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Look, a full beer lineup all made on site is now at Lava Rock!

The last time any of us visited Lava Rock Brewing on the westside, an actual beer lineup was just starting to take form. Since then, we had received word that head brewer Ram Khalsa now has that promised full lineup on tap, and with some time to kill on a Tuesday afternoon, this here editor-in-need-of-a-story headed west of the Rio Grande to check it all out.

At this point, I should not expect to find myself as an anonymous drinker at any brewery in town. Ram was behind the bar, checking on the beers while more beer was being brewed in the back, and he was quick to welcome me to the brewery. I was promptly greeted with a sampler flight of six beers (which is standard), plus a seventh that he felt I needed to try.

Part of the impetus for trying those Lava Rock beers was due to the fact that the brewery, which now partners with M’tucci’s as its kitchen operator, is offering up a special this Wednesday. For $24, customers can get a flight of six 5-ounce samples of beer, each paired up with a specific appetizer.

  1. Gila Gose with shrimp and crab ceviche
  2. Shiprock Saison with honey balsamic chicken wings
  3. Petroglyph Wit with watermelon with feta and basil
  4. Brown Trout Lager with sausage orzo ragu
  5. 32 Bravo DIPA with BBQ meatballs with arugula and apple mustard
  6. Capulin Pale Ale with chocolate cherry tart with hazelnut cookie crust

Hello, sample tray. Not pictured, the Gila Gose. But, what is there makes for a really nice color rainbow.

As always, I must remind everyone that I am not a fully trained cicerone or anything of the sort. Beer is incredibly subjective, and I highly encourage everyone to try the beers, make up your own opinions, and offer constructive criticism where applicable. I had the unique opportunity to comment directly on the beers to Ram, so these were my thoughts on the seven beers that I sampled, five of which will be part of that special pairing Wednesday (I had to leave out the Petroglyph Wit as it has an ingredient that my body considers an unfortunate allergen).

  • Gila Gose (4.5% ABV, 6 IBU): Ram was proud of this offering, which is a straight, non-fruited gose. Oh, sure, there are a couple fruited goses (peach and prickly pear) on tap, for those who like such things. “I just felt a traditional gose could stand on its own,” he said. This one has just enough of that salty forward flavor, with not too much of the sour element on the back end. It goes down quite easy in this scorching late-summer heat.
  • Shiprock Saison (8% ABV, 30 IBU): While this French-style farmhouse has many of the hallmarks of the style, Ram also went ahead and dry hopped it with a dash of Nelson and Mosaic. There’s a bit of hop dryness on the back end, as well, but for the most part the Belgian-like yeast funk and a bit of spiciness are there to dominate the start and middle.
  • Brown Trout Lager (5.7% ABV, 20 IBU): The dark copper color aside, “You could drink this in the heat,” Ram said, as it is a lighter brown lager in the style of a German dunkel. The German malts and hops are there, but for the most part it is just smooth and comforting, and should hold one over until more of the popular Valles (Helles) Lager is ready soon. (There are two other lagers on deck, as well.)
  • 32 Bravo DIPA (8% ABV, 110 IBU): Ram has previously worked at La Cumbre and Santa Fe Brewing, but he said that the hop-forward beers are still a work in progress on Lava Rock’s 10-barrel brewhouse. This DIPA is not overpowering, harking back to the style from 10 years ago. This is not a juicy, sweet beer, but instead a chewy hop bomb that is slowly growing into something worthy of the behemoths that have set the local standard for DIPAs.
  • Capulin Pale Ale (6.2% ABV, 33 IBU): A coffee pale ale, this is not a copy of Sidetrack’s Buzz Bomb. If you like your coffee big, bold, and roasty, with no sweetness, this one is for you. Ram did say that the batch is an older one, but future changes could be coming since this style has not quite found its proper niche on the westside.
  • Volcan IPA (6% ABV, 80 IBU): The house IPA, Ram said he is still tinkering with this recipe. It is based in part on the classic Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, with more of an amber color and some of the old-school northwestern hops. Ram said he didn’t do much dry hopping, which in my personal opinion this one could use in the future.
  • Seismic Stout (5% ABV, 25 IBU): Of course I got the stout; I wouldn’t be living up to my nickname if I didn’t, right? This is an Irish dry stout, with hints of smoky roast and a slight bit of sweetness from the malt that offers up hints of chocolate and toffee. It is not a big, chewy stout, but this time of year, that is just fine. “Bigger stouts are coming this winter,” Ram said, which is music to my ears.

Overall, Lava Rock is still a work in progress on the beer front, but it is trending in the right direction. Ram has the proper beer education from La Cumbre and SFBC, and as he dials in his recipes and grasps the wants and needs of his customer base on the westside, things should start to settle in at the pub. Considering how much of a struggle things were in the beginning for Lava Rock, it is almost like a new brewery/restaurant has moved into the same location, which in a way it has, so to speak. The kitchen is all M’tucci’s, the beer is now all made on site, and it is worth another visit for beer lovers.

Please let us know what you think, and if you have some constructive criticism on the beer front, we will be happy to pass it along.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The forthcoming Bow & Arrow Rambler Taproom will be smaller than the main location, but it will feature much of the same aesthetic charm.

The recent rumors of an Albuquerque brewery heading to the Four Corners proved to be true earlier this week, as Bow & Arrow Brewing officially announced it will be opening its first offsite taproom in Farmington. The Rambler Taproom is aiming for a winter opening, said Bow & Arrow CEO Shyla Sheppard, and is the product of a long search for a second location that had started in Albuquerque.

“We’ve been looking for a while,” she said. “Actively looked all over Albuquerque and the metro area. We explored quite a few properties, actually. But then again, as you know better than most people, there’s a lot of movement taking place right now in the market. Maybe there’s a future opportunity for us somewhere here, but for our first offsite, the more we looked at the Four Corners area, (we found that) it’s very much in line with how we’ve positioned ourselves, branded ourselves being about the American Southwest, and the Four Corners is really kind of the gateway of all of that.”

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Outgoing Turtle Mountain head brewer Mick Hahn, left, passes the “torch” to new head brewer David Pacheco. Blessed be the beers!

It has been a few years since a head brewer has moved from one Albuquerque area brewery to another. That relatively static era is over as Tractor Brewing looked locally to fill its vacant head brewer position, finding the right man for the job at Turtle Mountain Brewing.

Mick Hahn is jumping from one brewery celebrating its 20th anniversary this year to another, leaving the cozy brewpub confines in Rio Rancho for the bustling production facility in Wells Park. To catch up on how this all went down, I met up with Mick, Tractor co-owner/brewmaster David Hargis, TMBC owner Nico Ortiz, and his new head brewer, David Pacheco.

“It was pretty quick,” Mick said. “David Hargis called me two weeks ago Monday, when Nico was (on vacation) in Costa Rica, which is always good. I had seen the posting for the position on the (New Mexico Brewers) Guild newsletter. I definitely thought about what it would be like to be their head brewer. I didn’t think much of pursuing it until he called to tell me we had been looking for someone, and hadn’t gotten a whole lot of interest and are you interested, because we’re interested in getting you.

“I met with him the next day to just to talk it over a little bit more. I met with him towards the end of the week when Nico was coming back from Costa Rica. They got in Thursday at 5 o’clock and I told him Friday at lunch that this was all happening. I had less than a week to figure out if this was going to go forward.”

Nico said he knew Mick’s departure was almost an inevitability.

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Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s seven breweries, one in Los Alamos, one in Moriarty, one in Red River, one in Silver City, and one in Truth or Consequences also joining the party.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

It seems like only yesterday that Boese Brothers Brewery and the Marble Brewery Heights Taproom both opened, but instead it was four and three years ago, respectively, and this Saturday will mark the anniversary parties for both locations. Boese will have an all-day michelada bar, plus birthday cake and possibly singing (we can only hope by staff members with good voices) later on. Adam Hooks & His Hangups will perform from 5 to 8 p.m., followed by DJ Dave 12 from 9 to midnight. Up at Marble, it all kicks off at 11 a.m. as Oni Noodles will be taking over the patio until 5. The Pina Loco Gose will be tapped all day, and music will be provided by The Moon Thieves, Eugene, and DJ Ryan Dedmond from 3 p.m. onward.

In addition to that, Red Door will be holding a soft opening for its new downtown taproom location starting today (Wednesday). In case anyone forgot, the new spot is in the former Zullo’s Bistro/Blackbird Buvette location on Central. It comes with a full liquor license, too. This could be a good spot to pregame the Goatwhore concert at Launchpad. A little blackened death metal soothes the troubled soul.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bombs Away moves on to version seven of its Hazy Chain DIPA. Bow & Arrow brings back El Breakfast Mexican Chocolate Breakfast Stout on Saturday. Canteen releases the State Fair Pilsner on tap and in cans this Thursday. Cantero puckers up with Sour’d Haze IPA. Ex Novo brings back Aperture Pale Ale, while also adding a Hefeweizen. La Cumbre added a Dortmunder and Tres Padres Belgian Tripel. Marble also added Daisy Duke City Kolsch and a fresh batch of Rita. Ponderosa has an Amber Ale ready to go by this weekend. Quarter Celtic bellows Blimey Gold, while also feeling the Fading Days of Summer Haze. Red Door brings back Rickety Cricket, a raspberry green tea hefeweizen. Starr Brothers cracks The Velvet Whip, a hybrid IPA, and kneels before The Red Queen, a raspberry gose. Tractor’s latest Beer for a Better Burque offering is Saddle Up Jefe, plus Apricot Wheat returns.

Up in Santa Fe, Rowley Farmhouse Ales tapped Agent Scully – Season Two, Episode 10 IPA, and has a limited number of Cote d’Or Cerise Redux bottles for sale.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of August 12.

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Artesia’s second brewery is sadly no more. (Photo courtesy of Hopscotch Brewing)

The news items are piling up around here, so let us start the week with what is going on around the New Mexico craft brewing scene.

We’re not dead yet

After we published our story about Eske’s Brew Pub and Eatery meeting an untimely demise after 27 years, we were eventually contacted by Mark Hoffman, who is apparently the owner of the Taos brewery. Per Mark, Eske’s is not deader than dead, but it will instead be resurrected at a new location with a new setup, and possibly a new name.

Eske’s 2.0 will be at 605 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, which is further north up Taos’ main road, past the Burger Stand at Taos Ale House, near Cid’s Food Market and Taos Pizza Out Back. This new location will be a combined brewery and homebrew store, Mark said, and will have a permanent food truck instead of an on-site kitchen (similar to what Red Door has down here at its Candelaria brewery in ABQ). The brewery will also be changing its name to Sangre de Cristo Brewing Company. That name predated Eske’s when original owner Steve Eskeback brewed for the Embudo Station restaurant from 1989-92, before opening Eske’s near the Taos Plaza.

So far we are still waiting to see a new pending small brewer license to replace the one that went inactive a few months ago. When that happens, we will know for sure that SDCBC/Eske’s 2.0 is officially happening.

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Owner/brewer Sean Lawson welcomed the Crew to Turquoise Trail Brewing for the first time.

The blank spots on the map continue to fill up with breweries and taprooms.

Turquoise Trail Brewing is the latest addition to the East Central corridor, landing at 11016 Central SE, a short drive east of Bombs Away and west of the Tractor Four Hills Taproom. The new brewery has quietly opened, as its own beers are not on tap yet, but owner/brewer Sean Lawson said he needed to start making some money back on a property that he has been leasing for a calendar year now.

“I’m really hoping to have the brewery up and operating in four to six weeks,” Scott said. “I’ll have my own beer on tap in two months. I think that’s pretty realistic.”

For now, there is a wide range of guest taps, many from breweries far, far from the location next door to the Dion’s at Elizabeth and Central. I grabbed a pint of Dialogue’s Nugget to the Rack imperial amber and sat down to find out just what in the world possessed Sean to open Albuquerque’s 35th brewery.

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It seems like it was just yesterday when we took this picture of Boxing Bear co-owner/head brewer Justin Hamilton atop his new brewhouse, but it was actually five years and many, many beers ago.

Five years does not seem like a long time in any business, but the craft beer world that Boxing Bear Brewing entered into in 2014 has changed an awful lot.

After all, back then the Westside was largely devoid of breweries and off-site taprooms.

“It’s crazy when we opened and then there was (only) the Stumbling Steer at the time,” co-owner/head brewer Justin Hamilton said. “The closest after that was Turtle Mountain. Now we’ve got breweries on every block. There’s a lot more breweries now, but that being said, five years later we’re still doing all right.”

Boxing Bear will celebrate its fifth anniversary with an all-day party this Saturday, with live music, vendors, and food trucks out front.

“Five is a good one,” Justin said. “We’re super excited to be here. It’s been a crazy five. Some places haven’t made it that far, some have made double. It’s just been fun to kind of see how much has changed. It’s been wild.”

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Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s seven breweries, one in Los Alamos, one in Moriarty, one in Red River, one in Silver City, and one in Truth or Consequences also joining the party.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

A trio of charitable events at three different breweries caught our eyes this weekend. First up on Saturday, the main Red Door location will host the Doggie Dash  Kick-Off Bash from noon to 4 p.m. The brewery will introduce Left Paw Lager, a special Bohemian pilsner with $1 from every pint sold going to Animal Humane. There will be sign-ups for the Doggie Dash in November, Animal Humane merchandise for sale, and good pups looking to be adopted, too. Then on Sunday, start your day at Marble downtown for the annual Love Beer, Hate Cancer event from 2 to 8 p.m. A portion of the day’s proceeds will go to Camp Enchantment, a camp for children who have been affected by cancer, as a slew of local musicians, artists, vendors, and even a cornhole tournament from 2 to 5 p.m. Register online for $10 for a team of two, with all proceeds going to Campa Enchantment. Finally, Starr Brothers will be hosting a watch party Sunday night for New Mexico United’s road game at Portland Timbers II, but it will also be doing its part to help the victims of the recent mass shooting in El Paso. The Bloodmobile will be parked outside from 3 to 6 p.m., and anyone donating will get a free appetizer (free beer after donating blood is probably not a good idea, FYI). Ten percent of all sales of food, drinks, and Curse merchandise during the blood drive, and then during the United match that starts at 7, will be donated to the El Paso Shooting Victims’ Fund. There will also be a team-signed jersey auctioned off during the watch party.

Two other events worth mentioning are going all day and night on Saturday. Boxing Bear will be hosting its fifth anniversary party at the Westside brewery, which we will preview in full this week. Red Door will also be saying good-bye to its taproom in the Simms Building downtown with one final bash before the move to the new location on Central begins. Stop by for $2 off all pints.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bosque goes old school with Old Days Pilsner, plus Strawberry Sabotage returns for another run. Boxing Bear will have two beers on tap and in cans for the anniversary party in the Guava Gose and new Headlock Hazy IPA. Canteen is still feeling the season with Watermelon Cardamom Kettle Sour. Ex Novo is keeping a Stiff Upper Lip ESB while also introducing Pina Corrales Wheat, plus the ridiculously popular Hello My Name is Indigo Montoya returns on tap and in cans on Friday. La Cumbre has been Saved by the Belgian in time to tap Kool Thoughts and Apricots. Marble rises up with Lifted Pale Ale. Quarter Celtic is going to Haze the New Guy IPA. Red Door brings back Riley’s Switch Lager at its Clovis taproom only. Starr Brothers kicks up a fresh batch of 505 Reds Liverpool Ale. Steel Bender shines with a new batch of Stay Golden Ale, plus there will be two special casks Thursday and Friday with different fresh hops from Red Hat Hops, a local farm. Thirsty Eye is getting artsy with Mise-en-scene Pils on Friday. Toltec is brewing up Red Devils Helles in time for the start of the Premier League season this weekend, plus an as-yet-unnamed hoppy red ale should also hit taps this weekend.

Up in Santa Fe, Blue Corn is puckering up with a local flair with 505 Apricot Sour. Down in Truth or Consequences, T or C Brewing is positively glowing with Earthshine Double IPA.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of August 5.

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No one really thought that Bosque North was going to be the final project for the ever-expanding brewing enterprise, right?

Bosque Brewing does not sit still.

Oh, sure, there appear to be stretches of inactivity when it comes to adding more locations to its portfolio, but do not be fooled. Somewhere out there, Bosque has its eye on another taproom, and over the course of this summer, we have all become aware of three forthcoming projects in three different cities.

To learn a lot more about what is coming to Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and Santa Fe, I sat down with three of Bosque’s owners, chief development officer Jotham Michnovicz, chief experience officer Jess Griego, and chief production officer/brewmaster John Bullard.

First up, the new Albuquerque taproom/secondary brewery that will be located on the Westside at Coors and St. Joseph’s. It will effectively be the replacement for the original San Mateo brewery/taproom that closed earlier this year and transformed into La Reforma Brewery. Of course, that original replacement was supposed to be the Open Space project at Venice and the Interstate 25 frontage road.

Jotham said it was not just the seemingly endless series of delays that caused Bosque to scrap Open Space and head west, but a multitude of reasons.

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Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s seven breweries, one in Los Alamos, one in Moriarty, one in Red River, one in Silver City, and one in Truth or Consequences also joining the party.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

More hops? Well, if the universe insists, since this Thursday is National IPA Day. Besides a cool Untappd badge, this day will also feature some new releases from breweries around town. Canteen Brewhouse is putting Tuttle IPA in cans for the first time. You can enjoy a pint on tap, and then take a six-pack of 12-ounce cans home to enjoy at your leisure. Steel Bender will also be putting a favorite specialty beer in cans for the first time. Manana Tropical IPA will also be available in 12-ounce, six-pack cans. Oh, and most of the top finishers at the New Mexico IPA Challenge are still available on tap. You can still enjoy Boxing Bear’s Bear Knuckle II (first place), Bosque’s 550 U-Turn (second), Ex Novo’s My Chemical Bromance (third), Bow & Arrow’s Wassabro (tied for fourth), Icebox’s Icebreaker (tied for fourth), and Blue Corn’s Gatekeeper (sixth). Also, on Friday, you can get six-packs of 12-ounce cans of Bosque’s Open Space Haze at any Bosque taproom, with retailers getting the beer on August 9 (and yes, it will be available year-round).

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bombs Away launched Thor Missile Session IPA. Brew Lab 101 added Pomegranate Cider to the lineup. Canteen has a fresh batch of Irish Red. Cantero swims with River Wash IPL and also added Black IPA. La Cumbre reaches for Dead Man’s Hand Hazy DIPA. Marble summons more Thunder from Dortmunder. Nexus casts some shade with Sun Dust Hazy Pale Ale. Ponderosa goes big with 400th DIPA. Red Door unleashes the Ginga Ninja. Sidetrack has a slew of new brews in Ante Up IPA, Counterbalance IPA, and Hazy Summer Pale Ale, plus Pub Ale is back.

Up in Santa Fe, things are quiet for the moment.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of July 29.

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