The sudden appearance of colorful balloons in the skies over Albuquerque, along with the occasional onset of cooler weather (hey, this is New Mexico) is always a sign that the end of beer festival season is in sight here in these parts. One local festival always looms large over this time of year, and this year was no different, as the NM Brewers Guild held the 6th Annual New Mexico Brew Fest this Saturday at Expo NM. Stoutmeister, Porter Pounder, AmyO, and I were in attendance with friends and spouses in tow for another year of tasty libations. And yes, we were more coherent than during last year’s barrel-aged beer fiasco … (My head still hurts thinking about that one. — S)
As the NM Brew Fest has grown with each passing year, this year saw more changes to the festival with the move from the Villa Hispana to Main Street to accommodate more patrons. This definitely made for a great flow, less crowding, more shade, and more accommodation for breweries, distilleries, and food trucks. Yes, you read that right, distilleries; while New Mexico craft beers are always the focus of the festival, local spirits were also highlighted from places like Algodones, Distillery 365, Left Turn, and others. Food trucks were plentiful with the new location to fill bellies with something other than libations, with Soobak Korean Seoul, Irrational Pie, and about a half-dozen others.
As per usual, the folks holding early entry tickets were allowed to storm the gates at 11:30 and were treated to first crack at pours from breweries, as well as being treated to special beverages such as Beermosas and Bloody Marys. Moreso, this allowed for a relaxed pace, as there was a solid selection of new or special beers being offered from various breweries. Here is a quick breakdown of some of the standouts from DSBC members:
Porter Pounder: (in no particular order) Turtle Mountain’s Gourd Dammit Pumpkin ale, Tractor Brewing Company’s Tractoberfest, Nexus’ Equinox, and Boxing Bear’s Chocolate Milk Stout.
Amy O: Back Alley Cali Common because I love a steam beer and they were out the last two times I tried to get it at the taproom. Turtle Mountain’s Hopshell IPA, and (still a favorite from when I tasted it at the beer fest at Cazuela’s) is Red Door’s Ryeson Sun Saison.
Stoutmeister: In no particular order, other than the order I drank them in … Rio Bravo’s Oktoberfest: good, traditional light marzen lager, true to style, one of their better offerings to date; Blue Corn’s Oktoberfest: another solid example of the style, good, clean, and crisp; Bosque’s The Rabble: massive, boozy pumpkin beer, but I could still taste the pumpkin amid the spices; Ponderosa’s Zaftig (Oatmeal Stout): roasted, chocolate, smooth goodness; Duel’s Goya (2015): massive monstrosity of a Belgian stout, thanks to Trent and Todd for the special preview of this as-yet-unreleased beer; Taos Mesa’s Great Scot Scottish: chewy, malty, more big-bodied than a lot of their beers; And of course Second Street’s Preacher’s Share (see below for more).
Me (Brandon): Bosque Brewing’s The Rabble: burly imperial pumpkin ale that gets the pumpkin and spice balance, boozy and bold.
Red Door Anniversary Double Red: yes, I am way behind on this one, but the hectic working dad life has me strapped for time. Regardless, this is a big ol’ West Coast-style red that is resiny as hell. I could probably only do a 6- to 8-ounce pour, but only because I need my taste buds. Delicious stuff.
Santa Fe Brewing Company Nut Brown (R2Beer2’ed with pinon): that pinon was a nice touch. Wonderful flavor and aroma.
Boxing Bear Chocolate Milk Stout: GABF silver medal winner. Need I say more?? Awesome beer.
Second Street’s Preacher’s Share: the general consensus among the Crew was that we would drink this dry, if it wouldn’t kill us of course. Amazing, developed well with age.
The NM Brew Fest attracted quite a large crowd this year, and it is always a favorite for newcomers to the craft beer world and veterans alike. Several of us talked with patrons from all around the state who traveled from places like Roswell, and even Lincoln! Both festival attendees and the folks from the breweries always seem to enjoy the festival, as witnessed in the camaraderie between all the brewery staffs. The love of great beer is our common thread, after all.
Feel free to let us know what your picks were for any standout beers, or your thoughts on the festival, and as always we can pass them along to the Guild. In the meantime, this brings the festival season to a close for this year. Now to retire to our caves for some strong ales and sports (provided our teams can ever again win some games …).
Until next time …
— Brandon Daniel