Kaktus brings beer back to the outdoors with Farm House Ale Event in Bernalillo

Commemorative glassware for an outdoor festival? Man, it’s been a minute!

Due to the lingering Covid-19 restrictions throughout New Mexico, we did not expect to see any outdoor festivals this summer.

Oh, not so fast, Brew Crew, because Kaktus Brewing has gone ahead and organized the first event since the fall of 2019, and it is going down this weekend in Bernalillo.

The Farm House Ale Event will take place Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Loretto Park. Tickets are available for online purchase only, and can be found at the official event website.

To learn a lot more about how Kaktus has pulled this off, we caught up with owner Dana Koller at the brewery earlier this week.

“It’s wild, man,” Koller said. “I was nervous, because we put a lot of money on the line. So a lot of people that we were likely to have had there (as vendors), they didn’t want to have the financial risk. It’s hard to tell not only if we be able to have it, but what would the occupancy be? Could we have enough people to let it pay for itself? It was nerve wracking.

“We waited until the very last minute (to announce the event). I figured if we had 30 days to market it, 30 days to get the word out, so we waited until the very last minute. When it was looking good, we went for it. We’ve invested, we laid a lot of money on the line. To put a round number on it, we’ve invested 35 grand.”

That is certainly an amount that a lot of breweries would not risk in this day and age, but Koller was determined to push forward.

“You can imagine, if a lot of that went south and they said, oh, we can’t do it, or we can’t get our permits, then we would have lost nearly all of it,” he said. “A lot of that is marketing dollars. I think the only amount it wouldn’t cost us would be like the deposits for music. Everything else would be lost.

“We waited until the last minute. Then the town of Bernalillo was OK, we’re feeling good about it. Alcohol Beverage Control said they were feeling good about it, too. All right, we’re on. I just started marketing the hell out of it, dumping all of our dollars into marketing all within 30 days. I think it’s going to work, I think it’s going to turn out.”

Koller said the event will have “five live bands (and) lots of games.” Kaktus will be bringing its giant chess board from its back patio, and other activities will be on hand, as well. There will even be some farm animals for children to interact with, as the event is family oriented.

“There will cornhole games, (and) a bunch of guys will be doing a disc golf presentation, test that out,” Koller said. “It will be fun, man. We wanted to do more than just food, beer, and retail. We want activities. That’s one of the reasons I’m super excited about this event, too. We’re offering something a little different.”

Guests can bring their own chairs and anything to keep them in the shade. There will be large tents, but just in case it gets a little crowded underneath, people can have options. People can bring closed water bottles, but no other food or drinks.

“We really want people to plan on spending the entire day there,” Koller said.

To help with that, Bernalillo found a way to keep costs down.

“It’s a community event, so we kept the cost really low, because the Bernalillo lodgers’ tax was able to kick in,” Koller said. “Because of that, it dropped costs tremendously. We’re offering tickets for $10 for adults and $5 for anyone under 18. It’s super affordable. It’s hard for a family of five to pay $15 per person. You haven’t even got food yet and you’re running a credit card.”

The aforementioned band lineup will be Black Hats and Pearl Snaps, 11 a.m.–noon, The Brahama Band, 12:30-1:30, Silver Spurs Band, 2-3, Sara Rowe, 3:30-4:45, and Brandon Saiz Band, 5-6:30.

As for the beer, Kaktus will bring five of its own beers, with two making their seasonal debut in the Farmhouse Basil Beer (Lager) and Wild Mango Hazy IPA. The others will be the Plow Pullin’ Porter, Wet Field Puddle Stomper IPA, and the Cowboy Quencher (Helles Lager). There will also be local wine available.

The entire event is limited to 500 patrons, so if you are interested, grab those tickets ASAP.

Overall, we are just happy to see something, anything happening outdoors this summer involving local craft beer. We certainly hope things go well Kaktus and the Farm House Ale Event, and that it in turn inspires others to come up with ways to do additional festivals outside this summer and fall.

A big thanks to Dana for the interview (while he was in the middle of prepping the kitchen at Kaktus for the business day, no less), and for the pint of that tasty Helles Lager.

Keep supporting local!

— Stoutmeister

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