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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.

* * * * *

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.

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Say, Brettanomyces!

Our Look Back/Look Ahead Series continues today with Rowley Farmhouse Ales in Santa Fe. I wanted to find out how their first big year went, talk about their current brewer situation, and find out what direction RFA will take in 2018.

Directly after my interview with Blue Corn, I drove five minutes up the road to RFA, which was holding its Blackest Friday event, and I didn’t want to miss that. I had the day off, and I definitely had another interview in me.

Pulling up to RFA, just a ways down Maclovia Street, located somewhat behind Santa Fe’s best Indian restaurant (in my humble opinion), India House, I immediately noticed the parking lot was full, and cars were parked up and down the street. This didn’t make finding a spot difficult, however, and it certainly wasn’t a bad thing. I soon found owner John Rowley working with assistant brewer Tyler King, and friend and wife of Chef Jeffrey Kaplan, Elissa Ritt. Even on an event day, operations were underway.

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Assistant brewer Tyler King and all-around badass Elissa Ritt

It was a bustling scene. Folks were getting tours, while the brewhouse was firing on all pistons. Everyone was all smiles as it was a good day to be a craft beer fan and a good day to be a craft beer engineer. For the interview, Rowley led me away from the madness to the solitude of the barrel room down below. I felt like Maxwell Smart, and almost expected the cone of silence to descend from the ceiling. Instead, in true down-and-dirty brewery style, we grabbed a couple of crates and faced off between rows of barrels. It was hard not to feel at home.

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Folks gatherin’ ’round for the Black-est Friday event.

Rowley Farmhouse Ales opened on Labor Day Weekend 2016. The staff just celebrated their one-year anniversary.

“It’s been good, pretty steady,” John said. “We had a great summer; summer is kind of the bread and butter of Santa Fe’s lifeblood.”

In Santa Fe, the breweries I’ve chatted with over the years talk of the sales downturn in winter, which sets in typically after the Labor Day mark. There’s a marked slowing of foot traffic and a general thinning of the out-and-about crowd. Perhaps it is because precious beer money is reserved for shopping, or maybe the cold keeps Santa Feans in their cozy homes and drives the tourists away, but whatever it is, it’s pervasive of the scene, and business generally won’t pick up again until after the thaw.

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Looks more like a bottle share than a one-year anniversary party, but I did say they were beer geeks! (Photo courtesy of RFA)

To combat this sort of hibernation period, RFA has continued to have fun events like the Blackest Friday barrel-aged rare beer event, but also keeping the taps fresh with plenty of hard-to-get beers. The thinking here is, John said, beer geeks don’t stop wanting good beer just because it’s cold outside.

“We’ve focused on that as part of our gastropub side of the business,” John said. “We wanted to bring in, not just our own beer, but beer that’s really fucking cool.”

Beer they want to drink, in other words.

“And that’s the bottom line,” John said. “If I wanted to drink it, I would bring it in.”

But, it’s a group effort at RFA, as it always has been. Both Kaplan and Ritt have been integral in curating the tap list to create a haven for true beer geeks in all forms of weather. The outdoor patio, which is actually where the bulk of the seating lies, has evolved to be a good, warm place to get a cold one on a winter’s eve.

Part of the issue Santa Fe breweries have is awareness. For most of them, being established as a go-to place to get a brew has taken time. The locals know about the older guys like Blue Corn and Second Street, and as a result make them their choice Friday-night-with-the-family destination. The new guys, including Second Street’s Rufina location, have the tough task of just getting their name out there, making sure people know implicitly that we can go grab a beer there.

This year, Rowley Farmhouse Ales really got its name out there, being part of some great festivals, including two really big fests held out of state. The annual Midwest Belgian Beer festival in St. Louis, put on by Perennial Artisan Ales, included more than 60 top-tier breweries, and RFA was one of them. There, the staff poured Meier, a Meyer Lemon Gose, named after a fella, Troy Meier, who runs one of the homebrew clubs in St. Louis, in homage to his “Meierlemonparty.org” and clearly his sour sense of humor.

“We poured that beer at Side Project Brewing. For us it was a huge honor to pour at such a cool place,” John said.

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Pints for Prostates Denver Rare Beer Tasting IX. (Photo courtesy of Rowley Farmhouse Ales)

The more recent big pouring for RFA was at the Pints for Prostates Denver Rare Beer Tasting 9.

“That was a huge hit for us,” John said, as RFA poured an Oud Bruin, which had 80 pounds of raspberries in the barrel, and was one of the first beers to pour out at that event. “For us, as a new brewery, that means a lot.”

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Quite a line for Rowley Farmhouse Ales at WinterBrew.

Pouring locally, RFA started off at WinterBrew, which, for the staff, is one of their favorite events in Santa Fe or anywhere. They also did Skiesta up at Pajarito Mountain this year, as well as Pajarito’s Summerfest, which John likened to pouring on the moon.

“At Summerfest, you’re pouring in the dirt and there’s a fine dust that gets allover everything,” John said. “Your legs get all dirty, it’s just everywhere. But, Skiesta is great because we’re on the deck.”

RFA also did BearFest in Albuquerque; they just happened to be pouring right next to the speakers and the brewery got blasted.

“I love Kevin (Davis), and I love Boxing Bear,” John said. “Those guys are great. Hey Kevin, if you’re (reading), don’t leave it at 11. Turn it down to nine or eight.”

RFA’s IPA was also a big hit at Hopfest this year.

At home base, RFA has its own special events and brewery features. The staff is continuing to support the local animals with their Pulls for Pups, where they choose a new animal shelter every quarter and donate a $1 per pour of the designated tap. The beer may change, but the support hasn’t. They typically raise around $1,200 for the shelters and charities, per quarter from your generosity, so cheers to that!

The staff has also continued with a slew of tap-takeovers from big names like Great Divide, Firestone Walker, New Belgium, and the list goes on. Tap takeovers are truly a beautiful thing.

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RFA has grown a lot in a short time.

This year, RFA has worked hard at increasing its beer production. But, the kind of beers RFA is making aren’t the kind that have a quick turnaround. Naturally, it’s taken a bit of time getting a real pipeline going. Beers that needed time to age and condition are becoming more available, as the staff didn’t want to rush anything.

“Next year we’ll have more wood down here,” John said. “We’re not there yet, but we’re getting closer. We want to fill this place up and have more beer aging at all times.”

In the last year, the set of core beers has become a steady set, worthy of the good chalk and the big wall. Agent Scully, RFA’s flagship IPA, has a farmhouse grain bill with flaked oats and malted wheat, with a little ginger marmalade added to keep their Scully a true ginger, as well it should be. The hops have rotated from season to season, but in any event, it’ll turn the largest skeptics into believers.

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They do brew a good-looking beer at RFA.

Another beer kept in the pipeline is the Fields of Rye Saison. This beer has remained pretty consistent in flavor from my first tasting at Santa Fe Brewing’s Oktoberfiesta about a year ago. It’s subtle changes come mostly in ABV, to be a bit more crushable in the summer, John said.

Rowley’s Germophile, a clean Berliner Weisse, has enjoyed great feedback from the local crowd. It’s a refreshing staple at the brewery with malted wheat and pilsner malt, soured with lactobacillus, and finished with a saison yeast.

Ab Initio is a Brett Berliner Weisse, which is one of Rowley’s favorites to play around with. From the dry-hopping to the fruiting, RFA is keeping the promise of changing and evolving beers to keep their tastes fresh and interesting to the crowd and to the staff.

Saison Du Sarlacc is a Citra-Mosaic hopped-up Brett Saison that’s worthy of several more Untappd check-ins itself.

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And there will only be more, soon.

But for Rowley, it’s what’s in the barrels that are ‘The Cat’s Ass.’

“If I could only brew this beer, I would. But we can’t,” John said. “You can’t just live off mixed-fermentation saison, and think that everyone’s going to want to drink it. We’ve got to keep the lights on.”

Rowley’s is not the place to go if you want the same old beer, every time. There are places for that.

“This isn’t cheers,” John said. “I’m not Norm. You come here when it’s time for something fun. Go to a place you can get something fun and new. That’s our philosophy.”

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We hope they do this again next year.

At the time of the interview, RFA was hosting an event with nine heavy-hitting barrel-aged stouts — impressive, interesting, and some much harder to get a hold of than others, from the likes of Deschutes, Great Divide, Dogfish Head, Odell, Marble, La Cumbre, North Coast, Firestone Walker, and Oskar Blues. It was a must-attend event, and there were a ton of people who got that message.

“It’s the most I’ve seen in a long time,” John said of their first (and hopefully annual) Black-est Friday event. “There were people waiting here when we opened.”

Knowing Santa Fe’s beer scene, I count that as a huge win, and a good start. Rowley was reminded of the Postcards from Hell release at La Cumbre.

“There were a lot of people,” he recalled, “and there was a sell-out in 90 minutes. We’re not California, but we’re getting there. Congratulations to La Cumbre and Modern Times; they did a great job. Loved that beer, and it’s setting up something new here in New Mexico.”

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Jami Nordby was super for RFA earlier in 2017.

Before we started looking torward to the future of RFA, we had to address the present situation. Recently RFA lost their head brewer, Jami Nordby, who is heading off to start up a new brewery.

“Jami has been a fantastic brewer for me,” John said. “He’s a standalone guy, he can just work without any guidance. He’s been with us from the beginning, and he’s leaving at the end of (November). I’m sad to see him go, but at the same time, I really want him to be successful. I’ve known him for a really long time. He’s a good friend. He’s the guy that can run the business and not need any help or hand-holding. He can be the guy, and he will be the guy at his new place.”

Without too many early details, Jami will be opening up a place of his own with friend Rich Headley off of Highway 14. (Editor’s note: Franz Solo will have more on this soon. — S) There he’ll be doing what he does so well, brewing.

“Jami has always been a part of the beer community, and he always will be. It was blow to us, of course, but we have to move on. The beer must flow on,” John said.

Changes await in 2018

Starting off the new year, RFA is currently (casually) looking for a qualified, hard-working, friendly individual with a background in mixed-fermentation and sours. But, until then, John said he is confident that he and the very capable assistant brewer, Tyler King, will tow the line. As a reminder, King has been there from the start as well, and he, too, has been one of their hardest working, intelligent assets. And, they’ve got a good amount of inventory to keep the lines full for a while.

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Work to be done.

New hires aside, Rowley said 2018 will be another year of steady growth, filled with events, festivals, and finding more ways to get the brewery name out there. In 2018, RFA plans to represent New Mexico at the Midwest Belgian Beer Fest again, and it is already slated to be the featured beer at the Rare Beer Tasting X up in Denver, brewing a special beer for the Rare Beer Club. The staff has already been working on an unusual recipe for a smoked juniper Gotlandsdricka, akin to Jester King’s beer, of which Rowley said he found inspiration. They will aim to brew at least 200 cases of bottles for that particular event. It’s a very limited event, so buy your tickets … yesterday.

Speaking of bottles, RFA will continue its current bottling program, selling 750-ml bottles to select local shops and out of the brewery on a smaller scale for now, but that could change as it grows.

As far as expansion plans, it’s more about barrels than square feet. RFA plans to buy a couple of 30-barrel oak foeders.

“We’re going to treat them like a solera,” John said, “where we’re going to pull seven barrels out, put seven barrels in, because we have a 7-barrel brewhouse. We’ll have to brew a lot, at first, to fill them. Over time we’ll have a lot more beer that way, because we’ll have a golden sour base beer to work from, and we’ll have a mixed-fermentation saison to work from.”

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These kegs will be filled in 2018.

Rowley Farmhouse Ales isn’t going to shy away from any beer style in 2018. Rowley told me that he currently has an imperial stout in the tank that he plans to barrel age. And, the staff will also be brewing an award-winning barleywine recipe from homebrew club friends, Jim Steinbach and Kent Steinhaus, appropriately called Steinwine (at the moment). I would personally Google the name, depending on the size of their batch, just to be cease-and-desist safe. (Yeah, Tractor might have something to say about that. — S)

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Kaffeeklatsch: a social coming together over coffee.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the delicious-sounding collaboration RFA did with Iconic Coffee Roasters.

“A Kaffeeklatsch is a social ‘coming together’ over coffee,” John said. “We collaborated with our good friends Chase and Dylan over at Iconik Coffee Roasters for this beer, and we went down a lesser traveled, but super fun path. Most coffee beers are stouts or porters, but we went to the opposite end of the spectrum for this beer. We started with our Germophile base, and hopped it lightly to 5 IBU in the boil with German Hersbrucker hops. We then whirlpooled this beer with a healthy charge of Lake Toba Sumatra, and then co-fermented with a blend of B. Brux var Drei, L. Delbrueckii, and German ale yeast. After a long rest, we dry-hopped the beer with more Lake Toba Sumatra. ABV is a bit high for the style, but we figured since it is coming into winter, this would be a good bonus. Special thanks to Chase and Dylan for helping us brew this beer, and to Iconik Coffee Roasters for the fun collaboration!”

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From left: Sarah Ritchie, John Rowley (RFA), Jay Mead, Noel Garcia of 12 West Brewing Co. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Ritchie, Craft Beer Betty)

Another collaboration RFA just did was with 12 West Brewing Co. in Gilbert, Ariz., on December 6.

“Sarah Ritchie is kind of the force behind them,” John said. (Big shout out to our favorite Craft Beer Betty!) “They also have a really good sour guy, named Jay Mead down there.”

Rowley said they are looking at putting something into the coolship that 12 West just built, and sometime after Christmas they’ll be brewing something interesting with Wren House Brewing Co. in Phoenix. It seems that RFA is really bearing down on Arizona at the moment, but that’s where Rowley’s folks live, and where he spent his college days, so it just makes sense all around, and, rumor has it they plan to be sending some beer down to Arizona pretty soon.

Next year, Rowley said he does plan to get more beer out closer to home in Santa Fe or Albuquerque. More beer capacity at the brewery means more opportunities to do just that.

With three spare tanks, look for new beers to hit Untappd lists soon, such as a French almost witbier called Petit Blanche. RFA will also be bringing back its mixed-fermentation saison brewed with Earl Grey Frances tea, from Artful Tea, called Tea for Two. And, RFA will also go through its list of successful small batches and see what else the staff wants to put in the tank. The public will taste new beers, and get another chance at beers folks may have missed in 2017. It appears that 2018 is going to be funky, and fresh, or funky fresh, if you will.

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I always feel like a baller at RFA. I’m not, but it’s a good feeling nonetheless. This was a great end to a great day of interviews. Look for more soon from the Crew!

“If you’re in town, come and try our kick-ass beer,” John said. “Welcome! Our doors are always open, we’re open seven days a week. We always try to give a great experience. If we don’t, call us out, we’ll fix it. Because, that’s what it’s all about — growing, learning, and doing better. We’ve got great food, and we’ll always have some cool new beers for you to try.”

* * * * *

Growing from special small releases of their own beers, to keeping them regularly on the menu, Rowley Farmhouse Ales has become the kind of brewery the staff first envisioned when they were beneath their first rose banner. Of course, RFA is always growing in barrelage and in seating options, and the beers are constantly evolving, so it’s a brewery that you should never make up your mind about in one sitting. You’ll have to come back, again and again, before you decide who and what Rowley Farmhouse Ales is. If not just to see what new fun beers are on rotation, or what exciting dish Chef Kaplan has just added to the menu, or if you’re simply interested in which fruits they’ve added to Ab Initio, there are plenty of reasons to return.

There’s a saying in New Mexico. If you don’t like the weather, just wait 10 minutes. Well, if there’s not a beer you like yet on the menu (seems impossible), give it a week. And, speaking of which, every Wednesday they tap something special. So, during the winter lull, it really falls on us, my fellow beer drinkers, to patronize these establishments that are working so hard to stay interesting, stay fun, stay fresh, and stay open. Today, we raise ’em up to better beer options for folks searching for something different in the City Different!

Cheers!

— Luke

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Post IPA Challenge Selfie.

Buy me a beer; I’ll buy you two. And subsequently, I’ll probably pay for our Uber. Approach beer-writers responsibly.

 

 

 

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Blue Corn’s dynamic duo of head brewer Paul Mallory, right, and new assistant brewer Andy Lane.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! That’s right, it’s Stout Season, and if you’ve been keeping up with us all these years, you know that also means it’s time for the Crew’s annual Look Back/Look Ahead Series. Not unlike Salvation Army Santas, it’s our busiest time of the year, as we scramble frantically to bring you the scoop on as many breweries as we can physically cover.

At the end of November, instead of boxing out old ladies at the Black Friday sales, I decided to side-step the shopping lines of Santa Fe’s Southside and slip into one of the city’s best local smile suppliers, Blue Corn Brewery.

My goal is simple, to catch up with the new brewing team, see how their year went, and see what they’ve got planned for 2018. Most of my articles for Blue Corn are about a new manager, or a new assistant brewer, a changing of the guard, if you will. I know the song by heart by now. Blue Corn’s been quite a revolving door since John Bullard was there, and probably even before him (If only someone had written a book detailing some of that. — S). But, I know, with fresh talent comes fresh ideas, and I wanted to get what’s flowing down the line into your glass.

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The copper icons are feeling a bit festive.

With a quick smile, I told the hostess I was meeting with the brewers, and that I was going to find a place at the bar. That statement means much more to me than it does to her, I realize. I greeted my tall copper friends, as if they’re glad to have me back in house, and took my usual spot at the bar, where I always wait a few minutes before I text the brewer to let him know I’ve arrived. Nothing says, “It’s show time,” like a taster tray of new Blue Corn seasonals.

After a few minutes head brewer Paul Mallory invited me back into the dining room. He and new assistant brewer Andy Lane were kind enough to let me interrupt their lunch. There were buffalo wings on the table, and for some reason, they made me think of Chama River. (R.I.P.)

2017 was a turbulent year for Blue Corn Brewery. Docked in the Capitol City, Blue Corn may have just missed the sudden tsunami that hit poor Chama River (also owned by Santa Fe Dining), but they endured their own share of rough waters and suffered a few men overboard themselves. Yet, Blue Corn Brewery proved, once again, that with a cool-headed captain, a solid crew, and keeping to the course, they are a sturdy ship that can weather the worst of storms.

Despite the difficulties, Blue Corn had plenty of highlights to mention

One of the big changes this year was getting Andy Lane (formerly of Santa Fe Brewing) in the brewery at the busiest time of the year.

“Andy’s been a kick-ass assistant, bringing lots of ideas to the table with beer and how to change the process,” Paul said.

Lane has been waiting for a chance like this. He cut his teeth as a beer sales rep for a craft beer distributor back in Texas, his home state, getting beer to the hard-to-penetrate niche markets as well as homebrewing in his spare time. With the dream of someday opening his own brewery, he took a risk and moved to New Mexico, starting at the bottom of the industry, packaging at Santa Fe Brewing. “I just want to learn everything I can,” I remember him saying back then. You might remember him from that one episode of Vice’s Beerland that made a brief stop in our state. After his 15 minutes of fame, Lane’s doing what he loves at Blue Corn.

“To have this opportunity is exactly what I wanted,” Lane said. “It’s a dream come true.”

After a brief period of adjustment, learning each other’s style and personalities, the chemistry is good. Though Lane is newer to the process, Mallory made sure to utilize his assistant’s unique sales experience.

“He definitely helps me choose the styles,” Paul said. “I could come up with beer ideas I want to brew, all day, but as for will they sell? That’s where I get Andy to weigh in.”

As for beer this year, Blue Corn focused a lot on doing collaborations with local suppliers, sourcing everything from malts and hops, to chocolate and whiskey barrels. Blue Corn, which has had a long-standing relationship with Santa Fe Spirits, put their Imperial Chocolate Porter in a Colkegan Whiskey Barrel to great success. They’d also done a really hoppy collaboration with Del Cielo Brewing Co. from Martinez, Calif., likely a connection Mallory made during his time brewing by the bay.

Mallory’s favorite beer in 2017 was an easy drinking Oktoberfest, which they were able to lager for a later release in the season. As it turned out, folks only complain when the Oktoberfest is released too early, if they complain at all. The beer showcased a malt sourced from nearby Proximity Malt’s Colorado location.

In ‘17, Blue Corn was not a bit shy with trying new things. One such beer was a Honey Ginger Braggot, which was one of Lane’s favorites to work on. He said,

“It was unusual, heavily drinkable, a perfect kind of crowd-pleaser,” Lane said.

It was their last collaboration with Chama River, as it turned out.

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Blue Corn Brewery has a solid core line-up, but it’s the constantly rotating beers that keep folks coming back again and again.

Speaking of which, it was not all smooth sailing for the Santa Fe Dining Fleet, with that one particular heavy-medaled flagship sinking into the history pages of Stoutmeister’s book. There was a change on the wind, says I, and for some, it blew harder than others.

Chama closed. Blue Corn lost their previous assistant brewer to a bout of school. Two delivery drivers walked the plank. Former Admiral of the Fleet, James Warren, left to join the pirates at Santa Fe Brewing. And Chef “D,” David Sundberg, moved on to make new waves as well.

“We’ve had a lot of turnover,” Mallory said, soberly. “And, I think we just do our best to keep this ship afloat. And, I think we’ve done a really good job with that. Hopefully no one up front noticed. We kept the beer flowing, and kept the beer tasting good.”

Gathering from the jubilant crowd that I had left back in the bar area, I would say they’ve done just that.

In 2018, the Blue Corn staff promised that their famous (Brew Crew Approved) beer dinners will continue. They aren’t sure what will happen as of yet with the uncertainty of the new chef hire, but a change in the guard has never set Blue Corn back before.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any expansion plans in the works. They said they definitely want more fermenters, and perhaps a grain silo. I can think of one that’s just sitting there off of I-25, probably still filled, floor-to-tip, with 2 Row.

I asked if there was any word on Chama River, but Mallory’s lips were shut tighter than a mermaid’s non-disclosure agreement.

As for beers in 2018, BCB may be planning to do a Smash Pale Ale, with Single Malt, And Seven Hops. That counts in my book. Blue Corn’s Russian Imperial Stout is currently in the tank, a beast of the abyss, just waiting to surface.

Something probably only Santa Feans know on the regular is that Blue Corn gets its hands on a barrel every now and then, and certainly fills it with something worth driving 40 minutes or taking the Rail Runner to try. The staff is looking at putting some of their Imperial Stout in the barrel and aging it a bit. Blue Corn isn’t rushing to barrel-age anything and everything at the moment. The staff is not looking to sour anything for the sake of souring, either.

“We’re going to try to keep it small, make sure we do it right,” Mallory said. “Because I think a lot of breweries, especially smaller breweries, run before they can walk. And, that’s not what we want to do. We want to keep them nice and clean. We want to do a few of them and do them right.”

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My current favorite beer at Blue Corn Brewery is their La Santa Oscura Black Lager. It was like a refreshing Mexican Hot Chocolate. They didn’t pull any punches on the spice, but it’s so easily drinkable it borders on dangerous. Delight yourself responsibly.

One of the very few they’ve been working on was a saison brewed last year, which should be ready any day now. (Farmhouse Funkalicious is now on tap. — S) They gave it a pinch of sour cherries and a dash of sour ale, to give it just a little bit of tartness, Mallory said. They did a little bit of blending and gave it a good amount of time on the brettanomyces.

I asked both Lane and Mallory what upcoming project most excites them for 2018.

Lane: “I think a little bit of everything. (Laughs) For me, getting to the point where I’m more involved with the recipe writing and stuff like that and actually creating beers. That’s what I’m excited for.”

Mallory: “I want to keep up the collaborations, build up on what we started last year. Then, one of our first beers will be a Mexican Lager. It usually calls for rice or corn to lighten up the body. We’re going to do locally sourced blue corn, to keep with the farm-to-table attitude of the restaurant. We also want to build on some of the relationships we’ve made in the past year with the chocolate and coffee makers. We look forward to getting the beer dinners up and running and tap into the local community with more events. And, people should expect to see us at more local beer events as well.”

Mallory’s parting words: “I think a lot of people have their mind made up about Blue Corn Brewery, because we’ve been around for 20 years. I think they should come by and check it out. If you’re a fan, or not a fan, I say come by and see what we’re working on. I guarantee, it’s different than last time.”

* * * * *

I say farewell to my friends for now. As soon as they were finished, they caught up to me at Rowley Farmhouse Ales to sample some of the darkest barrel-aged beers ever arrayed on tap in one location, a black hole of beers with a gravitational pull too strong for any of us to resist. This year for Thanksgiving, among family and friends, I was thankful for New Mexico’s beer scene and the strong community surrounding it. To you and your health, my friends, cheers!

— Luke

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If you see me at the bar, say, “Hey.” Let’s talk beer!

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Tonight (Thursday), Blue Corn is hosting another epic beer and cocktails dinner, with Santa Fe Spirits, at their south side location. Because we’ve had so much fun at these dinners in the past, we wanted to give you a quick look at what you’ll be enjoying tonight.

APPETIZER (1st Course) Paired with gin and tonic with Mosaic hop bitters
Crispy kale croquettes served with a herbal aioli

CHEF’S SALAD (2nd Course) Paired with Atapiño brown ale cocktail
Citrus-marinated chicken breast, roasted piñon nuts, orange segments and caramelized red onions on a bed of spring mix, with a sweet and tangy vinaigrette

ENTREES (3rd Course) Paired with a brandy honey wheat cocktail
Farm-raised Atlantic salmon poached in herb-infused extra virgin olive oil with baby carrots and 40K Honey Wheat jasmine rice

DESSERT (4th Course) Paired with a barrel-aged imperial porter, aged in a used Kolkeegan Whisky Barrel from Santa Fe Spirits
Chocolate volcano-molten bundt cake topped with vanilla ice cream and roasted-spiced pecans

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Why you should go: Aside from the always excellent food and beer, mixed with the award-winning guest-showcase of cocktails, these beer dinners serve as a great chance to mingle with other people who love crafted beverages as much as you. Personally, in addition to seeing plenty of other friends in the industry at these things, I’ve always met someone new, and each and every time made a new friend. Hell, I met the guy I bought my house from at one of these beer dinners at Blue Corn.

Also, in a fun, intimate setting, you get to sample special unique creations not usually found on your regular weeknight menu. You get to see the best of what these chefs and brewers have to offer, and then talk to them about it! It is completely underrated, being able to talk to a brewer about the passion he or she puts into their work. Better still, the brewers actually have a spare moment to sit and chat. Any event where the brewers and/or chefs/distillers will walk around and talk with you about what they’re trying to achieve, and the process involved, is worth its weight in gold. It will change your dining/drinking experience forever. To me, that’s worth the price of entry.

You might look at $45 per person as being pricey, but you certainly get your value from these events. Four-course dinners alone fall along that range. Pair them with craft beer, craft cocktails, and good conversation, and the experience is a steal. Get your tickets. Drink some craft. Make some friends. Here’s to keeping it local!

Cheers!

— Luke

For reservations, email manager@bluecornbrewery.com or call (505) 438-1800. The event is from 6-9 p.m.

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Twitter: @santafecraftbro

Untappd: SantaFeLuke

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Victory is theirs!

When a new brewery opens up in Albuquerque, it’s only a matter of time before the Dark Side is there on the scene to report our findings back to you good folks. Well, as it turned out, this particular brewery opened up a couple weeks ago, while our editor was on the road for a wedding. Franz Solo and I were more than happy to step in and get the story on the brand new space to open up in Nob Hill, Hops Brewery.

While I waited for Franz to finish up his own brew day, I took the opportunity to chat with head brewer Ken Wimmer about himself, his beers, and the direction in which he hopes to help Hops along. But, before I get to my brief interview, I’ll start with a dad joke. “Mayan: Hey, wanna beer? Other Mayan: I’m working on this calendar, but I guess if I don’t finish it won’t be the end of the world.”

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It’s a darned comfy space inside.

DSBC: How long have you been brewing?

Wimmer: I’ve been brewing off and on since the mid-80s. And, until I took this position, like most of us, I started out as a homebrewer. I brewed in my kitchen and in my garage.

DSBC: How’d you get the gig?

Wimmer: Actually, it’s funny, someone told me this place was opening, and said, “Ken, it’s right up your alley.” I said, “Who wants to hire me?” A couple weeks later he said, “Ken, I’m not kidding. Get in there and talk to these people.” And, I said, “OK, what’s the worst that could happen? I make some good friends, and find a new place to drink some beer.” And, I brought in a bunch of my homebrews. We talked beer. I said, “This is an audition. Try my beers.”

DSBC: Before Hops, where did you work?

Wimmer: I’m a retired school teacher.

DSBC: So, you wouldn’t have a problem teaching your ways to an assistant brewer, if need be?

Wimmer: Not at all. In fact, I’ve taught several folks, here in Albuquerque, how to brew.

DSBC: Homebrewers are no strangers to inspiration. What inspired the beer list?

Wimmer: It started with the honey wheat. The owner’s wife asked for something light, easy drinking. They’re light lager drinkers. So, I developed that recipe strictly for them. And, they loved it. And, it turned out that a lot of others loved it, as well.

The Warm Scottish Nights, my Scotch Ale (was second), because I work on a pilot system. (So) before we go to a big system, I wanted to see how it would handle a big beer.

As mentioned in our preview article, Hops crafts their recipes on their pilot system, and they contract brew through Rio Bravo Brewing. Also, please take note that after Summerfest, Hops was reduced to just two of the six beers we talk about below, Honey Wheat and Chica.

DSBC: You have six of your beers on tap. What inspired the others?

Wimmer: My Chica (Pale Ale), I enjoy the aroma of hops, but I’m not big on the real high bitterness. So, I wanted to make a pale ale that had a great aroma, but wasn’t over the top on the bitterness. So, I developed Chica. And, the two main hops in that (are) Chinook and Cascade, so Chi-Ca.

“Dad Joke” is actually from a buddy of mine who brews with me quite often. He wanted to try a beer from pre-Prohibition era, and so the Dad Joke is a Kentucky Rye Common. And, so we tweaked that until we got it where we wanted it. I changed it again. I need to change it back. It’s still a good beer. It’s just not where I want it, just yet.

DSBC: Why “Dad Joke?”

Wimmer: Because it’s rye and corny of course. (Laughs)

DSBC: Ha. And what about your milk stout, The Tipsy Cow?

Wimmer: A buddy of mine was having a party. He’s a big stout fan. And, we thought, well, what can we come up with here? So, I thought, you know, I’ve been wanting to do a real milk stout, something similar to Mackeson’s. So, I really overloaded it with the lactose, and realized, you know what? That kind of worked. I thought I could always tone that back in future generations of it, but it was one of those beers that just worked on the first round.

DSBC: Let’s see, we (also) have the English bitter, The Irish Tan.

Wimmer: I’m a big British beer fan. I like the ordinary bitters. And, basically here, the closest you can get is the ESBs. A lot of the ordinary bitters that you find in this part of the world, they’re still closer to an IPA than an English bitter. So, I specifically wanted something a little more malty. Still had a nice little hop balance to it, was easy drinking, light in color, so I came up with this. I was looking at it, and said, you know, this has a nice little orange color to it … and, oooh! It’s not an Irish red, but maybe it’s a nice Irish tan.

DSBC: Which is your favorite house beer?

Wimmer: The one I just ordered.

DSBC: My favorite is the first one after a long shift. That and the next one. So, Ken, what do you have planned for Hops as you go forward?

Wimmer: Seeing what the customers want. Number one is customer service.

DSBC: Now, I know people are going to start coming in and asking for an IPA. This is Albuquerque, and this brewery is called “Hops.”

Wimmer: Oh yeah, and I will develop one, but I’m not going to compete with the big beers that you see at La Cumbre and Bosque. If I do an IPA, it’s going to be more of an East Coast style, or even a British style.

As for seasonals, we’ll have three or four standard beers, and everything else will be rotating. And, you know, some people are going to love one beer, and if it’s a great beer, it’ll stay. If it’s not, maybe it’ll disappear forever, or maybe it’ll be a seasonal that comes back only once a season.

DSBC: What did you think sets Hops apart from other ABQ breweries? Or, what niche does Hops fill?

Wimmer: I think the niche we fill is that we’re in Nob Hill, and we’ve got the whole Nob Hill vibe going. And, the bar is gorgeous.

DSBC: Not to mention a 40-tap list.

 

Wimmer: Exactly.

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Head brewer Ken Wimmer is off and running.

* * * * *

Franz joined just as I was wrapping up the interview, and both of us were ready to try the beer. Franz, having the better palate than I, will walk you through the experience.

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A solid start of a flight.

So, this past Monday, after a lovely brew day making an oatmeal stout in honor of my wife’s upcoming graduation, the chance came that Luke and I were both free of commitments, and we took advantage of such a rarity and headed over to the newly opened Hops Brewery. Our luck was even better than expected as we ran into Hops Brewery’s brewer, Ken Wimmer who joined us as we enjoyed a flight of his creations. We began with their Honey Wheat, which had a light, crisp mouthfee,l and to my estimation a good gateway brew with a tasty malt base.

We ventured onward to the Chica (pale ale), which has quite nicely balanced malts, but does need a bit more whirlpool and more aroma from the hops to up the ante to the next level. In the current form it is more akin to a British pale than to an American pale ale, in my opinion. That may well change with further iterations.

Dad Joke (the name is part of a penchant for humor in this abode, which I found to be quite catching and excellent) begins sweet with rye and corn making for a solid California common, though it needs a tad more work on the finish, but a good solid start. We tend to see far too few of the California common beer style in Albuquerque, so I was pleased to find it on the initial rotation at Hops.

Next up we had the Irish Tan, an English bitter. This was spot on style, with a nice light bitter helping of hops with a sweet middle and a warm, bready finish. I’d certainly enjoy a few of these watching EPL or Bundesliga on the numerous large televisions throughout the establishment.

My personal favorite was Tipsy Cow milk stout. A blast of lactose with good, toasty aroma and flavor fills the mouth with dark goodness. Good dark roasted malts pervade and this is damn tasty all around. For 4.5-percent (ABV), this tastes closer to a 6-percent stout.

This town needs more milk stouts of this caliber, and that is a great start for Hops Brewing. Our final beer of the flight was Warm Scottish Nights Scottish ale. It begins with a sweet aroma and peated malt in the back. The flavor is sweet, then bready, then lingering notes of the crust of a Creme brûlée and smoked dark fruits. I wholeheartedly recommend a pint if this one, as well, and let it warm up a hair to release a plethora of different and distinct malty notes.

The guiding principle for the beers at Hops is British bases, and then mixing malts to achieve certain types of flavor combinations. I love that the name of the brewery is Hops and yet it’s a malt-forward brewery at least from these initial house beers. This is to Burque what Second Street is to Santa Fe, a true bit of English malty brews swimming in a sea of hop havens. This is not to say that there are no hoppy beers on tap here; quite the opposite with many local taps of quite a few of our favorite year-round hop bombs.

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Where do we recognize those chairs from? Oh, Hello Deli!

Two plus years of construction were needed to completely redo the space. This was two years very well spent, as there is a modern, yet cozy vibe to the joint. I bid you all to head over and enjoy a pint or two, and maybe catch a game or hang out on the front patio.

* * * * *

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Plenty of TVs for watching EPL, Bundesliga, World Cup, etc.

Well, Albuquerque, Hops Brewery has opened at long last, a true labor of love for owner Jim Shull, general manager Lauren Shull, head brewer Ken Wimmer, and manager Mario Ruiz. Ruiz, having spoken to us during the visit, told us exactly how much work went in before the brewery and bar space were up and running. It took two-plus years of construction, from ceiling to floor and wall-to-wall, as Franz mentioned above. These folks worked around the clock and built the place by hand and hard labor. Keep that in mind as you admire the well-thought-out atmosphere, which perfectly fits within the Nob Hill area. Think of the consideration that went into each detail as you enjoy one of the frothy house brews. With 40 taps, 12 or so food items planned, 10 TVs, and plenty of seating, Hops is well-equipped to become a favorite hang, a great go-to to just grab a beer. And, parking was not a problem at all, despite A.R.T. It may be a place named “Hops,” currently without an IPA, but it certainly fills a niche too often overlooked, and serves as proof that we are more than a hop across the pond away from an oversaturation point. Welcome to ABQ, Hops. To your continued success, we raise our glasses.

Cheers!

— Luke and Franz

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Luke is from Santa Fe, NM, currently living in Albuquerque. If it’s about beer in New Mexico, he, along with the rest of the Dark Side Brew Crew, will get the story.

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

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

Brewery – Tray# — Total votes

Boxing Bear – #14 – 52 (1st)

Canteen – #15 – 42 (2nd-tie)

Quarter Celtic – #1 – 42 (2nd-tie)

Bosque – #3 – 39 (4th)

Starr Brothers – #6 – 34

Marble – #11 – 31

Tractor – #10 – 30

Second Street – #8 – 28

Bow & Arrow – #2 – 26

Steel Bender – #4 – 21

La Cumbre – #13 – 16

Ponderosa – #9 – 12

Picacho Peak – #12 – 7

The 377 – #5 – 7

Blue Corn – #7 – 5

Choices, choices, choices …

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Luke

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

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

Jami Nordby (head brewer)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s a homebrewer’s dream,” he said.

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

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

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

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

Tyler King (brewer)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

Cheers!

— Luke

Luke123 Steel Bender

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

— Luke

Upslope Full List of Events

Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday

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

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

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

Saturday

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

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

11 a.m.–11 p.m.

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

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

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

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

Tuesday

Upslope Brewing Co. Canarchy at Taco Tuesday at Sister

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

4–7 p.m., Sister, 407 Central Ave. NW

Wednesday, May 31

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

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

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

Thursday, June 1

Upslope Brewing Co Beer Dinner at Freight House Kitchen + Tap

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

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

Friday, June 2

Upslope Rochambeau Tournament and Pint Night at Rock & Brews

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

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

Saturday, June 3

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

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

7–10 p.m.

Sunday, June 4

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

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

11 a.m.–2 p.m.

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

 

Luke123 Steel Bender

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday

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

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

Marble Brewery Tap Takeover

Fire & Hops Gastropub, 5 p.m.

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

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

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Bikes, brews, and tunes, too.

Thursday

Bike & Brew Kickoff Party

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

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

Tickets can be purchased here.

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

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

On the menu:

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

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

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

Cowgirl Tap Takeover & Beer Dinner featuring Sierra Nevada

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

Loyal Hound Pub featuring a selection from Canteen Brewhouse

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

Friday, May 19

Tour de Brewer

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

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

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

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased here.

Dr. Field Goods featuring Deschutes Brewery

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

Handcrafted Bike & Beer Show

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

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

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

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

Saturday, May 20

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2016 Tour de Brewer, SFBC

Tour de Brewer

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

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

Tickets cost $20 and can be purchased here.

Tour de Brunch

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

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

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased here.

Concert & Beer Garden

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Bike & Brew 2015, Railyard Park

Railyard Park, 5-9 p.m.

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

Cheers!

— Julie and Luke

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

Luke123 Steel Bender

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

 

BigBrew2015.4

From Big Brew 2015 at Santa Fe Brewing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MIlton's Brewery Logo

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

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

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

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

BIBBrew1

Big Brew with the Babes in Brewland, SFBC 2015

Feature: Big Brew at Santa Fe Brewing Company

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

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

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

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

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Peaches for the brew, SFBC 2015.

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

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

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

Cheers!

— Luke

Luke123 Steel Bender

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