Author Archive

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From left, John Rowley, Wes Burbank, and Jeffrey Kaplan. Cheers to more years, gentlemen!

This Sunday, Rowley Farmhouse Ales (RFA) is throwing a huge party for their second anniversary, and I sat down with the guys to get the details on where they’ve been, what they’ve seen, and where they’re going.

Rowley Farmhouse Ales opened in 2016. In two years, they’ve experienced a few changes, pumped out a ton of different beer styles (not just farmhouse ales and sours), and solidified themselves as a great bistro for beer geeks in the Santa Fe area. In two years, they definitely had more highs than lows.

I asked the guys what their favorite thing about being open for two years was.

“That we’re still open!” co-owner and chef Jeffery Kaplan joked. “In two years, we’ve gotten some really awesome accolades and appreciation from the local community.”

One such accolade came from CraftBeer.com, naming Rowley Farmhouse Ales best beer bar in New Mexico for 2018. They also received a Local Hero Award for 2018 from Edible New Mexico for Best Gastropub.

Local Hero Award

RFA wins Best Gastropub 2018

“A lot of the local community has come back again and again,” Kaplan said. “(RFA) has turned into this local neighborhood spot that people are enjoying. That’s kind of been my favorite thing.”

Two years haven’t been without its choppy waters, but the Rowley crew have always been able to weather the storms. Who could forget the one time when the wind blew the big tent away from the patio area? Tent season was indeed over. And then, there was the Great Deluge of 2018. My mother and I actually got stuck at RFA for that event, and I’ll say, it is not a bad place to get caught in a storm.

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A packed house on a Monday night, taking pics of the storm.

Over the past two years, RFA has earned the respect of Santa Fe foodies by always trying out fresh ideas and keeping what works. It’s pretty simple. Every season they change their menus, keeping popular plates, and ditch the dishes that didn’t work out as well. They’ve also made tweaks to everything from the kitchen to the brewhouse. Some were larger tweaks than others, like the construction of a new patio covering to rearranging equipment in the brewhouse.

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That cover should not blow away in the wind.

“We just ran out of space,” co-owner and brewmaster John Rowley recalled. RFA reached a point where they had to move equipment outside. They got a trailer, which now houses everything they don’t use on a daily basis. Now they have space they need to bottle and move around.

Sitting on two years, the guys are pretty happy where they are.

“We brewed 250 barrels last year, which, for a brewery of our size, is a pretty good start,” Rowley said. “Yeah, we’re on the right track. I think our beer quality is good. We’re brewing the stuff we want to brew.”

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Age away, you beautiful beers.

I also talked to their new head brewer Wes Burbank about the immediate future of Rowley Farmhouse Ales. He’s very happy to have found a good home here in Santa Fe, and he’s pretty optimistic about Rowley’s future.

“We’ve got a solid foundation right now,” Burbank said. “I want to do what we’re doing, but more of it, and get it into more people’s hands, which we’ve already started doing. We’ve got quarterly drops in Denver, which might increase. There’s more of a market there for these types of beers. New Mexico is kind of still untapped for us. It’s a huge market (for RFA) to break into.”

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From barrel to glass.

“We’re trying to focus on our current markets, trying to grow those,” Rowley added. “We will have a lot bigger capacity next year with our 40-barrel foeders.”

Rowley will be getting the two foeders in about 12 weeks. With them, RFA will have two stock sour beers, souring all the time. And, with the size of their brewhouse (seven barrels), they can pull seven barrels out. They can put seven barrels of wort in. They can constantly be pulling solera. If you want to know what that means, take a look at this wiki article from our friends at Milk the Funk.

“Once filled, the foeders will never be empty again,” Burbank said. “Unless we move.”

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Take-home bottles and cans are great for RFA fans who don’t actually live in Santa Fe.

Party Down

Where: Rowley Farmhouse Ales

When: Sunday, noon to 7 p.m.

What: They’ll have seven hours of live music, including several solo artists, Shake Alert, and Nacha Mendez. There will also be a silk screener making custom shirts.

Why us beer geeks should go: RFA will be pouring tons of their rare barrel-aged beers from their backlog. About 19 of them, including Cerise Redux, Mixed-Dubbels Curling, the Ab Initios, a raspberry Oud Bruin, and the Framboisen, a special beer made for the event, as well as some other really cool barrel-aged goodies.

Additional: No cover charge. Plus, Wes said Slayer might show up. I’m hesitant to promise that, however.

*****

When Rowley Farmhouse Ales opened back in 2016, they only had one beer on tap made on their 1-barrel brewhouse. It wasn’t even quite ready, Rowley said. Today, they have a huge catalog of beers they’ve made that they can pull out anytime they want for a good time. Some of them have been aging down below in the barrel room for two years. To say they’ve come a long way is an understatement. But, they keep growing, and everything keeps getting better with age.

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After this toast with a certain imperial stout, things got blurry.

So, head over to Rowley Farmhouse Ales on Sunday and help them drink a few of their rare beers. Wish ‘em a happy birthday, and tell ‘em Luke sent you. Maybe don’t do that last one. To the whole crew at Rowley’s, we’re so glad to have you here in town. Thank you for your excellent hospitality and delicious food and beers. To your continued success and many more years in the business, cheers!

— Luke

Also on RFA’s plate:

NMDOG Meet & Greet and Fundraiser!

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Join us to meet adorable, adoptable NMDOGs today (Saturday) from 1-5 p.m.! As always through Sept. 30, $1 from every full pour from the Pulls for Pups handle will benefit NMDOG.

For more @nmdarksidebc info and #craftbeer news, follow me on Twitter at @SantaFeCraftBro. Untappd: SantaFeLuke

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In their finest bow ties, the Blue Corn boys heft the hardware

SANTA FE — It has now been a few weeks since Blue Corn Brewery brought home the New Mexico IPA Challenge trophy. With their busy late-summer schedules, and their transition to a new chef and menu, the staff just now got around to celebrating. Well, they did it in true Blue Corn fashion with another epic beer dinner to give Santa Fe a chance to cheer Blue Corn’s big win, as well as introduce us to the new man behind the menu.

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General manager Michelle Kyle introduces head chef Josh Ortiz.

Chef Ortiz had just moved across town from Rio Chama, one of Santa Fe Dining’s more upscale establishments, just a 5-minute stroll from the Plaza. It was there that he truly sharpened his knife as the sous chef. Before that, he worked under Kelly Rodgers at La Casa Sena, another fine downtown eatery.

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Baby arugula, fresh pomegranate, triple cream brie, avocado, basil vinaigrette, pine nuts, pomegranate balsamic reduction, all paired with Pomegranate Gose.

“We’re all really excited that (Ortiz) is here,” assistant brewer Andy Lane said. “His new dishes (on the updated menu) are amazing.”

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Shrimp Tempura, jumbo lump crab salad, crispy wonton chip, spicy mango chutney, micro cilantro, all paired with La Marcha Wedding Lager.

Across four courses, we really got to know what Ortiz brings to the table. From the arugula salad with fresh pomegranate, pine nuts, and brie, to the jumbo lump crab salad with shrimp tempura, to the duck confit with orange segments and orange glaze, and finally to the dessert course of dark chocolate custard with whipped cream mousse and macerated strawberries, we all got a thorough introduction to Ortiz’s chops.

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Duck confit, white bean summer succotash, roasted cipolini onions, orange segments, frisee, orange glaze, all paired with Gatekeeper IPA.

Having been to several of these beer dinners now, I thought that the food was much better in practice than it was on paper. I’ve seen arugula salads and duck confit dishes in a few multi-course prix fixe menus, but at Blue Corn that night, each course was so creatively crafted, balanced, and paired that each dish felt fresh and exciting. Each bite was a new trip down the rabbit hole, chaotic and uncertain of where you’ll land, but in a very good way. I regret that I didn’t take a look at the new and updated regular menu, but after stuffing myself with so much deliciousness, I couldn’t possibly think about more food for a few days. Can you blame me?

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Dark chocolate custard, graham cracker-hazelnut crust, whipped cream mousse, macerated strawberries, all paired with Oatmeal Stout.

That night in Santa Fe, Blue Corn brewers also hoisted up the IPA Challenge trophy for the second time in the brewery’s history. The first win came from John Bullard in 2013 with his Resurgence IPA. Blue Corn is still the only brewery to win this coveted trophy from outside the Albuquerque metro area. Last year, head brewer Paul Mallory wasn’t as pleased with how his IPA ultimately turned out.

“I wanted more from it,” he said.

This year, he and Lane really worked on getting the recipe to where they thought it should be.

I reached out to Mallory to get an idea as to what the IPA Challenge win means to him, to Blue Corn Brewery, as well as the New Mexico craft beer industry.

DSBC: What does winning the IPA Challenge mean to you, personally?

Mallory: Winning the IPA Challenge means a lot to me. It was a really great way to get people excited about trying our beer. It was really amazing to be able to celebrate with family, friends, co-workers, and customers as well.

DSBC: How does winning the IPA Challenge impact Blue Corn’s current production?

Mallory: We have had trouble keeping the Gatekeeper on tap since the win. We have all of our other beers we’re trying to keep up with at the moment, too. But, we will do our best to keep brewing the Gatekeeper. As long as people keep enjoying it, I’ll keep brewing it.

DSBC: When will it be available again?

Mallory: We currently have it on tap now. I hope it will be on for another week or so, but you never know how fast it will go.

DSBC: Plans for next year’s challenge?

Mallory: I haven’t thought about next year’s competition yet. I’m not sure if we’ll change it up or not.

DSBC: Why do you feel it’s important that we have competitions like this?

Mallory: I think competitions like this are great because they push brewers to be their best or most extreme, depending on the competition. In New Mexico, I really feel the competitions help build camaraderie as well. The NM Brewers Guild does a great job with that aspect of it.

DSBC: Lastly, what’s Blue Corn taking to GABF?

Mallory: We are taking the Gatekeeper IPA, Gold Medal Oatmeal Stout, End of the Trail Brown Ale, Barrel Aged Cosmic Darkness, and Pomegranate Gose to GABF this year.

Blue Corn Brewery will have a booth at the event.

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Cheers to more beer dinners!

I would personally like to thank all the staff at Blue Corn Brewery for their hard work and incredible hospitality. To your well-deserved victory, to your new chef, we raise ‘em up!

Cheers!

— Luke

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I don’t always drink fancy cocktails… But when I do, I do it in a Maiden shirt.

For more #craftbeer news, @nmdarksidebc info, and shameless Untappd check-ins follow me on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro. Untappd: SantaFeLuke

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Photo courtesy of Santa Fe Brewing Co.

Santa Fe Brewing Company (SFBC) is celebrating a very big and important birthday. This year, New Mexico’s original craft brewery is celebrating its “Dirty 30,” and you’re invited! In honor of this amazing anniversary, SFBC is getting down with a whole week’s worth of events at the Bridge at Santa Fe Brewing from today (Tuesday) through Sunday. Not only that, nearly all of the events will be giving back to the community that has given the brewery so much, so you have every reason to be amped about this! They said amped in the 80s, right?

I recently reached out to owner Brian Lock to learn a little about where SFBC has been, what he’s seen in his time at the head of the company, and where they’re headed in the coming years.

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SFBC owner Brian Lock cuts the ribbon on many new projects in the works for SFBC

DSBC: Thirty years of Santa Fe Brewing. What sorts of changes have you seen the company go through?

Lock: During the last 30 years there has been so much evolution with the SFBC as a brand. From bottle conditioning back in 1988, to releasing cans in 2010, and just recently a complete can redesign, things here are constantly changing, which makes the job so fun and interesting. There is never a dull moment.

DSBC: What were some of the major highlights in 30 years?

Lock: Major highlights for me over the last 30 years — being the first brewery in the state of New Mexico to offer craft beer in a can, opening three offsite taprooms (Eldorado in 2011, ABQ Green Jeans in 2015, Brakeroom in 2018), and being the first brewery in the state to surpass 15,000 barrels. Lastly, moving from a micro to a regional brewery.

DSBC: What were some of your favorite moments, personally?

Lock: Favorite moments would be working festivals and talking to all the craft beer fans about beer and culture. Creating a beer culture in New Mexico and creating a brand that attracts a family-like vibe both for employees and for patrons.

DSBC: What was the funniest thing(s) that ever happened at the brewery?

Lock: I think the funniest story is the infamous Chicken Killer Barley Wine story. The name of the beer came from an event that happened out in Galisteo, NM, where Petey the miniature dachshund mauled over 30 chickens.

DSBC: What’s the original craft beer company of New Mexico currently focusing on?

Lock: We are focusing on being relevant in the craft beer space. It is so competitive these days that you have to be innovative, and always coming out with new offerings to keep the brand fresh and interesting, otherwise you will be forgotten about.

DSBC: We know about the (main brewery) taproom is currently being built. But, with your 30th anniversary in mind, what do you think the next 30 years look like for SFBC?

Lock: Yes, new taproom is the focus along with a very large beer garden. It’s hard to speculate about the next 30 years, but for the next five years I see a new brewhouse in SFBC’s future, and some other exciting products to add to our portfolio.

30th Anniversary Events

  • Today (Tuesday): Steel Pulse & Tribal Seeds will be live at The Bridge at Santa Fe Brewing with rad special guests Iya Terra. Ages 21+. Tickets are $28 in advance, $33 day of show (including all service charges). 6–10 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 30th Bash — Chicken Killer 2.0 Release Party. Party hard with the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society! They’ll will be at SFBC to host an onsite pet adoption from noon to 3 p.m. 15 percent of the beer sales from this event will be donated to the shelter. There will be food trucks as well as live music by the, like, totally gnarly cover band Chango. Free admission 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Thundercats hooooo!
  • Thursday: 30th Bash — Beer Dinner with Pig and Fig. To celebrate 30 years in the biz, SFBC is teaming up with Pig + Fig Cafe for what will prove to be an unforgettable beer and food pairing dinner. The meal includes six righteous courses prepared by award-winning, world-renowned chef Laura Crucet. The dinner will take place in SFBC’s packaging hall. Santa Fe Brewing’s bad-to-the-bone brewmaster Bert Boyce will host the evening’s festivities. According to SFBC: “The dinner will be paired with a wide variety of SFBC brews, including a few old favorites from the vault and some never before seen new releases.” Tickets are available through holdmyticket.com. $5 from every ticket sold will be donated to Feeding Santa Fe, Inc. 5-8 p.m.
  • Friday: 30th Bash — “Santa Feighty-Eight” Party. SFBC is going Back to the Future with a celebration worthy of a 30th anniversary. Because the brewery was ‘born in the 80s,’ the staff is hosting an 80s-themed birthday bash with karaoke, a costume contest, beer specials, and food trucks. So get out your best denim jackets and neon spandex and don’t forget to Aqua Net that do! 15 percent of the proceeds from the event will go to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association: New Mexico Chapter. 7-10 p.m.
  • Saturday: 30th Bash — Brews and Body Art. SFBC is hosting a totally bodacious live body art competition with Rock Your Body Face and Body Art. In front of a live audience, body artists will battle each other with live canvasses, and the audiences will vote for their favorites with wicked cash prizes on the line. For the occasion, SFBC is releasing Merkin’s brand-new “Pepe Loco” Mexican Lager (their newest creation in the Ever-Changing series). DJ Orign and DJ Kota will provide the jams. You can bet it’ll be turned up to the max! 15 percent of the sales during this event will be donated to ARTsmart New Mexico. For more information go to: info@rockyourbodyfaba.com. 3-10 p.m.
  • Sunday: 30th Bash — “Hair of the Dog” Beer Olympics. And, the word of the day is “Hangover.” Ahhh! If you’ve still got any fight left in you after a week full of fun beer events, SFBC is closing out the festivities with a “bloody beer bar,” Brass Monkey (an old favorite) small-batch release, and food trucks featuring brunch items to help with your inevitable yet awesome week-of-beer hangover. If that’s not enough for you, you can participate in the 2018 “SFBC Beer Olympics!” Or, if you’re like us in the Crew, will be happy to watch from the side, through very dark sunglasses, Brass Monkey-in-hand. 15 percent of the beer sales from this event will benefit the Adaptive Sports Program New Mexico. Noon-5 p.m.

“If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits eighty-eight miles an hour, you’re going to see some serious shit.” — Doc Brown

To many more years of great beer and great times!

Cheers!

— Luke

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Luke – SFBC Oktoberfiesta Circa 2014

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

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Rich Headley, and his epic goatee, pours us a cold one.

Back in June, even we were feeling the sweltering heat all the way up here in Santa Fe, it was hard to escape the slow simmer of city life even in the Sangres. And, when it gets too hot in the city, us Santa Feans just gotta get out of town. Well, one Wednesday, I did just that. I headed down Highway 14, passing Tumbleroot’s new brewing/distilling/taproom on my left, and Santa Fe Brewing Company’s main complex on my right.

And, vowing not to pick up any hitchhikers, as requested by the signs preceding the state pen, that is, unless they showed the right amount of leg — with my windows rolled down, Iron Maiden screaming across the Bluetooth, I breezed down the two-lane road with a cool sense of freedom. I was getting out of town, and loving the gorgeous, greenish landscape that sprawled out before me.

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Dat vista, tho.

Before I knew it, and I truly mean that, I was there, missing the turn. It was exactly across the road from the Shell Station and Lone Butte General Store. How had I gotten here in 17 minutes from the middle of town? When I’d lived in Albuquerque, last year, it was 30 minutes to anywhere from my corner of the grid. But, here I was at 3810 State Highway 14 N, the exact location of Beer Creek Brewing Company. (For the reader who keeps calling me out on not giving exact addresses. You are not forgotten, ma’am.) (more…)

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That’s one sexy lineup, Second Street.

Since Second Street opened a third location on Rufina Street in 2017, their second brewing facility has acted as a testing-ground for the Rufina location flagship beers and what would be future Second Street can offerings. Back when I spoke with President/Brewmaster Rod Tweet for the Look Back/Look Ahead Series article for 2017-18, they were looking at releasing cans during the second quarter of 2018.

Well, here we are somewhere in the middle of the third, but, as promised, Second Street is currently labeling their cans and shipping them off to stores near you. That’s right, Second Street has cans at last! Again. Well, this time from their own canning line. And this time, for good. You might remember the short run with Mother Road Mobile Canning. Well, Second Street is doing its own thing now, and Dark Side’s got the scoop for you.

As La Cumbre, Marble, Santa Fe Brewing, Bosque, Canteen, Rio Bravo, etc., all well know, packaged goods are just another product on a shelf without a bold, eye-catching, and ultimately memorable design. The brewers work hard to put something excellent in cans and bottles that consumers can bring home from the store, but the brewery’s job is not finished there. The package has to hold its own against hundreds of other designs, especially to folks who don’t already know what they’re looking for, and indeed are judging a book by its cover. For example, Santa Fe Brewing and Marble have both majorly overhauled their packaging to ensure that what they put out there on the shelves would 1) stand out to the public in an ever-shrinking market, and 2) represent their brand to the fullest potential with a certain stylistic cohesiveness, so the consumer can not only return to what they know and love, but also be confident in trying another can or bottle from the same company. (more…)

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Recently I was attending a little meet-up of the Santa Fe brewers at Rowley Farmhouse Ales, and after many delicious beer samples from the local brewers, as well as some recent RFA collabs, RFA let me in on a little secret. Rowley Farmhouse Ales and recent IPA Challenge winner, Blue Corn Brewery, had a collaboration in the works. Seeing as there had never been a collaboration between these two breweries before, I wanted to get the story out to the public as soon as I could. During a very busy weekend, I caught up with both brewers to find out what exactly was going down in my town.

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RFA head brewer Wes Burbank at a recent collaboration with Pipeworks Brewing Company in Chicago.

First up, I met with Wes Burbank, the head brewer at Rowley Farmhouse Ales.

DSBC: I heard you guys are doing a collaboration with Blue Corn soon. Does Rowley Farmhouse Ales (RFA) have an official statement?

Burbank: Official Statement from RFA — Barleywine is dead, long live the new life, Pilsner! #PiL

DSBC: You guys are the kings of the collab over there at RFA. In one aspect or another RFA has been involved in at least six completed collaborations this year with many in the works. What do you feel collaborations bring to breweries and to the beer drinkers?

Burbank: Collabs are great because you get to see how other people brew on different systems. I’ve learned so much this way. It’s really great to be able to exchange little tips and tricks of the trade on brew days to make all our lives easier. There are lots of little things that pop up and you can say, “Oh, I have a clever trick for this!” I think specifically for us at RFA, we just think it’s fun, and we have the ability to do it. We don’t have a lot of core beers, and we love being able to brew new things when the (creative) spark hits. I think it’s great for the beer drinkers, because we’ll usually try stuff that we might not otherwise, either by combining things our breweries are known for, or just doing something crazy. I think it builds a sense of community, not just within the participating breweries, but sometimes with the consumers as well.

DSBC: Whose idea was the collaboration on this one? How’d it come about? Was it from the meeting?

Burbank: I’m not sure exactly where this originated, to be honest. We have been talking about doing one for a while, but usually it’s one of those several-beers-deep situations where it’s, “We should totally do a collab!” And, we finally found some time in our schedules to make it happen when we met for the first POETS (Piss Off Early Tomorrow’s Saturday) meeting. We are lucky at RFA to have a great Mayhem Coordinator (the fantastic Elissa Ritt), and she actually will follow up with this type of thing, which I think is a large part of why we do so many collabs.

DSBC: What are you looking forward to most about this collaboration?

Burbank: There are two things that really excite me about this. The first is we are going to do two versions of this beer — one traditionally at Blue Corn, then followed up by the same recipe at our place with our house culture, so with some added funk. It’ll be exciting to showcase both beers side-by-side!

The second thing I’m excited about is brewing with Paul (Mallory) and Andy (Lane). They both have been great to me since I moved here a couple months ago from Colorado, so I’m excited to work with them. I’ve recently been trying to get the Santa Fe brewing community together once a month to hang out and discuss beer. We just recently had our first get-together and I think it was a huge success. That actually started with Paul and I drinking on the patio at RFA, and we both thought it would be great for everyone to have a place each month where we can exchange ideas, talk shop, or just showcase our new beers. We brewers are a busy bunch, so having a planned time allows us the chance to schedule some time out to see what we’re all up to around town.

* * * * *

I also was able to get a statement from 2018 IPA Challenge winner, head brewer of Blue Corn Brewery, and all around good guy, Paul Mallory.

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Paul Mallory hoisting up the hardware at the 2018 IPA Challenge!

“I feel excited to be doing a collaboration with another brewery in Santa Fe,” Paul said. “I also am eager to see how things turn out, considering we’re doing something a little different in regards to collaboration.

“What inspired the collaboration was just running into John (Rowley) at his spot. We have both always enjoyed doing collaborations with other breweries. We got to talking and came up with a game plan.

“We are doing two different brews, one at Blue Corn, the other at Rowley. It’ll be the same malt bill, but we’ll pitch different cultures in each one. At Blue Corn we’ll be pitching a traditional Hefeweizen yeast, while at Rowley, they’ll be pitching their mixed house culture. It should make for two very different beers.”

When asked if Blue Corn will consider doing more collaborations in the future, Paul had this to say: “We are always looking for ways to make things more interesting for us as brewers, and for our customers. We enjoy doing collaborations with other breweries and local suppliers.”

* * * * *

Two Bavarian Hefeweizens from two different breweries — one thing’s for sure, whatever they do with them, whether it’s the more traditional handling or taking a bit of a more funkadelic approach, you can bet these beers will be well-brewed and delicious. These collaborations are good for our beer community, because we ARE a community. In times like these we have to remember that we’ve really got only one big enemy, and they have Super Bowl commercials and brewery-buying power. Through these collaborations we’re not so much worried about shelf space and sales figures. Instead, we declare that dilly dilly ain’t our dilly, yo. We’re one nation under a groove, gettin’ down just for the funk of it, and making good and interesting beer is all we need to focus on (from the beer-making side of things). To the independent craft beer community, we raise ‘em up!

Cheers!

— Luke

Also on tap for Rowley Farmhouse Ales:

Wednesday: In collaboration with metal band Veil of Maya, RFA is pouring their Ale of Maya at Anodyne.

“Ale of Maya is a double IPA brewed with Veil of Maya for the Summer Slaughter show on Weds 8/15 at the Sunshine Theater. Our friends at Anodyne are pouring the beer for us. It’ll be on tap Wednesday! Maybe you’ll see myself and some of the band there after the show having a couple. Ale of Maya is a West-Coast style DIPA, with lots of citrus notes. 9%ABV, and 66.6 IBU’s. \m/”  ~Wes Burbank

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Thursday: Join Rowley Farmhouse Ales at Tumbleroot Brewery & Distillery for American Funk. They’ll be pouring Greyscale and Kaffeeklatsch alongside Tumbleroot’s Gose and brand new Sour Red! Get four 5-ounce pours for $13 and enjoy live music from Earle Poole & the Girls, and Gary Farmer and the Troublemakers! I’ll be there for the whole funk and nothing but the funk!

American Funk

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I would like to thank my mother. And Oprah. And the Crew. And Chuck Norris. And Pete! No one like you, but you still fly! This one’s for the ladies! Fine… You can have it back, Paul.

Follow me on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro for Untappd Snaps and #DarkSideBrewCrew Shenanigans. Also, follow @lostgramsofluke on IG if you’re so inclined. Quality not assured.

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Marble won the round, but Blue Corn took the overall lead after two rounds of the NMIPAC.

SANTA FE — Many folks packed into Santa Fe’s Second Street – Rufina Taproom for the second round of the New Mexico IPA Challenge on Saturday afternoon. Sixteen IPAs were poured straight from the taps, cleaned by brewers Tom and Kevin the night before. The only major variable to note was the Santa Fe palate. As usual, Santa Fe has its own taste in beer, and as history has dictated, Santa Fe’s taste in IPAs is a beast of its own. But, all things considered, it was another well-run event, very smooth, and everyone left happy with their votes.

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Just a few people packed the Rufina taproom.

After the Second Leg, Blue Corn is in the lead with 38 votes, Red River is in second with 31 votes, Boxing Bear is in third with 29 votes, and Marble is in fourth with 28 votes after a round-leading 25 at Rufina. Fifth goes to La Cumbre, Stoutmeister’s pick in the first round, with 25 votes, and Quarter Celtic is sixth with 21 votes.

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That’s a lot of brewing talent in one photo!

With just a couple surprises, the NM IPA Challenge will be another competition decided in Bernalillo (though it’s town, not county this time). At this point, I’m really interested to see if the voters will choose a traditional New Mexico/West Coast-style IPA or a New England-style hazy IPA, because I think this is the year we make a statement to our brewers. Is the haze here to stay? Is it the direction we’re moving in? That’s up to you, voters. Tell the brewers what you think.

Red River Brewing Company’s head brewer, Chris Calhoun, said, “We’re a brand-new brewery, so we’re just excited to compete amongst the big boys of New Mexico. We’re really very proud and excited about our showing in the first rounds. And, we’re excited to see what happens in Bernalillo.”

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Hops from above!

The final leg of the New Mexico IPA Challenge will come to a thrilling conclusion at the brand-new Bosque North on Saturday, July 28. To all IPAs and the New Mexico brewers who painstakingly create them, cheers!

— Luke

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Luke with the brewers of Red River Brewing Company.

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Monks’ Corner will no longer call this spot at Silver and Third Street home.

As you’ve all heard by now, Monks’ Taproom, Abbey Brewing Co.’s Albuquerque-based taproom, is closing its doors at the end of business on Tuesday, July 31. Yesterday, I reached out to Berkeley Merchant, general manager of Abbey Brewing, and he had this to say in a forthcoming press release:

“We will miss serving our regular guests and neighbors, and collaborating with our colleagues at Sidetrack, Red Door, Duel, and Boese Brothers. Our experiences as part of the downtown community have brought us great pride and satisfaction, and we have enjoyed serving our guests, being part of the craft brewing community, and supporting the industry in general as charter members of the New Mexico Brewers Guild. However, the challenges of providing a highly memorable guest experience at this specific location at this time have led us to the decision to concentrate on the brewing and distribution of our family of Monks’ Ales while we explore new sites for a future taproom.”

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Co-owners David Gonzales (left) and Berkeley Merchant (right)

Abbey Brewing will continue to brew and distribute Monks’ Ales wherever you currently purchase them, and they’ll likely appear in more stores and markets in the future. Monks’ Taproom will continue to serve beer up through the 31st, and starting today (Friday), they’ll have plenty of farewell specials on all beer, wine, cider, growler fills, merch, and package. Just follow along on their social media channels for the exact specials available. And, be sure to show them your love and support as they transition out of the corner of Silver and Third.

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All hail the Tripel Reserve.

Thank you, Monks’, for always providing a friendly atmosphere in which to drink your delicious Monks’ Ales. May you find a successful place to land, and for the sake of your fans, may you find it sooner than later. To Abbey Brewing Company and the great quality of beer you make here’s to many more years sipping your excellent products brewed in the ancient monastic tradition, cheers!

— Luke

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Follow Luke on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro and be his drinking buddy on Untappd: SantaFeLuke

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Shout out to my man Jason Soto, for the great picture and for keeping the lines of New Mexico clean with Prime Lines. A huge thank you from all of us! Cheers, brother.

The New Mexico IPA Challenge is well underway, and the question of fairness has come up a bit, to say the least. Well, at least from a technical standpoint, rest assured, our IPA Challenge is as fair as it can be because the Brewers Guild and its volunteers have taken steps to ensure that each beer gets the proper treatment, such as the proper cleaning of draft lines before and during the competition.

Draft beer line cleaning is a little known and often overlooked aspect of the craft brewing scene. But, it is much more important than we think. It’s far more important than the temperature of our beer and what sort of glassware it arrives in. (Although our friend Karim may argue with me on that.) Have you ever sat down at a new bar or establishment, and, having seen it on the list, ordered up your favorite IPA? And, upon first taste, you say to yourself, “Is this the same beer? I know this beer. This tastes weird. This isn’t my beer.” But, it is.

We all have, my friends. Aside from other small variables, like how old a keg is, when it comes to taste issues with a well-brewed beer at a bar, pub, or even (to a much lesser extent) brewery, the problem is usually dirty draft lines. Dirty draft lines cause all sorts of disgusting and unsanitary health issues, but often most noticeably to the public, the issue is taste. And, if we’re not in the tasting business, why are we even talking about beer? Without clean draft lines, the beer that your favorite brewers worked so hard to create won’t be the same beer you find in your glass. Can you see why this would be an issue in a competition based on taste?

So, I put it to the folks at Prime Lines, the company responsible for cleaning the lines prior to the preliminary round and then the first leg of the NMIPAC. I wanted to get down and dirty to clear up why it’s so important that someone properly maintains beer lines for this competition as well as for all beer drinking, ever. Amen. Enter Prime Lines co-founder Angelo Oroña.

DSBC: So, tell me a little bit about Prime Lines, who you are and what you do?

Oroña: Prime Lines Inc. is New Mexico’s first and only third-party draft beer system maintenance and installation company. We clean nearly 1,000 lines statewide for New Mexico’s breweries and wholesalers. We adhere to the Brewers Association guidelines for draft system maintenance, as set out in the Draught Beer Quality Manual. This means we clean all lines under contract on a bi-weekly basis to ensure the beer gets from keg to glass as the brewer intended.

Additionally, we design and install draft beer systems for bars, restaurants, breweries and taprooms, including the forthcoming LOBO Taproom on UNM’s Campus!

DSBC: For a new LOBO Taproom on campus? That’s some big news! We’ll be sure to cover that as more news is forthcoming.

Prime Lines has been an associate member of the New Mexico Brewer’s Guild since they founded the company in November 2016.

DSBC: How did you guys get involved with the New Mexico IPA Challenge (NMIPAC) this year? Was this Prime Lines first major involvement?

Oroña: For the last two years, Prime Lines has cleaned and serviced the lines for the elimination round of NMIPAC, held at Duel ABQ. All faucets, keg couplers, and lines were professionally cleaned by our team to ensure the integrity of the beer and the competition. John Gozigian (executive director of the NM Brewers Guild) asked that we clean all the lines prior to competition.

DSBC: So on a technical level, what does Prime Lines do to “level the playing field?”

Oroña: Prime Lines helps to level the playing field by giving each beer a chance to be presented the way the brewer intended. The lines are cleaned with a special caustic solution that is designed to eliminate any organic compounds that may have been left behind from a previous beer that was poured through the line. The beer faucets are scrubbed clean and the keg couplers are serviced to perform as intended.

DSBC: Are you folks cleaning ALL the lines for the duration of the competition?

Oroña: Prime Lines was asked by the NMBG to clean lines for the elimination round of the NMIPAC.  We routinely service and clean the Taos Mesa Taproom, so we made sure to service that account before the first round. I have no doubt the other host breweries will present the beer at top quality! For Bosque’s Bernalillo facility, these IPAs may be the first beers ever to flow through the lines!

For the Second Street Brewery Rufina second leg of the NMIPAC, brewers Tom and Kevin will be cleaning the lines late Friday night after the close of business.“That way they can make sure everything is clean, and flushed, and cold before (Saturday) morning,” front-of-house manager Mariah Scee informed me.

DSBC: What other variables is the Guild controlling to keep this a fair competition from a technical standpoint? Temp? Pressure? Etc.?

Oroña: Each of the beers for this competition is preserved in a chilled environment prior to competition. The beers are served under ideal conditions by volunteers that have experience in beer dispense. Many volunteers work very hard to ensure that the NMIPAC is a great event and fair competition.

In years past, the IPAs of the Challenge have been poured through jockey boxes — the cooler and hose set ups you often see at festivals — due to the sheer number of beers, and the inability of most taprooms to pour all of them (often alongside their own beers). Not every brewery has 24-plus taps.

DSBC: In your expert opinion, what are some of the drawbacks to pouring IPAs through various jockey boxes?

Oroña: Jockey boxes are never an ideal beer dispense option. Maintaining beer keg temperature in the middle of a New Mexican summer with bags of ice is challenging. Variations in jockey box design can also lead to technical issues arising during the competition. Variables such as consistent temperature, CO2 pressure and line restriction all play into pouring a proper beer.

Prime Lines was established to protect the integrity of beer. Our partnership with the New Mexico Brewers Guild on the NMIPAC was a natural fit. We deeply care about draft beer quality and hope to continue to support NM’s burgeoning craft beer scene. We are proud to be on the forefront of clean draft lines and draft beer dispense education in New Mexico.

* * * * *

With clean lines, we have beer as the brewers intended. Gone, hopefully, are the days of pouring issues mucking up a clear-cut victory. Of course, that leaves the rest of the competition in the hands of those who come out to these events. As with all democratic processes, you can’t complain if you don’t come out and vote. And no, it’s not a perfect system, but it is well run by people who really care about beer. Now it’s at least a fairer fight without pouring issues to worry about.

As for the rest of the competition, I’ll leave you with a quote from a friend of the Guild and the Crew, Boxing Bear co-owner Kevin Davis. Via Facebook, he commented, “This friendly competition is about raising money for the Guild, celebrating NM’s great breweries and having a few laughs along the way. Everyone works hard to put on this event… not the easiest job to organize. Kudos to Duel and Taos Mesa for hosting the first two rounds, and thanks to John G and the Guild volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes making it fun. Cheers!”

The IPA Challenge continues tomorrow from noon to 4 p.m. at Second Street Rufina, locatd at 2920 Rufina Street, Santa Fe, NM, 87507. Tickets available here!

— Luke

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This is Luke’s fifth time covering the Santa Fe NM IPA Challenge, and his fifth year with the Crew.

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We’re really digging the poster.

On Saturday, the Rufina taproom will host Second Street’s first Crab and Pilsner Festival, and you’re all invited. The event goes from 11 a.m. on Saturday to 10 p.m. on Sunday. Yes, it’s a two-day festival, and it seems like the perfect thing to bring your dad to on Sunday, because it’s Father’s Day, in case you’ve forgotten. And, gosh darn it, dad deserves good beer! And, if dad’s into the light stuff, like most dads are, well, we know where he can find a few of them this weekend.

The Crab and Pilsner Festival is free to attend. You don’t have to buy tickets or make reservations. Just get to 2920 Rufina Street early enough to buy your pilsner glass and T-shirt. All pilsners will be sold at regular pint prices, but you can buy flights as well. And, we’re pretty sure they’ll let you sample a few more, if you ask nicely.

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You can wear the poster? Even better!

As of the posting, we’re still missing a few beers from some of the breweries, but there will be pilsners from 17 breweries in total.

Blue Corn — Atomic Blond

Bosque — TBA

Boxing Bear — Body Czech

Canteen Brewhouse — High Plains Pilsner

Duel — Sorachi Ace Pilsner

Enchanted Circle — Palisades Pilsner

Kaktus — Kaktus Pilsner

Marble — Marble Pilsner

Marble Heights — Thunder From Dortmunder

Santa Fe — Freestyle

Second Street — Agua Fria Pilsner

Sidetrack — Sidetrack Pilsner

Starr Brothers — Starrphire

Steel Bender — Schnitz ‘N Giggle

Taos Mesa — Koenig Lager

Tractor — TBA

Turtle Mountain — TBA

As the name of the festival implies, it’s also a crab festival, with a menu put together by Second Street’s southern chef Milton Villarrubia, which, if you’ve ever eaten at Rufina, you’d know this man can do southern food.

MENU:
Crab and Tasso Gumbo
Cup $7.50 / Bowl $15
Succulent Gulf blue crab meat and house-made smoked Cajun Tasso Ham are cooked in a seafood stock with trinity, chef’s signature dark chocolate brown roux. Seasoned to perfection with Cajun spices and served with white rice, grilled baguette, and garnished with green onions.

Snow Crab Plate
Half Portion $18.50 / Whole Portion $37
Traditionally boiled Pacific Northwestern snow crab-cluster, served with boiled red potatoes, corn, crackers, and melted butter.

Dungeness Crab Plate
Half Portion $18.50 / Whole Portion $37
A Pacific Northwest classic! Dungeness crab served with boiled red potatoes, corn, crackers, and melted butter.

Sides
Corn on the cob – $.75 each
Red Potato – $.75 each
Andouille Sausage – $3.50
Whole Artichoke with Caper Aioli – $7
Dry Creole Spice – $1

There will also be a free live show on Saturday by guitarist Combsy, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to keep us all entertained well into the night.

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Hello, proper glassware!

This will be a different festival than our Albuquerque crowd will be used to, but then again, this model seems to work for most of Second Street’s festivals, where it’s a little less of a line and sample-fest, and more of a food-and-drink-and-music hangout. At these things, I’ve never left feeling like I’ve spent too much or gotten too little to taste, and I’ve always made a few new friends. So, I’ll be there on Saturday, enjoying some of the best clean and clear beers our New Mexico breweries have to offer under one roof.

To the pilsner, where mistakes have nowhere to hide, raise ‘em up!

— Luke