Before the Ballast Point Draft Kickoff Party began at Nob Hill Bar & Grill on Wednesday night, yours truly made a stop by Tractor Wells Park to talk to co-owner Skye Devore about a new initiative involving the New Mexico Brewers Guild and its member breweries. As the guilds do in other states, the NMBG is now offering up a special membership for the most ardent supporters of craft beer in our state. The Dark Side Brew Crew has agreed to help out with this endeavor, so to start with, let us explain just what it is all about.
It costs $40 to become an Enthusiast Member. That money, just like at Guild-sponsored festivals, is then used by the Guild in its lobby efforts with the State Legislature in Santa Fe. As you all might remember, the Guild scored a number of big wins for craft brewing at this year’s legislative session and the hope is to continue that. How important can lobbying be? Well, as Skye pointed out, it costs $25 to get a wine grower’s license in New Mexico. A small brewing license costs $1,000. That is what the power of well-funded lobbying can do. As our craft brewing industry expands in New Mexico, it nonetheless runs into a lot of issues involving state and local governments. If we want that growth to continue in a positive manner, creating revenue and local jobs for our community, the Guild needs more help than ever.
Of course, this is not just you donating to the Guild. Fear not, you will get something back. Actually, you will get a long of things back. Maybe the biggest one is that you will be able to participate in the preliminary round of the 2015 IPA Challenge. There are now far more breweries than available spots in the Challenge. Last year 16 breweries competed, but with the state now pushing 40 breweries total, it could make life hard on the Guild to decide who gets in and who does not. For the record, the State of New Mexico has capped the Challenge at 16 when it is held in any city. There is a loophole, though, in that the Challenge could be held at a tribal casino. So the plan this year is to hold a preliminary round with 24 entries. Enthusiast Members will get to try them and pick not just one favorite but 12 favorites. Those 12 will then advance to the main rounds of the IPA Challenge, which will be held in July in Santa Fe, Las Cruces, and Albuquerque. So if you are a true hophead, this is a unique experience you can’t pass up. It will likely be held the last weekend in June, though that and the location is still TBD.
Beyond the Challenge, there will be other benefits. There should be some swag from the Guild, possibly including pint glasses and more. You will receive special discounts and other fun stuff during Guild-sponsored festivals throughout the state. And though all the details have yet to be ironed out, many of the Guild-affiliated breweries will be offering up certain mug club prices for Enthusiast Members. Tractor, for instance, will likely offer Beer Farmer pricing on growler sales. Other breweries might give you pint discounts, or special offers on clothing and pint glasses. Each brewery will make their own decisions. You will also receive a weekly beer news email, with links to stories from us in the Brew Crew and from the breweries themselves, plus maybe some special stories for members only (we’re still working out the details on all of that, too).
For now, signing up is easy. Just look for Brew Crew members out at ABQ Beer Week events. We will have sign-up sheets with us. All we need is your name and email and the Guild will contact you when everything is set in stone. If you are worried about not being able to find us, follow us on social media via Facebook or Twitter (@nmdarksidebc). We will let you know where we are so you can meet us. Or if you are not a social media person, get at us via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will let you all know.
If you have any additional questions, you have all of those means to ask us electronically, or you can ask us in person when you see us. We will do our best to answer everything and look for a follow-up post when the Guild formally sets all the benefits in place to being an Enthusiast Member.