The Beer Premiere, the final fundraising event of the year for the New Mexico Brewers Guild, returns this Saturday with a lineup of 18 never-before-released offerings from local breweries. The event will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. at Bow & Arrow, with tickets still for sale online for $25 apiece.
I sat down with Guild executive director John Gozigian to chat about just why this is an event people cannot miss.
“It’s only $25,” John said. “You sample from 1 to 4 (p.m.), in a 13-ounce goblet, then you get a fill of whatever one you want at the end. These are high gravity beers, aged beers, sours, really expensive beers to produce. You get to actually mingle with the brewers. I think we can sell about 200 tickets. Right now we’re about halfway there. It’s going to sell out. I hope people will buy their tickets early if they want to go.”
The Beer Premiere has had an up-and-down history as an event. The first edition was held at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in the summer back in 2013.
“It was a great festival if you went to it, but it wasn’t very well attended,” John said. “I think we scheduled it the same day as one of the Summerfests. I’m pretty sure it was the Nob Hill Summerfest.”
Year Two saw the move to The Yards, where blazing hot temperatures and a lack of clarity about sampling-versus-full pours led to confusion for attendees and breweries. After a one-year hiatus in 2015, the event returned to the NHCC last summer.
“It was a great venue, but this is a small festival, and we’d like to keep it small,” John said. “The purpose is to keep it from being a big festival with long lines and you get a sample but the brewer doesn’t have time to talk to you because they’re too busy. Our purpose last year and this year is to get the brewers out from behind the booth and have volunteers pour.”
Most festivals just turn into work for the brewers and their staff members who are pouring, with little time to get out from behind the taps and talk to their favorite customers.
“We want to make it more fun for the brewers, too,” John said. “Festivals are hard on breweries. They have to show up with a ton of equipment — a tent, jockeybox, beer. They don’t get to drink anything, then tear it down and go home. This one, they send the beer a couple days ahead of time, one six-barrel, and all they have to do is show up, get a glass and talk to their fellow brewers and a small group of attendees who are looking to try new beers. I like it like that.”
Bow & Arrow stepped up to volunteer its spacious beer hall for the event, and in the future the event could rotate between other local breweries. That will help the host brewery, of course, but it also keeps costs down for the Guild and allows more of the money to go future endeavors, most notably those involving the state government in Santa Fe.
“It lends itself to a smaller venue,” John said. “I like to have it, if possible, at a brewery. It exposes that brewery to more customers. Logistically it’s a lot easier. … You have inside and outside. In this type of weather it should be a nice environment. It’s good for the host brewery. It brings attention to them. They get some spillover business. We give a percentage to the host brewery to cover their expenses. Mostly, it provides the Guild a place to retain most of the total sales that goes toward our efforts at the (state) legislature. We’re going to run a bill and we may have to play defense again, and we’ll have to hire a lobbyist.”
The Guild is also pushing the Hollywood movie premier theme, with attendees encouraged to show up in costume (which further makes sense as to why it was moved to late in the fall near Halloween).
“It’s a Hollywood theme; it always has been, we just didn’t do a very good job of promoting that,” John said. “It’s called the Beer Premiere, so it’s like a movie premier. I can’t think of another festival in the country, let alone just New Mexico, where it’s all new releases. If there is one, I’m not aware of it.
“This is the one festival where you’re guaranteed you’re not going to drink a beer that you’ve had before. That’s kind of a cool thing. It would be almost impossible to put that together on your own. You’d have to visit 18 breweries on your own. We have breweries coming from around the state.”
Without further delay, here are the 18 brand-new beers that breweries will be pouring.
- Bosque: Chocolate Mint Stout (5.1% ABV, 15 IBU), a creamy mix of mint and milk chocolate decadence
- Bow & Arrow: Coyote Waits Imperial Mole Stout (10.5% ABV, 27 IBU), aged in Wyoming Whiskey Rye barrels, brewed with cocoa nibs, cinnamon, and Guajillo chiles
- Boxing Bear: Bulldog English Style IPA (6.1% ABV, 50 IBU), made with 100-percent English malts and hops
- Canteen: Panama Jose (8% ABV, 45 IBU), variant of the award-winning Panama Joe, brewed with chiles, cinnamon, cocoa, and vanilla
- Duel: Lourd of Funk (stats TBA), imperial Scotch ale aged for six months in a rye whiskey cask
- La Cumbre: Mochavation (7.3% ABV), a nitro oatmeal stout made with cocoa nibs, vanilla beans, and Trifecta espresso
- Marble: Ol’ Maverick Barleywine (11.7% ABV), a dry-hopped American-style barleywine that has been aged for nine months
- Ponderosa: Red Chile Chocolate Porter (5.8% ABV, 35 IBU), a robust porter with organic coca nibs and Chimayo red chile in the mix
- Quarter Celtic: S’More Than Beer (5.75% ABV, 20 IBU), a London brown base brewed with actual graham crackers, lactose, vanilla, and chocolate
- Red Door: WyPA (5.9% ABV, 75 IBU), a special hoppy brew made for the forthcoming Northeast Heights taproom
- Rio Bravo: Barrel-aged Cherry Wheat (6% ABV, 15 IBU), the popular beer has been aging in oak barrels since July
- Santa Fe: Sweet Dutch (8.7% ABV, 35 IBU), a tobacco-infused old ale does not require a smoking jacket for one to drink it, but one would not hurt
- Sidetrack: Vagabond Brown (5.1% ABV, 28 IBU), a light-bodied brown ale that will be served from a cask
- Steel Bender: Figgy Pudding (9.15% ABV, 20 IBU), a Belgian-style strong ale made with actual figs, perfect as a holiday winter warmer
- Taos Mesa: Chocolate Berry Stout (6.5% ABV, 26 IBU), berry puree added to a chocolate stout base, a perfect dessert beer
- Three Rivers: Chucker the Fook Out (8.1% ABV), a Scottish wee heavy aged for 18 months (!) in a fresh Malbec barrel
- Tractor: Plum Spice Berliner Weisse (5.4% ABV, 5 IBU), sweet plums and spicy ginger combine with the tart flavors of a Berliner Weisse for a unique combination
- Turtle Mountain: Prickly Parasol White IPA (6.3% ABV, 60 IBU), a local dessert beer for those who do not wish to spend all afternoon in the dark
If and when any of these beers go on tap in the future at their respective breweries, we will let everyone know. Just in case, though, you should probably buy a ticket and have fun Saturday! Just remember, parking is limited around Bow & Arrow, so please, take a cab/Uber/Lyft or cash in a favor for a designated driver. With some of these beers, you are gonna need someone else behind the wheel afterwards.