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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

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If you’re gonna build a brewery in the mountains, go big.

A little back story: When I began learning about beer, real beer, all those years ago, it was because I had a dream of opening a brewery in a very specific location. This dream led to homebrewing, joining the local homebrew club, writing about beer for the Dark Side, and then working for a brewery for a minute or two. Long ago, I had wanted to open a brewery in Red River, one of my favorite mountain towns, a place I go every year for Oktoberfest. It’s been quite a few years after I had that initial dream, and since, I’ve found my place in the industry as a writer instead. And, though I no longer have any inclination to run a brewery, I still believed, wholeheartedly, that Red River wanted a brewery; no, it needed one.

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RRBC at Bacon & Brews prior to opening. From center to right, owner Michael Calhoun, son Chris Calhoun, and wife Sharon Calhoun. (I’m sorry I don’t know the other two nice ladies.)

Red River Brewing Company (RRBC) officially opened its doors to the public on Friday, May 25, right at the start of Memorial Day weekend. And, for one family, it’s been quite the ride from which they still have yet to come down.

I recently visited Red River with family from Norway. During that time, I was able to schedule an interview with the owner and his son, at some point between a hike and a chairlift ride. Though they wouldn’t be open for a couple of hours, owner Michael Calhoun let me in through the back with the grain. And, standing there next to the shiny brewhouse, I asked him how it all got started.

“The Calhoun family has always been into craft beer,” Michael said. “Sharon, my wife, and I grew up here. We were born and raised in Red River. And then, we were in Los Alamos for a while. When Bathtub Row (Brewing Co-op), opened up, we were having such a fantastic time at that place, that we realized that Red River could really benefit from having a brewery up there. And, my wife and I were looking for an excuse to get back up here to Red River. My dad, who’s involved in this business, had this awesome piece of land. This location, it’s phenomenal! My brother is an architect, and he was itching to do another project here in Red River. So, all these planets just lined up, and it just made sense. Everybody in the family was on board, so we just decided to do it.” (more…)

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Welcome to the scene, Tumbleroot!

It’s been a couple weeks now since the new brewery/distillery and concert space/taproom have been open, and it already seems as though new life has sprung up in Santa Fe’s brewery/entertainment/nightlife community. With all inspections passed, Tumbleroot’s doors have finally swung open at both of their locations. That’s right, both of their locations. In two short weeks, Santa Feans have already found their way to the hip new joint on Agua Fria Street to grab a beer or cocktail, and enjoy some excellent entertainment while they’re at it.

On three separate occasions, four, if you’re counting a purely personal stop, I visited the brewing facility and the taproom. On two of those trips, I sat down with the co-founding Jasons, Jason Fitzpatrick and Jason Kirkman. And then, on a separate instance, I brought the brewers from another local brewery to visit and conduct an across-the-board cocktail and spirit tasting of Tumbleroot, or an all-in-fun inter-brewery raid. Because, friends, I am but one beer writer.

First off, I met with co-founder and general manager Jason Fitzpatrick. Over a Pale Ale, in a small office, just behind the large stage, I asked him how it all got started.

“My partner Jason Kirkman and I worked up at Bathtub Row,” Fitzpatrick said. “And, the reasons that we went up there, separately, was to learn how to open a brewery.”

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Co-founder and GM Jason Fitzpatrick has come a long way since bartending on the Plaza.

Before that, Fitzpatrick worked at Marble Brewery, beginning as a bartender on the plaza in Santa Fe (now the Draft Station), and ending as vice president of Marble. He’s been in the industry for eight years, but he’s been in the restaurant and bar industry for sixteen years, between Scottsdale, Ariz., Los Angeles, and Santa Fe.

At Bathtub Row, he met Kirkman, where they’d worked together for about five months, before heading up to Denver for the Great American Beer Festival. There, they got to spend some time together, really talking about what it would take to open a brewery.

“We thought we had a similar aesthetic,” Fitzpatrick said. “And, just this idea of community and creating this sort of taproom. And, our skills really complemented each other well, because I’m on the business side, and he’s on the brewer/distiller side.”

As they toured around Denver, collecting inspiration and tossing around ideas, the idea of Tumbleroot was born.

Tumbleroot Bisbee (Production Facility)

32 Bisbee Ct, Santa Fe, NM 87508

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Co-founder and brewmaster Jason Kirkman never stops working.

Co-founder Jason Kirkman, head of brewing and distilling operations, is in charge of what goes into and comes out of the tanks, of course with input from his brewers and Fitzpatrick.

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Brewer Aaron Costello sniffs something delicious off the still, formerly of Chili Line Brewery and the local homebrew club.


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Brewer Brandon O’Brien brewed many different seasonal beers at home, including saisons and a chocolate coconut stout. From local Santa Fe homebrew club.

Kirkman was a biochemistry major in college who started homebrewing after taking a microbiology class, and his first job after college was working at a commercial brewery. He’d taught for years, but homebrewed all the while.

“(Kirkman’s) a bit of a savant when it comes to taking the ingredients and knowing what the end-product is going to be before doing it,” Fitzpatrick said.

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Kirkman takes every issue, large or small, seriously.

Kirkman has been homebrewing for over 20 years, but he’s worked the past couple years at Broken Trail Brewery and Distillery, learning how to become a distiller.

I finally caught up with the elusive (and very busy) Kirkman at the production facility in their much smaller, but no-less gorgeous wood-topped taproom. I asked him a few questions about the production side, as what sounded like A Tribe Called Quest bumped some ill beats in the background.

“We’re utilizing the brewery for the fermentation side of the distillation process and spirits production,” Kirkman said as he leaned over the bar. “We start with 100-percent organic base ingredients. If we’re going to do a rum, we’ll take some kind of cane product. We’ve been using organic evaporated cane sugar for the white, the gold rum. Basically evaporated cane juice, so it’s still got flavor and minerals and all that. And then, we’ll add our house yeasts. We’ll use beer yeasts. We’ll use some dry spirit specific yeasts. We’ve been throwing in a lot of French Saison yeast for spirit fermentation, for a little character and attenuation. For the Agave, we use 100-percent blue agave nectar, so we’re using a tequila specific yeast.”

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Fermenters ready for anything. They have to be.

Tumbleroot does all of its base fermentation utilizing the 10-barrel brewhouse, brewing equipment, and fermenters. The staff then puts it through the still, and, depending on the type of spirit, for example, if it’s a vodka, they’ll make a neutral spirit, pure distilling at a very high proof up to 95 percent of alcohol (the highest you can get off of a regular distillation of alcohol coming off the still). Tumbleroot doesn’t charcoal filter its spirits, as the staff wants people to taste some of the base ingredients in there. They want more natural flavor in what they’re creating, which is closer to the European way, Kirkman said.

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Be still, my heart.

When it came to choosing their spirits, the staff knew they wanted a full bar at the taproom. And, in order to do that, they distilled with variety in mind, also thinking along the lines of what spirits do we want to make for good cocktails?

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Just one of the incredible craft cocktails available at Tumbleroot.

“That’s why we have two types of gin, for different kinds of cocktails,” Kirkman said. “We have different kinds of vodkas (that are) great mixers. Our rums are more highly distilled than a lot of sipping rums that you age. Given time, we’d love to have more rye whiskeys. But, right now it’s basically cocktails, right? And, with our plan, we’re doing everything from basic ingredient to glass. We’re actually making mixers, simple syrups, our own vermouth, our own bitters.”

As far as beer philosophy goes, Kirkman said they’re focusing on seasonals. They want to have a regular rotation of seasonal beers and then a few that remain year-round, like their IPA and Farmhouse Ale. One seasonal they just released only days ago was their Maibock, which is the last of the spring rotation. They plan to have season-specific beers, but always present a wide variety in their seasonal rotations, with a sort of formula to their releases. Kirkman said they want to always do lagers, always a Belgian style, always an American style, and always a dark beer.

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Bourbon Barrel Belgian Dark Strong Ale with Cherries. Because hell yes. (Available in bottles only, amigo.)

As for barrel-aging, they currently have a Bourbon Barrel Belgian Dark Strong Ale with cherries on the menu.

“We’re infusing spirits and beer,” Fitzpatrick said. “We want to go back and forth in the barrel. So we’re going to get some barrels. For example, our next barrel project is getting some kind of barrels and putting our Navy Strength Gin in them. And, once the Navy Strength Gin is done, we’ll do a Barleywine that goes into those barrels. Once the Barleywine’s been in there, we’ll go back to spirits. So those barrels are going to be used multiple times. We’ll go back and forth between spirits and beer. We have our Rye Whiskey on now that was aged for 14 months. We have a bourbon in a barrel right now, and a Farmhouse Whiskey — it’s our Farmhouse beer recipe, distilled as whiskey. And, those will turn into beer barrels after we empty them.”

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The first of many projects to bear fruit. Ha!

Right now, Tumbleroot has a lot of irons in the fire, from 12 wine barrels full of sours, the Barleywine project, and barrel-aging more spirits. Kirkman talked of actually getting three different spirits barrels, and putting the golden Barleywine into each different barrel for very different effects. Now it’s just finding the time and the manpower to do it all.

The future of Tumbleroot production is wide open at this point. Kirkman said they’re going to focus on refining the base recipes. He’s looking forward to a rotating field beer in the summer, with wild-harvested ingredients or ingredients acquired from a local farmer. He’s definitely got more barrel projects in mind, bigger spirits that take more time to age, like Anejo, more whiskeys, and so on.

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The supply is already impressive.

Tumbleroot currently brews three times a week on its 10-barrel system, producing about 30 or 40 barrels a week, while sneaking in a fourth brew. But, of course, not all of it is beer.

“Each distillation, each 10-barrel fermentation, depending on what we do, can yield about about two-to-300 bottles,” Kirkman said. “And, that’s pretty much a weekly thing. That’ll keep us ahead, and then we can start distributing. But right now, with demand, I’m going to run out before I can make everything.”

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Tumbleroot’s 10-barrel system is already getting quite the workout

Tumbleroot’s Agua Fria Taproom, Stage and Marketplace

Location: 2797 Agua Fria St, Santa Fe, NM 87507

It took the Jasons and company just six months to transform the remnants of old Club Alegria into Santa Fe’s newest playground (for both children and adults), currently housed by Tumbleroot. But, it started long before that.

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Now that’s a patio.

They signed the lease on the Agua Fria location on October 24 of last year.

“It really took us a year to get to that point though,” Fitzpatrick said. “Part of it was going through the city process, special use permit and all that. We didn’t want to start doing work until we knew we’d be able to be in this space.”

Any issues they came across, they worked through them, and like any brewery trying to open within the city limits, they had to deal with city obstacles. And, if you’ve ever read one of my articles about a brewery opening in Santa Fe, you already know it ain’t easy like Sunday morning. The construction process took six months for them to become compliant, but then there was also meeting the goal of hitting the visual aesthetic they had in mind since GABF.

Opening two spaces at once wasn’t the original plan. Ideally, they wanted it to be once space. They looked for different spots around Santa Fe for a whole year. It just didn’t work out for the Jasonic Duo. After walking the Alegria space, they said they both loved the potential. They believed it was exactly what they wanted for the bar space, the stage area, the wide open hall. But, they also knew, right away, that they wouldn’t be brewing and distilling on site. This space was what they had in mind for the Tumbleroot experience, but a separate production facility was now necessary.

There are now eight taps at both locations, from which flow Kirkman’s creations.

Beers:

  • Tier 1: Dortmunder, Farmhouse, Irish Stout
  • Tier 2: Citra Pale Ale, IPA, Honey Hibiscus Wheat
  • Tier 3: Imperial Red Ale
  • Tier 4: Bourbon Barrel Belgian Dark Strong Ale with cherries

Spirits

  • Grain Vodka
  • Botanical Gin
  • London Dry Gin
  • Blanco Rum
  • Oro Rum
  • Plata Agave
  • Repasado Agave
  • Rye Malt Whiskey

Cocktails

Front-of-house operations manager Joe Haggard came up with the special cocktails mixed at Tumbleroot. Very well versed in mixology, he put together the special list, in collaboration with Kirkman and Fitzpatrick as seen in the picture below.

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There is a science to all of it.

Food

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They cut a hole in the fence for food trucks to serve people more easily. Genius.

They plan to keep their food situation simple, offering snacks but mostly utilizing food trucks to keep their patrons fed.

Music

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The Tumbleroot stage has plenty of bands coming soon.

Tumbleroot has music four nights a week. Tuesday is a songwriter’s showcase hosted by Bill Palmer. Wednesday is an open-mic night hosted by sound engineer, Jason Reed. Fridays and Saturdays, Tumbleroot hosts full bands from both in and out of state. The staff said they will also be working with AMP Concerts to bring in national shows, which they aim to be booking for late summer/early fall.

The occupancy is 400, both inside and out. Tumbleroot is open from noon to 10 p.m. from Sunday through Wednesday, and from noon to midnight Thursday through Saturday. Which, if I may note, is awesome to have another place open past 10 in this sleepy city.

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A familiar sight. Fitz, still doing what he loves, serving up a good time.

In Fitzpatrick’s words, what makes this space unique for Santa Fe is “what we’re able to do because of our size.

“That we can create kids’ areas,” he said. “We have intimate lounge areas. We have a bar that we created, so that people sit across from each other, and can meet and talk — without TVs, so that everybody’s not just staring at a screen, but instead, across the bar, interacting. So I think it’s the flexibility of the space. It can become so many different things, and from hour to hour, change.”

Tumbleroot officially opened the taproom on April 19. The production facility (taproom) officially opened on April 6.

For the future of Tumbleroot, Fitzpatrick said he wants to create community, or help foster community. That’s the focus of the Tumbleroot taproom space. A big part of what they want to do at the taproom is host different events, such as artist markets and fundraisers all built around the the local community. And, next year they plan on distribution, with accounts solely around Santa Fe, for now. Soon, however, they hope to build a real name for themselves within the yet unsaturated craft spirit business.

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Take the time to sit back and relax with all that Tumbleroot has to offer.

I’ve visited both spaces and tried everything on the menu at least once. The new Tumbleroot taproom is certainly something to behold. It’s a giant, but a gentle one. It has the funny tendency to make you want to return. And, though they’re dialing in the recipes for the beers, everything I had was solid, though different approaches than one might be expecting in some cases. Don’t expect heaps of heavy-hitting hops here, at least not yet anyway. The spirits are top-notch, light years beyond even our favorite store-bought high-end hooch, but then again, Santa Fe doesn’t produce bad spirits. Perhaps it’s all the churches? I kid. And, the cocktails are inspired, refreshing, and full of flavors that you can easily pick out, if you spend enough time sipping. And, sip you should, lest these spirits turn to poltergeists in larger numbers.

Something great and powerful has come to Santa Fe. But, something deeply welcoming, too. The bartenders and servers are some of the nicest you’ll find in the area, and the seats and smooth wood of the bar tops just beg you to sit a spell and relax. Bring the family, bring your buddies, or bring a date. All are welcome, and well-received. If you need service, just ask for a Jason. There may be more than two around.

For my full-on brewery raid, where I brought the brewers of Rowley Farmhouse Ales to taste everything Tumbleroot had to offer, stay-tuned for my next article. Until then, to exploring broadly, connecting deeply, cheers!

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— Luke

2017NMIPACround2-3

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

 

 

 

 

My Post-42

This Friday, Blue Corn is hosting their second annual Cask Festival at the southside location, bringing together at least half of the operational breweries north of La Bajada hill. OK, Burqueños, that’s that big hill between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Blue Corn organized this special event with seven excellent breweries on the roster, including one brand-new, not-yet-open (as of the writing of this article) place, Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery. Blue Corn has always been a great host for beer dinners. If you’ve read my articles, you’d already know it’s going to be an excellent way to spend your Friday night.

Why cask ales, you ask? Well, we all have mixed opinions about cask ales. Some of us enjoy them, some of us are indifferent. Some brewers don’t like to serve beer in them, but they’re a part of the industry, and some would argue it’s draught beer at its best. And, though the process has been around for ages, it’s not likely to go away any time soon, because it’s a part of beer history, and another interesting way to experience something we love.

With cask ales, something else is going on in the beer that makes it different and special, not just a foamy pour from a tap. You see, the active yeast used to carbonate the beer in these metal vessels continues to age the beer all the way until it has been tapped. As the beer ages and conditions, the CO2 created by the yeast will dissolve into the beer, smoothing out the flavors, blending as a painter does colors, and toning down the sharpness of the hops.

Oftentimes, and in a few of the cases below, brewers will add special ‘extras’ to these beers to give them a significant change in flavor profile, something they (as businesses) couldn’t do on a much larger scale, such as additions of fruit, extra dry-hops, honey, and so on. These flavors continue to condition with the beer, and give it more complexity than it had at the outset. Perhaps it loses something in the mouthfeel and in the warmer temperature, but it is still a fun way to test your palate with new flavors. Just imagine, for a minute, that if you could just cut straight through some of the high rocky peaks, you could discover the dense and beautiful vegetation at the bottom of the valley. And, there’s a history lesson in the process, if you really want to get into it. But, let that be your icebreaker at the event.

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Casks from the first Cask Festival at Blue Corn Brewery last year.

Blue Corn Brewery is no stranger to cask beers. As the title of the festival suggests, it’s not the first rodeo for the brewery. In fact, it’s not even the second. Blue Corn has held a few of these sorts of events in the past, and to great success. At one time, the brewery even used to release cask beers every Friday at the Draft Station in downtown Santa Fe. (Ah, the good ole’ days.) The best part of this event is that seven breweries are coming together on one night, to chill out, to laugh, to talk about everything from brewing process to mash paddle size … er, you know, brewer stuff. And, they’re totally accessible to you, the customers, if you’re not shy.

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Dave “Merkin,” head of R&D at Santa Fe Brewing Co., pours us a beer.

Go up to the guys with beards, glasses, or fruit-forward shirts. You’ll find them in the corners of the event — they’re the ones laughing the loudest, and having the most fun because they’re all buddies. They know how to enjoy these things, but, it’s not an exclusive club. These guys are friendly and will absolutely tell you about their favorite beer styles, favorite (other) breweries, favorite brewed beers, and so on. And, if you’re not feeling as chatty as I am after a couple beers, just ask them which brewery they brew for, and thank them for the hard work they do. Not all heroes wear capes, my friends.

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An appetizer from last year’s event.

Included in the price of these seven cask ales are seven appetizers of Blue Corn’s chef’s creation. In my experience, these bites have always been worth the price of admission, even without the beer.

Menu:

Blue Corn Brewery: Barrel Aged Imperial Stout with Cherries

            -Black Cherry Mousse with Chocolate Shavings

Santa Fe Brewing Co.: 7K All Day IPA

            -Marinated Pork Taco with Pickled Onions, Lime Cabbage and Cilantro

Duel Brewing: Fiction Belgian IPA with French Oak and Kaffir Lime Leaves

            -Salmon Ceviche with Habanero and Mango

Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery: Dry Irish Stout with Honey

            -Traditional Irish Stew

Second Street Brewery: XX ESB dry-hopped with Chinook and EKG

            -Beer Battered Alaskan Cod with Malt Vinegar Crisps

Bathtub Row Brewing Coop: Hoppenheimer IPA with Lemondrop Hops

            -Apple-Lemon Mini Cupcake with Mint

Rowley Farmhouse Ales: Biere de Garde with Brettanomyces

            -Gorgonzola Grilled Cheese with Herbed Portobello

Blue Corn was gracious enough to host this event, and we have a good number of participating breweries, but one is so new, that they haven’t sold a single beer in public, to my knowledge. Friday night at Blue Corn Brewery will be your first guaranteed chance to try a beer from Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery. I reached out to Jason Fitzpatrick, co-founder and manager of business operations, and asked him a few welcome-aboard questions.

DSBC: What does it mean to Tumbleroot to officially join the Santa Fe (as well as the whole New Mexico) beer scene?

Fitzpatrick: Joining the ranks of the talent brewers and operators in New Mexico is quite an honor. (Jason) Kirkman and I hatched the idea that was to become Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery two-and-a-half years ago, and the road was tough to get to this point. After many ups and downs throughout the process, we certainly have a greater appreciation for all of those who paved the way.

DSBC: What do you look forward to most about becoming part of this very vibrant scene? And, what are your hopes for your new establishment?

Fitzpatrick: We look forward to bringing something new and exciting to Santa Fe and New Mexico. We are inspired by bits and pieces of our experiences at taprooms, bars, restaurants, cocktail parties, family gatherings, concerts, and travels, and aim to bring all the best of those into one community-centric space. With a capacity for 400 people, our taproom can serve many different experiences at once. We hope that we have succeeded. We hope to become a second home for Santa Feans, and to inspire others to explore and connect with the community.

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Tumbleroot is here, as we saw with Jason Kirkman at Winterbrew 2018.

Why you should go?

For one thing, it’s always fun to taste a beer that’s exclusive to one event. It’s not something everyone can say they’ve had. And, it’s not something you’re likely to find again. The cask beers are usually very interesting, and certainly on the ‘extra’ end of the spectrum.

The food will be excellent and inspired, as it always is, because Blue Corn has a reputation to uphold for its beer dinners. I haven’t been let down yet.

Finally, this is a great opportunity to actually go up to and speak with brewers about what they do, how they make your beer, and what kind of beers they might be making next. Who knows? Your crazy suggestion might just end up in one of their fermenters and on the chalkboards. Or, as in my case, you might convince the brewer to brew something you once loved that’s no longer in the rotation.

The second annual Santa Fe Cask Fest is THIS Friday at 6:30 p.m. The cost of $30 per guest gets you a pour of each cask ale and seven appetizers, and a chance to shake the hand of most of the Santa Fe brewers. It’s a ticket with a built-in VIP pass, and you’re cordially invited. I look forward to seeing you there! To more beer beer events in Santa Fe, and a rapidly growing independent craft scene, we raise them up, cheers!

For reservations call 505-984-1800, or email manager@bluecornbrewery.com.
Address: 4056 Cerrillos Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87507

— Luke

2017NMIPACround2-3

If you see me at the event, say, “Hey!” I promise to be on my most reasonable behavior.

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The fourth location will open today. (Courtesy of SFBC)

By now, we imagine that you have heard the news that Santa Fe Brewing Company is opening a third off-site taproom in downtown Santa Fe. With the announcements on social media and in the newspapers, the word has officially gotten out on the opening of their new little speakeasy. Believe me, the irony is not lost on me.

Well, this seemed the perfect opportunity for me to catch up with Santa Fe Brewing Co. (SFBC) and talk to them about their Look Back for 2017, and Look Ahead for 2018. Last week, I met with SFBC owner, Brian Lock, who gave me a tour of the still-unfinished taproom. There, he let me in on the history of the building, the vision he had for the speakeasy-like establishment, and exactly what you can expect to experience in this very cool space. We also chatted about their big accomplishments for the year, and their bigger plans they have for 2018 and beyond.

Beginning with a look back, I asked Lock what their major highlights were for the year.

“I think the biggest highlight for (2017) was our repackaging and redesign of all of our packages,” he said. “We decided we wanted to make the appearance of Santa Fe Brewing Company as uniform across the board as possible, and make it super easy for the consumer to identify which brands were ours.”

Lock said this arose from complaints from distributor partners and even confused consumers out there in the market. The new can designs are more solid, yet impactful, and now, each bears the Zia symbol, representing the state flag.

SFBC Can Lineup

Old brewery, new can designs.

In addition to the new designs, a big change this year was the release of Happy Camper, 7K IPA, and Freestyle Pilsner in both 16-ounce tallboys and 12-packs.

One of the goals for 2017 was staying relevant in the craft beer scene.

“Because it’s so crowded and there’s so much competition now, the only way to really set yourselves apart and stay relevant with your consumer is by coming up with innovative products, coming out with new and exciting beers,” Lock said.

For SFBC, 7K was the big objective in 2017. They needed an IPA that was current with the times. When Happy Camper was released in 2010, it was considered a pretty hoppy, but balanced beer by the craft drinking public. In the last eight years, however, tastes have certainly evolved in the direction of the West Coast style, as far as IPAs go. For Santa Fe Brewing, 7K was a good benchmark accomplishment, in my opinion, because even though many around are now brewing the hazy New-England style IPAs, I don’t believe these types of beers are a destination, but a stop (albeit delicious stop) along the way. Personally, I will never not want a good, hoppy beer leaning towards the piney, citrusy, or brightly floral. There, I said it.

7K has been very successful for SFBC this year.

“Right now, we’re on course to have 7K surpass Happy Camper in volume by May of this year,” Lock said.

On the new beer front, SFBC released Lust Garden, a dark lager with notes of chocolate and a healthy hint of raspberries.

“We really tried to focus on styles of beer that just didn’t exist out there, something that’s really unique that nobody else is really doing,” Lock said. “I’ve never seen a Dark Lager with an aseptic, organic raspberry puree.”

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It’s a dark lager with a lot of flavor.

Just recently, at the beginning of March, SFBC released the brand new Twisted Root, a blonde ale with ginger and lemongrass, yet another turn in the evolution of this brewery.

Twisted Root

Photo courtesy of Santa Fe Brewing Co.

For 2018, SFBC is looking to come out with five packaged seasonals, up from three seasonals last year. Lust Garden will be from January to February, Twisted Root from March to April, Sunsetter (a crushable farmhouse ale with lime and agave, currently in the works) will be from May to June. The other two seasonals are the still popular Oktoberfest and Adobe Igloo.

With the new seasonals coming out, one shouldn’t forget about the Ever Changing Series, which Lock has confirmed will continue to keep pumping out new beers quarterly. Schneeball Imperial Pilsner was recently released on February 16, and you may still be able to find it on draft at all of the SFBC locations. The Ever Changing Series is a New Mexico-only product, and now a draft-only product, so get thee to the taprooms! Follow them on social media for future release dates.

The “In and Out” rotating IPA series will continue as well. And, Small Batch Saturdays will continue, but in a different form. Instead of homebrewers coming in to brew 10 gallons, these small 5-gallon batches will solely be a rare taste of what’s going on in the mind of the head of research and development, Dave “Merkin.” You can bet they’ll push the boundaries of space, time, and beer style. The last small batch they did was an out-of-this-world vanilla porter. They’ll be tapped at the main location only.

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Think of it as drinking at a friend’s house in an old part of town.

As mentioned above, for 2018 the big news is the new taproom opening in downtown Santa Fe. It was not the focus at the beginning of the year, as it just sort of fell into Lock’s lap, but with a lot of hard work and a bit of a grind with the City of Santa Fe, they’re set to open a very unique space with a lot of history in the center of the historical district.

Lock said he had been looking for a location in downtown Santa Fe for the last 10 years or so. He was waiting for the right opportunity, due to the challenges all establishments face, which are parking and the lack of available building space to lease or purchase. He was looking for a standalone building, parking, and good character to the building that would fit with Santa Fe Brewing’s image, and history as a time-tested, long-standing establishment as well. They wanted something that fit with the brand.

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SFBC will reflect on 30 years in 2018.

His old partner (from 1996-2003), Carlos Muller, called Lock and informed him that he recently purchased the old Cigar Bar back in July. Lock’s interest was instantly piqued, having been a member in the late 90s early 2000s. Already having a soft spot in his heart for the space, Lock went to visit it.

“Man, this is so perfect,” he recalled thinking. “It’s already set up for a bar. There’s not much investment in a buildout. There’s no change of use, because it has already served liquor. It’s already got a liquor license. Already through zoning, and being the old brick house that it is, it was built in the early 1900s, so it’s over a hundred years old.”

It had everything Lock was looking for. It was as if the right train had pulled into the station at the right time. Parking, no change of use, and lots of historical character. Speaking of which, did you know that the bricks were once handmade by the inmates of the old state penitentiary close to 90 years ago?

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If walls could speak. How many years of interesting stories have they heard?

Even the new name comes from a piece of history surrounding the site, Lock explained that the name of the new establishment, the Santa Fe Brewing Company “Brakeroom,” which he had just named the day before I walked through the door, comes from the history of four similar brick establishments built in a row.

“This brickhouse,” Lock said, pointing to one side of the establishment. “That brickhouse. There are four in a row that look almost identical. These were built in the early 1900s for the brakemen. The brakemen were the guys working on the railroad. They were the guys that, back in the day, in order to bring the train to a stop, had to climb up the side of the rail car and turn this big wheel to slow the car down and stop it. It was a fairly dangerous job. And, so these guys would be working on the railroad all day long, and they would need a place to come take a break. And, so these four houses were built for the rail workers, the brakemen, to basically come take a break. That’s why we’re calling it the Santa Fe Brewing Company Brakeroom. It’s in honor of all the railroad workers back in the in the early 1900s. It’s got some good history, and it’s got a good story.”

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It’s downright cozy inside.

Through it was pretty much a no-brainer to snatch up the spot, there was still a lot of work to be done moving a taproom into downtown. This was Lock’s first full-foray into City of Santa Fe politics.

“It’s a very, very big challenge to get any business open in this city,” he said. “I don’t care what type of business it is.”

Because the Brakeroom falls within the historic preservation district, it meant that they couldn’t change any of the façades of any of the outsides of the buildings, the roofs, or anything without proper approval. Muller, the owner, had to get a lot of approval before changing the HVACs, making electrical upgrades, as well as duct work.

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That rustic feeling greets you at the door.

The other big challenge was making sure the Land Use Office, City of Santa Fe, building owner, and Santa Fe Brewing were all on the same page regarding land use. But, because there was essentially no change of use, there were far few barriers to opening.

“I wouldn’t have even gone down the road, had there even been a discussion,” Lock said.

But, in the end, every one seemed satisfied with the project.

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That monster from Stranger Things isn’t gonna come out of this wallpaper, is it?

In terms of the décor, SFBC wanted to preserve the historical skin and bones of the site, while turning-up the speakeasy volume a little louder, and modernizing it to be a comfortable, relaxing place to sit and really just take a break from it all. New wallpaper in one room, old wallpaper in the next. It’s not so much of a re-purposing of this history-rich site, but more of a retelling of the old story to a modern audience.

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It’s pretty darn old school in the Brakeroom. (Courtesy of SFBC)

As far as food goes, Santa Fe Brewing has partnered up with Restaurant Martín (two doors down) to do a full bar menu at the taproom.

“We’ve never wanted to be in the restaurant business,” Lock said. “I figured I’d just stick to what I know, which is beer. That’s why we reached out to Restaurant Martín. They serve our beer, they have a James Beard Award-winning chef. It’s going to be excellent food in here.”

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Yeah, that fits the mood. (Courtesy of SFBC)

There will be 18 taps full of SFBC beers, with the occasional guest tap from time to time. It will have guest ciders on tap and guest wines in the bottle, but the taproom will offer a larger selection of wine varieties than at the other SFBC establishments in anticipation of the tastes of the surrounding crowd.

The Santa Fe Brewing Company Brakeroom will open its doors to the public today (Thursday) at 510 Galisteo St.

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The doors swing open today.

What’s next for Santa Fe Brewing Company?

Last year, with the focus shifting to the downtown taproom, the big expansion plans for the three-story taproom and beer garden were put on the back burner for the time being, but Lock assured me that as soon as the downtown project is chugging along, all of his focus will swing back to the large destination taproom back at home base.

With the financing having been figured out just a few weeks ago, all the building permits already signed off on, and 100-percent of drawings acquired from the architects, Lock said he is planning to break ground on April 1, and the entire project is looking at a construction period of about six to eight months. Lock said he anticipates a tasting room opening for late fourth quarter of 2018, and a beer garden opening for spring of 2019 (give or take a few months for all brewery/taproom openings, now and forever, amen).

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The expansion of the main brewery will continue in 2018.

Lastly, Santa Fe Brewing turns 30 this year. Yeah, wow! A round of applause, please. No matter what your involvement is in the beer industry of New Mexico, whether you’re a brewer, bartender, manager, cellerperson, distribution, social alchemist, or beer drinker/local craft beer supporter, you have to tip your hats to the company. The New Mexico beer scene was a big, empty frontier since 1939. After SFBC opened in Galisteo in 1988, tons of brilliant pioneers were quick to enter the scene, pushing the boundaries of what beer could be and finding acres and acres of hoppy new territory to cover and claim for themselves, but it all had to start somewhere. And, humble though it was, someone had to believe that we could make better beer than what we were offered. Lo and behold, they did, and from the inside of a horse barn, on a small used system, “craft beer” was born in New Mexico.

SFBC is already in talks about hosting a big celebration, but I’ll make sure to give you the details for that as we grow closer to the anniversary date. Until then, I’ll leave you with a few of Lock’s final thoughts.

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Owner Brian Lock, serving beer at Red River Oktoberfest

I asked him, “After 30 years of the New Mexico brewing industry, and your involvement shortly after the beginning, what have you seen? And, what has it all meant to you, to be a part of this industry?”

“Being in this industry for 30 years, I’ve seen a lot of evolution in craft beer,” Lock said. “At the time that I got involved in 1995, there were just a couple breweries in the entire state. And, just trying to educate people on what craft beer is, and what it entailed, and to just get people’s interest in it was a difficult challenge. Now, there are so many craft beers, and everyone knows what craft beer is, it’s just a completely different landscape.

“Selling beer, back in the day, when I was doing all the sales and distribution, selling beer into an account was a challenge, because it was — hey, how am I going to get people to drink Santa Fe Pale Ale, instead of Bud Light, or Miller Lite, or the other seven or eight choices of domestic beers you had to choose from? So it was really difficult to get the consumers interested in craft beer in general, just to make the move into craft beer from domestic beer. So it’s really come a long ways in that respect.

“Back then, it was really just fighting to get a piece of mind of the general market and the consumers tendency to reach for a craft beer. To look back on it now, and to think of what Santa Fe Brewing was then, and where we are now, it’s been a very exciting 30 years. It’s been challenging, because just in the last 10 years, there’s been so much competition that’s come up, and I think it’s been good in that most breweries in this state are making really good beer.

“And, with all that competition, it helps everyone. It brings that level of beer to a different height, and what I think it does is that it helps consumers realize that craft beer really is better than domestic beer, and ultimately we’re just trying to steal share from the Bud/Miller/Coors drinkers, and that all the craft is really moving as one. That’s one of the nice things about being in this industry, and I love being in this industry and I’ll continue to love being in this industry, which is, for the most part, all the craft brewers in this state support each other. They want to help each other. They want to see each other grow and prosper and do well.

“And, you don’t find that in many industries. Most industries, it’s cutthroat. How do I kill my competitor? How do I get rid of them? How do I crush them? In this industry, it’s more about how can we ALL crush the big guys?

“In terms of a learning experience and being in a business for 30 years, looking back on it, probably the most rewarding part about it all, is that it’s an industry of people who want to help each other. It’s not cutthroat, and I appreciate the fact that I’ve been in an industry that’s not like that. I’ve learned that in our industry you can grow if you work hard at it. And, at each step, it’s been enlightening.”

To always innovating and remaining relevant in an ever changing industry, cheers!

— Luke

2017NMIPACround2-3

Untappd: SantaFeLuke

Twitter: SantaFeCraftBro

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Head brewer Paul Mallory (left) and assistant brewer Andy Lane (right) discuss whether to add more peaches to Andy’s beer. (We also approve of the TRVE shirt, Andy.)

Today (Thursday), Blue Corn Brewery is hosting a collaboration beer dinner with Beneficial Farms CSA of Santa Fe. Beneficial Farms is a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture collaborative, that provides fresh produce to its members, while supporting 30 local New Mexico farms. This particular beer dinner is also very special to our readers because Blue Corn Brewery will be debuting assistant brewer Andy Lane’s first commercially brewed recipe — Andy’s Peaches and Cream Ale.

The recipe comes from one of the first (all-grain) homebrew recipes Lane ever made (circa 2013). Lane said he loved the flavor combination of a cream ale with peaches, and his friends all agreed with his assessment when he brewed it for them around five years ago.

“It went fast,” Lane recalled. “It was really easy to drink, really palatable.”

It was one of his favorite beers that he’d made while starting out. So, after being hired on at Blue Corn, and having worked with head brewer Paul Mallory on learning some good solid commercial brewing lessons, the first beer Lane proposed was his Peaches and Cream Ale. After just two homebrew batches, where Lane dialed in the recipe, he impressed upon Mallory that it was ready for the larger system and for the public. Today, you’ll be able to try Lane’s creation, a true labor of love, a testament to this young brewer’s journey, and a stepping stone in his career.

Andy’s Peaches and Cream Ale is a very fruit-forward beer, made with Pilsner, two-row, and honey malt, and no hops to put the peaches up front and center. A great deal of work went into this beer, the peaches in particular. They had to process them, peel them, de-seed them, freeze them, cull them, boil them, and purée them, before finally adding them to the beer. It was labor intensive and time intensive. It took roughly 10-plus hours to get it all in a tank. But, of course Lane feels it will be well worth the effort. Andy said it’s on the sweeter side, perhaps ranging into dessert beer territory, but he’s pleased with his creation nonetheless. From my early taste of the still-fermenting wort, I would say it’s definitely peachy, in a literal sense. I definitely got more peach tea than candy or dessert. And, it weighs in around 6.2-percent ABV. I can’t wait to try it once I get back from San Diego.

Blue Corn Brewery and Beneficial Farms Collaboration Dinner menu

Starter: Salami, Asadero*, Jalapeño Jack*, Queso Fresco*, Peach Compote*, Black Sea Salt Crostini

Beer: Green Chile Lager Cask* (5.0% ABV, 20 IBUs)

Salad: Spring Mix*, Goat Cheese*, Roasted Tomato*, Cucumber, Honey Balsamic Reduction*, Red Chile Pecans

Beer: Glasgow Garnet Scotch Ale (9.5% ABV, 20 IBUs)

Main Dish:Farm Raised Grilled Chicken*, Mushroom Cream Sauce,Jalapeño-Asadero Potato Gratin*, Sautéed Greens*

Beer: SMASH Pale Ale (5.6% ABV, 40 IBUs)

Dessert: Vanilla Ice Cream, Milk Chocolate Drizzle, Peach Glaze*, Mint

Beer: Peaches n’ Cream Ale* (6.2% ABV, 14 IBU)

*#LocallySourced

* * * * *

All brewers get their start somewhere. Sometimes it happens in the blink of an eye, but sometimes it happens after a long, winding journey, and many guessed-at roads. If you haven’t read my previous articles on Andy Lane, you can certainly ask him about where it all began, where he’s been, and what he wants to do eventually. He’ll be there at the beer dinner, happy to share his hero’s journey with you.

I asked Lane what it meant to him, to be able to now commercially brew a recipe of his own design. He replied, “It’s exciting! I now get to professionally brew one of the first beers that got me into homebrewing. It’s rewarding. It feels like the last step in a long process. But, it also feels like the first step on the road to what I want to do, if that makes sense.”

Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. at Blue Corn Brewery (Southside). The cost is $45 per person. Call (505) 438-1800 to make your reservations.

To the beginning of what I hope is a very fruitful career (no pun intended), raise ‘em up, my friends!

Cheers!

— Luke

2017NMIPACround2-3

Untappd: SantaFeLuke, Twitter: SantaFeCraftBro

My Post-16

Calling all beer geeks! Many of you have tried, or at least heard of the amazing beer, “Bomb!” from Prairie Artisan Ales (Tulsa, Oklahoma). Maybe some of you haven’t, but that’s OK, too. I’m not calling you out. If you haven’t heard of it, Bomb! is a huge, 13-percent ABV imperial stout aged on chocolate, coffee, vanilla beans, and ancho chile peppers. According to Prairie, “The peppers add just the right amount of heat to complement the intense coffee and chocolate flavors.” For those of you who have had this, you know it’s a big, chewy, complex-yet-pretty-balanced beer.

This Sunday, Rowley Farmhouse Ales is hosting an event at the brewery surrounding this crazy amalgamation of four separate flavorful imperial stouts. It’s not like any beer event I’ve ever been to in New Mexico. It’s called Prairie Bomb! Deconstructed. Is RFA just tapping Bomb!? No sir/ma’am! These mad scientists are messing with the very fabric of creation itself! Well, not exactly.

Other bars and taprooms have hosted similar Bomb! Deconstructed events, tapping all four variants and letting the public blend to their hearts’ content, but this is where the mad science of RFA comes in. According to chef and co-owner Jeff Kaplan, they have the actual recipe straight from Prairie.

Bomb! is made up of a blend of four different imperial stouts with four different flavor components and RFA has a keg of each.

Deconstructed Bomb! Chocolate – Imperial Stout with cacao nibs (13% ABV)

Deconstructed Bomb! Coffee – Imperial Stout with Spaceship Earth coffee (13% ABV)

Deconstructed Bomb! Vanilla – Imperial Stout with vanilla beans (13% ABV)

Deconstructed Bomb! Chile – Imperial Stout with ancho chile peppers (13% ABV)

During this event, you’ll get a flight including each deconstructed stout, plus the constructed Bomb! and of course, a beaker, you know, for science! With that flight full of Bombs! (wow, that’s something you can’t say near a TSA agent), you’ll get a chance to blend your Deconstructed Bomb! variants together, and Rowley and Kaplan will take it back to “the lab.” Then, whoever gets closest to the official artisan blend will win a couple of Rowley bottles and achieve supreme beer geek fame for all time.

rowleyBomb!

Now, it wouldn’t be a Rowley event without puppies. That’s right, this, as with many of Rowley Farmhouse Ales events, supports a local nonprofit to help make life better for our furry friends, something very near and dear to the Rowley crew. This event in particular is supporting NM Pets Alive, a local nonprofit life-saving program for at-risk doggos and kitties. They’re will also have some adoptable puppies on-site during the afternoon.

The event is all Sunday afternoon beginning at 11:30 a.m. To more Bomb!-ass beer events for great causes, cheers!

— Luke

2017NMIPACround2-3

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Brewmaster/owner Rod Tweet is a happy guy these days now that he has a second brewhouse at his disposal.

It was the middle of the afternoon when I strolled into Second Street Brewery’s newest (third) location at 2920 Rufina Street. I had already done a preview article, but since they opened back on August 18, I had only been back a couple times — once, for the very well-run IPA Challenge, and a second time for a small Brew Crew meet up. It was high time for a follow-up story. I wanted to see how the new place was doing and talk about Second Street having just celebrated its 21st year in the industry. What better way to do that than with the Look Back/Look Ahead Series? I grabbed a quick taster of their new (old) 1000 IPA, and caught up with President/Brewmaster, and friend, Rod Tweet.

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The swanky Second Street Rufina Taproom, located over by this place you might have heard of called Meow Wolf.

For the original location, a.k.a. “The Oldery” to Santa Feans in the know, and the Railyard location or “The Newery,” it’s been business as usual, and business has been good.

“We had a great year,” Tweet said. “And, our sales at the other two locations have been really good. When you have three locations in a fairly small geographic area, you kind of worry about cannibalization. But happily, the numbers have been great, and this place has been doing well, and I kind of take that as proof of concept.”

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Long-time employees like this familiar tattooed tapster keep the Railyard location pumping like a well-lubed piston. See? I did a car thing.

The major highlight for Second Street this year was getting their third taproom (and second brewing facility) up and running.

“It’s sort of the dominating thing. It’s hard to even think about much else,” Tweet said.

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The second Second Street Brewery facility is a 20-barrel system.

The staff began brewing on the new 20-barrel system on October 4. The first beer was the Breaking Plaid, a super heavyweight 9.1-percent ABV Scotch Ale. It was made with almost exclusively Golden Promise malt, packed to the kilt with flavor. Certainly it was one of my favorite brews of the year from anywhere.

“It’s big,” Tweet said. “The next step is getting that beer into barrels. That beer is just made for barrels.”

I was assured that will be coming soon. Since the first beer on the new system, the staff has brewed about a dozen times, and though they are extremely pleased with the finished products, they’re still working on small adjustments like hop utilization when compared to the old system. They’re definitely through the learning curve at this point, Tweet said.

Also, something else that was very important this year was staffing all three locations with the right people. In 2017, Second Street expanded their employees from between 60 to 70 to about 110.

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It’s a bit chilly to be out on the Rufina patio now, but come summer, it should be packed most nights.

Getting a new location running is never without its challenges.

“With Rufina here, from an engineering point of view, it was fairly complicated,” Tweet said. “This building had zero infrastructure. We literally took over a shell.”

They needed plumbing. They needed power. They needed new sewer lines.

“It was definitely a big project,” Tweet said.

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It took a while to finish, but now the brewery is humming along at Rufina.

There were timing setbacks. And, with the brewing operations, full kitchen, the silo outside, and outdoor patio seating, just getting through inspections proved to be a lot of hoops for one location to jump through within Santa Fe city limits. But, within the city limits was the point. Though they might have been about six months off of their original projected opening date (what brewery hasn’t?), it was all worth it in the end. Second Street now has a huge space that it can continue to grow into for the next 20 years, still in town.

“The reason we’re in this location is because we can get the square footage we need at a reasonable price, and it’s a busy part of town. I knew we could run a taproom here,” Tweet said.

Being in the center of town between some major streets like Cerillos and Agua Fria doesn’t hurt. It also doesn’t hurt at all that the taproom is directly AROUND THE CORNER from Meow Wolf. Has anyone heard of that little place yet? Tweet said people like to come get dinner and a beer at Rufina before heading into a show. That sounds like a game plan to me.

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The taproom interior is unique among the three Second Street locations.

It also doesn’t hurt that the taproom is easy on the eyes.

“We worked hard on it,” Tweet said. “Myself and several other people here made a lot of contributions of their own talents and skills. Mariah (Scee), the front-of-house manager (at Rufina) did the mural, which is amazing. A lot of us put a lot of heart and soul into the physical finished product.”

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We’re digging those Zia light fixtures.

Having been to the third location, it certainly doesn’t feel like Second Street Part III. It’s very different, and that was also Tweet’s intent. It is indeed ambitious, and intended to be so.

“This part of town is just coming into its own,” Tweet said. “And, we shot long. We’ve got lots of room for growth (20,000 square feet in total).”

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Did someone say space? Rufina has space.

Rufina was major, but it wasn’t the only accomplishment of the year. Second Street turned 21 years old this autumn. I won’t make the overused legal-to-drink joke, as I made clear to Tweet. Instead, I asked him what being in the industry (and being successful in Santa Fe) for 21 years has meant to him and the brewery. He took a pull from his beer and thought for a moment before replying, “I’m really pleased with how successful we’ve been. The people of Santa Fe have been pretty good to us. We take that responsibility very seriously, and we try hard with all of our operations, front-of-house to back. The time goes fast. It’s hard for me to even believe we’ve been in the business for 21 years.”

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Second Street Brewery’s original location, nicknamed “The Oldery.”

Second Street is one of the oldest breweries in New Mexico at this point. (Only Santa Fe Brewing, Eske’s, Canteen, Kellys, and High Desert are older, though only Eske’s and High Desert have been in the same original building for that entire time. — S)

“Which is also, kind of amazing to me,” Tweet said. “This was a big step for us, but we’ve never stood still. We’ve got three properties and two brewhouses. We were always working on some big project, but we’re in a good situation now. Being open 21 years, if there’s any reward in it, part of it is being able to grow and have a chance to expand your abilities, grow your employees, and give them more opportunities. And, it takes a while to do that, (especially) in Santa Fe.”

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The original location has a certain rustic vibe.

It hasn’t always been easy. Twenty-one years ago Second Street did something pretty unique. Tweet opened up a brewpub at a special time, in a small town, and all before the big craft-beer boom. Back then, banks wouldn’t talk about a loan. Family worried that saying you wanted to be a brewer was like saying you wanted to be a rock star or run away and join the circus. Second Street did it back when people were still calling every little place with its own beer a microbrewery. And, they did it with the ingredients the staff could get, and they did it Rod’s way, with the styles of beer he wanted to brew.

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The bar is as busy as ever at the original location on a Thursday afternoon.

The industry has changed over the years, but Second Street has changed with the times as well. The beer has continued to evolve. Classics have remained, but new series have popped up to satisfy a new discerning crowd who demand hops, barrel-aged goodness, and sours.

“The consumer, now, is a different animal than when we began,” Tweet said. “They’re much more sophisticated and they seek out certain styles. They’re more demanding, more informed, more exposed to what’s out there. The days of novelty are over.”

What seemed like an off-beat career choice back in those early days of craft beer has become a real industry. Becoming a real industry has forced good competitions, which in turn has forced brewers to brew better.

“And, the consumer wins,” Tweet said.

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Tweet on becoming a brewer: “My dad thought it was really cool. My mom was concerned.”

Currently, Second Street is doing what it does best — providing great food, beer, and live entertainment at all three locations. Much of the growth and continued success could not come without the help of the entire staff, who work hard every day to keep the daily operations running smoothly, whether it’s from the production side on the brewhouses, to the front-of-house staff and the kitchens, social media, marketing, and accounting.

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Chef Milton Villarrubia whipping up a dessert for the 21st anniversary party at the table.

Chef Milton Villarrubia and sous chef Tony have continued to keep the menus interesting and food delicious, as well as their major efforts in getting the Rufina kitchen in operation. Mariah Scee has been an integral part of launching, as well as maintaining, the great atmosphere in the Rufina location, including hand painting the big mural that can be seen from every table.

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This is much more impressive than the little drawings in the corners of our notebooks during high school.

Of course, the Rufina project wouldn’t have been able to get off the ground, let alone break ground, without much of Tweet’s devoted staff keeping the older two locations running like clockwork. As it is, there are so many staff members now, that if I were to list them all, it would read like a well-prepared Oscar speech. But, it should be noted that John Walker, the former head brewer who was loved by all, left for a job across the country. As a result, Tom Ludzia has stepped up to not only handle the day-to-day management of the 10-barrel brewhouse at the Oldery, but is achieving some great new things, and filling some quite hard-to-fill shoes.

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Second Street at the Railyard still has regular live music.

Second Street would have had to change its business model a long time ago if it didn’t have the beer to back up the other operations. The staff has made beer people wanted to drink; just ask the droves of folks that fill up each location after 5 p.m. Over the years, the staff has also pleased quite a few judges at GABF. Most recently, Second Street brought home bronze for Rod’s Steam Bitter, a tremendous turn-in from both Walker and Ludzia. It previously took home gold in 2013.

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Rod’s Steam Bitter, GABF bronze-medal winner in 2017.

Some of Rod’s favorite beers to work on now include the 2920 series of flagships for the new location. Most of those that the staff experimented with made the cut, with the 2920 IPA leading the charge, and a hoppy Pilsner having just joined the ranks, which will be called the Agua Fria Pilsner. Tweet said he is still excited about his IPA series that he developed with John Walker. Of the three (Fulcrum, Pivotal, and the former Trebuchet), Pivotal was my favorite beer in a can from anywhere, a bold statement for a bold beer.

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And there’s still plenty of room for more tanks.

Looking ahead to 2018, Second Street aims to really get its barrel program running, as it has the tanks and the space for something on a larger scale, Tweet said. As I mentioned before, Breaking Plaid will be going into barrels soon. Second Street will also test the new equipment with a big Barleywine (its first in six years). Some of that will be barrel-aged, divided into three different kinds of barrels — scotch, bourbon, and something Tweet said he is still figuring out. Finally, the staff will also bring back Preacher’s Share, the St. Paddy’s Day Imperial Stout, which will be aged in a Colkegan Whiskey barrel from Santa Fe Spirits. (HAILS! — S) These will all happen within the next couple of months, and there will be about 15 to 20 barrels of, OK, I will make this joke — barrels of fun.

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All new beers. All worth visiting the new space.

Once those beers are established, the staff will get into more esoteric beers, using brett, lacto, and more. Yet, the staff has already puckered some mouths with the enjoyable Summer Rain Sour, of which Ludzia and Tweet just made a winter version. The winter version will have a little more color, body, and cherries! And, it will be out in about a week from this article’s posting. Look for that at Winter Brew.

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The Summer Rain Sour, which apparently I saw fit to Instagram.

Also, as part of the ongoing 21-year celebration, Second Street will be pouring 21 beers from the archives, at 1996 prices ($3.50) on the 21st of every month. I’m ecstatic to say that one of my favorite Second Street brews is back on the list, the Winter Warmer. Oh, how I’ve missed it! The staff has kicked off the celebration with the IPA 1000, a 15-yr old recipe, before we had such familiar hops as Simcoe, Citra, or Mosaic. You’ll have to thank Tom Ludzia for this great idea.

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The promise of package. This 4-head filler will soon be put to work.

In 2018, Second Street will be anything but business as usual. There will be so much room to play with new beers, unlike the staff has ever had before. Physical expansion is mostly finished for the time being, although, I have it on good authority that there will absolutely be Second Street beer on draft around both Santa Fe and Albuquerque. This can be considered the precursor to packaging. So expect the first can, the 2920 IPA, sometime in the second quarter. That is, if I haven’t drank that one dry, first. Other cans (beer styles yet to be determined) will soon follow.

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Waiting for Red Light Cameras to come back.

Status Quo is the name of the game at the older locations, because, why fix what ain’t been broke in 21 years? Rufina, on the other hand, will continue to push new boundaries to establish itself as a go-to location for a completely new crowd. With a much larger stage and Eliza Lutz (of Matron Records) behind the talent booking, anything from punk, indy, reggae, to even metal shows will help fill a void in Santa Fe that really needs some fillin’ right now. Most of those will be ticketed shows.

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Oh, what fun that night was.

Luke: Going back to 21 years in the business, what have you learned? What’s some advice that you would give to, say, some of the younger breweries, or breweries about to start out?

Tweet: It’s a complicated business, especially if you’re running a restaurant. It’s easy to get distracted. Maintaining focus is everything. It’s easy to get off track, and it’s inevitable, but basically, in the end, if you focus on what you know is important, it will keep you on track. That works. You have to remember that quality is always important. You have to pay attention to your clientele, for example, being responsive when something doesn’t work out quite the way we wanted, to everyone’s satisfaction, or when you get some feedback from customers – once you have that information, you shift gears and you respond. You have to pay attention to what works, but still always be open to new information, and willing to adjust and evolve. And, don’t neglect the nuts and bolts, and don’t neglect advertising. That can take up a whole lot of headspace if you don’t know what you’re doing. Pay attention to business. If you can’t pay attention to business, yourself, then get help with it. At the end of the day, though, if you got into this because you were passionate about good beer, don’t ever forget about that. That works.

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The Rufina location has been open since August, and it has already survived a good part of the Santa Fe winter. It’ll be some time before it is established in the minds of Santa Feans, but as Tweet and the whole hard-working crew of Second Street Brewery has proved, time and again — they are not going anywhere. They are just getting better with age, and they are just getting started. So, my thirsty friends, to 21 years, and to many, many more, cheers!

— Luke

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Fun fact: My first story with the Dark Side Brew Crew was the first leg of the IPA Challenge at Second Street Brewery on July 14th, 2014. You can read it HERE, just for fun.

Check back soon for stories on Chili Line, Duel, Santa Fe Brewing, and two secret articles in the works.