The 12th annual Pork & Brew is one of those events that happens every July 3-5 out in Rio Rancho with only a passing interest from us here in the Crew. I mean, we would love to trek way out to the Santa Ana Star Center, but that little bit of extra incentive just was not there. Perhaps sensing this from us (or more likely, a lot of people), the City of Rio Rancho decided it was high time to up the ante and start emphasizing the brew as much as the pork. The result sounds like the type of event we might just have brave the 550 bridge to attend.
To learn a little more of what was to come, I met up with Noah Trujillo of the Rio Rancho Convention and Visitors Bureau at Boxing Bear last Friday.
“Pork & Brew is a 4th of July, family-friendly festival, but this year we wanted to expand the beer a little bit,” Noah said. “We’re not making Pork & Brew all of a sudden a beer festival. That being said, Turtle Mountain and Cazuela’s have been there the last couple years. We’ve added Kaktus and we also added Red Door. There will be microbrew options inside the building as well. Those are distributed more through the (Star Center) and Premier. There will more than likely be Kellys in the building, Tractor in the building. That’s kind of what we’re doing for beer this year.”
Noah said there will be a couple concentrated areas for the beer, from a beer row featuring the participating breweries and a beer tent where live music will play. Rather than just show up with some of their usual offerings, each of the participating breweries is set to also bring a special beer brewed for the festival.
Kaktus has already brewed Pork & Brew Pilsner, which will make its debut at the event. It is a true All-American beer in that all of its ingredients — the malt, hops, and yeast — are from the United States.
Red Door is set to brew up a special blonde ale. (If there is a theme to the beer style, it is light but flavorful, fitting the warm summer temperatures you can expect in July.) That beer is scheduled to debut with a tapping party on July 1, or you can wait until P&B itself. When we get more info from Red Door about the beer, we will let you know more about it.
Turtle Mountain brewer Tim Woodward sent us this report on his beer and a special release date where it will be paired with some delicious TMBC food: “Pork & Brew Premium Lager is an American light lager brewed with barley, corn, rice, and a touch of noble hops for a perfect balance. 4.4-percent ABV and 13 IBUs. We’ll be releasing this puppy on June 28 with the following food specials: Smoked pork ribs, smoked turkey legs, curry rubbed smoked pork loin, classic potato salad, house made baked beans, and Carolina-style “Badgerque” BBQ sauce and smoky Texas-style BBQ Sauce.”
As for Cazuela’s, we do not know what they are making, but hopefully we will hear back and let you know. Noah said they were planning on a special release party/tasting around June 24, but that has not been confirmed.
In addition to all the beer, there will be a slew of vendors hawking more than just barbecue. There will be a major barbecue competition on July 4 as some of the best in the country seek to build up their point totals before the year-end celebration in Kansas City. Many of those top cooks will have samples available for people to purchase. It is not all barbecue, however, as there will be eight to 10 food truck present to offer up plenty of variety. If it gets too hot outside for you, duck inside the Star Center itself, where there will be more food and merchandise vendors. There will also be a petting zoo and more fun activities for your kids, so for a change you do not have to leave them behind.
Noah did want to point out that he has been keeping a close eye on some of the more recent festivals-of-disaster here in ABQ (think Lions, Tigers, & Beers at the Zoo and that horrid Great Southwest Food Truck Roundup at Balloon Fiesta Park). From the terrible lines to vendors running out of food and beer, the folks in Rio Rancho took notes about what not to do with their own festivals. They will do their best to make sure none of those giant headaches happen.
As we get closer to Pork & Brew, the Crew will dispatch writers to those special tappings/tasting events for the new beers. We will also provide everyone with a full list of beers that will be available at P&B itself. And maybe, if our schedules permit, we will finally head out to this event to enjoy some quality, local craft beer and of course a metric ton of barbecued goodness.