ABQ Beer Week returns after 2-year pandemic hiatus for its 10th edition

After a two-year break, it’s back!

In years past, ABQ Beer Week was a massive undertaking, reaching a point of more than 100 events scattered across the city over an 11-day span. It returns this year for its 10th run, fairly scaled back, but no less of a challenge for organizer Marne Gaston and her team.

I caught up with Gaston over pints of Spring of Deception Maibock, our collaboration with Steel Bender that’s still on tap at the brewery, to learn a little more about how she resurrected this annual series of events after two years off due to the COVID pandemic.

“For me, the biggest challenge was getting back into the mindset of it,” she said. “It was like clockwork for many years. As soon as one is done, you start working on the next one. You don’t forget everything. But, you kind of forget some of the little details after three years.”

Gaston also got to confront some of the major issues that have hit the breweries over the last two-plus years.

“My challenges are more supply chain, like everybody else,” she said. “Luckily for us, we ordered the glassware three years ago. We still have it. It’s the 10th annual, we didn’t put a date on it. When I reached out, Premier (Distributing), they had been storing it. They couldn’t find it. I reached out to my glass guy and he said they don’t make any of those glasses right now. You’re not going to be able to get any of it. We were going to have to order some plastic cups, but Premier found it in a back room somewhere.”

While she lucked out on the found glassware, and that it never had 2020 etched anywhere on it, it was far from the only new challenge that Gaston had to deal with as she rushed to get the ball rolling and everything set in place.

“Supply chain issues, ordering of everything, wristbands and pint glasses, tote bags and T-shirts, all of that stuff has been a challenge,” she said. “The breweries have their challenges of staffing and knowing what they’re going to be able to pour, those kinds of things.”

While some past venues that held Beer Week events are no longer around, such as Nob Hill Bar & Grill, others opted out for various reasons this time around. Places like Jubilation and Albertsons are not holding tastings, and some of the breweries that participated in the past also declined to join in this year.

“A lot of the standard ones are (coming back), which is great,” Gaston said. “We’re still going to have beer-and-donut pairings, beer-and-cheese. Marble is bringing back Beer 101, which is super exciting. We used to do that one (annually). There are some (missing); they just don’t have the staff this year. Quarter Celtic isn’t doing anything, which is probably the first year (since they opened) that they’re not doing anything for Beer Week. We completely understand. They just don’t have the bandwidth right now. We’re going to miss them. We hope they come back.

“We know this year is a challenge for a lot of people. We just want to be there for the people that want (and are able) to do it. We’ll promote them and support them. We hope that next year will be better for them, and that they’ll have the staff they need to do it. We’ll hope for a normal year for everybody. There’s some of our favorite places that are missing.”

Blues & Brews will be back at Sandia Casino, though it will also be a bit scaled back.

The centerpiece event of Beer Week has always been the ABQ Blues & Brews Festival, and that will return this Sunday at Sandia Casino.

“That was fairly typical in a lot of ways, except that their staff is also limited,” Gaston said. “They said there will be no changes to my layout. What I submit is going to be what is happening. Hopefully they’ll have enough people to check IDs, because that’s their staff. That could be a challenge on the day of, but we won’t know yet. A lot of their people, the main, head people are still there. They did want us to come back. They gave us a little extended time on some things.”

There are around 20 local breweries and distilleries listed as participating this year, including Brew Lab 101, Bosque, Canteen, Enchanted Circle, Ex Novo, Hollow Spirits, Kilt Check, Lava Rock, Leaf & Hive, Little Toad Creek, Marble, Red Door, ReSource, Rumor, Safe House, Santa Fe, Taylor Garrett, Toltec, and Tractor. We are working on confirming all of those, as one listed, Ponderosa, informed us that they will not be attending.

“We have a little bit less, overall, but that’s OK, because I want to spread people out a little bit more, too,” Gaston said. “Just make it a little more manageable in a COVID year. We added an outdoor stage, but with the weather being what it is, we’re not going to have sampling out there. Nobody really wanted to take that on. … Which is fine. It’s nice to be in an indoor, controlled environment. You don’t have to worry about wind and rain.”

Every day throughout Beer Week, the Crew will have a rapid-fire preview of all events, with a few that we hope to break out into more detailed stories. As Gaston noted, there are a lot fewer events in 2022, which she said is just fine, as the massive 2019 event calendar was downright overwhelming for everyone involved.

Thursday

  • Beer Week Kickoff at Bubba’s 33 and Blues & Brews VIP ticket giveaway, 4 p.m.
  • Bell’s sampling at Total Wine Uptown, 4 p.m.
  • Sour Hour with Rowley Farmhouse Ales at Tractor Wells Park, 5 p.m.
  • Pint Night with Friends of the Valle De Oro at Canteen Brewhouse, 5 p.m.
  • Beer, Cheese & More at Marble Heights, 6 p.m.
  • Steel Bender Beer Dinner at Seared Bistro, 6 p.m. (RSVP by Wednesday)
  • Geeks Who Drink at Salt Yard West, 7 p.m.

Friday

  • Steel Bender Meet the Brewer at Paradise Liquors – Ventana Ranch, 4 p.m.
  • Canteen sampling at Total Wine Uptown, 4 p.m.
  • Beer & Jazz with Truth or Consequences Brewing tap takeover at Tractor Wells Park, 5 p.m.

Saturday

  • Tin Can Alley/Santa Fe Brewing Beer Week Fundraiser, all day through Monday
  • Nexus Anniversary Party, all day at the brewery through Sunday
  • High and Dry food pairing with Doobie’s Smokehouse, noon
  • Ciderday Night Fever at Tractor Nob Hill, all day, with music from Wae Fonkey at 8 p.m.
  • E-Bike Glow Ride at Canteen Brewhouse, 6:30 p.m.
  • Drag Queen Bingo: Pride Edition at Tractor Wells Park, 7 p.m.

Sunday

  • Sunday Funday at Salt Yard West, 11 a.m.
  • ABQ Blues & Brews, 1 p.m.

Monday

  • ABQ Battle Decks at Tractor Wells Park, 6 p.m.
  • Singo Music Bingo at Brew Lab 101, 7 p.m.

Tuesday

  • Firestone Walker 805 Cerveza Taco Tuesday at Canvas Artistry, 3 p.m.

Wednesday, June 1

  • Marble Guava Wheat can and draft release, all locations, 11 a.m.
  • Steel Bender tap takeover at Two Cranes Bistro, 4 p.m.
  • Poetry & Beer at Tractor Wells Park, 7 p.m.
  • Trivia at Brew Lab 101, 7 p.m.

Thursday, June 2

  • Rebel Donut and Tractor beer pairing, all locations, 5 p.m.
  • Geeks Who Drink at Salt Yard West, 7 p.m.

Friday, June 3

  • Canteen sampling at Total Wine Westside, 3 p.m.
  • ABQ Artwalk with Red Door Downtown, 5 p.m.
  • E-Bike Glow Ride at Canteen Brewhouse, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, June 4

  • ReSource Brewing tour and sensory tasting, 12:30 p.m. (also the lone scheduled event on Sunday, June 5)
  • Beer 101 guided tasting at Marble Downtown, 2 p.m.
  • Beer & Jazz on the Hill at Tractor Nob Hill, 5 p.m.
  • Beer Trivia at Tractor Wells Park, 7 p.m.

We will have a full preview of all the Tractor events coming up Wednesday after The Week Ahead in Beer. Otherwise, as always, we recommend making use of Uber and Lyft to help you get around if you plan to attend multiple events. This is a nice, scaled-back Beer Week to help us all get back into the spirit of these sorts of multi-day celebrations of craft beer.

A big thanks to Marne this year, and years past, for all the information and help in getting this covered.

Keep supporting local!

— Stoutmeister

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