Sadly, I had missed my first WinterBrew in 2020 because I was on the road. How could I know I wouldn’t get a chance to return to my favorite festival the following year in 2021? I have to admit, I was pretty bummed about the whole thing. I saw all the great pictures. Late last year, when I heard that WinterBrew would be back, promptly, after shooting beer foam out of my nose, I promised myself I wouldn’t make that mistake again. It really is that great of an event. Ask the rest of the Dark Side members (well, mostly Franz Solo and Stoutmeister) if they ever miss Iron Maiden when they roll through town. It’s a little like that.
On Saturday, the New Mexico Brewers Guild is thrilled to be hosting WinterBrew 2022 with their friends at The Bridge at Santa Fe Brewing Co. and you, my vaccinated friends, are invited! Grab a ticket online here.
As you know, the world’s been what it’s been, but our local NM beer industry has remained strong through it all and has proved that if the brewers kept making beer, kept putting out packaged products, kept patios opened (and heated), then the people would keep coming out to support them, even during the coldest of days. And now, as a testament to that, though most were forced to take a rain check for a solid year and a half, beer festivals are triumphantly (and safely) returning, with smart people backing them, with a few creative changes in their logistics, and maybe most importantly, thanks to the good people of New Mexico who are still craving great local beer.
This week, with a kind introduction from Red Door operations manager Ali Cattin, I reached out to our new executive director of the New Mexico Brewers Guild, Tess Vidalis, to get the low down on what’s changed and what you can expect at the 10th annual WinterBrew.
As previously mentioned, WinterBrew will be held at Santa Fe Brewing Co this year. It’s the first time, in my memory, that it’s ever been a different venue.
“The venue change was the idea of the NMBG board of directors,” Vidalis said. “In years past, WinterBrew was held at an indoor space at The Rail Yards in Santa Fe, and it drew crowds (of) around 800 people. It would not be responsible to try and shove that many festival goers into an indoor space, so naturally an outdoor venue made the most sense. Alana Harris, who sits on the board of directors, and is also the general manager of Santa Fe Brewing, was able to help us secure The Bridge event space for WinterBrew. At capacity, it holds over 1,400 people and we capped this event at 700 to make sure that everyone had ample space.”
Thankfully, the Guild didn’t run into any issues with permitting this year, as Alana of SFBC is certainly no stranger to the permitting process and was a huge help, Vidalis told us.
And luckily, there weren’t any changes in the brewery lineup due to COVID. Only one brewery had to withdraw, but only because the owners and other key staff members were out of the country.
“I have been working closely with all of the participating breweries and from the beginning we have had open discussions about any concerns. We have tried to implement as many safety measures as possible and with those in place, I think this event will be as safe as going to your local brewery,” Vidalis said.
That means there are 14 breweries locked in as of the writing of this article. Among them are breweries from as far south as Silver City to as far north as Red River. For full brewery/beer list, see below.
Just as in years past, your ticket will snag you a special 2022 WinterBrew pint glass that you can use for tasting and, of course, that delicious full-pint-of-your-choice at the end.
“With 14 breweries and an estimated 30-to-40 beers available to sample, there is surely a lot of ground to cover,” Vidalis said. “Tasting tickets will be given to each guest, but don’t worry, you will have more than enough, so everyone can taste all of their favorite and new-to-discover brews!”
You may have heard a little something about the special VIP tickets. VIP ticket holders get in one extra hour of tasting, as they’ll be allowed in at noon. They’ll be able to taste beers at their own pace, as well as get a chance to really meet the brewers and ask plenty of questions before the lines start to form.
For those wondering, I have confirmed that staff will be checking vaccine cards for fully-vaccinated guests (at least two doses of Pfizer or Moderna and one dose of J&J, with the last being at least two weeks prior to the event) or for unvaccinated individuals, they will have to show a current negative COVID test “no more than 24 hours prior to the festival,” Vidalis explained.
I asked if there was any advice our new executive director had for WinterBrew fest-goers?
She replied, “Since this is an outdoor event in January, bundle up! We will have plenty of heaters and plenty of beer to warm you, but New Mexicans know it’s all about layers. But, most importantly, have fun! This is the best time to talk to some of the best brewers our state has to offer.”
And, not just because this is Vidalis’ first major event as director, she is especially excited for this event in particular.
“We haven’t had many opportunities for community events over the last couple of years, and we weren’t able to throw WinterBrew in 2021,” Vidalis said. “I can’t think of a better way to kick off the start of a new year than celebrating great beer with our community!”
Brewery/beer list, compiled by Stoutmeister:
- Beer Creek: Lone Butte Lager, Black Wedding Black IPA, Rowe Mesa Red, Picture Rock Porter
- Boxing Bear: Body Czech Pilsner, Uppercut IPA, Chocolate Milk Stout, Super Cereal Hazy DIPA, Red Knuckle Irish Red (plus to-go cans of Uppercut, CMS, and Super Cereal will be available for purchase in the final hours)
- Canteen: Zdeno (Dark Czech Lager, 5.2% ABV, 24 IBU), El Gato Gordo (Breakfast Stout, 6% ABV, 33 IBU), Laid Back Lager (4.8% ABV, 22 IBU)
- HoneyMoon: TBA
- Little Toad Creek: TBA
- Marble: Desert Fog, Cerveza, Double White, DIPA
- Red River: Lazy Bear Blonde, Prospector Porter, Back 40 Farm House Ale, Contagion Fruity Sour (Prickly Pear)
- ReSource: Que, Swiss? Lager, Equality Stout
- Rowley: All hours — IPA; Hour One — Danka Dunkel, Petite Blanche – Peach (Farmhouse Ale); Hour Two — Easy Lover (Honey Beer), Mountain of Light – Cherry (Gose); Hour Three — Imperial Milk Stout, Old Ball & Chain (Barrel-Aged Old Ale); Package — How Old is Old (Oud Bruin), Mountain of Light – Plum
- Santa Fe Brewing: Imperial Aged Porter, Small Batch Chelada, Black IPA, Squeezer
- Second Street: Skimboard (Tropical Fruited Sour), UK-style Barleywine, Agua Fria Pils, Cascade to Black (Hoppy Stout), Mosaic Sloth (Hazy IPA), 2920 IPA
- Sidetrack: Smoke on the Lager, Stout, Buzz Bomb, Duke of Earl on cask
- Steel Bender: Skull Bucket IPA, Raspberry Dynamite, Esmerelda Italian Pilsner, Pour Vida Coffee Porter
- Toltec: TBA
To explain the Rowley setup, they will tap three beers at a time, rotating taps two and three by the hours.
If any of the three missing breweries contact us with their belated lists, we will update this post.
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If you’re worried about transportation, the City of Santa Fe Transit Department has FREE “On Demand” shuttle service that will pick people up at any City of Santa Fe bus stop. This includes the 599 stop (where the Rail Runner stops) about half a mile from the event. There will also be an SFBC shuttle to take people to and from that 599 station. All they have to do is call (505) 955-2001 to request shuttle service when they are ready to leave the event. Amazing, right?
Food will be provided by the always excellent Street Food Institute and Bruno’s & Punchy’z Pizza.
WinterBrew 2022 is from 1 to 4 p.m. for general admission and noon to 4 p.m. for VIP, at The Bridge at Santa Fe Brewing’s huge outdoor space (across from HQ). 37 Fire Pl, Santa Fe, NM 87508.
Tickets are still available through Eventbrite.
To the triumphant return of WinterBrew and all the great beers and breweries coming back to Santa Fe!
For more @NMDarkSideBC info and #CraftBeer news follow me on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro and for a few late night Untappd “reviews,” add me as SantaFeLuke.