Archive for October, 2018

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 weather has turned dark and gloomy for Halloween, which is either a good thing (if you are like us) or a bad thing (if you have small children trick-or-treating). Since this is a blog for (alleged) grown-ups, we will focus on the good, because the day after Halloween just happens to be our favorite beer holiday, International Stout Day. The good news is our brewers have some awesome new stouts to go along with their award-winning regular darkest ales. Bow & Arrow is releasing Breakfast Bandit, an imperial stout (9% ABV) brewed with Cutbow Coffee Roastology’s Stone Lake Blend and more than 240 Krispy Kreme glazed donuts. Oh, the decadence, it calls to us. Bow & Arrow has been knocking it out of the park with these pastry stouts, and we expect that trend to continue Thursday. Up at Canteen, Thursday marks the release of Mustaches and Cream, a chocolate and vanilla stout brewed up for the Movember charity drive. Dialogue has also added a fresh batch of Dry Stout to its taps for the week. In addition to those specialties, there are of course the many, many great stouts on tap around town year-round. There is Boxing Bear’s award-winning Chocolate Milk Stout (World Beer Cup and Great American Beer Festival gold, 2016), La Cumbre’s Malpais Stout (GABF silver, 2011 and 2018), Marble’s Cholo Stout (GABF gold, 2017). There are also all the stouts that have won the Brew Crew’s annual Stout Challenge, including Canteen’s Dark n Lusty (2018), Chama River’s (now Kellys’) Sleeping Dog Stout (2016), Boxing Bear’s Standing 8 Stout (2015), Tractor’s Double Plow Oatmeal Stout (2014), La Cumbre’s Malpais (2013), and Marble’s Oatmeal Stout (2012). That enough dark beer for ya, New Mexico? Raise a pint or two to the style Thursday!

We would be remiss if we did not point out a couple additional charity beers going on tap this week. Steel Bender and High and Dry are tapping their collaboration, Wee Stache, a Scotch ale, for Movember on Thursday at the Brewyard. Portions of the sales will go to the charity all month long, plus the Thursday release will be accompanied with a food pairing featuring braised short ribs served with creamy polenta, wilted greets, roasted root vegetables, and a cranberry demi-glace. That special will be on all day until it runs out. Over at Bombs Away, the new Fusion Fuel will make its debut this week. A pale ale with white wine grape juice and peaches, it will see $1 from every pint sold donated to the EOD Warrior Foundation, which helps our nation’s wounded veterans. Up in Santa Fe, Rowley Farmhouse Ales will be honoring a close friend who lost her battle to cancer. Paul and Chantal McQuad were instrumental in helping the brewery during the buildout, but during that time she was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. The RFA brew team and Paul have now created a French saison called Chantal (10% ABV), hopped with Sorachi Ace and finished with whole red raspberries. For every pint sold, $1 will be donated to the Cancer Foundation for New Mexico. Props to all three of these breweries, Canteen, and all our other breweries who frequently step up for charities across the state.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bombs Away also hits the target with Light the Fuse! Lager and a new batch of Incendiary IPA. Canteen brings back Buffomundo, an amber lager. Dialogue gets a little feisty with Flipping Pigeons American Lager. Marble has more Pumpkin Noir available. Nexus puts its Beer Premiere entry, Strawberry Milk Shake IPA, on tap. Ponderosa does the same with Golden Graham Amber Lager, made with actual Golden Graham cereal from the General Mills plant here in town, plus Schwartzbier returns this weekend. Sidetrack defies the season with Forever Summer British Golden Ale. Starr Brothers hops on the Bandwagon Hazy IPA. Tractor adds its Beer Premiere entry, Apple Ale, while also brewing up some Cascade SMASH and Pumpkin Cider. Turtle Mountain unveils a trio of newcomers in Turbidity Majeure (New England-style IPA), Rise of Fall (Harvest Cold Brew Brown Ale), and Tomb of the Mutilated (Blood Orange Black IPA).

Up in Santa Fe, Blue Corn has more of its delicious Scotch Ale.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of October 29.

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Andrew, center, found fellow Crew member Reid, right, and former Crew member Julie at the Beer Premiere.

It was quite the busy weekend for the Crew, so naturally in trying to type this up, ye ole work wi-fi would crap out on me at lunchtime. Sigh, that is what you get sometimes for not getting this all done the night before. Anyway, fear not, The Week Ahead in Beer is coming later today, then we will be back on our usual schedule.

My beer weekend was actually fairly light. The combination of Halloween-related events and the final (sniff) Lobo men’s soccer game took up my time. I did end up on 3,999 unique beers on Untappd, so I had to come up with a worthy beer for 4,000. After examining the archives, I dug up an Old Perseverance, a monstrous (18.5% ABV) old ale from Avery. After a rather terrible Monday at work, it was the perfect antidote.

Yeah, not terribly exciting, but with some awesome beers all debuting Thursday, I will be back at the breweries next weekend.

As for the rest of the Crew, they were all over the place, again. Andrew even sent in a double post, of sorts.

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A new brewery is coming to the Northeast Heights in early 2019.

The surge of breweries opening in the Albuquerque metro area has finally slowed to a trickle. Only five new pending small brewer licenses are listed with the State of New Mexico, and two of those (BLUE, Brewstillery) have been pending for so long, they might just be dead projects.

We know that Ex Novo Brewing is coming to Corrales, but it is still a ways off. We know almost nothing about the mysterious place called Colonia.

The only forthcoming brewery that we knew was progressing towards opening sooner than later was Black Snout Brewhouse, all courtesy of its Instagram feed and a short story from Albuquerque Business First. After a quick email exchange, I met up last week with co-owner Josh James at the still-unfinished space at a shopping center on the southeast corner of Menaul and Juan Tabo. Nestled in among a Ross Dress For Less, Goodwill, and Mario’s Pizza will be the latest brewery in town, looking to make its mark in a relatively under-served area.

“We kind of want to do a sports-themed brewery,” Josh said inside the 3,731-square-foot space. “What I wanted to do was like TRVE, like heavy metal, kind of dark, but I don’t think Albuquerque is ready for that. My wife (Natasha) and I are huge sports fans, so we went with that.”

At present, all Josh and Natasha, his co-owner, have is a hollowed-out space. There has been work at setting in the plumbing for the brewery and bar in the back, but otherwise it is currently just concrete floors and walls. Josh expressed optimism that construction would begin in earnest soon, possibly even this week.

“Right now, we have our federal license approved, we have our taproom approved,” he said. “We’re waiting on the State, it’s in legal review right now. Hopefully in like January, late January. I want to be open for sure by the Super Bowl. I’m just hoping and praying. Now comes a whole new set of headaches with permits and plan review.”

The initial plan calls for opening with a 1-barrel brewhouse, similar to what High and Dry Brewing is operating.

“We’re kind of doing it in a couple phases because I wanted to get going,” Josh said. “To open with we’ll be a nano brewery. We’ll be undersized for sure, but once we open, we get going, I collect a little bit of funds, then we’ll go into a 5-barrel system. Right now I’m getting quotes.”

The interior of the future brewery is bigger than it looks, as co-owner Josh James was happy to show us.

As many other brewery owners have learned, opening a brewery is not cheap.

“I didn’t want to take out loans or anything of that nature, this is all just self-funded,” Josh said. “It’s unbelievable. … This is an insane amount of money (an estimated $100,000), but it’s just my wife and I. This is our dream. Breweries are popping up everywhere, but this is in our (neighborhood). It is what it is, but no one is going to stop us from our dream, for sure.”

The current location at 11500 Menaul NE was sort of a four-times-a-charm for Black Snout.

“This is our third and final spot where we’ve tried to open a brewery,” Josh said. “We wanted to open one out in Placitas. I knew the owner of Anasazi Winery, his name (was) Jim Fish. We were like two weeks away from signing a draft. I was going to buy a half acre next to his winery and build like a production brewery out there and see where it went. He ended up passing away, so that kind of went out.”

Josh and his wife then looked at spots in Albuquerque. The first ran afoul of the apparent proximity to BJ’s Brewhouse.

“We tried down at Winrock Town Center,” he said. “There was some sort of conflict of interest, they didn’t want any other breweries, especially no little guys in there.”

From there, Josh looked at a spot that Cantero Brewing also had its eye on, but in the end neither ended up there.

“Finally, we landed on this spot where we thought this was cool,” he said. “This was like two years ago on San Pedro and Paseo (del Norte). It’s just now starting to go up. Like I said, a year before that, I had one meeting with the commercial real estate agent. He said he had spot, but I just never heard anything.”

In the end, Josh looked right near the area where he grew up.

“My wife and I came by and this was the spot if we’re going to do it,” he said. “I know the neighborhood, I grew up in the neighborhood, I know a lot of the neighbors. I went to high school at Eldorado, I went to middle school up here at Hoover. I remember when I was 10 years old, kicking the curbs, being a little punk walking around in my little death metal shirts.”

Josh did spend a day last week brewing with the staff at Starr Brothers, but otherwise he is following in their footsteps as a homebrewer looking to make the leap to the professional ranks.

“I’ve been homebrewing for 12 years now, never anything professionally,” Josh said. “I took the old college route, I got my undergraduate (degree) in civil engineering. I kind of did that. I got into brewing once I had graduated from college and then I got a job out in Phoenix. My buddies and I on the weekend, we would get together at Four Peaks Brewing over in Tempe. That’s what piqued my interest.”

Josh noted that “after years and years of getting some recipes together which we feel are of high quality,” he ended up with a spare bedroom full of 10 or so beers fermenting at a time. Natasha then decided it was time to give him that final push to get the ball rolling, which finally got Josh started on the project six years ago.

Those recipes will now create an initial beer lineup that will of course include an IPA or two, plus some fruited hefeweizens, a SMASH beer that Josh said he plans to simply call “Brewski,” and perhaps a Baltic porter. Oh, and of course the Black Snout Stout, which like the brewery is named for the family dog.

Slowly but surely, the far Northeast Heights is becoming a destination for craft beer drinkers, with Quarter Celtic opening a taproom just to the south of Black Snout on Juan Tabo, plus of course the existing taprooms by Canteen and Tractor on Tramway, and Marble Heights and Lizard Tail at Eubank and Montgomery.

We wish Josh a lot of luck going forward. There is still a lot of work to do if he is going to get the brewery open by the first weekend of February. If he does, we will be happy to add Black Snout Stout to our annual Stout Challenge. We will do our best to keep everyone up to date on the progress at Black Snout and all the other forthcoming breweries around the state.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

It’s back with more brand-new beers than ever before!

The Beer Premiere, the final calendar event of 2018 for the New Mexico Brewers Guild, returns this Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. at Canteen Brewhouse. This year there will be a record 20 breweries participating (up from 18 last year, 15 the year before that), each of whom will bring a brand-new, never-before-released beer.

“There are going to be at least a couple sours — The 377 is doing a sour, Bow & Arrow is doing a sour,” Guild executive director John Gozigian said. “We’ve got a bunch of barrel-aged beers. It’s going to be pretty much all over the spectrum. I don’t think there’s a single normal beer in the whole lineup. Everything is a unique beer in some way.”

Abnormal beers right before Halloween? How fitting.

As of Tuesday, there were only 39 tickets left online and a handful at Canteen. They cost $25 apiece. That gets you samples of all 20 beers, a goblet fill of your choice, and you get to keep the commemorative goblet. The Beer Premiere is a smaller event, which enables the Guild to have it held at breweries.

“We’re going back to what we did last year, to a smaller brewery space so it’s (more) intimate,” John said. “It’s going to be about 150 maximum of tickets. Then on top of that we’ll have about 50 brewery people. The ratio will be really good, it’s going to be 3-to-1 civilians to brewers, which is kind of the whole point of this thing. The brewers aren’t going to be pouring the beers, they’re going to be out milling about so they can actually talk to people. We’ll have volunteers pouring the beer, Brewers Guild board members and a couple others helping out.”

Brewers Guild executive director John Gozigian channeled his inner Tony last year.

Keeping with the season, there will also be a costume party, with the staff dressing up as well.

“This year we’re pushing the costume party a bit harder,” John said. “I have a surprise costume that I’m going to wear. (Last year) it was like a combination of Tony Montana and John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever, whatever his name was.”

(For the record, thanks to the Internet Movie Database, it was Tony Manero.)

Get your costume on, grab a ticket, and head over to Canteen this weekend.

Oh, yeah, and here are all of those weird beers, or at least the 19 out of 20 that were reported to the Guild (think of the other three as a secret surprise). Any brewery with an asterisk (*) is a first-time participant at the Beer Premiere.

  • Bosque: Chai Hard (Spiced Brown Ale, 5.6% ABV)
  • Bow & Arrow: Dream Mesa (Golden Sour Saison aged in red wine barrels, 8% ABV)
  • Canteen: Old Feral Mind (Whiskey BA Old Ale conditioned on Brett Claus and Balaton Cherries, 9% ABV)
  • Chili Line*: Dark Smoked Christmas Lager
  • Flix Brewhouse*: Rhapsody Bohemian Pilsner (5% ABV)
  • Kaktus*: Munich Helles Lager (5.1% ABV)
  • La Cumbre: Hysterical Daisy (Hazy Double IPA, 8% ABV)
  • Marble: Alpha Acid Trip (Triple IPA, 10% ABV)
  • Nexus*: Strawberry Milkshake IPA (Brewed with lactose and strawberry, 6.8% ABV)
  • Ponderosa: Golden Graham Amber Lager (Yes, it is actually made with the cereal from our local General Mills plant, 5.6% ABV)
  • Quarter Celtic: Bourbon-Barrel-Aged Kill or be Kilt Scotch Ale
  • Roosevelt*: Bull Moose Stout (American Imperial Stout aged six months, 10.5% ABV)
  • Santa Fe: T.J. (Mexican-style lager brewed with lime and salt, 4.8% ABV)
  • Sidetrack: Orange You Glad It’s Not IPA (English-style Brown Ale on cask, 5.3% ABV)
  • Steel Bender/High and Dry: Wee Stache Collaboration (Scotch Ale on cask, 7.43% ABV)
  • Taos Mesa: TBA
  • The 377*: Belgian Sour Quad aged on dark cherries (50/50 blend of Belgian Quad with Flanders Red aged eight weeks on organic dark cherries)
  • Three Rivers: Big Black Dickel (bourbon-barrel-aged imperial stout with coffee, 10% ABV)
  • Tractor: Tractor Apple Ale (fermented malt and apple juice with ale yeast, then they added peaches, cranberries, blueberries, and a splash of lime, 6.3% ABV)
  • Turtle Mountain: Tomb of the Mutilated (black IPA with blood oranges, 7% ABV)

If I was going (boo, work, boo), my plan of attack would be to hit the lagers and pilsners first, then work up to the bigger beers. Either save the hop-forward entries for last, or cleanse the palate Brew Crew-style with one of the barrel-aged behemoths. At least some of these beers will be on tap at their respective breweries next week, so if you are also stuck at work Saturday, fear not, you may still get a chance to try them. Ultimately, though, if you are free, don’t hedge your bets and grab a Beer Premiere ticket before they sell out.

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.

Halloween falls in the middle of the week this year, so many breweries are choosing to celebrate this weekend. No brewery seems to be going as all-out as Tractor Wells Park, however. It starts Thursday night at 8 with the Rocky Horror Punk Show, as Adam Hooks and His Hangups are performing music from the cult classic. The cost is just $2 and you can also pick up discounted tickets to Saturday’s big event. Before that, stop by Friday night at 8 as Tom Foe performs a live score of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari on his upright bass. Then comes that aforementioned big Saturday event. Starting at 7 p.m., the Stranger Things Arcade Carnival returns, taking over the entire brewery and the front parking lot. There will be arcade games and pinball, food specials from We Love Waffles food truck, special vendor booths, live music from Flo Fader at 7, The Despots at 9, and Prism Bitch to close it out. Oh, and of course Tricklock will be there under the big tent for a special edition of the ultimate improv show, The Reptilian Lounge! That kicks off at 10 p.m. Tickets cost just $15 and can be purchased online or at the brewery.

Of course, Tractor is not alone when it comes to celebrating Halloween a few days early. Up in Santa Fe, Second Street Rufina will host Nightmare on Rufina Street at 8 p.m. There will be local bands performing covers of some of their favorites, along with a Halloween art market. That event costs just $5. Just up the road at Tumbleroot, the All Hallow’s Eve Barn Dance with The High Desert Playboys also kicks off at 8. Back down here in ABQ, just around the block from Tractor, Bow & Arrow is again hosting Gothtoberfest starting at 8. DJ Garronteed will be spinning, and there will be a costume contest for the ultimate goth(s). One night earlier on Friday, Kaktus has the Desert Darlings dancing up a storm with Monster Mash at 7 p.m. Marble will then close it out Sunday afternoon with the annual Mutt Masquerade, where patrons can bring their best friends dressed up for a canine costume contest from 1 to 3 p.m. After the weekend, Steel Bender is hosting All Hallow’s Eve Eve on Tuesday from 6 to 9. There will be costume contests every 30 minutes, picked by the staff, and anyone in costume gets 10 percent off appetizers, merchandise, and mug club memberships. J.J. Raschel and Mystic Roots will provide the proper music.

Oh, and there is also The 377 Brewery’s second anniversary party, which runs all day Saturday, with plenty of beer and food specials. There will be a limited number (18) of bottles of Barleywine.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bosque once again fires the Moon Cannon, its out-of-this-world double IPA, before Neo Modern, a brut IPA, debuts in four-pack cans on Friday. Bow & Arrow puckers up with some Strawberry Amigo Sour on Friday. Boxing Bear is releasing bottles of Albu-Murky Hazy IPA on Saturday. Nexus gets in the season with Equinox Pumpkin Ale on Friday. Red Door has more Citra SMASH available this Friday. Steel Bender brings back Raspberry Dynamite after a short absence, while Perry Maison (Cider) is on tap. The 377 also has a new Sour Kolsch made with peaches. Tractor has a tripleheader of new releases with Prickly Pear Cider, Ebony & Ivory, and Milton’s Red Stapler.

Up in Santa Fe, Rowley Farmhouse Ales has new editions of Agent Scully IPA (Season Two, Episode Four) and Fields of Rye (Fall/Winter ’18). Further north in Red River, RRBC has brought back Amarillo SMASH.

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 October 22.

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Where was this when most of us are in college? We just had whatever swill was in the keg.

This past Thursday marked a return of sorts of “guest lecturer” Stoutmeister, which was my role again in the Geography 180 “World of Beer” class at the University of New Mexico. This time I had to ramble on for close an hour (Q&A included) about the great beer history of our state to a bunch of new students. It was fun, and in the end, I did not lose my voice (the class comes highly recommended, too, if you want a good education in all aspects of craft beer). It did, however, make me thirsty for beer after talking about so much beer.

Oh, college life, how far you have come since my days at the University of Arizona. Now I just joined a few students and Professor Maria Lane at Draft & Table, the new on-campus craft beer taproom in the Student Union. It was my first visit since its recent opening, and it was rather nice to see the completion of a project that (now former) students spoke to me about years ago. While their plan called for the conversion of the pool hall on the lower level, the final project was completed on the top floor in the southeast corner of the building, right next to most of the mall-style food court.

That’s a pretty darn solid lineup.

There was an impressive collection of varied beers from breweries across the state. I snagged a pint of Monks’ Dark Night, since I missed having that cookie-like stout since Monk’s Corner closed downtown. Others grabbed some of the gourmet, flatbread pizzas. There were other tasty-looking foods on the small menu, which is always good to pair food with beer.

Some of the students complained the place was a bit too bright; it has huge windows looking out to the south, so those could use some drop-down shades. Taprooms do not have to be dark caves, but nor does everyone want to be watched by all those poor, thirsty under-21-year-olds outside. The joint needs a happy middle ground between the dark and the light.

Throw some shades on those windows and this place will be set.

Overall, I was impressed with what UNM has managed to do with the space. Like I have written many times before, it is far easier to create craft beer fans out of folks between the ages of 21 and 30 than it is between 51 and 60. Introducing college students to craft beer and moving them away from binge-drinking culture is a good thing. Clearly, too, professors do not mind having a place to stop for a pint on their way out the door.

My only other stop this weekend was a quick one at Bosque, where my friend Kristen and I greatly enjoyed some of the Watchfire, a potent-yet-smooth Scottish Wee Heavy. I would print her exact response to the beer, but then I would probably be in trouble, because it was a wee bit naughty. Let’s just say that she was not wrong, as it was rather decadent.

Anyway, enough about my random trip back into the halls of higher education, here is what the rest of the Crew managed to find over the course of the weekend.

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Come to the Dark Side … we need more writers

Posted: October 22, 2018 by cjax33 in Site Stuff

The Crew has room for more writers. Prep those metal horns and send us a writing sample.

It has been a while since the Dark Side Brew Crew has needed more staff members, but as we approach the beginning of our annual Look Back/Look Ahead Series, it is clear that we need more writers who love craft beer. Between jobs, family, school, and more, we are pretty stretched thin at present, so we could use some help.

If any of you, our wonderful followers, have ever been interested in writing for us, this is your time to apply. Let us go over all the pertinent information before you consider applying.

This is not for money

We do not make any money off this site. Someday we hope to, but for now, we do it for the love of the beer. Since none of us are getting paid, you will not, either. There may be discounted beers and possibly some free or discounted festival passes. That is about the extent of what we can offer in terms of compensation.

You do not have to be a metalhead

It never hurts to love, or at least tolerate, all forms of metal, since that way you can keep up with the core members in some of our conversations, but we do not require you to suddenly know whether or not the most recent Wolfheart and Omnium Gatherum albums rule.

(Spoiler: Both rule.)

See? We don’t require everyone to raise the horns.

You have to love local craft beer

We would never ask that you love every single brewery in town. Heck, not all of us do, but we keep those opinions off the site. On the site, we are Switzerland, neutral yet supportive of the entire scene. For the most part, though, since this is what we cover, we would like folks to be passionate about the scene. It also helps with the whole “no money” part.

We can help with improving your writing and/or interviewing skills

Hey, not everyone is born to be a journalist. It does take some training. We offer nothing formal, but we have built positive relationships with the vast majority of the key brewery folks (owners, brewers, general managers, PR directors, etc.) around town, and we can help you become comfortable talking to those people. Do not worry, we are not going to throw any new hire into the proverbial pit and expect you to interview the entire Marble Brewery hierarchy at once. Yours truly is more than willing to take you along on one of my interviews, or I can shadow you on your first to help out.

That being said, we would like a writing sample

It can be from a formal publication or just something you would like to write up on your own. Do a personal review of a brewery or taproom, not for publication, but just so we can get a good idea of your writing “voice” and style. As anyone can see from how we let Franz Solo write, we offer up a fair amount of creative freedom, so long as everyone remembers to stick first and foremost to the facts at hand.

Can anyone apply?

Yeah, pretty much. All we ask is that you are 21 or over. You can be in college or gainfully employed, young or old, male or female, short or tall, a certified Cicerone or someone just jumping into the craft beer universe. Heck, we employ Flyers and Penguins fans, so if we can work together (in separate buildings during games, usually across town), anything is possible.

Any additional requirements?

Free time, you gotta have it. This can get time-consuming from time to time, depending on how much you want to contribute. We would never dissuade anyone with a demanding job or relationship or family, but ideally we would love for someone to at minimum contribute one or more stories per month.

Sometimes we get to brew at the breweries, so that is another perk.

What about geography?

In this case, we would like to add one or two writers in the Albuquerque metro area. Luke has Santa Fe covered, ditto Reid in Los Alamos. We would LOVE someone from Southern New Mexico to apply and help us add more coverage of places like Cloudcroft, High Desert, Little Toad Creek, Lost Hiker, Picacho Peak, Pecan Grill, Spotted Dog, and Truth or Consequences Brewing. The same could be said for someone in Southeast New Mexico to cover that growing scene that now includes Bonito Valley, Drylands, Guadalupe Mountain, Hopscotch, Milton’s, Roosevelt, and The Wellhead. Heck, we would even take someone who wants to cover the Northwest (Three Rivers, 550 Brewing) or help Luke out in the Far North (Blu Dragonfly, Blue Heron, Colfax Ale Cellar, Enchanted Circle, Eske’s, Red River, Taos Mesa). Basically, you do not have to live in the ABQ metro area to apply. We will still need one or two new metro writers, but we are willing to take on multiple additional writers in the outer regions of the state.

How does one apply?

Simple, send us an email at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com or via direct message on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Include your name and the best way to contact you, then attach or include a writing sample. At that point, we will be in touch about setting up a face-to-face interview. Yes, it will be at a brewery or taproom that is convenient to both of us, so fear not. We don’t do coffee shop interviews.

We are hoping to have this whole process completed by mid-November. And no, we cannot guarantee that you will be allowed to apply for a press pass to the 2019 Great American Beer Festival, but there is always a chance if you wow us over the next 11 months (and there are not enough of the originals intent on one of those maximum of four applications).

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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Raise ’em high to celebrate the season!

In mid-October, in the mountains of northern New Mexico, a certain familiar sound can be heard through the little valley of Red River. It’s not the rustling of the wind through glimmering gold, fresh-changed aspens, nor the honking of the horns of people-packed caravans. It’s the chorus of clinking glasses and the raising of toasts. It’s the deep brass bellowing of an Oom-pah band that lets us know that Oktoberfest has once again returned, and has completely transformed this sleepy Alps-esque village into a one-of-a-kind experience that will keep you coming back for more, time and time again.

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The weather was decidedly warm for this year’s event.

Though it is worth the travel for the changing leaves alone, just a brief but beautiful stop along the Enchanted Circle, Red River is much more than that. And, beyond the picturesque views, the many outdoor activities, and the deer that will walk right up to you without batting an eye or flicking an ear, there’s beer, and plenty of it here.

In the past few years I’ve been attending the festival, there were only about five breweries and about the same count for wineries. This year, however, there were far more breweries than I’ve ever seen at this event, making it more of a brewfest than I was expecting. I don’t even believe that I got a final count.

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The sun did not deter the crowd.

Set in Brandonburg Park, as well as the Red River Conference Center just behind, there was much ground to cover, and I’m sure we didn’t make it to every brewery in attendance, so I apologize if a brewery was there and didn’t get a mention. There’s only so much time and so many sampler tickets, and so much room after a delicious brat with sauerkraut.

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A man cannot live off beer alone.

The Red River Oktoberfest veteran breweries included neighbors Comanche Creek and Enchanted Circle, plus Santa Fe Brewing. I didn’t see Taos Mesa, Eske’s, or Abbey Brewing, but I’m sure they were representing somewhere.

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One of the great partnerships of our state.

New to Red River’s Oktoberfest this year (to my knowledge) were The 377, Bombs Away Beer Co., Lost Hiker from Ruidoso, Palmer Brewery & Left Turn Distillery, Rio Bravo Brewing, Starr Brothers Brewing, and the new hometown heroes, Red River Brewing Company, plus my dark horse of the festival, Colfax Ale Cellar.

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Rio Bravo brought the beer and the merch.

While I had some great beers from many of the breweries (very few bad ones), my favorites were fun, exciting, in some cases surprising, and in some cases not surprising at all. My picks are as follows:

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What else can I say? “Dammit, Dave.” Ha!

Santa Fe Brewing’s Pepe Loco: To me, it’s a perfect recipe for a Mexican Lager. While it may seem somewhat out of season, it was perfectly refreshing in the unusually warm weather. I wouldn’t be surprised if that limited beer finds its way into cans some time soon.

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Comanche Creek served up a winner!

Comanche Creek brewed up an Oktoberfest that stood out for all the right reasons.

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Ginger Beer from The 377 FTW!

The 377 made the first Ginger Beer that I’ve ever really enjoyed. It reminded me of a Ginger Ale, and then I thought, wait … is the beer made after the soda, or is the soda made after the beer? Either way, wow! Excellent stuff! Cheers!

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Enchanted Circle closes out the festival with smiles.

Enchanted Circle is doing some great things with their beers these days, but they get my Gold Medal for best name: Glory Hole IPA. That’s all I’ll say about that.

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That’s one hefty pour of bronze medal-winning Lampshade Porter!

Starr Brothers brought their GABF bronze medal-winning, heavy-hitting Lampshade Porter, which was just a joy to drink. Luckily that’s on tap at their brewery, year-round, so head in anytime and rent that blockbuster hit.

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Red River Brewing head brewer Chris Calhoun raises a toast.

Special mentions go to Lost Hiker and Red River Brewing Company. I don’t think they make a bad beer between them, and certainly deserve a special trip to see them in their beautiful towns.

My “Best of the Fest” award goes to Colfax Ale Cellar, up in Raton. They had so many wonderful, interesting, and creative (yet perfectly executed) beers, on draft and in bottles.

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Brewmaster Jim Stearns stands beside his wife Karen Stearns and brewdog Pippen, as well as their excellent beer selection.

“The Red River Oktoberfest was our first time at that event,” said head brewer and owner Jim Stearns in a follow-up email. “We brewed three lagers specifically for that event. We sold very little. Unfortunately, we probably sold less than 10 percent of what breweries who were located outside sold, but we weren’t alone in that position along with Starr Bros, 377 and Rio Bravo Brewing Co.”

In my opinion, I think that’s because no one knew there was beer in the conference center. That kind of thing is tough to deal with as a former brewery event coordinator. The struggle is real. At least Colfax brought enough interesting beers to gain some new fans.

Maxwell Pils (5% ABV) — an international pilsner style, very mildly hopped

Fest Lager (4.6% ABV) — a Vienna-style amber lager, also very mildly hopped

Yülbock (5.25% ABV) — a rauchbier made with 20-percent beech-smoked malt, also mildly hopped

Karaiba (3.3% ABV) — a Berliner White ale, lightly sour, with essence of passion fruit and mango, no hops

In 22-ounce bottles:

Double Tipple (8.7% ABV) a blended double stout with a portion aged in rye whiskey barrels

Chicorica (8.3% ABV) — a strong golden ale brewed with trappist ale yeast

La Belle Otéro (6.5% ABV) — classic Wallonian saison ale, dry and peppery

Banks of Orkney (8.2% ABV) — a strong Scotch ale, light toffee and bread pudding

I have no hesitation in saying that they are a must visit on the road to or from Denver. Forget Colorado Springs or Pueblo and stop there instead for lunch and enjoy something that will surprise you. Colfax Ale Cellar should be on everyone’s radar this year and in the years to come.

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And one Double Tipple for the Dark Side, please!

The Colfax Ale Cellar taproom was recently closed due to inclement weather, as apparently winter has come early. For that, I blame the Starks, Target, and Kohls.

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Blue Corn head brewer Paul Mallory “Captains” to another great festival.

It was another great festival of beer and food in the mountains. I only wish folks had known there was a brew fest attached to the usual festivities. I believe it’s now my job to reach out to the organizers to get the word out. I was certainly surprised to find a whole group of new vendors/breweries in the conference center, in which there had never been before. But, if you missed them this time, or missed the festival this time around, there’s always next year and next time.

Until we meet again, Red River! For now, I will be counting the days until one of my favorite festivals rolls back through town. I should probably book my cabin now to be safe. To another unforgettable Oktoberfest in the mountains!

Prost!

— Luke

 

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For more #CraftBeer info, and @nmdarksidebc news, follow me on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro. Untappd: SantaFeLuke. My birthday is today (Thursday). You know what to do! I’m kidding.

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.

Hey, remember when we thought last weekend was busy? Ha! It has nothing on this weekend. No, seriously, you all need to start planning now, because there is a lot going on around town and beyond the ABQ city limits. First up, we have a double dose of brewery anniversary parties at Dialogue and Kaktus. For the former, Grasstoberfest is the name of Dialogue’s second anniversary bash, which will take place Saturday from 2 to 10 p.m. There will be live music all day, plus games, food, local art, axe throwing, and Roadrunner Food Bank will have a food drive going, so please bring a donation of a non-perishable food item in any contained except glass. Up in Bernalillo, Kaktus is spreading its five-year anniversary party over Saturday and Sunday. Tickets cost just $5 and get you a silver-plated anniversary pint glass. There will be live music on Saturday from noon to 9 p.m., plus food and beer specials. For Sunday, the Blues Jam takes over at 3 and the Desert Darlings take the stage for a special “Dripping in Gold” performance at 6. There will be special vendors on hand both days.

That, however, is not the entirety of the big events. Santa Fe Brewing is throwing its annual OktoberFiesta from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday at The Bridge, which is next to the brewery off I-25. There will be all sorts of outdoor fun and games from noon to 6, followed by live music inside from 6 to 10. There will be giant mugs of beer, all-you-can-eat sausages, and it all benefits several area charities. Of course, not to be left out, Second Street is throwing a three-day Oktoberfest food celebration at all three of its locations. Check the Rufina Facebook page for all of the delicious dining options to go along with copious amounts of beer. Of course, some would say it is a little late for an Oktoberfest, and that we should all be switching our focus to Halloween. Well, the Desert Darlings will also be at Tractor Wells Park this Friday night at 8 for Hops & Dreams: The Addams Family Edition, so you know that will be a blast. You can also trek out to Sierra Blanca for a Halloween Party on Saturday from 2 to 7 p.m., with a costume contest, games for kids and adults, food, live music, and more. All the staff asks is that you bring a non-perishable food item for donation to charity, and that will get you in the door.

Good luck getting through all of it! (And if we missed anything major, please let us know.)

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Boese Brothers brings back an old favorite in Double Dead Red. Bombs Away drops more Stockpile Milk Stout, plus A.S.B., an American twist on an English ESB. Boxing Bear goes double for its new Brut Strength DIPA. Canteen has a fresh batch of Irish Red ready to go. Kaktus turns over pretty much the entire lineup with Bourbon Ginger Beer, Pumpkin Schwarz, Innkeepers Nitro Ale, Helles Lager, and Oktoberfest now on tap. La Cumbre brings back a seasonal favorite in Witch’s Tit, while also adding Gracias Por Fumar, Honey Cream Ale, and Citra SMASH IPA on tap, and El Jugo cans are back on Friday. Marble brings back Cuvee Rouge today on tap and in bottles at all three locations, with a food pairing from Oni Noodles, plus it also has This is How We Brut It! available on tap. Red Door unveils Solo Saison, made with smoked pumpkin, on Friday. Sidetrack has more 3:10 to Belen Brown available. Starr Brothers visits Planet of the Ape-rricots, with Jack Tooth Grin on deck. The 377 rolls out Whiskey Strawberry Sour and Pumpkin Porter on Thursday. Toltec also gets in on the pumpkin theme with Basic Gourd on Thursday.

Up in Santa Fe, Blue Corn finally has its Brut IPA on tap. Second Street brings back one of our personal favorites, Preacher’s Share, an epic, barrel-aged imperial stout.

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 October 15.

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The Crew was represented at the NM Brew Fest by, from left, Andrew, Reid, and AmyO.

Well, that was quite the weekend. Of all the Crew, I may have done the least craft beer drinking, which is quite weird. Hey, I am single and do not have a kid, but I also have a screwy work schedule and missed the ninth annual New Mexico Brew Fest. Boo.

Anyway, I did get around a little bit. My quest to try all the local Oktoberfest-style beers continued with stops at Ponderosa (quite good, quite traditional) and Bow & Arrow (also quite good, but a little more bready and dry). I also found some of the last remaining cans of Steel Bender’s OktoberFiesta at Jubilation when I was sent on a beer run for a post-NMBF party.

Then the weather changed and it became stout season. That is a story for next week, however.

Here are the rest of the Crew’s weekend adventures. Let’s just say they all had a lot of fun, and a lot of beers, and everyone survived to tell the tales.

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