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Hey what’s up folks, it’s Luke (the Santa Fe guy). You guys have heard of Vice, right? Well, Vice Media runs a little channel called Viceland where they show programs on everything from weed, tattoos, to the rest of counter culture and craft beer. Recently Viceland came to New Mexico to film their debut episode of the brand new show BEERLAND, which follows Golden Road Brewing founder, Meg Gill, across the country, as she checks out local craft beer scenes and the unique cultures united around the brews.

In the debut episode Gill meets up with a few familiar faces from our craft beer scene. You may remember Mr. Angelo Orona from a recent hit beer event, Tart at Heart, as well as many others he’s been a part of around our state. Gill chatted with Orona to learn a little about NM’s traditions and the passion we put into the beer we make. She also made a special trip to meet with home-brewer Cale Chappelle’s amazing home saloon (which is a must see, if you ask us). She also checked out Meow Wolf for the first time, and caught a bonfire on the fringes of (Taos) society with Burger Stand at Taos Ale House owner Bobby Joe.

Throughout the season of BEERLAND, Gill meets up with homebrewers across America to give them a chance to brew their beer at her brewery. Chappelle and a friend and former co-worker of mine, Andy Lane, were the two home brewers chosen to represent the state’s vibrant home-brewing scene for this episode. Both created special brews for the show, but only one of them will move on to compete for the good stuff, with the good stuff. Who will win? You’ll just have to find out on Thursday on VICE TV.

When I asked Lane what he hoped America might learn about New Mexico’s beer culture from watching the show, he replied, “I hope America learns that New Mexico has been developing its beer culture over the last 30 years, completely independent from the rest of the country. We find ways to use local ingredients that you can find nowhere else in the world. I believe some day, a Neomexicanus (one of NM’s local varieties of hops) Pale Ale will be a universally recognizable style.”

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Local brewery employee and home brewer, Andy Lane.

If you don’t have cable, satellite, connected devices, or if you, too, live off the grid, the Lodge in Santa Fe is hosting some public events on Thursday and Friday, amidst which, they’ll hold a special screening of the episode. The events are free, but you definitely want to pick up some tickets right here at this LINK. Come out and celebrate craft beer, and support New Mexico’s local beer culture. Hope to see you there!

Cheers!

— Luke

Event Schedule

Thursday, 4/27

5-6 p.m.: Happy Hour with music & lawn games

6-7 p.m.: Home Brew seminar for the hop-curious

7:30-8 p.m.: Special screening of BEERLAND, episode one, filmed entirely in Santa Fe and featuring local sites and faces

8-9 p.m.: Trivia, lawn games & live music

Friday, 4/28

9-10 a.m.: Detox with Hop Yoga for all levels

10-11 a.m.: Retox with Beer-tails & Breakfast

Luke123 Steel Bender

For more #CraftBeer news and @nmdarksidebc info, follow me on Twitter @santafecraftbro! Cheers!

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Thanks for the shots, Duel!

Greetings fellow, ale-ficionados! Man, do we have something special for you happening up in Santa Fe! Tomorrow (Thursday), Blue Corn Brewery is hosting a special cask festival at their southside location, featuring ALL six Santa Fe breweries under one roof. To get your palate wet, I’ve got a list of beers, as well as the skinny on the chow. Read on to see what you’ll be enjoying, or sorely missing.

Blue Corn Brewery – Heffeweizen on honey. 15 IBUs, 5.4% ABV

Chili Line Brewing Company – Smoked Porter or a cask Lager.

Duel Brewing – Duel’s classic Fiction IPA inoculated with sour beer from their cellar and seven pounds of Apricots.

Rowley Farmhouse Ales – Irish Stout on Madagascar vanilla bean, primed with organic molasses.

Santa Fe Brewing Company – Western Bloc (re-)dry-hopped with Huell Melon and Chinook hops. 75 IBUs, 6.7% ABV

Second Street Brewery – U2 Dry Stout, Second Street’s traditional Irish dry stout with a luscious mouth feel, and a bit more complexity than the archetype. O.G. 1.054, 32 IBUs, 5.7% ABV

And of course, a Blue Corn beer event wouldn’t be complete without great food for pairing. Even though Chef David Sundberg has moved on to bigger and better things, the evening’s entrees are in the very capable hands of Chef Memo. Make sure to bring an appetite for the following:

  • Fried avocado topped with pico de gallo and a jalapeno-cilantro aioli
  • Cauliflower wings served with bleu cheese and hot sauce
  • Deep-fried goat cheese-stuffed jalapeno poppers
  • Short rib wonton mini tostadas
  • Salmon mousse mini crackers

For $30, each guest will receive a seven-ounce glass, which includes a pour of each brewery’s cask beer, as well as servings of all the delicious bites. For reservations, call (505) 438-1800. 6PM.

Why should you go? As if a fun cask beer event falling on a Thirsty Thursday isn’t reason enough on its own, consider the following. How many opportunities do you get to enjoy great beer from all six Santa Fe breweries, while also getting the chance to speak to the brewers directly about their craft, current beers, and upcoming projects in a more intimate setting than, say, a grand casino ballroom? Fewer than you’d think. Also, this will be Chef Memo’s first event, so we’ll be getting a taste of what’s in store for Blue Corn’s future menus. Listen, take my word for it, Blue Corn knows how to host a swinging swig-shindig. You don’t want to miss this one if you can help it. I know I won’t. I hope to see you there, and remember to keep thinking globally and keep drinking locally.

Cheers!

— Luke

Luke123 Steel Bender

For more @nmdarksidebc info and #CraftBeer news, follow me on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro!

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John Rowley stands amid a few of his creations.

The Look Back/Look Ahead series continues to roll with a look at Santa Fe’s newest brewery, Rowley Farmhouse Ales (RFA). Though the brewery is new to the industry, the owners and partners certainly are not, and that’s why their first year went as well as it did, and why this year, and subsequent years, will be better yet.

As if I needed another excuse to stop in at one of my favorite local craft beer spots, I recently made the easy turn off of the newly construction-free Cerrillos Road (Really? Finally?! THANK GOD! — S), onto the quiet Maclovia St., to sit down with John Rowley and Jeffrey Kaplan to find out how Rowley Farmhouse Ales’ first year fared, and take glimpse into what they’ve got brewing for 2017. We grabbed some of Rowley’s creations, and made our way out to their patio, which is their main dining real estate. It was unseasonably warm, for a winter evening, but that was more thanks to RFA’s efforts to winterize their patio, than Mother Nature’s mercy.

DSBC: How long have you guys officially been open?

Rowley: We’ve only been open for about four months.

DSBC: How has it been so far?

Rowley: It’s been a good four months. We made a lot of beer. Business is good. I think the weather’s been fairly cooperative. It hasn’t been a ‘Minnesota winter.’ (Laughs)

DSBC: No, it hasn’t. But, actually, it’s really nice out here. What have you guys done to make your customers more comfortable out here during the winter?

Rowley: Well, we got rid of the sail-shades. We’ve covered the space as best we can (with large tents), and added the heaters. And, it’s fairly comfortable, right now.

DSBC: You don’t even need a hoodie out here.

Rowley: Yeah, you could get by with a T-shirt out here, as long as the weather stays mild.

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Board game night at RFA, and T-shirts in the middle of winter.

DSBC: That’s quite an accomplishment. Speaking of which, what were some of the big moments for you guys, in 2016? Opening had to be a big one.

Rowley: Getting open was a big push for us. It took a long time. We’ve been working on this project for a year-and-a-half. Not to mention, the time I spent before that with Solar Steve, working on it. It’s been a while. This has been a long time coming.

DSBC: Starting as a homebrewer, how has it been to open up a brewery?

Rowley: Personally, I know there’s a lot of hesitancy for homebrewers going pro, because it’s a big step up. (As a homebrewer) you might not feel like brewing on a day you have to brew, just to keep the pipeline full. But, that’s been a lot of fun for us. We’ve been experimenting a lot with our 1-barrel set-up, trying to get beers out that are exciting, beers we want to brew, that we think people are going to like. I know what I want to brew in the barrels; I’ve had a good feeling for that. I’ve had good ideas there, and I think that’s fine. It hasn’t always been an easy transition, but we have to do it. It’s an expensive process. I have to source barrels. I have to brew barrels. I’ve got to get a lot of barrels. I only have a handful of barrels right now. We actually have a fair amount.

Kaplan: About 20ish?

Rowley: In (the cellar) there are 13 barrels that are filled. We have six more that are not, that we will fill soon, and then we have four more that are coming. And, there’s that Oud Bruin barrel, too. So, yeah, we probably have about 20ish. A little over 20, but our goal is to have a lot more than that.

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Barrels of fun!

DSBC: It’s a process getting something like this going. Not an easy thing to do.

Rowley: Yeah, it wasn’t easy, but we trudged through it. We had a lot of help from our friends, and from our family.

DSBC: I’m sure it was a very rewarding process as well. What was it like when the (7-barrel) brewhouse showed up?

Rowley: It felt really good. We got it from Canteen, bought it from them, and we’ve been working since then, to get everything worked out. Of course, there’s been a lot of little bugs here and there. They basically took all of the stuff we needed off of it. They took the burner away. They took the platform. There have been a lot of little things we’ve had to sort out. But, right now, we’re in really good shape. We’ve done three batches on it, and we’re pretty comfortable with how it’s working and what we need to do. We’ve made a little tiny mistake here, and a little tiny mistake there, but nothing that’s going to hurt the beer. If it did, we’d just dump it.

DSBC: What was it like getting all of those machines finally running?

Rowley: It was a pain in the ass. (Laughs) There was a lot of work. It was more of a nuisance than trouble. It’s just jumping through these hoops. It takes a long time. You’ve got to fix this thing, and then you’ve got to fix that thing. It’s just not something you can do in a day. It took us months to get that done.

DSBC: Must have been a bit of a learning curve on the new system. There always is.

Rowley: There is still a learning curve, but we’re getting it.

DSBC: And, on the new system, you’ll be making more beer.

Rowley: We were doing 1-barrel batches on the smaller system, so we were getting about two half-barrels at a time. That system was a lot more work. You don’t have the ‘clean-in-place.’ You have pumps and stuff, but it’s still manual labor to set it up and clean it and do all the things you have to do, whereas, the big system is kind of a treat, actually. The new system is not as much work, well, you’re basically doing the same amount of work, but you’re getting seven times more beer out of it.

Kaplan: From what I’ve seen, just from the three batches that you’ve done, from the first batch through the third batch, you’re 25- (to) 30-percent faster. They’ve shaved hours off the brew time, just from the first batch to the last batch.

DSBC: And, I’ll bet it’ll get better with time. How will things change for brewing this year?

Rowley: We’re going to focus more on the big system, less on the little system. The little system will stick around. We’re still going to do some stuff on it, you know, those one-off batches that’ll be like a Saturday beer, something we’ll release in a smaller volume. Or, if we have a new recipe that we want to suss out a little bit, we’ll do it on that.

DSBC: Speaking of recipes, Jeff, I’d like to talk to you a little bit about what’s going on in the kitchen. You started out as a silent partner of John’s, how was the transition into head chef at the brewery?

Kaplan: It’s been a lot of fun. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I was mostly silent, because, as a small town, I had to keep my (other) job. I probably would have been fired the moment they heard I was going to leave in six months to be at a brewery. We’re still working a lot to get to that point from when we incorporated a year and a half, two years ago now, but it’s been a lot of fun, a lot of hard work. I’m here close to 14 hours a day, six days a week, so there’s a lot going on. I drink a lot of coffee, but it’s been great.

DSBC: Probably a lot more beer too, right?

Kaplan: It’s not a lot more beer. I’m drinking beer earlier in the day, as our house policy for cleaning our system is we clean our draft lines after every single keg blows. I do that in the morning. So, every time a keg goes during a shift, we don’t put on a new beer, until the next day. So, the next morning, before any staff or guests show up, I clean all the lines that have been blown from the night before. I don’t want to break out caustic and chemicals with all these people around. Well, when you put a new beer on, you have to test it to make sure it’s okay.

DSBC: Have to keep up the quality control.

Kaplan: Exactly.

There hasn’t been a shortage of new beers to try. For the past four months, they’ve kept their promise of keeping the taps fresh and interesting.

Rowley: We haven’t really put on the same beer, much, and we definitely haven’t had the same beer back-to-back.

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Chef Jeffrey Kaplan is always ready to discuss beer!

Kaplan: We’ve had a few beers repeat, but never back-to-back.

Rowley: It’s part of our philosophy. We want to keep it mixed up. We want to keep bringing in the best beer we can get. And, that doesn’t always mean New Mexico beer, though we do try to keep a good selection of New Mexico beer on, but we do have the restaurant license, so that we can pour out-of-state beer, and that’s important to us.

DSBC: And, without the restaurant license, you couldn’t do that.

Kaplan: Exactly.

DSBC: So, this year, one of your highlights, then, was being able to pick and choose your rotating taps at will. What have you guys done, for the fella stopping in who just wants a cheap cold one?

Rowley: We’ve tried to keep it balanced. We’re kind of a boutique place. We’re kind of shooting for a little higher-end, but we don’t want to ignore the lower-end, too.

Kaplan: Stylistically, there are a lot of people in New Mexico that like pilsners, that like their light American lagers, so we keep a dedicated pilsner handle on. Now, that’s not going to be PBR or Bud Light, but Marble makes a nice pilsner; Bosque makes a nice lager. And, we get good stuff in the state, beyond what’s produced here, and we rotate through those items.

DSBC: Briefly, I want to talk about your beers and who’s brewing them. John, I know you can’t always be here. You’re up at the labs still.

Rowley: We have Jami (Nordby) working here, full-time. He’s been fantastic.

Formerly, Nordby was the owner and operator of the Homebrew Supply here in Santa Fe, a huge resource to the local homebrew club. He recently sold the shop for a bit of a change of pace, friends said.

Rowley: He’s such a solid (guy). We saw the opportunity to hire him, so we did. He’s done so much good work for us.

Kaplan: Beyond that, just working and doing stuff, when the wind picks up and we have trouble with these tents, he’s out here helping break them down. He’s like a jackal; he’s MacGyver! He’s a great guy, and a great resource.

Rowley: He’s been a big help for us. He’s our head brewer.

DSBC: How about Tyler King? I know he does a lot for you guys.

Rowley: He’s been here every weekend, painting, building this stuff, unwrapping this shit. Tyler’s been with us from the beginning. I offered him a job as an assistant brewer, a long time ago. It was kind of something he wanted to do. He’s a good homebrewer. I think he’s going to be a great brewer. His skills are moving up.

DSBC: And, so he’ll be someone who makes decisions here in the future about what sort of beers are going to be brewed.

Rowley: Yeah, he’s part of the team.

Kaplan: Core team. Absolutely!

Rowley: I told Tyler, if he’s got some ideas to spit them out. I don’t want him to bottle them up. So, yeah!

DSBC: A long time ago we mentioned that the beers brewed here at Rowley Farmhouse Ales were not going to be the usual lineup of familiar mugs. You were going to do your own take. Let’s talk about the beers you made last year, and where you’re going from there.

Rowley: We’ve done about 20 different beers on the smaller system, and three now, on the big system. We’re going to experiment with four or so, core beers. We’re going to be brewing those in stainless steel, and they won’t be barrel-aged. They’ll just be draft beer we can turn around. We’re going to try to push some of that out into the marketplace.

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More beer is coming.

We’re working with a distributor to set that up. But, I won’t talk about all that just yet. We have two of the four batches fermenting. The following week we’ll be doing the next two beers. In between those, Tyler and I will be brewing beers on the small batch on Saturdays. And, we’ll squeeze in some bigger beers for barrel aging, because we definitely need to have more beer in the basement.

In 2017, their beers will include a Rye Saison, named “Fields of Rye,” an East Coast IPA called “Agent Scully,” because it has a bit of ginger in it. There will be a straight-to-the-point Berliner Weisse, as of yet unnamed, and another Berliner Weisse with Brett and unmalted organic Sonoran white wheat currently named “Ab Initio.” They’ll also have a dry-hopped, Brett-spelt Saison, which will be more hoppy than one might expect, while still remaining a Brett Saison. Their list of beers certainly won’t be limited to a set of cores and seasonals, as John mentioned, they’ll continue to push out smaller one-offs as they get brewed.

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New beers are nearly ready.

DSBC: Jeff, really quickly, over the past four months, I’ve seen your menu evolve, keeping some items, and losing others. Will the menu rotate like the tap list?

Kaplan: We had a menu change about two weeks ago. We kept some core items, and kind of ‘winterized’ the menu. I took off some cold dishes, put on some warm dishes. My plan is to change 25 to 35 percent of the menu per season, and keep it evolving all the time. The food that we get, fresh, from the farmer’s market, is cyclical, so what we make is based on what’s fresh and available at the time. The vegetables in our dishes will change based on what we get every Saturday from the farmer’s market.

DSBC: Rowley Farmhouse Ales has become a great place for dinner, as a result. This past year, you guys have done some pretty cool beer dinners, one recently with the Cheesemongers of Santa Fe. How was that?

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Cheese-pairing class with the Cheesemongers of Santa Fe. (Photo courtesy of Rowley Farmhouse Ales)

Rowley: That was great! That was a good time. I think that was a well-received event. Everyone had a good time. I didn’t really know what to expect going into it.

Kaplan: There were 33 people here.

Rowley: We packed it in (the brewhouse). I don’t know how we’re going to do that again, unless we tear all the shit out.

DSBC: In 2017, will you guys be doing more beer dinners like that? Will you host more events like special tap takeovers with Ballast Point, such as you had last year?

Rowley: We’ll definitely be doing more fun stuff like that. We’re all for that.

One thing they’ve done regularly at Rowley Farmhouse Ales in 2016, which will continue through 2017 and beyond, is their Pulls for Puppies program. This program donates $1 of each glass of the designated tap to a new non-profit organization which switches quarterly. In their first quarter, they raised almost $2,500 for the Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society. This quarter, they’re benefiting NMDog, an all-volunteer rescue service, working to end chaining up dogs outside.

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Beer is even better when it’s for a good cause.

DSBC: Sounds like you’re definitely giving us plenty of reasons to keep coming back. What would you guys like to say to the folks out there, anyone who maybe hasn’t been in yet to hang out at this unique spot?

Rowley: I would say, come on out, and we’ll show you a good time. We’ve got a great selection of beer, and we work hard to bring the best beer to the state. We want everyone to enjoy it as much as we do.

Kaplan: I really want to thank everybody that’s been supporting us so far, all the guests that have come in, from the local neighborhood in Santa Fe, and the people from Albuquerque who have come up to check us out. We’ve had a lot of community support, and it’s been great! We couldn’t do it without all the customers, friends, and family. And, beer-wise, we have some special stuff coming for you guys, so check us out if you haven’t yet.

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They’ve got some special stuff planned for us this year!

Rowley Farmhouse Ales may be Santa Fe’s youngest brewery, but that by no means makes them a green beer, too young to gauge its quality. Not at all. They may have only been on the scene since September, but it’s already evident that they bring years of beer and food experience to the table. Actually they bring it to their table, nightly, and that’s reason to go back, again and again.

In fact, they have a calendar they fill up with special beers they’re saving just for the right day. Every Wednesday they tap a new beer at 4 p.m., making it feel like a weekly rare bottle share with friends who know their beer, and as an added bonus, those friends bring the fresh food to go with the brews. From those I’ve spoken to about this space, Rowley has already locked themselves into the hearts and minds of craft beer enthusiasts for miles around (as evidenced by their huge line at WinterBrew), and with little luck needed, they’ll continue to be that rare gastropub experience Santa Fe has been looking for, filling that too-often, just-missed niche.

RFA is a brewer’s brewery, a hangout for true beer geeks, created and carefully curated by beer geeks. As Kaplan said, “We wanted a place that we’d want to go to.” And, since they couldn’t find one locally, they made one. To making it, and making it count.

Cheers!

— Luke

Lukemon

For more @nmdarksidebc info and #CraftBeer news, follow me on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro

These were some seriously happy brewery staffers after they brought home a fairly major award.

An enduring image of 2016 will always be the Boxing Bear staff celebrating after being named Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival in October.

Looking back over the year, 2016 was a doozy, to put it lightly. The political, social, and economic struggles of 2016 made us glad we have plenty of great places to go for a beer. Fortunately, the New Mexico brewing industry enjoyed many successes in 2016, with very few losses along the way. We saw brewers recognized in major competitions, breweries expand their craft operations, new breweries open up, and opponents of the industry beat back, or at least silenced (for now). Here, we take a look at just a few of New Mexico beer’s many achievements brought about by the hard work of so many passionate people. Much thanks to Stoutmeister, for helping me to wrangle so much info into one small story.

Major awards

Once again, our brewers did us proud, highlighting 2016 with the glint of shiny medals. Eighteen “Big Ones” were awarded to several very deserving breweries, not to mention Boxing Bear enjoying just a wee bit of success as the Great American Beer Festival’s Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year, as well running away with the coveted New Mexico IPA Challenge trophy. Although many awards were given out to New Mexico beer makers this past year, below we are listing some of the most notable.

World Beer Cup (7 total)

Gold — Nexus: Honey Chamomile Wheat, Boxing Bear: Chocolate Milk Stout, La Cumbre: BEER

Silver — Second Street: Trebuchet Imperial IPA, Canteen: High Plains Pils

Bronze — Marble: Pilsner, Bosque: IPA

Great American Beer Festival (6)

Gold — Boxing Bear: Chocolate Milk Stout and The Red Glove

Silver — Bosque: Lager and Acequia IPA

Bronze — Marble: Pilsner, La Cumbre: Siberian Silk

North American Beer Awards (5)

Gold — Blue Corn: Oatmeal Stout, Boxing Bear: Chocolate Milk Stout

Silver — Blue Corn: End of the Trail Brown Ale, Quarter Celtic: Pedro O’Flannigan’s Mexican Lager

Bronze — Rio Bravo: Karl’s Krystal Weizen

Also of note, Bosque became the first back-to-back winner of the National IPA Challenge, hosted by The Brewing News. Scale Tipper claimed victory early in the year, while Bear Knuckle IPA from Boxing Bear and Adrift IPA from Turtle Mountain also made it to the quarterfinals.

Major expansions

It was a big year for New Mexico’s largest breweries. In 2016, Marble made some huge additions to their real estate, significantly expanding their Westside Taproom. They opened up a third location, the Heights taproom and brewery. They cut the ribbon on a rooftop deck at their original taproom, and moved into their new fermentation hall, complete with towering 150-barrel fermenters and a shiny new canning line.

Speaking of canning, up in the state capital, Santa Fe Brewing Company unpacked their new line as well, and made the switch from their longtime bottled products to cans, now produced in their vast new packaging hall. This was the first year that the new music venue, The Bridge, got a chance to rock out, under the management of the brewery with names like Ziggy Marley and Atmosphere hitting the stage.

A few other new taprooms opened their doors in Albuquerque as well. If you haven’t yet done so, go check out the new locations for Canteen on Tramway and Red Door downtown, and stop in at Nexus Silver on the west side, and Monk’s Corner downtown, for some crafty deliciousness, if you’re in the neighborhood.

Legislation

It wasn’t all cheers for the brewing industry in 2016. Earlier in the year, the industry experienced a bit of a shot across the bow, from the radical neo-prohibitionist group, Alcohol Taxes Save Lives and Money. The group proposed a sizable increase on the alcohol excise tax at the wholesale level, which would raise the state tax to the highest in the nation, by far. If passed, NM breweries large and small would be hit with a devastating tax that could potentially shut down operations for many, and just to keep the doors open, breweries would pass that tax on down to us consumers per pint, six-pack, and so on. The average consumer would likely seek out a cheaper alternative. Thankfully, that legislation was quickly tabled, but only time will tell when that grim reaper will rear its ugly head.

Brewery Openings

As a sign that our ever-growing industry has no fear of saturation, a whopping 16 new breweries opened their doors to the public this past year, and there will be more to come in 2017. Enjoy beers now at the breweries below.

Santa Fe

Rowley Farmhouse Ales

Chili Line Brewing Co.

Southeast NM

Milton’s Brewing (Carlsbad)

Western NM

Route 66 Junkyard Brewery (Grants)

Northwest NM

Farmington HUB Brewery

Outside ABQ

Hub City Brewing Co. (Belen)

Ale Republic (Cedar Crest)

Albuquerque

Sidetrack Brewing Co.

Firkin Brewhouse & Grill

Starr Brothers Brewing Co.

Bow & Arrow Brewing Co.

Quarter Celtic Brewpub

Dialogue Brewing Co.

The 377 Brewery

Flix Brewhouse

Drafty Kilt Brewing

Brewery closings

Now for a moment of silence as we pour one out for our friends at Firkin Brewhouse, which shut down operations less than a year after it opened. If we didn’t dare to live the lives we want, to do what drives our passions in the face of failure, we wouldn’t be an industry, only a collection of bearded and pink-booted dreamers. To those that do, instead of just sitting around and talking about it, cheers.

Opening in 2017

Looking forward to this year, we remain hopeful that New Mexico will continue to have great options for craft beer. We will have plenty of good, solid brews, and new and interesting styles coming to our taps, and as far as that goes, we can rest assured that there won’t be a shortage of taprooms to get the cold pulls. In 2017, there’s no doubt that we will hear of more expansions and new taprooms. New breweries, beers, and brands will emerge onto the scene, and there’s nothing the radical anti-alcohol groups can do to stop us.

Stoutmeister was kind enough to also round up the list of breweries with pending small brewer licenses with the state, offering more hope for 2017.

Albuquerque

Hops Brewery (Nob Hill)

Steel Bender Brewyard (Los Ranchos) — projected February opening

Lava Rock Brewing (West side)

Desert Valley Brewing (adjacent to The Craftroom)

Bombs Away Beer Co. (near Lomas and Eubank)

Outside of Albuquerque

Truth or Consequences Brewing

Drylands Brewing (Lovington)

Bare Bones Brewing (Cedar Crest)

2017 planned breweries without license application

Red River Brewing Co.

Lone Sun Brewing (Albuquerque)

Hausammann Brewing (Albuquerque)

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Happy New Year, New Mexico! See you at WinterBrew!

Cheers!

— Luke

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Shiny pic of the new tanks. (Courtesy of Rod Tweet)

Our Look Back/Look Ahead Series continues from Santa Fe with Second Street Brewery. Back in July, I did an article on the new brewing facility and taproom under construction at 2920 Rufina St. Recently, I sat down with president/brewmaster Rod Tweet and talked about how this year went, how the big expansion is progressing, and what new and exciting changes to expect for Second Street in 2017.

“Business has been good,” Tweet said. “We started construction on the Rufina site in April. That’s moving along pretty well, (but) not quite as fast as we would like. But, we were going into a building, which is a great building for what we want to do, and was pretty affordable, but it had no infrastructure.”

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Rod Tweet during the early phases of construction.

It took Second Street about three months to get proper power, water, plumbing, and sewage, basically everything you need to turn an empty warehouse into a brewing facility. They had to put in their own transformers, a new water heater, and even a fire suppression system. Around the middle of November, the new brewing equipment arrived on four trucks from Portland, Oregon. Tweet said it’s a great system, and it’s different equipment from the original brewpub on Second Street. It’s a proper three-vessel system, with a 20-barrel brewhouse with 60-barrel hot liquor and 60-barrel cold liquor tanks. Right off the line, it’s set up to support multiple brews. With its internal calandria, it’s anticipated to make a big difference in their utilization from the old system.

Tweet said everyone in the brewery was excited with the arrival and installation of the brewing equipment. “It was sort of a lifetime moment,” he said. Second Street had only ever worked with used equipment which they had pieced together. “This was the first time we’ve been able to design it, design all the parameters just the way we want, so that’s been a really fun experience for John and I.”

The brewery also has a decent number of fermenters and brite tanks to start out with, Tweet said. All of the ancillary equipment is here and currently being installed as well. As I’m writing this, the only thing that hasn’t arrived yet is their new Wild Goose WGC 250 (four-head filler) canning line, and Ska Fab Depalletizer, but those will likely be in by the time you read this story.

As one can imagine with all expansions, there were a few minor setbacks and obstacles, but nothing major that delayed their plans. I asked if there was anything they might have done differently when planning a major expansion/building of a brand-new brewing facility and taproom, and Tweet replied, “When you’re in these projects, if there’s one thing that I probably would have done differently, it would be this. You spend a lot of the time getting the funds together, and then you need the design work, and the engineering has to be done. There’s a lot of pressure to submit for building permits. So, you’re under lots of stress to get the architecture and engineering done, to submit because that’s a critical path item. You have to wait, so there’s a lot of focus on getting them in as soon as possible. So, I think, slowing down a bit and spending more time at the design and engineering phase saves some headaches down the line that cost you time anyway. So, any time you saved by rushing the submission in, it all comes back to you. Go fast, but not too fast. You’re burning money on it. You’re paying rent, and you don’t want to waste time, but the more thorough you can be during the design and engineering phase, it will save you money.”

For the most part it has been business as usual at the original Second Street and Second Street Railyard locations, with one major change in staff to note. Longtime front-of-house manager Colleen Sager will be moving on soon to utilize her graduate degree in sports psychology. Everyone is happy for her, but she will definitely be missed, that’s for sure. But, worry not, the ever-capable Eileen Loy will continue on as manager, and Second Street’s service will be second to none.

In addition to the expansion this year, Second Street received a couple of medals. Trebuchet Imperial IPA won silver at the World Beer Cup out of 181 entries. Trebuchet, which will be renamed their Imperial IPA, also received honorable mention at GABF (Great American Beer Festival) after making it into the final round of judging. Another big achievement Tweet added was that the 25-cent drink tax was tabled when it was introduced as a non-binding resolution for the Santa Fe County Commission, a sign that it stands little chance of passing in the upcoming state legislative session. That’s good news for everybody. Cheers to that!

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Imperial IPA, a.k.a. Trebuchet

The coming year will bring many new challenges and opportunities for Second Street as the new facility opens up. Tweet said that Second Street is not really going to focus on the packaging at the beginning of 2017. Instead, they’ll be working on getting their brewing equipment up and running, getting the new beers going, and preparing a 4,000-square foot taproom for the public. Though it hasn’t been built yet, Tweet said he is proud of the architectural design for the new taproom done by DNCA/Davendra Contractor Architects out of Albuquerque, as well as the all of small touches that Tweet and his building crew will add to it, such as custom woodwork and light fixtures, and the ever-important 24 taps.

Second Street has worked hard selecting beer, wine, and cider for the new site, including guest handles, to make good use of their small brewer license. At the Rufina site, packaging beer is certainly a priority, and is a means for upping their capacity, but that doesn’t mean the taproom was at all an afterthought. As anyone who’s ever been to a Second Street location will attest, Tweet and company know how to put together a great public house for beer, food, and entertainment.

The new Rufina space will not be similar to either of Second Street’s two current taprooms/brewpubs. Tweet made that abundantly clear. “We very intentionally want it to be its own thing, a whole different experience,” he said. The new space on Rufina will have its own food menu put together by Chef Milton. They’re going to book music differently as well, shifting from routine weekly bookings to slightly larger shows. As far as occupancy goes, the capacity will be somewhere around 220 inside and whatever number can fit comfortably within a 1,000-square foot patio outside. As of now, that number hadn’t quite been worked out yet.

Second Street has begun to hire for the new space, currently hand-picking people for key roles, before they begin actively hiring the rest of the staff. Santa Fe record label owner and social media guru, Eliza Lutz, will be handling the music booking. And, new to the scene, but very qualified, Mariah Scee joins the Second Street team as front-of-house manager at Rufina. “I think she’s really going to be a force of nature there,” Tweet said emphatically. “It’s all starting to come together. The people you hire for all of those positions are just as important as the building.”

At the original location, Tweet assured me that they will keep the original brewing system, as it’s great at what it does. They’re brewing just under a couple thousand barrels a year on it, and it’s supplying beer to the original and Railyard locations just fine.

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Business as usual at Second Street tastes delicious as always.

Second Street is currently transitioning to where head brewer John Walker has been spending a lot more time at the new location. Tweet will join him in another few weeks. Scee will join after that as the taproom begins to take shape. Tom Ludzia and Brendan Lopez will continue as assistant brewers, traveling between both breweries until everything is set in place.

On the packaging end, they already have art for the new core beers; they’re just in the process of finalizing everything. They’ve worked hard on some new beers for Rufina. “We have a flagship IPA and an American pale ale formulated,” Tweet said. “We’ve got four or five other beers formulated for that property between John and I. And, we’ve kind of stopped trying to do more right now, because that’s sort of enough for us to get started with that system. But, we both have a lot of ideas on paper, like a pilsner. John has a stout (recipe put) together, the LVL Stout. We have enough for package product and for a core lineup.” Tweet added they will be on the shelves wherever they can. At this point, they’re just waiting on approval from the TTB.

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Approved!

“In the craft beer market, the world has changed for the better, meaning the market can support more product than it ever used to be able to, by leaps and bounds, and it’s still growing,” Tweet said. “And, the world has changed, and it’s a good time for us to change along with it. We’re going to have abilities with the new venue that we’ve not been able to fully realize here. We’ll have two brewhouses in operation. We’ll have more skilled employees in the brewery, more ideas, more of the idiosyncratic stuff, sours and barrel-aged. So, I think for the consumer, an expansion like this is nothing but good. They’ll just have more products from us than ever. For us as a company, along with the beer, it’s going to add a landmark venue to the city that doesn’t exist right now. Within the city limits of Santa Fe, this is going to be something entirely different that this town has never seen.”

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Despite what 2016 was for most of us, it was a productive year for Second Street Brewery. So much time and effort went into the planning and construction of the new space, and 2017 is going to reap the rewards of all of their hard work. As far as timelines go for the Rufina space, a February opening is the goal, but Tweet took a sip of his beer and said with a chuckle, “Let’s call it March.” And, as with all construction projects we’ve kept our eye on in the industry, I’d say, let’s call that fair. To more beer, new taprooms, and a swift death to the drink tax, raise ‘em up!

Cheers!

— Luke

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Head brewer Paul Mallory has settled into his role at the helm of Blue Corn.

The last time I interviewed Paul Mallory, head brewer at Blue Corn, it was about his entrance into the New Mexico brewing scene. For this entry in the Look Back/Look Ahead series, Paul and I sat down to discuss some of his new creations and chat about how his first year (six months to be exact) went, and what he wants to accomplish at Blue Corn in the coming year.

Thursdays always seem like the best time to catch the head brewers at Blue Corn. Usually I head over after work, sit down at the bar, and start on a beer before they finish cleaning up from a brew day. Well, this was no different, except that I’m more excited to get back to tracking down stories for the Dark Side Brew Crew after surviving festival season for Santa Fe Brewing, and taking what I felt was a much deserved month off from all but work-related duties for November. (You earned it. — S) It’s good to be back, though. I definitely missed hunting down stories, writing up questions, talking to brewers, and geeking out on their new beers. Glad to be back, indeed!

Walking in, I said hi to my pals who work there, and took a comfy corner spot at the big copper-topped bar. Glancing around, I saw some locals, who, from second glance, could be considered regulars at most of the brewery taprooms around town. It’s always good to see them with a pint glass, no matter where they are. They’re a big part of our great craft beer community here in Santa Fe, and a big percentage of the folks for whom we write these stories, and as always, I’m proud to share the rail with them.

Paul came out from the back after a few sips of my beer, and we found a table close to where I sat recently for another excellent beer dinner put on by Blue Corn in November. Resisting the urge to gush about how much I enjoyed the food and beer at that event, I launched straight into my questions.

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The dining room makes for great big beer dinners.

DSBC: How was Blue Corn’s year?

Mallory: It seems like we had a good year. We had a bit of personnel change. We got some medals at a few competitions, and I feel we continue to push the boundaries with a lot of our seasonal beers.

DSBC: Sounds like it was a good one. How about for you, personally? Was it nice coming home?

Mallory: Yeah, I really enjoyed coming home. I got a warm welcome from friends and family, of course, but also, in such a short time, the New Mexico beer industry was really welcoming, so that was really nice. I also had to make the transition from production brewery to brewpub, so that was really interesting. It took me a little while to adjust, but in the end, I’m really enjoying it. I really like the amount of new seasonal beers that we have to come out with at a brewpub. It’s really something! All of the ideas that I’ve had for a while … I got done with those pretty quickly. I had to dig a little bit deeper into my idea book.

DSBC: And, you’ve come up with some great stuff! What were some of the highlights for Blue Corn this year?

Mallory: Right around the time I started, we got some medals at the North American Brewers Association Awards. We got a gold medal for the Oatmeal Stout (Category), and a silver for the American Style Brown Ale. We didn’t get an award at the New Mexico IPA Challenge, but we did pretty well with the number of votes. And, I just had a really good time making the beer, having friends and family come out to support, not only my beer, but everybody’s. So, I just had a blast doing it. I had heard about this competition, but I had never participated, so it was just a blast, and it was maybe a month or two into the job. It was really cool, because it was the most hops I’ve ever used in a beer. I think I told you that, (in) the first interview. You know, a month in, and they’re like, “Please, use twice as many hops as you’ve ever used in a beer.” I said, “Yes. Done.”

We also got a bronze medal for our Russian Imperial Stout, which you tried at the dinner, last week.

DSBC: Yeah, that was certainly medal worthy.

Mallory: We got a bronze at the Santa Fe Open, for that.

DSBC: All these competitions, whether big or small, make better brewers.

Mallory: For sure, and you know, I think we really want those bigger medals, too. And, I have no doubt we’ll get them eventually. We got good notes back from GABF. It’s just a matter of time. We’ll keep knocking at the door.

DSBC: Personal highlights?

Mallory: One thing was I got to make more lagers. At the production facility I was at before, we didn’t have a lager (yeast) strain. We didn’t have much tank space to do lagering.

DSBC: That was at Black Diamond and Ghosttown in Oakland?

Mallory: Yeah. We didn’t do any lagers there, and we did a few at Black Diamond. I think I’ve already got to do maybe three or four here now, and I love it. Anything new to me, that I have to learn, is really exciting for me.

DSBC: It was your first time at a brewpub, as opposed to the production facility, and you took over as head brewer, were there any struggles or obstacles in that six months?

Mallory: Yeah, you know, I think the adjustment of going from production to brewpub is actually easier than the other way around, because it’s almost like you’re slowing down a bit. So, the adjustment wasn’t that difficult. And then, having James (Warren) there for support has been nothing but good. Can’t say I have many complaints about the job here.

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Is it just us, or is that new at Blue Corn?

The biggest difficulty has been changes in management, and keeping everyone on the same page. But, with each new rotating manager (which is how Santa Fe dining cross-trains their employees), it becomes the head brewer’s job to make sure that the managers are on the same page when it comes to maintain the all-important craft beer culture at the brewpub. Mallory told us that his assistant brewer, Braden Oehler, has spearheaded the task of educating the employees about beer, as many assistant brewers have traditionally done in the past.

Mallory: Another big challenge is building a beer culture in Santa Fe. I feel like most people want to drink margaritas and wine, here in Santa Fe.

DSBC: That just means we have work to do. To the Batmobile, Paul! It seems like you’ve done a good job of keeping the craft beer culture alive with the beers you’ve done this year. How’s business currently? Are you keeping up with the demand from the Draft Stations?

Mallory: Yeah, it seems like early in the year, in the summertime, we were running out of one of our house beers every once in a while. And, that’s just how it is. We just have so many tanks, and that’s how it is. Right now, we’re in probably the slowest time of year, and it might be like that for a month. And then, it might be slow in January or February, so we’re kind of using that as an excuse to take on other projects. So, I have some sour critters going in the back, cropping up in some 5-gallon carboys.

DSBC: Let’s talk about those in a minute. Blue Corn’s had a good year. I remember in previous interviews, there were hints, maybe rumors at expansion, but it sounds like Santa Fe Dining has their hands full with Kellys at the moment. Can you comment on any expansion in Blue Corn Brewery’s near future?

Mallory: I think most of the expansion is with Kellys and Chama River. I can kinda comment on that, but that’s more James’ realm. All of our exciting news here at the brewpub is more beer-related.

DSBC: And, there’s nothing wrong with that! Do you have any big beer events coming up that the readers should know about?

Mallory: One big thing that’s coming up is our 20th anniversary in February.

DSBC: How about some details?

Mallory: I don’t know the day exactly, but it’s in mid-to-late February. We’re going to do two beers for it. So, we’re going to do a Parti Gyle. And what that is, is that we’re going to do one big mash and do two runnings off of that same mash. So, the first runnings are going to be really high gravity, meaning a high-alcohol beer, and the second runnings coming off are going to be a lot lower in gravity, so, a lower-alcohol beer. It’s going to be pale colored malts for the grain bill. We’re going to do a Belgian-style tripel as well as a Belgian-style table beer or a dubbel-style pale ale, something like that. And, we’re going to make a big event out of it, invite some brewers from Albuquerque to come up for brew day, just to hang out and talk shop. It’s going to be fun, but I’m a little nervous about it, because I’ve never done it before. I’m going to have to be watching all the gravities on the runnings, and do all these things I’ve never done before, and then also have people watching me possibly screw it all up.

DSBC: No pressure. By the way, how did you decide on the Parti Gyle for the anniversary beer?

Mallory: It’s interesting because we wanted to go big for the anniversary, but the president of Santa Fe Dining, said, “Well, what about … doesn’t anyone ever make an anniversary beer that’s drinkable?” And, I said, why don’t we do both from the same mash?

DSBC: I dig it. Since Blue Corn’s news is more beer related, what do you guys have for us? You mentioned sours.

Mallory: Yeah, definitely. So, we have the organisms cropping up in the back. We have some Brettanomyces and some Lactobacillus, and I think I would like to get some nice clean sours without any acidic acids or pedeo or diacetyl, stuff like that. So, the other thing that we have going for us is we have these big brite tanks in the front that you see. And, a lot of times, we try not to use them. They’re more hassle than they’re worth, to clean them, to transfer. It works out though, if we want to put sours in there, because we move it, and then we let it sit, so we don’t have to move beer in and out constantly. And then, it makes sense. And, we don’t have any risk up there of getting contamination from a barrel that we don’t know what organisms are living in there. So, hopefully we can control it, and get a nice, clean, predictable sour, and they’ll be out of the way, so I think we’ll get some good age on them, and we’ll release them when they taste good.

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There might be sours in those tanks soon!

DSBC: I resisting the urge to call it a brite idea. It’s tough, though. I like bad puns, that’s why I work in the beer industry.

Mallory: (Laughs)

DSBC: What sort of sours are you thinking about making — lambics, framboises, American wilds, krieks? Maybe a Flanders Red?

Mallory: I guess I haven’t thought that far ahead. But, we have three tanks up there, so we could do a little bit of everything. I could envision one with both Brett and Lacto. I could also see a Berliner Weisse with just Lacto, but yeah, you’re right. The sky’s the limit. And, I’m not afraid of adding fruit to those, so we’ll see.

DSBC: So, the beer that I’m drinking right now is the Lobo Rojo. I know this beer will be available in Albuquerque at the Lobo games. How’d it get the name? Tell us a little bit about this beer.

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Lobo Rojo, coming soon to actual Lobo games!

Mallory: This is sort of a beer that we’re thinking could replace our amber, if we’re thinking of replacing our house beers. We are thinking about … should we replace one or two of our house beers? And so, this is kind of a prototype. We wanted something a little hoppier than our amber. So, the idea was to get as much malt and hop flavor into a beer that’s still low in alcohol, that you could drink a lot of. So, we have some really nice malts in there, some Maris Otter, and we also used a bunch of American hops like Mosaic and Citra. So, it has a really nice dry-hop aroma, and hopefully a really nice malty backbone as well.

DSBC: I like it. It works very well. I think it’s a little scary to hear that you may replace some of the old house beers, which have been around for a long time, but it’s exciting too, to know that you’re willing to do so. Any word on what other beer you might replace?

Mallory: Yeah, we pretty much look at our two lowest selling beers, and that is our brown and our amber. If we do anything, we would replace our amber with our red, and would replace the brown with a pale ale. We brewed a prototype for that, as well. It’s in the back; I’ll pour you off a little sample of that. And again, kind of the same idea, make it really drinkable and pack it full of flavor.

DSBC: I remember when we spoke last time, pale ales were your thing, and you wanted to make something happen with them.

Mallory: Yeah, pale ale is kind of my (stranded on a) desert island beer.

DSBC: Anything you’d like to add for the beer-drinking public of New Mexico?

Mallory: We’re going to keep pushing the boundaries with IPAs in all different ways — the malt bill, the hops, type of hops, the technique that we put the hops in. We’d also like to do some barrels, too. I think we’re shopping around to see what we can do, try to get some barrels from local sources, possibly do some collaborations, and possibly doing some collaborations with other breweries, or other local suppliers of ingredients of all sorts. Yeah, pretty much keep it interesting. Look for a little bit of everything. We’re not afraid to do big beers in the middle of the summer. We’re going to do sours, barrel-aged beers, IPAs. We’re going to really do a little bit of everything. As the beer-drinking public, we want you to come in and just trust that we’ll have something new and interesting almost every time you come in here.

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Blue Corn has been a longtime staple in Santa Fe’s craft beer community. With their long line of talented brewers that have come and gone, they’ve helped shape what craft beer is in our small town. Blue Corn’s solid list of house beers can be credited with teaching many Santa Feans and visitors what good craft beer is.

It’s no secret that the house beers have remained the same for many years now. Some have done very well both in sales and garnering medals from major competitions. This list of core beers is one that regulars do not want to see messed with, or at least, not by much. But, as the craft beer drinker has changed, and the industry has changed, perhaps it’s time for the old brewpub to change its list of ‘tried and true.’

The big news at Blue Corn next year is not expansion of brew space, but more an expansion of imagination and possibility. Most of those house beers have been on the menu for a very long time, a couple, at least, since the days of the first head brewer, Laure Pomianowski. But, with the possibility of changing two core beers that have been around quite a while, the sky is the limit on what can happen at Blue Corn, now.

What Blue Corn has done right over the years, is that they have allowed their brewers to explore and to experiment with whichever brews they want. Santa Fe Dining may be a careful parent company, but they have always trusted the brewer to do what they think is best, and in turn, that has made for more of a craft-beer-centric establishment than anything else. Aside from the two possible new house beers, it’s the new seasonals we tend to get more excited about with each visit, because there is never a shortage of them.

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The Apparition Pale Coffee Ale is coming soon!

“Out of five fermenters right now, four of them are seasonals,” Mallory said. And, after trying Lobo Rojo, and the prototype pale ale, as well as another specialty, Apparition, a pale coffee beer (similar to La Cumbre’s Mind Phoc), I understand just why you trust the brewer, or why you choose a brewer you can trust to explore and experiment. With Paul Mallory, Blue Corn’s beer is in good hands, and I can’t wait for another great year, full of exciting seasonals to stop in and try.

Cheers,

— Luke

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For more #CraftBeer news and @nmdarksidebc info, follow @SantaFeCraftBro!

 

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This the season for Marzen!

It’s Oktoberfest season once again, and you have plenty of choices to visit Oktoberfest celebrations around the state this year. Adding to the list is Santa Fe Brewing Company with their zany twist on a traditional Oktoberfest celebration, Oktoberfiesta. Sure, there will be brats, contests, dirndls, and a great Oktoberfest beer, but if you’ve ever been to Santa Fe’s version of this familiar festival, you already know that is where the similarity ends. There will also be tacos, mariachis, and baby goats. That’s right, the baby goats will be there on Sunday for the kids to pet, and the adults to do their best not to take one home. Who knew so many people loved baby goats?

It all happens this weekend as SFBC bring back their annual charity fundraiser superbash, and you’re all invited for Saturday or Sunday or both. If you’re not familiar with the concept, sometime in August, SFBC asks people to vote, via Facebook, for the local charities they would like to support. The top three with the most votes are then supported by the event with a portion of the door cover donated to the charity. The best part is that you get to choose which one of the three charities your money goes to once you get through the door.

This year the charities benefiting from all the Oktoberfiesta fun are Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society, Adaptive Sports Program New Mexico, and Esperanza Shelter for Battered Families.

“We always try to focus the whole event around the charities,” general manager Alana Jones said. “We want to give back to the community that’s given us so much. And, because we like to party.”

As in past years, the door cover also gets you a commemorative glass. Door cover varies depending on size of glass you select; five-ounce, half-liter stein, or full-liter stein, if you’re really thirsty. And, with all the great beer, you probably will be.

Speaking of beer, returning this year are the guest taps, from which you can sample. Below is the beer list from the five participating breweries, and I’m excited about each of them. Well, I don’t personally do pumpkin beers, but I’m always excited to prove my palate wrong. SFBC has certainly tried to acquire some interesting brews from these great breweries, including the brand new Rowley Farmhouse Ales in Santa Fe, who kindly donated a Rye Saison for the charities.

Canteen Brewhouse – Cheeky Codswallop ESB (5% ABV, 30 IBU)

Second Street Brewery – Oktoberfest (5.4% ABV), Red & Yellow Armadillo – Imperial Red Ale (9.2%, 82 IBU)

Bosque Brewing Co. – PSA Pumpkin Spice Ale (6%, 15 IBU)

Boxing Bear Brewing – Oso Loco Coffee Red (4.8%, 25 IBU)

Rowley Farmhouse Ales – Fields of Rye – Rye Saison (7%, 15 IBU)

As always, there will be food trucks on site, with plenty of German-themed meals, and tacos. I promised tacos, because what would Oktoberfiesta be without tacos, and eggrolls, right? Right.

Food Trucks: Dr. Field Goods, Egg Whoa Yeah!, Joe S. Sausage, Santa Fe Barbecue, and Taqueria Gracias Madre!

Contests: Returning this year are everyone’s favorite contests, brat-eating, yodeling, six-pack holding, and pumpkin painting for the kids.

Music: This year SFBC has loaded the big stage with great local talent and a variety of musical genres including mariachi, rock, Americana, reggae, marching band, and they’ve thrown in a little jam band and hip hop for good measure. It’s certainly an eclectic mix, but again, it’s Oktoberfiesta! The bands include Mariachi Diferencia, Pigment, Siren Shipwreck, Imperial Rooster, Mondo Vibrations, St. Range, The Hillstompers, and The Battlefield, from Los Angeles.

What’s different this year is that Oktoberfiesta is no longer under the big tent as in years past. It will take place at The Bridge at Santa Fe Brewing, the concert venue adjacent to the brewery. If you haven’t already experienced The Bridge, then Oktoberfiesta is a great reason to check out this great space. A concert venue run by a brewery? Great concept, right? Who wants to pay $15 per domestic beer anyway? We don’t.

It will also be your first opportunity to see the interior space of The Bridge, as this will be the first time SFBC opens the doors to the public. The event begins at noon both days, and ends at 8 p.m. on Saturday, and 6 p.m. on Sunday. After the event is over at The Bridge on Saturday, you can wind down with a little live hip hop from an up-and-coming group to end out the night.

This will be my third or fourth time at SFBC’s Oktoberfiesta. There may be one year I don’t totally remember. Those things happen. But, I truly hope you can come out for this fun event. It’s got a little something for everyone. Bring the family for the pumpkin and face painting, as well as ice cream and root beer vendors, and baby goats! The music and food will be excellent as always, but best of all, you get a great chance to support local beer, bands, food, vendors, and charities. Toss on those dirndls and lederhosen, or throw on a pancho if you wish; it’s going to be a fun weekend at The Bridge. I’ll see you there.

Prost!

— Luke

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When I first heard about a new brewery opening in Santa Fe, it was just a small rumor overheard at a bar between buzzed beer fans. I didn’t know who was opening the brewery or what kind of brewery it was going to be, and man, now that I think back on it, neither did those guys at the bar. But, the prospect of another brewery in Santa Fe, and this small town inching its way closer to the status of say, Bend, Oregon, was pretty exciting.

Soon, word got out, and it was more than just a rumor. The word was that this new brewery was going to be focused on mixed-fermentation and bottle-conditioned beer. It wasn’t long before the internet was abuzz. Over Twitter and Facebook, the shrill shriek of sours rang out from among many of those that tend to, shall we say, over-simplify their understandings of the industry. They were right, partially. Yes, a brewery was opening in Santa Fe. Yes, there would be sours, but there would also be salt and fruit and funk and much more in between.

It was about that time when a name popped up. A familiar name — John Rowley. Among many in the industry and home-brew community, Rowley was already well known and respected. I mean, despite the fact that the man wasn’t a professional brewer (yet), it’s very hard to deny that he makes good beer. Rowley might not be the kind of guy (and, hell, he might be) to have a trophy or ribbon wall in his house, but he certainly could if he wanted to with the many brewing competitions he’s excelled in. With his considerable experience and skill, he was exactly the kind of home brewer that you want to open up a brewery.

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Rowley’s first handle is up!

I sat down with Rowley a little over a year ago and we talked the details of the new brewery plans, back when it was Sub Rosa Cellars, and back when it was to be the fifth brewery in Santa Fe. The name has since changed — and another brewery opened before it — but the idea never did. During that conversation, there were a few promises made. We were promised food. We were promised a well-curated guest beer list. And, we were promised the brewery would be “about having a good time and having a good experience for everyone,” as Rowley said back then.

Recently, I spent some time at the fully armed and operational Rowley Farmhouse Ales to get the full story. I attended the industry soft opening, and I’ve gone back a couple times to try more of the full menu, and other beers. After all, I wanted to see if Rowley’s new place delivered on those promises he made.

Food

It was only as they got closer to opening that Rowley publicly revealed that Jeff Kaplan was one of his partners and the chef. This was only because Kaplan still had a very good gig making very good food elsewhere at the time. I won’t go too far into that, but having tasted several of their dishes now, I can attest that a brewery really benefits from the chops of a solid chef.

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Cheese plate from Cheesemongers of Santa Fe

The menu leans towards the gastropub style, with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and terms like aioli here and Wagyu there. The great thing about the menu at RFA is that it’s varied enough to suit any mood, whether you’re starving or just need something delicious to pair with your beer. The food ranges from brewery fan favorites to something more suitable to the skills of an iron chef. The menu isn’t huge, but you’d be hard pressed not to find something that would pique your interest.

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The popover was delicious.

If you’re looking for something to warm up your palate, you could order the spicy nut bowl, cheese plate, popover, or Korean-style chicken wings. On the lighter, leafier side, you could get a fresh farmer’s market salad, or roasted Brussels sprouts. For a little comfort food, you could try the À la Minute New England Clam Chowder, or the Braised Flat Iron Poutine with Lone Mountain Wagyu beef. You can even grab current brewery favorites such as the Mac ‘n Cheese baked with mozzarella, parmesan, and bleu cheese, or the Waffles with fried chicken, or if you prefer crispy braised Kyzer Farms pork belly.

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Duck Mi? Duck You!

If you’re just looking for a sandwich to go with your beer, you’ll be plenty satisfied with the BLT with green chile aioli, the “Duck Mì, Duck you!” sandwich, the Warm Prosciutto Pear Sandwich, or even the sirloin burger, made with Zoe’s bacon and melted cheddar cheese, locally sourced from the Old Wind Mill Dairy. On the more upscale end, you could try the marrow and mushroom bruschetta or the farmer’s market risotto.

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Risotto, anyone?

For the soft opening, I took my gal, and we had the popover, risotto, and Duck Mì sandwich. All of the vegetables were fresh, the risotto was creamy, and the duck was very flavorful and tender. The popover was light and fluffy, and the gruyere sauce was so incredible, I still dream about it.

On a separate trip, the cheese plate from Cheesemongers of Santa Fe had a good selection of quality cheeses and charcuterie, and the sirloin burger with green chile was, to quote my friend/coworker, “Bomb.” I’ll certainly be back to see what else Chef Kaplan has in store for us. My lady has already asked for a second date at RFA.

Curated Beer List

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Nice array, guys!

The list of beers was fun and creative, representing a nice variation of styles. The tap list is always changing, or at least I never saw the same list the three times I was there. There were IPAs, saisons, goses, brown ales, red ales, Scotch ales, lambics, sours, and pilsners from breweries like Evil Twin, Firestone Walker, Deschutes, Avery, Odell, Founders, Upslope, and Anderson Valley. The local list was short, but I wasn’t at all disappointed by that. Aside from Marble Red, I’ve seen La Cumbre’s Monzón Wet-hop Pale Ale and even Santa Fe Brewing’s Bourbon Barrel-aged Imperial Java Stout (where the hell did they get that keg?).

And, of course, Rowley had at least one of their beers on tap, the Notorious BdG, a dark Bière de Garde, with a smooth body and a nice funky tartness to it. “It’s a pretty malty Bière de Garde,” Rowley said. “It’s on the edge of the style in terms of color. It’s got a lot of malt. I think it has eight different malts in it. It’s meant to be malt-forward, very little IBUs. Twenty-two IBUs, I think. I fermented it with Brettanomyces Bruxellensis Drie strain, which is the Drie Fonteinen culture. We called it the Notorious BdG because a buddy of mine in Atlanta had a homebrew called that, and so we wanted to give him props because he couldn’t be here tonight. So, it’s kind of a fun beer, definitely not an IPA. That’s not our focus, but we’ll do some IPAs.”

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Notorious BdG on tap!

It bodes well, if that’s the quality of mixed fermentation that Rowley has been talking about. As for the list, only a super beer geek could look at it and say, “I’ve tried all those before.” But, even for them, with Rowley’s understanding of what a curated beer list means, that super beer geek will be happy to revisit at least one of those beers, because it’s a good one, and probably hard to get in New Mexico. The rest of us will be excited for the latest permutation of the list.

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A great Gose from Anderson Valley, one of two that day.

I asked Rowley about how close they were to brewing there at the facility, which had the equipment, but seemed a little more like storage at the time being. Rowley said, “I still feel like there’s a lot to do. We’re not really close to brewing here yet. We’re actually going to start brewing on a 1-barrel system here. And, we’ll brew on that for a little while. It’s actually getting prepared right now. That’s what we’re going to be brewing on for the next few batches. I think we can start brewing on that in about three-to-four weeks. We’ve got basically everything in place; it’s just a matter of getting everything hooked up.”

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Happy customers!

Overall experience

All in all, it’s truly a great new place to grab a beer and have a meal. Whether you’re there to try something new or different, or just enjoy something you already like in a very comfortable space, Rowley Farmhouse Ales is my new pick in town to do just that. The ambiance works so well. While the taproom is a little small, it doesn’t feel cramped at the rail. The outdoor beer garden has plenty of room for serious beer contemplation or just kicking back and having dinner in a quiet, serene setting in the middle of town.

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The outdoor patio is great!

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Shade!

The beer list is certainly a reason to come in to see what John and the guys are drinking, or what they’ve just brewed, but if you don’t order food, you’re seriously doing yourself a disservice. The food is of a quality that suggests it was absolutely not an afterthought. The wait staff is knowledgeable, friendly, and are happy to help if you’re having trouble deciding on any menu item, be it a pilsner or poutine. And, say hello to our pal, Kimmie, while you’re there!

True, the brewhouse hadn’t quite been finished by the soft opening, but you can absolutely see all the hard work that Rowley and company have put into the whole establishment. There’s a lot of love (and probably sweat) that went into that space, and you can almost feel the will and passion emanating from the walls. The whole crew is very proud of what they’ve accomplished. And, they should be.

RFA is a great place to bring a group of beer geeks, business partners, or a date, even if he/she is ‘not that into’ craft beer. Now, if your date is not into good food, then you’ve got bigger problems, my friend. I think it would be very hard to go to Rowley Farmhouse Ales and not enjoy yourself. They have, indeed, kept their promise of creating the kind of space that’s all about having a good time and a good experience for everyone. I’ll certainly be back.

Cheers!

— Luke

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Ain’t that pretty?

 

Lukemon

For more #craftbeer news, @Untappd check-ins, and @nmdarksidebc info, follow me on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro!

BP and FH

Hey, Santa Fe! Are you looking for a fun craft beer event tonight that also supports a good cause? Of course you are! And, that’s how I would begin this, if I was one of those heartless ad-wizards, preaching to a blank-faced uninitiated audience.

But, no, Santa Fe, that’s not who I am, and that’s not who you are. I’m increasingly more proud to say that we’ve become a very craft enthusiastic town. We’ve had good beer for a very long time, but it was only bar/brewery regulars, home brewers, and closet beer geeks that came out to cool craft beer events, or even knew about them for a long time. Now, we have a large craft beer community, and a good one at that.

We’re a host of craft beer enthusiasts, largely fostered by the fact that our breweries have gotten bigger, better, and more bold in their brewing. Sales reps have worked hard as well to get us some amazing distribution lines so that we do get great beers from Ballast Point, Firestone Walker, Founders, etc. And, we, the people, have become brave with our palates.

Well, my Santa Fe craft beer community, here’s another cool event for us. Tonight from 5 to 10 p.m., Fire and Hops is hosting a special tap takeover with Ballast Point as part of their ongoing two-year anniversary celebration. This particular event is also a benefit for the Esperanza Shelter for Battered Families, where, Fire & Hops is donating 10 percent of their sales to the local organization. Ballast Point was also kind enough to match whatever Fire & Hops raises. Everyone wins!

Ballast Point’s New Mexico Rep, Thomas DeCaro, said this about the event: “This tap takeover is a special one. This is to celebrate the two-year anniversary of Fire and Hops. My boss, Derek Plug, and I wanted to give something special to owner Josh Johns and their crew for their second anniversary, so we created this tap takeover and snuck out of our special stash at Ballast Point, and gave them two super awesome kegs and supported them with three other special-release kegs as well.”

Thomas provided this excellent tap list.

  • Orange Vanilla Fathom — Our Orange Vanilla Fathom India Pale Lager continues our quest for exploration. The piney and citrus hop aromas of our Fathom IPL combines with sweet orange and creamy vanilla — while staying true to classic lagering techniques. Brewed with a touch of nostalgia, it may remind you of a childhood treat, but this one is just for adults. 7.0%, 70 IBUs
  • Dead Ringer — Our Dead Ringer Oktoberfest lager is inspired by old-style Märzen brews customarily enjoyed during Bavaria’s world-famous beer festival. Thanks to an abundance of toasted malt and a lower hop bitterness, this dark reddish brown lager is loaded with sweet, caramel toffee flavors and aromas. All the taste and celebration of Oktoberfest packed into one bottle; no lederhosen required. 6.0%, 26 IBUs
  • Pumpkin Down — Our 2016 World Beer Cup Bronze Winning Beer. A pumpkin ale that bucks the trend. Some might think we’re out of our gourd for making a pumpkin ale, but our Pumpkin Down is not like the others. The caramel and toffee maltiness of our Piper Down Scottish ale is the perfect backdrop for a boatload of roasted pumpkin. Just before bottling, we add a subtle amount of spice to complement, but not overwhelm, the earthy flavor. It was a smash at the brewery, and we think you’ll agree. 5.8%, 22 IBUs

And now a rare sour

  • Raspberry Sour Wench — The First keg in New Mexico. Sour Wench was a Home Brew Mart recipe that we made every year for the Southern California Home Brewers Fest in Temecula. This raspberry Ale was originally developed by Ballast Point’s original Master Brewer Peter A’Hearn and Colby Chandler. While interning in Germany, Peter fell in love with the Berliner Weiss style of beer. A beer made with a procedure in which the mash was soured. The tartness of the Raspberries, at one pound per gallon, was a perfect addition for this sour style. 7.0%, 10 IBUs

And the whale

  • Victory at Sea Aged in Heaven Hill Bourbon Barrels for 13 Months — We infused this robust porter with whole vanilla beans and San Diego’s own Caffe Calabria coffee beans. The subtle roasted notes and minimal acidity of the cold brewed coffee, balances perfectly with the sweet caramel undertones of the malt, creating a winning combination for your palate. Then Steve Anderson, our cellar master, puts it to rest for 13 months in Heaven Hill Bourbon Barrels. The result is a chocolatey and incredible smooth beer. 14%, 60 IBUs

It bodes well for Santa Fe’s craft beer scene that reps like Thomas like working with local bars, pubs, and gastropubs like Fire & Hops. It also bodes well that gastropubs such as Fire & Hops do so well in a town where craft beer was largely a secret talked about in home-brew meetings, among brewers, or only a very few folks in the know, when I started asking questions seven years ago. It’s nice to see that these great tap takeovers from great breweries are now the rule and not the exception. I’m excited for the direction Santa Fe is moving in. And, there will certainly be a lot more Santa Fe craft brewing industry news coming very soon as we reach autumn. What was once clandestine, even sub rosa, if you will, may come to light, very soon. Keep your eyes open and your glasses up, Santa Fe.

Cheers!

— Luke

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The beer makes it a little less creepy. A little.

Ballast Point has certainly found a nice, comfortable niche in New Mexico. If you look around, you’ll notice plenty of taps flowing with those San Diego suds. It’s certainly been exciting to see what new beers would find their ways to the shelves of places such as Jubilation in Albuquerque and Susan’s Fine Wine & Spirits in Santa Fe. After the first wave of Sculpin and his grapefruit friend, the local craft beer fans began to ask the usual questions, like, what’s next? And, what else ya got bro? That’s what continues to make craft beer successful, in my opinion, because craft beer lovers are voracious gormandizers.

Well, tap takeovers are a great opportunity to really showcase what else a brewery has, while giving you another sample of one or more of their beers that you already love. Chances are, most of us have hunted down every last BP beer to hit our desert stores, but then again, there are plenty of folks out there who haven’t yet had a chance to try all of them, or any of them, yet. Either way, tap takeovers are a fun way to sample a brewery and meet plenty of other voracious gormandizers just like yourself. Recently, I sat down with Ballast Point rep Thomas DeCaro to talk about what’s happening for Ballast Point in Santa Fe in the coming weeks.

Over an award-winning Grunion Pale Ale, we talked local brewers, San Diego brewers, and breweries, and possibly the idea of Santa Fe Brewing and Ballast Point coming together for a collaboration of events. But, as we’ll roll out those details in other articles, I wanted to let you all know about a really cool event DeCaro set up in Santa Fe for today (Thursday). It’s a huge, geek-themed tap-takeover inspired by the new movie Suicide Squad. DeCaro had this to say about it: “For this we chose beers that a best represented the movie and the Suicide Squad. My roommate, Mike Riggs, myself, and the Draft manager at Violet Crown (Cinemas), Eli Clark, sat down and came up with the names and the draft list. We are all nerds, so this was fun for the three of us.”

The BP Beer List:

  • Wahoo White, AKA Harley’s Wahoo Wallop: Brewed with unfiltered, un-malted wheat and oats that give it a distinctive cloudy complexity. True to the Belgian tradition, this Witbier boasts a refreshing, citrusy flavor thanks to the orange peel and coriander we add to the boil. (4.5% ABV, 12 IBUs)
  • Grunion Pale Ale, AKA Dead Shot’s On Target Ale: Our 2014 GABF Gold Medal Winning Pale Ale. Originating from an employee-only home brew contest, this award-winning hoppy pale ale is named after the tiny local fish known for late night frolics on shore. A pair of new hop varieties lend strong, yet balanced, summer melon aromas and herbal flavors, while a soft caramel malt sweetness holds it all together. (5.5% ABV, 35 IBUs)
  • Sea Monster, AKA Killer Croc: This bold, rich brew first lures you in with roasted coffee notes, then grabs hold with hints of bittersweet chocolate and currant. Backed with a perfect hop balance, you’ll soon discover this is one monster of mythic proportions. (10% ABV, 65 IBUs)
  • Grapefruit Sculpin, AKA Boomerang’s Comeback IPA: Our 2010 and 2014 World Beer Cup gold-medal-winning IPA is a testament to our homebrew roots. Our Sculpin IPA is a great example of what got us into brewing in the first place. After years of experimenting, we knew hopping an ale at five separate stages would produce something special. The result ended up being this gold-medal-winning IPA, whose inspired use of hops creates hints of apricot, peach, mango and lemon flavors, but still packs a bit of a sting, just like a Sculpin fish. (7.0% ABV, 70 IBUs)
  • Calm Before the Storm, AKA Joker’s Slight of Hand: Calm Before the Storm came from a quest for a warm-weather alternative to our Victory at Sea Imperial Porter. Like its more robust cousin, we infuse a punch of flavor using cold brewed Caffé Calabria coffee and a hint of vanilla. But, this time, we added it to a lighter-bodied, golden cream ale. The end result is a surprisingly bright, coffee-forward beer that’s perfectly refreshing. (5.5% ABV, 15 IBUs)
  • The Commodore, AKA Rick Flag’s All-American Stout: The Commodore came out of our search for a medium-bodied American stout. The recipe began at our R&D pilot brewery, but quickly became a favorite of our crew. Strong flavors of roast coffee and bittersweet chocolate balance with light citrusy hop aromas, highlighted by a crisp, bitter finish. One sip of this gold-medal-winning stout will have you ready to take command of your own fleet. (6.5% ABV, 60 IBUs)
  • Orange Vanilla Fathom, AKA the Suicide Squad Special: Our Orange Vanilla Fathom India Pale Lager continues our quest for exploration. The piney and citrus hop aromas of our Fathom IPL combines with sweet orange and creamy vanilla — while staying true to classic lagering techniques. Brewed with a touch of nostalgia, it may remind you of a childhood treat, but this one is just for adults. (7% ABV, 70 IBUs)

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The event is set for Violet Crown at 1606 Alcaldesa St, Santa Fe, NM 87501. Call (505) 216-5678 if you need more information. It all kicks off today (Thursday) at 6 p.m. This should be a really fun event, and I hear that if you dress up in costume, you may get something awesome. See you at the taps, Santa Fe!

Cheers!

— Luke

Lukemon

For more #CraftBeer info and @nmdarksidebc news, follow me on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro.