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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Brewmaster Rod Tweet and head brewer Tom Ludzia are ready for more Second Street beer. Are you?

Second Street had another great year, with each of its taprooms humming along like well-oiled machines. The big news wasn’t the taprooms in 2018, although it should be noted that Second Street Rufina is steadily becoming just as much a fixture in the Santa Fe brewpub scene as the Oldery and the Railyard locations already are. The real star of Second Street’s 2018, however, was another machine altogether, one perhaps not as well-oiled (just yet), but one with multiple components whirring to life at the hands of a few good men and women. That machine includes the canning line, the wholesale shop, and the new lines of distribution of kegs and gorgeous cans chugging off the line.

Some time between counting inventory and working on the latest batch of one of his new flagship beers, president and brewmaster Rod Tweet made some time to sit down with me for the latest installment of our Look Back/Look Ahead Series for 2018-19.

Tweet meets me after work on a Saturday at Rufina. We take one of the tall tables in the large Rufina space, and I have a hard time deciding on what I want to drink, for once. There’s more than a few exciting beers on the list these days, but I’m in the mood for the Brown. It’s good, and I can’t recall the last time I really enjoyed a Brown Ale as much in years.

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The Brown Ale does not disappoint.

After taking a couple sips, I start the recorder. I want to see how business was in 2018, and I want to hear all about the brand-new canning line, and how its first few months in operation went. As we all know, it ain’t easy getting one of those things firing on all pistons. I’m also looking to find out what they plan to do with all the beer they’re pouring into packaging in 2019, and which beers.

“We had a really good year,” Tweet says. “The new place continues to grow. The Railyard, and the original location are like an engine, relatively figured out at this point.”

Second Street is still fine-tuning Rufina, building on what they know, but tweaking everything from food to events as needed. With their restaurant business purring away, they have more time to focus on what we’re all interested in: beer.

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From left, Wes Burbank, Elissa Ritt, Tyler King, Jeffrey Kaplan, and John Rowley.

It’s 1 p.m. on an unseasonably warm Saturday at Rowley Farmhouse Ales (RFA). Before I could even ask my first interview question, a couple variants of Perennial Sump Imperial Coffee Stout are popped, poured into mini snifter glasses, and shared around the table.

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The best interviews are the ones where beers are present.

Just about the whole RFA crew is in attendance. Sitting around the long outdoor picnic-style table out on the patio are assistant brewer Tyler King, co-owner Elissa Ritt, chef Jeffrey Kaplan, head brewer Wes Burbank, brewmaster John Rowley, and of course, what would their gatherings be without friends? It’s a familiar scene with this crowd, a bottle share amongst buddies, furnished with beers just like Sump Coffee Stout, one of the many fruits of RFA’s keen networking labors with breweries from all over America. As it is, it’s quite unlikely to find another brewery that does more out-of-state collaborations in New Mexico, and that’s not going to stop any time soon.

The day before, I let the RFA crew know I wanted to do the Look Back/Look Ahead story for 2018-19, and asked, “Who’s in?” Thankfully, everyone was obliged to join me for a chat.

2018 has been another successful year at the small gastro-brewpub tucked away just off of Cerrillos Road. One of the major highlights was the silver medal win at GABF (Great American Beer Festival) for their Berliner Weisse, Germophile.

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Yes, that’s the RFA crew way down there on the stage.

“For me, it just means we’re on the right track,” Burbank says.

King then adds, “It legitimized all of our long days, 24-hour weekends, and all the hard work getting this place up and running.”

“And, it’s nice to be recognized for all of our hard work,” Rowley finishes.

Bringing on Burbank as head brewer was a strong push for Team Rowley last year.

“He’s a fantastic brewer, brings a lot of talent to the table,” Rowley says.

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Head brewer Paul Mallory and assistant brewer Dominic Crandall toast to a successful year

In 2018, Blue Corn Brewery seemed like quite the dark horse when it won the New Mexico IPA Challenge. To many, it was a win that seemed to come out of nowhere. Seemed, being the operative word. But, why wasn’t it thought of as a major contender?

Perhaps it’s because Blue Corn is mostly known as that cozy little neighborhood staple (at their Southside location), keeping things just safe enough for the steady stream of regulars to come back every week. Or, perhaps that statement is entirely wrong, and we’ve just forgotten that Blue Corn has been making great IPAs (and other beer styles) for years.

Blue Corn has always kept talent working on the brewhouse. Brewers like John Bullard (Bosque Brewing Co.) and James Warren (Santa Fe Brewing Co.), to name a couple Blue Corn alumni, are fine examples of that. Even Marble Brewery president/brewmaster Ted Rice started at Blue Corn as an assistant brewer back in the late 90s. But, it’s because Blue Corn has consistently stacked the deck, and it’s because these talented brewers are given room to grow, and carte blanche on the brewhouse, that they’re able to produce big, great, and award-winning beers on the regular, hitting all the hoppy high notes that the beer-geek-favorite breweries do. And, in turn, Blue Corn makes great brewers out of newcomers and incoming assistants.

Blue Corn regularly sees a changing of the guard, be it in management, or even with chefs and brewers. But, instead of having to overcome huge obstacles associated with change, this time, the transitions were smooth. And, with Paul Mallory still in charge of the tanks, BCBC seems to be hitting its stride and cruising into the new year with higher hopes than before.

In order to get the story on what Blue Corn Brewery’s been up to and what direction they’ll be headed in for 2019, I sat down with Paul and brand-new assistant brewer Dominic Crandall.

As mentioned, Blue Corn had a solid 2018, punctuated by a big win at the IPA Challenge.

“(This year) we had a little bit of increased popularity, increased sales,” Mallory said. “As far as making exciting beer styles, we tried our best.”

Winning the IPA Challenge is definitely the highlight of the year for Blue Corn, he said.

“I think it really had a lot of people re-visit Blue Corn,” Mallory said. “A lot of people have already made up their mind about Blue Corn, so it was nice to have people feel compelled to come in and try our beer once again.”

Back in July, Blue Corn beat out the competition with Gatekeeper IPA at the culmination of the Brewers Guild IPA Challenge at the brand-new Bosque North facility in Bernalillo.

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That’s one happy brewer with his trophy.

Riding the Gatekeeper wave, Blue Corn didn’t have too many low points in 2018. If it could in fact be called a low point, it might have been when assistant brewer Andy Lane moved on to Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery. But, Mallory only calls it a personal low-point, as he quite enjoyed working with Lane.

“He and I felt like he had outgrown the space here, which I’m really proud that we were able to sort of push him out,” Mallory said. “I think he’s ready for bigger and better things. So it’s (still) a bit bittersweet to lose him.”

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Andy Lane (left) is now learning the ropes in distilling at Tumbleroot Brewery & Distillery. Paul Mallory (right) is tall.

Together, Lane and Mallory worked on a lot of interesting beers and styles in 2018.

“For most of the beers I made for the first time, a lot of the one-off batches, I think I’d still like to tweak one or two things,” Mallory said. “But, generally I’m happy with them. But, then every once in a while I did feel like I hit it right on the head on the first try. Like with this beer.”

Mallory gestured to the Scotch Ale in front of me.

“I’m pretty excited about that one,” he said. “We almost treated it like a bock. We added a lot of Munich malt, so it almost has a bock flavor to it, and of course we added the caramel that makes the Scotch Ale a Scotch Ale. It was kind of a merging of two styles. And, that technique worked out pretty well.”

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An “interview pour” of the 2018 Scotch Ale.

Blue Corn also did a series of three different goses this year — Blueberry Gose, Pineapple Gose, and Pomegranate Gose.

“I thought they turned out well,” Mallory recalled. “We took a little lighter approach to the sourness, lighter on the salt to make them more drinkable. Those are beers I’m really trying to make for the customer. We notice they sell really well with fruit in there. I’m curious to see if we make them a little more tart next year, (if) they’ll sell faster or slower.”

Mallory’s kettle sours were among some of his favorite to make (and drink) this year.

“I also really liked the Oktoberfest,” he said. “I went on the lighter side with the color, kind of like a Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest, which might even be more like a Dortmunder, something like that.”

I was fortunate enough to make it in for most of those beers, but I really wanted to talk about some of the stranger brewing trends and styles that he’d worked on. In line with the rest of the industry, this year, Blue Corn brewed a Brut IPA, a sort of champagne-meets-IPA, a style I’m still trying and failing to understand.

“I just did a little research,” he explained. “I found that people were using the enzyme on the hot side, which kind of left it with some residual sweetness. And, I’m glad I took that approach because it was dry, but not bone-dry. It’s all aroma. It kind of drinks more like a pale ale, and it’s nice and effervescent.”

Mallory explained that each new trending style is just a challenge to him. If there’s a new style, whatever it is, he simply wants to make a good, drinkable version of it.

Blue Corn also brewed a hazy IPA this year.

“We have one in the tank right now,” Mallory said. “It should be out soon. It will definitely be on the menu at the beer dinner.”

At the interview Mallory thinks it’s a bit young yet, but he’s happy with the direction it’s going in. For a while Mallory resisted brewing one, but in the end, it was the challenge of the brewing process that ultimately intrigued him to make one.

They’ll also be making their Apparition again this year, which is their white stout with coffee, cocoa nibs, and lactose. This should also be available at the Winter is Here beer dinner, scheduled for tonight at 6:30.

Blue Corn is still gaining a reputation for making great beer, but the brewery is already well-known in Santa Fe for its beer dinners. I asked Mallory how attendance was for 2018.

“I think they did well,” he said. “I think we had better attendance than last year. There seems to be a lot of excitement for them. We have a great time with them.”

Speaking of which …

Blue Corn is hosting its Winter is Here Beer Dinner. Hope you got your tickets! Here’s all the info you need if you’re headed out to join us tonight (even Stoutmeister will be there).

Winter is Here

Please leave your Direwolves at home.

One major development that occurred this year that bears mentioning is the hiring of new assistant brewer Dominic Crandall back in the fall. Mallory headed to the back to finish up part of the brew they’ve been working on sporadically throughout the interview so we could talk to his new assistant.

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DSBC: Where are you from Dominic?

Crandall: Originally, Southern California.

DSBC: Paul was from California. Did you know him? California must have been a tiny place, you know, like Santa Fe.

Crandall: (Laughs) I didn’t. It’s kind of a weird story coming in here. We’re both from California, have the same birthday, same goals, our girlfriends are very similar.

DSBC: You’re both very tall.

Crandall: Same size clothes. (Laughs) I was in California until about ’15, then moved to Los Alamos, graduated high school there. Right after that, moved to Kansas, learned how to machine weld, had two kids. Came back to New Mexico and started working for Bathtub Row Brewery in Los Alamos.

DSBC: Where did you start brewing? Were you a homebrewer?

Crandall: So, I started homebrewing, but I didn’t love it by any means. I actually started at Bathtub Row as a bartender. Then the brewer just got up and left. So they kind of just pushed me back there in the brewery. I wasn’t too excited about it at first, but then I started learning how it was really done, and it was completely different than a homebrew scale. And, I just fell in love with it. There’s the repetition of the brewing and the science behind it, which I love. And, now that I’m here, and it’s a little more professional, it’s even better.

DSBC: What are your favorite beers to brew, or how about drink?

Crandall: Now that I’ve been brewing with Paul, my spectrum has definitely changed. Favorite beers to drink though? Simple wheats, then probably the browns. Definitely the wheat and the complexity. People say, oh, this is light and easy drinking, but there’s a lot of stuff behind it.

DSBC: And, favorite ones to brew?

Crandall: Probably the IPAs, more technical, lot of hops. And, probably these new seasonals we’ve done, (like) the Scotch.

DSBC: What’s been your favorite beer you’ve worked on while you’ve been here?

Crandall: Probably our Black Rye (Black By Popular Demand), because we did pull all the aged-water out of the barrels and use it in the mash.

DSBC: What’s the biggest thing you hope to learn at Blue Corn and from Paul?

Crandall: I struggle with repetition, creating a good schedule, so that’s something I want to see myself get better at. But, in the long run, I would like to become a head brewer and/or start my own brewery. That’s like the big dream.

* * * * *

When Mallory returned, I asked him if he could sum up the year for us. He paused for a moment and then said, “We have a new management team, a great new chef, Chef Josh Ortiz, and I think we’re hitting our stride in the brewery. I think people are starting to notice. We’re all just excited to be in a rhythm here.”

Things are looking bright for Blue Corn as the staff heads into 2019. They’re going to keep their beer dinners going strong. In the immediate future, Mallory said they’ll be doing some bigger beers. On the docket will be … drum roll please … an imperial stout and a barleywine. They’ll be aging some more sours, not kettle sours this time around, but aged sours in the copper tanks (up front). For those, they’ll be experimenting with more Lactobacillus and Brettanomyces.

Blue Corn is also aiming to do more collaborations in 2019.

“We did a few this last year, but not as many as I typically do, so I think we’re going to ramp that up a bit more,” Mallory said.

They are also in the market for more tap handles in Albuquerque.

As far out as this summer, they’ll aim to do more goses due to their popularity. And, for similar reasons, they’ll also be working on Mexican Lagers, both amber and light. So be sure to look for those as they come out.

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Sometimes we spot brewers out in the wild.

On a personal level, Mallory said he is looking forward to do more of the brewers’ gatherings such as the P.O.E.T.S. (Piss Off Early Tomorrow’s Saturday) meetings, which are once-a-month opportunities for the Santa Fe beer and distilling industry members to get together to hang out, talk shop, and of course, drink beer. He’ll be doing more bike brewery crawls with friends. And, Mallory said he will definitely be adding onto his Santa Fe home and working on his shed as the weather improves, something he takes a lot of pride in.

When Stan Hieronymus spoke at the technical conference in Albuquerque, he said a few things about hops and brewing IPAs that stuck with Mallory.

“I pretty much do only bittering hops and knockout hops,” Mallory said. “I don’t do any 5-, 15-, 30-minute hop additions. And, I also boil at a lower volume and then top up with cold water so I’m putting all my ‘into boil’ hops at, I don’t know, 185-188 degrees. So I do that with all my IPAs, pale ales, all my hoppy beers.”

Those tips came before the IPA Challenge.

2018 was a great year to reaffirm that Blue Corn is still headed in the right direction. You should make 2019 your year to get to know them better, or get reacquainted with them. If you haven’t made the trip out to the brewery, there’s no better time than now. Gatekeeper IPA is back on tap (while supplies last), and there are definitely some exciting brews flowing down the pipeline.

For me, Blue Corn Brewery is definitely one of my go-tos here in Santa Fe, as there’s always something new to try on the rapidly-rotating menu. And, if that doesn’t give you the beer-geek-goose-bumps, well, I don’t know how I can help anymore. One thing is for certain, after the IPA Challenge win, they should definitely be on Burqueños radars for next year’s competition.

To a great year of success for the brewery, and to what the future holds for Mallory and crew, cheers!

— Luke

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They shouldn’t let me hold the IPA Challenge trophy.

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

Winter is Here

If this isn’t the type of beer dinner that you would think we would be happy to present, you must be new around here.

It’s almost time for Blue Corn Brewery’s winter beer dinner! If you haven’t snagged your tickets yet, I’d get on that right away, as these things have a nasty habit of selling out like iheartradio concerts. On December 13, Blue Corn Brewery is bringing us a special pairing of wintry beers and the foods that love them, in a special event sure to live up to, well, every Blue Corn beer pairing dinner that’s preceded it.

I recently got a hold of Blue Corn head brewer Paul Mallory for a few words on his upcoming event.

DSBC: How did you and Chef Josh come up with the food and beer pairings?

Mallory: Chef Josh, (Manager) Michelle and I sat down and discussed ideas. I told Chef Josh what beers we had coming up and which beers I could brew to go with his menu. We often like to serve our seasonal beers for the dinners, so our guests can have something different each time they come for an event. We are pouring four beers that haven’t been brewed before, and many of them are malty and appropriate for the season and weather.

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Dave Merkin, workin’ it. Hails!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Well, if you’re a Target shopper, it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas way back in September. Well, now that Turkey month is basically over, and we’re sleighing full-speed toward Saturnalia, it’s time to get our holi-day-drinking priorities straight.

Let’s face it, either we did the shopping or we didn’t. And, whether we’ll be enjoying some well-earned end-of-the-year-relaxation, or we’ll be last-minute dashing through the snow through packed parking lots toward pre-picked-through aisles, you deserve a good, hearth-warming craft beer. It’s been a long year, am I right?

Let’s take a breath together. Ah, that’s the good stuff.

Maybe it’s your first time in New Mexico, or maybe you’re simply new to our blog and didn’t know, but every year, Santa Fe Brewing Company hosts the “12 Beers of Christmas,” a special event during which, from the 13th to the 24th of December, SFBC taps a fun, usually Christmas- or Winter-themed (typically one-off) special beer to celebrate the season in style.

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We know we can’t safely drink all of these in one day, but damn, are we tempted.

As the cold chill creeps across the windshields of our state, we Nuevo Mexicanos tend to head indoors, finally abandoning the patios we’ve held onto through the fall. Winter is finally here, and the eves of pumpkin beers and brut experiments are soon behind us, and only the memories of wet-hop and Oktoberfest beers remain, buried deep down on our Untappd lists.

As winter closes its icy talons around our hearts, something changes. A lever inside is pulled. A switch of self-preservation is flipped for many of us beer drinkers. Now bundled in our warmest coats and our touchscreen-friendly gloves, we belly up to the bar to navigate a new menu of wonderful winter offerings of delicious dark-ish delights. Gone from our minds (and even menus) are the liquid-sunlight lagers, fruit-basket bubblegum beers, and lawn-gnome-wrecking porch pounders. Instead, we find dark spots on our beer lists, voids, blackholes of boozy goodness during this, the darkest of daylight savings times.

Yes, Stout Season is upon us, and to some of us in the Crew, it’s beginning to look a lot like Festivus. Oh, my friends, Stout Season is a wonderful time of the year when we turn down the lights, curl up in front of the fire in our warmest plaid pajama banana hammocks, and get ready to Netflix-and-Chill with a snifter of Bourbon Barrel-Aged Tweak.

In celebration of the season, the Santa Fe kings of the collab, Rowley Farmhouse Ales, are bringing us lucky folks yet another edition of Blackest Friday, a hit parade of beer’s darkest and most doom-fully metal beer, with a cosmically colossal collection of big barrel-aged stouts.

On Black Friday, November 23, RFA will be tapping nearly 20 rare and barrel-aged stouts for all those who aren’t afraid of the dark. Such an event promises to test the mettle of even the most intrepid spelunker. It will pummel the palate, trounce the taste-buds, and just make our inner stout monsters sit up and chuckle a deep, bellowing and satisfied laugh. Mm-hm-hm-hm-hm-hm!

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Raise ’em high to celebrate the season!

In mid-October, in the mountains of northern New Mexico, a certain familiar sound can be heard through the little valley of Red River. It’s not the rustling of the wind through glimmering gold, fresh-changed aspens, nor the honking of the horns of people-packed caravans. It’s the chorus of clinking glasses and the raising of toasts. It’s the deep brass bellowing of an Oom-pah band that lets us know that Oktoberfest has once again returned, and has completely transformed this sleepy Alps-esque village into a one-of-a-kind experience that will keep you coming back for more, time and time again.

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The weather was decidedly warm for this year’s event.

Though it is worth the travel for the changing leaves alone, just a brief but beautiful stop along the Enchanted Circle, Red River is much more than that. And, beyond the picturesque views, the many outdoor activities, and the deer that will walk right up to you without batting an eye or flicking an ear, there’s beer, and plenty of it here.

In the past few years I’ve been attending the festival, there were only about five breweries and about the same count for wineries. This year, however, there were far more breweries than I’ve ever seen at this event, making it more of a brewfest than I was expecting. I don’t even believe that I got a final count.

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The sun did not deter the crowd.

Set in Brandonburg Park, as well as the Red River Conference Center just behind, there was much ground to cover, and I’m sure we didn’t make it to every brewery in attendance, so I apologize if a brewery was there and didn’t get a mention. There’s only so much time and so many sampler tickets, and so much room after a delicious brat with sauerkraut.

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A man cannot live off beer alone.

The Red River Oktoberfest veteran breweries included neighbors Comanche Creek and Enchanted Circle, plus Santa Fe Brewing. I didn’t see Taos Mesa, Eske’s, or Abbey Brewing, but I’m sure they were representing somewhere.

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One of the great partnerships of our state.

New to Red River’s Oktoberfest this year (to my knowledge) were The 377, Bombs Away Beer Co., Lost Hiker from Ruidoso, Palmer Brewery & Left Turn Distillery, Rio Bravo Brewing, Starr Brothers Brewing, and the new hometown heroes, Red River Brewing Company, plus my dark horse of the festival, Colfax Ale Cellar.

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Rio Bravo brought the beer and the merch.

While I had some great beers from many of the breweries (very few bad ones), my favorites were fun, exciting, in some cases surprising, and in some cases not surprising at all. My picks are as follows:

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What else can I say? “Dammit, Dave.” Ha!

Santa Fe Brewing’s Pepe Loco: To me, it’s a perfect recipe for a Mexican Lager. While it may seem somewhat out of season, it was perfectly refreshing in the unusually warm weather. I wouldn’t be surprised if that limited beer finds its way into cans some time soon.

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Comanche Creek served up a winner!

Comanche Creek brewed up an Oktoberfest that stood out for all the right reasons.

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Ginger Beer from The 377 FTW!

The 377 made the first Ginger Beer that I’ve ever really enjoyed. It reminded me of a Ginger Ale, and then I thought, wait … is the beer made after the soda, or is the soda made after the beer? Either way, wow! Excellent stuff! Cheers!

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Enchanted Circle closes out the festival with smiles.

Enchanted Circle is doing some great things with their beers these days, but they get my Gold Medal for best name: Glory Hole IPA. That’s all I’ll say about that.

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That’s one hefty pour of bronze medal-winning Lampshade Porter!

Starr Brothers brought their GABF bronze medal-winning, heavy-hitting Lampshade Porter, which was just a joy to drink. Luckily that’s on tap at their brewery, year-round, so head in anytime and rent that blockbuster hit.

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Red River Brewing head brewer Chris Calhoun raises a toast.

Special mentions go to Lost Hiker and Red River Brewing Company. I don’t think they make a bad beer between them, and certainly deserve a special trip to see them in their beautiful towns.

My “Best of the Fest” award goes to Colfax Ale Cellar, up in Raton. They had so many wonderful, interesting, and creative (yet perfectly executed) beers, on draft and in bottles.

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Brewmaster Jim Stearns stands beside his wife Karen Stearns and brewdog Pippen, as well as their excellent beer selection.

“The Red River Oktoberfest was our first time at that event,” said head brewer and owner Jim Stearns in a follow-up email. “We brewed three lagers specifically for that event. We sold very little. Unfortunately, we probably sold less than 10 percent of what breweries who were located outside sold, but we weren’t alone in that position along with Starr Bros, 377 and Rio Bravo Brewing Co.”

In my opinion, I think that’s because no one knew there was beer in the conference center. That kind of thing is tough to deal with as a former brewery event coordinator. The struggle is real. At least Colfax brought enough interesting beers to gain some new fans.

Maxwell Pils (5% ABV) — an international pilsner style, very mildly hopped

Fest Lager (4.6% ABV) — a Vienna-style amber lager, also very mildly hopped

Yülbock (5.25% ABV) — a rauchbier made with 20-percent beech-smoked malt, also mildly hopped

Karaiba (3.3% ABV) — a Berliner White ale, lightly sour, with essence of passion fruit and mango, no hops

In 22-ounce bottles:

Double Tipple (8.7% ABV) a blended double stout with a portion aged in rye whiskey barrels

Chicorica (8.3% ABV) — a strong golden ale brewed with trappist ale yeast

La Belle Otéro (6.5% ABV) — classic Wallonian saison ale, dry and peppery

Banks of Orkney (8.2% ABV) — a strong Scotch ale, light toffee and bread pudding

I have no hesitation in saying that they are a must visit on the road to or from Denver. Forget Colorado Springs or Pueblo and stop there instead for lunch and enjoy something that will surprise you. Colfax Ale Cellar should be on everyone’s radar this year and in the years to come.

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And one Double Tipple for the Dark Side, please!

The Colfax Ale Cellar taproom was recently closed due to inclement weather, as apparently winter has come early. For that, I blame the Starks, Target, and Kohls.

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Blue Corn head brewer Paul Mallory “Captains” to another great festival.

It was another great festival of beer and food in the mountains. I only wish folks had known there was a brew fest attached to the usual festivities. I believe it’s now my job to reach out to the organizers to get the word out. I was certainly surprised to find a whole group of new vendors/breweries in the conference center, in which there had never been before. But, if you missed them this time, or missed the festival this time around, there’s always next year and next time.

Until we meet again, Red River! For now, I will be counting the days until one of my favorite festivals rolls back through town. I should probably book my cabin now to be safe. To another unforgettable Oktoberfest in the mountains!

Prost!

— Luke

 

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For more #CraftBeer info, and @nmdarksidebc news, follow me on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro. Untappd: SantaFeLuke. My birthday is today (Thursday). You know what to do! I’m kidding.

This dirt lot on the corner of Alameda and San Pedro will be the future home of a new Santa Fe Brewing taproom.

By now, you’ve probably have already heard of Roy Solomon’s new Green Jeans-style project coming soon to the Northeast Heights in Albuquerque. If you haven’t caught the story, click on over to our friends at ABQ Business First for the details about the new shipping-container project called Tin Can Alley. They have the scoop on the restaurants and other establishments that will reside on the northeast corner of Alameda and San Pedro.

But, if you’re not bent on switching over, and because we’re the Dark Side Brew Crew, we’ve got a few more details on the beer side of things.

The story mentions that Santa Fe Brewing Company will open yet another taproom in this new Albuquerque location. But, how can that be, since they are maxed out with three existing off-site taprooms?

Friend to the industry and Crew, Brian K. BikeRider asked, on Facebook: “According to the report (…), a Santa Fe brewing taproom will be located at this new development. As most know, State law allows local brewers to have a tasting room at their brewery and three off-side taprooms. Right now, Santa Fe Brewing has three off-site taprooms: Green Jeans Farmery (Albuquerque), Eldorado (Santa Fe), and the Brakeroom (Santa Fe).

He continues, “This begs the question when this SFBC taproom opens at the new Tin Can Alley development in Albuquerque, which existing taproom is going away?”

Good question, Mr. BikeRider, good question.

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SFBC owner Brian Lock enjoying a beer after getting fully permitted for the new event space in 2016.

For answers, we decided to go straight to the source, Santa Fe Brewing owner Brian Lock. In an email, he replied, “Santa Fe Brewing Co. has applied for a Small Wine Grower License with AGD (Alcohol and Gaming Division) back in August and will be going in front of the BCC here in Santa Fe on October 30 for the license approval. Santa Fe Brewing Co. has been doing R&D for the past four months producing its own cider and provided the license is granted, then three additional taprooms will become available under that license. So my plan is not to close any existing taprooms, unless the approval does not go through, in which case I will have to make a decision.”

So, there you go. I think we got the answer we were looking for, for now. And, we’ll have to wait and see how things press out. Ha. And, bonus, we got to take a sneak peek into the future direction of Santa Fe Brewing! How do you like them apples?

Now, in case you didn’t grab the details from the other article, they’re aiming at doing much of the same as they had with Green Jeans Farmery with a lot more space to work with, this includes taking care of previous concerns, for example, doubling the parking. And, if you previously had trouble finding a seat on their rooftop patio at Green Jeans, there will be about 7,000 square feet of space with mountain views to enjoy SFBC’s latest creations paired with some international cuisine.

The new SFBC taproom will be around 4,500 square feet, but the plan is that the entire complex will be permitted, so you can take your beer and wander around with it like a Hawaiian shirt-wearing party guy in Vegas or New Orleans.

The new shipping container mega facility will be located on the corner of Alameda and San Pedro. They’re looking at a July opening, so it’s my guess/opinion that it’ll be another September opening for Solomon and company. (You know how things go with permitting/licensing in ABQ.)

To another fun location for families with adults to play in the ABQ area, and to Santa Fe Brewing Company’s future success, cheers!

— Luke

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Ballast Point tour and stuff.

For more #CraftBeer news, @nmdarksidebc info, and my beer ‘reviews,’ follow me on Twitter @SantaFeCraftbro!