brewery
  • Tractor: regular hours
  • Turtle Mountain: regular hours
  • Blue Corn: regular hours
  • Duel: unknown, contact the brewery
  • Santa Fe: unknown for today, noon-8 p.m. New Year’s Day
  • Second Street: kitchen closes at 10 p.m., both locations; closed New Year’s Day
  • Twisted Chile: regular hours

Now that we’re done with that, I’m taking a suggestion from Jason in the Brew Crew Bullpen to compile a list of favorite beers for 2014. Going back through ye old Untappd (it has a purpose besides competitive badge-whoring, which I swear to god and my mother is a real sport), I looked up all the 5-star beers I had from in-state breweries. OK, so mine were pretty much a slew of imperial stouts — go ahead, be shocked — and other big, dark, malty beers, but what about the rest of you? Let’s try to put something together for Friday at the earliest, next week at the latest. Tell all of us in the Crew what were your favorites and a short explanation of why. You can contact us all of the usual ways, by commenting here on this page, getting at us on Facebook either publicly or by direct message, on Twitter (@nmdarksidebc), or via email (nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com). I’ll get the rest of the Crew and the Bullpen to cough up their favorites to see just how diverse our collective palates really are. There are no wrong answers here. It’s as subjective of a list as can be created. You can list one beer or up to 10. Let’s put a cap there. But don’t think it will be easy. There were a lot of epic beers brewed in New Mexico in 2014.

On the new beer front, it’s a fairly quiet week, though that is to be expected. Bosque brought back Old Man Jameson after a short absence. Boxing Bear hopes to tap a Smoked Porter by week’s end. Chama River likewise figures to have Rise n’ Shine Breakfast Stout to greet the new year. Kaktus had another major tap turnover with Winter Warmer, I’ll Be Bock, Traditional Amber, Maltz IPA, and Oatmeal Stout all taking over spots this week. La Cumbre brought back one fan favorite already in the Dunkel Jefe, with a release party set for Monday for Cafe Con Leche (see below).

Up in Santa Fe, Blue Corn will push the limits again with a white double IPA called Toro Blanco. Second Street has their own hop bomb in the Trebuchet Imperial IPA, plus new batches of Boneshaker Bitter and Red Comet.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of Dec. 29.

To break down each “capsule,” I listed the brewery (with Web page linked), its phone number and hours of operation. Under “Beers” are the new or seasonal beers on tap for this week.

Albuquerque metro area breweries

ABQ Brew Pub — (505) 884-1116

(Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–midnight, Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–2 a.m., Sunday 10 a.m.–midnight)

Beers: Petrus Aged Ale, Petrus Aged Red. Petrus Aged Ale and Red are high alcohol barrel-aged sours from a family-owned brewery in Flanders. Several times a year, ABP serves up the latest creation by local brewing hero and winner of the Samuel Adams Longshot competition, Ben Miller, or seasonal releases by Monks Brewing.

Back Alley Draft House — (505) 766-8590

(Hours 4 p.m.-11 p.m. daily)

Beers: Ladron’s Peak, Back Alley Red, California Common, Witbier, Soroche IPA. In case you missed it, we recently interviewed BADH’s new brewer, Brandon Venaglia. There are some exciting times coming, including a possible expansion. The Red, Cali Common, Wit, and IPA are all back after a short absence.

Events: Sundays will now be Service Nights at Back Alley, with $2 off all beers for service industry workers.

Bosque Brewing Company — (505) 750-7596

(Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun noon-8 p.m.)

Beers: PSA (Pumpkin Spice Ale), Rio Grande Tortoise Black IPA, IPA 65, Prospector Milk Stout, Whirlpool Lager, Old Man Jameson. The Whirlpool Lager (5.9% ABV, 45 IBU) is a Mosaic-infused blast of happy. It hits you with big hop flavor at the beginning and then washes out with some sweet, smooth malts on the back end. It’s a uniquely wonderful beer. The Old Man Jameson (5.2% ABV, 18 IBU) is a tasty Scottish-style Export; think of it as a session version of Scotia Scotch Ale. The Bosque Lager will now be on tap year round, replacing the Kindling, which moves to the seasonal list (this is much as Driftwood Oatmeal Stout replaced Olde Bosky earlier this year). The IPA 65 (6% ABV, 75 IBU) is a slight variation on the IPA 57. I got to try the Prospector Milk Stout (6.5% ABV, 20 IBU) when it debuted recently. It’s smooth as silk and a little less sweet and more robust than most milk stouts. It still retains a lot of stout character, which is a nice change from the more Left Hand-influenced versions. The Rio Grande Tortoise (6.5% ABV, 80 IBU) was brewed in collaboration with Turtle Mountain and is available at both breweries. The PSA is nearly out, so hurry over to help finish it off so a new beer can be tapped.

Cask: We’re waiting to hear what will be on tap this Friday, if anything considering the holiday.

News: Bosque has opened a new taproom in Las Cruces, located in the former Mimbres Valley space across from New Mexico State at the corner of University Ave. and Espina St. Construction continues on Bosque’s second taproom, the Bosque Public House, located on Girard just south of Central.

Bosque has a happy hour running from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and all day on Sunday. Look for special menu items and get $1 off your favorite pints.

Boxing Bear Brewing Company — (505) 897-2327

(Sun-Thurs 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri-Sat 11 a.m.-11 p.m.)

Beers: Paw Swipe Pale Ale, Hairy Mit Hefe, Standing 8 Stout, Ambear Ale, Uppercut IPA, Chocolate Milk Stout, Smoked Porter. The Chocolate Milk Stout is hugely popular with Boxing Bear regulars, so hurry over before they drink it all up. The Smoked Porter will debut by week’s end if everything goes right. Other recent additions to the lineup are the Standing 8 Stout (6.3% ABV, 45 IBU) and Ambear Ale (5.2% ABV, 35 IBU). We do love the Standing 8 as a collective.

Cask: The Smoked Porter, with vanilla beans added, will be on cask this Friday.

News: Boxing Bear now has a happy hour. 10-, 16-, and 22-ounce beers are all discounted from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Growler Happy Hour then runs from 6 p.m. to close on those nights. Get $2 off a growler fill and $1 off a half-growler (they call ’em “squealers”).

Also, every day at lunchtime (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), for just $10 you can get a pint and a panini of your choice.

Events: Every Wednesday (except today) is now Karaoke Night at Boxing Bear. It runs from 6 to 10 p.m.

Broken Bottle Brewery — (505) 890-8777

(Mon–Weds 4-11 p.m., Thurs-Fri 4 p.m.–midnight, Sat noon–midnight, Sun noon–10 p.m.)

Beers: Drunken Hobo Milk Stout, Tom Selleck Ale, Rip Van Winkle Vanilla Stout, Nacho Brau. The Drunken Hobo will soon replace the Mulligan Stout in the regular lineup, or so Franz Solo was told when he visited recently. The Nacho Brau is another of Franz’s favorite seasonals. Get over to BBB before he drinks it all up.

Events: B3 has $3 beers every Tuesday from open to close. On Wednesday, B3 will be hosting their open mic from 8-10 p.m., with signups starting at 7:30 p.m. Check out B3’s karaoke night every Thursday starting at 8 p.m.

Canteen Brewhouse — (505) 881-2737

(Sun–Thurs noon–10 p.m., Fri–Sat noon–midnight)

Beers: Fog Nozzle Smoked Marzen, Pils Plz, Wine Barrel-Aged Belgian Golden, White Shine (White Wine), Sasquatch Scotch, Dark Side Baltic Porter, Schwarzbier, Black Rye PA, Panama Joe (aged in bourbon barrels). This year’s edition of Solstice Blackout is now available — Sasquatch, DS Baltic, Schwarzbier, Black Rye PA, Panama Joe are all on tap plus the Dark-n-Lusty Stout. It’s all six beers in sample format for $6. Trust us, it’s worth it. Again, a huge thank you to Brady McKeown for letting us brew our Baltic Porter on his system. The resulting beer is a burly blast of smokiness, plus chocolate and toffee. Let it warm a tad (we recommend a full pint) and you will get a massive, multi-flavor profile. As for the rest, we loved the malty sweetness of this year’s Sasquatch. The Schwarzbier is a tart, earthy little beer. The Black Rye PA is pretty much a blast of rye goodness. And the Panama Joe, aged in bourbon barrels, needs a bit of warming to help the coffee and stout flavors catch up to the bourbon. Don’t worry, all of these dark beers are worth it. At least, we think so.

News: The last barrel-aged beer in the back, waiting to be tapped, is American Stock Ale in rum barrels.

Cazuela’s Seafood & Mexican Grill — (505) 994-9364

(Open daily 8 a.m.-10 p.m.)

Beers: Papacabra (Double IPA), Panama Red, Acapulco Gold (Mexican Lager), Hefeweizen, Chupacabra IPA, Piedra del Fuego Stoned Cream Ale, Beer for My Horses (Oatmeal Stout), Inebriator (Doppelbock). E-Rock and I had a chance to sample the Piedra del Fuego (5% ABV), which we both recommend. According to Cazuela’s menu: “This cream ale uses red-hot stones to super caramelize the sugars, creating a nutty, toffee-like flavor.” The Inebriator (8% ABV) and the Papacabra (9.7% ABV) are the biggest beers in the lineup.

Events: Cazuela’s now features a live guitarist every Friday.

News: Cazuela’s Beer for My Horses won a bronze medal in the oatmeal stout category at the World Beer Cup in Denver and also captured a gold medal in the stout category at the 2014 State Fair Pro-Am.

Chama River Brewing Company — (505) 342-1800

(Sun–Thurs 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–midnight)

Beers: Obey the Darkside Stout, Red River Ale, Radioactive IPA, Coney Pale Ale. The Red River (5.7% ABV, 33 IBU) is an ESB. The Coney Pale Ale (5.5% ABV, 45 IBU) is a recent addition to taps, made with Mosaic and Falconer’s Flight hops. Obey the Darkside (6% ABV, 65 IBU) is a delicious foreign export stout, or at least we’re biased enough to think so, but others we’ve talked to love it as well. The Radioactive (7.5% ABV, 100+ IBU) is back with a new recipe. I got to try a sample recently and boy, does it have some serious hoppy bite to it. It is nearly out and will be replaced by Rise n’ Shine Breakfast Stout, so get on over there and clear it out, hopheads. Us malt monsters want us a new wake-up beer for the new year.

News: Head brewer Zach Guilmette has revamped the recipe for Chama’s Jackalope IPA to give it a stronger kick and tastier palate. Franz Solo and I also highly recommend you try the revamped Sleeping Dog Stout. It’s creamy and burly and sweet and roasted … it’s got everything you want in a stout.

Kaktus Brewing — (505) 379-5072

(Hours Mon-Thu 2-9 p.m., Fri-Sat 11:30-10 p.m., Sun 11:30-9 p.m.)

Beers: James Blonde, Winter Warmer Ale, I’ll Be Bock, ESB, Traditional Amber, Maltz IPA, Roaster London Porter, Oatmeal Stout. There was another big tap turnover this week. Gone are the Gunslinger Brown, Helles, Red, German Alt, Jabberwocky IPA, and Peppermint Stout. The new guys are the Winter Warmer, I’ll Be Bock, Traditional Amber, Maltz IPA, and Oatmeal Stout. Sounds like a trip up I-25 may be in order soon. Kaktus is located at 471 South Hill Road in Bernalillo, for those who have still not made the trek.

Events: Kaktus is throwing a New Year’s party from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. You can try their new gourmet pizzas for free. Red Rocking Chair will provide music from 8 to 11 p.m., then the dance floor opens with the Desert Darlings belly dancers breaking it in for the rest of you. Oh, yeah, and it’s all free (except the beer, you still gotta pay for that).

Kaktus has several new weekday specials including $3 pints on Monday, $9 growlers on Tuesday, $6 bison nachos on Wednesday, and $8 Frito pie and beer on Thursday.

The Desert Darlings belly dancers will perform from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sunday. If you’ve never seen the Desert Darlings in person, you’re missing out.

News: For the remainder of the year, all growler refills at Kaktus are just $8. Talk about happy holidays!

La Cumbre Brewing — (505) 872-0225

(Open every day at noon)

Beers: Mind Phoq, Simcoe Pale Ale, Dunkel Jefe, Lazy Sunday, La Llorona Baltic Porter. The Simcoe Pale Ale and Dunkel Jefe are back as you all drank up the supply of the 4th Anniversary Barley Wine and the Gracias Por Fumar. Mind Phoq, a coffee pale ale, is an experimental new beer. It uses an Ethiopian light roast from Prosum Roasters and is lightly hopped to showcase the coffee flavor. As LC said on their Facebook page, “It’s so good it will blow your mind!” Oh, and don’t panic about Project Dank and Red Ryeot no longer appearing here as seasonals. They are now part of La Cumbre’s regular lineup.

Events: One of La Cumbre’s best annual brews, Cafe Con Leche, is back with a release party this Monday. We’ll have more details as we get them, but you can probably expect to see a few of us there in the evening.

Also, the Gregg Daigle Band performs Saturday from 7 to 10 p.m.

Lizard Tail Brewing — (505) 717-1301

(Mon–Weds 3-9 p.m., Thurs 3-midnight, Fri–Sat noon-midnight, Sun noon-7 p.m.)

Beers: German Blonde Ale, Berliner Weisse, Belgian Abbey, IPA, Amber, Oatmeal Brown, India Black Ale, Rye Stout, Porter, Dubbel, Biscochito Brown, Belgian Strong Dark. Both Brandon and I have had chances to visit Lizard Tail, which is one of the newest breweries in town, located in the shopping center on the southeast corner of Eubank and Montgomery. They specialize in malt-forward beers. The German Blonde (5.5% ABV, 20 IBU) is a good place to start. The Berliner Weisse (4.3% ABV, 8 IBU) is not nearly as sour as most of its genre. The Belgian Abbey (6.8%, 25 IBU) is a good example of its style. The IPA (6.8% ABV, 70 IBU) has a good mix of Mosaic, Warrior, and Galaxy hops. The Rye Stout (5.5% ABV, 35 IBU) has a nice flavor but lacks body. The first batch of Oatmeal Brown (4.2% ABV, 25 IBU) needed some work, but I got to sample the second batch that will be on tap soon and it’s improved. The Honey Pale Ale (6.3% ABV, 35 IBU) has run out for a little while, but it will be back soon. The Porter (5.6% ABV, 35 IBU) is a semi-smoky, thick beer that goes perfectly with the cooler weather. The Biscochito Brown (8.5% ABV, 25 IBU) is not overly sweet. The Lizard Tail staff said the next batch will be a little maltier. The newest beer on tap is the Belgian Strong Dark (9.7% ABV, 30 IBU).

News: Lizard Tail’s happy hour runs seven days a week from 3 to 6 p.m. You get $1 off food, flights, and pints.

Events: Lizard Tail will host Geeks Who Drink every Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Marble Brewery — (505) 243-2739

(Mon–Sat noon–midnight, Sun noon–10:30 p.m.)

Beers: Double White, Double IPA, Imperial Red, Nitro Pub Ale, Pumpkin Noir, Reserve Ale, White Out, Imperial Stout. A fairly recent addition is White Out (9% ABV), a burly Belgian-style ale. The popular Pumpkin Noir is nearing the end of its run. The Nitro Pub Ale is what Boddington’s was meant to taste like. It’s a creamy little delight. This year’s batch of Reserve Ale is a cacophony of flavors. Both it and the Brett IPA (which is not on tap) are available for sale in bombers at Marble and up at Jubilation. There is also the rotating “black handle,” which tends to feature some impressive “secret” beers. The Double White and Imperial Red brought home gold medals from GABF.

Cask: Check out Marble’s cask (a.k.a. “real” ale) selection on tap every Friday at the Downtown Pub.

Events: Brewery tours occur at the Downtown Pub every Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

Nexus Brewery — (505) 242-4100

(Sun–Thurs 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–midnight)

Beers: Dry Stout, 2013 Barley Wine, Warp 10 Golden Strong, Beam Me Up Scottish. The new Beam Me Up (9.5% ABV, 32 IBU) uses the same malt bill as the first batch from three years ago, but with a modified hop mix. The result will set it apart from the first two versions. Brewer Kaylynn McKnight popped an aged keg or two of the Barley Wine. We’ve been able to get over there and try the Dry Stout and came away quite impressed. The Dry Stout is bold and thick, the kind of burly beer you want in the winter (or year-round if you’re like us). The second most recent addition to taps is the Warp 10 Golden Strong, an English-style golden ale.

Events: Nexus serves up Happy Hour All Day on Tuesday featuring $3 pints. Also on Tuesday, Nexus will be hosting their comedy open mic, Young Dumb and Full of Comedy, starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Sun Room.

While “The Walking Dead” is done until February 2015, you can still play Walking Dead pinball in Nexus’ community room. It’s one of four pinball machines now available for some nostalgic fun.

Pi Brewing at Nicky V’s Neighborhood Pizzeria — (505) 890-9463

(Sun–Thurs 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–10 p.m.)

Beers: PiPA, West Coast Red, Bourbon Vanilla Porter, Lost Grain English Summer Ale, Pre-Prohibition Pilsner. While Pi Brewing is not open to the public yet, they are able to brew and serve their beers next door at Nicky V’s. The IPA and West Coast Red are both good hoppy beers. We’ll keep tabs on when Pi itself opens. For now, grab a pint and some tasty Italian food. The PiPA will now be a regular beer, replacing the Unchallenged IPA. The scrumptious Bourbon Vanilla Porter is back, replacing the Robust Porter.

Ponderosa Brewing Co. — (505) 639-5941

(Sun 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Mon–Sat 11 a.m.–11 p.m.)

Beers: Ghost Train IPA, Rip Saw Red, Crosscut Kolsch, Demon Driver Double IPA, Dunkelblitzen, Chocolate Pumpkin Porter, Borracho’s Breakfast Stout, Marbelous (Imperial Rice Lager), Nikolaus Spiced Lager, Bavarian Belle Hefeweizen. Ponderosa is located at 1761 Bellamah NW, which is just east of Rio Grande and due north of the NM Natural History Museum, in the bottom floor of a swanky-looking apartment/retail complex. The Marbelous (7% ABV) was brewed as a tribute to Marble’s Ted Rice, whose staff has helped Ponderosa in their early months of existence. The Nikolaus is a Weihnachtsbier, a traditional Bavarian dark lager brewed for the holidays. The Belle Bavarian Hefeweizen debuted recently and may become a regular fixture in the lineup.

News: The next batch of brews will include Dunkelweizen and Ella Single Hop Pale Ale.

Red Door Brewing — (505) 633-6675

(Mon–Thurs 2 p.m. to midnight, Fri–Sun noon to midnight)

Beers: (Regular) Gateway Blonde Ale, Roamer Red, Threshold IPA, Paint it Black Milk Stout, Unhinged Cider, Trappe Door Wheat. (Seasonal) Strong Scotch Ale. The first Red Door seasonal, Strong Scotch Ale, debuted recently. We stopped by and wrote up a quick review and we’ve been back since to enjoy it again. Brewer Wayne Martinez said he hopes to have more seasonals on tap before the end of the year. The Trappe Door Wheat, a Belgian-style if you couldn’t guess by the name, replaces the Trapdoor Wheat in the regular lineup.

News: Take note of Red Door’s new weekday schedule for the winter months as they will now open at 2 p.m. instead of noon. Weekend hours remain the same.

Sandia Chile Grill — (505) 798-1970

(Mon–Sat 8 a.m.–8 p.m., Sun 8 a.m.–6 p.m.)

Beers: Irish Red, Rattlesnake IPA, Smoked Stout. We’re going to dispatch E-Rock (he needs a new assignment) to re-establish our lines of communication with Sandia Chile Grill.

News: Congrats to SCG on sweeping all three medals in the mead category at the 2014 State Fair Pro-Am, while also claiming a silver medal for Barb’s Barrel Hefeweizen.

The Stumbling Steer — (505) 792-7805

(Sunday-Wednesday 11 a.m.-midnight, Thursday-Saturday 11 a.m.-2 a.m.)

Beers: Bang Up Blonde, Hefferweizen, Pig Sticker Pale, Iron Horse IPA, Rawhide Red, Boneyard Brown, Hop Trough (Double IPA), Soiled Dove (Imperial Stout), Black IPA. While the brewery is being built in the back of the Steer, all of their house beers are being brewed off-site, but still using brewer Kirk Roberts’ recipes. The DIPA and the Stout are limited to two per customer, due to their high alcohol content (10% and 9.5% ABV, respectively). The Black IPA is the current seasonal beer, plus there are often one or two cask beers. We recently had their Bacon Bourbon Stout and Green Chile IPA on cask. Franz Solo loved the latter.

Tractor Brewing Company — (505) 433-5654 (Nob Hill Tap Room), TBA (Wells Park)

(Nob Hill is open Monday-Wednesday 3 p.m. to midnight, Thursday 3 p.m. to 2 a.m., Friday-Saturday 1 p.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday 1 p.m. to midnight; Wells Park is open Monday-Thursday 3 p.m. to close, Friday-Sunday 1 p.m. to midnight.
 Last call 30 minutes before close. 
No package after midnight.
 Brewery tours Saturday at 1 p.m.)

Beers at Nob Hill: Little Red Rye-ding Hood, Turkey Drool, Mustachio Milk Stout, Javi Light Lager, Berry Cider, Winter Hop IPA, Chocolate Milk Stout.

Beers at Wells Park only: Jack the Sipper, Barn Burner Pale Ale, Apple Cider, Ebony & Ivory. All of the Nob Hill seasonals are also at Wells Park, which has 24 total taps (Tractor’s five regular beers have two taps apiece). We love us some Turkey Drool (8% ABV) this time of year. It’s a brown ale with all sorts of holiday-themed spices and other added ingredients. This year’s batch is arguably the best yet. The Little Red (5.8% ABV) has a malty rye kick. Jack the Sipper (7% ABV) is Tractor’s take on a spiced pumpkin ale. The new Winter Hop IPA (6.4% ABV, 70 IBU) uses a blend of fragrant hops and caramel malts for a unique twist on the popular style. The Chocolate Milk Stout should tide over your sweet tooth. The Barn Burner (6% ABV, 52 IBU) is a bitter little pale ale that uses 40 pounds of El Dorado hops. The Ebony & Ivory (5.5% ABV, 25 IBU) is a “pale stout,” made with pale malt, pale chocolate malt, and caramel malt. It smells like a stout, but tastes like something a little different.

News: Congrats to Tractor and their Mustachio Milk Stout, which won in the Best of Albuquerque competition from ABQ the Magazine.

Mustachio’s bigger, meaner brother, Luna de los Muertos Russian Imperial Stout, is aging in the back, including some in a barrel. Oh, man, that could kill us … but we’d die happy.

Currently, all pints of Little Red RYE-ding Hood are just $2 and you can fill your growler for just $5. Time to make room for a new beer on tap!

Events: It may be New Year’s Day, but why not have some live music? The Thirsty Thursday Series is back at Wells Park as Carlos The Tall performs starting at 8 p.m.

First up this Saturday at Wells Park is the Creative Coverage Cabaret at 6 p.m. Then next up is the In the Mix series at 9 p.m. as DJ N-Tox performs.

The Music For What ALES You series returns Tuesday as Casey Mraz will perform an R&B/Soul Night starting at 8 p.m.

Also, every first Monday of the month at both Tractor locations is Beer for a Better Burque night. For every pint you buy $1 can go to one of four charities that have partnered with Tractor. You can also opt to purchase a special growler with the logo of your favorite charity. So yes, that’s this Monday.

Turtle Mountain Brewing Company — (505) 994-9497

(Kitchen hours: Mon–Tues 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Wed–Thurs 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Sun 10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Reminder: TMBC closes early when business dictates. Please call.)

Beers: (House) McDay’s Cream Ale, Oku Amber, Parasol White IPA, Hopshell IPA, Heidelberg Helles. (Seasonal/specialty) Stauffenberg Stout, Cafe Bella Coffee Porter, A Little Somethin’ Pumpkin, Devil to Pay Double IPA, Wild Hunt Winter Warmer. To help us out for now and the future, brewer Tim Woodward broke down what will be the regular beers on tap (under House) and the current list of seasonals. That’s a pretty solid regular lineup. I personally really enjoyed the Porter and Amber, the latter of which trumps most of its genre in terms of flavor. The Heidelberg Helles (5.1% ABV, 25 IBU) has rejoined the regular lineup for good, or so Tim hopes. The newer beers here are the Stauffenberg Stout, Cafe Bella Coffee Porter, Devil to Pay DIPA (7.7% ABV, 125+ IBU), a hop monster for the holidays brewed with Cascade and Chinook, and the Wild Hunt Winter Warmer (7% ABV, 31 IBU), which was brewed with orange peel, nutmeg, fresh ginger root, clove, and molasses.

Santa Fe breweries

Blue Corn Brewery — (505) 438-1800

(Daily 11 a.m.–10 p.m.)

Beers: Snow Advisory, Monks Mesa (Belgian Blonde), Meltdown Chocolate Porter, Rakau Single Hop IPA. The Monks Mesa (4.5% ABV, 15 IBU) is a Belgian blonde table beer. The Meltdown used no less than 25 pounds of cocoa nibs. The Rakau, using a powerful New Zealand hop, is now on tap. The Snow Advisory (7.5% ABV, 17 IBU), a winter warmer, is nearly out after just a short time on tap. Guess it was popular. Its replacement will be the Toro Blanco White DIPA (9.1% ABV, 100+ IBU).

Duel Brewing Company — (505) 474-5301

(Sun 11 a.m.–8 p.m., Mon–Tues 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Wed–Sat 11 a.m.–midnight)

Beers: Bad Amber, Fiction (IPA), Fantin (Double Pale Ale), Marcel (Witbier), Whistler (Blonde), Dark Ryder (Dark Strong), Grunewald (Imperial Porter), Goya (Imperial Stout). The lineup got a shakeup with some big beers joining the rotation. Dark Ryder and Grunewald check in at 11-percent ABV, while Goya (15.9% ABV) is a monster of a beer. You can buy Goya in bombers at the brewery or down in ABQ at Jubilation.

Events: How does some live music sound for New Year’s Day? OrnEtc will perform starting at 4 p.m.

The life drawing session is $25 and is held each Sunday morning from 11-1 (although they are not open to the drinking public till 1 p.m. on Sun). You get the beverage of your choice, a Brussels-style waffle made with their own yeast and beer and then served with a Grunewald Syrup. Everyone then draws from a nude model. People can sign up through the website or call the brewery to reserve a spot.

Santa Fe Brewing Company — (505) 424-3333

(Mon–Sat 11 a.m.–10 p.m., closed on Sunday)

Beers: Double White IPA, Black IPA, Deviator Doppelbock, Full Mast Kilt Scottish Ale. The first beer in the new Ever Changing Series is a Double White IPA, which Luke of the Brew Crew bullpen recently reviewed. The Kriek, which won a bronze medal at GABF this year, is on sale around the state in bombers, though it is no longer on tap.

Events: $1 Off Growler Refills in the Tasting Room on Mondays. $2 pint Tuesdays at the Eldorado Taphouse. On Wednesday, there is a $2 Pint Special in the SFBC Tasting Room, and the Sangre de Cristo Craft Brewers’ Meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Tasting Room as well on the third Wednesday of every month. On Thursday, there will be $1 Off Growler Refills at the Eldorado Taphouse.

News: SFBC will soon be opening a taproom in Albuquerque. Here are all the details that Luke could find. It sounds promising.

Second Street Brewery — (505) 989-3278 (Railyard), (505) 982-3030 (original location)

(Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Sunday noon-9 p.m.)

Beers: Kolsch, IPA, Cream Stout, Rod’s Best Bitter, Trebuchet Imperial IPA, Boneshaker Bitter, Red Comet, International Style Steam. The Trebuchet Imperial IPA completes a “trilogy” with Pivotal and Fulcrum IPAs. The popular Boneshaker Bitter and Red Comet are back on tap this week.

Events: Alto Street Band performs Friday night at the original location and Eryn Bent performs Saturday. Shows at the Railyard will feature Handmade Moments on Friday and Mystic Lizard on Saturday.

Every Wednesday night, both SSB locations host Game Night. SSB has game boards and dominoes or bring your own … oh yeah, they also have discounted pitchers!

Other breweries you need to visit

Twisted Chile Brewing — (575) 835-2949

(Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri–Sun 11 a.m.–11 p.m.)

Beers: Pilabo Pale Ale, Venom IPA, English Porter, Zia Pilsner. Twisted Chile has been open for a while as a restaurant, but as the name might imply, they are also brewing their own beer on site. Located in Socorro at 115 Abeyta St. W, they are the first brewery there to brew on site since Socorro Springs outsourced their brewing to Eddyline in Colorado. I got to head down there recently and enjoyed all the beers I sampled. Kudos to Twisted Chile for bring quality craft beers back to a town that needed ’em. The newest beer on tap is the English Porter, which will get a more formal name soon. The Zia Pilsner is done in the German style.

* * * *

That’s all for this week! If you have any questions or comments, leave them below or contact us on our Facebook page.

Cheers and Happy New Year!

— Stoutmeister

Greetings everyone, Stoutmeister here with the fifth post in the Look Back/Look Ahead Series for 2014-15. Our La Cumbre story, Kaktus story, Bosque story, and our Ponderosa story have already appeared. As the year draws to a close, rather than just write up a single summary review of the last 12 months in beer, I decided to take what free time I have and go talk in person to brewery staffers in the ABQ area to get their thoughts on both the year that was and the year to come. I’m not going to put up any sort of schedule for this series, as it is definitely going beyond December and into January with other Crew members chipping in as well.

The Crew enjoys their first pints at Tractor's new Wells Park taproom. From left, Porter Pounder, Brandon, Stoutmeister.

The Crew enjoys their first pints at Tractor’s new Wells Park taproom. From left, Porter Pounder, Brandon, Stoutmeister.

So fifth up on the docket is Tractor Brewing Co., which enjoyed one heck of a busy 2014, their 15th anniversary year. The brewery itself moved from quaint, but undersized and outdated, facilities in Los Lunas to the massive new Wells Park site on 4th Ave. With that move has come an expansion in Tractor’s canning line, now up to three beers with a fourth on the way, as well as Wells Park becoming a major site for all sorts of events, including the 2014 IPA Challenge.

To cover all that went on in 2014 and what’s to come in 2015, I was joined by Tractor’s Nicole Duke and Carlos Contreras, the hard-working duo who manage all of the events and keep us all in the know about Tractor via social media and more, in the comfy confines of Wells Park’s taproom.

“We opened (Wells Park) in the beginning of February, so we’ll hit a year (this) February, which we’re pretty jazzed about,” Nicole said.

Wells Park became a major site for arts-related events in 2014.

Tractor Wells Park became a major site for arts-related events in 2014 and will continue to do so in 2015.

Wells Park has opened up Tractor as more than just a supporter of the arts from afar. Now it can actually host major events.

“Tractor for me from the outside looking in they were always a supporter of the arts — a supporter of theater, of art in general and not just music — and then this space has really lent them the space to show that, not just to like support it from being the sponsor of events and off-site serving at events, but to bring in those events here,” Carlos said.

That in turn has helped create what almost amounts to a circuit of breweries big enough to host everything from standup comedy to musical acts to slam poetry to art openings and more.

“I imagine just with the brewery scene, you see more and more people who are performing here and then performing at two or three other breweries in the week,” Nicole added. “I feel that really might help fill the gap for them artistically.”

Throw in the Beer for a Better Burque program, where patrons can donate money from beer sales on the first Monday of every month to non-profit charities, and Tractor has been doing a lot beyond just selling beer.

We went and won the Battle of the Beer Geeks at Tractor back in May. With a stout, of course. Yes, we're still bragging about this.

We went and won the Battle of the Beer Geeks at Tractor back in May. With a stout, of course. Yes, we’re still bragging about this.

Of course, Wells Park still is a brewery, first and foremost, so it hosted two major beer-related events this year. First up was The Battle of the Beer Geeks (won by a certain team of writers who also brew in their spare time) in May as part of ABQ Beer Week, followed by the 2014 IPA Challenge in July.

Nicole and Carlos both called the Battle a good practice run for the even bigger Challenge. Many of the long lines at the former were eliminated for the latter.

“The IPA Challenge was much more logistically sensible and a good use of space,” Carlos said. “We’ve figured out in a year how to use this space in some cool and interesting ways.”

The space in the back is what most folks do not see. Tractor has been able to greatly increase production, which included getting the Farmer’s Tan Red Ale, Farmer’s Almanac IPA, and Mustachio Milk Stout (which was named Best in the City by ABQ The Magazine, it should be noted) into cans and in turn getting those out around town.

Cans, cans, everywhere there are Tractor cans! No, literally, they're pretty much everywhere.

Cans, cans, everywhere there are Tractor cans! No, literally, they’re pretty much everywhere.

“We started canning the beer instead of bottles, which has really improved our world,” Nicole said.

Tractor was rewarded when Beverage World Magazine gave their cans an award for the design by local artist David Santiago.

“Canning has been fun for distribution and it’s been interesting for visibility in the sense that David Santiago is a local artist and he’s the can artist,” Carlos said. “That’s been fun. It’s been cool to see this place lend to art as a business in every way it possibly can. Not that he wasn’t highly visible before, but now he has his pieces of artwork sitting up on liquor store shelves, which is an interesting thing but a crazy cool thing (too).”

Managing those various accounts has also been a good learning experience for Tractor.

“The cans, I think they’ve really started to take off,” Nicole said. “I feel like we’re canning every week, practically. That may not be true, but I feel like Mother Road is always here canning beer. The cans have received a lot of buzz. Going into Costco has been big for us. Realizing this growth has really shown us a lot in trying how to manage and really check up on those different accounts to make sure that product can really shine at all those locations where in town or across New Mexico.”

In addition to selling cans out of liquor stores and at Costco, Tractor has always been putting the Farmer’s Tan on tap at bars across the city.

Don't worry, Nob Hill taproom, we still love you, too.

Don’t worry, Nob Hill taproom, we still love you, too.

“It’s been going pretty good,” Nicole said. “I think we’ve been expanding on that front just more and more. We started out with one or two, maybe three places where we serving our kegs. We have 20 locations now. I think that’s big, because a lot of people look for craft beer on draft regardless of where you’re at. So that’s nice for us.”

Not to be forgotten, Tractor’s Nob Hill taproom has continued to find itself packed multiple nights per week, with events like the Solos on the Hill music series and more.

“Nob Hill continues to really survive on foot traffic in that area and regulars who are in that neighborhood,” Nicole said. “It continues to do well.”

“It has a very loyal following,” Carlos added. “They both do in very different ways.”

“There’s something about being in that taproom that’s even nostalgic for me,” Nicole added.

“They’re two very fun places that have two very different vibes but share the same brand,” Carlos said. “That’s obvious, too, (but) it’s kind of interesting the way that’s all worked out.”

An oldie but goodie, Double Plow Oatmeal Stout claimed the Crew's annual Stout Challenge on Super Bowl Sunday.

An oldie but goodie, Double Plow Oatmeal Stout claimed the Crew’s annual Stout Challenge on Super Bowl Sunday.

(As a side note, while they are not a couple in real life, it was adorable throughout the interview how many times Nicole and Carlos finished each others’ sentences.)

And for those patrons who were only going to one location but missing their favorite servers from the other, that is no longer an issue.

“Staff-wise all of our staff works at both locations and I think that’s a really good move for Tractor,” Nicole said. “Our patrons are expecting to see a full range of folks here. They get to see their favorites at both places. I think that’s really nice. I think it’s evened things out for our staff here to hit both locations. When we first opened and trained, that’s what it was, everybody was at both locations.”

Oh, and not to forget, Double Plow Oatmeal Stout, one of the classic beers in the lineup, just happened to win the 2014 Dark Side Brew Crew Stout Challenge. It will aim to become the first back-to-back champion in 2015.

Plans are afoot for a big 2015

Nicole and Carlos did not have a full list of beers planned for the coming year, largely due to the public demand for Tractor’s core styles.

Gee, it's so hard to figure out what Tractor is putting in cans with this here new label. Yup, just mind-boggling.

Gee, it’s so hard to figure out what Tractor is putting in cans with this here new label. Yup, just mind-boggling.

“As far as like mid-winter, spring stuff, honestly we’re just trying to keep up with brewing what we’ve got going on in our cans and our classics,” Nicole said. “Really it’s just keeping those cans together and working on that.”

One thing they did know is that a fourth style will soon be appearing in cans. Neither was allowed to say exactly what that beer is, but then, kinda like The Walking Dead‘s Facebook page did when **** died this season, theirs went out and basically leaked it all with that there picture.

Anyway, the events calendar at Tractor figures to be full all year. The staff is planning far ahead this year instead of just jamming everything together at once.

“2015, we’re really planning way ahead in terms of what our big events are going to be in terms of entertainment,” Nicole said. “I think our first big push is January 17.”

So just what is that big event?

“That’s an art opening, we’ve started to do these things largely in part due to Nicole and Skye’s enthusiasm and encouragement to make art openings a bigger thing because we always art that changes on the walls,” Carlos said. “So the 17th we open with Christian Gallegos’ art and Reviva and Red Light Cameras will play. So you put those two bands in here, hopefully that should mean there’s quite a few people in here, too.”

We're pretty confident that Tractor has more new beers coming in 2015.

We’re pretty confident that Tractor has more new beers coming in 2015.

That weekend will see a second major event when the latest installment of I’ll Drink to That will take place on Jan. 18 in connection with a certain local theater festival of international acclaim.

“We’ll be a sponsor in January for the Revolutions Festival,” Nicole said. “They’ve really got a lot of stuff going on. We’ll have an event here as part of the Revolutions Festival, we’ll be doing I’ll Drink to That.”

Tractor hopes to have at least one major event per month in support of the local arts community in addition to the local brewing community.

“There’s a big something almost every month in 2015,” Carlos said. “That’s been the push for this (location). We got so event-heavy as we started, it was like how do we get out ahead of ourselves and how do we plan. In 2015 we’ll be planned way far out so everybody will have fun.”

All of us in the Crew look forward to that, as well as just what beers David Hargis and his staff are secretly cooking up in the back. Remember, David, we still have first dibs on the Luna de los Muertos Russian Imperial Stout you’ve been aging in that bourbon barrel. Right? RIGHT?!

A big thanks to Nicole and Carols for taking the time to sit down and chat. Oh, and for the pint of Chocolate Milk Stout, too.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with the reunified edition of The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s four breweries and one newcomer down in Socorro also joining the party. We tried hard to keep the state edition going, but without participation from the breweries outside the I-25 corridor, it was futile.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Welcome to the first of two major holiday weeks. To help you all out, we’ve gotten a listing of (almost all) the breweries’ holiday hours. Take note, EVERYONE is closed for Christmas Day. These are the hours for today (Wednesday), AKA Christmas Eve. Let this be your planning guide for last-minute growler fills and/or merchandise pickups.

  • Back Alley: closed all day
  • Bosque: open until 5 p.m.
  • Boxing Bear: open until 8 p.m.
  • Broken Bottle: closed all day
  • Canteen: open till 3 p.m.
  • Cazuela’s: open till 7 p.m.
  • Chama River: open till 8 p.m.
  • Kaktus: open till 7 p.m.
  • La Cumbre: open till 5 p.m.
  • Lizard Tail: open till 6 p.m.
  • Marble: open till 7:30 p.m., both downtown and west side
  • Nexus: open till 4 p.m.
  • Ponderosa: open till 5 p.m.
  • Red Door: open till 5 p.m.
  • Sandia Chile Grill: unknown, contact the brewery
  • Stumbling Steer: unknown, contact the brewery
  • Tractor: they’re going to stay open at both locations until the crowds fade away
  • Turtle Mountain: they’re doing the same as Tractor
  • Blue Corn: open till 10 p.m.
  • Duel: unknown, contact the brewery
  • Santa Fe: unknown, contact the brewery
  • Second Street: open till 8 p.m. at both locations

On the new beer front, it’s a fairly quiet week, though that is to be expected. Bosque has unleashed the Jet Black Winter, a Russian imperial stout, on nitro. Kaktus is feeling festive with Peppermint Stout and James Blonde is back as well. La Cumbre’s Lazy Sunday is back after a short absence and La Llorona Baltic Porter will debut today (see below). Nexus will transport you to the future with the third edition of Beam Me Up Scottish. Red Door has introduced a Belgian Wheat that will soon take its place among the regular lineup from here on out. Tractor has Ebony & Ivory, described as a “pale stout.” Turtle Mountain has unleashed some newcomers in the Stauffenberg Stout and Cafe Bella Coffee Porter.

Up in Santa Fe, SFBC still has Deviator Doppelbock and Full Mast Kilt Scottish Ale. We thought those went away during the 12 Beers of Christmas, but thankfully, they remain. Over at Second Street, Rod’s Best Bitter is back alongside Festivus Ale.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of Dec. 22.

To break down each “capsule,” I listed the brewery (with Web page linked), its phone number and hours of operation. Under “Beers” are the new or seasonal beers on tap for this week.

Albuquerque metro area breweries

ABQ Brew Pub — (505) 884-1116

(Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–midnight, Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–2 a.m., Sunday 10 a.m.–midnight)

Beers: Petrus Aged Ale, Petrus Aged Red. Petrus Aged Ale and Red are high alcohol barrel-aged sours from a family-owned brewery in Flanders. Several times a year, ABP serves up the latest creation by local brewing hero and winner of the Samuel Adams Longshot competition, Ben Miller, or seasonal releases by Monks Brewing.

Back Alley Draft House — (505) 766-8590

(Hours 4 p.m.-11 p.m. daily)

Beers: Pre-Prohibition Malt Tonic, Ladron’s Peak, Back Alley Red, Cali Common, Wit. In case you missed it, we recently interviewed BADH’s new brewer, Brandon Venaglia. There are some exciting times coming, including a possible expansion. The Pre-Prohibition Malt Tonic is a dark American lager that’s based on a 110-year-old recipe and will now become a regular beer at BADH. The Red, Cali Common, and Wit are all back after a short absence.

Events: Sundays will now be Service Nights at Back Alley, with $2 off all beers for service industry workers.

Bosque Brewing Company — (505) 750-7596

(Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun noon-8 p.m.)

Beers: PSA (Pumpkin Spice Ale), Rio Grande Tortoise Black IPA, IPA 65, Prospector Milk Stout, Whirlpool Lager, Jet Black Winter. Say hello to the Jet Black Winter (10.2% ABV, 90 IBU), a monstrous Russian imperial stout that’s served on nitro. It’s big and mean, with next to no sweetness, thanks in large part to being dry-hopped. But damn, the nitro makes it so smooth. I highly recommend this beer, for what it’s worth, being the Stoutmeister and all. The Whirlpool Lager (5.9% ABV, 45 IBU) is a Mosaic-infused blast of happy. The Bosque Lager will now be on tap year round, replacing the Kindling, which moves to the seasonal list (this is much as Driftwood Oatmeal Stout replaced Olde Bosky earlier this year). The new IPA 65 (6% ABV, 75 IBU) is a slight variation on the IPA 57. I got to try the Prospector Milk Stout (6.5% ABV, 20 IBU) when it debuted recently. It’s smooth as silk and a little less sweet and more robust than most milk stouts. It still retains a lot of stout character, which is a nice change from the more Left Hand-influenced versions. The Rio Grande Tortoise (6.5% ABV, 80 IBU) was brewed in collaboration with Turtle Mountain and is available at both breweries. The PSA is nearly out, so hurry over to help finish it off so a new beer can be tapped.

Cask: We’re waiting to hear what will be on tap this Friday, if anything considering the holiday.

News: Bosque has opened a new taproom in Las Cruces, located in the former Mimbres Valley space across from New Mexico State at the corner of University Ave. and Espina St. Construction continues on Bosque’s second taproom, the Bosque Public House, located on Girard just south of Central.

Bosque has a happy hour running from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and all day on Sunday. Look for special menu items and get $1 off your favorite pints.

Boxing Bear Brewing Company — (505) 897-2327

(Sun-Thurs 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri-Sat 11 a.m.-11 p.m.)

Beers: Paw Swipe Pale Ale, Hairy Mit Hefe, Standing 8 Stout, Ambear Ale, Uppercut IPA, Chocolate Milk Stout. Last week Boxing Bear put the Chocolate Milk Stout on cask and it sold out by 7 p.m., the first time that has ever happened with a cask, one of the servers told us. Now that it’s on tap it should last longer than a few hours, but you can tell already how popular this beer is with folks. Other recent additions to the lineup are the Standing 8 Stout (6.3% ABV, 45 IBU) and Ambear Ale (5.2% ABV, 35 IBU). We do love the Standing 8 as a collective.

Cask: We’re waiting to hear what’s on for this Friday, if anything considering the holiday.

News: Boxing Bear now has a happy hour. 10-, 16-, and 22-ounce beers are all discounted from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Growler Happy Hour then runs from 6 p.m. to close on those nights. Get $2 off a growler fill and $1 off a half-growler (they call ’em “squealers”).

Also, every day at lunchtime (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), for just $10 you can get a pint and a panini of your choice.

Events: Every Wednesday (except today) is now Karaoke Night at Boxing Bear. It runs from 6 to 10 p.m.

Broken Bottle Brewery — (505) 890-8777

(Mon–Weds 4-11 p.m., Thurs-Fri 4 p.m.–midnight, Sat noon–midnight, Sun noon–10 p.m.)

Beers: Drunken Hobo Milk Stout, Tom Selleck Ale, Rip Van Winkle Vanilla Stout, Nacho Brau. The Drunken Hobo will soon replace the Mulligan Stout in the regular lineup, or so Franz Solo was told when he visited recently. The Nacho Brau is another of Franz’s favorite seasonals. Get over to BBB before he drinks it all up.

Events: B3 has $3 beers every Tuesday from open to close. On Wednesday, B3 will be hosting their open mic from 8-10 p.m., with signups starting at 7:30 p.m. Check out B3’s karaoke night every Thursday starting at 8 p.m.

Canteen Brewhouse — (505) 881-2737

(Sun–Thurs noon–10 p.m., Fri–Sat noon–midnight)

Beers: Fog Nozzle Smoked Marzen, Pils Plz, Wine Barrel-Aged Belgian Golden, White Shine (White Wine), Tequila IPA, Sasquatch Scotch, Dark Side Baltic Porter, Schwarzbier, Black Rye PA, Panama Joe (aged in bourbon barrels). This year’s edition of Solstice Blackout is now available — Sasquatch, DS Baltic, Schwarzbier, Black Rye PA, Panama Joe are all on tap plus the Dark-n-Lusty Stout. It’s all six beers in sample format for $6. Trust us, it’s worth it. Again, a huge thank you to Brady McKeown for letting us brew our Baltic Porter on his system. The resulting beer is a burly blast of smokiness, plus chocolate and toffee. Let it warm a tad (we recommend a full pint) and you will get a massive, multi-flavor profile. As for the rest, we loved the malty sweetness of this year’s Sasquatch. The Schwarzbier is a tart, earthy little beer. The Black Rye PA is pretty much a blast of rye goodness. And the Panama Joe, aged in bourbon barrels, needs a bit of warming to help the coffee and stout flavors catch up to the bourbon. Don’t worry, all of these dark beers are worth it. At least, we think so.

News: The last barrel-aged beer in the back, waiting to be tapped, is American Stock Ale in rum barrels.

Cazuela’s Seafood & Mexican Grill — (505) 994-9364

(Open daily 8 a.m.-10 p.m.)

Beers: Papacabra (Double IPA), Panama Red, Acapulco Gold (Mexican Lager), Hefeweizen, Chupacabra IPA, Piedra del Fuego Stoned Cream Ale, Beer for My Horses (Oatmeal Stout), Inebriator (Doppelbock). E-Rock and I had a chance to sample the Piedra del Fuego (5% ABV), which we both recommend. According to Cazuela’s menu: “This cream ale uses red-hot stones to super caramelize the sugars, creating a nutty, toffee-like flavor.” The Inebriator (8% ABV) and the Papacabra (9.7% ABV) are the biggest beers in the lineup.

Events: Cazuela’s now features a live guitarist every Friday.

News: Cazuela’s Beer for My Horses won a bronze medal in the oatmeal stout category at the World Beer Cup in Denver and also captured a gold medal in the stout category at the 2014 State Fair Pro-Am.

Chama River Brewing Company — (505) 342-1800

(Sun–Thurs 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–midnight)

Beers: Obey the Darkside Stout, Red River Ale, Radioactive IPA, Coney Pale Ale. The Red River (5.7% ABV, 33 IBU) is an ESB. The Coney Pale Ale (5.5% ABV, 45 IBU) is a recent addition to taps, made with Mosaic and Falconer’s Flight hops. Obey the Darkside (6% ABV, 65 IBU) is a delicious foreign export stout, or at least we’re biased enough to think so, but others we’ve talked to love it as well. The Radioactive (7.5% ABV, 100+ IBU) is back with a new recipe. I got to try a sample Tuesday and boy, does it have some serious hoppy bite to it. It should keep the hopheads happy amid all these malty monsters popping up across the state.

News: Head brewer Zach Guilmette has revamped the recipe for Chama’s Jackalope IPA to give it a stronger kick and tastier palate. Franz Solo and I also highly recommend you try the revamped Sleeping Dog Stout. It’s creamy and burly and sweet and roasted … it’s got everything you want in a stout.

Kaktus Brewing — (505) 379-5072

(Hours Mon-Thu 2-9 p.m., Fri-Sat 11:30-10 p.m., Sun 11:30-9 p.m.)

Beers: James Blonde, Gunslinger Cherry Smoked Brown, Helles Lager, ESB, Red Ale, German Alt Lager, Jabberwocky IPA, London Porter, Holiday Peppermint Stout. The newest beers to try are the Gunslinger Cherry Smoked Brown, James Blonde, and the Holiday Peppermint Stout. The latter has a huge peppermint nose, but the peppermint and the roasted stout flavors exist in a nice balance once they hit your palate. Located at 471 South Hill Road in Bernalillo, Kaktus is one of the state’s newer breweries. It is a small, casual place, similar to Blue Heron in appearance and comfort factor. Kaktus owner Dana Koller said fans can expect the nanobrewery to go through its most popular styles quickly, though they will always have something new and exciting available as a replacement.

Events: Kaktus has several new weekday specials including $3 pints on Monday, $9 growlers on Tuesday, $6 bison nachos on Wednesday, and $8 Frito pie and beer on Thursday.

The Desert Darlings belly dancers will perform from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sunday. If you’ve never seen the Desert Darlings in person, you’re missing out.

News: For the remainder of the year, all growler refills at Kaktus are just $8. Talk about happy holidays!

La Cumbre Brewing — (505) 872-0225

(Open every day at noon)

Beers: 4th Anniversary Barley Wine, Mind Phoq, C3-PA, Gracias Por Fumar, Lazy Sunday, La Llorona Baltic Porter. La Cumbre is having a release party for their new Baltic Porter today (Wednesday) from noon to 5 p.m. The Gracias Por Fumar, a smoked porter, was aged in wine barrels and is available on tap and for sale in bombers. Mind Phoq, a coffee pale ale, is an experimental new beer. It uses an Ethiopian light roast from Prosum Roasters and is lightly hopped to showcase the coffee flavor. As LC said on their Facebook page, “It’s so good it will blow your mind!” Another recent addition is the C3-PA (6.2% ABV, 43 IBU), a pale ale brewed with Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook hops. The 4th Anniversary is an English-style barley wine aged in rum barrels. It’s delightfully sweet, enough to hide the huge 10.5-percent ABV. You can also buy it in bombers at the brewery and Jubilation. Oh, and don’t panic about Project Dank and Red Ryeot no longer appearing here as seasonals. They are now part of La Cumbre’s regular lineup.

Lizard Tail Brewing — (505) 717-1301

(Sun–Weds 9 a.m.–11 p.m., Thurs–Sat 9 a.m.–midnight)

Beers: German Blonde Ale, Berliner Weisse, Belgian Abbey, IPA, Amber, Oatmeal Brown, India Black Ale, Rye Stout, Porter, Dubbel, Biscochito Brown, Belgian Strong Dark. Both Brandon and I have had chances to visit Lizard Tail, which is one of the newest breweries in town, located in the shopping center on the southeast corner of Eubank and Montgomery. They specialize in malt-forward beers. The German Blonde (5.5% ABV, 20 IBU) is a good place to start. The Berliner Weisse (4.3% ABV, 8 IBU) is not nearly as sour as most of its genre. The Belgian Abbey (6.8%, 25 IBU) is a good example of its style. The IPA (6.8% ABV, 70 IBU) has a good mix of Mosaic, Warrior, and Galaxy hops. The Rye Stout (5.5% ABV, 35 IBU) has a nice flavor but lacks body. The first batch of Oatmeal Brown (4.2% ABV, 25 IBU) needed some work, but I got to sample the second batch that will be on tap soon and it’s improved. The Honey Pale Ale (6.3% ABV, 35 IBU) has run out for a little while, but it will be back soon. The Porter (5.6% ABV, 35 IBU) is a semi-smoky, thick beer that goes perfectly with the cooler weather. The Biscochito Brown (8.5% ABV, 25 IBU) is not overly sweet. The Lizard Tail staff said the next batch will be a little maltier. The newest beer on tap is the Belgian Strong Dark (9.7% ABV, 30 IBU).

News: Lizard Tail’s happy hour runs seven days a week from 3 to 6 p.m. You get $1 off food, flights, and pints.

Events: Lizard Tail will host Geeks Who Drink every Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Marble Brewery — (505) 243-2739

(Mon–Sat noon–midnight, Sun noon–10:30 p.m.)

Beers: Double White, Double IPA, Imperial Red, Nitro Pub Ale, Pumpkin Noir, Reserve Ale, White Out, Imperial Stout. A fairly recent addition is White Out (9% ABV), a burly Belgian-style ale. The popular Pumpkin Noir is nearing the end of its run. The Nitro Pub Ale is what Boddington’s was meant to taste like. It’s a creamy little delight. This year’s batch of Reserve Ale is a cacophony of flavors. Both it and the Brett IPA (which is not on tap) are available for sale in bombers at Marble and up at Jubilation. There is also the rotating “black handle,” which tends to feature some impressive “secret” beers. The Double White and Imperial Red brought home gold medals from GABF.

Cask: Check out Marble’s cask (a.k.a. “real” ale) selection on tap every Friday at the Downtown Pub.

Events: Brewery tours occur at the Downtown Pub every Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

Nexus Brewery — (505) 242-4100

(Sun–Thurs 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–midnight)

Beers: Dry Stout, 2013 Barley Wine, Warp 10 Golden Strong, Beam Me Up Scottish. The new Beam Me Up (9.5% ABV, 32 IBU) uses the same malt bill as the first batch from three years ago, but with a modified hop mix. The result will set it apart from the first two versions. Brewer Kaylynn McKnight popped an aged keg or two of the Barley Wine. We’ve been able to get over there and try the Dry Stout and came away quite impressed. The Dry Stout is bold and thick, the kind of burly beer you want in the winter (or year-round if you’re like us). The second most recent addition to taps is the Warp 10 Golden Strong, an English-style golden ale.

Events: Nexus serves up Happy Hour All Day on Tuesday featuring $3 pints. Also on Tuesday, Nexus will be hosting their comedy open mic, Young Dumb and Full of Comedy, starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Sun Room.

While “The Walking Dead” is done until early 2015, you can still play Walking Dead pinball in Nexus’ community room. It’s one of four pinball machines now available for some nostalgic fun.

Pi Brewing at Nicky V’s Neighborhood Pizzeria — (505) 890-9463

(Sun–Thurs 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–10 p.m.)

Beers: PiPA, West Coast Red, Bourbon Vanilla Porter, Lost Grain English Summer Ale, Pre-Prohibition Pilsner. While Pi Brewing is not open to the public yet, they are able to brew and serve their beers next door at Nicky V’s. The IPA and West Coast Red are both good hoppy beers. We’ll keep tabs on when Pi itself opens. For now, grab a pint and some tasty Italian food. The PiPA will now be a regular beer, replacing the Unchallenged IPA. The scrumptious Bourbon Vanilla Porter is back, replacing the Robust Porter.

Ponderosa Brewing Co. — (505) 639-5941

(Sun 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Mon–Sat 11 a.m.–11 p.m.)

Beers: Ghost Train IPA, Rip Saw Red, Crosscut Kolsch, Demon Driver Double IPA, Dunkelblitzen, Chocolate Pumpkin Porter, Borracho’s Breakfast Stout, Marbelous (Imperial Rice Lager), Nikolaus Spiced Lager, Bavarian Belle Hefeweizen. Ponderosa is located at 1761 Bellamah NW, which is just east of Rio Grande and due north of the NM Natural History Museum, in the bottom floor of a swanky-looking apartment/retail complex. The Marbelous (7% ABV) was brewed as a tribute to Marble’s Ted Rice, whose staff has helped Ponderosa in their early months of existence. The Nikolaus is a Weihnachtsbier, a traditional Bavarian dark lager brewed for the holidays. The Belle Bavarian Hefeweizen debuted recently and may become a regular fixture in the lineup.

News: The next batch of brews will include Dunkelweizen and Ella Single Hop Pale Ale.

Red Door Brewing — (505) 633-6675

(Mon–Thurs 2 p.m. to midnight, Fri–Sun noon to midnight)

Beers: (Regular) Gateway Blonde Ale, Roamer Red, Threshold IPA, Paint it Black Milk Stout, Unhinged Cider, Belgian Wheat. (Seasonal) Strong Scotch Ale. The first Red Door seasonal, Strong Scotch Ale, debuted recently. We stopped by and wrote up a quick review and we’ve been back since to enjoy it again. Brewer Wayne Martinez said he hopes to have more seasonals on tap before the end of the year. The Belgian Wheat replaces the Trapdoor Wheat in the regular lineup.

News: Take note of Red Door’s new weekday schedule for the winter months as they will now open at 2 p.m. instead of noon. Weekend hours remain the same.

Red Door has three merchandise bundles for holiday shoppers. For $70 you can get a special new insulated growler, a $10 gift card, and a hat or T-shirt. For $90 you get the growler, gift card, and a hoodie.

For Christmas Eve, Red Door is taking $1.50 off growler fills, so head on over.

Sandia Chile Grill — (505) 798-1970

(Mon–Sat 8 a.m.–8 p.m., Sun 8 a.m.–6 p.m.)

Beers: Irish Red, Rattlesnake IPA, Smoked Stout. We’re going to dispatch E-Rock (he needs a new assignment) to re-establish our lines of communication with Sandia Chile Grill.

News: Congrats to SCG on sweeping all three medals in the mead category at the 2014 State Fair Pro-Am, while also claiming a silver medal for Barb’s Barrel Hefeweizen.

The Stumbling Steer — (505) 792-7805

(Sunday-Wednesday 11 a.m.-midnight, Thursday-Saturday 11 a.m.-2 a.m.)

Beers: Bang Up Blonde, Hefferweizen, Pig Sticker Pale, Iron Horse IPA, Rawhide Red, Boneyard Brown, Hop Trough (Double IPA), Soiled Dove (Imperial Stout), Black IPA. While the brewery is being built in the back of the Steer, all of their house beers are being brewed off-site, but still using brewer Kirk Roberts’ recipes. The DIPA and the Stout are limited to two per customer, due to their high alcohol content (10% and 9.5% ABV, respectively). The Black IPA is the current seasonal beer, plus there are often one or two cask beers. We recently had their Bacon Bourbon Stout and Green Chile IPA on cask. Franz Solo loved the latter.

Tractor Brewing Company — (505) 433-5654 (Nob Hill Tap Room), TBA (Wells Park)

(Nob Hill is open Monday-Wednesday 3 p.m. to midnight, Thursday 3 p.m. to 2 a.m., Friday-Saturday 1 p.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday 1 p.m. to midnight; Wells Park is open Monday-Thursday 3 p.m. to close, Friday-Sunday 1 p.m. to midnight.
 Last call 30 minutes before close. 
No package after midnight.
 Brewery tours Saturday at 1 p.m.)

Beers at Nob Hill: Little Red Rye-ding Hood, Turkey Drool, Mustachio Milk Stout, Javi Light Lager, Berry Cider, Winter Hop IPA, Chocolate Milk Stout.

UPDATED >>> Beers at Wells Park only: Jack the Sipper, Barn Burner Pale Ale, Apple Cider, Ebony & Ivory. All of the Nob Hill seasonals are also at Wells Park, which has 24 total taps (Tractor’s five regular beers have two taps apiece). We love us some Turkey Drool (8% ABV) this time of year. It’s a brown ale with all sorts of holiday-themed spices and other added ingredients. This year’s batch is arguably the best yet. The Little Red (5.8% ABV) has a malty rye kick. Jack the Sipper (7% ABV) is Tractor’s take on a spiced pumpkin ale. The new Winter Hop IPA (6.4% ABV, 70 IBU) uses a blend of fragrant hops and caramel malts for a unique twist on the popular style. The Chocolate Milk Stout should tide over your sweet tooth. The Barn Burner (6% ABV, 52 IBU) is a bitter little pale ale that uses 40 pounds of El Dorado hops. The Ebony & Ivory (5.5% ABV, 25 IBU) is a “pale stout,” made with pale malt, pale chocolate malt, and caramel malt. It smells like a stout, but tastes like something a little different.

News: Congrats to Tractor and their Mustachio Milk Stout, which won in the Best of Albuquerque competition from ABQ the Magazine.

Mustachio’s bigger, meaner brother, Luna de los Muertos Russian Imperial Stout, is aging in the back, including some in a barrel. Oh, man, that could kill us … but we’d die happy.

Events: The In the Mix series is back Saturday at Wells Park as DJ N-Tox performs at 9 p.m.

Wells Park will host a Pint for Pint Blood Drive this coming Tuesday from 4 to 8 p.m. See their Facebook page for more details.

Also, every first Monday of the month at both Tractor locations is Beer for a Better Burque night. For every pint you buy $1 can go to one of four charities that have partnered with Tractor. You can also opt to purchase a special growler with the logo of your favorite charity.

Turtle Mountain Brewing Company — (505) 994-9497

(Kitchen hours: Mon–Tues 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Wed–Thurs 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Sun 10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Reminder: TMBC closes early when business dictates. Please call.)

Beers: (House) McDay’s Cream Ale, Oku Amber, Parasol White IPA, Hopshell IPA, Heidelberg Helles. (Seasonal/specialty) Stauffenberg Stout, Cafe Bella Coffee Porter, A Little Somethin’ Pumpkin, Devil to Pay Double IPA, Wild Hunt Winter Warmer. To help us out for now and the future, brewer Tim Woodward broke down what will be the regular beers on tap (under House) and the current list of seasonals. That’s a pretty solid regular lineup. I personally really enjoyed the Porter and Amber, the latter of which trumps most of its genre in terms of flavor. The Heidelberg Helles (5.1% ABV, 25 IBU) has rejoined the regular lineup for good, or so Tim hopes. The newer beers here are the Stauffenberg Stout, Cafe Bella Coffee Porter, Devil to Pay DIPA (7.7% ABV, 125+ IBU), a hop monster for the holidays brewed with Cascade and Chinook, and the Wild Hunt Winter Warmer (7% ABV, 31 IBU), which was brewed with orange peel, nutmeg, fresh ginger root, clove, and molasses.

Santa Fe breweries

Blue Corn Brewery — (505) 438-1800

(Daily 11 a.m.–10 p.m.)

Beers: Snow Advisory, Monks Mesa (Belgian Blonde), Meltdown Chocolate Porter, Rakau Single Hop IPA. The Monks Mesa (4.5% ABV, 15 IBU) is a Belgian blonde table beer. The Meltdown used no less than 25 pounds of cocoa nibs. The Rakau, using a powerful New Zealand hop, is now on tap. New to the lineup is Snow Advisory (7.5% ABV, 17 IBU), a winter warmer.

News: Next up in the beer list is a White DIPA.

Events: Thursday at the Brewer’s Table Holiday Party is this week starting at 6 p.m. It costs $20 and reservations are required. For more info click the Facebook link here.

Duel Brewing Company — (505) 474-5301

(Sun 11 a.m.–8 p.m., Mon–Tues 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Wed–Sat 11 a.m.–midnight)

Beers: Bad Amber, Fiction (IPA), Fantin (Double Pale Ale), Marcel (Witbier), Whistler (Blonde), Dark Ryder (Dark Strong), Grunewald (Imperial Porter), Goya (Imperial Stout). The lineup got a shakeup with some big beers joining the rotation. Dark Ryder and Grunewald check in at 11-percent ABV, while Goya (15.9% ABV) is a monster of a beer. It will be available on tap and in bombers at the brewery this Friday.

Events: The life drawing session is $25 and is held each Sunday morning from 11-1 (although they are not open to the drinking public till 1 p.m. on Sun). You get the beverage of your choice, a Brussels-style waffle made with their own yeast and beer and then served with a Grunewald Syrup. Everyone then draws from a nude model. People can sign up through the website or call the brewery to reserve a spot.

Santa Fe Brewing Company — (505) 424-3333

(Mon–Sat 11 a.m.–10 p.m., closed on Sunday)

Beers: Double White IPA, Black IPA, Deviator Doppelbock, Full Mast Kilt Scottish Ale. The first beer in the new Ever Changing Series is a Double White IPA, which Luke of the Brew Crew bullpen recently reviewed. The Kriek, which won a bronze medal at GABF this year, is on sale around the state in bombers, though it is no longer on tap. The 12 Beers of Christmas wraps up today (Wednesday) at 5 p.m.

Events: $1 Off Growler Refills in the Tasting Room on Mondays. $2 pint Tuesdays at the Eldorado Taphouse. On Wednesday, there is a $2 Pint Special in the SFBC Tasting Room, and the Sangre de Cristo Craft Brewers’ Meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Tasting Room as well on the third Wednesday of every month. On Thursday, there will be $1 Off Growler Refills at the Eldorado Taphouse.

News: SFBC will soon be opening a taproom in Albuquerque. Here are all the details that Luke, our Santa Fe correspondent, could find. It sounds promising.

Second Street Brewery — (505) 989-3278 (Railyard), (505) 982-3030 (original location)

(Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Sunday noon-9 p.m.)

Beers: Kolsch, IPA, Cream Stout, Huell Melon Pilsner, Festivus Ale, Anniversary Ale, Rod’s Best Bitter. The  International Style Steam and Festivus Ale debuted recently, while the Huell Melon Pilsner is back after a short absence. The Anniversary Ale will see its recipe tweaked and will now feature a blend of Millennium, Columbus, Chinook, Citra, and Comet hops. Coming soon will be Trebuchet Imperial IPA, which completes a “trilogy” with Pivotal and Fulcrum IPAs.

Events: Swing Soleil performs Friday night at the original location and Christina Herr and the Wild Frontier perform Saturday. Shows at the Railyard will feature Eryn Bent on Friday and MVIII Unplugged on Saturday.

Every Wednesday night, both SSB locations host Game Night. SSB has game boards and dominoes or bring your own … oh yeah, they also have discounted pitchers!

Other breweries you need to visit

Twisted Chile Brewing — (575) 835-2949

(Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri–Sun 11 a.m.–11 p.m.)

Beers: Pilabo Pale Ale, Venom IPA, English Porter, Zia Pilsner. Twisted Chile has been open for a while as a restaurant, but as the name might imply, they are also brewing their own beer on site. Located in Socorro at 115 Abeyta St. W, they are the first brewery there to brew on site since Socorro Springs outsourced their brewing to Eddyline in Colorado. I got to head down there recently and enjoyed all the beers I sampled. Kudos to Twisted Chile for bring quality craft beers back to a town that needed ’em. The newest beer on tap is the English Porter, which will get a more formal name soon. The Zia Pilsner is done in the German style.

* * * *

That’s all for this week! If you have any questions or comments, leave them below or contact us on our Facebook page.

Cheers and Merry Christmas!

— Stoutmeister

This past Saturday, I made the trip up to Taos Ski Valley for their 19th annual Brew Master’s Festival, and I gotta tell you it was one smooth, powder-filled ride down beer mountain, and one of my favorite brewfests in recent memory.

Taos BMF 2014 Pic 1

Taos Ski Valley is like a sleepy Swiss village in the Alps.

From the moment the doors opened and the lines got moving, brewfesters were ID’d, braceleted, and tasting within minutes. Being their 19th festival, it was clear that Taos Ski Valley had done this before. Located inside Tenderfoot Katie’s and the Martini Tree, festers found themselves in a two-level, ski lodge cafeteria setting, with big windows framing picturesque mountain views, visible even after dark. The space, although cramped at times, worked very well for festing purposes. Both floors filled up quickly, yet even towards the middle of the event, there were places to sit, plenty of pouring stations to belly up to, and ample room to mix and mingle in between. I never really saw any long lines, and folks had plenty of time to get their glasses filled — several times at that — before moving on. You never felt rushed, and never felt worried that you were going to lose your buzz, either, if that’s what you were aiming for. Included in the $25 price of admission was the standard taster glass, unlimited tastings, some welcomed warmth, and some excellent food!

Taos BMF 2014 Pic 11

Things weren’t looking good at first, and then you realize it’s over and you have beer!

Getting right to it, I’ve included my own humble opinion on which beers I deemed best of the fest. Of course it’s all subjective, as everyone’s flavor profiles are different, but to be fair, there were actually many great and solid beers present, but my nods this time tended to lean more towards the seasonals, special brews, beers I haven’t had a lot of before, and beers that don’t already frequent the walls of my fridge. They are as follows, in no particular order:

Ale Sabor – an American Wild Ale – Steamworks Brewing Co., Durango, Colo.

Bootycall Barley-Wine – Taos Mesa Brewing

Taos BMF 2014 Pic 5

Two of my favorites of the fest.

Junk Punch – a Doppel-Oktoberfest – Taos Mesa Brewing

Marble’s Reserve Ale (2014) – an American Strong Ale aged in oak barrels – Marble Brewery

Taos BMF 2014 Pic 7

It was a Marbelous time!

Milk Stout – Sierra Blanca Brewing Co., Moriarty – this beer was brand new for the festival!

Smokejumper Smoked Imperial Porter – Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont, Colo.

If only I could have tasted all of the beers! If I had, however, I would not have survived to write about them. There certainly were some real crowd pleasers on the list. And by the way, what a great crowd it was! It consisted mostly of locals that made the trip, tourists that came for the skiing and stayed for the tasting, and even folks that came down from Colorado for a favorite festival of theirs.

Taos Ski Valley liftee, Christopher Jenkins, made sure I tried Taos Mesa’s Junk Punch, as, according to him, it’s a favorite amongst the liftees. On first taste, I thought, “Damn, this is the beer of the people.” It’s a hard beer for a hard-working dude (or dudette). It’s what the Porter was to, well, porters, way back when. It was liquid proof that the working man’s beer is constantly evolving, just as his taste is. Jenkins also recommended that I try the Bootycall Barleywine, which was equally aggressive with flavor and potency. Too much of that big bad delicious brew, and you’ll need the ski patrol to bring you back to your room on a rescue toboggan.

Taos BMF 2014 Pic 9

“Beerd Wrangler,” Josh Norton and “Hop Girl,” Devon Adams

Josh Norton, “Beerd Wrangler” and Assistant Brewer at Golden City Brewery, was visiting with Devon Adams, also from Colorado. I spoke with them briefly as I couldn’t help but admire Devon’s hop earrings and Josh’s beard, the likes of which has not been seen since ZZ Top joined the Fellowship of the Ring. It was glorious! When asked, Devon’s favorite beer of the night was Sierra Blanca’s Milk Stout. Josh’s happened to be Marble’s Double IPA. This was their fifth year at the festival and according to them, they love coming down from Colorado for the great NM beers, the amazing event, and the awesome people they meet every year. Cheers to that!

I also ran into Damion Terrell, the New Mexico reporter for Southwest Brewing News. If you’ve ever picked up the publication in one of your favorite brew pubs, you’d know that it’s filled with useful information on what to drink and when. Sounds familiar! Funny thing is we talked business, not the beer, even though our business is the beer. At some point we admitted to being fans of each other’s publications, and we left it at that. Writers … go figure.

Anyway, so if you’re wondering whether you should make the trip next year, let me break it down for you old-school-like.

Reasons to go:

It only takes three hours and change to get to Taos Ski Valley from Albuquerque. The roads are immaculate, except for that one bump. If you’ve been, you know the one. You’ve been warned.

The beautiful mountain setting makes you feel like you’ve discovered a sleepy Swiss village in the Alps, somewhere between Gimmelwald and Grindelwald, with plenty of places to snooze, eat, and shop, right at the base of the mountain.

The initial line to get in to the actual festival moves like a Jamaican bobsled team—maybe five-to-seven minutes from gate to glass. If you, like me, still have nightmares about Lions, Tigers, and Beers, then you’ll appreciate this sleep-aid of a fact. Even with plenty of people, you never had to wait for beer.

Taos BMF 2014 Pic 8

It was crowded, but not too crowded.

Food! If you haven’t already eaten at one of the local restaurants like Tim’s Stray Dog Cantina or Rhoda’s Restaurant, then worry not, my famished friend! The catered conviviality has you covered, and it’s already included in the price of admission.

Taos BMF 2014 Pic 3

One of the several food stations.

Most importantly, the beer! The brewers brought some of their very best. And they didn’t just play the hits, they brought new stuff too. Sierra Blanca with their Milk Stout and Sierra Nevada with their Nooner Session Pilsner gave brewfesters a rare chance to taste these opposite-of-the-spectrum beers before almost anyone else has had a chance, making your ticket worth just that much more.

Taos BMF 2014 Pic 10

To get an idea of sample size, that glass has already been half-sipped, but I prefer to think of it as still half-filled. There were a lot of great beers at this festival!

It was a great time, with great beer and great people in a great place. Everyone was in a festive mood. No complaints on my end, except for perhaps, one brewery, whom I won’t name, that just wouldn’t believe that I write for the NM Dark Side Brew Crew, even as I handed them my card. Hmm. Maybe it’s time to petition for one of those fancy T-shirts you see gathered in the dark corners of Albuquerque’s breweries. (Editor’s note: Memo to self, get T-shirts for the Bullpen for 2015. — Stoutmeister) As far as brewfests go, however, clearly a lot of hard work and excellent execution made this one easy and smooth ride. The brewfest was an experienced German skier, nailing a perfect run on the Giant Slalom to win over the hearts of yet another crowd. Woosh, bro. Woosh. See you next year, Taos Ski Valley.

Cheers!

— Luke

Taos BMF 2014 Pic 6

Upstairs, folks are just getting the party started!

Greetings everyone, Stoutmeister here with the fourth post in the Look Back/Look Ahead Series for 2014-15. Our La Cumbre story, Kaktus story, and our Bosque story have already appeared. As the year draws to a close, rather than just write up a single summary review of the last 12 months in beer, I decided to take what free time I have and go talk in person to breweries in the ABQ area to get their thoughts on both the year that was and the year to come. I’m not going to put up any sort of schedule for this series, and it will likely definitely beyond December and into January with other Crew members chipping in as well.

They're feeling a bit festive at Ponderosa as 2014 draws to a close.

They’re feeling a bit festive at Ponderosa as 2014 draws to a close.

Ponderosa Brewing Co. opened their doors back in September, joining the long list of new establishments to debut in 2014. Located in the Sawmill District, just north of Explora! and the Natural History Museum, Ponderosa was the brainchild of the folks behind PINTS Brewing in Portland, Ore. Their owner already owned property in Albuquerque and wanted an anchor tenant for the commercial space beneath the apartment building on Bellamah. Brewer Matt Kollaja, who had served as an assistant at PINTS, was dispatched to run the show.

It was not the smoothest of transitions, as anyone at Ponderosa will tell you. From learning how to use the new, state-of-the-art brewing equipment, to issues with the building and more, Ponderosa has endured its fair share of ups and downs in the first four months of operation. Things, however, are looking up, and the ball is already rolling toward 2015. Matt and general manager Devan Colston, formerly of La Cumbre, sat down with me to discuss all that went wrong and right in 2014, plus all their goals for Ponderosa’s forthcoming first full year of operation.

First up, many people have complained that Ponderosa is hard to find. Don’t worry, they have heard you at the brewery.

People have had a hard time finding Ponderosa, but don't worry, they're installing a big, bright sign atop their colorful building.

People have had a hard time finding Ponderosa, but don’t worry, they’re installing a big, bright sign atop their colorful building in the Sawmill District.

“There’s always unforeseen roadblocks, obstacles when you’re trying to get a business open,” Devan said. “Simple things from just trying to get a sign put in a certain place and the city not letting us due to permitting issues, which has obviously been an issue. We’ve been open three months and there hasn’t been a sign.”

Glory be, the permits have been dealt with and the sign is on its way. That will help increase Ponderosa’s customer base, or so they hope.

“I think once we get our signage up it’s going to be a lot different,” Devan said. “Because that’s the biggest trouble right now is people being able to visibly see us, especially at night. We’re going to have a pretty large, about 4-by-12-foot illuminated sign on the top of the building, which will definitely bring some attention to it. It will be on top of the building. It will be visible from a ways away.”

Just getting people to see Ponderosa has been one challenge. Getting them to embrace the brewery’s different lineup of beers and overall different atmosphere — they even have a children’s area — has brought out some mixed reviews. For the most part, the positives have outweighed the negatives.

The beers are Ponderosa are often German-style or Pacific Northwest-style.

The beers are Ponderosa are often German-style or Pacific Northwest-style.

“The feedback that we’ve actually gotten from the people that come here and frequenting the business has been really positive,” Devan said. “I think it’s due to the fact we had quite a different menu than a lot of bars. We’re trying to offer a bit healthier food. We’ve got a nice, wholesome atmosphere. And we’re offering a different beer selection than a lot of places because we’re specializing in German-style beers.”

Getting those beers from concept to tap has not always been easy.

“Matt’s finally had a chance to dial into the brew system a little better,” Devan said. “He’s never worked on a system even similar to this. It’s been a whole new experience for him, almost a science experiment, if you will, even though he’s been brewing beers for years.”

Matt said he feels there has certainly been some positive progress since those first batches debuted in September.

Ponderosa's brewhouse still has some tricky times, but everyone is getting the hang of it.

Ponderosa’s brewhouse still has some tricky times, but everyone is getting the hang of it.

“I think things are going a lot smoother,” Matt said. “I still have a lot of work to do. Every time I brew I’m learning something new about the system and how things work. I finally got the mill and augur all adjusted to where it needs to be. That’s going to help a lot with our brews and with our efficiency and hopefully also ultimately flavor.

“We still have some work to do but I’ve definitely made strides. We’re becoming more consistent and figuring out what people like and what they don’t like and that’s guiding future recipes.”

Just before I arrived at Ponderosa last Thursday, there was a boil-over with the lauder tun, where Matt was brewing his first imperial stout on the system.

“It will probably take a good year before I feel like I’ve got everything completely down,” Matt said. “You’re still going to have bad brew days where something goes wrong, like today. I learned that trying to do a 21-plato beer in a seven-barrel batch, a few things are not going to go according to plan.

“Every time I’m learning a lesson. It’s like the Kolsch, I pretty much have that down. I’ve brewed it enough I know exactly what to do. Whenever we do something (like) a really big beer, it’s going to take a few batches before we figure it out.”

The crowds have been digging the Oktoberfest and Dunkelblizten at Ponderosa.

The crowds have been digging the Oktoberfest and Dunkelblizten at Ponderosa.

Still, as more people come to drink at Ponderosa, and Matt has more time to get his beers behaving themselves, the feedback has been positive. Topping the list of fan favorites so far was Ponderosa’s take on a popular German autumn style.

“The Oktoberfest was our best seller and so we brewed this Dunkel(blizten) as a replacement for it and it’s been really well received,” Matt said. “The Nikolaus that we now have, the spiced lager, it’s also been really well received. People like the uniqueness of the (Marbelous Imperial) Rice Lager, just because it’s not something you see around here.”

The only other brewery in the state that has brewed a rice lager, even semi-regularly, has been Desert Water Brewery in Artesia, so Matt was right about that.

Distribution tops list of changes coming to Ponderosa in 2015

For all those who can’t make it down to the Sawmill District, or are still having trouble finding Ponderosa on Google Maps, fear not, for soon you will be able to buy their beer elsewhere.

They won't come in these neat glasses, but you will soon be able to buy Ponderosa beers at other bars and restaurants.

They won’t come in these neat glasses, but you will soon be able to buy Ponderosa beers at other bars and restaurants.

“The really awesome thing that is going to take place within the next week is we’re gearing up for distribution,” Devan said. “We’re pairing up with Admiral Beverage Company. So they’re going to try to help us get our beer out there in 2015, which should definitely help grow the brand, bring some awareness and consciousness to our existence, which has been kind of a struggle just getting people to know we’re here.”

That distribution will be limited to selling kegs at bars and restaurants as there would be issues with any sort of packaging.

“We’ll probably never do bottling or canning here,” Matt said. “We don’t have the space. We could do mobile canning, but then again you still have to have the space to store all of that product. As it is my walk-in (cooler) is completely filled to the brim with kegs. So that’s going to be the focus.”

Matt said the initial brews offered for sale elsewhere will likely come from the most commonly brewed styles, such as the Crosscut Kolsch, Rip Saw Red, and Ghost Train IPA. If some of the brewery’s one-offs are requested, those can be kegged for sale as well.

Of course, no brewer is going to just sit back and rest on the styles he or she has created to date.

“Our goal is to expand, of course,” Matt said. “If we do, then I can do even more interesting styles. I’ve said in the past I absolutely want to do a Berliner Weisse. The only way we’re going to do it is to do it right. We’re not going to cheat and throw lactic acid in it or something. We’re going to do a true-to-style (version).”

These fermenters may get some company soon at Ponderosa.

These fermenters may get some company soon at Ponderosa.

While space may be at a premium in the walk-in cooler, there is still space out on the brewing floor, which means some new equipment may soon arrive.

“If I get three more fermenters, even two more fermenters, I’ll have a dedicated hot tank and then I’ll be able to do some saisons in addition to the Berliner Weisse,” Matt said. “I think really what we’re going to be focusing on is staying true to what we do best, which are primarily German lagers and Pacific Northwest beers. I still have more work to do on the Pacific Northwest beers, but they’re getting there.

“And so far everyone seems to like them. I haven’t had any horrible feedback. I think we’ve got a good setup. 2015 is mainly going to be focused on getting our beer out there. We are completely open to feedback and suggestions. We want to brew beer people want to drink.”

That sounds like the best recipe to all of us in the Crew.

Thanks to Matt and Devan for taking time out of their day, and away from that feisty imperial stout, to sit down and chat. And of course for the beer samples. The Nikolaus Spiced Lager is alone worth the visit right now.

So head on down to Ponderosa — seriously, it’s not that hard to find, let the Google guide you — and enjoy some German-style beers in the coming year.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Reach new heights as a brewer in Los Alamos

Posted: December 22, 2014 by reidrivenburgh in News
Tags:

logo1Greetings, beer-lovers! The Los Alamos Beer Co-op has reached a milestone. They have begun the process of hiring a head brewer. We know there are professionals out there as well as many talented homebrewers, so if you’d like to get involved with a brand new effort, here’s a great opportunity.

The LABC is just getting off the ground, so it’ll be a lot of work, but on the other hand, you’d have a lot of freedom to help define the beers, the taproom, and even the business itself. Los Alamos is a small, sleepy town in the mountains northwest of Santa Fe powered by the famous national laboratory. It has many good qualities like lots of outdoor activities, a good school system, and it’s very safe. It sounds like this would be a very rewarding job for the right person.

Here is the full text of the LABC’s ad with details of what they’re looking for in a brewer:

The Los Alamos Beer Co-operative is looking for a professional brewer with both skill and passion for brewing. We want someone with the desire to craft a product that people love and the enterprising spirit to start something new. The brewer will help establish and grow a start-up business with the incredible backing of hundreds of beer lovers — the first brewery and tap room in Los Alamos. We will also be the first craft beer co-operative in New Mexico — funded by our community membership.

We are looking for a talented, creative, and driven brewer to get us going. You will take charge of brewing with our 3.5-bbl brewing system, creating new craft beers of your own design and also those requested by our membership. This is an operations as well as an R&D assignment. You will be the master of our brand, and the creator of beverages that the region will seek out.

Responsibilities:
– Handle all aspects of brewing operation from concept to service of finished product
– Take the lead in the development of beer recipes and styles
– Select, purchase, and maintain inventory of ingredients
– Brew a consistent and clean product
– Transfer product safely and efficiently throughout the brewery
– Trouble-shoot and maintain equipment
– Keep records of the brewing process for repeatability and taxes
– Maintain cleanliness and sanitation of all equipment and work areas
– Attend brew events to promote the beer and brand
– Other ad hoc duties as they arise
– Note: position may be part-time to full-time as required

Knowledge and Abilities:
– Beer style and sensory knowledge
– Wort production, fermentation, and serving skills
– Basic lab skills
– Good work ethic
– Attention to detail
– Ability to frequently lift 55-lb sacks of grain
– Good communication skills

Ideal Candidate:
– High school diploma or equivalent
– Brewing Degree or Certification a plus, but not required
– 3-5 years of professional experience brewing on a commercial system
– Strong mechanical ability
– Organized, detail-oriented and attentive to quality and standards
– Highly motivated and able to work without supervision
– Flexible, accommodating, confident, team-oriented and self-reliant
– Excellent time management, prioritization, and task scheduling skills
– Keeps accurate records and reliable production projections
– Flexible schedule with the ability to work off hours, evenings and weekends as required
– Willingness to assist with tasks outside of listed responsibilities
– Experienced in developing recipes and performing and managing all brewing and production operations

The most ideal candidate could also take on the management of the associated taproom.

This is a unique chance to join a small brewery-in-construction. In addition to the 3.5-bbl brewhouse, we have five 7-bbl fermenters and five 7-bbl serving tanks –- all the resources to provide you with everything you need to brew, produce and distribute your products. We will be assembling our brewery in January 2015. Come help us assemble the system and start brewing for a February or March 2015 opening.

* * * * *

If you’d still like more info, visit the LABC home page at www.losalamosbeer.coop for details.

Happy holidays!

— Reid

Ah, yes, it’s that time of year when I have to cover a football game and not go to the Taos Brew Master’s Festival. Of course, the rest of you don’t have to write about the New Mexico Bowl to pay for future beers, so you might as well hit the road Saturday afternoon and go to the Taos Ski Valley for this annual event. It costs $25 and runs from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at Tenderfoot Katie’s and the Martini Tree, which are located at the base of the Chair 1 lift.

Down there at the bottom of that ski lift is the Taos Ski Valley, where they will be holding the 19th annual Brew Master's Festival.

Down there at the bottom of that ski lift is the Taos Ski Valley, where they will be holding the 19th annual Brew Master’s Festival this Saturday.

Of course, the attraction of every beer festival is the beer on hand. This year’s TBMF has a lot of out-of-state breweries participating. Most are from Colorado, including heavyweights New Belgium, Odell, Oskar Blues, Boulder, Ska, and Left Hand, plus Durango’s Steamworks, which doesn’t distribute to our fair state. There’s also Alaskan and Sierra Nevada, which are available just about everywhere.

Local boys Eske’s and Taos Mesa will be on hand, plus seven breweries from further south including Rio Grande/Sierra Blanca. The rest we did our best to find out who’s bringing what for you to enjoy. Here’s what they all said.

Back Alley: Ladron’s Peak, California Common, Belgian Wit. For anyone that hasn’t had the rather unique Ladron’s before, here’s your chance.

Boxing Bear: We didn’t hear back, but if you get some Standing 8 Stout, you’ll be good.

Marble: Reserve Ale, Double IPA, White Out, Imperial Stout. This year’s Imperial Stout batch is quite wonderful, as is the Reserve.

Santa Fe: Happy Camper IPA, Java Stout, Scotch Ale, Dirty Blonde Ale, Double White IPA, Sour Porter. There will also be a “secret beer” that you can get by looking up the password via SFBC’s social media pages.

Tractor: Mustachio Milk Stout, Farmer’s Tan Red Ale, Farmer’s Almanac IPA. Basically the canned beers, but it’s hard to go wrong with Mustachio.

Turtle Mountain: Heidelberg Helles, Saison Du Soleil, India Stupid Shell (a 50/50 blend of Hopshell IPA and India Stupid Ale), Piedra Lisa Porter. The porter and helles are quality beers. Let us know how that hybrid IPA turns out.

If we hear back from Boxing Bear before Saturday we will update this list. Enjoy your beer weekend, folks, but if you can’t make it to Taos, visit Chama River for Obey the Darkside Stout or Canteen for Dark Side Baltic Porter or, heck, visit both!

(Shameless self-promotion points achieved)

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

In true Holiday party fashion, Blue Corn Brewery’s Thursday’s at the Brewer’s Table last week was filled with many moments to remember, outfits to forget, and plenty of embarrassing hookups. I’m kidding about that third one, unless I missed something. But the first two were certainly true. The big difference between this party and maybe your office’s Christmas party was that no one regretted what they allowed near their faces, as all of the food and beer was fun, festive, and on a new level of delicious.

The Food

Most holiday parties have a reasonable amount of food, but not food like this. As you can see below, for all of the dishes created by Chef D, beer was utilized as much in the inspiration as it was in the execution. Made from the beer taken at different stages in the brewing process, the food was made for and by the beer. In this case, the food and beer is not a mere pairing, but a domestic partnership, in which both roommates contribute video games, booze, and rent. And they just get each other, ya know? The dishes were diverse enough, from avant garde French inspirations and down-home traditional comfort food to game-day munchies (leveled up, of course). Each dish was a varied flavor burst of the sweet, the spicy, and the savory kind, tantalizing the taste buds at each turn. It’s been said in the food industry that the textures of creamy, crispy, and chewy are the most relished of the textures; well, Chef D seems to know that all too well. For me, the Brown Ale gravy on the Swedish Meatballs was the perfect mix of sweet meets savory, modern meets traditional, on a chewy medium that just makes your mouth water with each bite. And the crispy flakiness of the mini tacos combined with the Stout-mole dipping sauce certainly put that game-day favorite in the playoffs. Though I typically save my dessert calories for beer, these creamy, chewy, and crispy treats were like the first chocolate chip cookie or bowl of ice cream you ever had, an epiphany of infinite spoiled dinners. Amazing stuff.

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The menu from top right, clock-wise: NM Swedish meatballs in Brown Ale gravy; Malt-crusted fried green tomatoes with chile gremolata; Candied orange & winter spice mouse filo cups with hopped candy sugar; Chocolate & Russian Imperial Stout mini cupcakes with candy cane icing; Mini-fried Chicken tacos with Stout-mole dipping sauce; and smoked salmon pâté roulade with Honey-Wheat pickled onions on water crackers. Not pictured: Crudités platter with Amber Ale-onion dip.

These appetizer-style portions came from a man who is no stranger to catering big parties. The portions may appear small, but the platters came around several times, and no one left hungry, thus proving your uncle Bob right, that you really can build an entire meal out of appetizers.

The Beer!

As for the beer, I started with Snow Advisory, a Winter Warmer. For those unfamiliar with the style, a Winter Warmer is typically a sweeter, malt-forward strong ale, with low bitterness and often a bigger spice than hop presence in the American versions. My favorite ones have that good ‘ole alcohol warming quality to them, the nip that keeps the cold at bay. Though brewer James Warren may not love brewing beers with spices, he’s proven time and again that Team Blue Corn can make a beer outside of his preferences, and do it well — one which makes the most avid fan or rabid critic of the style ask for a second pint just to be sure.

For my second pint (included in the meal), I chose the Rakau IPA, because from my memories of the first taste of this single-hopped Super Power, I was blown away by what one little hop could do. It was no different on this tasting. This New Zealand hop, the Rakau, has a powerful punch, and is as big and ferocious as a Maori warrior. Fruity, piney, complex, the Rakau has a bitterness-bang on the level with any of our hop heroes out there. This particular hop makes a solid IPA recipe for a truly formidable brew. I think it says something that my favorite recent brew to come out of Blue Corn is their big bad Imperial Stout, but I haven’t ordered it once since the release of these two beers. I’ll take care of that soon, however. Not to worry. Up next for Team Blue Corn is a White IPA recently brewed with Cascade and Centennial hops. Can’t wait to see how that one turns out!

BCHolidayPartyPics2

1. Snow Advisory and 2. Rakau IPA, with a brewer photo bomb in the background

Ugly Sweater Contest

When Blue Corn publicly posted to their Facebook page to come in your ugliest sweater, it was as if they issued forth a challenge, and Santa Fe accepted. There were sweaters with nauseating notions of Noel, sweaters showing the shameless shenanigans of the garden variety (gnome pun intended), and sweaters that looked like Christmas had drank too much eggnog and tossed it’s cookies all over them. One sweater was even in the midst of the needlepoint process. It was a beautiful thing to behold. Only one lucky winner may have taken home a prize, but really, we all win with embarrassingly ugly sweaters and beer.

BCHolidayPartyPics3

Lady, your mesh canvass is showing!

White Elephant Exchange

And what is a holiday party without a little gift stealing? Assistant brewer Nick Richardson hosted this event. With a background in bartending, he had no trouble managing and exciting a crowd. It was a beer themed gift-off, and the gifts ranged from rare bottled brews, brew swag like pint glasses and hats, to the more interesting gifts, like a 30-pack of Miller High Life and green-chile wine. Mmm-mmm! There were tons of laughs, a few scoffs, one huge special secret gift from Blue Corn, and an unfortunate assistant brewer whom I won’t name who could not get rid of a certain New Mexico style grape-based beverage to save his life.

BCHolidayPartyPics4

What’s inside Blue Corn’s Big Surprise Gift?

At the end of the night, a merry time was had by all — families, brewers, Chef D, Blue Corn Brewery Staff, and one humble Brew Crew Bullpen writer. Even Jordy and Michelle from Santa Fe Cider Works came out to play. They may or may not have gone home with a 30-pack of the Champagne of Beers, which, I imagine they weren’t fighting anyone for it on their way out. Just saying. So thank you, Blue Corn, for letting us rock around your Christmas tree. See you next year, and I promise, my next ugly sweater will be bringing the heat.

BCHolidayPartyPics5

Happy Holidays from Brewer Nick, Chef D, and Brewer James!

Holiday Cheers!

— Luke

Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with the reunified edition of The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s four breweries and one newcomer down in Socorro also joining the party. We tried hard to keep the state edition going, but without participation from the breweries outside the I-25 corridor, it was futile.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

If it wasn’t obvious that this is dark beer season, this week alone should blast you into an obsidian happy place of epic proportions. First up, in a little bit of self-promotion, Obey the Darkside Stout is now on tap at Chama River. Brandon and I helped Zach and David brew this burly foreign export stout, which clocks in at 6-percent ABV and 65 IBUs. It’s big and roasty, yet smooth and even a little sweet. As it warms, the coffee and chocolate flavors become even more pronounced. They named it in our honor and we are quite proud of this beer.

But wait, that’s not all this week. Tonight (Wednesday) will see a pair of special beer releases. Marble’s 2015 edition of Imperial Stout will debut tonight at all three locations. They will actually tap the beer at noon, but starting at 5 p.m. you can get it paired with M’Tucci’s Italian Market’s Bruschetta with onion marmalade, pancetta, arugula, and pecorino or mastarda guanciale and pine nuts. Your other beer option tonight is at Bosque Brewing, where Scotia Limited will debut in bottles with plenty more going on at the brewery, which we covered here in our Look Back/Look Ahead Series 2014-15 entry on Bosque.

If you’re too busy tonight, don’t worry, there’s more (yes, more) on Friday. Canteen Brewhouse’s annual Solstice Blackout returns with a certain Dark Side Baltic Porter in this year’s lineup. Yup, it’s the beer that Franz Solo, E-Rock, and I helped Brady brew. The recipe was conceived by Brandon, it should also be noted. Joining our beer in the lineup are Sasquatch Scotch, Panama Joe Coffee Stout (aged eight months in bourbon barrels), Schwarzbier, Black RYE PA, and Dark~N~Lusty Stout. You can also buy full pints of your favorite, so hurry over before we drink all of our porter out of stock. (We’re not kidding.)

And if that’s not enough Friday, there’s also the return of the Dark Brew Festival at Bird of Paradise. Hosted by the same folks responsible for the annual Dark Matters Film Festival at The Guild, this tasting fest starts at 6:30 p.m. The available beers will include Stone’s Xocoveza Mocha Stout on draft, plus bottled beers to sample from including Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, Old Rasputin XVII Anniversary Barrel-Aged Stout, Straffe Hendrik Heritage 2012 Oak-Aged Quad, Traquair 2020; Rogue XS Old Crustacean (2012, ’13 & ’14), XS Dead Guy and Morimoto Imperial Pils; Odell 180 Shilling and Trellis Garden Ale; Deschutes Black Butte Porter, New Belgium/3 Floyds Grätzer, Biira Montegioco Fumigant, and many more. They will be available in flights of six-ounce samples. The entry fee is just a suggested $5 donation to the Dark Matters Film Festival, which will take place at 4, 6, and 8 p.m. at The Guild on Saturday. You can also purchase rare 1.5-ounce samples of Sam Adams Utopias 11 for just $10.50.

So much dark beer, so little time. Good thing we’re here for all of you, isn’t it?

On the new beer front, it’s a fairly quiet week outside of the big beers listed above. Back Alley has brought back their Red Ale, Cali Common, and Wit. Bosque has Rio Grande Tortoise Black IPA, their collaboration beer with Turtle Mountain, on tap along with Whirlpool Lager and Old Man Jameson, a Scottish-style export. Ponderosa has Nikolaus Spiced Lager and Bavarian Belle Hefeweizen. Tractor has cooked up Barn Burner Pale Ale.

Up in Santa Fe, SFBC’s 12 Beers of Christmas continues this week (see more below). Second Street has International Style Steam, Huell Melon Pilsner, and Festivus Ale. Down south in Socorro, Twisted Chile has a new English Porter.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of Dec. 15.

To break down each “capsule,” I listed the brewery (with Web page linked), its phone number and hours of operation. Under “Beers” are the new or seasonal beers on tap for this week.

Albuquerque metro area breweries

ABQ Brew Pub — (505) 884-1116

(Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–midnight, Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–2 a.m., Sunday 10 a.m.–midnight)

Beers: Petrus Aged Ale, Petrus Aged Red. Petrus Aged Ale and Red are high alcohol barrel-aged sours from a family-owned brewery in Flanders. Several times a year, ABP serves up the latest creation by local brewing hero and winner of the Samuel Adams Longshot competition, Ben Miller, or seasonal releases by Monks Brewing.

Back Alley Draft House — (505) 766-8590

(Hours 4 p.m.-11 p.m. daily)

Beers: Pre-Prohibition Malt Tonic, Ladron’s Peak, Back Alley Red, Cali Common, Wit. In case you missed it, we recently interviewed BADH’s new brewer, Brandon Venaglia. There are some exciting times coming, including a possible expansion. The Pre-Prohibition Malt Tonic is a dark American lager that’s based on a 110-year-old recipe and will now become a regular beer at BADH. The Red, Cali Common, and Wit are all back after a short absence.

Events: Sundays will now be Service Nights at Back Alley, with $2 off all beers for service industry workers.

Bosque Brewing Company — (505) 750-7596

(Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun noon-8 p.m.)

UPDATED >>> Beers: PSA (Pumpkin Spice Ale), Rio Grande Tortoise Black IPA, IPA 65, Prospector Milk Stout, Old Man Jameson, Whirlpool Lager. The Old Man Jameson (5.2% ABV, 18 IBU) is a Scottish-style export while the Whirlpool Lager (5.9% ABV, 45 IBU) is a Mosaic-infused blast of happy. The Bosque Lager will now be on tap year round, replacing the Kindling, which moves to the seasonal list (this is much as Driftwood Oatmeal Stout replaced Olde Bosky earlier this year). The new IPA 65 (6% ABV, 75 IBU) is a slight variation on the IPA 57. I got to try the Prospector Milk Stout (6.5% ABV, 20 IBU) when it debuted recently. It’s smooth as silk and a little less sweet and more robust than most milk stouts. It still retains a lot of stout character, which is a nice change from the more Left Hand-influenced versions. The Rio Grande Tortoise (6.5% ABV, 80 IBU) was brewed in collaboration with Turtle Mountain and is available at both breweries. The PSA is nearly out, so hurry over to help finish it off so a new beer can be tapped. Next up are a special dry-hopped version of the award-winning Acequia Wet-Hop IPA and Jet Black Winter, a burly Russian imperial stout served on nitro.

Cask: We’re waiting to hear what will be on tap this Friday.

News: Bosque has opened a new taproom in Las Cruces, located in the former Mimbres Valley space across from New Mexico State at the corner of University Ave. and Espina St. Construction continues on Bosque’s second taproom, the Bosque Public House, located on Girard just south of Central.

Bosque has a happy hour running from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and all day on Sunday. Look for special menu items and get $1 off your favorite pints.

Boxing Bear Brewing Company — (505) 897-2327

(Sun-Thurs 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri-Sat 11 a.m.-11 p.m.)

Beers: Paw Swipe Pale Ale, Hairy Mit Hefe, Standing 8 Stout, Ambear Ale, Uppercut IPA, Oso Otono, Chocolate Milk Stout. Last week Boxing Bear put the Chocolate Milk Stout on cask and it sold out by 7 p.m., the first time that has ever happened with a cask, one of the servers told us. Now that it’s on tap it should last longer than a few hours, but you can tell already how popular this beer is with folks. Oso Otono, an oatmeal lager, looks like a standard ale in color but tastes like a robust brown. Another recent addition is Punkelweizen, a pumpkin/dunkelweizen hybrid. Their Facebook page described it as “liquid banana bread.” Other recent additions to the lineup are the Standing 8 Stout (6.3% ABV, 45 IBU) and Ambear Ale (5.2% ABV, 35 IBU).

Cask: We’re waiting to hear what’s on for this Friday.

News: Boxing Bear now has a happy hour. 10-, 16-, and 22-ounce beers are all discounted from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Growler Happy Hour then runs from 6 p.m. to close on those nights. Get $2 off a growler fill and $1 off a half-growler (they call ’em “squealers”).

Also, every day at lunchtime (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), for just $10 you can get a pint and a panini of your choice.

Events: Every Wednesday is now Karaoke Night at Boxing Bear. It runs from 6 to 10 p.m.

Broken Bottle Brewery — (505) 890-8777

(Mon–Weds 4-11 p.m., Thurs-Fri 4 p.m.–midnight, Sat noon–midnight, Sun noon–10 p.m.)

Beers: Drunken Hobo Milk Stout, Tom Selleck Ale, Rip Van Winkle Vanilla Stout, Nacho Brau. The Drunken Hobo will soon replace the Mulligan Stout in the regular lineup, or so Franz Solo was told when he visited recently. The Nacho Brau is another of Franz’s favorite seasonals. Get over to BBB before he drinks it all up.

Events: B3 has $3 beers every Tuesday from open to close. On Wednesday, B3 will be hosting their open mic from 8-10 p.m., with signups starting at 7:30 p.m. Check out B3’s karaoke night every Thursday starting at 8 p.m.

Canteen Brewhouse — (505) 881-2737

(Sun–Thurs noon–10 p.m., Fri–Sat noon–midnight)

Beers: Fog Nozzle Smoked Marzen, Pils Pls, Irish Red, Wine Barrel-Aged Belgian Golden, White Shine (White Wine), Tequila IPA. The Tequila IPA (8.3% ABV, 100+ IBU) was aged in tequila barrels for eight months and is now ready for public consumption. A recent addition to the taps is Fog Nozzle (5.7% ABV, 22 IBU), a rauchbier, which has all the smoky goodness you need for this sudden drop in temperature. The White Shine (9.75% ABV, 50 IBU) is a big old wheat wine that has some unique flavors. The Pils Pls (6.5% ABV, 25 IBU) is a tasty pilsner, if you couldn’t guess from the name. The Solstice Blackout lineup is listed above in our introduction. It starts Friday and will run until the Dark Side Baltic Porter is completely consumed by the Crew. And, uh, the rest of you.

News: The other barrel-aged beers in the back, waiting to be tapped, are American Stock Ale in rum barrels and Panama Joe Coffee Stout in bourbon barrels, with the latter joining the Solstice Blackout lineup on Friday.

Cazuela’s Seafood & Mexican Grill — (505) 994-9364

(Open daily 8 a.m.-10 p.m.)

Beers: Papacabra (Double IPA), Panama Red, Acapulco Gold (Mexican Lager), Hefeweizen, Chupacabra IPA, Piedra del Fuego Stoned Cream Ale, Beer for My Horses (Oatmeal Stout), Inebriator (Doppelbock). E-Rock and I had a chance to sample the Piedra del Fuego (5% ABV), which we both recommend. According to Cazuela’s menu: “This cream ale uses red-hot stones to super caramelize the sugars, creating a nutty, toffee-like flavor.” The Inebriator (8% ABV) and the Papacabra (9.7% ABV) are the biggest beers in the lineup.

Events: Cazuela’s now features a live guitarist every Friday.

News: Cazuela’s Beer for My Horses won a bronze medal in the oatmeal stout category at the World Beer Cup in Denver and also captured a gold medal in the stout category at the 2014 State Fair Pro-Am.

Chama River Brewing Company — (505) 342-1800

(Sun–Thurs 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–midnight)

Beers: Obey the Darkside Stout, Red River Ale, Radioactive IPA, Coney Pale Ale. The Red River (5.7% ABV, 33 IBU) is an ESB. The Coney Pale Ale (5.5% ABV, 45 IBU) is a recent addition to taps, made with Mosaic and Falconer’s Flight hops. Obey the Darkside (6% ABV, 65 IBU) is a delicious foreign export stout, or at least we’re biased enough to think so, but others we’ve talked to love it as well. The Radioactive (7.5% ABV, 100+ IBU) is back with a new recipe. I got to try a sample Tuesday and boy, does it have some serious hoppy bite to it. It should keep the hopheads happy amid all these malty monsters popping up across the state.

News: Head brewer Zach Guilmette has revamped the recipe for Chama’s Jackalope IPA to give it a stronger kick and tastier palate. Franz Solo and I also highly recommend you try the revamped Sleeping Dog Stout. It’s creamy and burly and sweet and roasted … it’s got everything you want in a stout.

Kaktus Brewing — (505) 379-5072

(Hours Mon-Thu 2-9 p.m., Fri-Sat 11:30-10 p.m., Sun 11:30-9 p.m.)

Beers: Oatmeal Stout, Gunslinger Cherry Smoked Brown, Helles Lager, ESB, Red Ale, German Alt Lager, Jabberwocky IPA, London Porter, Holiday Peppermint Stout. Kaktus has seen a massive turnover in beers recently with the Oatmeal Stout, Helles Lager, ESB, Red Ale, and London Porter returning to taps. The newest beers to try are the Gunslinger Cherry Smoked Brown and the Holiday Peppermint Stout. Located at 471 South Hill Road in Bernalillo, Kaktus is one of the state’s newer breweries. It is a small, casual place, similar to Blue Heron in appearance and comfort factor. Kaktus owner Dana Koller said fans can expect the nanobrewery to go through its most popular styles quickly, though they will always have something new and exciting available as a replacement.

Events: Kaktus has several new weekday specials including $3 pints on Monday, $9 growlers on Tuesday, $6 bison nachos on Wednesday, and $8 Frito pie and beer on Thursday.

The Desert Darlings belly dancers will perform from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sunday. If you’ve never seen the Desert Darlings in person, you’re missing out.

News: For the remainder of the year, all growler refills at Kaktus are just $8. Talk about happy holidays!

La Cumbre Brewing — (505) 872-0225

(Open every day at noon)

Beers: 4th Anniversary Barley Wine, Mind Phoq, C3-PA, Gracias Por Fumar. The Gracias Por Fumar was aged in wine barrels and is available on tap and in bombers. Mind Phoq, a coffee pale ale, is an experimental new beer. It uses an Ethiopian light roast from Prosum Roasters and is lightly hopped to showcase the coffee flavor. As LC said on their Facebook page, “It’s so good it will blow your mind!” Another recent addition is the C3-PA (6.2% ABV, 43 IBU), a pale ale brewed with Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook hops. The 4th Anniversary is an English-style barley wine aged in rum barrels. It’s delightfully sweet, enough to hide the huge 10.5-percent ABV. You can also buy it in bombers at the brewery and Jubilation. Oh, and don’t panic about Project Dank and Red Ryeot no longer appearing here as seasonals. They are now part of La Cumbre’s regular lineup.

Lizard Tail Brewing — (505) 717-1301

(Sun–Weds 9 a.m.–11 p.m., Thurs–Sat 9 a.m.–midnight)

Beers: German Blonde Ale, Berliner Weisse, Belgian Abbey, IPA, Amber, Oatmeal Brown, India Black Ale, Rye Stout, Porter, Dubbel, Biscochito Brown, Belgian Strong Dark. Both Brandon and I have had chances to visit Lizard Tail, which is one of the newest breweries in town, located in the shopping center on the southeast corner of Eubank and Montgomery. They specialize in malt-forward beers. The German Blonde (5.5% ABV, 20 IBU) is a good place to start. The Berliner Weisse (4.3% ABV, 8 IBU) is not nearly as sour as most of its genre. The Belgian Abbey (6.8%, 25 IBU) is a good example of its style. The IPA (6.8% ABV, 70 IBU) has a good mix of Mosaic, Warrior, and Galaxy hops. The Rye Stout (5.5% ABV, 35 IBU) has a nice flavor but lacks body. The first batch of Oatmeal Brown (4.2% ABV, 25 IBU) needed some work, but I got to sample the second batch that will be on tap soon and it’s improved. The Honey Pale Ale (6.3% ABV, 35 IBU) has run out for a little while, but it will be back soon. The Porter (5.6% ABV, 35 IBU) is a semi-smoky, thick beer that goes perfectly with the cooler weather. The Biscochito Brown (8.5% ABV, 25 IBU) is not overly sweet. The Lizard Tail staff said the next batch will be a little maltier. The newest beer on tap is the Belgian Strong Dark (9.7% ABV, 30 IBU).

News: Lizard Tail’s happy hour runs seven days a week from 3 to 6 p.m. You get $1 off food, flights, and pints.

Events: Lizard Tail will host Geeks Who Drink every Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Marble Brewery — (505) 243-2739

(Mon–Sat noon–midnight, Sun noon–10:30 p.m.)

Beers: Double White, Double IPA, Imperial Red, Nitro Pub Ale, Pumpkin Noir, Reserve Ale, White Out, Imperial Stout. A fairly recent addition is White Out (9% ABV), a burly Belgian-style ale. The popular Pumpkin Noir is nearing the end of its run. The Nitro Pub Ale is what Boddington’s was meant to taste like. It’s a creamy little delight. This year’s batch of Reserve Ale is a cacophony of flavors. Both it and the Brett IPA (which is not on tap) are available for sale in bombers at Marble and up at Jubilation. There is also the rotating “black handle,” which tends to feature some impressive “secret” beers. The Double White and Imperial Red brought home gold medals from GABF.

Cask: Check out Marble’s cask (a.k.a. “real” ale) selection on tap every Friday at the Downtown Pub.

Events: Brewery tours occur at the Downtown Pub every Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

Nexus Brewery — (505) 242-4100

(Sun–Thurs 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–midnight)

UPDATED >>> Beers: Dry Stout, 2013 Barley Wine, Warp 10 Golden Strong. Brewer Kaylynn McKnight popped an aged keg or two of the Barley Wine. This year’s Equinox was best described as a Christmas cookie in a glass, which is probably why it ran out so quickly, because you all drank it up. Don’t worry, though, we’ve heard something Trekkie is coming next week. We’ve been able to get over there and try the Dry Stout and came away quite impressed. The Dry Stout is bold and thick, the kind of burly beer you want in the winter (or year-round if you’re like us). The most recent addition to taps is the Warp 10 Golden Strong, an English-style golden ale.

Events: Nexus serves up Happy Hour All Day on Tuesday featuring $3 pints. Also on Tuesday, Nexus will be hosting their comedy open mic, Young Dumb and Full of Comedy, starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Sun Room.

While “The Walking Dead” is done until early 2015, you can still play Walking Dead pinball in Nexus’ community room. It’s one of four pinball machines now available for some nostalgic fun.

Pi Brewing at Nicky V’s Neighborhood Pizzeria — (505) 890-9463

(Sun–Thurs 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–10 p.m.)

Beers: PiPA, West Coast Red, Bourbon Vanilla Porter, Lost Grain English Summer Ale, Pre-Prohibition Pilsner. While Pi Brewing is not open to the public yet, they are able to brew and serve their beers next door at Nicky V’s. The IPA and West Coast Red are both good hoppy beers. We’ll keep tabs on when Pi itself opens. For now, grab a pint and some tasty Italian food. The PiPA will now be a regular beer, replacing the Unchallenged IPA. The scrumptious Bourbon Vanilla Porter is back, replacing the Robust Porter.

Ponderosa Brewing Co. — (505) 639-5941

(Sun 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Mon–Sat 11 a.m.–11 p.m.)

Beers: Ghost Train IPA, Rip Saw Red, Crosscut Kolsch, Double IPA, Dunkelblitzen, Chocolate Pumpkin Porter, Breakfast Stout, Marbelous (Imperial Rice Lager), Nikolaus Spiced Lager, Bavarian Belle Hefeweizen. Ponderosa is located at 1761 Bellamah NW, which is just east of Rio Grande and due north of the NM Natural History Museum, in the bottom floor of a swanky-looking apartment/retail complex. The Marbelous (7% ABV) was brewed as a tribute to Marble’s Ted Rice, whose staff has helped Ponderosa in their early months of existence. The Nikolaus is a Weihnachtsbier, a traditional Bavarian dark lager brewed for the holidays. The new Hefeweizen just debuted this week.

News: The next batch of brews will include Dunkelweizen and Ella Single Hop Pale Ale.

Red Door Brewing — (505) 633-6675

(Mon–Thurs 2 p.m. to midnight, Fri–Sun noon to midnight)

Beers: (Regular) Gateway Blonde Ale, Roamer Red, Threshold IPA, Paint it Black Milk Stout, Unhinged Cider, Trapdoor Wheat. (Seasonal) Strong Scotch Ale. The first Red Door seasonal, Strong Scotch Ale, debuted recently. We stopped by and wrote up a quick review and we’ve been back since to enjoy it again. Brewer Wayne Martinez said he hopes to have more seasonals on tap before the end of the year.

News: Take note of Red Door’s new weekday schedule for the winter months as they will now open at 2 p.m. instead of noon. Weekend hours remain the same.

Red Door has three merchandise bundles for holiday shoppers. For $70 you can get a special new insulated growler, a $10 gift card, and a hat or T-shirt. For $90 you get the growler, gift card, and a hoodie.

Sandia Chile Grill — (505) 798-1970

(Mon–Sat 8 a.m.–8 p.m., Sun 8 a.m.–6 p.m.)

Beers: Irish Red, Rattlesnake IPA, Smoked Stout. We’re going to dispatch E-Rock (he needs a new assignment) to re-establish our lines of communication with Sandia Chile Grill.

News: Congrats to SCG on sweeping all three medals in the mead category at the 2014 State Fair Pro-Am, while also claiming a silver medal for Barb’s Barrel Hefeweizen.

The Stumbling Steer — (505) 792-7805

(Sunday-Wednesday 11 a.m.-midnight, Thursday-Saturday 11 a.m.-2 a.m.)

Beers: Bang Up Blonde, Hefferweizen, Pig Sticker Pale, Iron Horse IPA, Rawhide Red, Boneyard Brown, Hop Trough (Double IPA), Soiled Dove (Imperial Stout), Black IPA. While the brewery is being built in the back of the Steer, all of their house beers are being brewed off-site, but still using brewer Kirk Roberts’ recipes. The DIPA and the Stout are limited to two per customer, due to their high alcohol content (10% and 9.5% ABV, respectively). The Black IPA is the current seasonal beer, plus there are often one or two cask beers. We recently had their Bacon Bourbon Stout and Green Chile IPA on cask. Franz Solo loved the latter.

Tractor Brewing Company — (505) 433-5654 (Nob Hill Tap Room), TBA (Wells Park)

(Nob Hill is open Monday-Wednesday 3 p.m. to midnight, Thursday 3 p.m. to 2 a.m., Friday-Saturday 1 p.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday 1 p.m. to midnight; Wells Park is open Monday-Thursday 3 p.m. to close, Friday-Sunday 1 p.m. to midnight.
 Last call 30 minutes before close. 
No package after midnight.
 Brewery tours Saturday at 1 p.m.)

Beers at Nob Hill: Little Red Rye-ding Hood, Turkey Drool, Mustachio Milk Stout, Javi Light Lager, Berry Cider, Winter Hop IPA, Chocolate Milk Stout.

UPDATED >>> Beers at Wells Park only: Jack the Sipper, Barn Burner Pale Ale, Apple Cider. All of the Nob Hill seasonals are also at Wells Park, which has 24 total taps (Tractor’s five regular beers have two taps apiece). We love us some Turkey Drool (8% ABV) this time of year. It’s a brown ale with all sorts of holiday-themed spices and other added ingredients. This year’s batch is arguably the best yet. The Little Red (5.8% ABV) has a malty rye kick. Jack the Sipper (7% ABV) is Tractor’s take on a spiced pumpkin ale. The new Winter Hop IPA (6.4% ABV, 70 IBU) uses a blend of fragrant hops and caramel malts for a unique twist on the popular style. The Chocolate Milk Stout should tide over your sweet tooth. New to taps this week is the Barn Burner (6% ABV, 52 IBU), a bitter little pale ale that uses 40 pounds of El Dorado hops.

News: Congrats to Tractor and their Mustachio Milk Stout, which won in the Best of Albuquerque competition from ABQ the Magazine.

Mustachio’s bigger, meaner brother, Luna de los Muertos Russian Imperial Stout, is aging in the back, including some in a barrel. Oh, man, that could kill us … but we’d die happy.

Events: Today (Wednesday) at Wells Park, you can come met the band The Burning of Rome before they head over to Sunshine Theater to play a sold out show. The band will arrive at 3 p.m. and hang out with fans, and they’ll give away some free tickets and merchandise to a few lucky people.

Tonight (Wednesday) at Nob Hill, the Solos on the Hill series continues with Eryn Bent performing at 8:30 p.m.

The Thirsty Thursday series is back at Wells Park with Chad Barela performing at 8 p.m.

The In the Mix series is back Saturday at Wells Park as DJ Buddha Funk performs at 9 p.m.

Also, every first Monday of the month at both Tractor locations is Beer for a Better Burque night. For every pint you buy $1 can go to one of four charities that have partnered with Tractor. You can also opt to purchase a special growler with the logo of your favorite charity.

Turtle Mountain Brewing Company — (505) 994-9497

(Kitchen hours: Mon–Tues 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Wed–Thurs 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Sun 10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Reminder: TMBC closes early when business dictates. Please call.)

Beers: (House) McDay’s Cream Ale, Oku Amber, Parasol White IPA, Hopshell IPA, Piedra Lisa Porter, Heidelberg Helles. (Seasonal/specialty) Cascade Session Pale Ale, Uberaltbier, A Little Somethin’ Pumpkin, Rio Grande Tortoise Black IPA, Devil to Pay Double IPA, Wild Hunt Winter Warmer. To help us out for now and the future, brewer Tim Woodward broke down what will be the regular beers on tap (under House) and the current list of seasonals. That’s a pretty solid regular lineup. I personally really enjoyed the Porter and Amber, the latter of which trumps most of its genre in terms of flavor. The Heidelberg Helles (5.1% ABV, 25 IBU) has rejoined the regular lineup for good, or so Tim hopes. The new beers here are the Devil to Pay DIPA (7.7% ABV, 125+ IBU), a hop monster for the holidays brewed with Cascade and Chinook, and the Wild Hunt Winter Warmer (7% ABV, 31 IBU), which was brewed with orange peel, nutmeg, fresh ginger root, clove, and molasses.

Santa Fe breweries

Blue Corn Brewery — (505) 438-1800

(Daily 11 a.m.–10 p.m.)

Beers: Snow Advisory, Monks Mesa (Belgian Blonde), Meltdown Chocolate Porter, Rakau Single Hop IPA. The Monks Mesa (4.5% ABV, 15 IBU) is a Belgian blonde table beer. The Meltdown used no less than 25 pounds of cocoa nibs. The Rakau, using a powerful New Zealand hop, is now on tap. New to the lineup is Snow Advisory (7.5% ABV, 17 IBU), a winter warmer.

News: Next up in the beer list is a White DIPA.

Events: Thursday at the Brewer’s Table Holiday Party is this week starting at 6 p.m. It costs $20 and reservations are required. For more info click the Facebook link here.

Duel Brewing Company — (505) 474-5301

(Sun 11 a.m.–8 p.m., Mon–Tues 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Wed–Sat 11 a.m.–midnight)

Beers: Bad Amber, Fiction (IPA), Fantin (Double Pale Ale), Marcel (Witbier), Whistler (Blonde), Dark Ryder (Dark Strong), Grunewald (Imperial Porter), Goya (Imperial Stout). The lineup got a shakeup with some big beers joining the rotation. Dark Ryder and Grunewald check in at 11-percent ABV, while Goya (15.9% ABV) is a monster of a beer. It will be available on tap and in bombers at the brewery this Friday.

Events: The life drawing session is $25 and is held each Sunday morning from 11-1 (although they are not open to the drinking public till 1 p.m. on Sun). You get the beverage of your choice, a Brussels-style waffle made with their own yeast and beer and then served with a Grunewald Syrup. Everyone then draws from a nude model. People can sign up through the website or call the brewery to reserve a spot.

Santa Fe Brewing Company — (505) 424-3333

(Mon–Sat 11 a.m.–10 p.m., closed on Sunday)

Beers: Double White IPA, Black IPA. The first beer in the new Ever Changing Series is a Double White IPA, which Luke of the Brew Crew bullpen recently reviewed. The Kriek, which won a bronze medal at GABF this year, is on sale around the state in bombers, though it is no longer on tap. The 12 Beers of Christmas continues this week. Click that link for a full schedule of what’s on tap; beers go online at 5 p.m. on weekdays.

Events: $1 Off Growler Refills in the Tasting Room on Mondays. $2 pint Tuesdays at the Eldorado Taphouse. On Wednesday, there is a $2 Pint Special in the SFBC Tasting Room, and the Sangre de Cristo Craft Brewers’ Meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Tasting Room as well on the third Wednesday of every month. On Thursday, there will be $1 Off Growler Refills at the Eldorado Taphouse.

News: SFBC will soon be opening a taproom in Albuquerque. Here are all the details that Luke, our Santa Fe correspondent, could find. It sounds promising.

Second Street Brewery — (505) 989-3278 (Railyard), (505) 982-3030 (original location)

(Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Sunday noon-9 p.m.)

Beers: Kolsch, IPA, Cream Stout, Chinook Imperial Porter, Huell Melon Pilsner, Fulcrum IPA, International Style Steam, Festivus Ale, Anniversary Ale. The new International Style Steam and Festivus Ale make their debuts this week, while the Huell Melon Pilsner is back after a short absence. The Anniversary Ale will see its recipe tweaked and will now feature a blend of Millennium, Columbus, Chinook, Citra, and Comet hops. Coming soon will be Trebuchet Imperial IPA, which completes a “trilogy” with Pivotal and Fulcrum IPAs.

Events: This month’s Cask-n-Curry Night is Thursday, featuring Festivus Ale.

Also this weekend, Alpha Cats perform Friday night at the original location and Bill Hearne performs Saturday. Shows at the Railyard will feature Alex Culbreth on Friday and the Kodama Trio on Saturday, performing the entirety of “It’s a Charlie Brown Christmas.”

Every Wednesday night, both SSB locations host Game Night. SSB has game boards and dominoes or bring your own … oh yeah, they also have discounted pitchers!

Other breweries you need to visit

Twisted Chile Brewing — (575) 835-2949

(Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri–Sun 11 a.m.–11 p.m.)

Beers: Pilabo Pale Ale, Venom IPA, English Porter, Zia Pilsner. Twisted Chile has been open for a while as a restaurant, but as the name might imply, they are also brewing their own beer on site. Located in Socorro at 115 Abeyta St. W, they are the first brewery there to brew on site since Socorro Springs outsourced their brewing to Eddyline in Colorado. I got to head down there recently and enjoyed all the beers I sampled. Kudos to Twisted Chile for bring quality craft beers back to a town that needed ’em. The newest beer on tap is the English Porter, which will get a more formal name soon. The Zia Pilsner is done in the German style.

Events: Twisted Chile has specials running during Monday and Thursday Night Football every week.

Tonight (Wednesday) is Open Mic Night from 6 to 9 p.m. It will be the final one until 2015.

Celtic Sessions will perform Sunday starting at 2:30 p.m.

* * * *

That’s all for this week! If you have any questions or comments, leave them below or contact us on our Facebook page.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Greetings everyone, Stoutmeister here with the third post in the Look Back/Look Ahead Series for 2014-15. Our La Cumbre story ran last week and our Kaktus story debuted Monday. As the year draws to a close, rather than just write up a single summary review of the last 12 months in beer, I decided to take what free time I have and go talk in person to breweries in the ABQ area to get their thoughts on both the year that was and the year to come. I’m not going to put up any sort of schedule for this series, and it will likely extend beyond December and into January with other Crew members chipping in as well.

It has been a big year for Bosque Brewing and they are only just getting started.

It has been a big year for Bosque Brewing and they are only just getting started.

To say that it has been a busy year over at Bosque Brewing Co. would be an understatement. The little brewery on Albuquerque’s north side has expanded in more ways than one. They hired award-winning brewer John Bullard from Blue Corn, bought a whole new set of brewing equipment that was installed in the space next door to their taproom, began selling their beer at bars and restaurants, and oh, yeah, they opened two new taprooms. Well, technically only the Las Cruces taproom is open right now, but Nob Hill, through fits and starts, is closer than ever to opening as well.

In order to recap all of this madness, during which they have produced some amazing beers and picked up a certain IPA trophy and their first GABF medal, I sat down with co-owner Gabe Jensen and John Bullard.

Bosque's first bottle release is set for Wednesday at the brewery and at Jubilation. (Photo courtesy of Bosque's Facebook page)

Bosque’s first bottle release is set for Wednesday at the brewery and at Jubilation. (Photo courtesy of Bosque’s Facebook page)

First up, there will be a little party Wednesday night. Bosque is releasing their first bottled beer, Scotia Limited, which is their uber-popular Scotia Scotch Ale aged in bourbon barrels provided by Jubilation Wine & Spirits. Bottle sales will commence at 5 p.m. and then at 5:30 there will be live music by The Real Matt Jones. You can also take tours of the brewery and potentially snag some additional samples of some unreleased and rare specialty beers. While not confirmed, it could be the first opportunity to try Jet Black Winter, a Russian imperial stout on nitro (!), as well as Whirlpool Lager, an American pale ale with 55 pounds of Mosaic hops added at the whirlpool phase of brewing and using a lager yeast to create both a hoppy and malty flavor combination with an amazing aroma, John said. Bottles of Scotia Limited will also be on sale at Jubilation, but there are not many available, so get them quick.

This release party caps a banner year for Bosque, though it was hard work to get to this point.

Bosque's brewing staff poses with the IPA Challenge trophy back in July. From left, head brewer John Bullard, assistant brewers Ira Strain-Bey and Ryan Jameson, and founding brewer Gabe Jensen.

Bosque’s brewing staff poses with the IPA Challenge trophy back in July. From left, head brewer John Bullard, assistant brewers Ira Strain-Bey and Ryan Jameson, and founding brewer Gabe Jensen.

“Is it over yet?” Gabe asked with a tired smile. “It’s stretched me as a person, as a owner, as an operator … but it’s been good, it’s definitely been good. Just when you think that you understand delays and hopes and dreams dashed, then you see them in another light. Oh, man, it can get worse. Awesome. But then at the same time as we see Las Cruces is actually open. It really does happen eventually. That’s encouragement for the Nob Hill site.”

Gabe and the rest of the Bosque staff have tried to focus on the positives.

“The ups have been really high — Las Cruces (and) a bronze medal at GABF is probably the highlight of our year, I would say,” Gabe added. “(Winning) the IPA Challenge was awesome. Both of those were pretty big.

“The downs, man, the delays. It’s a weird thing to be so high and also have this thing just out of your grasp. It’s kind of like, have you ever dropped a piece of paper out of your car and the wind catches it as you’re running after it? That’s what it reminds me of.”

The still unopened Bosque Taproom in Nob Hill, located near Central and Girard.

The still unopened Bosque Taproom in Nob Hill, located near Central and Girard.

The most common delays breweries can face in opening new locations are usually tied to issues with government or even just the neighborhoods they operate in. That has not been the case in Nob Hill.

“I wish I could explain it,” Gabe said. “There’s no way to even explain what has happened over there so I’m not going to try. I will say it was not the neighborhood association and it was not licensing. It was all having more to do with the building and construction and things falling through and changing. Any time you have to start over it takes longer.”

While Nob Hill has been a point of frustration, Bosque’s Las Cruces taproom came together fairly quickly and is now open for business.

“Las Cruces, though, we opened on Friday,” Gabe said. “We had a nice, nice crowd for opening day. All we did was post on Facebook saying we’re open tomorrow. We sold a little over 500 pints on our first day. The next couple of days have been solid. You know us, we don’t do a lot of craziness. That’s what we’ll do in Nob Hill, too. One day we’ll be like, hey, we’re open.”

John Bullard atop his throne, also known as a brewhouse.

John Bullard atop his throne, also known as a brewhouse.

All of this expansion would not have been possible without luring John down from Blue Corn, where he had already claimed the IPA Challenge trophy in 2013, followed by two silver medals at the Great American Beer Festival that fall.

“The cool thing about John is not only is he an amazing brewer, we know that and a young one at that so what upside does he have? Oh, man, I’m excited. He fits in here at Bosque. He’s already oozing Bosque culture and assimilating him in as a person was not hard.

“It’s kind of a weird thing, Bosque 2.0 as we called it, it feels like he’s been here forever. There’s been so much change back there that it’s hard to even remember where we came from, where we were at. This is us now and I’ve been looking forward so much it’s hard to look back. I did a little bit when we were helping the (Los Alamos Beer) Co-op load the (old brewing equipment) up. They picked it up a month ago. We had to get it out of the empty space over there because we’re taking it over.”

John agreed that it has been a rewarding experience moving from Blue Corn to Bosque.

Gabe Jensen rocks the awesome Scotia Scotch X-Men-style shirt in the brewery.

Gabe Jensen rocks the awesome Scotia Scotch X-Men-style shirt in the brewery.

“It’s been awesome, amazing,” John said. “We’ve come a long ways just since I’ve been here. We’ve got our first bottled offering and that’s my very first bottle, that’s awesome. It feels really, really good. We’ve got Las Cruces open and Nob Hill right around the corner.

“It’s been so easy to get along with these guys and work side-by-side with all of them. It’s really easy for all of us to understand what Bosque is and what Bosque’s about. It’s such a straight-forward image and feeling for all of us. It’s a good thing.”

The positive buzz around Bosque beers has only continued to increase, which is always music to a brewer’s ears.

“Sales have continued to climb,” John said. “All of the internet reviews keep going up. Everything keeps increasing. I think people are happier and happier with the beers.”

All of that has come despite the adjustments that John and his assistant brewers have had to deal with on their massive new brewhouse and setup.

“With this new system, we’ve had kinks,” John said. “That’s just part of building a bigger brewery and learning how things work, dealing with equipment malfunctions and stuff. We’re understanding the entire brewery setup.”

The Bosque staff poses with their bronze medal at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival. (Photo courtesy of Bosque)

The Bosque staff poses with their bronze medal at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival. (Photo courtesy of Bosque)

Working around those kinks, John was able to win the IPA Challenge again this year while also snagging Bosque’s first GABF medal, a bronze in the Fresh or Wet Hop Style for Acequia IPA.

“We were up there with some really good names (at GABF),” John said. “To be up there with (Barley Brown’s Brew Pub’s) Pallet Jack, that means a lot. That guy has in multiple competitions has beaten me out. To be in the top three with him feels really good.”

As for the IPA Challenge trophy, which sits prominently on the bar top at Bosque, John said keeping it for another year will be quite the, ahem, challenge.

“We’re going to lose that sooner or later,” he said. “There’s so many breweries coming in and really making great beers, too. That’s a really fun competition. I enjoy that competition. Chama got close this year. Marble really made a presence. (La Cumbre’s Jeff) Erway makes something specific, that will always be trouble.”

Bosque's Las Cruces taproom is open and already filled with thirsty patrons. (Photo courtesy of Bosque)

Bosque’s Las Cruces taproom is open and already filled with thirsty patrons. (Photo courtesy of Bosque)

Slow it down and then rev it back up again in 2015

The biggest initial challenge in 2015 for the entire Bosque staff will be adjusting to now having to produce enough beer to keep the two new taprooms humming.

“We hope to have Nob Hill open before 2015,” Gabe said. “We’re doing everything we can to do that. We’re just trying, trying, trying. We’re getting up against the holidays.

“I hope to take a break from expansion for at least a month and then go at it again. We’re going to get our bottling machine, not a line, but a little four-headed bomber. We’ve still got plans on canning but we’ve got to see what these taprooms are going to do. Our capacity is what, 90 to 100 barrels a week right now. That’s about 5,200 barrels a year. All of a sudden we go from this taproom, which is not in the greatest location in the world, to having two taprooms across from universities. I’m guessing we’re going to sell more beer there than here.”

John said he has been prepping for that for a while now.

Awesome brews like Prospect Milk Stout have us in the Crew excited about else John Bullard has planned for 2015.

Awesome brews like Prospector Milk Stout have us in the Crew excited about else John Bullard has planned for 2015.

“We’ve planned to more than double production to keep up with everything that’s opening with Las Cruces and Nob Hill,” John said. “So that’s huge. With the new sales guy on our team, he’s going to start moving in January, really start to push our distribution. Really keeping up with production is going to be the focus for the next couple months.”

In addition to a new sales rep for Bosque, John said they may add a fourth member to the brewing team.

“With production doubling we’ll probably have to add someone,” he said. “Just to clean and fill kegs alone is nearly going to be a full-time position, I think.”

While bracing for the production increase is at the top of the to-do list, John is still planning on keeping things fun and innovative with the seasonal/specialty beer list.

“I can’t wait to start playing with some different yeast strains,” he said. “That’s something Bosque hasn’t done a whole lot of, that’s something I haven’t done a whole lot of. That’s going to be a good opportunity to offer more unique beers, different twists on some traditional beers. We’re really hoping to push some more barrel aging. We’re just going to do everything.”

Two new beers due out in January will be a white pilsner and a black pilsner, two extremely rare styles that should keep beer lovers on their toes.

Bosque has come a long way since the Crew took a tour even before the first pint was brewed.

Bosque has come a long way since the Crew took a tour even before the first pint was brewed.

All of that beer love is showing not only among locals but from around the country. John said he could not be happier to see Albuquerque ranking among the top beer cities nationally, but it is a ranking the city’s breweries will have to fight to maintain.

“It excites me to think we’re getting national recognition that’s being produced out of this city,” he said. “But on top of that, the new places that are opening I hope that they can maintain this quality that so many of the brewers in New Mexico have worked to establish. There’s a lot of places opening. We just hope that they can open with good beers.

“I think that’s going to continue with the more breweries we have, the more craft beer that’s being consumed, that’s more education for the consumer. They’re becoming more and more educated with what good beer is.”

With a little luck and a lot of hard work, Bosque should continue to be at the forefront of the local beer scene. Even if they slow it down for a moment, do not expect that to last for long.

“We’re not going to take a break, but we’re going to take our foot off the gas a little bit at the beginning of the year,” Gabe said. “But I get bored really quick so don’t be surprised if we make more announcements soon.”

Thanks to Gabe and John for taking time out of their days to chat, and thanks to every member of the Bosque staff for all of their hard work and hospitality this year. All of us in the Crew are looking forward to what 2015 has in store.

And yeah, we plan to be among the first to enjoy a pint at Nob Hill. It will open. We have faith.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister