It was just months before September, and organizers of the 2021 New Mexico State Fair had just been given the go-ahead to hold the huge event and were scrambling to put together vendors. Or at least, that’s the impression Tumbleroot Brewery & Distillery got from the seemingly out-of-the-blue call asking if they could make a canned cocktail (and beer) for the State Fair.
“Everything was happening so last minute,” Tumbleroot brewmaster and co-founder Jason Kirkman said in a phone interview that he graciously did for us. “They didn’t know that they were going to be able to do the State Fair, so they approached us really late.”
Former NM Brewers Guild executive director Chris Goblet had called up Kirkman and said, “I know this really short (notice), man. Last minute. I know the supply chain’s totally messed up, but do you think you could do pull this off? We really would love to do a cocktail from you guys. I think it’d be really cool.”
The organizers were originally looking for a canned cocktail, for which they came to the right place. Feeling up to the task, the Tumbleroot team immediately went to work, talking about what that would look like, the recipe itself, the availability of ingredients, and a time frame for a finished product. Two weeks later, they were asked if they could do a beer, as well.
For the State Fair beer and cocktails, Tumbleroot wanted to focus on products that had very New Mexican ingredients, Kirkman said. As it was, they didn’t have a whole lot of time for research and development, so they took some tried and true recipes and bumped up the 505 flair.
The canned cocktail Angry Mule starts with their Moscow Mule as a base, which is their own house recipe for ginger ale already chock-full of different spices, to which they add red chile.
“We just decided to kind of bump the red chile until we got to a place where it had a nice heat,” Kirkman said. “We went down to Hatch and got some more chile, (brought it back) and then did an infusion with our cane spirit, and then added the chile until we were happy with it. One big batch. We didn’t do any trials or anything like that. We went with a combination that already works.”
But, Angry Mule, as the State Fair version is called, has a real kick with 4½ times the red chile. Kirkman assured us that it’s thirst quenching and has a good heat that builds a little bit, but not too much to where even people who don’t love our famous chile heat can still enjoy it. It’s not out there to pummel your palates.
The beer is their Sunrise Lager recipe, which is typically 30-percent rice and 30-percent corn. But this time, they used blue corn from Santa Ana Pueblo, along with the Zappa strain of Neo Mexicanus hops, which is definitely the strain that I prefer. Kirkman said that they’ll be set up by the farm area, “And so, all the farmers, cowboys, and cowgirls will be able to drink something like a nice, light, American-style lager that’s dry, with a little more sweetness from the corn, and well-balanced with the hops.”
If you’re looking for this beer, the best way to get a taste is at the State Fair, due to the quantities they brewed. But, I have it on good authority that Jubilation in Albuquerque also received 10 cases. So, get them while you can!
If you’re in search of the Angry Mule in cans, it will also be available at the State Fair, of course, as well as Trader Joe’s stores across the state, and a few Total Wines and Whole Foods, as well.
And, as the theme seems to be with this year and last, while circumstances haven’t been ideal, we’ve made do, and we’re continuing to make it happen. And, whether they were first in line, or last on the list, Tumbleroot was honored just to be considered.
Much thanks to Jason Kirkman for responding to us with everything he’s got going on right now. We greatly appreciate it from the bottom of our beer-writing, black metal hearts.
The release party is Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m. at the NM State Fair Grounds.
To more events returning to our calendars and to local beer at the state fair again! Cheers and stay well!
For more #CraftBeer news and @nmdarksidebc news follow me on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro.