The year is nearly over, so it only makes sense that the Crew would sit down to review everything that happened in the last 12 months. We ultimately decided that while we could pick out the top news story, this site would not exist without the support of our readers, so we are asking all of you to voice your opinion. To start, we picked out what we feel were all the major news stories involving craft beer in our state, everything from January through December.
- The year began with the news that La Cumbre was buying the building next door and expanding its footprint to set up distribution to Arizona and increasing production.
- Senate Bill 314 emerged to threaten the breweries with an increase in excise taxes. A fiery town hall followed with the bill’s sponsor, Senator Cisco McSorley. Soon a House bill of similar structure was announced. Ultimately, however, support for small business outweighed a desire for an increase in taxes, or perhaps it was just a realization that the bills were more about pushing the state toward a neo-prohibitionist stance. The bills were both defeated.
- The Albuquerque Rapid Transit project was a huge thorn in the side of breweries, taprooms, and beer bars up and down Central Avenue. It ultimately led to the closure of the Albuquerque Draft Station. Other businesses kept fighting to stay alive, and the fight was not over by the end of the year as businesses looked for new ways to bring customers back.
- In a stunning move that seemingly came out of nowhere, Chama River Brewing suddenly closed its doors. One of the most established brewpubs in the city, and one of the oldest, was gone in the blink of an eye.
- Even as Chama closed, other breweries were opening across the state. Aztec finally landed a brewery as 550 Brewing arrived. Truth or Consequences Brewing opened down south. Hub City Brewing gave Valencia County its first brewery since Tractor had pulled up stakes and moved to ABQ years ago. In the metro area, Steel Bender Brewyard brought craft to the Village of Los Ranchos. The Southeast Heights landed a new brewery as well in the form of Bombs Away Beer Company. Nob Hill added one more brewery as Hops Brewery opened after years of struggles to get open.
- A huge surge in off-site taprooms was also notable in 2017. Tractor went to Four Hills, Red Door went to the Northeast Heights, Desert Valley moved into the old Stumbling Steer spot on the West Side, Broken Trail popped up near Uptown, and Grant Brewing from Chama opened a taproom near Tijeras. Construction continues on a new taproom for Ponderosa as well.
- Not one, but two local breweries, Dialogue and La Cumbre, were selected to participate in SAVOR, the prestigious food-and-beer pairing event held in Washington D.C.
- New Mexico breweries picked up a major award at the Great British Beer Festival again. This time, Canteen and Rio Bravo shared the bronze award for best American cask ale with two wildly different beers.
- The New Mexico IPA Challenge started off with a preliminary round surprise, before eventually finishing with a repeat champion again as Boxing Bear barely held off past winner Bosque.
- Real world disasters dominated much of the news cycle, including three separate strikes by major hurricanes. In response to Hurricane Harvey’s devastation in the Houston area, Tractor brought together 24 New Mexico breweries for Hops for Harvey, a fundraiser to help breweries in Texas.
- Speaking of hops, by the end of the year local hop farms were starting to make news. This sudden upsurge in the growth of local agriculture to support local breweries made a lot of sense. More on this ongoing story will be shared in 2018.
- Bosque Brewing had a huge year, opening a larger taproom in Las Cruces, expanding its Nob Hill Public House, and announcing plans to replace the original San Mateo taproom and brewery with a larger building along the Interstate 25 frontage road. Construction on the Bernalillo production-and-packaging facility also finally got underway after a lengthy delay.
- It was another standout year at the Great American Beer Festival, with five New Mexico breweries bringing home six medals. Marble landed another bronze for its Pilsner and then snagged gold for Cholo Stout. Nexus earned gold for its Imperial Cream and Sierra Blanca also picked up gold for its Cherry Wheat.
Those are the big news stories, in our humble opinion. Now we ask for all of you to select which one was the top news story of 2017. If you would like, leave comments below or on social media.
This poll will be up for one week, so we will reveal your choices on January 4.