Beer Notes: A stealth festival, new walking tour, and an avalanche of big IPAs

No, really, they're having another beer festival in Santa Fe without telling anyone in ABQ.
No, really, they’re having another beer festival in Santa Fe without telling anyone in ABQ.

A year ago the folks up at Buffalo Thunder Casino held a beer festival that almost no one outside of Santa Fe knew about. Guess what? They’re holding it again, and once again, they have done next to zero advertising/promoting down here in Albuquerque.

Hey, BTC staff, there’s an estimated 900,000 people down here in the metro area. That’s 10 times the number in Santa Fe. So, I guess it’s once again up to us to let everyone know that Marchfest is back this Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. Tickets are still available online for $20, which is actually fairly cheap compared to most beer festivals. So, there’s that. You can probably buy them at the door as well, assuming they don’t sell out.

Beyond that, details are rather sparse on the event’s Facebook page. There is supposed to be food and entertainment of some sort (one would assume live music, but the bands are not listed). Luke, being our Santa Fe writer and all, did contact the folks running the show and got an email back. They promised to answer any questions we had. And … nada. In their defense, sorta, we didn’t know the festival was coming back until this week, so maybe they just ran out of time to get back to us. People get busy, it happens, but this also illustrates our complaint above about not advertising/promoting in the state’s largest city that’s an hour’s drive away.

So what we do know from the list they have on the FB page, La Cumbre and Marble will be up there representing ABQ. Marble will send their “classic styles” to be poured by volunteers, rather than having Marble employees (sorry, no smiling Leah Black for you, Santa Fe, we’re keeping her down here for a change) work the event. (UPDATE: La Cumbre is not attending this event. Jeff Erway says they were never even invited.) We do know that Santa Fe Brewing will be present, pouring Pale Ale, Nut Brown, and State Pen Porter from bottles; Happy Camper, Java Stout, Black IPA, and Freestyle Pilsner from cans; and specialty beers Single Barrel Sour, Barrel Aged Sour Porter, and Belgian Strong Ale. Rio Grande/Sierra Blanca will also be there, but their beer list is unknown.

The rest of the breweries present are your standard fare from our state’s distributors — Alaskan, Avery, Big Sky, Black Diamond, Boulder, Breckenridge, Bridgeport, Goose Island, Green Flash, Kannah Creek, Kona, Lagunitas, Magic Hat, Odell, Oskar Blues, Pyramid, Red Hook, Shiner, Sierra Nevada, Ska, Squatters, Stone, Wasatch. Hopefully some of them will bring some new or rare seasonal beers instead of just the usual suspects. Otherwise we say primarily drink local and stick with just your old favorites among the out-of-state breweries.

If, by some miracle, we get an actual update from BTC, I will revise this. Sorry to sound pithy, but sometimes you just have to question how some of these events are run. Sometimes festivals are how people are initially exposed to craft beer. Sometimes these are how tourists discover our beer scene. If they are poorly organized and/or promoted, that turns people away, and we want everyone to come around to craft beer in New Mexico.

New craft beer walking tour comes to Nob Hill

I sent AmyO to do a preview of this new tour, which is organized by the same people who used to do similar tours in Santa Fe. This is what she had to say.

The new walking tour of breweries in Nob Hill gets your some tasty samples.
The new walking tour of breweries in Nob Hill gets your some tasty samples.

Last Saturday, I was fortunate to be able to tag along with Food Tour New Mexico’s Nick Pena on a test run of a Nob Hill walking beer tour. The tour, called the “Route 66 Craft Beer Tour” included three stops: Bosque, Kelly’s, and Tractor. We met up at Bosque at 2:45 for a prompt start at 3 p.m. Surprisingly, everyone was on time! There were six of us total (besides Nick) and five of us were female. I don’t think “Joe” — the only other guy besides Nick — minded that at all, and it is an interesting tie-in to our current NM Women in Brewing series. Two of the women were “beeristas” (to use one of our editor’s favorite terms) from Tractor.

It was a fun couple of hours. We were at each stop for 30 to 45 minutes. The tour will cost $30 and there are three to four samples at each stop and a snack in the beginning. We were also able to ask for a smaller sample of another beer if there was one we were particularly interested in trying. The brewer at Kelly’s showed us the operation and answered many questions. Samples at Kelly’s were provided in the production area. Since the other two stops do not brew onsite, we were given reserved tables inside the tap room at those locations. We all received Food Tour New Mexico sampler glasses as souvenirs at the end.

Since I am already fairly familiar with these places, I was wishing I had a visitor in from out of town to give a fresh perspective on the tour. The tour should be available to the public soon. If anyone takes the tour in upcoming months, please let us know what you think!

— AmyO

Sampler tray

  • Based on the story that appeared in the Venue section of the Albuquerque Journal on Friday, Bosque is planning on a special re-release party on or around April 10 for Scale Tipper. In case you somehow forgot, that is the beer that just won the Brewing News National IPA Challenge, defeating Canteen’s Exodus in the final round. Now just don’t drink up all the Exodus so Franz Solo can have a taste test comparison of the two beers. Just in case, we’ll probably get him a Crowler of Exodus.
  • Speaking of giant IPAs, Father Nelson is coming back to La Cumbre soon. Exactly when even we don’t know. We’ll just bug Jeff until he relents. Or he hits us with the mash paddle.
  • Not to be left out of this giant IPA season, Tractor has unveiled Branding Iron DIPA. It will be released at both Tractor locations when they open today (Friday) at 1 p.m.
  • On the live music/events front, this weekend is packed. Tractor Wells Park has the amazing Desert Darlings performing their belly dance routine tonight (Friday) at 9. There will be live music Saturday at 7 and a DJ, Flo Fader, after 9. Over at Marble’s downtown pub, Brothers Gow will perform tonight at 7, followed by The Porter Draw on Saturday at 6. For those Marble fans who don’t want to leave the west side, head to the taproom for Squash Blossom Boys tonight at 6 and Youngsville on Saturday at 6. La Cumbre has Rudy Boy performing Saturday at 7. Oh, yeah, and Sunday is the season finale for “The Walking Dead,” so all the breweries that tend to show it (Back Alley, Broken Bottle, Nexus) will probably be pretty crowded.
  • And let us all welcome Mother Road Brewing from Flagstaff to our beer shelves here in New Mexico. Mother Road was one of my favorite stops when I went to Flagstaff last summer, so I think they will make a great addition around here. If you head over to Jubilation you can buy six-packs of Gold Road Kolsch Style Ale and Roadside American Pale Ale, or go big and get a four-pack of the delicious Lost Highway Imperial Black IPA. And then next time you’re heading west on I-40, make sure to stop at Mother Road and enjoy all of the other beers they have to offer.

That’s all the beer news and notes we have for today. Have fun this weekend wherever your beer travels take you!


— Stoutmeister

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s