After taking Monday off due to the holiday, we are back today with a look at what were the best beers that we tried up at WinterBrew back on Friday. It was another outstanding event, one that every craft beer lover in New Mexico should attend at least once. The sell-out crowd of 700 was a jovial bunch, enjoying the many unique beers being poured from 18 New Mexico breweries.
As for the Crew, well, we all had our favorites. If the others want to chime in here at some point, I will add them to the story. In the interest of not going two weekdays in a row without content, here are a few of my picks for the best of the fest. (Note: Due in part to the Rail Runner arriving in Santa Fe about 10 minutes late and then the decision by security to close all booths 30 minutes before the event was supposed to end, I did not get to all 18 breweries.)
La Santa Oscura, Blue Corn: This is a delightful spiced holiday black lager that is still on tap at the brewery in Santa Fe. Flavors of chocolate and cherry mix in with the Chimayo red chile for a nice, warm kick at the end.
Coyote Waits, Bow & Arrow: At last, I got my hands on the barrel-aged version of this imperial mole stout. It is a big, thick beast of a beer, and the barrel effects bring out more and more of the spice, yet it never overwhelms the palate. It is still available at the brewery.
Galactica DIPA, Marble: Apparently this single-hop, double IPA thing is becoming a trend. Even with just Galaxy, this is a complex, wonderfully big beer. It is not yet on tap at any Marble location, so drink up the rest so a handle becomes available.
Sin Barreras, Rowley Farmhouse Ales: Alas, this specialty imperial stout does not appear to be available at the brewery, but everyone can hope for its eventual appearance. Big flavors of coconut and maple left us all wondering, is it a breakfast beer or a dessert beer?
14K IPA, Santa Fe: This one was a bit of a one-off joke, but it still leaves us hopeful for a future edition of an imperial-strength version of the hugely popular 7K. We would also like to thank the SFBC staff for donating a couple of sixers of 7K to our beer fridges.
XX ESB and Breaking Plaid Scotch Ale, Second Street: A pair of big, malty brews from the new Rufina brewhouse caught our eye. The latter is more sweet than peaty, akin to a heftier version of the Scottish at Nexus. The best news, besides being on tap, is that some of the Plaid is being saved for barrel aging.
Dark Engine Stout on cask, Sidetrack: If you have never had any of the cask beers at Sidetrack, now is the time. There is a batch currently available with dark chocolate added to the beer for an even more decadent flavor.
The Judy, Steel Bender: At some point a break was needed from the big malts and hops, so this seemed like a perfect time to try this sweet saison made with peaches and brett, then aged in Chardonnay barrels. There are still a few bottles left for sale at the brewery, so get them fast, as they are quite worth it. Drink this and dream of spring.
2017 Barleywine, Taos Mesa: Our friends from the north came down not with White Walkers, but instead a different beast. It is big, boozy, and not for the faint of heart. On your next ski trip (assuming we ever get snow), make sure to check this one out.
Infinitesimus Imperial Stout, Turtle Mountain: One of the first big beers we tried was this heavy, chocolate-y behemoth. This is more than worth the trip out to Rio Rancho for anyone living on the East Side of Albuquerque. Or the West Side. Or the South Valley. Or, really, anywhere in the state.
As for the rest of the Crew, as their thoughts trickle in, I will share them here:
Jerrad: WinterBrew 2018 was certainly a memorable night, perhaps a bit fuzzy after tasting a few of the killer imperial/double styles available. The libations that stood out for me at this event would have to be Bow & Arrow’s Coyote Waits BA Stout, with its smooth touch of spicy heat on oak and dark/roasty malts. On the other end of the spectrum, Bombs Away Brewing Company’s B.A.B.C. IPA was wonderful with its hazy, softer NE-style IPA approach. A few other notable mentions would go to Rowley Farmhouse Ale’s Aromatherapy IPA, Steel Bender Brewing’s The Judy saison, and Rio Bravo Brewing’s Grab ‘Em by the Putin Imperial Russian stout.
Kristin: While I couldn’t try that many beers since I was working the event, I loved Second Street’s Breaking Plaid Scottish. The smooth malty flavor masked its 9.1-percent ABV. This is both a good and bad thing.
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That is all from us. Hope those of you that went enjoyed it as much as we did, while for the rest of you, make sure to get those tickets for 2019!