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Here are your results from round two of the NM IPA Challenge!

The IPA Challenge continued today in Santa Fe at Second Street’s brand new third location on Rufina Street. That’s right, THIRD LOCATION! Second Street hasn’t quite opened fully to the public, but they are just about ready for business, and without spoiling anything (because we’ll have the whole full review after they open), it’s one fantastic space with a ton of potential. But, since this a post about the NM IPA Challenge, I’ll get straight to the results:

Brewery – Tray# — Total votes

Boxing Bear – #14 – 52 (1st)

Canteen – #15 – 42 (2nd-tie)

Quarter Celtic – #1 – 42 (2nd-tie)

Bosque – #3 – 39 (4th)

Starr Brothers – #6 – 34

Marble – #11 – 31

Tractor – #10 – 30

Second Street – #8 – 28

Bow & Arrow – #2 – 26

Steel Bender – #4 – 21

La Cumbre – #13 – 16

Ponderosa – #9 – 12

Picacho Peak – #12 – 7

The 377 – #5 – 7

Blue Corn – #7 – 5

Choices, choices, choices …

These are the aggregate totals, so the big winners of the round were defending champion Boxing Bear (37 votes), Quarter Celtic (33), Canteen (29), Starr Brothers (24), and Bosque and Tractor (23 apiece). Those who found Second Street to be a much tougher venue included Steel Bender (4, after 17 in the first round), as well as Blue Corn (4) and The 377 (4), which led in the elimination round, but has not made an impact so far with the voters in Las Cruces or the City Different.

It was a another well-run event by the NM Brewers Guild. Everyone in attendance had a great time. It was definitely tougher than usual to choose a winner. Of course, there were some outliers on both sides of the coin, but another great testament to how good and diverse our IPAs are in New Mexico.

Why yes, Second Street’s Rufina location is awesome!

Someone asked me during the event if we’ve reached a saturation point. I think that with more breweries, more people have a greater opportunity of trying good beers, and becoming more discerning. The more discerning we become, the harder our brewers have to work at keeping up the quality. Quality floats, in my opinion. But, with these results, we see some familiar names.

Plus, we all know the rules always change on the last leg in Albuquerque. See you at Steel Bender next Saturday!

To all of our great New Mexico IPAs and the fearless brewers who brew them, cheers!

— Luke

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Tyler King (left) and Jami Nordby (step-ladder) are getting things in place back in December.

When we began our Unsung Heroes Series, we sent out feelers to all of the breweries, asking them to submit an employee who they feel goes above and beyond the call of duty on a daily basis. When John Rowley of Rowley Farmhouse Ales replied to me, he sent me not one, but two heroes he felt were deserving of the title, though he was careful to mention that it’s not only the two candidates that bust their butts every day to make RFA happen, it’s all the employees, friends, family, and the amazing community that come out to support this fine brewery. But, to Rowley, these two individuals, are 100 (percent) proof that not all heroes wear capes. And, don’t think I didn’t angle for that photo-op. So, before anyone runs into a phone booth, this is an ode to two hard-working guys with home-brewing roots, living out a dream of many of ours, but certainly not taking it for granted.

Jami Nordby (head brewer)

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Okay, so it was just luck that Jami wore his Superman shirt the day I dropped by for a photo.

Rowley Farmhouse Ales brought Nordby on board in October 2016. Before that, Jami had been home brewing since 1994. In Santa Fe, we all knew him well for running the only local home-brew supply shop in town. He had recently sold the shop around the time he was approached about commercial brewing full-time at Rowley Farmhouse Ales (not that the two are exactly related). Since then, he’s proved quite an asset to the team.

Besides the usual, everyday brewing operations (which is not a blanket statement at all at a brewery), Nordby takes on anything that the brewery and restaurant needs to have done.

“I’ve been on the roof; I’ve been in the basement,” Jami said.

He’s done it all, top to bottom, everything from electrical to construction and plumbing. And, as a bartender, who just happened to walk by during the interview, put it quite well: “He gets all the jobs that nobody else wants.” I’m sure it’s true.

On a typical day, Nordby rolls into work about 8:30 a.m. or so. He puts in a good eight hours Monday through Friday, with Saturday as needed. If it’s a brew day, he plans to spend about 10 to 12 hours at work. Though he puts a lot of time and effort into RFA, he doesn’t let it completely take over his family life. Either he picks up his son from school, or he makes arrangements with his wife. His kiddo has always been a priority, as we Santa Fe home brewers knew that the home-brew supply shop would be closed for an hour at peak pick-up times during the school year. (We never minded.)

At RFA, Jami has just followed his passion for home brewing. You can see his eyes light up as he talks about all the new equipment they have in the space now, from the keg washer he hand-built, to the new barrels, and the brand new/used walk-in cooler.

“It’s a homebrewer’s dream,” he said.

Maybe that was me who said that, but he didn’t disagree. I asked him what his favorite style of beer to brew was.

“Whatever the next one is, I think,” he said with a laugh.

Rowley said of his head brewer: “Jami has been a force since he came on. He’s able to do much more than just the brewing tasks. Just as one small example, let’s talk about the keg washer. Our plan, to start, was to rely on Santa Fe Brewing to contract clean and sanitize kegs as they do this for local smaller guys like ourselves. They have a state-of-the-art keg-washing system. Jami took the initiative to build his own keg washer, as he felt it would be more effective to do it in-house, as opposed to lugging kegs back and forth. And, it works great! Having Jami there while I am off at the lab working has been a huge plus for us. He’s able to work independently without direct supervision. He gets the job done, and I don’t have to second-guess his decisions at all. He’s a great guy and has proven to be one of our most valuable team members. Without him, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

Rowley also named their other brewer, Tyler King, as one of their Unsung Heroes, noting that he definitely deserves credit for all he’s done for RFA.

Tyler King (brewer)

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Tyler King said, “You can take a picture, but I’m not really doing anything right now.” My reply, “Maybe not, but it’s a Sunday, and you’re here at work. Smile for the camera, hero.”

Tyler is originally from Loveland, Colorado, and moved to Santa Fe about 14 years ago. After judging the Enchanted Brewing Challenge in 2016, Tyler spoke to John Rowley about a job. It proved to be pretty good timing, as he was looking to get into commercial brewing, and Rowley was just starting to talk about the brewery publicly. Even before construction started (which Tyler volunteered a lot of his time for), they’d had a bit of a verbal agreement. Prior to that, King had home brewed for seven years. He had a rocky start in college, like many of us have, but his interest was rekindled while having a conversation over a home brew at former Governor Gary Johnson’s son-in-law’s house. (True story!)

King’s big entrance into the NM brewing scene, however, came by way of the annual home-brew competition in 2014, the Santa Fe Open, put on by the Sangre de Cristo Craftbrewers home-brew club. The Dark Side has covered several of these great local home-brewing competitions, because we know for a fact that these kind of competitions yield future professional brewers. Come to think of it, that first competition is actually where I met King. He was volunteering a lot of his time then, too, as I recall.

Aside from brewing, King also does I.T. for a local art university in Santa Fe, as well as owning an independent film company. On occasion, he does freelance post-production audio work for independent film workers as well, because, as he put it, “You’ve got to stay busy!”

And, busy he stays. When he’s not at his 9-to-5 weekday job, for which he’s also on-call nightly, he works Saturdays and occasionally Sundays at the brewery, doing anything and everything that is needed on those days, much like Nordby. His primary focus at RFA is the 1-barrel small-batch system, where he gets to try out new recipes and make more of the fun one-off beers served in the taproom. Of course, he also helps Jami and John on the 7-barrel system when they need to fill barrels with new stuff, or make more of the core beers.

When I asked if King had much input in the recipes they brew at RFA, he replied, “The great thing about our size is we all work together. John usually makes up the actual recipes in the software and has final say. He is the brewmaster and it is his name on the wall. I wouldn’t expect anything less. That said, if I want to make a recipe, use a home-brew one, or improvise on the spot to fix a problem, I can. Colonel Citra was a scaled-up version of my award-winning home-brew DIPA by the same name. It seemed well received commercially! Who doesn’t like a well-balanced 9-percent, all-Citra hop IPA? I’ve been thinking of a funky brettanomyces version, too. On top of just recipes, I can give input on equipment we need, fruits to use, (and) if a beer is ready or not, et cetera. Best recent example I can think of is tasting the four chardonnay barrels we just bottled. Four of us got together to decide what fruits would go in what barrel. I pushed the group to swap the fruit choice in two barrels. Hopefully everyone will agree with me when they are for sale! 1,000-plus bottles are conditioning now.”

Rowley had this to say about King: “Tyler was instrumental in getting our small batches off, and running when we first started brewing after getting our licenses all lined up. He and I brewed every Saturday for the first five months or so. It was taxing, but he runs with it and doesn’t complain. He’s come a long way as a brewer and is a vital part of our team. Tyler played a big role in us getting the doors opened as well. He was there, every weekend, in 2016 while we worked on getting the taproom and patio ready for service. We were fortunate to have a lot of help from our friends, but Tyler was there every step of the way. I know my name is on the wall, but there really isn’t Rowley Farmhouse Ales without Jami and Tyler working hard to bring New Mexico the best possible beer we can. I can’t speak highly enough of the team we have in place right now. Over time, we hope to grow the brewery up, but we definitely have a great core now.”

I asked Rowley what took them above and beyond the call of duty.

“I really think that these guys are looking at what we are doing as less of a job, and more of a mission,” he said. “Anyone can have a job that they may or may not like going to daily. But, my feeling is both Jami and Tyler are passionate about our mission to create the best beer we can, and that translates to passion instead of a feeling of this just being a job. Sure, we all have days that we don’t want to do some less desirable work (washing kegs, cleaning tanks, whatever that might be), but I don’t feel any hesitation with these guys. They have the attitude that those things are necessary and they embrace these less than ideal parts of the job and charge at them, not away from them. That’s how I know we have the right people, and Jami and Tyler are those guys.”

* * * * *

There are many different kinds of heroes that work at our breweries. They come in all shapes, sizes, beard-lengths, boot-colors, and genders. They work at all different positions from bartender, to lab tech, to office manager, and brewer. There really are no small fires that these gals and guys put out on a daily basis. Everything they do, tweak, build, or fix, no matter how seemingly minute, makes or breaks the solid reputations of our great New Mexico breweries.

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These limited bottles will be available soon. Check your local beer geek shop.

Truth be told, if it were not for Jami’s patience and unassuming nature, and his store, of course, I may not have lasted through my first hop selection and recipe creation. I may not have brewed a few batches, joined the local club, and soon after leapt at the opportunity to write for the Dark Side. So, to all of you heroes, sung and unsung, whether your name is on the posters or simply on a pay stub, we in the Dark Side Brew Crew, salute you.

Cheers!

— Luke

Luke123 Steel Bender

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

01e2608111925d660b5772ad2eeb94eeb8b45026b1Our previews for ABQ Beer Week continue with a few special events from Colorado’s Upslope Brewing. Many of us have tried Upslope now since they’ve been available in New Mexico for a couple years, so we know they make good, solid beer. Well, for those who second that notion, and for those who aren’t yet in the know, there will be plenty of opportunities check out Upslope’s offerings during ABQ’s huge annual 11-day ode to craft beer.

During ABQ Beer Week, there will be many events ranging from charcuterie pairings and special releases, to tap takeovers and full-on beer dinners. As for Upslope, there will be a total of 11 events, that’s right, 11, with five at the three M’tucci’s locations alone. According to Southern Colorado/New Mexico Market Manager (and old friend of the Crew), Antal Maurer, this represents the unique partnerships that each M’tucci’s locations have with Upslope and with craft beer in general. Antal said he gives most of the credit to general manager Austin Leard.

“He possesses a remarkable passion for craft,” Antal said.

On Thursday, the first day of Beer Week, Upslope will be kicking things off with a specialty tapping of their Tap Room Series Champagne Saison, brewed with Nelson Sauvin hops. This will take place at the new M’tucci’s Moderno in Rio Rancho.

“This bright, bubbly beer is a great match with happy hour specials and menu staples like the wild mushroom soup,” Antal said.

That same day, Upslope will be tapping five different beers at the original M’tucci’s at Coors and Montano.

“(These beers) represent much of our core lineup as well as a couple specialties, which you’ll just have to come out to discover,” Antal said. “The bar environment at this location is much like our portfolio of beer — unpretentious, accessible, and a great way to start a conversation with someone you may not know.”

No stranger to our local craft beer industry, Antal is all about pushing the boundaries of ABQ Beer Week by getting people from outlying areas involved, such Rio Rancho and even Bernalillo, which is where Upslope will be doing a Mountain Man-themed beer dinner at Freight House on June 1. Local musician Keith Sanchez will be playing at 7 p.m.

The Upslope ABQ Beer Week experience all culminates with the “End of Beer Week Brunch” on Sunday, June 4, at the original M’tucci’s, featuring beer cocktails by the one and only Amanda Romero.

So if you’re a fan of Upslope, or, if you haven’t really tried any of their beers yet, then I suggest you catch any one of these events. You’ll probably run into me, or even the man, the myth, the legend Antal himself. Special thanks to Antal for responding to my questions, even while he was on vacation. Hope your lady forgives you for working at the beach! (We owe you a beer, Nicole. — S)

We hope you all can join us for at least one or two of the many events from our great local and regional independent breweries during ABQ Beer Week. Prepare yourselves, my friends. Get your favorite Uber or Lyft driver some flowers in advance. Get thee ready for a week of madness! Hell, I’m preparing for the complete avalanche coming from just Upslope. See you at the rail!

Cheers!

— Luke

Upslope Full List of Events

Thursday

Upslope Brewing Co Special Release Tapping and Beer Week Kickoff at M’tucci’s Moderno

Join us for Happy Hour at the newest M’tucci’s location with beer and food specials and a specialty tapping of an Upslope beer you won’t find anywhere else.

4 p.m.–7 p.m., M’tucci’s Moderno, 1908 Wellspring Ave. SE, Rio Rancho

Upslope Brewing Co Beer Week Tap Takeover at M’tucci’s Italian

Join Upslope Brewing and M’tucci’s Italian for a special beer week tap takeover featuring rare beers and lots of giveaways!

6 p.m.–10 p.m., M’tucci’s Italian, 6001 Winter Haven Road NW, Albuquerque

Friday

Upslope Brewing Co Presents: Loteria at Monroe’s with Prizes

Join Monroe’s and Upslope for a night of Loteria (Mexican Bingo) around the legendary counter at the Lomas location. Play Loteria for prizes and indulge in wonderful New Mexican cuisine paired with delicious Craft Lager.

5 p.m.–7 p.m., Monroe’s, 1520 Lomas Blvd. NW

Saturday

Candemonium Charcuterie with Upslope Brewing Co. at M’tucci’s Italian

“Another notable M’tucci’s/Upslope event includes our can/charcuterie pairing at M’tucci’s Deli on Saturday. It’s a great way to start a day of beer events!” — Antal Maurer

11 a.m.–11 p.m.

Family Style Dinner Featuring Upslope Brewing Company at Eclectic Urban Pizzeria and Tap House

Join Eclectic Urban Pizzeria and Upslope Brewing Company for a night of live music, wonderful food and craft beer. $25 gets you a seat at the table where you will enjoy a family-style meal and the best of Upslope Brewing Company beers. Music by Anna Rudolph.

For more info please visit: www.eatdrinkrepeat.us/

7–10 p.m., Eclectic Urban Pizzeria and Tap House, 2119 Menaul Blvd. NE

Tuesday

Upslope Brewing Co. Canarchy at Taco Tuesday at Sister

Join Upslope Brewing Company for complete and utter CANARCHY as we take over taco Tuesday with Citra Pale Ale and TACOS!!

4–7 p.m., Sister, 407 Central Ave. NW

Wednesday, May 31

Early 90’s Night at The Grain Station with Upslope Brewing Co

Relive the 90’s with all the classic hits spun by live DJ’s, a costume contest with prizes for the top three costumes, and cold Upslope brews on tap! For more info please visit: facebook.com/thegrainstation/

5–9 p.m., The Grain Station, 2004 Central Ave. SE

Thursday, June 1

Upslope Brewing Co Beer Dinner at Freight House Kitchen + Tap

Join us at Freight House Kitchen + Tap for a special Beer Week Beer Dinner featuring Upslope Brewing Company and a delicious menu by Chef Matt Schnooberger. For more info please visit: http://www.fr8house.com/

6:30–9 p.m., The Freight House, 200 South Camino Del Pueblo, Bernalillo

Friday, June 2

Upslope Rochambeau Tournament and Pint Night at Rock & Brews

Join Upslope and Rock & Brews for a Rochambeau Tournament for the ages. Free entry and prizes for top five finishers. Flex those rocks, papers, and scissors and enjoy some special beers on tap.

5–9 p.m., Rock & Brews, 4800 Montgomery Blvd. NE

Saturday, June 3

Upslope Brewing Co Beer Dinner at M’tucci’s Market and Deli

Join the representative from Upslope Brewing Co. for a Beer Dinner at M’tucci’s Market and Deli. For more reservations and more info please visit http://www.mtuccis.com.

7–10 p.m.

Sunday, June 4

End of Beer Week Brunch at M’tucci’s Italian with Upslope Brewing Co.

Celebrate the end of ABQ Beer Wee 2017 with Upslope Brewing Co and their F#$% Beer Week Brunch! For more information please visit the official website.

11 a.m.–2 p.m.

Also, if I’ve forgotten any Upslope events. Well, there were a lot. Just chime in, in the comments.

 

Luke123 Steel Bender

Luke lives, writes, and drinks beer in both Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Feel free to contact him about story ideas or send generally flattering emails to santafeluke@gmail.com. Follow on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro!

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The crowds will be out in force again this weekend for the annual Outside Bike & Brew Festival in Santa Fe.

Hey, everyone! Luke and Julie here from Dark Side Brew Crew, Santa Fe squad. This weekend, the fourth annual Outside Bike & Brew Festival returns to Santa Fe with four more days of cycling and craft beer events.

This great week-long beer-meets-adventure bash officially begins Wednesday with a kickoff party at Santa Fe’s still-fresh venue, The Bridge at Santa Fe Brewing, and continues with guided brewery bike tours during the day and beer dinners in the evening. Each event brings bikes and beers together in the perfect union of suds and sun (hopefully), and culminates this Saturday with a celebration of all things outside, with food trucks, music, and good breweries that love the great outdoors!

If you like beer, bikes, and getting outside, this event is not one to miss! While there are plenty of cycling events to choose from for the whole family, we know you’re here for the beer, so let’s get down to business. If you’re more interested in ABV than RPM, the following is a roundup of what you can expect from this week’s event.

Wednesday

Bike to Work Week with Second Street Brewery (all locations)

“Wednesday is Bike to Work Week, and all three of our locations are part of a “first annual” SSB scavenger hunt cooked up by new Rufina front-of-house manager, Mariah Scee, in cooperation with the City of Santa Fe. We will be having an outdoor area to gather in, along with souvenirs and snacks that will be given away at the Rufina location. The Railyard and Original locations will be the places to go for full service eating and drinking.” — Rod Tweet, Owner/President, SSB

Marble Brewery Tap Takeover

Fire & Hops Gastropub, 5 p.m.

Food specials and limited brews from Marble’s NE Heights Brewery

Benefit for Velo New Mexico, a nonprofit promoting and celebrating cycling in New Mexico

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Bikes, brews, and tunes, too.

Thursday

Bike & Brew Kickoff Party

The Bridge at Santa Fe Brewing, 7 p.m.

Enjoy Santa Fe Brewing craft beers with dirty, organic California soul music from Orgone

Tickets can be purchased here.

Beer Dinner Feature: Bodega Prime featuring a selection from Rowley’s Farmhouse Ales

Enjoy a great beer dinner at Bodega Prime with beers from RFA, before heading out to The Bridge at Santa Fe Brewing for the Kickoff Party!

On the menu:

  • Fields of Rye Saison with snapper, crab, peas & celeriac
  • Saison du Sarlacc with roasted carrots with harissa & pistachios
  • Ab Initio with spring duck, morels & grass
  • Ab Initio – Boysenberry with charred onion salad with walnut salsa
  • Agent Scully IPA with smoked bliss potato & egg yolk ravioli, pork & asparagus
  • Sin Barreras Nutella with chocolate bouchon with caramelized beer ice cream & coff­ee

Reservations are required. Call (505) 303-3535. The cost is $65 per person.

Bodega Prime is located at 1291 San Felipe Ave., Suite A, Santa Fe, NM 87505

Cowgirl Tap Takeover & Beer Dinner featuring Sierra Nevada

The Cowgirl is located at 319 S. Guadalupe St. For more information, call (505) 982-2565 or check out their website.

Loyal Hound Pub featuring a selection from Canteen Brewhouse

The Loycal Hound is located at 730 St. Michaels Dr. For more information, call (505) 471-0440 or check out their website.

Friday, May 19

Tour de Brewer

Start times: 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m.

Saddle up at the Santa Fe Railyard Park for a round trip ride with stops at Rowley’s Farmhouse Ales, Duel Brewing and the newest Second Street Brewery location in the Rufina District.

Rod also says lucky cyclists may indeed get to take a peek at the new brewing facility on Rufina, and sample a few of the new beers! What!? So, lace up those, um, bike shoes … and shorts!

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased here.

Dr. Field Goods featuring Deschutes Brewery

Dr. Field Goods is located at 2860 Cerrillos Road, Suite A1. For more information, call (505) 471-0043 or check out their website.

Handcrafted Bike & Beer Show

Santa Fe Farmers Market Building, 5-9 p.m.

The first 500 people receive a custom Bike & Brew logo stainless cup.

Breweries include: Deschutes, Broken Trail, La Cumbre, Red Door, Santa Fe Brewing, Second Street, Starr Brothers

Tickets are $15 to $25 and can be purchased here.

Saturday, May 20

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2016 Tour de Brewer, SFBC

Tour de Brewer

Start times: 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m.

Saddle up at the Santa Fe Railyard Park for a round trip ride with stops at Second Street Brewery, Blue Corn Brewery and Santa Fe Brewing Company. Cyclists will speak with head brewers and sample beers along the way with a tour of the new Santa Fe Brewing facility and a cold beer fresh off the canning line.

Tickets cost $20 and can be purchased here.

Tour de Brunch

10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

This tour includes stops at Ohori’s Coffee, CheeseMongers of Santa Fe, and Barrio Brinery to check out how the local artisanal food scene is evolving. We wrap up the ride at HQ Santa Fe for some savory bites and a beverage.

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased here.

Concert & Beer Garden

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Bike & Brew 2015, Railyard Park

Railyard Park, 5-9 p.m.

This evening features food trucks, a bicycle expo, and music by DJ Spinifex and Hello Dollface. The first 500 people receive a custom Bike & Brew logo stainless cup.

Breweries include: Deschutes Brewery, Broken Trail Brewing, La Cumbre Brewing, Red Door Brewery, Santa Fe Brewing Co., Second Street Brewery, Starr Brothers Brewing

Tickets are $15 to $25 and can be purchased here.

* * * * *

Julie: A great way for locals to take advantage of this weekend’s events is to pick up a Locals Pass for $20, which allows entry to both Friday and Saturday night’s main beer events. The passes can be picked up at Whole Foods Market at 753 Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe. The beer dinners listed will likely require reservations, so we advise you to plan ahead.

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In 2015, the weather stopped no one from pouring the good stuff!

Luke: I’ve been to three of these now, and I’ve always had a good time. One year I was even interviewed by the Beer TrALE, the first of the Drink it Interns, about New Mexico IPAs, and I said some mostly factual things. Don’t bother looking for the video. You probably won’t find it. Only now am I more interested in getting on a bike, especially with a chance to huff it between some new breweries (lookin’ at you, Rufina and RFA!). And, with no chance of a BUI (Oregon and Colorado, you know what I’m talkin’ about), I’m sold. Still, drink responsibly. Bike responsibly. Don’t be an asshat. Sadly, I don’t own a bike, but the beer side of these events has always been a great experience, and even if the weather hasn’t always cooperated, the outdoorsy type of folks that dig this particular brand o’ shindig don’t mind a little rain and mud while they get down with the gettin’ down.

Cheers!

— Julie and Luke

Full event listings are available at www.outsidesantafe.com/events.

Luke123 Steel Bender

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

 

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From Big Brew 2015 at Santa Fe Brewing

Greetings, craft beer fans! This one’s for all the homebrewers out there, and, of course, any and all folks interested in learning more about beer. If you haven’t already heard, National Homebrew Day is fast approaching, and we don’t want you to miss out on any events here in New Mexico.

In 1988, it was announced before Congress that May 7 would forever be known as National Homebrew Day, and since then, the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) has held events the first Saturday of May to celebrate the huge community of homebrewers, who, in large part, helped bring craft beer back to America after the that dark period when we felt prohibited to speakeasy about it. (Ahem.)

This year, on Saturday, May 6, large homebrew events will be held across the nation, and you can find them all on the AHA Website. And, because we’re just as serious about beer here in our state, we have a few events planned for you, New Mexican Brewquenos, as well.

The following lists all the AHA-registered events for our state:

Milton’s Cavern City Big Brew Day (brewery) – “Come hang out with the local homebrew club, Cavern City Brewers at Milton’s Brewing. A number of homebrewers will have their personal brewing systems in the outdoor area of the brewery demonstrating a homebrewer’s brew session.” Contact Brad Carlsen at caverncitybrewers@gmail.com to RSVP. Location: 108 E. Mermod, Carlsbad, NM.

Santa Fe Brewing Company (brewery) – “We will be hosting 2017 Big Brew in the brewery. Please come out to join us. RSVP to the email address so we can buy enough food for people.” Contact Ted Bolleter at jtbolleter@yahoo.com to RSVP. Location: 35 Fire Place, Santa Fe, NM.

Southwest Grape & Grain and Worthogs Homebrew Club (homebrew supply shop) – “Homebrewers from the Worthogs Homebrew Club of NM will be brewing some All- Grain, Extract and BIAB recipes at Southwest Grape & Grain homebrew shop. They will be ready and eager to talk to anyone interested in learning how to brew, answer questions, and share their experiences. This event will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 505-332-2739 (SWGG) or 505-289-0123 (Worthogs).” Contact Donavan Lane/Ariel Figueroa at worthogsNM@gmail.com to RSVP. Location: 2801-N Eubank Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM.

Victors Home Brew (homebrew supply shop) – “We will have home brewers out on the porch brewing with their different types of equipment and eager to talk to anyone interested in learning to brew, answer questions, and share stories. Dukes of Ale brew club members will be participating and offering presentations on making mead, cider, and different kinds of brewing equipment. The event will run from 10 (a.m.) to 4 (p.m.). Come have samples, pizza, and refreshments. Call 505-883-0000 for more information.” Contact Jens Deichmann at jens@victorshomebrew.com to RSVP. Location: 2436 San Mateo Pl. NE, Albuquerque, NM.

To RSVP directly and for additional details for these events, just click this LINK! Do it!

MIlton's Brewery Logo

Feature: Milton’s and Cavern City Brewers Big Brew Day

From co-owner/head brewer Lucas Middleton: “This Saturday, Cavern City Brewers will be participating in the American Homebrewers Big Brew 2017 at Milton’s brewing on the patio (out back). We will be opening at 2 p.m. for locals to come and check out the brewing process and get the word out about the Homebrew club.

“The Friday before (May 5), Tractor is coming down to supply us with a new beer called Minute-4, a smoked lager they brewed for the firefighters in Carlsbad. We will be donating proceeds from this beer to help the team out.

“Carlsbad’s team, with Fire Chief Rick Lopez, won the world championship, the national championship, and set the world tandem record during 2016’s Scott Firefighter Challenge. The team members include Brad Carlsen (of the Cavern City Brewers), Jay Carter, Todd Vannatter, Geronimo Ontiveros and Casey Collins.”

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Big Brew with the Babes in Brewland, SFBC 2015

Feature: Big Brew at Santa Fe Brewing Company

This year, on Saturday, May 6, beginning at 9:30 a.m., Santa Fe Brewing Company will once again host Big Brew with, well, a big brew session in their big brewery. Santa Fe’s fine homebrew club, the Sangre De Cristo Craft Brewers homebrew club, will be there to talk beer, brewing, and the craft of craft-beermanship. Food will be provided to those who RSVP, and SFBC R&D manager, David Ahern-Seronde (of current Santa Fe Reporter cover page fame) will be offering tours of the entire grounds, including the new packaging hall, barrel cave, and The Bridge. It’s sure to be a rockin’ good time, so RSVP now.

Before SFBC had nixed the event in 2016, I had been to a couple Big Brews in the past before writing for the NMDSBC. It is actually at one of these, where I met with the Sangres, learned a thing or two about how to brew, and got started homebrewing, which expanded on my passion for craft beer as well as brewing industry network, which eventually landed me this sweet writing gig. So, folks, homebrewing, not fear, was the path to the Dark Side for me.

What to know: Santa Fe Brewing will provide hot and cold liquor for brewing. Food will be handled by the Sangre De Cristo Craft Brewers, that is, if you RSVP.

What to bring: Bring all your equipment! If you’re not feeling like bringing out the whole rig for an all-grain brew, then that’s fine, too. Feel free to do an extract brew, and just come out and have a good time. If you’re not sure what all-grain or extract brews are, then you could definitely benefit from coming out to Big Brew!

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Peaches for the brew, SFBC 2015.

Homebrewing is a great gateway into the craft beer industry. Homebrewing channels passion, fosters creativity, and maybe above all, teaches technique. At the top level, homebrewing has even led many folks in the state to open up their own facilities, where you currently enjoy a hand-crafted experience, and at its lowest level of achievement, homebrewing teaches a much better understanding and appreciation for that carbonated beverage we love so much.

I highly recommend going to any of these special events, even if you don’t plan to brew, or to take up homebrewing. You’ll get to talk homebrewers about DIY projects of the beer-related kind, and also you’ll get to speak with pro brewers about their favorite thing to chat about, and I’ll give you a hint — it’s not distribution and licensing. You can ask them all you want about making the good stuff.

So, I hope you go out, and maybe one of you will decide to learn to homebrew after this weekend, and maybe one of you will achieve greatness and open up the brewery that turns the New Mexico brewing industry upside down, all because you stopped in to check things out on a Saturday. Who knows? Hope you can make it out to one of the events! And, remember folks, fear might lead to anger. Anger might lead to hate. Hate usually leads to suffering. But, the Dark Side Brew Crew will always lead you to beer.

Cheers!

— Luke

Luke123 Steel Bender

For more #CraftBeer news, @nmdarksidebc info, and Untappd Badge-whoring, follow me on Twitter @santafecraftbro!

 

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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)

* * * * *

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.”

* * * * *

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