ABQ Beer Week: Steel Bender gets in on the fun this year

Steel Bender is diving head-first into ABQ Beer Week.

When ABQ Beer Week rolled around last year, Steel Bender Brewyard had only been open for a couple months. Knowing that it was better to ease into things, the owners waited until this year to go full-bore into the annual madness. To follow up on our stories on all the events going on at Tractor Brewing and Marble Brewery, I sat down with Steel Bender’s Shelby Chant to go over what she and the staff have planned out.


The brewery is bringing back a favorite seasonal with a new twist and a food pairing.

“We are opening Beer Week on Thursday with the Homegrown Pils Collaboration Release,” Shelby said. “We’ve already released our Homegrown Pils, which did really, really well, it’s a great beer, but we brought down the guys from Colorado Malting and used a malt that’s never been used in America. We got to do that, so that is going to be a phenomenal beer. We’re doing the release of that that day, along with a food pairing. Our new chef is doing a turkey sausage with leek, apple, green chile, roasted peppers, et cetera.”

The beer and the pairing will be available from open (11 a.m.) to close, so long as the food lasts.

Two other non-Beer-Week-related goings on for Steel Bender that day will involve a charity and an off-site tap takeover. Thursday is Red Nose Day, so $1 from every pint sold of Red Iron Red will go to the charity. Meanwhile, up in Santa Fe, Steel Bender will be doing a tap takeover at Violet Crown Cinema, including the release of a new beer, Kettle Run: A Solo Hop Sour made with Wakatu hops. That was made, naturally, for the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story.


Steel Bender will be among the many breweries in attendance at ABQ Blues & Brews at Sandia Casino from 2 to 6 p.m.


The patio should be packed on Memorial Day.

Bring your appetite if you do not have a prior engagement for Memorial Day.

“Probably what will be our biggest event, at least that’s the plan, is the Memorial Day Bender Smoke-out,” Shelby said. “What we’ve been doing is we’ve purchased two smokers — we have two more coming but they may not be here in time for Memorial Day — but we are really playing around with doing a lot of smoked meats. Our whole thing when we opened this place and put that patio back there was we want you to feel like you’re at a backyard neighborhood barbecue when you’re out on our patio. All of our chefs kept begging for us to get smokers and we finally did it.”

Brace yourselves for delicious offerings of smoked spare ribs, smoked brisket, and smoked pulled pork. Shelby said Steel Bender has been running test batches of each over the past several weeks, and they have sold out every time. Side dishes will include coleslaw, salads, beans, french fries, mac-n-cheese, Hawaiian bread dinner rolls, and more, most of which will be made in house.

The band Royal Hills will provide the music from 1 to 3 p.m.

As the meats have sold out quickly in the past, Shelby said she recommends people show up as close to the doors opening at 11 a.m. as possible.


This one happens off-site, but Steel Bender is joining forces for a beer dinner of epic proportions.

“Tuesday is our beer dinner with TFK Smokehouse combined with Bell’s Brewery,” Shelby said. “They’re doing a five-course menu. We’re taking three beers, the (Raspberry) Dynamite, the Ingenio, and the Red. I think we’ve got three and they’ve got an opening and then they’ve got two more on the menu. They opened that up about two weeks ago; they capped it at about 40 people. That’ll be a lot of fun. The menu looks phenomenal.”

The menu has been revealed on Facebook. Bell’s Oberon will be the welcoming beer, while Raspberry Dynamite is paired with a Brazilian salad, Bell’s Lager of the Lakes is paired with Smoked Pork Firecrackers, Ingenio is paired with Margarita Shrimp Tacos, Red Iron Red is paired with Smoked Beef Short Ribs, and Bell’s 30th Anniversary Cherry Stout Reserve is paired with Mayan Chocolate Mousse.

Interested? RSVP with TFK Smokehouse at (505) 639-5668. The cost is $55 per person.

Clearly, if anyone thought that they were getting out of Beer Week with a slimmer waist, you are sadly mistaken.

Thursday, May 31

Steel Bender and Flix Brewhouse have teamed up on a beer for a special movie screening.

Steel Bender and Flix Brewhouse are teaming up with a special beer release to coincide with the screening of Beerfest, a ludicrous comedy from the Broken Lizard gang that was filmed in Albuquerque.

“This whole thing started out with (us asking) ‘wouldn’t it be cool to do something for a cult movie release?’ They’re able to get those rights to do those screenings,” Shelby said. “We’re hoping that this is successful and this becomes a regular Beer Week event for us and we keep going through different movies.”

The movie starts at 7 p.m., with tickets now available online at the Flix website. For an hour prior to the screening, there will be games and other fun activities in the main lobby.

“Also, in combination with that, Flix came out here and we did a collaboration brew, Schnitz and Giggles, it’s a Dortmunder lager,” Shelby said. “It will be released up there and it will be released down here the same day.”

Friday, June 1

Sales rep extraordinaire Adam Auden will be taking some of Steel Bender’s finest beers across town.

“We’re doing a Wild and Sour Tasting at Jubilation,” Shelby said. “That’s also with Cascade, Rowley (Farmhouse Ales) and then some other Favorite Brands (breweries) will be there apparently as well.”

The tasting will last from 4 to 6 p.m. and is free.

Saturday, June 2

Meanwhile, on the west side of the Rio Grande, Steel Bender will be joining forces with one of our favorite restaurants.

“We are doing a tap takeover at M’tucci’s Market and Pizzeria,” Shelby said. “Adam is finalizing what beers to take over there, but for sure all three bottles. We still have Ingenio available right now, but we held back from of The Judy and Bullet’s Reserve. We’ll have all three bottles there and whatever other stainless (steel kegs of) sours that we’ve got ready to take over there. (It’s) going to be mostly charcuterie pairings and it will be going on all day.”

In addition, Steel Bender will be one of the breweries in attendance at the Mini Lager Fest hosted by Ponderosa Brewing. We are working on getting full information from Ponderosa about this event, which begins at noon and costs $20 per person. Look for that preview as we get closer to the event.

Sunday, June 3

May the skies be clear and the winds be calm to finish Beer Week.

The Steel Bender staff is hoping to catch a little luck with the weather for the final event.

“We hope this one goes better than our last-day anniversary event,” Shelby said. “Our anniversary for four-and-a-half days went really, really well, then we got nailed with that really bad wind. We had all the sours out there. We’re hoping the weather holds.”

This event has been dubbed “Le Cask Lunatique,” as it will combine the tapping of six specialty casks with a performance by the local jazz legends, Le Chat Lunatique. The band will perform from 1 to 3 p.m., but the casks will be tapped before that. So what’s in the casks?

  • Cider with Cascade hops and raw sugar
  • Cider with maple syrup and cinnamon sticks
  • The Village Wit with pure honey and grapefruit
  • Sparkfitter Amber with molasses and ginger
  • Brickie Stout with raspberry puree
  • Kettle Run with agave and both the zest and juice of 12 limes

“The plan right now is we want to put them out on the bar on the patio,” Shelby said. “We actually have to build something for this. Then Jason, our chef, is going to do, he thinks right now, some sausage specialty pairings.”

After all is said and done, Shelby said she and her husband Ethan have one plan.

“And then we’re all taking a vacation until the Lavender Festival (on July 7),” she said.

That sounds like a great idea. A big thanks to Shelby for the interview, lunch, and that crowler of Brickie (a belated birthday present).

Beer Week starts tomorrow. For those about to drink, we salute you.


— Stoutmeister

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