Archive for July, 2019

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, one in Silver City, and one in Truth or Consequences 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.

More hops? Well, if the universe insists, since this Thursday is National IPA Day. Besides a cool Untappd badge, this day will also feature some new releases from breweries around town. Canteen Brewhouse is putting Tuttle IPA in cans for the first time. You can enjoy a pint on tap, and then take a six-pack of 12-ounce cans home to enjoy at your leisure. Steel Bender will also be putting a favorite specialty beer in cans for the first time. Manana Tropical IPA will also be available in 12-ounce, six-pack cans. Oh, and most of the top finishers at the New Mexico IPA Challenge are still available on tap. You can still enjoy Boxing Bear’s Bear Knuckle II (first place), Bosque’s 550 U-Turn (second), Ex Novo’s My Chemical Bromance (third), Bow & Arrow’s Wassabro (tied for fourth), Icebox’s Icebreaker (tied for fourth), and Blue Corn’s Gatekeeper (sixth). Also, on Friday, you can get six-packs of 12-ounce cans of Bosque’s Open Space Haze at any Bosque taproom, with retailers getting the beer on August 9 (and yes, it will be available year-round).

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bombs Away launched Thor Missile Session IPA. Brew Lab 101 added Pomegranate Cider to the lineup. Canteen has a fresh batch of Irish Red. Cantero swims with River Wash IPL and also added Black IPA. La Cumbre reaches for Dead Man’s Hand Hazy DIPA. Marble summons more Thunder from Dortmunder. Nexus casts some shade with Sun Dust Hazy Pale Ale. Ponderosa goes big with 400th DIPA. Red Door unleashes the Ginga Ninja. Sidetrack has a slew of new brews in Ante Up IPA, Counterbalance IPA, and Hazy Summer Pale Ale, plus Pub Ale is back.

Up in Santa Fe, things are quiet for the moment.

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

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We pulled this logo from the Eske’s Facebook page, which is still there, though without an update since January. After 27 years, the brewpub is no more.

A few months ago, we learned that something was up with Eske’s Brew Pub and Eatery in Taos. Its small brewer license was no longer listed with the State of New Mexico, and Google listed it as temporarily closed. There was no mention of the goings on in the local newspaper, and others in the area only had a vague idea of what was happening.

Now, per word on the street from friends and other business owners in Taos, we can report that Eske’s is no more. Google now lists it as permanently closed, and the building at 106 Des Georges is no longer called Eske’s on Google Maps.

There was never an official announcement on the brewpub’s website or on its Facebook page, so while we could be mistaken, it appears as though the second oldest brewery in New Mexico is no more.

Eske’s was founded by Steve Eskeback and his wife Wanda back in 1992, operating out of a converted house just a block or so from the Taos Plaza. It followed Santa Fe Brewing (1988), but unlike its much larger compatriot, Eske’s never moved locations. It had the distinction of being the oldest brewpub in the state, and the oldest brewery to operate continuously out of one location.

Eskeback was a home brewer and avid skier who had moved to the Taos area in 1982, as Jon C. Stott documented in his book, New Mexico Beer: A History of Brewing in the Land of Enchantment. Eskeback’s homebrews were so popular that the owner of the (long-since closed) Embudo Station Restaurant, halfway between Taos and Espanola, asked if he could purchase some bottles and sell them to customers. My, how different the liquor laws were back then. Anyway, the sale was a success, and Eskeback ended up a full-time brewer in 1989, creating the Sangre de Cristo Brewing Company. In 1992, Eskeback moved his brewing operation to Taos.

When we formed the Dark Side Brew Crew in 2012, few of us had been to any of the breweries outside of Albuquerque and Santa Fe (and, in the case of the latter, most of what we had was available in bottles). One of our first out-of-town trips for E-Rock and I was to head up to the Taos area and check out the scattered brewing outposts — Blue Heron, Comanche Creek, Taos Ale House (which no longer makes its own beer), and Eske’s.

The only photo that the Crew kept from our one visit to Eske’s back in 2012.

The old brewpub was the final stop of the night, and I was not particularly kind in my review of its beers. Besides teaching me that it’s better to be a reporter than a reviewer, it may have also been a sign of what was to come. The beers at Eske’s seemed out-of-date for 2012, and I compared to Kellys in how the scene had evolved and passed it by. Well, here we are in 2019, and Kellys stopped brewing, and now Eske’s has stopped all together.

Eskeback sold the brewpub and retired some time ago. I saw him at the Taos round of the IPA Challenge last year, and meant to stop by to chat with him. That never happened, much like my promised return to Eske’s to give the beer another opportunity. Back in 2012, I did not yet have the appreciation for the history of the beer scene that I have now, and all of it just feels like a missed opportunity to learn more about the earlier era of brewing in New Mexico.

If anyone else has some Eske’s memories, be they recent or from the early days, good or bad, please send us an email at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

In the meantime, raise a glass this week to the Eskebacks, all their past employees, and their customers, for bringing the brewpub concept to our state at the dawn of our current brewing industry.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The Champ is here! Boxing Bear’s Justin Hamilton TKOs the competition for the third time in four years at the New Mexico IPA Challenge!

The masses have spoken, and the West Coast IPA has not lost its crown just yet.

Boxing Bear Brewing won its third New Mexico IPA Challenge trophy in the past four years, with its Bear Knuckle II fending off a host of hazy competitors.

Bear Knuckle racked up 102 votes to fly past Bosque (72) and Ex Novo (67), both of which entered hazy IPAs.

“It was good,” said Boxing Bear head brewer/co-owner Justin Hamilton “We had a fun IPA Challenge that went completely different this year. It was really cool to not only get the votes from the brewers, but getting votes from the general public.”

It was also the biggest win by margin of votes for Boxing Bear, which faced much closer finishes in 2016 over Canteen and 2017 over Bosque.

“The cool thing about this for us was we finally got a blowout (victory),” Justin said. “We won by more than two votes to win the Challenge!”

Defending champion Blue Corn was sixth with 43 votes, just behind host Bow & Arrow (47) and newcomer Icebox (47) of Las Cruces. Blue Corn was the only other brewery in the top six with a non-hazy IPA.

“I was more than happy to where we played the game last year with a hazy, this year we went back to a West Coast,” Justin said. “It was very neat to see that the general public is still kind of into it.

“Everyone had amazing beer this year. It was a really good competition, so we were really happy to pull forward and have a good time. There are so many breweries opening in the state and we’re still doing well.”

Pardon the glare, but Blue Corn had 43 votes. Otherwise, it was a runaway victory for Boxing Bear.

The victory also times out well for Boxing Bear, which will be throwing a big fifth-anniversary party on August 10.

“It’s a really good birthday present, it’s literally the best birthday present that we could ask for to get the IPA Challenge (trophy) back to Boxing Bear,” Justin said.

The competition was not without its hiccups. The line was initially slow moving, with the concentration of the tap handles at Bow & Arrow impeding the ability to fill multiple beers at once for the volunteers from the New Mexico Brewers Guild. Ultimately, though, things were straightened out, and things ran about as smoothly as the final round of an IPA Challenge can run. There are only so many breweries that have the capacity to host an event as crowded as the NMIPAC, and Bow & Arrow ultimately pulled it off.

Only a couple of us in the Crew could attend this year due to work and/or family matters, but we wanted to send out our thanks to Brewers Guild executive director Leah Black, all the members of the Board of Directors, and the many, many volunteers who stepped up to help this year. A particular shout-out to Angelo Orona for making sure the lines were clean and ready to go for the Challenge.

We will likely have more thoughts on the NMIPAC going forward this week. Until then, we shall rest.

After more beer, of course.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The hops, lo they do call to us. They bid us welcome in the halls of Bow & Arrow, where the beer may live, forever!

Every year as a public service, the Crew likes to provide a sort of survival guide for those who are new to the New Mexico IPA Challenge. The final round will be held at Bow & Arrow Brewing this Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., and we highly recommend that you buy tickets in advance, as this one almost always sells out. Think of this as a giant FAQ to help get you through Saturday with the best experience possible (well, unless your favorite brewery fails to win, but we can’t control that).

How do we get to Bow & Arrow?

Odds are, more than 90 percent of you know the answer to this question, but just in case we have some truly new newcomers, there are a few ways to get there. From Interstate 40 in either direction, get off at the Sixth Street exit. The brewery is located one block south of the freeway on Sixth, with the technical address of 608 McKnight Ave. NW.

Should anyone drive? How much parking is there?

Bow & Arrow has a very small parking lot, with street parking not available on Sixth, though it is available on Bezemek Ave. on the south side of the brewery. If 300 people show up again and everyone drives solo, it will be chaos. But, the truth is that after sampling 15 IPAs and enjoying a pint of your favorite, you probably should not be driving anyway. Take a Lyft or Uber, or find that friend or family member who owes you a ride.

How much space is at Bow & Arrow?

The main taproom is spacious, but again, if 300 people are there at once, it will be crowded. There is some additional space throughout the building that can be opened up if necessary, but if you plan to go early, it may be difficult to find space to stick around in until the winner is announced after 4.

Is there food?

Bow & Arrow does not have food beyond a few snacks. We figure there will be at least one food truck, if not two, parked outside. Eat a big brunch/lunch before you arrive.

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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, one in Silver City, and one in Truth or Consequences 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 hop-forward beers are kings this time of year, as one might have guessed by the ongoing New Mexico IPA Challenge, the final round of which is this Saturday at noon at Bow & Arrow (get your tickets!). They are also apparent in many of the special releases. La Cumbre gets in on the fun with the return of Full Nelson, its powerful double IPA, on tap and in cans at both locations on Friday starting at noon. Then on Saturday, Boxing Bear is once again canning and tapping the Albu-Murky Hazy IPA, only this batch was double dry-hopped with an extra four pounds of Mosaic per barrel. You can also try Bosque’s NMIPAC entry, the 550 U-Turn Hazy IPA, on tap this week. If you need a break from the hops, you can always head over to Steel Bender on Thursday for the re-release of The Judy, a Brett Saison with peaches. Only on that day can you purchase it in 750mL bottles. Hey, it’s go big or go home week.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Ale Republic brings back Sombra Stout and Red Mountain. Canteen added Lucky in Lavender and Abbey Ale. Ex Novo mounted up with Redgulators Red IPA. La Cumbre also mellows out with Miles From Cologne and A Slice of Strawberry. Marble rises up with Valley Fog. Rio Bravo rolls out My Rye or Die IPA and more Marzen. Sidetrack gets in on the trend with Hazy Summer Pale Ale. Steel Bender also taps Schwarzbender on Thursday. Tractor was made for walkin’ with Boot Girl IPA. Turtle Mountain added its recent Pork & Brew collaboration with Tractor, Chicharron Red Lager, and Tentative Magnificence IPA should also be on tap this week.

Up in Santa Fe, Blue Corn is feeling smooth with Amber Mexican Lager. Rowley Farmhouse Ales did have enough of its NMIPAC entry, Thrace IPA, to put some back on tap before the competition ends. Tumbleroot added a Hazy IPA. Over in Los Alamos, Bathtub Row brings back three favorites in Smoked Porter, Mexican Lager, and CojonHaze IPA. Further north in Red River, RRBC has Blood Orange Campfire Cream Ale, plus the regular Campfire is back on tap.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of July 22.

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After all’s been done, there’s just a bit left to be said before we head on to the next and final round of the 2019 New Mexico IPA Challenge.

I hope everyone enjoyed themselves on Saturday. There was a really nice turn out this weekend for the Santa Fe leg of the competition. Tumbleroot proved to be a perfect location to host the event. For all competition-goers, there was plenty of seating. All beers remained out of the sun, and at a nice cool temperature while the populace poured over them, and there was plenty of food on hand to keep stomachs full of something other than hops.

Hello, hops!

As far as the competition went, on Tumbleroot’s end, they did everything to make sure the crowd had cold, clean, and fresh beer to judge.

The Tumbleroot staff gathers for a quick huddle.

As mentioned in my last article, all lines were cleaned by the Guild the morning before. Tumbleroot even built five brand-new taps just for the event, making sure none of the beers were poured in a different manner, such as from Jockey Boxes. The folks in charge were all friendly and very capable of making sure that everyone got their beer in a timely manner. The whole thing was smooth. No lines. No wait.

I caught up with Tumbleroot brewer Andy Lane. He had a few thoughts to share about the competition and his beer.

“The IPA challenge in Santa Fe at Tumbleroot went off without a hitch. The beers flowed smoothly and everyone seemed to be very pleased with the service. We were extremely happy to host this event and we look forward to doing so again in years to come!

As for The Keymaster and the votes it took home, I am very pleased with how it is being received. I do wish we were higher in the pack but with this being my my first beer ever entered in the challenge, I am just extremely satisfied that it has been given the chance to compete against some of the biggest and most established beers in the state. That being said, I look forward to next Saturday where I imagine we’ll take home even more votes!”

As far as the results went … That’s a whole ‘nother story.

Yeah, we know, 2009 is quite the typo.

While the event was fun and smoothly-run, almost no one I spoke to was pleased with the results. There were folks from Albuquerque who were surprised “that Elevated hadn’t made it further.” And some Santa Feans certainly thought there would be more support for the Santa Fe beers, what with homefield advantage. But, to be fair, aside from brewers and a few beer geeks that travel to all the events, the crowd was new to me, and I drink here in Santa Fe.

Hi, Tom!

The results pretty interesting. I won’t get into which brewery brought what (of course), or who voted for what, but as for my experience, I think some of the mixed results could be attributed to the fact that so many hazy beers were on the list. Personally, at the end of my list, I had very few beers to choose from, simply because I wasn’t going to choose a hazy IPA. No offense to the hazies. I’m not against them. I’ll enjoy them, but they’re not the IPAs I’m looking for. And, this competition is still people’s choice.

Hi, Alanna and Jamie!

It’s the public opinion that matters. And, the public may be leaning in the hazy direction, or that also may just be something that’s happening a lot more, further away from Albuquerque, at venues like Las Cruces, Santa Fe, Taos, etc. In the last two years, the results showed us that the hazy IPA had moved in for good. But, would it stay?

Hi, John!

We always say this, but it’s true. It really is all going to come down to Albuquerque. They have the numbers. They’ll bring the votes. But, is New Mexico leaning away from the bright and bitter of the West Coast style? Or, are we sliding towards the sweet and juicy of the New England style?

This will be one of the most interesting finales yet. Is the West Coast IPA dead or dying out in New Mexico? What will stay on tap everywhere in three months? See how it all shakes out on Saturday!

Hi, Paul and Andy!

To more smooth and fairly run competitions, and the new East Coast/West Coast hop battle, cheers!

— Luke

Yeah, we know, the 2009 at the top is worth a laugh. But, the results are all 2019, particularly since 13 of the 15 breweries didn’t exist a decade ago.

Our man Luke was at the second round of the New Mexico IPA Challenge on Saturday afternoon, but we will cut him some slack and let him enjoy all those hop-forward ales while we do a quick recap of the competition.

Boxing Bear, which edged out Icebox 17 votes to 16 in the first round in Las Cruces on Wednesday, added another 32 votes at Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery to take a commanding 19-vote lead into next Saturday’s final round at Bow & Arrow (get those tickets ASAP!).

Bosque added 23 votes to its total to move into second place with 30 overall. Last year’s winner, Blue Corn, tallied 19 votes for 20 overall, good enough for a fourth-place tie. Between them, Blue Corn (2013, 2018), Boxing Bear (2016, 2017), and Bosque (2014, 2015) have won the last six trophies.

Sneaking into the mix are Ex Novo, which added 14 votes to get to 22 overall, good enough for third place, and the aforementioned Icebox, which now has 20 votes. Bow & Arrow sits in sixth after adding 11 votes Saturday to get to 19 overall.

A total of 163 voters took part Saturday, well up from the 65 on a weekday at Picacho Peak in Las Cruces. There is a good chance that the final round will more than double the Tumbleroot total, so nothing has been decided yet.

At the very least, every brewery shut out in Las Cruces picked up anywhere from two (Enchanted Circle) to 12 (Toltec) votes on Saturday. Bombs Away (10), La Reforma (seven), and Marble (three) also managed to avoid a second straight shutout.

Luke will share more thoughts about this round on Monday, and we will preview the final round later in the week to make sure everyone is prepared, whether you are a veteran or a first-time participant.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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You do not have to be the Gatekeeper to enjoy the Keymaster.

For part two of Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery’s first year in Santa Fe story, it would be a huge disservice to only talk about the beer. Yes, we’re all about the beer in the Dark Side Brew Crew, but when we talk to a brewery and distillery, with its main taproom doubling as an upscale craft cocktail lounge, and then tripling as a huge family-friendly event and music space — one that will be playing host to Saturday’s Santa Fe round of the IPA Challenge — I would be remiss to skip over such a huge part of the story, especially when it involves putting something interesting and craft into cans.

For the complete Tumbleroot story, I called, emailed, and hunted down director of front of house operations and mixologist, Joseph Haggard, to talk craft cocktails and what they’ll be soon putting into cans. I also tracked down owner/director of business operations Jason Fitzpatrick, to talk music and whether Metal Mondays will stick around, and then I circled back to head brewer Andy Lane to talk about his IPA Challenge beer named Keymaster.

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The voters in Las Cruces have spoken, nearly helping their one local brewery overtake a two-time past champion. (Photo courtesy of Tyson Brown)

The results are in from the first round of the 2019 New Mexico IPA Challenge, held today at Picacho Peak Brewing in Las Cruces. Two-time past champion Boxing Bear garnered 17 of the 65 votes cast, one more than the only Southern New Mexico brewery in attendance, newcomer Icebox Brewing (16).

Perhaps the biggest surprise, or disappointment depending on one’s perspective, was that five breweries did not earn a single vote. Bombs Away, Enchanted Circle, La Reforma, Marble, and Toltec all came up empty handed. Others that struggled included defending champion Blue Corn (one vote), Rio Bravo (one), Rowley Farmhouse Ales (two), Starr Brothers (two), and Tumbleroot (three).

The middle of the pack included Bow & Arrow (eight), Ex Novo (eight), and Bosque (seven).

If there is a silver lining for all of the breweries, there are still two rounds to go. Blue Corn, RFA, and Tumbleroot will surely be hoping for some home-field advantage at the second round in Santa Fe on Saturday. Tumbleroot will host at its spacious Agua Fria taproom from noon to 4 p.m., and tickets are available online. Keep an eye out for our man Luke among the hopheads.

In general, the Santa Fe round usually has more than 100 votes cast, though the Albuquerque final round tends to more than double what comes before it every year. The final round is at Bow & Arrow on July 27, and tickets are also for sale online.

Thanks to all the thirsty denizens of Southern New Mexico, and a few from El Paso, who came out to support the New Mexico Brewers Guild today.

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, one in Silver City, and one in Truth or Consequences 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.

Well, in case anyone missed it over the weekend, the 2019 New Mexico IPA Challenge got underway with the preliminary round narrowing down the field from 45 to 15 entries. A big question we annually receive is how many of those IPAs are currently on tap at breweries around the state, so folks can try them before the competition gets to their city. Well, there are a few that have been publicly identified and are on tap, including Blue Corn’s Gatekeeper IPA (which won last year), Bow & Arrow’s Wassabro Hazy IPA (on tap Friday), Boxing Bear’s Bear Knuckle II, Icebox’s Icebreaker IPA (if you are in Las Cruces), La Reforma’s El Combi NEIPA, and Toltec’s Guapo Hoppo, and Tumbleroot’s Keymaster IPA (releasing Thursday). Rowley Farmhouse Ales is holding back its supply of Thrace IPA until the staff knows for sure they have enough to get through all three rounds of the competition. If anyone out there spies the entries for Bombs Away, Bosque, Enchanted Circle, Ex Novo, Marble, Rio Bravo and Starr Brothers on tap, please let us know. In the meantime, if you are reading this and are within easy driving distance of Las Cruces, head to Picacho Peak Brewing today (Wednesday) after 4 p.m. for the first round of the NMIPAC. Otherwise, head on up to Tumbleroot for the second round on Saturday at noon, and then make sure to get a ticket now for the final round at Bow & Arrow on July 27! UPDATE: Enchanted Circle’s entry, Mr. Dankenslip, is on tap at both the brewery in Angel Fire and the taproom in ABQ at San Mateo and Osuna. UPDATE 2: Lost City of Gold Hazy IPA is Starr Brothers’ entry, and it’s already on tap.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Black Snout scored with Hat Trick Red. Bosque has a big release Friday with Weekend Trails West Coast Pilsner on tap and in cans. Boxing Bear has added Razz-Bearry Gose and AlbuMurky. La Cumbre is putting Sun Fade Hazy IPA back in cans and on tap this Friday. Marble is feeling Radler awesome. Palmer and Starr Brothers teamed up for 2 Robs Make a Rita. Starr Brothers also has Armadillo Trousers, a single-hop pale ale, due out this weekend. Steel Bender goes big with Skull Crusher IPA. Toltec is still feeling summer with Cherry Limonada Gose. Tractor brings back Ebony & Ivory Pale Stout, as well as Boot Girl IPA.

Up in Santa Fe, Blue Corn added Nebulous Nectar IPA. Rowley Farmhouse Ales flips ahead to Agent Scully – Season 2, Episode 9 (IPA). Tumbleroot added a Hazy IPA. Down in Truth or Consequences, TorC Brewing is dealing with the heat by releasing Cerveza Gold.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of July 15.

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