This Friday, Blue Corn is hosting their second annual Cask Festival at the southside location, bringing together at least half of the operational breweries north of La Bajada hill. OK, Burqueños, that’s that big hill between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
Blue Corn organized this special event with seven excellent breweries on the roster, including one brand-new, not-yet-open (as of the writing of this article) place, Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery. Blue Corn has always been a great host for beer dinners. If you’ve read my articles, you’d already know it’s going to be an excellent way to spend your Friday night.
Why cask ales, you ask? Well, we all have mixed opinions about cask ales. Some of us enjoy them, some of us are indifferent. Some brewers don’t like to serve beer in them, but they’re a part of the industry, and some would argue it’s draught beer at its best. And, though the process has been around for ages, it’s not likely to go away any time soon, because it’s a part of beer history, and another interesting way to experience something we love.
With cask ales, something else is going on in the beer that makes it different and special, not just a foamy pour from a tap. You see, the active yeast used to carbonate the beer in these metal vessels continues to age the beer all the way until it has been tapped. As the beer ages and conditions, the CO2 created by the yeast will dissolve into the beer, smoothing out the flavors, blending as a painter does colors, and toning down the sharpness of the hops.
Oftentimes, and in a few of the cases below, brewers will add special ‘extras’ to these beers to give them a significant change in flavor profile, something they (as businesses) couldn’t do on a much larger scale, such as additions of fruit, extra dry-hops, honey, and so on. These flavors continue to condition with the beer, and give it more complexity than it had at the outset. Perhaps it loses something in the mouthfeel and in the warmer temperature, but it is still a fun way to test your palate with new flavors. Just imagine, for a minute, that if you could just cut straight through some of the high rocky peaks, you could discover the dense and beautiful vegetation at the bottom of the valley. And, there’s a history lesson in the process, if you really want to get into it. But, let that be your icebreaker at the event.
Blue Corn Brewery is no stranger to cask beers. As the title of the festival suggests, it’s not the first rodeo for the brewery. In fact, it’s not even the second. Blue Corn has held a few of these sorts of events in the past, and to great success. At one time, the brewery even used to release cask beers every Friday at the Draft Station in downtown Santa Fe. (Ah, the good ole’ days.) The best part of this event is that seven breweries are coming together on one night, to chill out, to laugh, to talk about everything from brewing process to mash paddle size … er, you know, brewer stuff. And, they’re totally accessible to you, the customers, if you’re not shy.
Go up to the guys with beards, glasses, or fruit-forward shirts. You’ll find them in the corners of the event — they’re the ones laughing the loudest, and having the most fun because they’re all buddies. They know how to enjoy these things, but, it’s not an exclusive club. These guys are friendly and will absolutely tell you about their favorite beer styles, favorite (other) breweries, favorite brewed beers, and so on. And, if you’re not feeling as chatty as I am after a couple beers, just ask them which brewery they brew for, and thank them for the hard work they do. Not all heroes wear capes, my friends.
Included in the price of these seven cask ales are seven appetizers of Blue Corn’s chef’s creation. In my experience, these bites have always been worth the price of admission, even without the beer.
Blue Corn Brewery: Barrel Aged Imperial Stout with Cherries
-Black Cherry Mousse with Chocolate Shavings
Santa Fe Brewing Co.: 7K All Day IPA
-Marinated Pork Taco with Pickled Onions, Lime Cabbage and Cilantro
Duel Brewing: Fiction Belgian IPA with French Oak and Kaffir Lime Leaves
-Salmon Ceviche with Habanero and Mango
Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery: Dry Irish Stout with Honey
-Traditional Irish Stew
Second Street Brewery: XX ESB dry-hopped with Chinook and EKG
-Beer Battered Alaskan Cod with Malt Vinegar Crisps
Bathtub Row Brewing Coop: Hoppenheimer IPA with Lemondrop Hops
-Apple-Lemon Mini Cupcake with Mint
Rowley Farmhouse Ales: Biere de Garde with Brettanomyces
-Gorgonzola Grilled Cheese with Herbed Portobello
Blue Corn was gracious enough to host this event, and we have a good number of participating breweries, but one is so new, that they haven’t sold a single beer in public, to my knowledge. Friday night at Blue Corn Brewery will be your first guaranteed chance to try a beer from Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery. I reached out to Jason Fitzpatrick, co-founder and manager of business operations, and asked him a few welcome-aboard questions.
DSBC: What does it mean to Tumbleroot to officially join the Santa Fe (as well as the whole New Mexico) beer scene?
Fitzpatrick: Joining the ranks of the talent brewers and operators in New Mexico is quite an honor. (Jason) Kirkman and I hatched the idea that was to become Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery two-and-a-half years ago, and the road was tough to get to this point. After many ups and downs throughout the process, we certainly have a greater appreciation for all of those who paved the way.
DSBC: What do you look forward to most about becoming part of this very vibrant scene? And, what are your hopes for your new establishment?
Fitzpatrick: We look forward to bringing something new and exciting to Santa Fe and New Mexico. We are inspired by bits and pieces of our experiences at taprooms, bars, restaurants, cocktail parties, family gatherings, concerts, and travels, and aim to bring all the best of those into one community-centric space. With a capacity for 400 people, our taproom can serve many different experiences at once. We hope that we have succeeded. We hope to become a second home for Santa Feans, and to inspire others to explore and connect with the community.
Why you should go?
For one thing, it’s always fun to taste a beer that’s exclusive to one event. It’s not something everyone can say they’ve had. And, it’s not something you’re likely to find again. The cask beers are usually very interesting, and certainly on the ‘extra’ end of the spectrum.
The food will be excellent and inspired, as it always is, because Blue Corn has a reputation to uphold for its beer dinners. I haven’t been let down yet.
Finally, this is a great opportunity to actually go up to and speak with brewers about what they do, how they make your beer, and what kind of beers they might be making next. Who knows? Your crazy suggestion might just end up in one of their fermenters and on the chalkboards. Or, as in my case, you might convince the brewer to brew something you once loved that’s no longer in the rotation.
The second annual Santa Fe Cask Fest is THIS Friday at 6:30 p.m. The cost of $30 per guest gets you a pour of each cask ale and seven appetizers, and a chance to shake the hand of most of the Santa Fe brewers. It’s a ticket with a built-in VIP pass, and you’re cordially invited. I look forward to seeing you there! To more beer beer events in Santa Fe, and a rapidly growing independent craft scene, we raise them up, cheers!
If you see me at the event, say, “Hey!” I promise to be on my most reasonable behavior.