While I was at work Saturday afternoon, a trio of Crew members joined a gaggle of our friends and other beer lovers at the eighth annual New Mexico Brew Fest. Held at Expo New Mexico, it moved back out to Main Street instead of being in the more cramped Villa Hispana. Here are their thoughts and a few photos from the fest I missed (at least agreeing to work Saturdays came with a raise).
AmyO: I really like this particular brew fest, and I am always sad when I can’t go because it often conflicts with a Lobo game or a trip out of town. Happily, I was able to attend this year. I love the super local feel of this one. It reminds me of some of the smaller brew fests in Portland back in the day before they began to get out-of-control crowded. Some people even wore costumes, and many of the attendees seemed pretty beer savvy.
The weather sure cooperated; although it was starting to get pretty warm in the late afternoon, there is always some shade at this venue. I appreciated the food selection this year. I ate the “special” at the barbecue food truck (Nomad’s BBQ). This was a hot link in a bun covered with a TON of pulled pork. It’s exactly the kind of food you need to soak up so much beer. And, it went really well with some of the spicier/fall-style beers. I also saw someone with a really great looking poke bowl. Very different, and a healthier option!
My overall favorite beer was probably the Raspberry Nitro Stout from Marble. First of all, having nitro at a festival always rates high for me. The beer was heavy on the raspberry, but not at all sweet. There was a cocoa powder flavor and mouthfeel that also added to the uniqueness. The Tripel Reserve from Monks’ did not disappoint, either.
The best name has to go to Canteen’s Oompa Lupulin DIPA, but it’s even harder to say after you have had some!
Surprises for me as far as beers I did not expect to enjoy as much as I did were the Das Roggen Weiner from Marble, and Palmer’s Double IPA (because there was much less sweetness to it than I thought there would be). A really great palate cleanser after multiple heavy beers was Ponderosa’s Ecliptic Wet Hop Ale.
My big disappointment was that I never got to try Blue Corn’s Imperial Stout. Blue Corn was late to arrive because sadly they had a tire blowout on the way down to Albuquerque. When they finally did get set up, they held the stout to a 4 p.m. tapping. Everyone was ready to leave by that time, so I never got to try it. I did have their oak-aged Scotch and that was lovely.
Franz Solo: What I loved best about this particular festival was just how local and friendly the whole thing was. Drinking beer under cottonwoods on the old fairgrounds with a great crowd of people and some fantastic local offerings, both beer-wise and food-wise, was simply magical. Highlights for me were Turtle Mountain’s Depravity barleywine which has aged extremely well since last winter; Canteen’s Oompa Lupulin DIPA, which was simply a hop screamer straight out of the gates of hop heaven; Monks’ Tripel Reserve, which is incredibly smooth and clear for a monster of a beer; and the pair of ludicrous offerings from Blue Corn, which brought its ’16 Scotch and ’15 Russian Imperial Stout, which were both stupendous. Having so many Oktoberfest Marzens as well was a real treat to cleanse the palate between some of the bigger brews, and on the whole they were all quite tasty. A grand event for the NM Brewers Guild and for local breweries and local food offerings alike. I look forward to returning to this wonderful NM Brew Fest.
Brandon: The brewery list seemed smaller this year, but I can’t blame more places for not participating in this event, with just having wrapped up GABF and all. That being said, the breweries in attendance made sure to bring some standout brews, so here’s what popped for me:
- Featherweight Session IPA, Boxing Bear: Fresh off a bronze medal at GABF. Lighter but crisp malt backing, with grassy, floral, and citrus zest notes. The low ABV made this one a good choice for the warm weather of the day. Who says session beers can’t pack a flavor punch?
- Depravity Barleywine 2016, Turtle Mountain: Not a palate-crushing, hop-forward incarnation, like some versions of the style. Tons of caramel, burnt caramel, and toffee. Chewy as all hell, but not a lot of alcohol warmth. A deceptively dangerous barleywine, loved it.
- 2015 Imperial Stout, Blue Corn: “Oh what a surprise, the DSBC liked a dark beer”… if you expected less, you don’t know our lives. This beer is a beast, it has about four different types of chocolate notes present — dried fruit, oak and vanilla, and warms you to the core. We want more of this black fire in a glass!
- V.M.O.M.G., Steel Bender: This one was released a few days prior to NM Brew Fest, but this was my first chance to taste it. Was quite surprised. Not that I thought it would be a bad beer, but I didn’t expect this to be THAT good. A damn fine take on a traditional seasonal style. Crisp, sweet malt, good spice from hops. Very solid.
- Oktoberfest, La Cumbre: I’m going to be blunt here … if you missed this one, you’re f****d. Cans are gone or close to gone, and all kegs are already gone in distribution. If you find any of this lovely beer, drink it while you can.
That is all from us. Thank you to Kevin Hopper for the tickets, and thank you to all the breweries for bringing some of their finest offerings!
— The Crew