Archive for July, 2018

Breathe in the history at Silva’s Saloon in Bernalillo. Just don’t breathe too deep.

Well, this past weekend took quite a bit out of all of us. Hence, no Monday story, and only a couple other Crew members could put together coherent thoughts about all that happened. We can’t blame the IPA Challenge, either, since Andrew was one of four of us who was there.

As for me? Well, in addition to the hops, I spent Friday night showing an old college friend around town. Swede had never stopped in Albuquerque for anything more than a tank of gas, but after hearing me brag over and over again about our beers, he was ready to finally stop in and see what our breweries offered. Well, that and he can’t seem to get enough of La Cumbre’s distribution in Tucson.

We hit up Canteen so he could try a flight and maybe grab a bite to eat. That maybe turned into definitely as the rain hit hard the first time. After a couple pints and some food, we moved to Bosque in Nob Hill. It rained a lot more outside, pints were consumed inside, and by golly, we have a new convert to our beer scene. He said he was impressed by the sheer quality of taprooms compared to those in Tucson (though they are starting to catch up).

Though I never asked Swede which specific beer was his favorite, he did order a pint of Pecos Trail Brown at Canteen after his flight, while Elephants on Parade and The Irish Goodbye were his Bosque selections.

Meanwhile, after the NMIPAC ended on Saturday, I lost track of the rest of the Crew and ended up waiting with the brewery folks who either worked for the Guild or just ended up hanging out until the very end. Someone came up with the glorious idea of driving into the heart of Bernalillo and going to the historic dive of dives, Silva’s Saloon. The place was quite the slice of history, and worth further exploration. (It is right next to the original Range Cafe, just in case you got lost like Brandon and co. did trying to find us.)

A good time was had by all by the pool table, with cans of Marble Pilsner on hand, and a jukebox cranking out some random old tunes. I would share more details, but it was all off the record. Oh, but if you ever challenge La Cumbre’s Daniel Jaramillo at pool, you better bring your “A” game. The man is a shark. I feel that’s something that I can safely report.

On with the rest of the Crew’s adventures …

Dine out, darkness in

Love the darkness. Become the darkness.

This weekend I hit up one of my favorite local haunts, M’tucci’s Market & Pizzeria after a long morning swim. I go for the quality of the food, the charm of the place, and the eclectic selection of local beers they have on tap. Well, that and the fact that it is mere minutes from home. Of the two saison-style brews they had on tap, I went with Bosque’s Pepporfessor Honeydew, which had mellowed in spiciness over time perfectly to accompany the many delectable meats on the pizza selections we made.

Since reading Brewmaster’s Table by Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery, I’ve taken a bit more of an appreciation of just what different styles of beer can accomplish when paired — using intent and a little knowledge — with food. Good meals can become, well, transformative experiences with the right pairing of beer and dish of choice (try a weissbier with good bratwurst, kraut, and mustard to get an idea). This day was one of those for me, but then I have yet to meet an unworthy dish at any of the M’tucci’s establishments, so go and try it for yourself.

The day continued in excellence to the nightcap, which was my last bottle of my favorite beer, batch one of Avery’s Tweak from 2014. If you know anything about us in the Dark Side, there are few beers we do not consider “sessionable.” This one is, in fact, a sipper. Deep waves of darkness from malts and coffee and barrel create, to my palate, the pinnacle of what beer can be. This is not some one-trick animal, either. Layered subtle echoes, shades of the dead, tendrils of the darkest fears and … er, malts, roasted, toasted, burned at the stake … clearly, perfection! Grab a bottle and find out for yourself.

Skål!

— Franz Solo

Back to the Winchester

A man cannot live off beer alone. Brats and fries are also necessary parts of a healthy diet.

I had another overdue visit this weekend. Sunday afternoon, I stopped at Quarter Celtic after an almost two-month hiatus. Quarter Celtic may be my favorite neighborhood-pub-style vibe kind of brewery in the ABQ area. I feel regular-ish, even if I go only once every couple months.

I started with the VP30, which is a Festbier commemorating the 30th anniversary of Village Pizza of Corrales and Albuquerque. The anniversary was celebrated earlier in the month, but this clean, well-balanced, and true-to-style beer carries on. After a few refreshing gulps, my banger in a bun arrived. This sausage was properly presented on a fresh pretzel bun with whole-grain mustard and purple kraut. I didn’t plan it, but of course, it paired perfectly with the VP30.

For dessert I happily lapped up a MacLomas Stout. I tend to think of Dry Irish Stouts as the “lagers of stouts.” They are the younger cousins of the bigger, bolder stouts that we tend to champion in the NM Dark Side Brew Crew. However, I found myself content with this not-so-dry, and slightly creamy with a little bit of roastiness, 5.4-percent ABV-packing stout.

— Andrew

Aggie up, Lobo fan

Cheers to the weekend gone by!

For my weekend beer-cap, my craft connoisseur-ing was pretty much broken down into post IPA Challenge Final celebrations and the recovery stages. Much fun was had Saturday, and many beers certainly were drank in honor of another Challenge in the books, but what stood out the most was a fresh cold one straight from Bosque North’s new canning machine. In my experience, it doesn’t get much better than a can straight from the line, shared amongst beer friends, regardless of beer style and the college team on the side of the can. (Go Lobos! Haha.) Thank you Mr. Bullard for the full tour and your excellent hospitality! The Crew won’t soon forget.

— Luke

Brewer Paul Mallory hoists the NM IPA Challenge trophy after pulling off the victory.

BERNALILLO — What has happened before will happen again.

It is not just a line from the last version of Battlestar Galactica, but it is a summation of the 2018 New Mexico IPA Challenge. Blue Corn, the 2013 winner, has recaptured the title in a stunning upset of the biggest breweries in the state. The little brewpub that could has done it again.

“I think it’s kind of cool to bring the trophy back to Santa Fe,” said BC head brewer Paul Mallory, who had trouble forming words after his brewery took its second-round lead and carried that over to a commanding victory.

Blue Corn racked up 83 total votes, including a round-best 45 on Saturday. The final round was a resounding success at Bosque North, with short lines, plenty of space, and a general sense of positive camaraderie in all corners of the new location.

Two-time defending champion Boxing Bear finished second with 69 votes for its AlbuMurky Hazy IPA, while Marble was third with 68 votes for Safeword IPA. Red River (57), La Cumbre (55), Kellys (39), Rio Bravo (39), Quarter Celtic (38), Second Street (38) and Kaktus (33) rounded out the top 10.

This is only the second time that a brewery outside of Albuquerque has won the NMIPAC. The last time? Well, it was Blue Corn in 2013, then featuring current Bosque director of brewing operations John Bullard in the command seat.

The final voting tally for the 2018 NMIPAC.

“I think that Blue Corn has been around for so long that everybody has made up their mind about it,” Paul said. “In a way, this will make people pay attention to Blue Corn (again).”

Paul said the key to victory was hitting all the right spots with hopheads in this state.

“I think it was nice and clean, it had that really nice bitterness,” Paul said.

Paul came to Blue Corn from a brewery, Black Diamond, in Northern California, but he was born and raised in New Mexico.

“New Mexico has taught me more about IPAs than California, they try to dry them out,” he said. “I think New Mexico taught me more about it than anyone else.”

Congratulations to Paul, Blue Corn, and everyone in New Mexico. This has been another great IPA Challenge, and we look forward to everyone raising their game for the 2019 edition.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Here we go again, hopheads!

Every year as a public service, the Crew likes to provide a sort of survival guide for those who are new to the NM IPA Challenge. Of course, this year will also be a new experience for many at Bosque North, the new brewery/taproom facility off Highway 550 in Bernalillo. Think of this as a giant FAQ to help get you through Saturday with the best experience possible (well, unless your favorite brewery fails to win, but we can’t control that).

How do we get to Bosque North?

The facility is located just west of the Rio Grande along 550. The hope was to have the main paved entrance way done in time for Saturday, but as of Wednesday’s sneak preview, it was not ready yet. Cross your fingers on that one. The building is impossible to miss, at least, but for those coming from Rio Rancho east on 550, for safety’s sake you might need to cross the bridge and flip a U-turn at the first red light.

Should anyone drive out there?

Truthfully, no, you should rely on a designated driver, or a ride share service. Another option is to book a room at the new hotel at the Santa Ana Star Casino and walk over. Just watch out for all the construction. Train #704 of the Rail Runner would drop you off at approximately 1:53 p.m. at Bernalillo Station, but that is a long walk to the brewery. Even from there, you would probably need an Uber/Lyft, and we honestly have no idea how many drivers will really be in the Bernalillo area. The event runs from noon to 4 p.m., so you would still have time to get there, but walking would be limiting your sampling time. Also, take note that while there is a lot of parking, there is not enough for every expected person (last year it was around 300) to drive separately.

How much space is at Bosque North?

This is just part of the floor space at Bosque North on the ground floor portion of the taproom, prior to the addition of tables and chairs.

There should be enough space, but this round is always the most crowded. For those who think, “Oh, it’s OK, people will leave after they make their selections,” um, no. Just about everyone stays until the end to find out the results. Take note that arriving early is always your best bet to ensure you have a table space inside, where your IPAs will not warm up too quickly. Yes, the outside patio is covered, but it still projects to be pretty warm Saturday (93 degrees, per the weather app on my phone). The upstairs patio does not have as much cover, but it is on the east side of the building, at least. Still, inside is better.

Is there food?

We always recommend you eat something hearty before you head up, but UPDATE: the kitchen will not be up and running, but Bosque has acquired the services of The Supper Truck to be on site.

Can we tour the brewery?

That will be up to the folks at Bosque if there will be any brewery tours. Without knowing their full plan, they might even open up the brewery area for additional seating, though we cannot confirm that (yet).

The next set of FAQs are for folks who are new to the NMIPAC, so for all you veterans, you can skip out and we will see you Saturday.

Are there any tickets left?

No, the event has sold out. There’s always the chance you can find one unlucky person selling a ticket or two if he/she cannot attend, but there are no guarantees.

How should we go about sampling all these IPAs?

Use your other senses before taste. Start with the appearance, which is more important this year than in the past. There are New England-style hazy IPAs on the tray alongside the more traditional West Coast-style hop bombs. They will be pretty easy to tell apart; what you do with that information is up to you, depending on how you like the two styles. After the visual inspection, smell all 16 samples. IPAs are meant to be enjoyed in terms of their aroma, too. Think of this as your way of discerning which ones might be in the style that you prefer.

Won’t people just vote for their favorite brewery instead of the best IPA?

The beers are numbered randomly. The numbers change every round, so I do not have an advantage even after participating in the first round in Taos, nor does Luke after being at the second round at Second Street Rufina. If you can pick out your favorite brewery’s entry, first, that is impressive (brewers often cannot figure out their own beer), and second, it is totally up to you how to vote.

The updated standings after the second round at Second Street Rufina.

Once we start tasting, do we drink them all? Do we go in order?

The order you drink them in is completely up to you. There is also no rule that you have to finish every sample cup. If you do not like one, or it just comes off as “meh,” set it aside. We always recommend you try every beer twice, unless it is so obviously bad to your palate, in which case dump that one and move along. You will be provided paper to take notes, so take advantage of that to help you remember what you’re tasting and smelling.

How should we judge what’s good and what’s bad?

That is entirely up to you. You can go for whatever you think is the best IPA to hit the points of what you consider true to style, or you can just pick the one you most want to drink. Remember, your vote gets you a full pint, so if you think the most bitter one on the tray is the most deserving, you’re going to have to drink 16 ounces of it. This is your chance to vote, so you do not have to go with the crowd unless you want to; this is as subjective as it gets.

But don’t the breweries really take this seriously? Shouldn’t we treat this like a Cicerone exam?

The breweries love getting bragging rights, but the purpose of the NMIPAC is to be both fun and a fundraiser. This is the single largest event where the NM Brewers Guild raises the money it needs to represent all of its members in Santa Fe. The next legislative session could see a lot of bills that could benefit breweries, and likely some that will be coming after breweries, if for nothing else than to raise their excise taxes to pay for the State’s budgetary woes (or pork projects, depending on who’s the bill’s sponsor). Just enjoy this chance to gather with your fellow beer geeks, engage in some friendly banter, and support the Guild and all the breweries.

If there are any other questions, please do not hesitate to ask the Crew, the Guild, or the participating breweries.

See you all Saturday afternoon!

— Stoutmeister

Brewmaster John Bullard stands before his now complete production brewery. Well, leans, because he probably could use a nap at this point.

During my visit with the Bosque Brewing command staff at their new office/warehouse space last week, we also spent a lot of time talking about the final preparations for Bosque North and its series of openings. There was an industry-invite-only opening on Wednesday, and it will host the final round of the NM IPA Challenge on Saturday, before concluding with the grand opening Monday.

It has been a long, laborious process for Bosque to get the combined production brewery and taproom space up and running. From a lengthy delay caused by construction on Highway 550 (or, more aptly, waiting to figure out how that construction should proceed), to then converting an old building into a state-of-the-art brewery, it has not been easy.

We had Luke do a little photoshopping to show how much things have changed since our first trip to Bosque North in March, putting some similar photos side-by-side, including this one of the brewery interior.

The trio of managing director Gabe Jensen, director of operations Jotham Michnovicz, and director of culture and engagement Jessica Griego took me through the final days of preparing North for occupancy. I then took another tour with director of brewing operations John Bullard for a fresh set of photographs to show just how far the construction has come since my last visit in early March.

“I was telling Gabe yesterday, every time we’ve opened a taproom, it’s all hands on deck for 12 to 16 hours a day,” Jotham said. “Yesterday, I had a meeting with Gabe in our office and everything that needed to be handled was being handled by our team over in that spot. I didn’t even have to be there yesterday, which is really cool to see our team come together and be able to handle (everything).”

Another shot of the brewery looking down from the second floor, albeit from a slightly different angle, since the original view is now a solid wall.

While John and production manager Tim Woodward have things handled in the brewery, the front-of-house staff has come together to take charge of the taproom area.

“We actually have as our taproom liaison, he moved up from Las Cruces, his name is Max Portillo,” Jessica said. “He’s been an essential leader on our Las Cruces team for four years now. We’ve been nudging him every time we saw him to move up here and he did. We’re super excited for him. He’s stepping into a new role, but he’s a seasoned leader at Bosque.

“We’ve had maybe one or two other transfers internally, but otherwise it’s all new people. Well, our kitchen manager, he transferred from Nob Hill, his name is Mitch O’Connor. The key management positions are internal, but for the most part we’ve hired from the community, Bernalillo and northern Rio Rancho. That was really a goal of ours to make sure we hired from within the community and were representative of it.”

The front patio is now ready to go, with tables just out of sight and the window to the interior bar ready to go.

The team led by Max and Mitch was going through training while I was taking the tour with John, making sure everything would be ready for the inevitable crush of humanity headed their way.

“I think that’s one of the funnest things about opening a restaurant in general, is that camaraderie than happens whenever there is a launch team,” Jotham said. “We’ve got 30 new hires, they were all in this (conference) room doing orientation, getting to know each other and building that rapport with each other. They were there yesterday, putting everything away. It creates a little bit of ownership for the staff. You get to be a part of setting the building up, knowing where everything is going to go. Some of my fondest memories are of opening a restaurant.”

The view from the second floor patio/deck is looking better by the day. Now if they would only finish up on Highway 550’s bridge.

The brewing staff did have to get bigger as well.

“A lot of our brewing staff came over from San Mateo,” Jotham said. “It’s a pretty light staff over there now. We did bolster the team as well, we hired some new positions. I’d say the majority of the people that were on our brewing team are now at Bernalillo.”

“They were brewers or they moved from elsewhere on staff to join the brewing team, packaging team, cellar, all that,” Gabe added.

The interior of the tower now features a big screen TV and a bar just to the right of frame.

The canning line is already up and running, meaning that at last, all Bosque packaged beer is being brewed and canned in New Mexico.

“We’re doing it,” Gabe said. “We got our last shipment of IPA a week ago. That was the last (overall). Everything from here on out that’s produced will be at Bernalillo.

“It’s getting to that point where I can’t keep up. They’ve already canned Elephants on Parade twice. That was the one thing that we were super nervous about because we hadn’t done it. The first run was like oh, that went perfect.”

The silo has its logo. John swears it glows in the dark, but we’re a bit skeptical (someone has been working some very long shifts, FYI).

Bosque did receive a large number of unused cans from Sleeping Giant in Denver, so try not to get confused if you still see the old labeling.

“We’ve had some other hiccups with packaging, but that’s going to happen,” Gabe said. “We got permission from the TTB to put beer in the cans that (still) say Denver, and we’ll just have to stamp them on the bottom to say NM next to the date, just so we can use up those cans. There will be a transition period of a couple months of where we’re brewing it here, but it will still have Denver packaging.”

The first cans with a full New Mexico label, as opposed to an underside stamp, will be the 1888, but Gabe and Jotham said they are waiting on the cartons to arrive before they can can the beer.

Think that’s enough cans to keep all of you happy? What? It’s not? Jeez, people, you just can’t get enough Elephants on Parade, can you?

What will really get beer geeks excited, however, is what else will be going into cans in the near future.

“We’ll be doing some one-off can specialty releases as well,” Jessica said. “That’s probably our biggest (project). … I’m the most excited about that, to be able to release some specialty beers in cans, and showcase our quality and what we can do out there.”

“I think that’s one of the things that’s John is most excited about,” Gabe added.

The canning line is already getting a workout, with lots more to come, including specialty releases!

John confirmed that he does have four specialty cans on the docket, all of which will come in 16-ounce cans in four packs, as opposed to the 12-ounce six-pack cans for the regular offerings.

So what will a couple of those cans contain? Well, one just might be a past two-time National and New Mexico IPA Challenge winner, and the other might be a former Great American Beer Festival medal winner of a certain fresh hop persuasion.

“There’s a good variety in there, too,” Jessica said. “We’ve got a wide range of styles. We still have to figure out the dynamics of how we release them. Do they hit all the taprooms at the same time? Are they only at Bernalillo first and then they hit the taprooms? We have some logistics to work out on that still. We’ll make sure to communicate that clearly on social media for everyone.”

Clearly, Bosque employs some folks who do not share our fear of heights.

Overall, Bosque North is an impressive creation in all aspects. It is just another sign of how far our local craft beer industry has come in just the past six years. The days of jamming tiny brewing systems into strip malls and hoping for the best have come and gone. The bar has been raised and will continue to be raised, which is good news for all of us that love craft beer.

Here are some additional pictures from Wednesday night’s industry-only invite opening for a final look before the public gets to join us.

The interior of the downstairs taproom. There’s a second bar to the right of frame.

A whole lotta brewery folks gathered on the second floor patio/deck.

Good night, Bosque North. We will see you again soon!

Once again, it is a very good time to be a fan of local craft beer in New Mexico. Thanks to Gabe, Jotham, Jessica, and John for everything.

See some of you at the NMIPAC on Saturday.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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.

Back when Marble Brewery opened in 2008, it was unheard of in New Mexico to have a taproom that did not provide a full kitchen menu of food. Ultimately, food trucks would fill that role, but the times are changing. The success of Marble was emulated by many others to go sans kitchen, but in more recent years, as the sheer number of new breweries outpaced the number of food trucks available, many taprooms have had to go back and add at least a full or partial in-house food menu (see Tractor, Rio Bravo, and many more). Bombs Away Beer Company is just the latest, then, to expand its food offerings so customers aren’t drinking beer on an empty stomach. Being in an industrial area, far from nearby restaurants, did not help matters, and with most of the reliable food trucks sticking with places like Marble and La Cumbre, it had left Bombs Away in a lurch. Now, however, they will have a full slate of panini-press sandwiches with awesome names like Atomic Turkey, Cuban Missile Sandwich, Patriot Sandwich, Rendered Safe Panini (it’s the vegetarian one, of course), and the General Purpose (grilled cheese). They range from $5 to $10 and are available now.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bombs Away also has some new beers this week in the Composition “C” IPL and Primer Pub Ale, which is gluten removed, plus the popular MK Deuce Pale Ale is back. Bosque finally went and made an Irish-style red ale, The Irish Goodbye. Dialogue, High and Dry, and Ponderosa made a collaboration called Brut IPA, plus Dialogue also brings back the P-funk Porter. La Cumbre unleashes Better Than Super, a spiced ale. Red Door will tap El Dorado SMASH on Friday. Rio Bravo has new batches of Cherry Wheat and Blurred Lines Hazy IPA. Starr Brothers has more Starrphire Pilsner, plus this weekend look for There Gose Them Boyz. Steel Bender has replenished its supply of Compa Los Ranchos Lager and Out to Pasture Brett Saison, plus Tangerine Dynamite debuts Thursday.

Up in Santa Fe, things are quiet, but further north in Red River, RRBC has the new Back Forty Farmhouse Ale.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of July 23.

(more…)

Blue Corn’s Gatekeeper IPA is the overall leader at the NM IPA Challenge after two rounds.

OK, fine, I give up. Weekend Beer-cap will now be a Tuesday feature, not Monday. Turns out it can be hard for folks to get things together Sunday night, myself included.

It was quite the weekend. Franz Solo and I joined a group of beer-loving friends for another epic tasting and bottle share. We indulged in a seven-year vertical of Surly Darkness, a wonderful imperial stout from Minnesota. That was followed by many other beers. Many. So many. (Sunday at work was rough.)

Anyway, I could continue to brag about drinking a slew of beers not available in New Mexico, but instead I will let the rest of the Crew talk about their more local adventures.

Brunch brews at Devon’s Wood Fired Grill

Delicious food and a wide beer selection make Devon’s an eatery worth visiting.

Early Sunday afternoon, I satisfied my brunch needs at Devon’s Wood Fired Grill. We had a Crew dinner at Devon’s a few weeks back and I had an itch to return. Brunch was the perfect occasion. From Devon’s 32 New Mexico craft beer options, I selected La Cumbre’s fruit smoothie of an IPA, Guavarama. It’s subtle and refreshing fruitiness paired well with Pop’s Hash, a lighter breakfast dish consisting of veggies and potatoes topped with a poached egg (I managed to resist the red chile chorizo chilaquiles, but I’ll be back). Devon’s brunch runs from 10:30 a.m. To 2 p.m. on Sundays, and it’s worth checking out for dinner and/or drinks any night of the week.

— Andrew

Farewell to a friendly taproom

Some of the final pints at Monks’ Corner, which will close on July 31.

Four of us went to Monks’ Corner on Friday night to say goodbye to the taproom in the current space at Third and Silver. When we got there just before 6:30 p.m., there were a handful of customers. But, by the time the live music started just after 7, the place was completely full. It was a festive, if slightly woeful final visit for us. Two of us had the Dark Ale and two had the Dubbel Ale. I couldn’t help but feel a little nervous for the staff who may not have jobs for a while; but, they were still very professional, and service was good despite the size of the crowd. We will miss this taproom. Hopefully there are good things to come in the very near future for Monks’.

— AmyO

Hopping around Santa Fe

The haze craze has hit Santa Fe Brewing.

For my weekend recap, IPA was certainly the name of the game. It was the second leg of the IPA Challenge in Santa Fe, and I guess I just couldn’t get enough hops into my system. Thursday through Saturday, due to meetings, errands, and pal hangs, I put my taste buds through hop boot camp. Whether I was preparing them for Saturday’s competition or just pounding them into soapy submission, I got around to trying three of the IPA Challenge beers around town, very much on accident.

Santa Fe Brewing Company’s “Murky,” a bigger, likely more dry-hopped version of their Reluctant Hazy IPA, was an excellent beer. I’m not at all here to battle whether hazies are here to stay. As will all styles that took some time to accept, I say, “Just make them well.” And SFBC has done so once again.

Second Street’s Hoppy Balboa packs a punch.

Second Street’s Hoppy Balboa felt like it pulled a few punches this year. Perhaps that was my very foamy first pour — there were draft line issues, but not cleanliness issues, mind you. Perhaps it was just pressure, but I don’t think I really ever saw this beer’s Eye of the Tiger. I’ll get back in the ring with this one soon. Until then, thanks for the puns.

Blue Corn’s Gatekeeper, the current leader in the IPA Challenge, reminded me more of a finely honed, but certainly “upped” version of their house Road Runner IPA. It’s a well-brewed beer, and I know the Blue Corn boys really worked hard on this one. I think, perhaps, it stands out because it’s clean while keeping its powerful aroma and flavor even as it warms.

All in all, you should try them all in full pours. That’s the only way to really get to know a beer, in my opinion. To all the brewers, and what you do with those wonderful hops, cheers!

— Luke

Find your way to Innovation Way, the home of Bosque’s new offices and warehouse.

Last month, Bosque Brewing sent out a short press release about moving its offices to a new location in Rio Rancho. It seemed surprising that the brewery’s ownership would make such a move, especially with Bosque North in Bernalillo still unopened. After finally being able to work out a time to meet (never easy with all of our busy schedules), I ventured over to 7701 Innovation Way NE to see the new space, learn why the move was made, and also catch up on everything else Bosque related.

The trio of managing director Gabe Jensen, director of operations Jotham Michnovicz, and director of culture and engagement Jessica Griego greeted me in a second floor conference room. Yeah, they have a conference room. Yeah, they have two floors. It’s quite different than the crowded, fully open space they had at the San Mateo location (we would always meet in the taproom due to a lack of space).

This conference room was filled with the new Bosque North employees during their recent orientation.

“I’ll take you back a little bit,” Gabe said. “Bernalillo has taken much longer than anything I’d ever want something to take. When we designed the office over there, it had seven offices and a conference room, plus a little fore room, and we were like how would we ever need that much space.

“About a year ago, we said we’re gonna need more space than that pretty soon after we open. I looked at some office warehouse type of places out here. Bernalillo is large and tall, which is great for production, but it’s kind of an expensive space and we don’t want to add more to just store things like empty cans and boxes. All the storage things that if you’re in an industrial area paying industrial prices you can afford.”

BosqueOffice5

You gotta put all those unopened growlers somewhere.

The combination of the need for an off-site warehouse and the growth of the office staff sent Gabe on a mission to find a nearby space that could handle both.

“I found plenty out in Northern Rio Rancho and Bernalillo like a year ago,” he said. “I thought there’s no reason to get it now. When we got closer (to North opening), there was nothing, which is good for the economy and everything, but there was nothing left for us. I was thinking a 6,000- or 7,000-square-foot office warehouse and probably not in great shape, just to throw some stuff in and have some sales offices and distro offices and stuff like that. That didn’t work. Once we got close to opening Bernalillo, we contemplated stuffing everyone in there and also keeping our offices (at San Mateo), that big open mess.”

Space, glorious space!

Gabe’s business connections, however, gave him a heads up that there was a building available.

“Kind of on a whim, I came out and looked at this place,” he said. “Some economic development people had told us about it. This had been vacant for about three years. We got a good deal. There’s more to that story as well, just relationships and things like that, but we were able to (close on it). Anytime I showed anybody this place, and that includes all of us, Jess and I walked out of here and thought no, it’s silly, we couldn’t do this.

“But, when I did the math, it made sense. The math still worked out, especially considering there’s 8,000 square feet of warehouse here, which makes storing cans (easy); it’s only a mile away from Bernalillo. That sounds like a long time, but it happened (fast). Three days and a week later and we had a lease. We’ve never pulled that off.”

Bosque now has a building in which to grow. There are some additional offices that will eventually be leased out to other small businesses on the south end of the building.

“If we can get the other side leased, which we plan to do, our actual monthly expense is going to be the same (as San Mateo),” Gabe said.

The north (right) half of the building is all for Bosque.

At first glance, the building almost seems too big. After a post-interview tour, I could already see where the staff still has room to expand in the future.

“This size of a building that we’re in, we need this much space,” Gabe said. “We have 18 people housed here. I can already feel a difference in the efficiency of people. I can close my door and bang something out instead of having to navigate all working in the same open space. I didn’t have a desk in the end. Well, I finally did once John (Bullard) was at Bernalillo all the time, I stole his. I think at the end of being at our offices on San Mateo, we had six people sitting around a single table. That’s not efficient.”

No one is going to particularly miss the old San Mateo office, which was always being squeezed by storage demands.

“I’m usually pretty sentimental about things and I was so happy to move out of that place,” Jessica said. “I was not sad at all. It was getting really inefficient with everyone sitting on top of each other. Not having a door to have (private) conversations, all of the things.”

The pink boots are a nice touch in Jessica’s office.

Our conversation took us to the impending opening of Bosque North and all that will entail. We will have more on that in a separate story, with new photos of the finished space, later this week.

As for some of Bosque’s other upcoming projects, those have been on the back burner until North was completed. Now the staff will begin moving those along as well.

“We can say Restoration Pizza will happen first,” Jessica said. “I think once we get Bernalillo open we’ll be able to dive into and start kickstarting these projects off.”

The replacement for the San Mateo taproom/brewery will follow soon after.

The warehouse space in the back is already filling up with kegs, cans, and more.

“Open Space, we could go pull the permit right now and get started, but we’re working on financing for that one,” Jotham said. “It’s all of the pre-construction stuff that is going on. We hope to really hit the ground running right after we open Bernalillo (on) both of those projects. It’s just that Open Space is going to be a longer build. It’s a seven-month construction timeline that we’ve put together. Restoration Pizza should be way faster than that, because it’s just a buildout of an existing space. That one won’t be as crazy.”

Even after those projects are done, do not expect Bosque to kick back and take it easy.

“We actually have been really strategically planning the next three-to-five years,” Jessica said. “We have goals and things we want to do, but nothing is set in stone yet.”

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Gabe and Jessica are quite proud of the new space. And yes, they have an employee bar back there, because of course they do.

Look for more on Bosque North in a couple days. Thanks to Gabe, Jotham, and Jessica for the interview and the tour.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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Marble won the round, but Blue Corn took the overall lead after two rounds of the NMIPAC.

SANTA FE — Many folks packed into Santa Fe’s Second Street – Rufina Taproom for the second round of the New Mexico IPA Challenge on Saturday afternoon. Sixteen IPAs were poured straight from the taps, cleaned by brewers Tom and Kevin the night before. The only major variable to note was the Santa Fe palate. As usual, Santa Fe has its own taste in beer, and as history has dictated, Santa Fe’s taste in IPAs is a beast of its own. But, all things considered, it was another well-run event, very smooth, and everyone left happy with their votes.

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Just a few people packed the Rufina taproom.

After the Second Leg, Blue Corn is in the lead with 38 votes, Red River is in second with 31 votes, Boxing Bear is in third with 29 votes, and Marble is in fourth with 28 votes after a round-leading 25 at Rufina. Fifth goes to La Cumbre, Stoutmeister’s pick in the first round, with 25 votes, and Quarter Celtic is sixth with 21 votes.

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That’s a lot of brewing talent in one photo!

With just a couple surprises, the NM IPA Challenge will be another competition decided in Bernalillo (though it’s town, not county this time). At this point, I’m really interested to see if the voters will choose a traditional New Mexico/West Coast-style IPA or a New England-style hazy IPA, because I think this is the year we make a statement to our brewers. Is the haze here to stay? Is it the direction we’re moving in? That’s up to you, voters. Tell the brewers what you think.

Red River Brewing Company’s head brewer, Chris Calhoun, said, “We’re a brand-new brewery, so we’re just excited to compete amongst the big boys of New Mexico. We’re really very proud and excited about our showing in the first rounds. And, we’re excited to see what happens in Bernalillo.”

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Hops from above!

The final leg of the New Mexico IPA Challenge will come to a thrilling conclusion at the brand-new Bosque North on Saturday, July 28. To all IPAs and the New Mexico brewers who painstakingly create them, cheers!

— Luke

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Luke with the brewers of Red River Brewing Company.

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Monks’ Corner will no longer call this spot at Silver and Third Street home.

As you’ve all heard by now, Monks’ Taproom, Abbey Brewing Co.’s Albuquerque-based taproom, is closing its doors at the end of business on Tuesday, July 31. Yesterday, I reached out to Berkeley Merchant, general manager of Abbey Brewing, and he had this to say in a forthcoming press release:

“We will miss serving our regular guests and neighbors, and collaborating with our colleagues at Sidetrack, Red Door, Duel, and Boese Brothers. Our experiences as part of the downtown community have brought us great pride and satisfaction, and we have enjoyed serving our guests, being part of the craft brewing community, and supporting the industry in general as charter members of the New Mexico Brewers Guild. However, the challenges of providing a highly memorable guest experience at this specific location at this time have led us to the decision to concentrate on the brewing and distribution of our family of Monks’ Ales while we explore new sites for a future taproom.”

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Co-owners David Gonzales (left) and Berkeley Merchant (right)

Abbey Brewing will continue to brew and distribute Monks’ Ales wherever you currently purchase them, and they’ll likely appear in more stores and markets in the future. Monks’ Taproom will continue to serve beer up through the 31st, and starting today (Friday), they’ll have plenty of farewell specials on all beer, wine, cider, growler fills, merch, and package. Just follow along on their social media channels for the exact specials available. And, be sure to show them your love and support as they transition out of the corner of Silver and Third.

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All hail the Tripel Reserve.

Thank you, Monks’, for always providing a friendly atmosphere in which to drink your delicious Monks’ Ales. May you find a successful place to land, and for the sake of your fans, may you find it sooner than later. To Abbey Brewing Company and the great quality of beer you make here’s to many more years sipping your excellent products brewed in the ancient monastic tradition, cheers!

— Luke

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Follow Luke on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro and be his drinking buddy on Untappd: SantaFeLuke

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Shout out to my man Jason Soto, for the great picture and for keeping the lines of New Mexico clean with Prime Lines. A huge thank you from all of us! Cheers, brother.

The New Mexico IPA Challenge is well underway, and the question of fairness has come up a bit, to say the least. Well, at least from a technical standpoint, rest assured, our IPA Challenge is as fair as it can be because the Brewers Guild and its volunteers have taken steps to ensure that each beer gets the proper treatment, such as the proper cleaning of draft lines before and during the competition.

Draft beer line cleaning is a little known and often overlooked aspect of the craft brewing scene. But, it is much more important than we think. It’s far more important than the temperature of our beer and what sort of glassware it arrives in. (Although our friend Karim may argue with me on that.) Have you ever sat down at a new bar or establishment, and, having seen it on the list, ordered up your favorite IPA? And, upon first taste, you say to yourself, “Is this the same beer? I know this beer. This tastes weird. This isn’t my beer.” But, it is.

We all have, my friends. Aside from other small variables, like how old a keg is, when it comes to taste issues with a well-brewed beer at a bar, pub, or even (to a much lesser extent) brewery, the problem is usually dirty draft lines. Dirty draft lines cause all sorts of disgusting and unsanitary health issues, but often most noticeably to the public, the issue is taste. And, if we’re not in the tasting business, why are we even talking about beer? Without clean draft lines, the beer that your favorite brewers worked so hard to create won’t be the same beer you find in your glass. Can you see why this would be an issue in a competition based on taste?

So, I put it to the folks at Prime Lines, the company responsible for cleaning the lines prior to the preliminary round and then the first leg of the NMIPAC. I wanted to get down and dirty to clear up why it’s so important that someone properly maintains beer lines for this competition as well as for all beer drinking, ever. Amen. Enter Prime Lines co-founder Angelo Oroña.

DSBC: So, tell me a little bit about Prime Lines, who you are and what you do?

Oroña: Prime Lines Inc. is New Mexico’s first and only third-party draft beer system maintenance and installation company. We clean nearly 1,000 lines statewide for New Mexico’s breweries and wholesalers. We adhere to the Brewers Association guidelines for draft system maintenance, as set out in the Draught Beer Quality Manual. This means we clean all lines under contract on a bi-weekly basis to ensure the beer gets from keg to glass as the brewer intended.

Additionally, we design and install draft beer systems for bars, restaurants, breweries and taprooms, including the forthcoming LOBO Taproom on UNM’s Campus!

DSBC: For a new LOBO Taproom on campus? That’s some big news! We’ll be sure to cover that as more news is forthcoming.

Prime Lines has been an associate member of the New Mexico Brewer’s Guild since they founded the company in November 2016.

DSBC: How did you guys get involved with the New Mexico IPA Challenge (NMIPAC) this year? Was this Prime Lines first major involvement?

Oroña: For the last two years, Prime Lines has cleaned and serviced the lines for the elimination round of NMIPAC, held at Duel ABQ. All faucets, keg couplers, and lines were professionally cleaned by our team to ensure the integrity of the beer and the competition. John Gozigian (executive director of the NM Brewers Guild) asked that we clean all the lines prior to competition.

DSBC: So on a technical level, what does Prime Lines do to “level the playing field?”

Oroña: Prime Lines helps to level the playing field by giving each beer a chance to be presented the way the brewer intended. The lines are cleaned with a special caustic solution that is designed to eliminate any organic compounds that may have been left behind from a previous beer that was poured through the line. The beer faucets are scrubbed clean and the keg couplers are serviced to perform as intended.

DSBC: Are you folks cleaning ALL the lines for the duration of the competition?

Oroña: Prime Lines was asked by the NMBG to clean lines for the elimination round of the NMIPAC.  We routinely service and clean the Taos Mesa Taproom, so we made sure to service that account before the first round. I have no doubt the other host breweries will present the beer at top quality! For Bosque’s Bernalillo facility, these IPAs may be the first beers ever to flow through the lines!

For the Second Street Brewery Rufina second leg of the NMIPAC, brewers Tom and Kevin will be cleaning the lines late Friday night after the close of business.“That way they can make sure everything is clean, and flushed, and cold before (Saturday) morning,” front-of-house manager Mariah Scee informed me.

DSBC: What other variables is the Guild controlling to keep this a fair competition from a technical standpoint? Temp? Pressure? Etc.?

Oroña: Each of the beers for this competition is preserved in a chilled environment prior to competition. The beers are served under ideal conditions by volunteers that have experience in beer dispense. Many volunteers work very hard to ensure that the NMIPAC is a great event and fair competition.

In years past, the IPAs of the Challenge have been poured through jockey boxes — the cooler and hose set ups you often see at festivals — due to the sheer number of beers, and the inability of most taprooms to pour all of them (often alongside their own beers). Not every brewery has 24-plus taps.

DSBC: In your expert opinion, what are some of the drawbacks to pouring IPAs through various jockey boxes?

Oroña: Jockey boxes are never an ideal beer dispense option. Maintaining beer keg temperature in the middle of a New Mexican summer with bags of ice is challenging. Variations in jockey box design can also lead to technical issues arising during the competition. Variables such as consistent temperature, CO2 pressure and line restriction all play into pouring a proper beer.

Prime Lines was established to protect the integrity of beer. Our partnership with the New Mexico Brewers Guild on the NMIPAC was a natural fit. We deeply care about draft beer quality and hope to continue to support NM’s burgeoning craft beer scene. We are proud to be on the forefront of clean draft lines and draft beer dispense education in New Mexico.

* * * * *

With clean lines, we have beer as the brewers intended. Gone, hopefully, are the days of pouring issues mucking up a clear-cut victory. Of course, that leaves the rest of the competition in the hands of those who come out to these events. As with all democratic processes, you can’t complain if you don’t come out and vote. And no, it’s not a perfect system, but it is well run by people who really care about beer. Now it’s at least a fairer fight without pouring issues to worry about.

As for the rest of the competition, I’ll leave you with a quote from a friend of the Guild and the Crew, Boxing Bear co-owner Kevin Davis. Via Facebook, he commented, “This friendly competition is about raising money for the Guild, celebrating NM’s great breweries and having a few laughs along the way. Everyone works hard to put on this event… not the easiest job to organize. Kudos to Duel and Taos Mesa for hosting the first two rounds, and thanks to John G and the Guild volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes making it fun. Cheers!”

The IPA Challenge continues tomorrow from noon to 4 p.m. at Second Street Rufina, locatd at 2920 Rufina Street, Santa Fe, NM, 87507. Tickets available here!

— Luke

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This is Luke’s fifth time covering the Santa Fe NM IPA Challenge, and his fifth year with the Crew.