It can be hard for all of us down in Albuquerque to join Luke for a beer in Santa Fe, but Monday was Veteran’s Day observed for all federal, state, and local government entities, which left me with a day off and a chance to finally attend a Metal Monday at Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery’s Agua Fria taproom.
After Luke assured me that the streets of Santa Fe were free of ice, I drove north and first made my way to Second Street O.G. for some chicken mushroom schnitzel and a pint of the Old Pecos Porter. With a proper amount of sustenance now in my belly, Luke and I made the short drive to the taproom. It was a bit of a winter wonderland out on the patio, with the temperature well below freezing and the snow still lingering there.
We went inside to the rather spacious interior and grabbed beers as Street Tombs warmed up on stage. By the time Albuquerque’s Distances played, the entire joint had filled up with 100-plus metalheads who braved the cold (as I noted to my friend Kristen, it was 19 degrees out, but felt like 12, to which she responded, “I didn’t need to know that!”). The sound system at Tumbleroot more than did its job, leaving all the bands sounding quite good. Distances sounded even better than their last show at Launchpad.
Luke predicted that a good number of Santa Fe brewers would show up, and he was right. From Blue Corn’s Paul Mallory to his former assistant, Andy Lane (now with Tumbleroot), to Wes from Rowley Farmhouse Ales and David Merkin from Santa Fe Brewing, it was quite the gathering of metal-loving beer minds. Merkin brought us some Dysphotic Stout, since his old band was the headliner for its CD release (seriously, get the new Dysphotic album, it is quite spectacular), and Street Tombs (Black) Ale. The stout was on point, not quite as heavily dry-hopped as in the previous year’s batch, but it still offered up quite a kick. I personally want to try it side-by-side with Marble’s Cholo Stout.
As for the house beers, I had a full pour of the Irish Stout, since it was just 3.8-percent (!) ABV, and I still had the drive home ahead of me. Being a good beer writer and all, I did try samples of the Honey Hibiscus Wheat, Old School IPA, and Oktoberfest. The Irish Stout was deceptively rich and creamy for such a low ABV. The Old School IPA took me back in time about a decade or so. The Oktoberfest was good, but it was definitely the sweetest take on the style by any New Mexico brewery that I tried this year. The Honey Hibiscus was rather mild, as expected.
Overall, I was quite impressed by Tumbleroot, from the setup for the music, to the beers on tap. Hopefully I get the chance to attend a future Metal Monday or two.
As for the rest of the Crew, it was a bit of a quiet weekend, but three of them got out and about.
Calm before the “storm”
OK, so this snowstorm didn’t pan out for the metro area, but northern New Mexico ski areas are very happy right now. It was another fairly mellow weekend, though I did manage to get out a fair amount. Friday night, we paid an overdue visit to Broken Trail in Uptown because it had been a while. Four of us pretty much ordered a feast from Filling Philly’s next door and planted ourselves at the bar. The Goathead Red was a good compliment to the sweet potato fries, and the Double Black Ale pairs nicely with a classic Philly.
Saturday, I hit up a taproom that has some new owners. Look for a brief story later this week with pictures.
My new favorite happy hour in town is at Slapfish on Holly Ave. in the new “restaurant row” they have going up there between San Pedro and Louisiana. Slapfish’s prices are normally a bit high, but the portion size and quality easily make up for that. This makes the happy hour a screaming deal. The problem is it runs 3-5 and most of us are still at work. A couple of months ago, I discovered, however, that it is Sunday through Thursday. This Sunday, I knew I just had to make time to get over there again! Dave and I usually get the fish burrito and share the clam chowder and taquito as appetizers. It’s a small happy hour list, but for lovers of seafood, everything is wonderful. The fish is flown in fresh and they make a good portion of the items in-house. This visit at the counter (it’s counter service/fast casual) I asked what the Major Crunchy was. It’s a breaded fish sandwich on a brioche bun piled high with potato chips, lettuce, tomato, and a creamy herb dressing. It comes with a large portion of fries or a big side of salad for seven bucks. OK, we were both sold. Also, during happy hour they will discount several draft beers for $3.50. They have a few good beers on draft and some really decent ones in cans/bottles. I went with a local draft because it was $3.50, but I was very tempted to get a can of Sazerac-Style Rye from Upslope. I kind of don’t even want to share this happy hour secret — it’s so good I selfishly (shellfish-ly? No, that’s just wrong!) want to keep it to myself. Our lovely readers deserve to know, though. So now you do.
Fishing for flavor at Cantero
I’m sure many of our readers can relate to the excitement I feel about the opening of a new brewery and trying the new offerings. Cantero Brewing, conveniently located near the original Canteen and La Cumbre locations, has been the newest spot on my radar lately. This past Sunday was my third and favorite visit to Cantero. My prior visits were good, no complaints about food/beer/service, but this time I had a beer that got me really excited. The Cantero Brown blew me away. It was chewy and malty, with a rich taste of chocolate and coffee, and a smidgeon of hoppiness. I don’t remember every being so excited about a brown ale. Any stout lover would enjoy this brown. I dare say it filled my need for a good stout on that day, which wasn’t easy only two days after starting the weekend with La Negra at La Cumbre.
It also paired well with the fish and chips. Although my favorite menu item might be the deviled egg sandwich that I had on my visit a week prior, the fish and chips were spot on, and easily compete with the same dish at any other ABQ brewpub. I was happy that they came with coleslaw, which I personally believe should be a requirement. If you eat fish and chips the proper way (tossing the fish, chips, tartar sauce, some malt vinegar … and coleslaw into a casserole of sorts), then the slaw really ties everything together. It is a critical element. See the photo. Try it next time. Nice work getting off to a strong start Cantero, welcome, and good luck!
Fire in the darkness
Stout season is indeed upon us! This weekend, without even trying, I got my hands on plenty of the dark stuff. Over at Rowley Farmhouse Ales, while I interviewed their chef about Blackest Friday, their big stout event coming up (look for the details in my article), I enjoyed a decadent pull of Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker. It’s as smooth and rich as you want something to be … um … there. They also currently have Velvet Merlin on nitro at the taproom if you dig that sort of thing. If you’re a stout fan, definitely seek these guys out on the 23rd.
Over at Second Street Rufina, the Santa Fe brewing industry gathered on Friday for the Monthly P.O.E.T.S. meeting to come together as an industry, drink beer and talk shop. There was a huge turnout and many beers were shared thanks to several kind donations. Two unforgettable beers of note, however were 2013 (if memory serves) Crime and Punishment. Man, the spice to these things is unreal! Even after all these years, I certainly wouldn’t want a full pour, as I’m still having trouble ejecting them from my memory. They were great and terrible, befitting of their names. I think it was Todd Yocham of Second Street who referred to them as a brewer’s joke. Additional name possibilities: Cruel and Unusual. Wow. But, they were fun to drink, and hard to stop, like eating Horsemen’s Haven’s secret off-menu level 3 chile.
Monday night at Tumbleroot, it was if all light faded from the taproom, as metalheads from all over converged for Dysphotic’s CD release party. In honor of the night, I certainly had to try one of the two special beers brewed just for the event, by Santa Fe Brewing Co.’s R&D dude, Dave “not as velvet” Merkin, Dysphotic Stout. That beer was rich and roasty as it warmed, and certainly devoid of all light. It will be one of Santa Fe Brewing’s 12 Beers of Christmas coming soon to their taprooms. Look for my upcoming story soon! That’s it for me. Get out there and enjoy yourself some dark delicious stouts during Stout Season, my second favorite season after Halloween. To our great industry, raise up those glasses!