The New Mexico Brew Fest was a long-time fixture at the Villa Hispana every year during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Then, one year it moved out onto the main street at Expo New Mexico, in part because of space limitations, but also for another reason.
“We love the Villa Hispana, and we were thinking we might be outgrowing it,” festival founder Kevin Hopper said. “What happened was the (Chinese) Lantern Festival it kind of moved us out because they rented the place for two solid weeks. The reason we’re going back (this year) is they’re not there anymore. I just tell people for our 10th year we’re going to back to our original location.”
NMBFX, as it has been abbreviated for this year, returns to Villa Hispana on Saturday. Tickets are $25 for general admission and $45 for early entry admission at noon, and they are available online. There are also designated driver tickets for $10. The first two tickets increase by $10 on the day of the event.
Things have come a long way since the first NMBF in 2010.
“I can’t believe it,” Hopper said. “It does not seem like 10 years. … (It took) a lot of hard work just to establish it, but once it was established it took off. I think the only other festival around then was Hopfest, and that was in the parking lot at O’Neill’s.”
The reason NMBF happens during the Balloon Fiesta is that the license at Villa Hispana, which is normally controlled by one of the macrobreweries, gets lifted during that time. Hopper said that has enabled him to move in with an all-New Mexico brewery lineup.
“I think in the first year we might have had 15 breweries,” he said. “I do first come, first serve (now). I do like to have a mix of new breweries and the more established ones. I do like to have some old-school guys. Now there’s so many, I don’t know half of them.”
As per usual, the Crew asked the 22 attending breweries what beers they will be bringing, and so far these are the responses. This list will be updated right up until the start of the event Saturday, and we have also noted some recent and past Great American Beer Festival medal winners that will be poured.
- Bosque: Helles, Elephants on Parade, Beyond the Trees Cider, Open Space Haze, Scotia Scotch Ale, 1888 Ale (GABF bronze medal winner, 2018), Neo Vallecitos (Pale Ale); (cans) 1888, IPA, Lager, EOP, Jetty Jack, Open Space, Scotia
- Bow & Arrow: Strawberry Amigo, Wolf Eyes Marzen, El Breakfast Stout, Desert State Hazy IPA
- Boxing Bear: Uppercut IPA, Headlock Hazy IPA, Chocolate Milk Stout (GABF gold medal winner, 2016), Oso Otoño Oatmeal Brown Ale, Apple Bear Cider
- Broken Trail: TBA
- Canteen: Oktoberfest, Exodus IPA, High Plains Pilsner, Dark N Lusty Stout
- Desert Valley: Cerveza Mexican Lager, Oktoberfest, Double Wheat, White Crow IPA
- Dialogue: TBA
- Flix Brewhouse: Luna Rosa, Nebulas Hazy IPA, Joke’s on You (Munich Dunkel), A Whole New Wheat
- La Cumbre: A Slice of Hefen, Elevated IPA (GABF gold medal winner, 2011), Sunfade Hazy IPA, Mango Pineapple Gose, Witch’s Tit
- Marble: Double White (GABF gold medal winner, 2014), Desert Fog, Marblefest, Pumpkin Ale, Cucumber/Key Lime Seltzer, Raspberry/Key Lime Seltzer
- Nexus: Trampled by Tangerines Wheat, Mosaic Maze IPA, !Fest Bier!, Chocolate Porter
- 1933 Brewing: TBA
- Palmer: BBA Cockness Monster, MWA, plus Left Turn cocktails including Bloody Marys
- Red Door: Ginga Ninja, Unhinged Cider, Left Paw Lager, R U Cereal?
- Rio Bravo: TBA
- Santa Fe: Oktoberfest, Social Hour, 7K IPA
- Second Street: TBA
- Steel Bender: Ale Witch, Oktoberfiesta, Skull Bucket IPA, Blackberry Dynamite
- The 377: TBA
- Toltec: Cactus Warrior, 5 Paths Pale Ale, Shaman Stout (GABF bronze medal winner, 2019), Basic Gourd
- Tractor: Thai Basil Mint, Traktoberfest, Wide Eyes Shut Hazy IPA, plus cocktails
- Turtle Mountain: Wooden Teeth (GABF gold medal winner, 2018), Darker Than Darkness Schwarzbier, Perihelion Wet Hop IPA, Perpetuity Pale Ale, Oktoberfest, Yum Yum Bramble
Hollow Spirits and Sandia Hard Cider will also be in attendance. Food trucks on hand will include Nomad’s Barbecue, Soo Bak Foods, Hott Doggies, Popp Fizz, Vegos, and Wicked Kettle Korn. There will be live music on the main stage from Concepto Tambor, Crazy Fool, and DJ Flo Fader.
It will be chillier outside this Saturday than past years, but overall the crowd reception has been positive over the decade, Hopper said. Being outside in a comfortable space with lots of breweries, and never letting it get too loud has helped.
“Like two or three years ago we had someone shoot a video,” Hopper said. “We got really genuine responses. People were so excited. I think being outdoors helps us a lot. Just having that many craft breweries in one space, I feel if you live way over here (on the east side), are you going to get to Toltec that often? It’s a good chance to try them.”
Raise one to the last unlimited sampling festival of the year.