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There will be plenty of events at Steel Bender during ABQ Beer Week.

ABQ Beer Week 2019 is upon us with a true blitzkrieg of funky events and new brews, and a Los Ranchos brewery is right at the heart of it. Steel Bender Brewyard is embracing its neighborhood roots by branching out across the city, while still staying close to home. 

“We really did want to build a place to ‘brew,’ that’s where our tag line comes from,“ said Steel Bender marketing director/co-owner Shelby Chant. “Yes, to brew the beer, but to brew with your friends, to brew up a great idea, to brew up your next vacation.” 

Steel Bender is kicking off ABQ Beer Week today (Thursday) with the release of their new beer, Stay Golden Ale, an English-style summer ale brewed with lemon peel. Then on Friday, SBB sales reps will be at Jubilation Beer, Wine, & Spirits’ Wild and Sour beer tasting event along with with Rowley Farmhouse Ales and Bow & Arrow Brewing. 

Among several in-house celebrations, Steel Bender has some surprises for us. On Saturday, they have teamed up with Bristol Doughnuts Co. (located in Nob Hill) for the “Breakfast of Champions” beer-and-donuts pairing. Head brewer Bob Haggerty, who is a former chef, and SBB Chef Jason Baczkiewicz met with the Bristol Doughnuts owners Sara and Coy Tremmel to decide what pairings would work best.

“All of us agreed we’ve never tasted such an incredible donut,” Shelby said.

The pairings are chosen to highlight the flavors the beer and the donuts together and individually.

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Loretto Park in Bernalillo has previously hosted the Mountain West Brew Fest, and will be home to the Farmhouse Ale Festival on June 1.

New Mexico in the spring — cool weather, quiet patios, and the smell of green as the snow melt brings the bosque and the fields back to life. We can tell when winter leaves us. (Well, at least until the last couple days. — S) Oddly enough, it means our beer palates shift as well from heavy, hearty brews to something in between the fruity experimental and session beers of summer.

Often, the in-between styles are farmhouse ales, a blanket term for Belgian and French agrarian beer styles: saisons (French for “season”), bier-de-gardes (French for “beer to keep”), which have heavy wheat flavors, and on more rare occasions, a gueuze (or a lambic), which is a fruited and aged wheat beer.

Farmhouse ales were historically brewed in the winter and served through planting and harvest seasons. They can have a vast amount of flavor profiles because of the variety of natural yeasts and their amounts in each brew. Saisons are typically more hoppy and floral, while bier-de-gardes are earthy and fruity. Historically, all farmhouse ales are experimental as the success of agriculture varied each year. 

Coming up this year, Kaktus Brewing Company, in conjunction with the town of Bernalillo, will be hosting the first annual Farmhouse Ale Event on June 1 at Loretto Park (711 Camino del Pueblo) from noon to 6 p.m. (doors open at 11:30 a.m.), which will combine a beer fiesta with country music. The festival is an official ABQ Beer Week event. It will support community nonprofits that will put the money back into the community and cultivate goals for sustainable development.

“We’re really excited that we’re going to be able to put together a farmhouse ale event, and have the proceeds go to such worthy community-building causes, while at the same time bringing our community together,” Kaktus president Dana Koller said.

The event is sponsored primarily by Kaktus, along with the town of Bernalillo, Bosque Brewing, Casa Rodena Winery, Café Bella Coffee, and other local organizations. The nonprofits the event will support are the Kiwanis Club of Bernalillo, UN-17, and Purify the Planet.

The Kaktus Brewing welcoming committee will be staying at the brewery.

Kaktus brewers Mark Matheson and Michael Waddy will be brewing a few different farmhouse ales that are sure to celebrate New Mexican agriculture.

“Farmhouse ales were brewed when people didn’t have a lot of refrigeration, and they use like a yeast that’s like more conducive to the warm temperatures, so it’s always a really fun beer to brew and try,” Dana said.

In addition to the new farmhouse styles, Kaktus will have their traditional tap list available at the event. 

To compliment the beer festivities, the festival sponsors have invited country music headliners, including Grace Askew (who competed on The Voice), Michael Handler, Cody Joe Hodges, and Syd Masters, a New Mexico local. There will be hay bales and a petting zoo.

“It’s going to be pretty fantastic,” Dana said. “It’s going to be something to see. It’s not going to just be a normal beer and park festival; there’s going to be a lot more interaction to it.”

Tickets are available at farmhousealeevent.com. Admission is $10 for early bird (before May 26), $15 at the door, as well as a VIP option which includes wait service.

Though maybe not quite yet, to look forward to this summer, Kaktus will be offering other seasonal styles like a cherry basil lager, and a cucumber ale, Dana said. For these, you’ll have to visit the Kaktus Brewing Co. location, which is a complete beer sanctuary with two interactive patios and many weekly events, including live local music, belly-dancing from the Desert Darlings, and yoga. 

Cheers!

— Kristian