Marblefest embraces the spirit of collaboration

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.”

Much like the anniversary party back in the spring, Marble will be closing off part of First Street, so prepare accordingly when driving down (or, better yet, Lyft or Uber there).

“We did Septemberfest a few years ago,” Geraldine said. “We had success shutting down the street for our anniversary party (in April), so we thought we should do that again in the fall. We’re going to have four beer stations on First Street. We have two barrels from each brewery of that style of beer being poured.”

Marble is teaming up with seven other local breweries for the event.

“Canteen Brewhouse, Quarter Celtic, Steel Bender, Toltec, La Cumbre, Bosque, (and) Boxing Bear, we reached out to them a couple months ago and asked them to brew a German-style beer,” Geraldine said. “They all said yes so they’re all coming to party, which is awesome.”

The beer list is pretty epic, to put it mildly. The first two are by the hosts.

  • Marblefest! (6.6% ABV/25 IBU): A classic märzen with bready malt and spicy, floral hops.
  • Hopfenweizen (4.8%/9): A lightly dry-hopped version of a German hefe.
  • Kottbusser (5.6%/19): A heirloom-style collaboration beer made by the participating breweries at the Mav Lab in the Heights, Josh has more on this one below.
  • Boxing Bear Das Bear German Pilsner (5.4%/45): Brewed with 100-percent German malts.
  • Toltec Oktoberfest (5.0%/24): A collaboration with Cargill Malt to showcase a passion for lagers.
  • Canteen Munich Helles (5.1%/18): Delectable golden German lager.
  • Quarter Celtic Extravagose (4.5%/8): They took a gose and brewed it with edible glitter, “like a mesmerizing pint of lava-lamp goodness.”
  • La Cumbre Kellerbier (5.8%/30): Brewed in the style of the house lagers of Franconia.
  • Bosque Schwartzbier (4.9%/20): Dark in color, but light and toasty in flavor.
  • Steel Bender Misfitter Altbier (6.0%/34): Technically an ale, but it was lagered out to make it extra smooth and balanced.

Damn it, now I am really, really jealous to be missing this festival. I was also jealous to have missed the day of the collaboration brew that Josh hosted.

“We did do a collab for Marblefest,” he said. “It’s an heirloom style, if you would. Once I saw the list of what everybody else was making, it was kind of one of those things where it’s like, shit, what is there left to make in the German beer category. I did a Wikipedia search of German beer styles and found some cool, old historical styles that were lost or almost lost due to the Rheinheitsgebot. One of ‘em is a Kottbusser, which is from the Cottbus region of Germany and it has oats and wheat and honey and molasses, which is why it got kicked aside.”

All the participating breweries collaborated on the beer, with Steel Bender even bringing its house kolsch yeast. Josh made sure it was a grand day for all who came, rather than just another work day in a different location.

“Up here, I like to have fun,” he said. “We fired up the barbecue grill, or I did. When it’s your house you’re expected to do a certain amount of work. I don’t have an assistant full-time, so (I couldn’t) be the guy that collaborates who sits around and watches his assistant brew while we all get trashed. I got to be the assistant that day. It was a ton of fun. Everybody brought some beer to try, tried the beers that we have on tap, we picked each other’s brains, it was kind of an overall good fun day. It was a really good group of people on this particular collab.”

German-style beers have long been a favorite of Josh and many of the other brewers around town.

“I think the challenge, first, is one of them,” he said. “It’s really hard to execute a perfect pilsner or a perfect Dortmunder. They’re so close in characteristic, that to execute them properly they’ll still differentiate what they are categorically is really hard to do. The difference between a Bo pils and a German pils and a Czech pils, like a kolsch sometimes can even taste lager-like when it’s done right. The wide range out of one particular state, if you would, it’s cool to see the variety.”

Lagers not only take longer, as the saying goes, but can also be a far more complex beer to produce. That starts with the yeast.

“My deep passion lies in the lager yeast,” Josh said. “I like the challenge of working with it. I like how finicky it is and once you learn how to manipulate the yeast to do what you want, you can make such beautiful beers. Just like everything great in life, low and slow, a good brisket or a good cruise on Central, a lager warrants the same treatment, low and slow. You have to have the patience, you can’t rush it out. You have to understand what they’re going to do to have them shine in the same category. Otherwise they just fall into each other. You can’t tell the difference between a German pils and a Czech pils, but when they’re done right, if you listen to what the yeast wants to do with them, it comes out great.”

All that delicious beer would be enough to get most people to come by Saturday, but Marble is throwing in a lot more than just that.

“We have music all day, lederhosen and dirndl competitions,” Geraldine said. “All the ladies are going to get into (the dirndls). (Brewers) John Heine and John Carroll are going to put on some lederhosen.”

Anyone that has met Heine might be surprised they make lederhosen for someone so tall, but Geraldine said he bought it himself in Germany, so it fits. We expect lots of pictures of this from all of you, so do not disappoint us.

“We’re stoked for this party,” Geraldine said. “We’re going to do fun German games, too, like beer-holding competitions, games like that throughout. We have Burque Bakehouse baking fresh pretzels that they’re going to be making on site from 12 to 6. We have Malagueña’s, we worked with them last year at the smaller Marblefest that we did at the Westside, they made an awesome German-inspired menu, plus Street Food Institute and Urban Hot Dog. All the food vendors are doing German-inspired cuisine, at least two of their dishes. That’s all going to be served in the north (parking) lot.”

Well, gosh, unless you also bought tickets way in advance to a metal show in another state, there is no excuse for not heading to Marblefest this Saturday. You can find the whole music lineup in The Week Ahead in Beer, down in the Marble capsule.

Have fun down there, and if any beer is left at the end, please let the brewers know that the Crew will happily finish it off when we return next week.


— Stoutmeister

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