One of the highlight events for ABQ Beer Week every year is Blues & Brews, a gigantic festival held at Sandia Casino. This year’s event is set for Sunday afternoon, starting at 2 p.m. for VIP ticket holders and 3 p.m. for the general public. It is an unlimited sampling event, so make sure to be selective and careful when you are out there. It never hurts to have a designated driver or to call a taxi or Uber. You can still get your tickets online or at the Sandia box office.
There are 70-plus breweries in attendance, a mix of local, national, and international. You can also listen to plenty of live blues music, as the name Blues & Brews might imply.
So with so many places you can visit, you need to make a plan. No, seriously, make a plan, know which beers you want to sample. Some of these lists are from the guide from the B&B site, so they are subject to change.
The in-state breweries have some good offerings besides just their usual stuff.
Abbey Brewing: Monks’ Ale, Dubbel Reserve, Tripel Reserve, Dark Ale, Wit, Strong Pale Ale Reserve. The last beer on the list is a new one, but if that doesn’t fit what you’re looking for, the Tripel Reserve is always a delight.
Canteen: Dougie Style Amber, Wet Mountain IPA, 28M American Wheat. Three classics, so take your pick. Personally, the GABF gold medal-winning Dougie Style is the way to go, but hopheads love their Wet Mountain.
Duel: Marcel, Fiction, Bad Amber, Dark Ryder, Titian, Tantalus, Cezanne Printemp. Five classics from the Marcel (witbier) to the Titian (Belgian golden strong), plus two newer beers in the Cezanne (imperial saison) and the Tantalus, which will be making its debut. Plus, brewer Todd Yocham said he will be bringing some special beers out of the cellar again for this event.
Kellys: Amber, Session IPA. It’s just their two canned beers, as far as we know.
Marble: IPA, Red Ale, Pilsner, Double White, Brett Stout, Weizenbock, Rauchbier, Oatmeal Stout. Some classics plus a few seasonals. Everyone who has been reviewing the Brett Stout has been singing its praises. Here is your chance to do the same. Or if the Brett isn’t your thing, we highly recommend the Rauchbier.
NM Craft Brewing: Xtra Pale Ale, Session IPA, Wry Blonde, Rye Stout. The guys from Las Vegas are bringing some of their staples down. We haven’t tried them in a while, so in this case, pick your favorite genre and go with it. (So, yeah, Rye Stout for me.)
Pi Brewing: TBA
Ponderosa: Brunch Stout, Rosa’s Gose, Ghost Train IPA, Crosscut Kolsch. The Breakfast Stout was awesome. The Brunch Stout is its cousin. Yeah, sounds like a good bet.
Red Door: Gateway Blonde, Broken Arrow Pale Ale, Trappe Door Wheat, Baby Got Bock, Roamer Red, Threshold IPA, Paint it Black Milk Stout, Unhinged Cider. They are taking their whole lineup over, because that is how much the Red Door staff loves us. For the seasonals, hard to go wrong with Baby Got Back. The Paint it Black is our favorite among the regulars. And for the gluten-free/cider-loving crowd, Unhinged might be the best in the state.
Rio Grande/Sierra Blanca: Isotopes Slammin’ Amber, Bone Chiller Brown, Sun Chaser Pale Ale, Pancho Verde, Desert Pils, IPA, Alien Milk Stout. Plenty of staples from RG/SB, but the standout here is the Milk Stout. It was one of the better beers to stand out at WinterBrew back in January.
Sandia Chile Grill: Rattlesnake IPA, Irish Red, Dirty Steve Mead. Brewer Clinton Coker has won numerous medals for his mead. So, yeah, grab a Dirty Steve. That sounds kinda wrong, but rest assured, it’s actually all right.
Santa Fe: Happy Camper IPA, Black IPA, Imperial Java Stout, Freestyle Pilsner, Ever Changing Series #3. The folks at SFBC won’t say what the new ECS is, but we have a feeling it will be excellent. Just in case it’s not to your liking, they are bring four crowd favorites along.
Tractor: Farmer’s Almanac IPA, Farmer’s Tan Red Ale, Mustachio Milk Stout, and TBD specialty beers. Odds are, we will go with one of the specialty beers (if we get an update, we will post it). Otherwise, Mustachio is the way to go.
Firkin Brewhouse: Capo’s Java Stout, Magnum IPA, Giggle Water Wheat Ale. What’s this? A new ABQ brewery is debuting their beers? It appears so. Might have to try all three, but if time is an issue, go with the Java Stout, see how it stacks up against Santa Fe.
Rather than list every beer they are bringing, it will just be a one-by-one listing of our pick for the best of the bunch. Good luck out there!
Alaskan: Imperial Red
Avery: Out of Bounds Stout
Ballast Point: Sculpin IPA, though pretty much any choice would be good. We expect the line to be long here as the new guys in town typically draw well.
BJ’s: Six choices total, take your pick based on your style preference
Boston Beer/Samuel Adams: Rebel Rouser DIPA
Boulder: Shake Chocolate Porter
Brouwerij St. Bernardus/Verhaeghe: St. Bernardus Abt 12, a clone of arguably the best beer ever made
Durango: Durango Brewers Reserve
Goose Island: just the standards you get everywhere
Kannah Creek: Broken Oar IPA
Kona: Big Wave is the only one listed
Lagunitas: Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale
Left Hand: Widdershins Barley Wine
Magic Hat: Electric Peel IPA
Mother Road: They are tapping a special firkin right at 3 p.m., whose identity has not been disclosed. Otherwise, Lost Highway Black IPA.
New Belgium: Rampant Imperial IPA
Odell: 90 Shilling
Omission: Just the IPA, but for your gluten-free friend(s), this is the one.
Oskar Blues: Old Chub Nitro
Pagosa: Chile Verde Cerveza (Franz Solo swears it’s the best green chile beer on the planet.)
Pyramid: just the standards you get everywhere
Redhook: they only plan to bring Audible Ale
Sierra Nevada: Hoptimum Whole-Cone Imperial IPA
Sour Power: A collection of foreign sour beers, take your pick if you like the genre
Southern Star: Buried Hatchet Stout
Squatters: Off Duty IPA
Tommyknocker: Maple Nut Brown
Traveler Beer Co.: three citrus-infused beers, take your pick
Upslope: IPL, though again this should be a popular destination for everyone who has never had this newcomer to NM.
Wasatch: Devastator Doppelbock
Widmer Brothers: It’s just Upheaval IPA, but it’s a decent, middle-of-the-road example of the style.
We will update this list for any TBA above. Adam and I will be both be at the event and we will have sign-up sheets for the new NM Brewers Guild Enthusiast Membership. All we are taking down are the names and emails of those interested.