Antonio Fernandez is gearing up for his first ABQ Beer Week as head brewer at Ponderosa, and it looks like he is jumping into it in a big way. Every night during Beer Week (except for one, their usual Taco Tuesday night), Ponderosa will provide a certain pint of beer paired with a special tapas for just $7. It’s a fun way to get people to step outside of their norm and maybe try beers they would not normally gravitate toward.
According to the Beer Week website, the special will be from 4 to 6 p.m. each night. But, Antonio said he wants everyone to know it will probably go as long as the food lasts. So, it could end before 6, but they will keep it on special each night until that item runs out. Antonio said they have a new chef and kitchen crew, so they can also use this event as a way to try out some new food items. My advice — come early, come often!
There are a couple more items to note for them as well that did not get included in time for the printing of the Beer Week information. First, on Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m., Ponderosa is going to have a car show. By the by, Antonio said they will also have their all-day Sunday happy hour. That’s a bonus! That same day, they will also have a booth at ABQ Blues and Brews at Sandia Resort & Casino.
Antonio said he hopes to have a new seasonal for Beer Week, an experimental “hop burst” ale. This beer has no hops added during the boil stage, so it comes out more fruity and floral than bitter. He will give the NMDSBC a heads up a day or two before he presents another very special beer as well (so we all know when to immediately head over there), a cask of barrel-aged pumpkin porter. He used oak spirals soaked in rum for this one, folks. He knows it is weird timing and might sound strange to have a pumpkin beer this time of year, but he figured, hey, it’s Beer Week, go for it!
When I set up the meeting with Antonio, I told him it would be really quick. I feel a little bad that I ended up taking up almost an hour of his time. But, he is always so fun to talk to, and, well, there were some new seasonals to drink and discuss. One is a single-hop (Ella) pale ale that is the third in a series (in what will probably be at least six) of single-hop pales. The first two were Mosaic and Simcoe. I asked Antonio what he thought the customers’ favorite was so far. He said probably the Simcoe, and at the end of the series he will ask for a vote. The one that wins can become at least a semi-regular beer.
Also, Antonio said they think they have settled on a new house amber. Back in October, Antonio told me he wanted to come up with an amber to keep on as a house beer year round. I was able to try it and it is super clean, toasty, and refreshing. It’s the perfect beer for the upcoming summer season.
As for the other current seasonals, the New England East Coast-style IPA was somehow soft, yet bright, at the same time. My favorite was the Baltic Porter (shocking, I know!) that Antonio made to celebrate their 200th brew. It was very smooth and chocolatey.
Since it had been a while since I checked in with Antonio, we talked about a lot of things, like the neighborhood development, including the New Hotel Chaco. The best new development, though, is the progress on Ponderosa’s El Vado taproom. He said it’s really coming along, and it’s exciting because as he understands it, the license/bonding should allow patrons to walk around the El Vado complex with their beers, and not be relegated to just the small taproom area where it will be sold.
Now, get out there and responsibly enjoy Beer Week. Just be sure to keep checking this website for more previews, news and updates.