If you calendar is looking empty in terms of events to attend for the rest of this year, the New Mexico Brewers Guild is about to fill it up with some fun beer-centric activities.
NMBG executive director Leah Black was gracious enough to sit down and provide the information on all the events, which start this Wednesday with New Mexico Pint Day.
“Pint Day, I’m so excited about this,” Black said. “Shawnee (Adelson), who’s the executive director of the Colorado Brewers Guild, is amazing. I give her and her whole crew the credit of starting this event. They’ve done it in Colorado for I don’t know how many years now. They are the ones that sort of kicked this off with Grandstand (Glassware) and set up the template for other guilds across the nation, and we all keep in close contact, to be able to do this. It’s such a great way to raise money for our guild, but also for people to have a memorable keepsake. Not just from an event, but where they can say it’s from the first New Mexico Pint Day.”
Pint Day will be held at breweries throughout the state, and the premise is fairly simple. Come in and buy a pint of your favorite beer, but in a special commemorative glass that you can take home afterwards. For each glass sold, $1 goes directly to the Brewers Guild.
“The point of New Mexico Pint Day is you add to your amazing beer glass collection,” Black said. “It’s a piece of art to add to your shelves and cabinets. It’s happening (Wednesday) and I will have the breweries listed on our website soon.”
To create a piece of art, one needs an artist, and luckily for the Guild, there is already an amazing one employed at a brewery in Santa Fe.
“Mariah (Scee), from Second Street, is such a talented artist,” Black said. “I was so excited to work with her, and she was totally into it. The idea that I handed to her was let’s do some sort of state symbol. I didn’t want to do the roadrunner, I love the roadrunner, for the record, and I didn’t want to do just the obvious with green chiles, or that sort of thing. So I gave her this list of obscure things, I don’t remember how many, it was like three or four, and she picked the New Mexico State Fossil, Coelophysis. She did such a fantastic job.”
Second Street will be releasing a new Czech-style pilsner to coincide with the release of the glassware at all three locations Wednesday.
Black said her ultimate vision is to have multiple pint days held quarterly through the year, with Scee or other New Mexico artists designing the glasses. The current batch will be in the 16-ounce, beer-can style, but future incarnations could be in different forms of glassware.
Holding the event on a Wednesday might seem odd at first, but there is a point to that as well.
“We want to drive business to the taprooms on a slower day than the weekends,” Black said. “Every (brewery) is going to do it their own way. We don’t have a set way that we’re going to be selling these glasses. But, we just want you to frequent your local taprooms. It’s a new way to get people to support indie craft beer.”
(UPDATE) The full list of 17 participating breweries:
- Bathtub Row Brewing, Los Alamos
- Boogies Brewery and Distillery, Deming
- Canteen Brewhouse
- Cloudcroft Brewing
- Icebox Brewing, Las Cruces
- La Cumbre Brewing
- Lauter Haus Brewing, Farmington
- Milton’s Brewing, Carlsbad
- Palmer Brewery
- Red Door Brewing
- Rowley Farmhouse Ales, Santa Fe
- Santa Fe Brewing
- Second Street Brewery, Santa Fe
- Sidetrack Brewing
- Steel Bender Brewyard
- Three Rivers Brewery, Farmington
- Tractor Brewing
Beer Premier returns in full force
After taking 2020 off, just like almost everything else, the annual Beer Premier is back this Saturday, with Nexus Blue Smokehouse handling the hosting duties. This event features 21 breweries creating never-before-brewed styles of beer and tapping them first for a crowd of costumed patrons. Tickets are currently available online, and since Nexus Blue is a smaller venue, the number available is somewhat limited.
“It’s so great, because Bathtub Row is coming down from Los Alamos, Taos Mesa is coming down, (and) it’s just going to be a really fun day,” Black said. “This is the first one we’ve had since 2019. I love this event this time of year in New Mexico. It’s a festive event. We have people dress up, we have our red carpet, it’s back. The red carpet is coming out again after two years, and we’re going to do a ton of photographs.
“I’ve added to it this year. This is the very first year we’re having costume contest prizes. One of the things that we’re going to be giving away is a stay at the Painted Lady Bed and Brew. We’re going to have a bunch of brewery gift cards. We are going to have door prizes, so we’re giving out raffle tickets. We’re going to have a DJ, so no more me fumbling on the iPad. Cali Shaw is going to be the DJ, and it’s going to be a Nexus (Blue) so we’re going to have amazing food. We’re working out a catering deal with them, so your ticket is going to include these amazing sliders.”
Well, yes, it would be a crime to be at a Nexus location and not enjoy some delicious food. We also recommend everyone attending take Lyft or Uber, or find a friend/relative to drop you off, as the parking lot at the smokehouse is on the small side.
The event runs from 1 to 4 p.m., which will give New Mexico United fans enough time to make it up to the season-ending match at Isotopes Park.
“There were a couple people who said three hours aren’t long enough,” Black said. “I (replied) some of these beers are really big. We care about your safety. Go home, take a nap, then go to your Halloween parties (and soccer games) in the evening. Three hours are perfect.”
Considering there is at least one 12-percent ABV imperial stout on the menu, Black is correct on that point. We will have a full list of all 20 beers (one is a collaboration between Palmer Brewery and Tractor Brewing) by this Wednesday afternoon at the latest. As of the time of this article being published, we are seven shy, but we can share that the list so far includes a barrel-aged Earl Grey sour, an Oreo cookie cake stout, a Norwegian ale, a Baltic porter, a Scottish Wee Heavy, a couple coffee-forward dark beers, two new hazy IPAs, a green tea pale ale, and an ale that is a tribute to the movie Dune.
“The beer is just going to be amazing,” Black said. “I love how people always get inspired to make something they’ve never brewed before.”
NMIPAC is back in full force
For those wondering what happened to the annual New Mexico IPA Challenge, fear not, for it is set to return in November. That is just a wee bit later than in the pre-pandemic years.
“It was very hard for me and the board because we’re just saturating people’s event feeds with three weeks (of events),” Black said. “Everyone has to remember, normally the IPA Challenge is in July, but in July things were still weird, not that things aren’t still, we’re still in a weird world. We eventually said the end of the year is coming, there’s no time like the present. We didn’t want the IPAC to ever die. We kept it alive during COVID (as a take-home event in 2020), we’re keeping it, and we’ve got people back in person.”
The brewers-only preliminary round of the NMIPAC is set for Saturday, November 6 at Red Door Downtown, followed by a new reveal party of the results that the public can attend.
“The good thing that we’ve added for everyone this year that makes it more accessible is we’re doing five events for the public,” Black said. “That’s really fun. The new thing that we’ve added this year is the VIP live reveal party. Tickets to this (are available), and you get to hang out with all the brewers. They’re bringing extra beers from the competition that day (which is) the brewers peer judging round. People that come to this event, you’re going to be able to sample (some of) all 36 IPAs that were entered until they run out. Then you get some amazing, palate-cleansing pints from Quarter Celtic, Canteen, and Red Door, that will be part of your ticket.”
The $25 ticket price also includes a commemorative T-shirt, which will be available for pick up at a later date (blame the supply chain).
The event will even have a bit of suspense for the brewers and the patrons.
“It’s exciting, too, to see the brewers there with the public awaiting their fate,” Black said. “Nobody is going to know (who advances) until we announce it at this party. So that’s going to be really exciting. I think it’s going to be a fun, added bonus. There’s going to be brewers from all over the state.”
The four public judging rounds will then take place November 10 at Icebox Brewing in Las Cruces, November 13 at Beer Creek Brewing outside Santa Fe, November 17 at Lauter Haus Brewing in Farmington, and the final round will be November 20 at Boxing Bear Firestone in Albuquerque.
Black said she will be renting a U-Haul to drive kegs all over the state, so while it could be an exhausting experience, it will be a fun one again for the general public.
“This is one of our biggest fundraisers of the year,” she said. “So I just want to remind people that each (round) is going to be different. Your palate is going to change. I challenge people to go one through 15, and it’s always going to be different numbers at each event. I encourage people to go to one event and then another. When you do the live thing at the finals, I always have people come up to me confident that this is this, even breweries. It’s going to be fun. It’s a new, highly concentrated IPA Challenge.”
A new event to close out the year and two old favorites are lined up for early 2022
The last event of 2021 will be held December 18, and the Winter Gala is a new addition to the annual calendar.
“It’s a very curated event,” Black said. “It’s going to include breweries, distilleries, and it’s going to be catered. It’s going to very limited, 100 people only, fancy dress-up. The theme is 70s disco, but like wintry. It’s going to be at an amazing, giant mansion here in town.”
Tickets for that event should be available soon.
The first two months of 2022 already have two classic events set to return. WinterBrew will be back at the Santa Fe Farmers Market on January 21, while the Stout Invitational will return to Bathtub Row Brewing in Los Alamos on February 12. The latter will be presented with a new format, too, so expect more details on that as we get closer to the date.
Overall, these events should keep beer lovers content as we close out year two of the pandemic weirdness. We are very thankful that the Guild and the breweries were able to work things out to keep the old events going, and to introduce some new ones along the way.
A big thanks to Leah for meeting up over beers to chat about all of this. We will have even more on these events as we get closer to each of them.
Keep supporting local!