Archive for June, 2018

All the remodeling has not affected the beer, which is the most important thing. Just watch where you sit.

Even with the temperatures at 100 degrees, the beer news stops for no heat wave. Here is just a little of what’s happening around the state this month.

New look, same good beer

We noticed, via social media, that Boxing Bear was doing some renovations on its pub, though specific details were a bit scarce. I took a chance that I would run into one of the owners and headed west to see what was up.

The main entrance door was roped off, sending everyone to the side door on the west end of the patio. Inside, the bulk of the pub was up and running fine, but the area with the game room, the viewing windows for the brewery, and of course the bathrooms was also roped off. Workers were laying tile back there, while signs were everywhere asking people not to touch the wood trimming, as it had just been re-finished.

After waiting a bit with a pint of Common Ground in hand, brewer/owner/busy dude Justin Hamilton zipped on by. He managed to stop moving long enough for a quick chat.

“We’ve started with the tiling, and we’re also fixing both bathrooms,” Justin said. “We’re putting in new sinks and making the whole thing better.”

Yes, the bathrooms are outside temporarily, but those are pretty nice by ABQ standards.

With the indoor bathrooms out of order, there is a “restroom trailer” parked out front. It is a bit more advanced (re: not scorching hot inside) than a normal porta-potty, though one of those is there, too, as backup.

Justin said the goal is to only be working Monday through Wednesday for the next two to three weeks.

“That’s the best time to do stuff like this,” he said. “It shouldn’t affect (our customers) too bad. Our goal is to have it done before our anniversary in early August.”

Tiling, tiling, tiling towards freedom!

While a lot of breweries these days seem to focus first on the aesthetic of their taprooms, Boxing Bear went in with a goal to focus on the product first. The hope was that would eventually pay for the necessary upgrades to the building, Justin said.

“We’re just giving this place a little bit of polish,” he said. “It was overdue.”

Justin “blamed” a certain big brewery for making everyone want eye-popping taprooms.

“That’s a double-edged sword with Marble; they created a really good standard for taprooms, but we now we all have to live up to it,” he said with a smile.

Justin also hinted that things are progressing with a possible Boxing Bear taproom, though there is nothing official to report on that, yet. He said he remains optimistic.

As for the aforementioned anniversary party, Boxing Bear is collaborating with Odd13 Brewing of Lafayette, Colorado, on Space Bear Oddity, a new hazy IPA. One batch was already brewed up north for Odd13 to serve, the second will be brewed at Boxing Bear this Friday.

We will be there for the anniversary party when it is officially announced. Just try not to spill any IPA on that nice new tile.

Good news down south

Welcome to the family, Cloudcroft Brewing!

Before I could even type up an item about two new breweries getting approved, one of them went out and announced it is about to open.

Cloudcroft Brewing, located at 1301 Burro Ave., will open its doors this weekend. Along with Lost Hiker Brewing in Ruidoso, it means both of the quaint mountain towns in Southern New Mexico now have their own breweries.

It should also make for a nice getaway from civilization for the Crew in the coming weeks, before IPA Challenge madness consumes us all. (Not to mention it is a lot cooler up there than it is in most of the state!)

Meanwhile, over in Artesia, Hopscotch Brewing has received county approval, putting it on track to open sooner than later. The new brewery is taking over the space formerly occupied by Desert Water Brewing at 1 Cottonwood Road on the north side of town, right off Highway 285.

Once Hopscotch is open, that will give Artesia two breweries again, alongside The Wellhead downtown. Other breweries now operational in the southeast include Roosevelt (Portales), Drylands (Lovington), and the dynamic duo of Milton’s and Guadalupe Mountain (both Carlsbad). There are also breweries planned for Lincoln and Roswell, plus a Milton’s taproom in Roswell is coming soon.

Southeastern New Mexico is no longer just macro light lager country.

Sampler tray

  • After making us wait for a while, HoneyMoon Brewery has officially applied for a small brewer license. This new kombucha-focused place will be opening in Santa Fe later this year, if everything goes according to plan.
  • Major construction is now underway on Southern Blvd. in Rio Rancho, so make sure to get out and support Turtle Mountain as much as you can, orange barrels be damned!

Got any additional beer news? Send it to us at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s seven breweries, one in Los Alamos, one in Moriarty, one in Red River, and one in Las Cruces also joining the party.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

The Nob Hill Summer Music Series is getting a big kickoff party this Saturday from 3 to 8 p.m. Bet you can’t guess which local brewery’s taproom will be at the heart of it! OK, that’s an easy one, of course it’s Tractor, which has always been at the forefront of supporting local musicians, vendors, and artists. For this event, the parking lot that Tractor shares with Slice Parlor and Starbucks, at the southeast corner of Tulane and Central, will be completely shut down. It will instead be filled with booths for vendors and artists, and bands will be playing the whole time. On the docket are Lenin and McCarthy, The Riddims, The Gershom Brothers, and a special performance by Amanda Machon (Red Light Cameras) and Los Metamorfos doing covers of Selena. There will be food trucks, plenty of beer, and more.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bow and Arrow hits the mark with Neon Arrow Berliner Weisse, made with blood orange and tangerine peel. Canteen kicks back with Cabana Lager and Radler Me This. High and Dry has a new sour, Mestia #4, plus more Ghost of a Moon (Pale Ale), Special Shapes #1 and 2 (IPAs), Rye Orbison, and Feb xMas Lights (Pale Wheat). Kaktus rolls out fresh batches of STEAM, Oatmeal Stout, and Cherry Blonde. La Cumbre is putting Project Dank in cans for the first time this Friday. Marble is feeling a little funky with Saison and Abbey Singel. Ponderosa will release six-pack cans of Blood Orange Double Wit later this week. Quarter Celtic wades into The Friend Zone with a new grapefruit/passionfruit IPA. Rio Bravo will unveil the IPA Challenge version of Level 3 IPA this Thursday. Sidetrack kicks back with Hazy Days of Summer IPA. Steel Bender brings back COMPA Los Ranchos Lager on Thursday. Turtle Mountain should have new batches of Count Hellesaurius and Nitro McSmack on by the end of the week.

UPDATE >>> Up in Santa Fe, Blue Corn already has Jackal IPL available, and Pineapple Gose is due out Friday.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of June 25.

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Say hello to the newest brewery in New Mexico, right off Exit 85 on the east side of Grants.

Every now and again, it feels good to get out of Albuquerque, even if only for a few hours. Our state has so much natural beauty, that even in this heat, it can be fun to explore the places we may not have been in years. Of course, beer makes any trip to the wilderness even better, especially when it is in a nice, air-conditioned brewery right next to one of the hottest places in the state.

Last week, Franz Solo and I ventured out to “Mordor,” also known as El Malpais National Monument, just south of Grants. After hiking in to the Lava Falls and enjoying the sense of near total isolation, we headed back up the road and went one exit further west to find the newest brewery in Grants. Elkins Brewing, which opened only a few weeks ago, is located south of Interstate 40 at Exit 85. It is a thoroughly charming little spot marking the entrance to the Lavaland RV Park, due west of the El Malpais visitor center.

We sat down at the bar and ordered a flight of the four available house beers — Blonde, Gose, Rye Ale, Bad Handle IPA — before brewer/owner Kade Elkins came out to say hello. Kade has to be the first brewer we have ever met sporting an Old West look.

You would be smiling, too, if you finally got to open your own brewery after 20 years of making beer at home.

“I’ve always wanted to have a brewery,” he said. “Definitely when I was in college was when I started, but maybe even back in high school. I was always interested in fermentation. I made all sorts of alcohol, moonshine-type stuff. I didn’t drink any, it could have killed someone.”

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Not sure of what beers to pick up for your BBQ? Unsure of how to quench your palate on that hike far into the mountains? We’ve got you covered! Here you will find some of the latest beers from around the state to pick up in cans, bottles, or bombers to take home. Find these offerings at their respective breweries or fine beer sellers around the state!

THE BEER: Raspberry Dynamite

THE BREWERY: Steel Bender Brewing

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Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s seven breweries, one in Los Alamos, one in Moriarty, one in Red River, and one in Las Cruces also joining the party.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

What New Mexico lacks in population, it makes up for in land area. It can be hard to find the time to make it to the breweries outside of the Albuquerque-Santa Fe corridor, even though it is often well worth the trip. In turn, most of those breweries aren’t really big enough to launch mass distribution efforts down here to lure folks to visit. This Friday, however, Taos Mesa is staging a tap takeover at Tractor Wells Park. From 3 p.m. onward, there will be 10 beers available from the Mothership right in the heart of Albuquerque. For once, we did not have to go ask for the beer list, as it is already available: Koenig Lager, Solstice Pale, Cross Eye Rye, Mosaic IPA, Hefeweizen, Old 96, Deep Thought IPA #42, Nitro Project: Scottish, British Blonde, Barleywine. The Crew has had a few of those over the years (the Barleywine batch served at WinterBrew back in January was outstanding), but we are just as eager as the rest of you to try as many as we can. We do love the concept of the far-off breweries being able to partner up with our locals. Hopefully this will encourage more team-ups in the future. We would love to see more Little Toad Creek, Milton’s, Three Rivers, and many, many more down here. Then, as they create fans here, we would love to see more people venturing out to see what else they have in store at their respective home bases. It is truly a win-win.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bow & Arrow goes big with a double beer release on Thursday, unveiling Waffle Bandit Stout and Ace Supreme Saison. Boxing Bear gets in on the trend with RasBearry Gose. Marble has a trifecta of newcomers in the American Pale Lager, Black Passion, and Cholo Lean. Ponderosa serves up the PB&J Stout for lunch and dinner. Red Door rolls out Lemongrass Pilsner on Friday. Sidetrack brings back CO-MO IPA and Guera American Blonde. Steel Bender answers your prayers for more Manana Tropical IPA on Thursday. Toltec honors the NBA champs, Chef David Ruiz’s favorite team, with Golden State Kolsch.

Up in Santa Fe, the Second Street staff is still in recovery mode after the Crab & Pilsner Festival, but they did manage to tap Fulcrum IPA, Raspberry Lager, Citraweisen, Rail Runner Pale Ale, and more of the delicious Breaking Plaid. Out in Moriarty, Sierra Blanca says pucker up with Raspberry Sour and Cranberry Sour.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of June 18. (more…)

It’s back for the 15th time! (Photos courtesy of Alex Archuleta)

The 15th annual Pork & Brew Festival is returning to the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho from June 29 through July 1. The Crew sat down with SASC director of marketing Alex Archuleta to get all the details for all of you beer and barbecue lovers.

“We call it New Mexico’s original food festival,” Alex said. “It’s been around for 15 years, so it’s kind of stood the test of time. Rio Rancho’s real proud of it.”

The goal of the organizers this year is to make the event more friendly to customers. The first change, Alex said, was to change the hours on the opening Friday from all day to 3 to 9 p.m.

“Something a little different we’re doing on Friday is running it from 3 to 9, so hopefully we’ll capture more of that after-work crowd,” he said, while also noting that it tends to be the least crowded day, if huge crowds are not your thing. “If we’re on a date that’s not as packed, it will be Friday, because people get off work and go home, and once you get home, you stay home.”

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Ponderosa’s taproom at the revamped El Vado Motel is now open.

Greetings fair readers, Franz Solo here, the other day upon learning that the El Vado taproom for Ponderosa Brewing had opened for business, I was tasked by Stoutmeister with checking it out. As it happens, the historic El Vado Motel, which first opened in 1937 and will reopen after some pretty awesome looking renovations this July, is just two minutes of a bike ride from my usual stopping point on the river by Tingley Beach.

The El Vado Motel sits just over the river on the south side of Central at New York (2500 Central Ave. is the precise address). So after a lovely late morning ride by the Rio Grande in the wonderful June heat (yes, I am a bit crazy to enjoy biking in the afternoons of June through August), I stopped in the just-opened taproom to have a look.

There are 10 Ponderosa beers on tap.

The space is wonderfully rustic, with all of the charm you’d expect for an 80-plus-year-old building, matched flawlessly with modern lighting, fixtures, and so forth. The El Vado taproom has 10 Ponderosa beers on tap at present, and is open daily from noon to close (around 8 p.m., but that is subject to change).

The patio off of the taproom itself is spacious and quite a lovely spot in which to have a pint and a bite to eat, especially once more food options arrive in the other available “pods” on site. When I rode up, several people were enjoying tacos from one of these such establishments which looked quite tempting indeed.

The patio area includes this awesome fountain.

At the back is the motel proper, which from the exterior looked like quite a nice place for both tourists and staycationers alike. The proximity to Tingley Beach, Rio Grande, and the ABQ Biopark makes this quite a nice addition to the area which, is already a lovely part of town in which to spend the day.

(You can also stop by to check out Metal the Store, an awesome clothing and merch space created by Brew Crew friend Michael Wieclaw, which is already open in the El Vado complex. — S)

Another shot of the cozy interior.

So head down and check it out for a pint or two, whether you bike (just head east on Central off the main Bosque bike trail for a couple of blocks) or perambulate down the freshly paved and finally completed Central. 

Until our next adventure, I bid you adieu!

Skål!

— Franz Solo

The beer will flow inside this building starting Saturday afternoon! (Photo courtesy of Tractor Brewing)

Tractor Brewing will open the doors of its new Westside Taproom this Saturday at noon, the culmination of a two-year effort to bring the Beer Farm west of the Rio Grande. Located at 5720 McMahon Blvd., just east of Unser on the south side of the street, between Starbucks and McDonald’s, the taproom will seat around 70 inside and 50 outside on the patio.

During the final days of the buildout, I stopped by to visit co-owner Skye Devore as she was busy putting the finishing touches on the bar top. The very fact she was on the verge of opening a taproom out west showed how far that part of town has come.

“David (Hargis) and I both used to live out here,” Skye said of herself and her co-owner/brewmaster. “We both moved east because we’re like there’s nothing to do out here. It really stuck out in my mind, when we lived out this way, when the Whiskey over at Montano and Coors closed. It was a nice place to go get a drink, but the west side just couldn’t sustain it. At that time we thought there was no real market out there.”

Population growth, however, changed the opinions of the Tractor owners.

“But, I think that what’s been happening is that people are tired of (battling) traffic and they’re looking for stuff closer (to home),” Skye said. “So about two years ago, David said let’s go to the west side. I was very not sure of that decision. I was like OK, let’s give it a shot.”

As other breweries have found out, however, just wanting to go west does not equal being able to do that. There are not a lot of buildings that were taproom-ready.

“Instead of looking for (existing) spaces, we found this one, which was just a dirt lot,” Skye said. “We figured it was a good place, it was underserved, and I had just had my twins out this way, so (I knew) there was stuff out there, there were people.”

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We’re really digging the poster.

On Saturday, the Rufina taproom will host Second Street’s first Crab and Pilsner Festival, and you’re all invited. The event goes from 11 a.m. on Saturday to 10 p.m. on Sunday. Yes, it’s a two-day festival, and it seems like the perfect thing to bring your dad to on Sunday, because it’s Father’s Day, in case you’ve forgotten. And, gosh darn it, dad deserves good beer! And, if dad’s into the light stuff, like most dads are, well, we know where he can find a few of them this weekend.

The Crab and Pilsner Festival is free to attend. You don’t have to buy tickets or make reservations. Just get to 2920 Rufina Street early enough to buy your pilsner glass and T-shirt. All pilsners will be sold at regular pint prices, but you can buy flights as well. And, we’re pretty sure they’ll let you sample a few more, if you ask nicely.

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You can wear the poster? Even better!

As of the posting, we’re still missing a few beers from some of the breweries, but there will be pilsners from 17 breweries in total.

Blue Corn — Atomic Blond

Bosque — TBA

Boxing Bear — Body Czech

Canteen Brewhouse — High Plains Pilsner

Duel — Sorachi Ace Pilsner

Enchanted Circle — Palisades Pilsner

Kaktus — Kaktus Pilsner

Marble — Marble Pilsner

Marble Heights — Thunder From Dortmunder

Santa Fe — Freestyle

Second Street — Agua Fria Pilsner

Sidetrack — Sidetrack Pilsner

Starr Brothers — Starrphire

Steel Bender — Schnitz ‘N Giggle

Taos Mesa — Koenig Lager

Tractor — TBA

Turtle Mountain — TBA

As the name of the festival implies, it’s also a crab festival, with a menu put together by Second Street’s southern chef Milton Villarrubia, which, if you’ve ever eaten at Rufina, you’d know this man can do southern food.

MENU:
Crab and Tasso Gumbo
Cup $7.50 / Bowl $15
Succulent Gulf blue crab meat and house-made smoked Cajun Tasso Ham are cooked in a seafood stock with trinity, chef’s signature dark chocolate brown roux. Seasoned to perfection with Cajun spices and served with white rice, grilled baguette, and garnished with green onions.

Snow Crab Plate
Half Portion $18.50 / Whole Portion $37
Traditionally boiled Pacific Northwestern snow crab-cluster, served with boiled red potatoes, corn, crackers, and melted butter.

Dungeness Crab Plate
Half Portion $18.50 / Whole Portion $37
A Pacific Northwest classic! Dungeness crab served with boiled red potatoes, corn, crackers, and melted butter.

Sides
Corn on the cob – $.75 each
Red Potato – $.75 each
Andouille Sausage – $3.50
Whole Artichoke with Caper Aioli – $7
Dry Creole Spice – $1

There will also be a free live show on Saturday by guitarist Combsy, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to keep us all entertained well into the night.

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Hello, proper glassware!

This will be a different festival than our Albuquerque crowd will be used to, but then again, this model seems to work for most of Second Street’s festivals, where it’s a little less of a line and sample-fest, and more of a food-and-drink-and-music hangout. At these things, I’ve never left feeling like I’ve spent too much or gotten too little to taste, and I’ve always made a few new friends. So, I’ll be there on Saturday, enjoying some of the best clean and clear beers our New Mexico breweries have to offer under one roof.

To the pilsner, where mistakes have nowhere to hide, raise ‘em up!

— Luke

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If you’re gonna build a brewery in the mountains, go big.

A little back story: When I began learning about beer, real beer, all those years ago, it was because I had a dream of opening a brewery in a very specific location. This dream led to homebrewing, joining the local homebrew club, writing about beer for the Dark Side, and then working for a brewery for a minute or two. Long ago, I had wanted to open a brewery in Red River, one of my favorite mountain towns, a place I go every year for Oktoberfest. It’s been quite a few years after I had that initial dream, and since, I’ve found my place in the industry as a writer instead. And, though I no longer have any inclination to run a brewery, I still believed, wholeheartedly, that Red River wanted a brewery; no, it needed one.

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RRBC at Bacon & Brews prior to opening. From center to right, owner Michael Calhoun, son Chris Calhoun, and wife Sharon Calhoun. (I’m sorry I don’t know the other two nice ladies.)

Red River Brewing Company (RRBC) officially opened its doors to the public on Friday, May 25, right at the start of Memorial Day weekend. And, for one family, it’s been quite the ride from which they still have yet to come down.

I recently visited Red River with family from Norway. During that time, I was able to schedule an interview with the owner and his son, at some point between a hike and a chairlift ride. Though they wouldn’t be open for a couple of hours, owner Michael Calhoun let me in through the back with the grain. And, standing there next to the shiny brewhouse, I asked him how it all got started.

“The Calhoun family has always been into craft beer,” Michael said. “Sharon, my wife, and I grew up here. We were born and raised in Red River. And then, we were in Los Alamos for a while. When Bathtub Row (Brewing Co-op), opened up, we were having such a fantastic time at that place, that we realized that Red River could really benefit from having a brewery up there. And, my wife and I were looking for an excuse to get back up here to Red River. My dad, who’s involved in this business, had this awesome piece of land. This location, it’s phenomenal! My brother is an architect, and he was itching to do another project here in Red River. So, all these planets just lined up, and it just made sense. Everybody in the family was on board, so we just decided to do it.” (more…)