Archive for the ‘Beer Notes’ Category

Party time with Great Divide in a couple weeks!

Lots of stuff can fall through the cracks as far as beer news goes, especially when an editor goes on a road trip, so here is pretty much everything I know we missed over the last couple weeks.

Anniversaries and grand openings and soft openings

Today (Friday) is going to be a busy one. First up, Chile Line Brewing is celebrating the official grand opening of its new taproom, which is right next to Pizzeria Da Lino, at 204 N. Guadalupe St. in Santa Fe. There will be live music, special food samples, and of course plenty of beer starting at 4 p.m.

Duel Brewing has been celebrating its fourth anniversary all week long in Santa Fe. The party comes to Albuquerque tonight at 8 p.m. James Whiton will bring his solo loop bass, with a number of burlesque dancers performing. All sours will be $1 off all night.

Also, a reader has informed us that Colfax Ale Cellars in Raton will be quietly having a soft opening. New Mexico’s northernmost brewery had hoped to open last fall, but hit a few more bumps in the road. At last, they will open today at 3 p.m. The Run to Raton Bike Rally & Car Show is also in town, so a lot of the motels are already booked. Take note if you plan to drive up, you will have to designate a driver. The grand opening date will be announced soon.

Exclusive beers en route

Our buddy Thomas DeCaro, now representing Great Divide, is bringing some special new IPAs to town for a two-night tapping at two locations. They will happen at Sister Bar on August 4 at 5 p.m., and then at Nob Hill Bar & Grill the following night. The beers en route are Hazy, a New England-style IPA, Tea Ski IPA, brewed with black tea, and All the Buzz Words, a special collaboration with Weldworks. ABW is described as a “kettle sour session New England-style IPA.” It debuted back at the brewery in Denver on July 1.

Boxing Bear to the Heights

We are working on a time to go more in-depth on this, but yes, it appears that Boxing Bear is the brewery targeted to move into the forthcoming taproom space being built at the new Snow Heights Promenade at Eubank and Menaul. Head brewer Justin Hamilton pretty much confirmed it to the Albuquerque Journal. That’s official enough for us.

More taprooms and breweries?

That mystery taproom coming to Menaul just east of Louisiana has now been confirmed as Broken Trail, which will have beer and spirits available (unlike just spirits at Green Jeans). Owner Matt Simonds asked us to keep quiet until it was more official, but the word got out and now we can say, yeah, that’s Broken Trail.

Elsewhere, Hollow Spirits, the new venture from former Red Door co-owner Frank Holloway, has a pending small brewer license as well. Taking a similar path to Broken Trail is not a bad idea.

Down south, Lost Hiker Brewing has a pending license as well. It will be located in Ruidoso Downs. That mountainous region also has the Glencoe Distillery and Brewery coming east of Ruidoso, and Switchback Brewery in Cloudcroft. Unlike the others, Lost Hiker does have a Facebook page so everyone can keep track of the progress.

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That is all the news we missed (that we know of). As always, if you know anything you feel we and the craft beer community should know, drop us a line via social media or at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

 

Beer Notes: Road tripping across the old USA

Posted: July 10, 2017 by cjax33 in Beer Notes

Ah, the art of taking a photo with one’s phone while driving. And not crashing. Yeeha!

As you read this today, I, your humble Stoutmeister, will be traveling along Interstate 40 eastward. The last of my cousins (at least for a while) is getting married down in Pensacola, Florida, so I figured heck, why not drive out there and explore beer in a part of the country I have not visited in a long time.

How long? Well, the last time I was in Memphis I was 11 years old. I have never been to the states of Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi. I went to New Orleans in college for Mardi Gras, but I really don’t want to talk about that hangover (so, so bad). I have never been to Houston, and my entire time in the Dallas-Fort Worth area consisted of seeing one Texas Rangers game in 2007. So, yeah, it is all pretty much an undiscovered country for me. Just without Shakespeare-spouting Klingons, right?

As I travel, I will be making quite a few beer-related stops, checking out some breweries and/or beer bars. I already circled Tapwerks in Oklahoma City, Lost Forty Brewing in Little Rock, Wiseacre Brewing in Memphis, LoDa Bier Garten in Mobile, Pensacola Bay Brewing in that city, Avenue Pub in New Orleans, The Conservatory in Houston, and potentially multiple stops in the DFW area. I will type up a few recaps of my travels, little beercation guides, since I know some of you might also head that way at some point.

Don’t worry about beer news around New Mexico, though. The rest of the Crew will step up in my absence. Deezbeers (Andrew) has a preview of the big 20th anniversary celebration at Three Rivers on Friday in Farmington. I will have a preview of the preliminary round of the NM IPA Challenge, set for Saturday at Duel Brewing, and Brandon will be at the event and providing live results on our social media outlets as they are announced. Look for plenty of other stories as well, including Franz Solo getting poetic about more beers, including one that he brewed that might set a record for IBUs.

In the meantime, since I know how much everyone likes updates on new breweries …

New brewery updates

As always, these are almost all on the breweries with pending small brewer licenses with the State of New Mexico, or those with active licenses that have still opened their doors.

  • BLUE: A new one, not sure if this going to be the final name or not, but it will be located near Broadway and Lead/Coal. A friend of the Crew is working on putting us in touch with the owner.
  • Bombs Away Beer Co.: Construction continues on the brewery near Moon and Central, but we have not received an update in a while.
  • Cantero Brewing: Yes, they really are taking over the location of the Firkin Brewhouse in the Brewery District. There is still a lot of work to do, including building a patio.
  • Hops Brewery: Well, they told us they were opening on July 1, but apparently that did not happen. We have not received any updates since.
  • Lava Rock Brewing: The brewhouse and equipment have arrived, so construction is ramping up on the new place north of Ladera on Unser. The owners anticipate a fall opening.
  • Sandbar Brewery and Grill: No new updates, but they are posting a lot of ads hiring front-of-house and kitchen staff, so that bodes well for an opening in the near future. The brewery is located on San Mateo just south of Montgomery.
  • Toltec Brewing: Another new West Side operation, they will be located next to Urban Hot Dog in a building at Cottonwood Drive and Old Airport Avenue. It sounds like they are a long ways off.
  • Volume 31 Brewing: Yup, another new addition to the list, all that is known is that this brewery will be located in the 87108 zip code in the southeast. That zip code has the boundaries of Lomas (north), Wyoming (east), Gibson (south), and Carlisle (west). This could be the proposed brewery from the owner of Humble Coffee, but we do not have confirmation of that.
  • Bare Bones Brewing (Cedar Crest): It appears they have a new location now, located further north on Highway 14 from Ale Republic. The important thing is progress continues.
  • Deepwell Brewing (Artesia): Just announced via a Facebook page, they do not yet have a pending license, but we figure they are making their presence known. We will keep an eye out on the state website.
  • Drylands Brewing (Lovington): Their license is active, but they don’t yet appear to be open.
  • Guadalupe Mountain Brewing (Carlsbad): Work continues on Carlsbad’s second brewery, but it remains a long ways from opening.
  • Red River Brewing: There is still no pending license, but the owners did demolish the old building on their property and will begin construction soon.
  • Switchback Brewery (Cloudcroft): No news.
  • Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery (Santa Fe): No news.

On the new taproom front, yes, Tractor is putting a brewery on the West Side near McMahon and Unser. We knew about that one for a while, but their owners asked us not to say much as the physical building has not been built yet. Then the Journal found out and the news broke. The Four Hills taproom will open much sooner, potentially by the start of August, though no firm opening date has been set.

There are unconfirmed rumors of lots of other taprooms opening around town. Until we get official word, we will refrain from sharing those here.

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That is all from us for now. As always, if you know of any beer news, email us at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com or contact us on social media.

Wish me luck surviving humidity. Southeastern breweries/taprooms have air conditioning, right? RIGHT?!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

It is curtains for Draft Station’s Albuquerque location. (Photo courtesy of Draft Station)

Well, it’s Friday, and the little bits of news are starting to bunch up. Here we go …

R.I.P. Draft Station, and Sandia Chile Grill, too?

It appears that two more local beer spots have closed their doors. One is now confirmed, the other seems likely but is not official.

First up, Draft Station ABQ posted on Facebook that they were closing again due to problems caused by the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project on May 5. Since then, there were no posts, and multiple people told us that the taproom appeared to be permanently closed. We were then told by another brewery that their orders for future beers have been canceled. A final confirmation then came in when we contacted an executive with parent company Santa Fe Dining, and he emailed us back to confirm that yes, Draft Station ABQ is now permanently closed.

It was always a tough sell for the local version of the big hit up in Santa Fe. While that location is in prime real estate overlooking the Plaza, the ABQ location was stuck too far from the other downtown breweries/taprooms and then just a bit too far from Old Town. Throw in the impact of A.R.T. on business (you could not turn into the parking lot from westbound Central), and it proved to be the final coup de grace. There is always the chance that Draft Station could live again (scroll down), but for now, may it rest in peace.

Meanwhile, as I posted in The Week Ahead in Beer (no worries if you missed it), by all accounts Sandia Chile Grill is closed as well. Efforts to reach them by phone have failed as the number listed has been disconnected. They have not made a social media update in some time, but then again they never were very active online. A quick drive past the location found the doors closed, but the signs were still up, including their new T-shirts in the window. The tables and chairs were still inside as well.

However, we checked the State of New Mexico website and found that their small brewer license is listed as expired. There are no applications pending for a new or renewed license under either Sandia Chile Grill or Oso Loco Brewery.

If anyone out there knows the full story with SCG, please contact us.

More new places? More new places

Meanwhile, there are three new small brewer licenses pending. The Sandbar Brewery and Grill will indeed be making its own beer in the location at 4100 San Mateo. For those thinking, “hey, that location is familiar,” it was formerly home to Sneakerz, a sports bar probably best known for having (you guessed it) sand volleyball courts on the premises.

UPDATE: We previously wrote — The prior location of the Sandbar was up near Journal Center. Many, many moons ago we reported on how they were teaming up with the long-since-defunct New Mexico Craft Brewing out of Las Vegas to serve their beer at the indoor sand volleyball facility. That partnership did not last, but we are glad to see the Sandbar owner(s) sticking with craft beer. — But, as it turns out, this Sandbar has no relationship to the previous Sandbar. Our apologies for the mistake.

The stated goal of Sandbar is to open this summer. We will keep everyone updated as to their progress.

Another new name on the list is Toltec Brewing, which has a zip code listing of 87114. That is the West Side, running from the river to Albuquerque’s western city limits. The northern boundary is Rio Rancho, the southern boundary is roughly Paseo del Norte. Currently, Marble Westside and Boxing Bear are in this zip code, so clearly Toltec could be just about anywhere out there that commercial properties exist. There is no additional information online that we could find, social media or otherwise. If anyone out there knows more about Toltec, please drop us a line.

The final newcomer is another place we knew about in advance. Guadalupe Mountain Brewing is set to become the second operational brewery in Carlsbad. We have already been in touch with their owner/brewer, so expect a story from us in the coming months. You can already follow them on Facebook.

The great mystery taproom speculation begins

A reader alerted us to the fact that the developers of the Snow Heights Promenade are planning on adding a 2,800-square-foot taproom to the complex located on the southwest corner of Eubank and Menaul.

Our friends at the Albuquerque Journal followed up on the Snow Heights Facebook post with this tasty morsel about a “soon-to-be announced ‘award-winning local brewery’ that’s looking to open a 2,800-square-foot taproom at the site.”

All right, let us play the guessing game. We can rule out just about any brewery that has opened since the start of 2016, since none of them are really in position financially to open a taproom yet. We can then throw out any brewery that has maxed out its number of taprooms (Bosque), has a taproom somewhat nearby (Marble, Canteen), or a forthcoming taproom nearby (Red Door, Tractor). Taking the award-winning comment above, we gotta figure it is a brewery that has won multiple major medals/awards, which to the general public usually starts with the Great American Beer Festival. So who does that leave?

  1. Boxing Bear: The reigning GABF Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year is a logical candidate. The taproom would certainly bring their beers to a new audience. This one almost makes too much sense, doesn’t it? Still, nothing official yet from the BBB staff.
  2. Chama River: If the Draft Station is truly closed, maybe it is due to moving here. Technically, it was always under Chama’s license, so that could work. But, then again, it would not come with the name of the award-winning brewery attached.
  3. La Cumbre: Well, now, wouldn’t that be interesting? It’s pretty far from the main brewery, though certainly not as far as Boxing Bear. Owner Jeff Erway has talked in the past about the reasons he has not opened a taproom, ranging from not wanting a location too close to a bar or restaurant that has carried LC beers since the beginning, to wanting a good landlord tenant relationship (if not outright ownership of the taproom building). We will call LC the dark horse candidate.

Could it be another brewery besides these? Sure, anything is possible, but these are the most logical candidates. Good ahead and speculate away in the comments or on social media. We will see what the final is when the developers and brewery in question are ready to announce it to the public.

More new brewery tidbits

These are all the other breweries or off-site taprooms with pending licenses with the state.

  • Bare Bones Brewing is closing in on a new location after their original space fell through in Cedar Crest. It will still be somewhere along Highway 14 in the East Mountains.
  • Bombs Away Beer Company is busy with the buildout of their space near Central and Moon. We await a chance to visit when they are ready, so yes, we are in contact with head brewer David Kimbell.
  • Drylands Brewing continues with its buildout in Lovington. Search for their Instagram page and you can keep track of their progress. It is looking good.
  • Hops Brewery in Nob Hill remains in limbo. We have no idea what the current delay is about.
  • Lava Rock Brewing continues with its buildout on Unser north of Ladera, as does Truth or Consequences Brewing down south. The latter now has an active license, but is not yet open.
  • We have nothing new to add on Glencoe Distillery and Brewery in Ruidoso (license active, but no other info), Switchback Brewery in Cloudcroft, or Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery in Santa Fe. If anyone out there has info, as always, please contact us.

That is all from us for now. Got a tip? Want to share something without announcing it to the world? Direct message us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or via email at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

It sure looks like Hops Brewery is getting close to opening in Nob Hill.

Goodness gracious, beer notes on a Friday. Whatever has come over me?

Brewers Association takes a stand against offensive labels

An emerging point of contention for craft beer has been the use of blatantly sexist or offensive labels and imagery by certain breweries. Luckily, New Mexico breweries have largely managed to avoid these sorts of things, but it has become a battleground issue in other states.

Well, the Brewers Association weighed in on all of it at the just-wrapped Craft Brewers Conference in Washington D.C. To say that the BA brought the hammer down might be a bit of an over-simplification, as it remains to be seen how it will all play out in terms of penalties and the like, but it is a big step forward to getting craft beer away from a juvenile mindset. Craft beer is still an industry dominated by white males working on the production side. That does not mean it should act like a stereotypical bad college fraternity.

Here is the exact wording the BA sent out in a press release Thursday:

“The BA updated its Marketing and Advertising Code to help brewers maintain high standards and act as responsible corporate citizens. New language has been included to address that beer advertising and marketing materials should not use sexually explicit, lewd, or demeaning brand names, language, text, graphics, photos, video, or other images that reasonable adult consumers would find inappropriate for consumer products offered to the public. Any name that does not meet the Marketing and Advertising Code that wins a BA produced competition including the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) or World Beer Cup will not be read on stage or promoted in BA materials, and will not be permitted to use the GABF or World Beer Cup intellectual properties in their marketing. Additionally, the BA has convened an Advertising Complaint Review Board should an issue arise that warrants further review and action.”

This should make for a fascinating GABF in October, especially if multiple medal winners are not read aloud during the awards ceremony. More information can be found on the official BA website.

If you want to share your thoughts or ask questions about all of this, please do so via any of our social media outlets. Or, if you would prefer to contact us directly, use nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Southwest Bacon Fest returns

We almost completely forgot about the Bacon Fest until Marble shared the fact it is taking the aptly named Bacon’s Best Friend to the event, which runs this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Balloon Fiesta Park.

Unlike the Food Truck Festival organizers, we were never contacted by the Bacon Fest P.R. people, so it slipped through the cracks. In a late scramble, we sent out an email to 11 of the 14 attending breweries for whom we have current contact information. Unfortunately, many key brewery staffers are still en route back from the aforementioned CBC, so we only heard back from three (so far). If any others update us with their lists, we will add them here.

  • Marble: Bacon’s Best Friend (Rauchbier), Double White, IPA, Red Ale, Pilsner, DANG Pale Ale
  • Quarter Celtic: Pedro O’Flanigan, Crimson Lass, Quarter Porter, Clark IPA
  • Rio Bravo: La Luz Lager, Snakebite IPA, Lemongrass Wit, Cherry Sour, Pinon Coffee Porter

We still hope to hear back from Bosque, Boxing Bear, Canteen, Chama River, Kaktus, Palmer, Starr Brothers, and Tractor. We do not currently have contact info for Abbey, Cottonwood (Desert Water), or Santa Fe.

Hops Brewery looks like its almost ready

Based on that photo way up at the top, it sure looks like Hops Brewery is getting ready to open soon in Nob Hill. The current Albuquerque Rapid Transit construction should not get in the way too badly, so the Crew will be keeping an eye out if an official announcement appears. It has been a long, long road for Hops, which we first heard about as far back as early 2013. Let us hope only a few final touches need to be applied before they can start serving beer.

Otherwise there is nothing new to report on the new brewery front. We have not heard that Bare Bones Brewing has found a new home in the Cedar Crest area after their initial space fell through over issues with a new landlord. Bombs Away Beer Company has joined the NM Brewers Guild, but beyond that and a physical address near Moon and Central, there is nothing new there, either.

Oh, and Desert Valley Brewing officially has an active small brewer license. The main operation is still located next to the Craftroom near Menaul and the I-25 frontage road. The old Stumbling Steer space they are taking over will be an off-site taproom. They have a pending license for that with the state now.

If anyone out there hears about news involving new or forthcoming breweries, please send it to us using the usual ways (email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

See some of you downtown Saturday for the Easter Beer Hunt and/or Tart at Heart 3.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Behold the champion in all its glory! All hail Project Dank! Again!

We realize that not all of you who follow us do so on social media, so of late, there were some newsy tidbits on good old Facebook that some of you might have missed. Think of this as a little social media news roundup while we get the jam-packed Week Ahead in Beer and a feature on Three Rivers ready for the next weeks.

La Cumbre claims National IPA Challenge again

Back in 2014, La Cumbre brought some serious bragging rights to New Mexico when its Project Dank won it all at the Brewing News National IPA Challenge. Over the next two years, it was Bosque and Scale Tipper taking the crown, all while keeping New Mexico in the spotlight. After Scale Tipper was dethroned back in the Round of 32 this year, it seemed as if the title could end up leaving New Mexico. Thankfully, Project Dank was back at full power.

La Cumbre’s hop bomb of hop bombs defeated Lawson’s Finest Liquids’ Hopcelot IPL in the Final Four before overcoming Lynwood Brewing’s Hop Sauce in the championship match on Monday, making it four straight titles for the state of New Mexico.

How impressive is this? Well, prior to this little run of dominance, no state had ever won back to back, no brewery had ever won back to back, and no brewery had won more than one challenge. New Mexico now has four straight titles, with two of its breweries winning two apiece.

To heck with the West Coast IPA style. It’s time to just call it the New Mexico IPA style. It’s the best damn style in America, and it doesn’t need to be from a coast.

Pi Brewing will be closed indefinitely

Now to the bad news of the week, which comes from the West Side brewery. We will just let them tell the story directly from their Facebook page:

As you know, a car crashed into our building on January 1st causing our space to be red tagged by city officials citing safety concerns. After over 10 weeks our landlord has not approved the contractor for the work or have yet to retain a contractor to execute repairs. Once authorized, repairs are quoted to be an additional 10 weeks. The landlord’s blatant disregard for the severity of the forced closure has cost our employees their livelihood and your continued patronage. It seems the big California based property management company and the big Florida based landlord have little concern for our small New Mexico business. That being said, we have made the difficult decision to close and look for a new home.

It has been a pleasure to have been a part of your neighborhood, but the time has come for us to call another place home. In the last 7 years we have seen your children grow up, we have been a part of your first dates and later included in the weddings, even our own children have learned how to ride a bike in the dining room and throw dough in the pizza pit. You have trusted us with your field trips, birthdays and anniversaries. We have met some of the most amazing people through the years, including some of our closest friends today. Thank you for your stories, memories and incredible support!

We have a couple of locations in mind, but if you have suggestions, feel free to PM us. As soon as a new lease is signed, we will let you all know where the party will continue.

Thank you again for the last 7 years,

Greg & Nicole Villareal

Yeah, this is a major bummer. Pi was just seemingly hitting its stride and finding its niche. We wish Greg and Nicole all the luck they will need in finding a new location. It will certainly not be an easy thing to pull off, but we remain confident that they will make every effort to bring their brewery back. It will probably be quite a while, though, before they are making beer again.

New breweries update

Not much has changed since our last edition of Beer Notes, but there are a couple items that we needed to pass along.

First up, add another newcomer to the list, as Switchback Brewery in Cloudcroft has a pending small brewer license. We could not find any additional info on the new operation, not via a Google search or on social media, so at best this one is probably a long, long way off. We just have to wonder if it will really come to fruition with that name, as there is already a Switchback Brewing Co. in Burlington, Vermont. If you think “but that’s so far away, surely they won’t object,” then please go visit Mike Campbell over at Drafty Kilt and ask him what happened with the original Off Kilter name for his brewery. (Yeah, there is always a chance the Vermonters will give it an OK, but don’t hold your collective breath or anything.)

Meanwhile, in similar news to Pi, the not-yet-open Bare Bones Brewing in Cedar Crest is already looking for a new home. We will also let them explain what happened via their Facebook post:

As some of you may have already heard, Bare Bones Brewing has hit a little speed bump with our progress. Our anticipated April 2017 opening date will be pushed further down the road as we explore some new location options. Unfortunately, we were unable to come to an agreement with the new property owners in regards to how we would run our business. We were not given the same lease terms and other businesses within the same complex seemed to have more say over what we could and couldn’t do, which led us to make the very hard decision to cut our losses and move on, to find a location that would be better suited to the friendly, family, community atmosphere we are looking for. We appreciate the many hours that volunteers put into cleaning and renovating the space. It hurts to leave all that hard work behind, but as with everything in life, we live, we learn, and we come out a little better in the end. Stay tuned for updates as we move forward. Cheers!

Let this all be a lesson to anyone who thinks it’s easy to open a brewery in this day and age. We will keep an eye on any future announcements from Bare Bones about a new location.

Anyway, that is all for now. If anyone needs me, I will be at one of the Marble taprooms later to indulge in the new Woodshed Double Red, which is basically a barrel-aged Imperial Red blended with regular Red Ale. That is just the kind of beer to help us all survive a Tuesday.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The brewers at Starr Brothers were all too happy to receive the official NMDSBC Stout Challenge trophy.

The brewers at Starr Brothers were all too happy to receive the official NMDSBC Stout Challenge trophy.

Every now and again, a story, even a short one, slips through the cracks. A few weeks back, I visited Starr Brothers and got a quick tour of the brewery’s expansion, took some photos, and I completely forgot to post anything.

Time to rectify that. As noted in our Look Back/Look Ahead Series story, Starr Brothers has expanded into the space next door, knocking out the wall in order to expand their brewing area. The photos I took should show most of it, but basically head brewer Rob Whitlock has a lot more room to maneuver. They have added multiple tanks, and have a second, larger walk-in cooler that will be used for distribution. Yes, Starr Brothers is sending kegs to other places now, though there are no plans to move into canning or bottling (at least not yet).

The pictures will tell the rest of the story.

The new walk-in cooler is quite a bit larger than its predecessor.

The new walk-in cooler is quite a bit larger than its predecessor.

More fermenters? Yup.

More fermenters? Yup.

starrbrothersexpansion3

There is still a lot of open space back there for future expansion.

If this all means Rob can keep Foggy Monocle, the oatmeal stout that claimed top honors at the Crew’s 2017 Stout Challenge, on tap at all times, then everyone wins. See how much the official Stout Challenge trophy makes Rob smile up above? Yeah, a good stout does that for us.

Desert Valley moves west

One of the forthcoming breweries in Albuquerque is taking over some familiar turf. Desert Valley Brewing, which is associated with the same folks who own The Craftroom and Sandia Hard Cider, is moving into the brewing space that never was for The Stumbling Steer.

The Steer fizzled out in 2015, with the building then taken over and chopped into different storefronts. Part of the restaurant area became Vernon’s Open Door, but financial problems eventually sank that operation, much like the Steer before it. The brewing area, which was never put into service before the Steer’s demise, was supposed to have become a brewery that would serve its beers via all the various Vernon’s and Wise Pies properties, but that idea never got off the ground. Now, finally, an actual brewery is moving to take over that portion of the property.

The restaurant portion of the building is being taken over by the owner of Matanza, though whether he will open a west-side version of the popular Nob Hill eatery/beer bar, or try a new concept, is unclear right now.

For now, Desert Valley’s small brewer license is still listed as pending on the State of New Mexico’s website, and it is unknown how long it will take them to get things running out there (for instance, we don’t even know how much of the brewing equipment is in place, or if some may need to be added, replaced, or repaired). Rest assured, we will try to touch base with the team behind Desert Valley and learn more.

Updating the rest of the newcomers

They're not gonna open small in Los Ranchos. (Courtesy of Steel Bender)

They’re not gonna open small in Los Ranchos. (Courtesy of Steel Bender)

There are seven other breweries with pending licenses in varying stages of development, plus one more about to open.

Steel Bender Brewyard in Los Ranchos already has their license approved and has begun brewing. They still project a mid-March opening and should have an announcement shortly as to the exact date of their grand opening. At least two notable brewers have stopped by to look around, and both came away quite impressed. The Crew will be visiting Steel Bender as soon as there are beers to taste and everything is relatively settled.

As for the other seven, we have no new updates on Bare Bones Brewing (Cedar Crest) or Bombs Away Beer Company (Albuquerque). The magic of social media has informed us, via lots of pictures, that the buildout is underway for both Drylands Brewing (Lovington) and Truth or Consequences Brewing.

Lava Rock Brewing, the new project from former Firkin Brewhouse brewer Aaron Walters, is moving along on the west side on Unser north of Ladera. The aim is still for a summer opening.

We had not heard anything new on Hops Brewery in Nob Hill until a recent visit to another brewery revealed that Hops was now buying grain and getting ready to brew its first beers. The long-delayed project may finally be nearing its opening, but as Hops still does not have any website or social media accounts, that is all we know for now.

Finally, a new name to file away, Glencoe Distillery & Brewery, which is set to open a few miles east of Ruidoso. The original newspaper story did not mention brewing, so our guess is that was added later on to the plan. Hey, it works for Broken Trail up here, maybe it will work in the mountains down south, too.

For every opening, a closing

Twisted Chile gives Socorro its first in-town brewing operation in years.

Twisted Chile will be bidding farewell soon, though a new owner could bring it back eventually.

OK, not quite, but there have been a couple brewery closings of late. For those that missed it on social media or in The Week Ahead in Beer last week, Twisted Chile will be closing its doors in Socorro. After originally listing April 1 as the grand finale, March 25 will now be the end of the line, at least for the current owners. The brewery name, recipes, and food menu are for sale right now, but in a twist, the brewing equipment is actually owned by the property owner.

Yes, Albuquerque Brewing is closed. We have most of the story as to why, but they have asked us to withhold sharing any of it until all the legal issues are cleared up.

We have still not received word as to when Pi Brewing expects to reopen. The repairs to the outer wall, damaged by a car way back on New Year’s Day, have taken a lot longer than anyone expected. Rest assured, though, Pi will be back.

National IPA Challenge update

No brewery in America has ever pulled off back-to-back victories.

There will be no three-peat for Bosque, but other New Mexico IPAs are still in the running.

The National IPA Challenge, put on every year by The Brewing News, is well underway. Two of the four brackets have concluded, Session IPA and Specialty IPA. The latter saw Dialogue Brewing’s Belgium Citrus IPA reach the finals, and even though it lost to 42 North Brewing’s White Oak Borderland IPA, it was still a heck of an accomplishment for a brewery that isn’t even six months old.

As for the big brackets, the sizable New Mexico contingent in each has been whittled down. There are only 16 beers left, with two from our state left in the Imperial IPA bracket and three in the regular IPA bracket.

The last two imperial entries are Bosque’s Moon Cannon and Second Street’s Imperial IPA (both of which are currently available on tap, FYI). Moon Cannon will face Knee Deep’s Lupulin River, while Imperial IPA takes on Two Roads’ Two Juicy. If both advance to the quarterfinals, they will face each other.

As for the main bracket, Bosque’s back-to-back reigning champion Scale Tipper was knocked out in the third round by another hop powerhouse, Fat Heads’ Head Hunter IPA. The survivors from New Mexico are Quarter Celtic’s Clark, La Cumbre’s Project Dank, and Boxing Bear’s Bear Knuckle. If they all advance to the quarterfinals and move on from there, New Mexico could end up with three of the final four. It will not be easy, however, as Clark takes on Lawson’s Finest Liquids’ Hopcelot IPA, Project Dank battles Flying Bison’s Buffalo IPA, and Bear Knuckle goes paw-to-toe with Sunriver’s Vicious Mosquito, which knocked out Dialogue’s Centennial IPA back in the second round.

We also got this fun little statistic from Boxing Bear’s David Kim: “Some fun data to show just what NM is doing year after year in this competition. From 2014-2017 NM has had more beers reach the round of 16 (14 beers) than any other state. Oregon is second with 13, California is third with 11, and Ohio is fourth with 7 beers. All other states had no more than 3 beers reach the “sweet 16” of this competition.”

We’ll just go ahead and change the state slogan to “The Land of Hopchantment.”

Sampler tray

  • No news is good news, right? We are still waiting to find out when House Bill 398, the companion piece to the defeated Senate Bill 314, is going to be heard in committee. This legislative session is nearing its end, so plenty of political fireworks remain. Rest assured, the minute we know something, you will, too.
  • For those who say the Crew is too focused on Albuquerque and Santa Fe, we hear you. Look for a story on Farmington’s Three Rivers Brewery in the near future, plus we do intend to hit up lots of other breweries, new and old, in the coming months, from Roosevelt in Portales to Milton’s in Carlsbad to Enchanted Circle in Angel Fire, and as many others as our schedules allow.
  • Word on the street, and social media, has plenty of collaboration brews coming up in the next few weeks and months. Steel Bender has brewed with Canteen and Marble, while Chama River and Nexus have something new coming soon. Marble, in fact, is putting the word out to breweries around town to come brew together at the Northeast Heights location. We would almost think brewmaster Josh Trujillo is bored or something, but at the rate he keeps churning out awesome new seasonals, that can’t possibly be the case.
  • We will have a full preview of La Cumbre’s Cask Ales Festival on Thursday. Also, the early reveal of the Albuquerque Beer Week schedule is almost upon us. It kicks off May 25.

That is all for now, or at least all I can remember. If anyone out there has beer news, notes, and tips to share, contact us via social media or at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

We had shirts made for everyone. Show us a little love and buy one, please?

We had shirts made for everyone. Show us a little love and buy one, please?

A belated thank you to everyone who came out to our fifth anniversary celebration at Tractor a couple weeks ago. Well, even if you did not make it out there, we still have quite a few shirts for sale. Our friend Michael Wieclaw, a.k.a. the mad genius behind Metal the Brand, made this batch of shirts for us.

Our goal is to raise money to upgrade this here website. It has been five years now, and we still have the same format and the same set of issues. We want to make this a better site for everyone. We just need your help. We are selling the shirts for $12 apiece, cash only. Want one? Send us an email to nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com, or a direct message on Facebook or Twitter. We will set up a time and place to meet (hint: places with beer are our favorite).

Don’t worry, we aren’t planning to go into full-time advertising/merchandising. This has long been a non-profit endeavor on our part, and for the most part, we plan to keep it that way.

Oh, and we will still love you if you don’t buy a shirt. Just keep supporting our local breweries and we’ll call it even.

The 377 takes flight with its own beers

The 377 now has 11 beers on tap, and more coming, so be prepared to get more than one flight.

The 377 now has 11 beers on tap, and more coming, so be prepared to get more than one flight.

A few months back, when The 377 Brewery opened, lots of folks bemoaned the lack of house beers. Well, for those not following them on Facebook, they have been churning out their own beers for a few weeks. After following a quartet of Colorado Rockies around town all day Friday, I found myself near The 377 and elected to head over to finally try all of them.

The 377 now has 11 beers made by Lyna Waggoner, ranging from a kolsch to an imperial cream. They have the hoppy and malty ends of the spectrum covered.

As always, these are just my opinions. Yours could end up being wildly different. The fun thing about beer is that is wonderfully subjective. Go try these and let me know what you think. Just remember to rate them as a brand-new brewery. If you are expecting beers on the level of a La Cumbre or a Marble, you may ended up disappointed, unless your palate remembers what the beers tasted like at those breweries when they were only a few months old.

  • Johnny Winter Kolsch (5% ABV): Crisp, clean beer is the perfect place to start. A little creamy with a solid mouthfeel. This will go well during the summer months.
  • Spitfire Best Bitter (4.5%): This one tasted a little off initially, then it settled down as it warmed a bit. A little bready, not too sweet.
  • Dieterhosen Hefe (4.9%): A genuine surprise, the clarity alone will throw off some people, but the flavor is good throughout. Much closer to a true German weizen, with mild banana and clove flavors in balance.
  • Imperial Cream (8.5%): This one lacked flavor, which made it dangerous in that you cannot taste the ABV as there is no heat here. There is some sweetness that hits mid-palate, but it fades fast.
  • The 377 IPL (4%): A rather simple beer, dry with minimal hop bitterness. Just ends up being smooth and sessionable, but nothing particularly memorable.
  • Sancho Session IPA (5%): It really just tastes like a dry-hopped amber ale. If you like ambers, you will like this beer. Otherwise, aim higher.
  • The 377 IPA (7.2%): Hard to pick out the exact hops used, but it definitely has a throwback quality to it, more like the type of IPA popular before 2010. It will probably draw the biggest range of likes and dislikes in this hop-crazy town.
  • Black IPA (6.6%): The hop bill is pretty similar to the regular IPA, only with the sweeter malts coming through. Minimal roast on the back end.
  • Funky Punky Swartzbier (8.5%): The newest beer on the menu and one of the best. Big roasted, nutty flavor up front, with an underlying sweetness throughout. Another big beer that does not bring the heat.
  • Full Booty Stout (7%): Not quite full, the flavor profile is pretty good, but lacks the mouthfeel from most stouts this size. Roasted elements stand out above the sweetness.
  • Robust Porter (5.9%): Roasty, toasty big flavors, in many ways even more flavorful than the stout. A rival to the Swartzbier for the title of best dark beer. The bonus is you can drink more of these and not fall off your bar stool.

Overall, it is a promising start for The 377. We wish them continued luck, and will always appreciate another place to grab a pint before or after Lobo games (and let’s face it, the UNM men’s basketball team seems intent on driving people to drink).

Proposed brewery will face significant obstacles

A little while back, Albuquerque Business First ran a story about how the owner of Humble Coffee wanted to open his own brewery. The catch was that it was one of those subscriber-only stories, so we had to wait until the print copy showed up at a public library to read the details.

The goal is apparently to start a place at 529 Adams NE, which is currently occupied by Archetype Tattoo (the owner said he will help Archetype find a new location). Basically it would be one block east of Washington, just a couple doors down from Lomas. The big problem with the location is that it is about two blocks from an elementary school, and three blocks from a large Catholic church. Both would have to grant permission for a brewery operating that close.

Throw in converting a property to a functional brewery, getting those approvals, and the fact it takes the State of New Mexico on average six months to approve a small brewer license, makes the Humble plan to open in four months more than a bit unlikely. We wish them luck if they actually go through with it, but color us skeptical that they can pull it off at all, much less in a few months time.

Sampler tray

  • So far, so good with the state legislature in terms of bills affecting breweries. The Brewers Guild will remain vigilant, since this session still has a ways to go.
  • Breweries who still have pending licenses with the state, because that little bit above about Humble probably has you curious: Bare Bones Brewing (Cedar Crest), Bombs Away Beer Co. (Albuquerque), Desert Valley Brewing (Albuquerque), Drylands Brewing (Lovington), Hops Brewery (Albuquerque-Nob Hill), Lava Rock Brewing (Albuquerque-West side), Truth or Consequences Brewing
  • Steel Bender Brewyard is aiming for a March opening. Their license is now approved.
  • We apparently had another brewery close, this time outside the metro area. The Farmington HUB Brewery has shut down, by all accounts. Its Facebook page is gone and there is no website anymore (if there ever was one). It was open less than a year. We never had the chance to get up there and check it out.

That is all for now. If you ever have tips or news tidbits, contact us any of the usual ways.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The Guild has a new four-person board of directors.

The Guild will be in a ‘defensive mode’ during this legislative session in Santa Fe.

It is that time of year again. No, not just the time for winter beer festivals, but time for the New Mexico State Legislature to get together and hash out all the bills and budget for 2017. Keeping a close eye on the proceedings, once again, is the New Mexico Brewers Guild.

Guild director John Gozigian and I sat down late last week at Bosque to discuss what the Guild will be facing during this 60-day session that begins January 18.

“I’ll be interested to see how it plays out,” John said. “We’re not running any bills this year (or in 2016). We’ve gotten a lot of the things that we needed to be competitive as an industry. There’s nothing pressing we need to work on.”

It will be more of a wait-and-see approach for the Guild.

“Actually, we’re going to be in a bit of a defensive mode now due to the specter of the increased excise tax being on the table,” John said. “We’ve had that 25-cent drink tax, that’s come up. I haven’t heard yet that they have introduced the bill. I don’t think they have yet, but it could pop up at any time during the 60-day session.”

One strategy for the neo-prohibitionist faction could be to sneak their legislation into a larger combined bill near the end of the session.

“Some of the legislators like (Michael) Sanchez, who’s no longer there, they famously kind of throw these into omnibus bills at the end, kind of take you by surprise,” John said.

So far, though, the idea of an excise tax increase has not met with much of a positive reception, even at lower levels of government.

“The 25-cent drink tax proposal didn’t make it through the Santa Fe County Commission as a non-binding resolution,” John said. “If it couldn’t make it through there, it’s going to be tough to make it through the legislature. I don’t know if they’re going to try it or not.”

New Mexico is in dire straits financially, which can often lead to short-term solutions with harmful long-term effects. It does not seem, though, like higher taxes on local breweries, wineries, and distilleries is the answer.

“People will say our excise tax hasn’t increased in 20 years or so, but it’s still double the rest of the nation,” John said. “That’s really going to be our focus going in.”

The Guild will have three meet-and-greet functions in January. First up will be one with new House Speaker Brian Egolf and Northern New Mexico legislators at Milton’s Brewing in Carlsbad on Jan. 5.

The next two meet-and-greets will take place at La Cumbre on Jan. 11 and at Rio Chama Steakhouse in Santa Fe on Jan. 31.

“It’s just part of the education, talking about what we do, how many people we employ, how much revenue we keep in the state by out-competing our out-of-state competitors for market share,” John said. “Just making the case in general that this is an economic boon for New Mexico and that it would really be counter-intuitive to do anything that slowed the growth and traction that our craft breweries have.”

In their weekly email, the Guild did take note of four separate bills for members to monitor: HB27 (Minimum Wage), SB36 (Minimum Wage), HB51 (Retail Craft Liquor Reciprocity), and SB37 (Liquor License for Distilled NM Spirits). Anyone wishing to look up all the details can click here, but that would involve a lot of legal-ese, so we will do our best to sum up each of these.

The first two are obviously aimed at raising the minimum wage, which would impact a number of brewery employees and potentially the bottom line of the breweries.

HB51 could be an interesting one. Right now, New Mexico craft distilleries cannot sell their products at restaurants and bars that do not have a full liquor license. This bill would allow local governments (cities/towns and counties) to vote to allow local establishments to serve distilled spirits made in New Mexico. That could greatly benefit places like Broken Trail and Left Turn.

SB37 would, in turn, allow craft breweries and wineries in New Mexico to sell locally made spirits under a reciprocity law similar to what already exists between the breweries and wineries. Basically, this could enable a major brewery to carry wine, cider, and liquor, so long as those spirits were made in New Mexico. In turn, the distilleries could offer up beer and wine from their counterparts.

The other Stout Challenge returns

The Guild will again be hosting their version of a Stout Challenge at Bathtub Row Brewing Co-op in Los Alamos. The event will feature a tray of 15 different stout samples, with folks able to vote on their favorite, which will earn them a full pint. It will take place Saturday, Feb. 18, from noon to 6 p.m. Stay tuned for more information and a list of the entries.

As for us, the Crew will have our sixth annual Stout Challenge on Super Bowl Sunday, featuring every house stout from around the ABQ metro area. Bosque, Boxing Bear (2015 winner), Canteen, Chama River (2016 winner), Cazuela’s, La Cumbre (2013 winner), Marble (2012 winner), Rio Bravo, Tractor (2014 winner), and Turtle Mountain should all participate. The eligibility of other breweries will be determined by whether or not they have a stout available at the time, as most do not have a regularly available stout.

Still time to vote in our beer polls

Voting is still open in each of our year-end beer polls this week. Voting will close for each set on a different day. Today will mark the final day for the first four polls, where there is currently a tie between La Cumbre’s BEER and Boxing Bear’s Body Czech in the Best Pilsner/Lager category.

The second set of five polls will see the voting close Tuesday. The closest category is Best Packaged Seasonal, with hopheads battling it out over Bosque’s Scale Tipper and La Cumbre’s Project Dank.

The final set of polls, which has seen a truly tremendous response (800-plus votes cast in most of them), will close Thursday, after which we will reveal the winners and how the Crew voted. Quarter Celtic has stormed out to the lead in Best Food, Best Staff, Best Atmosphere, and Best Brewmaster/Head Brewer, while Bosque is clinging to the lead for Best Brewery Overall.

If you have not already, get in there and vote!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Oh, it’s that time of year, when just about everyone is doing some sort of year in review, like, um, us. But, in lieu of that today, we instead present some piping-hot beer notes for you all!

Brewers Association issues annual report

Yup, it was another good year for craft beer. (Courtesy of the Brewers Association)

Yup, it was another good year for craft beer. (Courtesy of the Brewers Association)

The good folks at the Brewers Association sent us a ton of stats about 2016 for craft beer across America. Here are the highlights:

  • As of last week, there were 5,005 craft breweries in the United States. About 99 percent of those are still independent of the InBev/Evil Empire. By the count of the Crew, there are currently 68 active craft breweries in New Mexico. There are more active small brewer licenses, but some are wineries that currently do not also brew, others are places like Corrales Bistro Brewery, which keep the license in order to have lots of guest taps, but no longer brew themselves.
  • The growth rate is currently at eight percent. Sure, it’s not what it was, but at a certain point, it had to slow down. As long as it doesn’t drop into the negative, the industry is still strong.
  • Sorry, all you wild ale/sour lovers, but IPAs are still the biggest craft beer brand, accounting for about 25 percent of all sales. Everything defined as sessionable, from pale lagers to pilsners and such, has increased by 33 percent and is now responsible for five percent of the total sales.
  • Home brewers are still making an impact. Around 1.2 million people still home brew, accounting for 11,000 jobs at home-brew stores and the like. That has produced some $700 million in revenue. Considering how many brews he has made this year, Franz Solo is responsible for a good chunk of that.
  • Beer tourism is becoming such a reality that sites like Travelocity are starting to create lists pertaining to the best beer cities to visit. Albuquerque, for the record, ranks at No. 10 for large metro areas, ahead of Minneapolis and just behind Madison, Wisconsin. Portland (Ore.), Denver, and Seattle are the top three.
  • Congressional support is seemingly strong for the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act. Let us hope the recent elections did not change anything, but since this is the type of bill that could lead to more jobs, the current governmental obsession, it could pass in 2017.

The press release concluded with this: “This has been an exponentially exciting year as the beer community continues to grow and evolve. It is incredible to watch local brewers innovate and validate the new way the world views the U.S. beer scene,” said Julia Herz, craft beer program director, Brewers Association. “Much of the dialogue in 2016 centered around the craft brewer definition, who qualifies as a small and independent brewer, what independence means to beer lovers, beer quality and beer appreciation. We will renew our efforts in 2017 on behalf of our members and the beer drinkers around the world and continue to advance the amazing beverage of beer.”

Cheers to that!

Another new brewery? Another new brewery

The Rail Cafe in Belen is home to the new Hub City Brewing. (Courtesy of Hub City)

The Rail Cafe in Belen is home to the new Hub City Brewing. (Courtesy of Hub City)

The State of New Mexico has a site where all the listings for current and pending owners of small brewer licenses can be found. Among the pending was Hub City Brewing, which was supposed to be located in Belen right near the Rail Runner station. It was a pretty old application, so we just figured it was a dead project and no one had bothered to remove it.

Oh, not so fast. As it turns, Hub City is now open and making beer in the Rail Cafe in Belen, giving Valencia County its first brewery since Tractor pulled up stakes and moved to Albuquerque in early 2014. As of a couple weeks ago Hub City had six beers on tap — Helles Lager, ESB, Red Fox (European-style red ale), London Porter, Rocky Racoon IPA, Smoky Sadie (dark lager).

The Crew will head down there at some point to see what is up and how the beers taste and all that. Congratulations to everyone involved in getting those doors open. Welcome to the New Mexico craft beer scene!

As for the rest …

The other breweries with pending small brewer licenses in New Mexico are:

  • Bare Bones Brewing, Cedar Crest
  • Bombs Away Beer Co., Albuquerque (near Eubank and Lomas)
  • Drylands Brewing, Lovington
  • Hops Brewery, Albuquerque (Nob Hill)
  • Lava Rock Brewing, Albuquerque (near Ladera and Unser)
  • Steel Bender Brewyard, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque
  • Truth or Consequences Brewing

NMDSBC anniversary party is coming

You don't have to mosh with us ... but it would be a lot cooler if you did.

You don’t have to mosh with us … but it would be a lot cooler if you did.

Believe it or not, the Crew has been around since January 2012, so we decided a five-year anniversary party was a good idea. Luckily for us, the good folks at Tractor agreed, and they will be the hosts for our shindig on January 21 at 8 p.m. We brewed a Baltic porter for the event, which we are calling Vulgar Display of Porter, and have at least two bands already lined up. The Extinction and Jagged Mouth will be performing on the patio, weather permitting, or inside if it is too cold/snowy/rainy. Admission is, of course, totally free. We are hoping to have some new T-shirts for sale, plus if I am able to get things rolling, we can debut an upgraded, revamped website that night as well.

Come out and support local music, a local brewery, and hang with us. We promise, we will not throw you into the circle pit without asking first.

And, as always, if you come across any news regarding our local craft beer scene, drop us a line on social media or at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Oh, yeah, there is another one coming.

Farewell to Firkin, we hardly knew ye.

In case anyone missed it on social media over the weekend, the long-rumored demise of The Firkin BrewHouse and Grill came to pass, as their own Facebook page communicated the following:

To all of our loyal and wonderful customers, unfortunately I must state that the Firkin BrewHouse and Grill is closed. More info will follow with an official announcement from the owners. Thank you all for your patronage.

The Crew reached out to the owners for comment, but four days later, we have not heard back, nor do we really expect anything. Hey, it’s human nature to try to move quickly past the bad and refocus on the good. We wish them all luck in their future endeavors, whatever those may be.

It is rare these days when breweries close, though it does happen from time to time. If one counts Marble’s opening in 2008 as the start of the current boom, in that span only four other breweries — Hallenbrick, Bad Ass, Stumbling Steer, Broken Bottle — have closed in the Albuquerque area. As per usual, though, any closing creates some sort of “Is the bubble finally bursting?” type of story or comment online.

No, the bubble is not bursting.

The majority of the breweries in the ABQ area are doing just fine, thank you. None of them have had the type of ugly ownership dispute like Firkin did. When four people open a brewery, and it becomes two versus two before even six months have passed, it is not a good sign, needless to say.

Of course, there are plenty who would argue that Firkin was doomed from the beginning. It seemed to have everything lined up against it.

For a new brewery to succeed, it usually needs to be A) in a heavily foot-trafficked area such as downtown or Nob Hill, B) on a major commuter thoroughfare, C) in a brewery-laden area, but offering up something different beer-wise (not just theme-wise) than the other breweries in this area, or D) in an area with no other competing breweries. Comparing it to other breweries that opened in early 2016, Sidetrack is succeeding because it is downtown. Bow & Arrow is succeeding because lots of folks drive up and down 6th Street. Dialogue is succeeding because of its unique beer lineup. Starr Brothers is succeeding quite a ways away from any other notable brewery.

Firkin, on the other hand, was on an isolated street that did not connect to either nearby Comanche or Candelaria, in an industrial area with two award-winning powerhouse breweries (Canteen and La Cumbre) while offering up nothing particularly different in terms of its beer. Conceptually, a Prohibition era-themed brewery was not a bad idea, it was just located in the wrong place. That led to money problems, which led to the ownership dispute, which ultimately led to its untimely demised.

Albuquerque is still a metro area of 900,000 people with some 30 breweries. No, it does not have a great business rating, or a high per capita income, but there are still room for more breweries, and there will be more growth from the existing breweries.

Craft beer in New Mexico is just fine. This is just another minor blip on the screen.

New breweries update

Hops Brewery now has signage up on the front of its Nob Hill location on Central just west of Carlisle. We will head over there to talk to the owner when someone (me) is done submitting the final images and pages for a certain book.

Beer and a movie, anyone? (Photo courtesy of Flix Brewhouse)

Beer and a movie, anyone? (Photo courtesy of Flix Brewhouse)

Flix Brewhouse is still under construction on the West Side, but they have begun brewing their first batches of beer. Brewer Will Moorman and I have been in touch and once other parts of the building are done in about two weeks, the Crew will take a tour of the forthcoming movie theater with its own brewery. As for the beers we could make out from the labels on the Facebook photo of the taps, Satellite Red IPA, Lupulus IPA, Luna Rosa Wit, Umbra Chocostout, 10 Day Scottish Ale, Golden Ale, and Beer of the Dead (Brown Ale) appear to be on deck.

Blue Grasshopper told us that they hope to have their new taproom, on Coors north of Montano, open before the end of the year. We will have more on this for their upcoming entry in our Look Back/Look Ahead Series, which should be kicking off soon.

Drylands Brewing is now officially under construction in Lovington. Southeast New Mexico is still devoid of craft beer outside the existing places in Artesia (Desert Water and The Wellhead), Carlsbad (Milton’s), and Portales (Roosevelt). It is a little bit surprising that Lovington, best known as the hometown of Brian Urlacher, is getting a brewery before the much larger Hobbs or Roswell, but maybe the small town realized the value of beating those bigger towns to the punch.

Quick beer reviews

Again, if you are not following us on social media, you might have missed all the new beers I was able to get to this weekend. More await, of course, but there were too many intriguing newbies, old favorites, and a special one-off to not get out on the town.

A barrel-aged Scotch ale was sighted amid the chaos at Palmer Brewery's grand opening.

A barrel-aged Scotch ale was sighted amid the chaos at Palmer Brewery’s grand opening.

As always, these are my opinions, I am fully aware others may think the exact opposite. Please share your own thoughts on these beers once you have tried them as well.

  • La Negra, La Cumbre: This is the best version of the barrel-aged imperial stout yet. Grab two bombers, one to drink, one to age. Creamy yet boozy yet smooth yet thick, it is a wonderful batch.
  • Cockness Monster, Palmer: The grand opening was a zoo on Saturday, but luckily just as I walked inside I ran into brewer Rob Palmer. He poured me a 13-ounce glass of the rum-barrel-aged version of his Scotch ale. The rum did not overpower the beer, nor the other way around. It just blended beautifully, a good sipping beer amid the chaos. Congrats to Palmer on the opening.
  • Nitro Chai Chocolate Porter, Nexus: Before dinner arrived, I made sure to sample this fresh batch. The good news is the chai does not drown out the beer. On nitro, though, the beer almost came off as a little too thin on the mouthfeel. I would love to try it on CO2 some day. (Hint!)
  • Turkey Drool, Tractor: This is an annual fall favorite, and oh lordy, it did not disappoint. It starts off subtle, then does a mini-circle pit of spices and flavors on your palate. Let it warm just a tad for full effect. As someone else said, it’s everything good about Thanksgiving dessert in a glass.
  • Vanilla Mocha Double Porter, Red Door: Coffee! So. Much. Coffee! At least at the outset, so this is another one to let warm up a bit. The vanilla and mocha flavors are there, too, but the coffee is strong as can be. If nothing else, the small pour had me wide awake in time for that freaky storm to finally reach the brewery from the Lobo football game.
  • Clark IPA, Quarter Celtic: Before venturing off to help Franz Solo brew a beer (and by help I mostly mean stand there and drink and comment on our football teams’ terrible outings), we both visited QC for their New England-style hazy IPA. Breweries like Trillium, The Alchemist, and more have made this juicier, less bitter style of IPA quite popular in the Northeast, and now QC has brought it to the Southwest. We adored this beer. If you have loved some of the sweeter, maltier IPAs that Bosque has been specializing in of late, you will love this, too.

Now, if the breweries would just slow down a bit on releasing these outstanding beers so I can catch up … they won’t, will they? A beer writer’s work is never done.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister