Archive for September, 2018

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RFA at GABF, from left: Charlie Papazian, head brewer Wes Burbank, assistant brewer Tyler King, Kaley (the girl under the tree), Chef Jeffrey Kaplan, friend of the brewery Jim Steinbach, badass Elissa Ritt, and Hoss. (Photo courtesy of Rowley Farmhouse Ales)

Denver is a city of liquid dreams and harsh mornings. From all over the country, much of the beer industry flies or drives into town for the annual Great American Beer Festival, a week-long bout of beer tasting and bonding, followed by an immense awards ceremony, a culmination that becomes the true test of one’s mettle. And, there’s medals, too.

GABF 2018 has come and gone, and once again there hasn’t been so many disappointed bearded folk since Smaug moved into the Lonely Mountain. I kid, though. Honestly, win or lose, there are few such ginormous gatherings that bring the brewing industry together like this one.

At the end of the weekend, however, what you take away from GABF is truly up to you, well, and the 293 judges in attendance. Was it that woman you met? The memories you (may or may not have) made with your bearded and pink-booted buds? Or, was it that all-important recognition of taking home a medal in one of the 102 categories? 2,404 breweries entered 8,496 beers in the competition this year. Not all were going to return home victorious, but our state did as well we’ve done in the past with seven medal wins.

Stoutmeister, our fearless editor, whose own mettle rivals Thorin Oakenshield himself, already caught up with a few of our other medalists in the midst of the mile-high festival, there at the mountains of madness. But, now that we’ve all made it safely back to land of enchanted beers, and all of the Crew is accounted for, even me, with livers and fancy Bierstadt glassware intact, it was high time we got back to business as usual and catch up with the rest of our New Mexico winners to find out what it’s like to bring home those shiny coveted awards.

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My view of the awards ceremony.

Since Santa Fe is my hometown and turf, I caught up with silver medalist, Rowley Farmhouse Ales, a brewery that just celebrated its second year in the business.

In the small but friendly taproom, head brewer Wes Burbank and brewmaster John Rowley joined me for a sampling of one of their yet-untapped creations.

Though it’s a first GABF win for Rowley Farmhouse Ales, these guys are no strangers to beer competitions or medals. For Burbank, it’s his eighth GABF medal with a brewery, having worked with the likes of Backcountry, Crooked Stave, Dry Dock, and Left Hand to name a few, but this was his first fist bump from Papazian. For John, it’s certainly not his first GABF rodeo either, just the first medal he got to bring home with him. Yet, for their plentiful past experience, this GABF was special to both.

“I gotta say it feels pretty good,” Rowley said. “We were sitting there, waiting for our name to be called. All the breweries were there. You’re kind of getting disappointed because you’re not hearing your name, category after category. I was actually kind of looking at my phone at that point. Then, when I heard Germophile, I said, ‘Fuck yeah!’”

And, if it’s not currently under his pillow right now, I’ll eat my hat. I will eat my hat, sir!

“We had all of our (tasting) glasses on the floor,” Burbank said. “When I heard them say our beer, I accidentally kicked one of those little plastic glasses halfway across the hall!”

The RFA crew celebrated here and there with other breweries and beer friends while working three events that day at Hops and Pie, Falling Rock, and Goed Zuur. It wasn’t until after, that they really processed the win.

“When I was finally alone, after all the celebrating, I lost it,” Burbank said. “It all hit me, what we did, how hard we worked. I was overwhelmed. It was a great feeling.”

“By that point in the night we were pretty torched,” Rowley added.

As previously mentioned, Rowley had won competitions for his beers before but not quite like this. He had won a medal at the National Homebrew Competition, and many local awards.

“It’s not the same,” Rowley said. “This is such a greater magnitude. This is definitely another level.”

Homebrew competitions are still important. Homebrewing is where many of us start that journey towards brewery ownership and GABF awards. It has been that way for so many in our industry. Speaking of which, The Santa Fe Open homebrew competition is coming up soon.

“Go to santafeopen.org. It’s coming up the weekend of November 8, but you have to get your entries in now. There’s posters all over the place, in most of the breweries and Southwest Grape & Grain. If you want your beer to be evaluated by a reasonably good group of judges, and I know they’ll have some certified National Judges, this is your thing,” Rowley said.

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The Winner – Germophile. Image courtesy of head brewer Wes Burbank

Germophile won silver in the Berliner-style Weisse category. It had 115 entries.

“Berliner Weisse is a very simple style of beer,” Burbank said. “Which is why I couldn’t be more proud that we won with this one, because this beer is all about execution. Pretty much every Berliner Weisse is the same recipe with different tweaks here and there. It’s just a super wheat beer that’s soured. Ours is 50-percent wheat, 50-percent pilsner. It’s super easy.”

With sour beers there’s a lot of sliding on that quality and flavor scale, but it comes down to how the brewery controls that slide that makes the beer successful.

“I think our process is dialed in,” Rowley said.

“The only thing I really tweak with it is water profile, to see if I can make it just a little bit better,” Burbank added.

It was just the second batch of Germophile made by Rowley Farmhouse Ales, and Burbank’s first batch.

I asked the guys, out of all the beers they’d sent in to be judged at GABF, which beer would they want to win for?

Rowley said, “Actually I’m most happy with this beer winning. This beer is a beer we can make all the time. It’s a core offering. We sell it all the time, make it all the time. It hasn’t been a huge seller for us, but it’s steady. It moves.”

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As seen at GABF!

“This is one of the first times I can say there’s nothing I could have done better with this beer. For me, as a brewer, this is the best one for me, because it’s not about exotic ingredients or how many hops you can stuff into a keg. It’s a very simple beer, and it’s just down to execution,” Burbank said.

For next year, Rowley assured me they’re just going to keep on brewing, and brewing more Berliner Weisse, for sure.

I would like to congratulate the entire crew at Rowley Farmhouse Ales on their Silver Medal win and all of our other winners this year at the Great American Beer Festival. As always, I can’t wait to see how everyone does next year. To all the brewers in New Mexico making amazing beers, to continuing to challenge yourselves, your equipment, and our palates, we raise up the glassware!

Cheers!

— Luke

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For more #CraftBeer news and @nmdarksidebc stories, follow me on Twitter at SantaFeCraftBro. Untappd: SantaFeLuke

Say hello to Rio Bravo’s third-anniversary beer.

Not every significant beer event for the weekend can make it into The Week Ahead in Beer. We missed two that we should have known about, plus a third one popped up Thursday morning.

Rio Bravo celebrates its third anniversary

The good folks at Rio Bravo are jamming all sorts of fun into an all-day celebration Saturday. There will be live music, a chile cook-off, a charity beer, and a special new beer release.

Rio Bravo’s third-anniversary beer is Cherry on Brett. Brewmaster Ty Levis took the Cherry Wheat and aged it in barrels for seven-to-nine months, adding two strains of brettanomyces. He then hand bottled this sweet, funky sour, so give the man some props for that hard task alone. Those will be available upon the opening of the doors at 11 a.m.

If sours are not your thing, buy a pint of 94Rocktoberfest. For every pint sold, $1 goes to the Hops for Hunger program.

The chile cook-off will be at 3 p.m. Bring two gallons worth of your favorite recipe using New Mexico chile. The cost is $10, with $5 of that going to the Storehouse. The public will judge from 3 to 5 p.m., with a celebrity judging panel joining in on the fun at 4. Email jennifer@riobravobrewing.com for more info on how to enter.

There will also be local artists and vendors on hand, plus Creamland will be there creating ice cream floats, so yes, this is an all-ages event.

As for the music and more, the lineup is as follows: House music, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Black Pearl Band, 1-3 p.m., Poetry, 3-3:30 p.m., Icon Ulibarri & Cafe Mocha, 3:30-6 p.m., DJ Flo Fader, 6-8 p.m., Soul Divine, 8-11 p.m.

ULLR Fest heralds winter’s eventual return

The mountain calls to you. Come to the beer.

The folks at Pajarito Mountain, above Los Alamos, are preparing for the start of the colder months by throwing an annual party. ULLR Fest returns Saturday, so grab your best viking gear and head up the mountain.

There will be a BeerFest from noon to 5 p.m. In addition to local boys Bathtub Row, those in attendance will include Blue Corn, Boxing Bear, Broken Trail, Red River, Santa Fe, Second Street, Taos Mesa, The 377, Tractor, and Tumbleroot. It’s a $15 cash ticket to get all the beer samples you could ever want.

In addition, there will be live music from Auto Electric, plus a downhill bicycle race, a disk golf tournament, and a viking costume contest. Shuttles will leave Sullivan Field at Los Alamos High School every 30 minutes. The cafe will be open all day to keep people fed.

We will work on getting some beer lists for you and post them here as they arrive.

  • Bathtub Row: Little Bird Blonde, Hoppenheimer IPA, Oktoberfest, Ullr Fest (8.3% ABV)
  • Blue Corn: Gatekeeper IPA, Covhefe Collab, Oktoberfest, Oatmeal Stout, Pomegranate Gose
  • Boxing Bear: Das Bear German Pilsner, Uppercut IPA, Applebear Cider, Coffee Chocolate Milk Stout, Black and Blue Tart
  • Broken Trail: TBA
  • Red River: Bad Medicine Honey DIPA, Tucker-Brau Oktoberfest Marzen, Lazy Bear Blonde, Greenie Peak Wheat (plus root beer for designated drivers)
  • Santa Fe: TBA
  • Second Street: TBA
  • Taos Mesa: TBA
  • The 377: 377 IPA, Porter, NM Lager, Ginger Beer
  • Tractor: TBA
  • Tumbleroot: TBA

Ex Novo will be at Corrales Harvest Festival

Oh, hello, beer fridge of goodness.

Though the brewery is still a long ways off from opening, the good folks at Ex Novo are bringing some beer samples to Corrales on Saturday. There are an estimated 400 samples available, so it will be first come, first serve, until the beer runs out. The Harvest Festival will be located at 4895 Corrales Road, across from the fire station. Things will kick off at noon.

Ex Novo is based in Portland, Oregon, but owner Joel Gregory is from Corrales, so he will be opening a second brewery in his hometown in 2019. Among the beers in the Instagram photo are Eliot IPA and The Most Interesting Lager in the World, plus a slew of specialty brews. Our eagle eyes spy Dark Czech Lager, Puff Puff Passion, and Fresh Hop Eliot in those crowlers.

If there are ever any events that we miss, be sure to let us know in advance. You can reach us via any of our social media pages, or at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

This is one event you cannot miss … unless you bought tickets to a metal show in Denver months ago.

Timing is everything in life. For instance, this Saturday is both Marblefest here in Albuquerque and the Amorphis/Dark Tranquillity/Omnium Gatherum/Moonspell metal show in Denver. Many of us in the Crew bought our tickets to the latter a while ago, so we are northbound again, but that just means the rest of you will have more beer to drink at 111 Marble Avenue this weekend.

Marble’s marvelous marketing and events coordinator Geraldine Lucero invited me to stop by the Heights taproom before GABF to talk about this awesome festival that I will personally miss. (Sniff) We were joined by brewmaster Josh Trujillo to discuss the beers as well.

The event begins with a VIP sampling session from noon to 2 p.m., followed by the general admission festival from 2 until 11. It costs $20 for VIP tickets and $5 for GA. General admission tickets will be on sale at the door only. Tickets for VIP are available at all three taprooms, or you can order VIP online. Those go up to $25 on the day of the event, so get ’em early. Geraldine said that the VIP gets you a commemorative tasting glass, six 4-ounce pours, a food pairing, and you get to enjoy music from Red Light Cameras.

“That’s going to be really exciting because we’re limiting the amount of tickets we’re selling to that,” Geraldine said. “We want it to be a lot smaller where people (won’t) wait in lines, taste as much beer as they want, talk to the brewers on hand. We’re trying to give them an awesome VIP experience.”

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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 Crew has returned from Denver. We are mostly alive. Beer will help revive us, especially when you tie it in with some Oktoberfest fun. The good news is two local breweries are hitting us with those sort of good times, and thankfully, it will not be in competition with one another. First up, Steel Bender is hosting OktoberFiesta at the Brewyard on Thursday. The fun kicks off at 5 p.m. with the return of the OktoberFiesta beer, plus Misfitter Altbier is also back. The kitchen will be dishing out some jaegerschnitzel with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, and braised red cabbage, plus Pastian’s Bakery is serving up some tasty strudel for dessert. Throw in live music from the Nathan Fox Quartet starting at 6, and what else could you need? Oh, how about a 20-ounce ceramic mug for $15, with your first pour on the house? That will do, Steel Bender, that will do.

Marblefest then takes over the downtown brewery on Saturday. We are gonna have a lot more in a separate story thanks to pre-fest interviews with marketing director Geraldine Lucero and brewmaster Josh Trujillo. There will be beers from multiple breweries, including one epic collaboration, plus food trucks and a huge band lineup with Red Light Cameras starting things off at noon for the VIP tasting (regular admission is just $5 and starts at 2). Hey, when RLC is the opener, you know it is a big event.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bow & Arrow hits the mark again with Desert Punch Hazy DIPA. Dialogue is feeling the season with its own Oktoberfest, plus 3x Tripel. La Cumbre rolls out cans of Autumn Project Dank on Friday. Marble gets innovative with Dryspell, a barrel-aged amber with brett, and Glowstick Juice, a new New England-style IPA. Ponderosa hopes to have Belgian Dubbel on tap by the weekend. Sidetrack also sneaked in an Oktoberfest. Starr Brothers goes all Young Frankenstein on us with Therewolf, its own take on an Oktoberfest. Steel Bender will also have more Brickie American Stout this week. The 377 is aiming to have a new Porter on tap soon, plus a small, experimental batch of Prickly Pear Porter.

Up in Santa Fe, Second Street rolls out a slew of new beers including Rod’s Steam Bitter, MBV Dry Stout, Imperial IPA, Saison, and Imperial IPA, with even more on deck, including Atalaya Altbier this Saturday. Further north in Red River, RRBC also jumps on the German trend with Tucker-Brau Oktoberfest Marzen.

Do not forget about the Great American Beer Festival medal winners. Currently on tap are Wooden Teeth (gold medal) at Turtle Mountain, Malpais Stout (silver) at La Cumbre, Germophile (silver) at Rowley Farmhouse Ales, Pistol Pete’s 1888 (bronze) at Bosque, Cherry Wheat (bronze) at Sierra Blanca, Lampshade Porter (bronze) at Starr Brothers, and the collaboration Mocha Hipster Bomb (bronze) at Palmer and Quarter Celtic.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of September 24.

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We had to borrow this epic selfie of Turtle Mountain’s Mick Hahn and friends after he won a gold medal Saturday. (Courtesy of TMBC)

Phew, that was quite the weekend up in Denver. We missed some stuff in our constant rush to get from place to place, from beer to beer. Hey, it was just another Great American Beer Festival, but we did have some additional tidbits of info and the like that we wanted to share.

During my brief interview with a joyful Mick Hahn of Turtle Mountain, I asked a tough question about whether it is even sweeter to win with a lager, considering how most casual beer drinkers probably do not understand how much harder it is to brew a lager than an ale. Mick was ready to celebrate, so he could not come up with an answer then, but after a while he messaged this to us:

“I thought of an addendum to the interview (Saturday). You asked about the consumers’ understanding of the intricacies and difficulty of lager vs. ale. I think I can sum it up with an experience from this weekend. Friday, I was at Prost and saw someone wearing a shirt, the back of which said: MALT WATER HOPS YEAST PATIENCE

“I fucking love that. While not a traditional ingredient, patience is so crucial to making a good beer, and that goes 10 fold for lagers. You see breweries expanding and making more and more beer simply so they can turn a greater profit. When your focus shifts from quality of product to quantity, you lose that patience that (is) so crucial to maximizing flavor.

“Working at Turtle has given me the opportunity to let that patience grow, and I think that is the biggest reason we were able to bring home the gold.”

Once again, congrats to Mick for bringing home the first gold/first GABF medal in the 19.5-year history of Turtle Mountain. Owner Nico Ortiz texted us to say he was planning on borrowing the medal to wear all day Thursday for his birthday. The Crew humbly suggests that everyone head to TMBC on Thursday and raise a pint of Wooden Teeth to Nico, Mick, and the rest of their team.

Say, that tattoo looks familiar

New Mexico native Chris Keeton won gold in the English IPA category for Alaro Brewing of Sacramento, California.

Shortly after posting our story about the award winners, we received a tip from reader Jim Bullard that we kinda sorta missed one New Mexico medal winner. The catch was the winner was a brewer from New Mexico who now brews in California.

Jim wrote, “Would like to pass on that Albuquerque native Chris Keeton scored a gold medal with the Alaro Brewing Castillo IPA, from Sacramento, California. Chris had recently collaborated with Justin Hamilton from Boxing Bear on the NABA (North American Beer Awards) winner Cali Common. Chris was in attendance with wife Lauren and 5-month-old Bennett who was present for the showing of the Bennett Pale Ale!”

Jim’s comment arrived at the same time Luke sent over the above photo after randomly running into Keeton, who apparently recognized the Crew symbol on Luke’s shirt. Keeton and his family were on the move, so they did not have time for an interview, but we plan to reach out to Alaro Brewing in the near future. We know there are other New Mexico natives brewing outside the state, but to our knowledge, Keeton is the first to claim a GABF gold medal. His Castillo IPA took the top spot in the English-style India Pale Ale category.

Know of a brewer from New Mexico who now brews elsewhere? Send us the info on him/her and we can put together a fun list.

Sampler tray

  • For anyone planning way ahead, GABF will be back in October next year, specifically from the 3rd through the 5th. The Craft Brewers Conference will also be back in Denver in the spring, but as it is an odd-numbered year, there will not be a World Beer Cup competition.
  • The Crew found a couple new eateries that we recommend for anyone visiting Denver. The Denver Biscuit Company on South Broadway was as good as advertised, plus it is a short walk from there to TRVE Brewing. We also hit up a new-to-us breakfast place called Syrup, on the corner of 18th and Champa downtown. Otherwise, we hit a lot of familiar eateries, including Jelly and Rhein Haus, plus of course we ate while downing all those delicious beers at Bierstadt Lagerhause. Future food suggestions are always welcome.
  • A few of the beers that blew us away, but are probably harder than hell to find on a regular basis: Great Notion’s Double Stack, New Holland Dragon’s Milk Reserve Maple Oak, Bosque Acequia IPA (we had to get it there since we missed the can release down here), the entire lager lineup from Chuckanut Brewing, Brooklyn Hand & Seal (Barleywine) aged in cognac barrels, Liquid Mechanics Barrel-Aged Awesomeness, Horse & Dragon’s BBA Dragonfire Imperial Stout, Black Sky’s Angel of Death Stout, Beachwood’s System of a Stout, Fremont’s BBA Dark Star Coffee Edition, Cigar City’s Coconut Marshal Zhukov’s, the entire lager lineup at Bierstadt Lagerhaus, Speakeasy’s Syndicate No. 4, AleSmith’s Vietnamese Coffee Speedway Stout, Kane’s A Night to End All Dawns and Sunday Brunch, Modern Times’ Devil’s Teeth and Fellowship of Xul, and of course Avery’s 16-percent BBA lineup of Fimbulvvinter (Quintuple), Tweak (Coffee Stout), Plank’d (Porter), and Rumpkin, with the last two straight from the barrel.
  • How are we not dead? Because Franz Solo drank even more than just those.
  • The others will have more to share this week from their own adventures. We also promise to track down first-time medal winners Starr Brothers and Rowley Farmhouse Ales, as they disappeared into the crowd Saturday.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

A lot of tired brewers and brewery owners came to life when their names were announced at the GABF Awards Ceremony!

DENVER — The 2018 Great American Beer Festival awards ceremony was another good one for New Mexico breweries. The Saturday morning event saw 2,404 breweries enter 8,864 beers, judged by 193 people, and spread across 102 categories, plus a new collaboration and the Pro-Am competition.

Eight New Mexico breweries shared in seven medals, a significant improvement from the World Beer Cup earlier this year, when only Quarter Celtic brought home a single bronze medal for its Pedro O’Flanagan.

“It means we make good beer still,” said John Gozigian, the executive director of the New Mexico Brewers Guild. “What did we win (at WBC), one medal? It was an anomaly. We always tend to medal disproportionately to our population.”

We were lucky in that Turtle Mountain head brewer Mick Hahn, left, found us at the session after the awards ceremony.

Turtle Mountain earned its first gold medal in the International-style Pilsner category with Wooden Teeth. The year-round offering is a huge win for brewer Mick Hahn and owner Nico Ortiz, beating out 85 other entries.

Mick was not in attendance when the award was announced.

“I was at our AirBnB, not quite sipping the champagne yet, but enjoying the hell out of it,” he said. “We didn’t go to the awards ceremony but we were streaming it at the house. When they announced it we just exploded. It was fantastic. I couldn’t be happier. There was a liquor store right across from the house so I ran across the street to get some champagne.”

After 19 years in business, this was the first major competition medal for Turtle Mountain.

“That’s just awesome,” Gozigian said. “For a new brewery to win is great, but to see one of the stalwarts of our brewing scene to come out of the woodwork and win in a very competitive category, I’m very happy for them.”

Mick said he was over the moon after hearing his beer’s name called on the internet broadcast.

“It means so much,” Mick said. “Turtle deserves so much more (praise) than what they have right now, in my opinion. I hate hearing people say, ‘I love it, but I never go out to Rio Rancho.’ It’s a drop in the bucket, I’m sure, but every little bit helps. A gold medal for our house lager? Yeah.”

La Cumbre’s Jeff Erway chews on another silver medal for his Malpais Stout.

There were two silver medals awarded to local breweries. La Cumbre’s Malpais Stout took second in the Export Stout category, while Rowley Farmhouse Ales earned its first medal with Germophile in the Berliner-style Weisse category, which had 115 entries.

“Always the runner up,” said La Cumbre owner/master brewer Jeff Erway. “It’s my third silver. I’m really stoked to not go home empty handed. I tasted this batch and said this is about as good as that beer ever gets. I’m really pleased with the whole team. It gets increasingly harder as the brewery gets bigger to make sure that every person back there is engaged. I’m kind of in awe of Daniel (Jaramillo) and Alan (Skinner) and how they manage the team back there. I’m real proud of everybody. Probably 20 people touch this beer. The fact that no one screwed it up is awesome.”

Bronze was the color of the day with five breweries bringing home four medals. How did that work? Well, Quarter Celtic and Palmer Brewery earned bronze in the Collaboration Beer category with Mocha Hipster Bomb.

“Brady (McKeown, head brewer) is battling in that brewhouse and it’s starting to show,” said Quarter Celtic co-owner Ror McKeown. “We’re fortunate that Rob (Palmer) was a super cool guy and has some talent himself. He was willing to jump in with us. I told him, first GABF, first beer you entered, first medal, you set the bar real high. It was a good time, but unfortunately Brady will never get to come again, since we figured out the trick was to take his cutout instead of him.”

Yes, Quarter Celtic really did take a cardboard cutout of Brady up on stage.

The Brady McKeown cutout made it to the stage at the awards ceremony, courtesy of his brother Ror.

“You never expect to win, but you want to come prepared,” Ror said. “I took that cutout. It was nice, especially since this is (Charlie) Papazian’s last year. It was our last chance to get a fist bump from him.

“(Papazian) was laughing. We went up early enough so he wasn’t tired. He told us that’s awesome. Usually you can’t get too many words out of him. He had a pretty big grin on his face.”

For Palmer, this was his first major award.

“I’ll probably never enter another beer again,” Rob said. “First beer, medal, done.”

He was actually luck to even make it into the awards ceremony at all.

“I didn’t expect the collab category to be (early), I thought it would be in the middle somewhere,” Rob said. “I’m all hungover as shit. We were at the gentlemen’s club last night. I didn’t have a pass to get in. Canteen gave me an extra pass. I sat down, tried not to throw up, and then I heard the name called. It was fucking awesome. Getting to fist bump Charlie Papazian, man, best thing ever. I’m super stoked.”

Rob Palmer’s hangover disappeared quickly thanks to his bronze medal.

Starr Brothers brought home its first medal with a bronze in the Other Strong Beer category with Lampshade Porter, another year-round beer.

Sierra Blanca’s Cherry Wheat medaled for the second straight year, this time taking bronze in the Fruit Wheat category (it won gold last year).

Bosque’s Pistol Pete’s 1888 finished third out of 127 entries in the Golden or Blonde Ale category.

“It’s awesome,” said Bosque co-owner/director of brewing operations John Bullard. “We did the same thing with Bosque IPA (medaling), that was cool, too. That really drove sales. I’m really hoping this will continue to drive sales. We’re having a hard time keeping up with this beer already, but it can’t hurt, right?”

The Crew will try to catch up with the other medal winners while we are all here in Denver, but just in case we cannot find them, we will interview them upon our return to New Mexico this coming week.

Congrats to one and all, and thank you for always representing New Mexico in such a positive way.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The Crew finds Stoutmeister’s favorite street.

First, the good news: the Dark Side Brew Crew is in Denver for another round of the Great American Beer Festival! This is normally where one would follow that with some sort of bad news, but there isn’t any, at least not for us.

Once again, we are covering America’s largest craft beer festival out of the Colorado Convention Center, today (Thursday) through Saturday afternoon, including the Saturday morning awards ceremony.

A room with a view.

Our day so far involved waking up way too early, then flying to Denver and taking the train into town. From there, we stopped at the hotel (it is kinda close, as the picture shows above), grabbed our credentials early, and then naturally began to pack on the massive amount of food we will need to get through this first night even semi-coherently. Huzzah to Denver Biscuit Company on South Broadway, and an equally big huzzah to the fact we could walk from there to our home away from home, TRVE Brewing.

Of course an IPA from TRVE was how we started our drinking day.

With an Abysswalker IPA to get us going, here is just some of the stuff we have planned over the next four days:

  • Live videos via Facebook and Instagram from the floor of GABF. We will be stopping by to talk to as many of our New Mexico breweries as we can find (they changed it this year; rather than grouping breweries geographically as in the past, they are now in alphabetical order). If you are not following us on social media, now is the time. Ignore politics and all that, just focus on the goodness of the craft beer, and even Twitter can still be fun.
  • Franz Solo will provide daily written recaps here on the site. To avoid unintelligible gibberish, these will be posted the day after each session. Look for Saturday’s fairly early, as we have the awards ceremony at 10 a.m.
  • Live awards ceremony coverage, including post-ceremonial interviews with what we hope to be many, many local brewers who are bringing home medals!
  • Plus, whatever else we think of on the fly.

We realize it has become really hard, if not almost impossible, to get tickets to this event. We will do our best to take you inside so that you get to experience almost all of GABF from the comfort of your computer, tablet, or phone. If we could find a way to teleport samples of the many great beers to you, we would, but alas, that technology does not exist yet. Come on, scientists, get on that!

We found the Santa Fe Brewing van, but not the Santa Fe brewers.

Got any questions? Any suggestions for things you would like to know about? Just message us here or on social media and we will do our best to provide that for you.

As always, just wish us luck surviving this epic sorts of madness, in the Halls of Valhalla, where the brave, may live, forever!

After food, coffee, and one beer apiece, we are much more awake now than we were back at the Sunport.

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.

While most of the Crew and most of the brewers all head off to Denver for the Great American Beer Festival this week, all of you still in New Mexico will not go without some fun. First up, the Albuquerque Mountain Rescue Brew Fest is back at Marble downtown this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. This is a huge fundraiser for the Albuquerque Mountain Rescue Council, so they pull out all the stops. There will be live music (see Marble’s entry below) all day, plus food trucks, vendors, games, silent auctions, and of course plenty of Marble beer.

Then it will be time for another edition of Metal Monday at Tumbleroot’s location on Agua Fria in Santa Fe. The lineup this time around features Red Mesa, The Horned God, and local favorites Black Maria. That kicks off at 8 p.m., so head over to support some epic bands while drinking some epic beer and spirits.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bosque tapped Beermosa last week, and Acequia Fresh Hop IPA is back this Friday on tap and in cans. Canteen is still beating what’s left of the summer heat with Munich Helles. Flix Brewhouse is feeling mighty German with some Das Umlaut Oktoberfest and Party on Garth Kolsch, plus Oo-De-Lally English IPA debuts Thursday. High and Dry drops a slew of new beers including Black Hole’s Son Porter, Silently Said Pale, and more listed below. Marble keeps the goses going with Ginger Plum Gose. Ponderosa keeps it fresh with Wet Hop Saison. Red Door sneaked in another batch of New England IPA last weekend. The 377 keeps the sours coming with an Oud Bruin that was aged seven months in wine barrels. Tractor introduces Citra Hefe while also bringing back the Javi Pre-Prohibition Lager.

Up in Santa Fe, things are quiet for GABF week.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of September 17.

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After two years, it was nice to drink you again, Irish Handcuffs.

Before we dive into our latest round of beer adventures, a little business comes first. Starting Thursday, the Crew will have live coverage from the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Yours truly, plus Franz Solo and Luke, all have press passes that will get us into the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday afternoon sessions, plus the awards ceremony Saturday morning. We will get you all the news you need as it happens, so long as we have not consumed too much beer as to render our brains useless.

Life is a struggle, sometimes.

We do have the list of competition beers from the New Mexico breweries, which will we will publish in advance of the awards ceremony so you all can follow along. Look for that no later than Saturday morning.

Wish us luck up there. It is rather easy to get completely overwhelmed, but with enough of us attending, we should stay on track this time around.

As for this past weekend, I actually made it out to quite a few places. Friday lunch was at Canteen, where the Piggly Wiggly remains one of my all-time favorite pulled pork sandwiches. I washed it down with some Hank ESB, which is just as biscuity and English as ever. Eli, forever an awesome bartender and fellow metalhead, also gave me a sample of the Wet Hop Pale Ale, which sure tastes like a much, much bigger beer, with a delightful blast of both piney and berry hop flavors.

After the Lobo men’s soccer game on Friday night, I popped in at La Cumbre and faced a vexing decision between Make IPA Clear Again and Wet-Hopped Elevated. The former won out, and it remains an excellent example of a tough, bitter old-school West Coast IPA (Luke reviews the latter down below). For Saturday, I took a trip to Red Door, where I lucked out and found a car leaving its parking space (it pays to gamble sometimes). Once inside, I did the smart thing and hung out with head brewer Matt Meier, and we were later joined by Bombs Away head brewer David Kimbell. We consumed some of the not-too-sweet, not-too-boozy Double Vanilla Cream Ale, sampled the latest batch of the New England IPA, and then I personally capped my night with some Dunkel, which AmyO also tried when she was there earlier (see below).

Following a rough day at work on Monday, I was able to make it to the Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day Festival at Quarter Celtic, where there was still just a little bit left of the 2016 Irish Handcuffs Imperial Stout. Man, aging is doing that beer wonders, just highlighting all the barrel flavors and how they blend beautifully with the strong, thick base stout. I cannot wait to try it again on the actual St. Patrick’s Day.

Enough from me, here is what a couple of the others found around their respective towns this weekend. As always, these are just our suggestions. Let us know what some of your favorite beers/places of the weekend are in the comments!

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The old brewhouse is still going strong at Chama River, now brewing most of the beers for Kellys Brew Pub.

There are still faint echoes of the brewpub that was at Chama River. The booths are still there, the copper-top bar is still present, and much of the kitchen equipment remains. It has all gathered some dust since Chama closed its doors in August 2017, but one thing remains operational — the brewhouse.

Yes, there are still beers being made at Chama, even with the rest of the business shut down. That is where Andrew Krosche, the director of brewing operations for Santa Fe Dining, spends most of his time. With a year to reflect on what happened, I sat down with Andrew at that copper-top bar recently over pints of his crisp and clean American Pilsner.

“So when we took Kellys over and Chama was still open, plus Blue Corn, we had three breweries working independently under one umbrella,” Andrew said. “Once Chama was closed, we continued working out of Chama, that’s (assistant brewer) Cordell (Rincon) and I at the time, brewing for inter-company distribution under the Chama name cause there was a few beers throughout the restaurants that were staples.”

With the Chama brewhouse still at his disposal, Andrew soon decided how it would best be used.

“Somewhere around that time, when you’re only brewing enough to keep a few restaurants going, it’s hard to make sure the product is fresh,” he said. “So in response to that, also knowing that Kellys with pretty slow with lots of drama that happened right before we bought it, I decided to bring all the brewers together under one roof and work out of Chama’s system, that being the best system in the company. I spent a lot of time rebuilding this facility in the two years that Chama was still open. Also, it kind of gave everyone a chance to work on the same level, to understand my terminology and what was expected. Everyone was on the same page.”

The tanks are still full of beer in Chama’s walk-in cooler.

Andrew, along with Blue Corn head brewer Paul Mallory and Kellys head brewer Dan Cavan, have been able to stay on that same page since.

“Fast forwarding to now, we’ve got the eight house beers at Kellys, (plus) a few inter-company accounts up in Santa Fe,” Andrew said. “It works out very nicely to continue working out of here (because), one, we can brew smaller batches, keeping everything fresh, keeping the quality up. Everything is served out of kegs over at Kellys, so it’s easy enough to have them to place an order for the week and then we can just use the delivery van. In that case, it’s really nice.”

It also helps in one other area for Kellys.

“Kellys, obviously, doesn’t have a barrier between the brewery and the restaurant,” Andrew added. “It is kind of nice brewing here and not worrying about say guests wandering into the brew space. Not that it’s their fault, you would have no idea you couldn’t come back there. For me, it’s just a huge liability because if we’re CIPing and some caustic sprays onto some innocent bystander, it’s not the best of things.

“That’s kind of where we are with this facility. We’ve definitely been enjoying it with this little retreat.”

On occasion, the Kellys brewhouse does get fired up to make a beer or two.

“We have been brewing, or had been brewing, occasionally over there, keeping the machinery still going,” Andrew said. “It’s like an old car, you don’t want to let it sit too long or more problems start. That, and obviously we have to keep our small brewing license and we have to have a minimum of barrelage. So we do that to supplement, usually with some of our top sellers or brews that work really well on that system, as opposed to the ones here.”

Certain styles of beer actually tend to turn out better on Kellys’ system, as opposed to the Chama brewhouse.

“The water in this city is great for stouts, and they’ve got minor filter system and no softener,” Andrew said. “Brewing over there for something like the stout or apricot (wheat) is fine with the city water. Whereas over here, I would never brew the lager there. Here I’ve got a water treatment facility to ensure it’s the best I can make it for the water.”

What was once a bar is now a brewer’s office.

Andrew has managed to turn the bar area into his own office. His laptop and a pile of paperwork sit atop the bar. He keeps a few clean glasses behind the bar as well, for quality control and that sort of thing. Those couches that were over by the entrance have been moved to where the tables used to sit by the bar. There is one TV still running, with the laptop hooked up to it. A pile of beer books sits on one of the remaining tables below it.

As for how long this setup will continue for Andrew, Chama River, Kellys, and all the rest, it is a bit of an ongoing mystery.

“Honestly, I don’t even know,” he said. “I know we own it and (Santa Fe Dining president) Gerald Peters likes that he owns it. As far as I know, selling is not something that is an option. I’ve definitely written game plans for any scenario, mainly because if and when something happens, I want to make sure that my crew is ready, that we can handle it. Just a little preemptive planning, but you never know. This isn’t like moving some kitchen equipment, this is going to require weeks of moving. ”

The craft beer world around the old-timers like Kellys and Blue Corn continues to evolve, but for the most part, the brewpubs have seen neither a sharp rise in business, nor a sudden decline.

“Looking at numbers, if we’re just going to go barrelage-wise, nothing has really changed, at least since I’ve been running things,” Andrew said. “Blue Corn’s barrelage has been the same for the last four years or so. Chama’s was for the two years I was here with it. Kellys is about the same. We’re not getting massive growth. I think a lot of reasons for that is there’s a lot more places to go. There’s a lot more neighborhood pubs. The traffic of going to the places nearest to you is not ours nowadays.

“But, being steady and consistent, that’s a plus. I’m confident that with Paul already (winning) the IPA Challenge, I’m sure that his numbers are growing right now, which is great. With the changes that Dan and myself have kind of put (into) Kellys, working on recipe development and really trying to show the public that it’s different, I feel that we can start seeing a rise soon. Maybe not through this winter, but by next spring I feel like things will change for the better.”

With so many other craft beer options out there, Andrew said it has been tough convincing folks to give Kellys another chance.

“Unfortunately, yes, (but) then our marketing team is doing their best to let the public know that things are different,” he said. “I think the challenges that we run into is a lot of times Kellys is obviously one of the oldest breweries in Albuquerque and they had gained a (bad) reputation over so many years, that a lot of times people I feel when they hear Kellys they just kind of zone out.

“They’re not even paying attention that it is a new ownership, a new brewing team, a lot of it is word of mouth. I’ve been pushing a lot of festivals for Kellys. If we can’t get the public to hear us, let’s get some samples in their hands so we can prove to them right there, real time, that this product is superior to what it used to be.”

One of the ways to do that was to move some of the Chama recipes to Kellys.

“We did cross a few beers over to Kellys,” Andrew said. “The Sleeping Dog Stout is now a Kellys beer. We didn’t change it at all, it’s a strong, solid stout that’s been around forever. The Kellys IPA, for lack of a better word, is practically the Jackalope.”

Even brewers need a comfy spot to take a break now and again.

After a brief chat about the many late summer/early fall festivals, Andrew explained one of his other strategies with Kellys that differs from many of the other breweries around town.

“The way I’ve focused Kellys right now is, cause you were asking about what we’re taking to festivals and if we’ve changed it or not, we have eight house beers as opposed to your typical six and four specials,” he said. “What brings in regulars is your house beers, not your specials. We wanted a good, broad menu that caters to everyone’s tastes and really focus on those to make sure those are the best that we can give, and not worry about specials as much.

“When we build a menu for a festival, we typically don’t change it and we are very rarely going to take a special, because we want the house beers to be the focus. We want people to know they can come into the restaurant at any time and that beer will be there just as the way that they remembered it.”

Of course, just like any mad scientist brewer, Andrew is still cooking up some innovative seasonal/specialty beers from time to time.

“Speaking of specials, it’s very rare that we do one so when we do one we get pretty pumped about it, not sure when this is going to be released because we have to taste it over the next few weeks, but I just transferred an American pale ale into the server onto cocoa nibs and coconut extract,” he said. “So we’re making like a chocolate coconut pale ale, and it’s very hop forward. It drinks almost like an IPA, but the alcohol is like a pale ale. We’re pretty excited about it. It smells great. We picked the hop bill to match the coconut.”

We definitely look forward to trying that rather offbeat-sounding beer whenever it is ready. I will highly recommend the American Pilsner, as well, and Canteen head brewer Zach Guilmette swung by later to hang out for a bit, whereupon he declared it to be one of his favorite lagers in town.

For the most part, it is just good to see a great brewer like Andrew still getting to showcase his talent, even if the current setup between Chama and Kellys is a bit unusual. We encourage everyone to head back to Kellys and give the beers there another shot. We will certainly be stopping by after we get back from the Great American Beer Festival later this week.

Thanks to Andrew for the interview, the beers, and the tour through the ghostly little building he still inhabits.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister