Attrition is inevitable in any group writing project. Real life gets in the way, whether through the jobs that pay, family matters, or other aspects that consume the time that was once spent writing about beer. In addition to losing some of our original Crew members to such things, the Bullpen has lost a few writers. Fear not, we still love them as people and will always join them for a pint, but with some folks departing, we needed reinforcements. The upcoming winter months — whether it ever feels like winter is another matter entirely — will feature our annual Look Back/Look Ahead Series, which is now some 40 breweries long between Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and surrounding areas. As we did the last two times we added new writers to the Bullpen, I asked our four newcomers to all write up little bios to let the world know just how much they love beer and are crazy enough to write about it for free. Please join me in welcoming them to the Crew.
Andrew Evans: Greetings fellow beer geeks, beer nerds, beer-ists, beer-ers, beeragogues, brewers, drinkers, servers, and brew enthusiasts. I want to start by thanking the NMDSBC for the opportunity to share my passion for craft beer. I hope I didn’t forget any beer-related demographics, because one of my goals is to be inclusive of the entire spectrum of beer drinkers, from your average porch beer drinker to your level 10 beer snob who wants to argue about the source of underlying notes in a 375 IBU Quadruple IPA. All are welcome. A little bit about myself, I turn 29 in a few weeks, am single, and have no children. I have lived in ABQ for just over five years, and grew up in the Chicago suburbs. I attended school at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. After graduating with a bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering, I moved here for work. I consumed my first beer about 14 years ago, but my awareness of craft beer started when I moved to ABQ and was exposed to the local scene (and might have had something to do with having a job and being able to afford good beer). At the same time, I developed a soft spot for buying local and supporting local businesses in all areas, not just beer. Today, I find myself purchasing most of my household goods at local co-ops and have transitioned almost entirely from buying canned beer to filling up my growler at local breweries. Last summer, I got caught up in the “Brew Passport,” which was introduced in Albuquerque The Magazine, and that was the turning point when I would say my interest in local breweries exploded. I realized the extent and depth of breweries in the ABQ area and in the state of NM. So many different spots, each with their own personalities that reflect the people working in and visiting them, and the buildings and neighborhoods where they are located; and defined by the art, energy, food, and yes, beer that is present within. It’s not just about the beer, but it is definitely all about the beer. Craft beer, and specifically local craft beer, quickly evolved into a hobby and now a passion. My goal as a contributor to the NMDSBC is to visit these places and share their stories in a way that is not only objective and fair but also in a way that displays my passion for local craft beer. Bring on deezbeers.
Tom Hogue: Greetings all, my name is Tom Hogue and I could not be more excited about joining the Dark Side Brew Crew Bullpen! What some may call an obsession with craft beer, I believe is more of a passion. Allow me to present the evidence, so that others may decide: Currently, I am enrolled in the CNM Brew Academy, which makes me a student of beer. I just travelled to the Great American Beer Fest in Denver, which makes me a certifiable beer-fest geek. And, finally, my first stop in any city I visit, be it in this country or abroad, is a craft brewery. Obviously, by anybody’s definition, this is … wait, I guess I am obsessed! I have always believed you can tell a lot about the city you visit by the craft beer created there, and Albuquerque has some special brews to be sure. I am proud to be from Albuquerque (I was born in Denver), having lived here since 1971. If I am not visiting a brewery or taproom, I am researching the latest acquisitions for my beer fridge! I am honored to have the opportunity to increase my knowledge of the craft while informing others about our state’s brewers, their breweries, and their creations. I look forward to providing informative, and hopefully entertaining, info on all things craft beer, and am excited to do so. Cheers!
Jadd Shickler: I can’t put my finger on one specific “a-ha” moment when things clicked for me with craft beer. That is, beer had always been there, whether it was drinking Chimay Bleue on tap in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, when I was 20 (before I knew what a fantastic and rare experience it was), stopping off for pints at the Deschutes brewery on the bank of the Deschutes River in Oregon after a long day of rafting, drowning in endless pitchers of Oatmeal Stout at Kellys BYOB back at the turn of the millennium when they still had the market cornered, or soaking in the ambience of the fabulous Novare Res Bier Cafe near the Old Port area in downtown Portland, Maine, last Summer. For someone who began his sudsy journey playing Beer Die in college over case upon case of Natural Light, I’ve come a long way. I can identify a couple of milestones, though. When Marble IPA started seeping into the ABQ scene around 2010 as a quality local alternative to domestic imports like Bridgeport and (of course) Sierra Nevada, there was a clear feeling of both pride and astonishment … “They make this … here?” And, when I discovered and devoured U.K. author Pete Brown’s excellent Hops and Glory in 2011, I realized there were rollicking, adventurous, and (naturally) humorous books about beer that weren’t simply lists of style characteristics, and which could actually be as much fun as a night at the pub. These days, I’m an enthusiast with a slant toward funky saisons, rich, mahogany quadrupels, and powerful Russian imperial stouts. And, I have to say, as someone who has lived most of his life in Albuquerque, the exploding local beer scene is one of the few things that feels truly new, exciting, and uncertain here … which has a fair bit to do with my enthusiasm at helping cover it as a member of the Brew Crew.
Shawna Tillberg: “What would you like to drink?” There’s so much power in those words. Before I started drinking craft beer, I would have shyly smiled and said, “I’ll take whatever, I’m not picky.” I was introduced to the craft beer world while I was working as a manager at a local club here in Albuquerque. One of the many perks to my job was being able to sit in on beer tastings! Up until this point, my drink of choice would have been a Blue Moon, and trust me when I say, that isn’t because I particularly enjoyed Blue Moon. I came to find out that my preference doesn’t lean towards wheat beers at all! Like many people, I simply didn’t know what I liked, nor did I know that there were so many options available to me. After being given a series of commercial lagers, I was presented with my first taste of craft beer. It was Breckenridge’s Vanilla Porter, and it was everything I could have asked for in my first craft beer. It was sweet, malty, and smelled like a chocolate bar. It was love at first drink. Since then, my beer palate has certainly expanded. My boyfriend and I have made a hobby out of checking out breweries around town, and trying all of their amazing beers. We even found our way up to the Great American Beer Festival earlier this month! (By the way, it was everything you would expect and so much more!) We have developed friendships within the craft beer scene, and I have grown to love the community that participates in it. From the hardworking brewer to the hardworking drinker, we all have an important role to play. I am in no way in expert on craft beer, nor will I ever claim to be. In fact, I am comparably very new to the craft beer scene! I do, however, have a great love for craft beer and I have a passion for letting everyone around me know where to find it! I’m honored to have been chosen to write for the NM Dark Side Brew Crew. I’m excited to become more involved in the craft beer scene, and to share my adventures with you!
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We will be back with some fresh content later this week. If anyone missed the picture we shared on Facebook, it appears the long-dormant Hops Brewery in Nob Hill is revving up again. Plus, there is a new gastropub coming to downtown, and we hope to head out to Flix Brewhouse for an advance tour sooner than later.