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New patio covering extends all the way to keep that pesky sunshine off your beers.

In the small town of Santa Fe, having a dedicated brewery crowd is not a given. It’s something that is earned. Take it from the long-standing beer-stitutions like Second Street Brewery, Santa Fe Brewing, and Blue Corn. They’ve been at this biz a long time, and they’ll tell you, they had to fight to stay in business, year after year, until they became household names. They’ll also tell you that in Santa Fe, it’s never as easy as popping open a can and poof, a crowd magically appears on your doorstep.

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RFA certainly has come a long way from their first patio covering.

On the way to similar steady street cred is Rowley Farmhouse Ales. They turn 3 this year, and they’ve earned their success all the way. With a good business model, an abundance of quality products (on the table and in the taps), and a good bunch of people to keep the wheels turning, RFA has managed to keep its doors open and even grow in the face of the city of holy faith’s fickle crowds, surviving even Santa Fe’s slowest of ‘beer-industry winters.’

I asked brewmaster and co-owner John Rowley what being open for 3 years meant to him personally.

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John Rowley (center) tells it true.

“We’re super excited to make this landmark of being open three years,“ he said. “We couldn’t have done it without having a great team and the continued support of our local community.“

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Chef Kaplan serves up another smile in a glass.

I also asked chef and co-owner Jeffrey Kaplan how he felt about being open 3 years and going strong.

“It feels good to have made it this far,” Kaplan said. “We still have a ways to go, but we are continually trying to make better beer, and improve our processes within our budgets and constraints. We’ve come a long way, but still have some growing to do. I’m really happy with our progress, and I hope everyone is happy with our beers!“

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With New Mexico’s first-ever foeders that went in at the beginning of the year, people can certainly enjoy more RFA beer! Head brewer Wes Burbank admires his new wood.

Speaking of which, RFA has an awesome lineup of rare beers ready to tap for their anniversary party. And, in true RFA fashion, they have a bunch of special bottles they’ve pulled out of their archives. Kaplan said they’re releasing Songs of Our Own, RFA’s brand-new spontaneously fermented American wild ale, which they aged in local wine barrels on tangerines. It should be noted that this is the first-ever commercial spontaneous beer made in NM.

Special draft list

Songs of Our Own — Fruited Wild Ale

Stoutish — Oyster Stout

Meier — Fruited Lemon Gose

Apercu — Fruited Mead

Body isn’t Life — Barleywine

Grandissant 4x Cerise

Raspberry Germophile — Fruited Berliner

Jose — Fruited Keylime Gose

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There will also be commemorative glassware to purchase and live music!

Music lineup

Mark Dawson of Mod Orange (noon-1 p.m.) Show some support as one of our favorite bartenders performs!

El Brujo Trio (1-3 p.m.)

Clark Libbey & Kristen Rad (3-5 p.m.)

The entire event is from noon to 5 p.m., at 1405 Maclovia St, Santa Fe, NM 87505, all ages are welcome. To another successful year!

Cheers!

— Luke

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For more #craftbeer info and @nmdarksidebc news follow me on Twitter at @SantaFeLuke

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Beer manager Jordon Jenson talks beer with the Dark Side Brew Crew.

The list of bonafide bottle shops in New Mexico is not a long one. Sure, there are a few tried and true options that we’ve turned to for our various package booze needs over the years. There are, of course, the wine super stores sprouting up everywhere like Neomexicanus hops on a Southwestern bine. But, in terms of serious sud-slingers, New Mexico has been kinda dry, wouldn’t you say?

When I think of the two best places to find beer outside of the breweries in northern New Mexico, I first think of Jubilation in Albuquerque and Susan’s Fine Wine and Spirits in Santa Fe.

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The store is still well-stocked with beer, wine, and spirits to go.

This Friday, Susan’s Fine Wine and Spirits is officially launching their newly finished beer bar, and wine and spirits bar, with a grand opening celebration.

The new bar area, in my opinion, now places Susan’s neatly on the same shelf as many quality bottle shops I’ve wandered into during my travels to beervanas like Portland, Denver, and San Diego.

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New seating area in Susan’s.

Of course, opening a bar inside a store isn’t a new idea. Whole Foods did it ages ago to pretty fair success. But, what a beer bar does differently inside a serious beer and spirits ‘shoppe,’ is it invites the conversation back to beer and spirits, and elicits the feeling that it’s okay to be excited about the drink again. And, for me, it did exactly that.

In just 10 minutes of sitting at the rail of Susan’s new beer bar, talking beer with beer department manager/store assistant manager Jordon Jensen, about what beers have recently come through Susan’s, and the possibilities of what beers could be coming soon, I soon became gleefully excited about beer again. I couldn’t explain the feeling. It was like a painter re-discovering his love for art, after nearly forgetting that art was much more than a means to keep the lights on.

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Jensen serves up a cold one.

“Opening a bar in (Susan’s) was an idea we always had,” Jensen said. “Once we realized we already had the license, it was kind of a no-brainer.”

The idea came from a lot of inquiries about specialty brews that never made it into cans. Having worked for National Distributing Company, Jensen was familiar with brands like Marble, who had a great experimental program, where every week they would put out something unique and fun, and send an email to the distributors.

“We decided the best way we could get these beers to people was by getting them on draft,” he said.

Not only can you get a growler to go, you can have a pint in hand while you shop. The whole place is licensed. Jensen says that beer was the heart of the idea, and it blossomed from that inspiration to create a wine and spirits bar at the other corner of the store.

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The wine and spirits bar is nicely stocked.

As for the beer side, Susan’s has 10 taps that they’ll be rotating like crazy, with fun local stuff and tough-to-get, out-of-state surprises befitting of a well-stocked bottle shop.

For Friday’s party, Jensen told me that they’ll be featuring 10 local New Mexico breweries, mostly from Santa Fe and Albuquerque, with brewery reps on hand to talk up their products.

The full list is as follows:

  • Second Street Brewery
  • Marble Brewery
  • Ex Novo Brewing
  • Steel Bender Brewyard
  • Taos Mesa Brewing
  • Rowley Farmhouse Ales
  • Bow and Arrow Brewing
  • Tumbleroot Brewery & Distillery
  • Beer Creek Brewery
  • Bosque Brewing Co.

There will be music and snacks, and Jensen said beer will be sold as cheap as they can legally put it in a glass. They even have a deal for a discount off drinks with a food purchase at nearby El Chile Toreado, one of the very best taco trucks in town.

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Santa Fe’s finest bottle shop just got better!

“When Total Wine opened up, we took a decent hit. But, we’re starting to get people back,” Jensen said. “So instead of trying to compete with them, we’re just all about carving our own niche out and excelling within it. It’s the only beer store in town where you can have a beer in your hand while you’re shopping, or you can have a glass of wine while you’re shopping.”

The grand opening party is Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. at Susan’s Fine Wine and Spirits at 1005 South St. Francis Drive, Suite 101.

To Susan’s Fine Wine and Spirits’ continued success, cheers!

— Luke

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For more Craft Beer info and @nmdarksidebc news, follow me on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro. Untappd: SantaFeLuke

After all’s been done, there’s just a bit left to be said before we head on to the next and final round of the 2019 New Mexico IPA Challenge.

I hope everyone enjoyed themselves on Saturday. There was a really nice turn out this weekend for the Santa Fe leg of the competition. Tumbleroot proved to be a perfect location to host the event. For all competition-goers, there was plenty of seating. All beers remained out of the sun, and at a nice cool temperature while the populace poured over them, and there was plenty of food on hand to keep stomachs full of something other than hops.

Hello, hops!

As far as the competition went, on Tumbleroot’s end, they did everything to make sure the crowd had cold, clean, and fresh beer to judge.

The Tumbleroot staff gathers for a quick huddle.

As mentioned in my last article, all lines were cleaned by the Guild the morning before. Tumbleroot even built five brand-new taps just for the event, making sure none of the beers were poured in a different manner, such as from Jockey Boxes. The folks in charge were all friendly and very capable of making sure that everyone got their beer in a timely manner. The whole thing was smooth. No lines. No wait.

I caught up with Tumbleroot brewer Andy Lane. He had a few thoughts to share about the competition and his beer.

“The IPA challenge in Santa Fe at Tumbleroot went off without a hitch. The beers flowed smoothly and everyone seemed to be very pleased with the service. We were extremely happy to host this event and we look forward to doing so again in years to come!

As for The Keymaster and the votes it took home, I am very pleased with how it is being received. I do wish we were higher in the pack but with this being my my first beer ever entered in the challenge, I am just extremely satisfied that it has been given the chance to compete against some of the biggest and most established beers in the state. That being said, I look forward to next Saturday where I imagine we’ll take home even more votes!”

As far as the results went … That’s a whole ‘nother story.

Yeah, we know, 2009 is quite the typo.

While the event was fun and smoothly-run, almost no one I spoke to was pleased with the results. There were folks from Albuquerque who were surprised “that Elevated hadn’t made it further.” And some Santa Feans certainly thought there would be more support for the Santa Fe beers, what with homefield advantage. But, to be fair, aside from brewers and a few beer geeks that travel to all the events, the crowd was new to me, and I drink here in Santa Fe.

Hi, Tom!

The results pretty interesting. I won’t get into which brewery brought what (of course), or who voted for what, but as for my experience, I think some of the mixed results could be attributed to the fact that so many hazy beers were on the list. Personally, at the end of my list, I had very few beers to choose from, simply because I wasn’t going to choose a hazy IPA. No offense to the hazies. I’m not against them. I’ll enjoy them, but they’re not the IPAs I’m looking for. And, this competition is still people’s choice.

Hi, Alanna and Jamie!

It’s the public opinion that matters. And, the public may be leaning in the hazy direction, or that also may just be something that’s happening a lot more, further away from Albuquerque, at venues like Las Cruces, Santa Fe, Taos, etc. In the last two years, the results showed us that the hazy IPA had moved in for good. But, would it stay?

Hi, John!

We always say this, but it’s true. It really is all going to come down to Albuquerque. They have the numbers. They’ll bring the votes. But, is New Mexico leaning away from the bright and bitter of the West Coast style? Or, are we sliding towards the sweet and juicy of the New England style?

This will be one of the most interesting finales yet. Is the West Coast IPA dead or dying out in New Mexico? What will stay on tap everywhere in three months? See how it all shakes out on Saturday!

Hi, Paul and Andy!

To more smooth and fairly run competitions, and the new East Coast/West Coast hop battle, cheers!

— Luke

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You do not have to be the Gatekeeper to enjoy the Keymaster.

For part two of Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery’s first year in Santa Fe story, it would be a huge disservice to only talk about the beer. Yes, we’re all about the beer in the Dark Side Brew Crew, but when we talk to a brewery and distillery, with its main taproom doubling as an upscale craft cocktail lounge, and then tripling as a huge family-friendly event and music space — one that will be playing host to Saturday’s Santa Fe round of the IPA Challenge — I would be remiss to skip over such a huge part of the story, especially when it involves putting something interesting and craft into cans.

For the complete Tumbleroot story, I called, emailed, and hunted down director of front of house operations and mixologist, Joseph Haggard, to talk craft cocktails and what they’ll be soon putting into cans. I also tracked down owner/director of business operations Jason Fitzpatrick, to talk music and whether Metal Mondays will stick around, and then I circled back to head brewer Andy Lane to talk about his IPA Challenge beer named Keymaster.

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Head brewer Andy Lane, left, and brewmaster Jason Kirkman get to the root of the issue.

Tumbleroot has been open to the public at both of its locations in Santa Fe for more than a year now. And, in that time, they’ve built a name for themselves in the local beer industry, established several haunts around town for their crafted spirits, and reshaped the landscape of Santa Fe’s nightlife scene, I would say, for the better.

I recently sat down with co-owner and co-founder Jason Kirkman and head brewer Andy Lane to talk about how far exactly Tumbleroot has sunk its roots into Santa Fe’s craft beer scene.

Tumbleroot has  two separate locations in Santa Fe — a brewing/distilling facility and taproom and a taproom/concert hall/event space — one of the only breweries to try such a feat right out of the gate.

It’s been a great learning experience, Kirkman said.

“I think that with our model of doing a full from-scratch brewery and distillery with a full lineup on premise, doing draft and (putting) bottled beer and spirits into distribution, it put a lot on our plate right off the get-go,” he said.

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Original artwork by Mariah Scee will most definitely find it’s way on another sweet T-shirt, so get it while supplies last!

Back by popular demand!

This Saturday and Sunday (June 15 and 16), Second Street Brewery — Rufina’s annual Crab and Pilsner Festival returns to Santa Fe for a second round, and we’ve never been more excited to get crabs again.

Last year, hundreds of Santa Feans and visitors showed up hungry and thirsty for the first Crab and Pilsner bash in such numbers that they exhausted the entire supply of cold-water-clawed crawlies. Luckily, Rufina is such a spacious, well-run operation that the party never felt too packed, nor did the serving teams ever seem overwhelmed. My friends and I certainly had a shell of a time!

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From last year’s fun event!

“Last year was incredibly successful!” said Second Street creative director Mariah Scee. “The turnout on both Saturday and Sunday exceeded our expectations, and the event went really well on both the crab and the beer fronts. Particularly on the beer side, we had a great variety of pilsners, making it a really fun experience for experienced beer drinkers, and also allowing us to introduce the style to guests who might not have known what pilsner was before the event. We also learned a lot, and are going into this weekend better equipped to handle the volume of people, keep the crab boiling, the plates coming, and flight after flight of pilsners flowing from the bar.”

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Duel Brewing gives up the fight

Posted: April 4, 2019 by Luke in Brewery Obit, Interviews
Tags:
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Former Duel general manager Mark Dawson

In the Dark Side Brew Crew, we like to think of ourselves as champions for the industry. We’re not gotcha journalism, never have been. We’re here to tell the stories of all the state’s breweries, your stories. We can only ever hope that they’re all stories brewed up with good vibes and happy endings, but unfortunately that isn’t always the case. It’s a difficult thing to write about a brewery’s end, especially when, for years, we’ve considered much of the staff to be our friends. But, it wouldn’t be right not to write on the negative stories as well.

It’s very easy to let the story slip by, say nothing, and navigate away from what might be treacherous waters, but our coverage of the New Mexico brewing industry would be incomplete if we didn’t do a story on Duel Brewing’s untimely closure.

We first reached out to Duel’s owner, Trent Edwards, days after the closing of Duel’s Santa Fe location. After receiving no response, we let it go for a time, until I sort of bumped into and met Mark Dawson. I was having a beer at Rowley Farmhouse Ales one night after the gym, and I couldn’t help but overhear the bartender saying that he had just left his job as former general manager of Duel Brewing.

My journalistic curiosity, paired with his need to tell his tale, led to a series of conversations and emails, all resulting in a collaboration on the story of the end of Santa Fe’s Belgian-style brewery.

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This Saturday, Blue Corn Brewery’s annual Cask Festival is back for a third round. Featuring food specials and beer from six of the Santa Fe area breweries, as well as a couple from our friends to the north, this event will once again give beer lovers plenty to sample and enjoy.

This year the breweries in attendance include host Blue Corn Brewery, Chili Line Brewing, Rowley Farmhouse Ales, Santa Fe Brewing, Second Street Brewery, Tumbleroot Brewery & Distillery, Bathtub Row Brewing Co-op, and Red River Brewing.

Without further ado, here is the beer list.

  • Blue Corn: Tamarind Sour
  • Chili Line: Tropical Fruit Stout with coconut, mango, and passion fruit
  • Rowley Farmhouse Ales: Oyster Stout with banana
  • Santa Fe Brewing: Lotus IPA
  • Second Street: Bonebreaker ESB
  • Tumbleroot: Dry Irish Stout
  • Bathtub Row: Secret
  • Red River: Back 40 Farmhouse Ale
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Last year’s event was a smashing success.

Blue Corn’s excellent chef, Josh Ortiz, has created a special menu of shareable items available to pair with the varying styles of beers. You can expect jumbo shrimp & grits, sautéed mushroom caps, bacon poutine fries, and creole jambalaya, as well as the rest of the available Blue Corn menu.

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Brewer/owner John Masterson has built quite the impressive brewery in Truth or Consequences.

It’s not often that I get a chance to make it southward these days with a full work schedule taking up most of my time. But, as I still actively try to get out and see as much of New Mexico as I can, I recently found myself in the lower regions of our beautiful state visiting White Sands, passing through the Organ Mountains, and heading back up through Truth or Consequences.

As it turns out, I had just heard from a buddy who had made the trip out to Truth or Consequences for a dip at the Riverbend Hot Springs, that the brewery in town was making some excellent beer.

The Crew had previously done a “coming soon,” story on T or C Brewing Co., back in 2017, and since I was going to be in the area, it seemed like a great opportunity to do a follow-up/Look Back/Look Ahead Series story, but more importantly I wanted to find out if my buddy was right about the quality of the beer.

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From Stoutmeister: “The exterior signage is much improved since my visit in March 2018.”

We pulled into Truth or Consequences on a blustery, gray Sunday afternoon. Our poor pitbull mix, Memphis, was pretty irritated from being cooped up in the car all morning, so we took him for a walk around the aged city blocks of downtown T or C. At first glance, the scene appeared very similar to many other downtown districts in small-town New Mexico — large brick facades, old storefronts, long abandoned to time and wear. But, T or C was anything but abandoned. Upon closer inspection, there were vibrant colors in every window, signs outside each shop, shopkeepers beckoning you to come in and take a look at their wares from across the street, and bemused visitors just like myself walking around, window shopping, and taking it all in. To twist a turn of phrase, the lights were on, and someone was definitely home.

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Brewer Alexander Pertusini has worked hard to find his comfort zone at Chili Line Brewing.

During the past year, Chili Line Brewing has been busy. I mean, really busy. Between turning their taproom into a downtown nightlife destination, pouring at all the local festivals, and getting their brand-new location ready to open, they’ve been BUSY. Thankfully, brewer Alexander Pertusini was kind enough to sit down and speak with the Dark Side Brew Crew about the year before and what’s coming down the tracks in 2019 for our annual Look Back/Look Ahead Series.

It was 6:30 on a Wednesday evening when I walked into an already crowded bar. I felt like I was late to the party. Pertusini greeted me as he poured beer for a good mixture of what sounded like regulars and folks visiting from out of town. After pouring me one of three stouts on the menu, he joined me at an empty table, which was becoming a rare commodity as the minutes passed. It was already a bit of a different vibe from the last time I’d visited “professionally,” I should say.

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Seats were at a premium at Chili Line on a weeknight.

And then, I tasted the beer. A solid stout, heavy on flavor, delivering on the promised premise of cocoa and lactose (by the name, Tio Coco Milk Stout), great mouthfeel, and very light on the smoke. Hmm.

Pertusini was soon brought a beer by a gentleman I would later recognize from Breaking Bad and other well-known screen roles. And, as soon as I could wrap my brain around all the pleasant changes and tweaks at work around me, I thumbed on both of my recorders and looked over my laundry list of questions. Though I was already getting excited about the direction Chili Line seemed to be heading in, I wanted to know how their year went.

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