For all the concerns about preparation, organization, and everything else, the first edition of the Mountain West Brew Fest was a big hit over Labor Day Weekend. The four members of the Crew (myself, Brandon, Kristin, Laura) who attended on Saturday afternoon all had a blast.
Just about every concern we had was laid to rest quickly, such as …
- Transportation: The Rail Runner was on time (!) and there were plenty of buses to shuttle us over to the event. Or, you could walk, it really was not that far from the station. Traffic outside the event did not appear to be overly congested, either.
- Entry: There were separate lines for people purchasing tickets, people with pre-purchased tickets, and those with tickets on their phones instead of printed out. Genius.
- Weather: OK, technically no one at the Fest had control over this, but for once the NM weather cooperated, with the rain staying away, the breeze never picking up too much, and overall it was not too hot.
- Food: There were a slew of options all around the fest for different things to eat, further helping to combat anyone from drinking too much on an empty stomach.
- Shade: When you needed a break from the sun, there were individual tents present and of course the main music tent where people could sit and take a break. Hey SPF50 only works for so long, right?
As per usual, the crowd was great. Friendly people were everywhere and no one that we saw went overboard with the samples.
Of course, since this is a beer site and all, our greatest concern was over the variety of beer that our local breweries were bringing. In the end, some could only bring their stalwarts, while others gave us a good mix of new seasonals and old favorites.
Some of our picks for the best of the fest included:
- Bathtub Row’s Black Point Stout, an excellent, year-round offering that made its first trek down from Los Alamos
- Blue Corn’s bizarrely wonderful Brown Paper Bag, an unfiltered malt liquor, and Alpha Reaper 2.0, a wet-hopped IPA
- Bosque’s Imperial Lager, which is one of the sweetest imperials we have ever tasted
- Kaktus’ solid Darkness Falls Stout and quirky Basil Lager
- La Cumbre’s hop blast of Acclimated DIPA
- Lizard Tail’s aptly named Smooth Tailed Oatmeal Stout
- Marble’s funky Saison Brux, one of the better examples of the style we have had
- Nexus’ sinfully smooth Kaylynn’s Altbier
- Pi’s punchy Robust Porter
- Rio Bravo’s Roadkill Red and the burly Black Angus Stout
- Second Street’s delightfully different 3 C’s Porter, a porter with a hoppy bite
- Tractor’s East Coast-style IPA, Big Sipper
- And of course the new, GABF-bound version of Obey the Darkside Stout at Chama River, which is even better than the version we helped brew this past winter
Over in the Premium Tent, we grabbed some Blue Corn Barleywine, which is still outstanding and seems to be getting better with age, and La Cumbre’s new Summer Strong, a pale barleywine that is now on tap at the brewery (get over there ASAP!). In fact, just about all of these beers are on tap at their respective breweries. Seek them out, especially the seasonals, for they could (should) run out fast.
Got your own favorite beers from MWBF or anything else you would like to say about your experience? Share it with us and we will pass it along to the Brewers Guild. You can leave a comment here on the story, or on Facebook, Twitter, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Just remember, constructive criticism is always best when talking about anything you did not like.
A huge thank you to all of the participating breweries, the many volunteers, the town of Bernalillo, and to Chris Goblet, who is hopefully catching up on all that sleep he missed for a month (at least).
We will leave you with a photo album from Laura, who actually remembered to take pictures, unlike a certain editor.