Archive for the ‘Beer Notes’ Category

The new Hops Taproom in Los Ranchos is ready for its grand opening this weekend.

Now that I am back at work (yay, money), the beer news is starting to pile up, so let us get to a few pertinent items.

First, though, in a moment of self-promotion, I will be giving a free talk about the history of brewing in Albuquerque this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the Special Collections Library, which is located on the northwest corner of Central and Edith, directly across from the Artichoke Cafe. I will have copies of Albuquerque Beer: Duke City History on Tap for sale ($20, cash only), and this talk will include the story of how an Old West shootout impacted the first Southwest Brewery in 1884.

Moving along …

Here a taproom opening, there a taproom opening

We already chronicled how the third Blue Grasshopper location at Summer and Second Street opened its doors during ABQ Beer Week. It was far from alone among new offsite taprooms holding soft openings.

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Say hello to the forthcoming Thirsty Eye Brewing, under construction now at Broadway and Gold. (Photo courtesy of Thirsty Eye)

It is a relatively quiet week out there, spring winds aside, so it felt like a good time to dust off the old beer notebook.

New brewery updates

We keep waiting for the number of forthcoming breweries to dwindle down, but that has not happened yet. There are currently five breweries with active small brewer licenses around the state which have yet to open their doors, another nine with pending licenses, and a handful of places adding a brewing license to an existing business.

  • 575 Brewing, Alamogordo (pending): This new brewery is being built from the ground up, with foundation construction having commenced on April 19 at 234 W. 8th Street.
  • B2B Garden Brewery, Albuquerque (pending): We do not have any updates on this space, located on Comanche just west of Wyoming.
  • Beer Creek Brewing, outside Santa Fe (pending): Our last trip out there found that business was going well and the brewing system was finally in place. For now, stop by and enjoy a pizza, guest beers, and even some collaboration beers made at other local breweries.
  • Black Snout Brewhouse, Albuquerque (active): The Crew will be stopping in early next week, which means that this brewery is nearly ready to open its doors on Menaul just east of Juan Tabo.
  • Boogie’s Brewery and Distillery, Deming (pending): There are no new updates for this long-awaited successor to Mimbres Valley Brewing.
  • Brew Lab 101, Rio Rancho (active): The projected timetable is for a late May opening. For more info, see our last story.
  • Ex Novo Brewing, Corrales (active): The first test batches are now running in the brewery hall, while renovations continue on the adjacent taproom building across the parking lot. We expect to return soon for a final preview story.
  • La Reforma Brewing, Albuquerque (active): The goal of opening in early June in the old Bosque location, on San Mateo north of Alameda, has not changed.
  • Lauter Haus Brewing, Farmington (pending): Progress continues on this new brewery, spearheaded by former Three Rivers head brewer Brandon Beard. The fun news? They have purchased some vintage arcade games for the taproom.
  • Looking Glass Spirits & Long Lost Brewing, Albuquerque (pending): We finally dug up an address for this newcomer, which will be located at 1803 Sixth Street NW, just three blocks south of Bow & Arrow. There is still no social media with which to follow the progress, so we will remain patient.
  • Piedra Blanca Brewing, White Rock (pending): We have no updates at this time on this brewery located in the town next to Los Alamos.
  • Public House 28, Anthony (pending): Other than the fact that this newcomer has already joined the NM Brewers Guild, we have no new info. It will be located outside Anthony at 10108 Highway 28.
  • Rail Brewery, Santa Fe (pending): We have no new updates.
  • Thirsty Eye Brewing, Albuquerque (active): The Crew has made contact with the owners and we hope to make our first trip over to 206 Broadway Blvd. SE sooner than later. You can follow their progress on Facebook.
  • Turquoise Trail Brewing, Albuquerque (pending): We have no new updates on this brewery, located on Central near Juan Tabo.

In addition to those breweries with pending or active licenses, we did learn more about the mysterious Context Brewing that popped up on the Brew to Do list that we wrote about recently. It is apparently the brewery going into a space at 816 Third Street NW. Former Brewers Guild executive director John Gozigian tipped us off to a possible brewery going into that space, but again, there is no pending license yet, so it figures to be a ways off.

New taproom updates

The home of the future Truth or Consequences Brewing taproom in Las Cruces. (Photo courtesy of T or C Brewing)

Yes, there are also more off-site taprooms still in the pipeline. Because of course there are, right?

  • Blue Grasshopper, Albuquerque (pending): Located in Wells Park, we wrote on this one before, and when there is more news to share, we will head back. We assume a license for the brewery half of the building is still in the works.
  • Boese Brothers, Los Alamos (pending): Our man Reid still has not figured out where this taproom is going to be located.
  • Desert Valley, Albuquerque (active): Progress continues on Wyoming near Comanche, which is where this taproom is replacing the former Red Door spot.
  • Desert Valley, Albuquerque (pending): Wait, what? There are two DV taprooms in the works? Yes, we have now confirmed a second one is indeed happening at 5231 San Mateo Blvd. NE. Located a block south of Osuna and the next taproom listed below, this space was under construction/renovation the last time we drove by.
  • Enchanted Circle, Albuquerque (active): The last batch of construction photos show the bar is in place, and states that the taproom is about two weeks away from being ready for opening at Osuna and San Mateo, in the shopping center on the northwest corner of the intersection.
  • Icebox Brewing, Las Cruces (pending): Even though the main brewery opened only recently, an off-site taproom is already in the works, though its exact location has not been revealed.
  • Picacho Peak, Alamogordo (pending): We have no new updates on this first off-site taproom for the Las Cruces brewery.
  • Quarter Celtic, Albuquerque (active): Construction continues apace up on Juan Tabo between Menaul and Indian School, but no opening date has been set.
  • Truth or Consequences, Las Cruces (pending): Yes, T or C is heading south to Las Cruces for its first off-site taproom, as that city is suddenly filling up fast. It will be located on East Lohman, not too far west from Interstate 25.

We will do our best to keep everyone up to date on all of these forthcoming places, as well as keeping an eye on the news at the existing places. May is going to be one heck of a busy month, including the Blazin’ Brewfest in Las Cruces (which will now be preceded by the new Las Cruces Beer Week!) on May 17 and then ABQ Beer Week, which begins May 23. Throw in some expected openings from some of the places above, and there will be no rest for the weary Crew this coming month.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Flix Brewhouse’s Unbreakable Glass earned one of four medals at the Best of Craft Beer Awards. (Photo courtesy of Will Moorman)

Here on this blustery Friday, it feels like a good time to stay indoors and catch up on some local beer news as we empty the notebook yet again.

Flix picks up four medals at Best of Craft Beer Awards

If there is a theme early on in 2019 to some of the beer competitions going around, it is that Flix Brewhouse has come to make a statement.

The brewery/movie theater, which makes all of its beers on premises in Albuquerque, earned four medals at the recent Best of Craft Beer Awards. Three other local breweries brought home another four medals, as well.

Flix earned gold in the Baltic-style Porter category with Darth Malt, and another gold in Belgian-style Witbier for Luna Rosa, which is a year-round beer. Flix also picked up a silver for James Blond in the Belgian-style Blonde Ale or Pale Ale category, and a bronze for Unbreakable Glass in the American-style Cream Ale category.

Those medals follow up a strong performance at the Beer Army Beer Wars last month. Congrats to Flix for making New Mexico proud again!

As for the other local winners, Sierra Blanca won gold for its Green Chile Cerveza in the Chili Pepper Beer category (that was how the competition spells Chili, so please don’t yell at us), and a bronze for Cherry Wheat in the Fruit Wheat Beer category. Rio Bravo brought home a silver for its Amber/ESB in the British Bitters category, while Abbey Brewing snagged bronze for its Monks’ Dark Ale in the English-style Mild or Brown Ale category.

Congrats to one and all!

New brewery updates: Things are moving again

Another new brewery is coming to the East Central/Foothills area. (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Carlson)

The end of the partial shutdown has several of the pending breweries around town back on track. Here is the latest that we know about each.

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Remember when Marble shared this photo of happy brewery representatives in Washington D.C.? Yeah, gonna guess they are not too happy with the government right now.

Most of us are aware of, yet personally unaffected by, the current partial shutdown of the federal government. Leaving the politics aside, it has nonetheless made things difficult on both federal employees and those businesses and people who rely on certain federal agencies. It did not occur to any of us in the Crew how this might affect breweries until we saw a tweet by a brewer out of town who complained about the shutdown of the TTB.

The TTB (Tax and Trade Bureau) is the government agency that handles almost everything related to breweries, and many other businesses, at the federal level. It has the greatest impact on breweries that package and forthcoming breweries, which of course means it has an impact all around New Mexico. To figure out just what that impact has been, I emailed two people who have extensive knowledge of such affairs, NM Brewers Guild executive director John Gozigian and La Cumbre president/master brewer Jeff Erway.

“The shutdown affects breweries in planning with pending brewer’s notices and existing breweries with label approval applications in the pipeline,” John explained. “Brewer’s notices (federal brewers permit) and COLAs (certificates of label approval) are both issued by the TTB, which is a federal agency.”

That is not good news for breweries in planning.

“Any federal brewers notice is in limbo right now and they will be set back by this,” Jeff wrote.

It also has a negative impact on packaging breweries such as La Cumbre.

“If a beer is to be sent out of state, it needs a COLA and those are also in limbo,” Jeff wrote. “We are having to hold on shipping a few beers to AZ and CO specifically because of this shutdown.”

To sum it up: The shutdown is bad for breweries. Just like it is for everything else.

New breweries update

Originally, we were just going to lead Beer Notes with this list, but obviously events in Washington are putting all of these places on hold, to some degree. Nonetheless, here is every brewery with either a pending state small brewer license or an active one that is not yet open. Here are the breweries projected to open in the ABQ metro area in 2019. We realize there are probably more than these, but no pending license means we will not include it yet.

  • Black Snout Brewhouse (pending): We already took a tour of this new brewery located in a shopping center on the southeast corner of Menaul and Juan Tabo. The brewery had hoped to be open by the end of the month, but that seems unlikely now.
  • BLUE/Gang of Four (pending): This very small brewery is set to open on Broadway next to the Exhibit 208 gallery, just south of Gold.
  • Brew Lab 101 (pending): The next brewery to open in Rio Rancho is moving along. Located on Southern near Unser, its owner has already contacted us and we are in the process of setting up our first visit/interview.
  • Brewstillery (active): We still have no info about this brewery/distillery combo that is set to open somewhere in the 87106 zip code (physical addresses are not provided beyond zip codes, FYI), or how it relates to the next entry.
  • Differential (pending): Listed as owned by Brewstillery, we do not know how this entry, located in the same zip code, differs from the other.
  • Colonia/San Mateo Beer Co. (pending): It appears as though this new brewery will move into the current Bosque Brewing location on San Mateo when that is relocated to the forthcoming Open Space Project. In other words, it seems to be a long ways off.
  • Ex Novo Brewing (pending): We just toured this forthcoming brewery in Corrales.
  • Looking Glass Spirits & Long Lost Brewing (pending): The newest addition to the list, we have been contacted by one of the owners and are working on setting up an interview time. It will be located somewhere in the downtown area.

Red River was not the last new brewery to open in the outskirts of New Mexico in 2018, and more are on the way in 2019.

2018 saw a lot of new breweries open up across the state, well outside the Albuquerque/Santa Fe corridor. Among the many were Blu Dragonfly in Cimarron, Bonito Valley in Lincoln, Cloudcroft Brewing, Hopscotch Brewing in Artesia, Red River Brewing, and Second Alarm Brewhouse in Jemez Springs. There are still a few more coming down the pipeline.

  • B3-BBQ, Burgers and Beer (pending): This Las Vegas-based restaurant is already open. We do not know if its owners plan to actually brew beer, or if they are going to use the license to keep guest taps flowing.
  • 575 Brewing (pending): Alamogordo is getting its first brewery in many years, but we do not know the exact location or its current progress.
  • Icebox Brewing (active): The newest Las Cruces brewery will be located on Picacho Avenue, east of Picacho Peak Brewing and basically due west of High Desert. No opening date has been announced.
  • Leaf & Hive (active): The latest addition to the Santa Fe scene has a soft opening scheduled for this Saturday.
  • Public House 28 (pending): We know nothing beyond the name for this brewery in Anthony, on the Texas border.
  • Rail Brewery (pending): This Santa Fe project for the Railyards area has been pending for a long time now. We do not know its status.
  • Santa Fe Spirits (pending): The existing distillery is either going to start making beer, or it just wants to be able to sell beer.

New taprooms update

Yes, 2018 was basically the year of the off-site taproom, but there are still more on the way. Someday, every commercial space in the state will be a taproom. (Hey, we can dream, right?) All of these are pending licenses.

  • Boxing Bear on Central: We already wrote about the brewery taking over the former 5 Star Burgers space on West Central.
  • Desert Valley: There are two pending licenses for DV taprooms, one located in the 87110 zip code, and the other in 87111. It is certainly ambitious, though not unprecedented, to open two taprooms at once.
  • Enchanted Circle ABQ: The Angel Fire-based brewery is opening a taproom in the shopping center on the northwest corner of San Mateo and Osuna.
  • Nexus Blue Smokehouse and Taproom: The long-awaited BBQ version of Nexus is getting closer to finally opening on Broadway south of Cesar Chavez. We will get more details in our forthcoming Look Back/Look Ahead Series on Nexus.
  • Quarter Celtic on Juan Tabo: We already wrote about the first off-site location, which will be on the west side of the road between Indian School and Menaul.
  • Red Door Clovis: Once again, we already wrote about the first bowling alley-based taproom, which will also be the first craft beer-specific place in the eastern town.
  • Starr Brothers Alehouse: This one has been pending for quite a while now, so we do not know if it is still happening or not. If it does, it will be somewhere near UNM.
  • Tall Pines Beer and Wine Garden Alamogordo: The Ruidoso-based small brewery is opening a second location down the mountain.

Got info on any of these pending breweries or taprooms, or any we missed? Drop us a line at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

A good deed note

Tractor has named the four nonprofits for its annual Beer for a Better Burque (BBB) program. The New Mexico Gay Men’s Chorus, New Mexico Horse Rescue at Walkin N Circles Ranch, Three Sisters Kitchen, and Albuquerque Area Firefighters Random Acts will be the beneficiaries for 2019. There will be special BBB nights on Tuesdays throughout the year where patrons can donate, plus special quarterly beer releases for each nonprofit sees $1 donated per pint, and other special themed events. You can donate at all four Tractor locations.

Good on ya, Tractor.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

This building on Tramway near Paseo del Norte will soon host a Boese Brothers taproom.

As a public service, anytime we publish a story about one new brewery or off-site taproom opening, questions appear about any additional ones coming down the pipeline. As a public service, here are some tasty beer notes with info on what is on tap for Albuquerque and beyond.

Boese Brothers head for the foothills

We have known for a while that Boese Brothers Brewing was going to open a taproom somewhere in town, but the obvious question of where went unanswered. Thankfully, a magical little moment happened on Instagram and, with some help from a good friend in the industry, we tracked down the location.

The new taproom will open soon at 7849 Tramway Blvd. NE, which puts it just south of the intersection with Paseo del Norte. While Tractor and Canteen covered the southern end of Tramway with their taprooms, Boese Brothers will be the first to move into the far northern end of the corridor.

This will be the second off-site location for Boese Brothers, which also co-owns the Desert Dogs Taproom in Santa Fe. We will be in touch with George and Sam Boese to hopefully get an advance look at the place and learn a little more about it before it opens.

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Lincoln is home to New Mexico’s newest brewery. (Photo courtesy of Bonito Valley Brewing)

Live from Portland, er, well, almost alive from Portland, here are some little beer tidbits that have been popping up on our radar over the last few weeks.

August brewery openings

Bonito Valley Brewing in Lincoln is now open, becoming the latest addition to the long list of small-town breweries in the state. Located at 692 Calle La Placita (Highway 380) in the middle of town, BVB will celebrate its grand opening through the weekend. If anyone stops by, take some pictures and send us some tasting notes! And yes, there is a beer called Billy the Kid Amber.

Over in Artesia, Hopscotch Brewing has its grand opening set for Friday, Aug. 10. The brewery is located at 1 Cottonwood Road on the north side of town, which was formerly the home of Desert Water Brewing (it closed earlier this year).

Up in Cimarron, Blu Dragonfly Brewing is now open, though its own beers are not yet ready. The BBQ is ready, however, so if you are up north, chow down and enjoy some guest taps. The brewery is located at 301 E. 9th Street.

Meanwhile, in the ABQ metro area, rumors persist that Cantero Brewing and Rio Rancho’s 1933 Brewing are close to opening. We are dispatching AmyO to take a tour of Cantero on Sunday, after which we will have a better idea of how close it is to opening. If anyone out there has info on 1933, please send it along.

Checking out the OG version of Ex Novo

The cozy taproom at Ex Novo Brewing in Portland.

During my long trek through the breweries of Portland on Thursday, I made sure to spend some time at Ex Novo Brewing. There will be an Ex Novo in Corrales in the future, and I talked briefly with owner Joel Gregory after the IPA Challenge. He said right now that spot is just a field of dirt as they clear it in preparation for construction, but the brewery in Portland is of course fully functional.

The space is tall, with some high ceilings that make up for the lack of width. The taproom area is out front, opening directly into the brewery. There was a good-sized list of house beers and seasonals. I went with the Perle Haggard Pils and Parliament Dunkadelic, and the flavor lived up to the awesome names. The food menu was short but solid, and I wolfed down a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich with fries.

Overall, the staff was great, the vibe was positive, and things moved quickly and efficiently even with a big crowd on hand. There were young and single folks, old dudes like me, and several families. If Ex Novo can translate all of that to its Corrales location, it should be pretty darn popular with New Mexico beer drinkers as well.

Oh, and other breweries that are definite must-visits if you are ever up here on a beercation:

  • Hair of the Dog Brewing, which is within walking distance of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, a jumbo-sized Explora and quite fun when you need a break from all the beer. The beer is quite good, too, but be forewarned, many of the house beers average between 7.5-10 percent.
  • Modern Times Belmont Fermentorium, which is a fully functional brewery from the guys in San Diego, loaded with all sorts of good beers made there and trucked up from SoCal. I tried a Suggestion of Mass, a monstrous (11.3% ABV) dessert stout collaboration made with Florida’s J. Wakefield Brewing.
  • Wayfinder Brewing, which has been open about a year-and-a-half, is making some tremendous lagers. It’s just a little off the beaten path, but was overflowing with people as I left to meet my friend at Ex Novo.
  • Ecliptic Brewing, our final stop for the night, is just tremendous. Huge selection, great outdoor seating area, and then it was 10 o’clock and everything closed. Boo.

Anyway, I am gonna go grab some brunch and then check out McMenamin’s Bagdad Theater. Tonight, there will be Great Notion. And probably a few other places. Bless this town.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

All the remodeling has not affected the beer, which is the most important thing. Just watch where you sit.

Even with the temperatures at 100 degrees, the beer news stops for no heat wave. Here is just a little of what’s happening around the state this month.

New look, same good beer

We noticed, via social media, that Boxing Bear was doing some renovations on its pub, though specific details were a bit scarce. I took a chance that I would run into one of the owners and headed west to see what was up.

The main entrance door was roped off, sending everyone to the side door on the west end of the patio. Inside, the bulk of the pub was up and running fine, but the area with the game room, the viewing windows for the brewery, and of course the bathrooms was also roped off. Workers were laying tile back there, while signs were everywhere asking people not to touch the wood trimming, as it had just been re-finished.

After waiting a bit with a pint of Common Ground in hand, brewer/owner/busy dude Justin Hamilton zipped on by. He managed to stop moving long enough for a quick chat.

“We’ve started with the tiling, and we’re also fixing both bathrooms,” Justin said. “We’re putting in new sinks and making the whole thing better.”

Yes, the bathrooms are outside temporarily, but those are pretty nice by ABQ standards.

With the indoor bathrooms out of order, there is a “restroom trailer” parked out front. It is a bit more advanced (re: not scorching hot inside) than a normal porta-potty, though one of those is there, too, as backup.

Justin said the goal is to only be working Monday through Wednesday for the next two to three weeks.

“That’s the best time to do stuff like this,” he said. “It shouldn’t affect (our customers) too bad. Our goal is to have it done before our anniversary in early August.”

Tiling, tiling, tiling towards freedom!

While a lot of breweries these days seem to focus first on the aesthetic of their taprooms, Boxing Bear went in with a goal to focus on the product first. The hope was that would eventually pay for the necessary upgrades to the building, Justin said.

“We’re just giving this place a little bit of polish,” he said. “It was overdue.”

Justin “blamed” a certain big brewery for making everyone want eye-popping taprooms.

“That’s a double-edged sword with Marble; they created a really good standard for taprooms, but we now we all have to live up to it,” he said with a smile.

Justin also hinted that things are progressing with a possible Boxing Bear taproom, though there is nothing official to report on that, yet. He said he remains optimistic.

As for the aforementioned anniversary party, Boxing Bear is collaborating with Odd13 Brewing of Lafayette, Colorado, on Space Bear Oddity, a new hazy IPA. One batch was already brewed up north for Odd13 to serve, the second will be brewed at Boxing Bear this Friday.

We will be there for the anniversary party when it is officially announced. Just try not to spill any IPA on that nice new tile.

Good news down south

Welcome to the family, Cloudcroft Brewing!

Before I could even type up an item about two new breweries getting approved, one of them went out and announced it is about to open.

Cloudcroft Brewing, located at 1301 Burro Ave., will open its doors this weekend. Along with Lost Hiker Brewing in Ruidoso, it means both of the quaint mountain towns in Southern New Mexico now have their own breweries.

It should also make for a nice getaway from civilization for the Crew in the coming weeks, before IPA Challenge madness consumes us all. (Not to mention it is a lot cooler up there than it is in most of the state!)

Meanwhile, over in Artesia, Hopscotch Brewing has received county approval, putting it on track to open sooner than later. The new brewery is taking over the space formerly occupied by Desert Water Brewing at 1 Cottonwood Road on the north side of town, right off Highway 285.

Once Hopscotch is open, that will give Artesia two breweries again, alongside The Wellhead downtown. Other breweries now operational in the southeast include Roosevelt (Portales), Drylands (Lovington), and the dynamic duo of Milton’s and Guadalupe Mountain (both Carlsbad). There are also breweries planned for Lincoln and Roswell, plus a Milton’s taproom in Roswell is coming soon.

Southeastern New Mexico is no longer just macro light lager country.

Sampler tray

  • After making us wait for a while, HoneyMoon Brewery has officially applied for a small brewer license. This new kombucha-focused place will be opening in Santa Fe later this year, if everything goes according to plan.
  • Major construction is now underway on Southern Blvd. in Rio Rancho, so make sure to get out and support Turtle Mountain as much as you can, orange barrels be damned!

Got any additional beer news? Send it to us at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Can anyone pry the trophy from Justin Hamilton’s hands this summer?

There was just enough news piling up to require a short notebook this week. The NM Brewers Guild released the list of 30 participating breweries in this summer’s NM IPA Challenge. We also have news on some of the new breweries coming to our state, plus a couple notes on American Craft Beer Week.

Thirty breweries will enter, only one will leave (with the trophy)

With more than 70 operational breweries in New Mexico, the annual IPA Challenge cannot possibly accommodate everyone in the state. There are 30 spots available for the preliminary round, so the Guild simply offered them up on a first-come, first-served basis this week (save for the defending champion, which always gets an automatic bid).

The NMIPAC will start off with the preliminary round July 14 in Albuquerque, followed by rounds in Taos on July 18, Santa Fe on July 21, and then back to Albuquerque on July 28. The host breweries have not been named yet.

Here are the preliminary round participants, with past championships in parentheses for those that have won.

  1. Blue Corn (2013)
  2. Bombs Away (first time participant)
  3. Bosque (2014, 2015)
  4. Bow & Arrow
  5. Boxing Bear (2016, 2017)
  6. Canteen (2004, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)
  7. Cloudcroft (first time participant)
  8. Duel
  9. Flix Brewhouse
  10. High Desert
  11. Kaktus
  12. Kellys
  13. La Cumbre
  14. Little Toad Creek
  15. Marble
  16. Nexus
  17. Ponderosa
  18. Quarter Celtic
  19. Red Door
  20. Red River (first time participant)
  21. Rio Bravo
  22. Roosevelt
  23. Santa Fe
  24. Second Street
  25. Sidetrack
  26. Starr Brothers
  27. Taos Mesa
  28. Three Rivers
  29. Toltec (first time participant)
  30. Tractor

For those wondering about the missing years, Chama River (R.I.P.) won in 2006 and 2008, while Turtle Mountain won in 2009, but is not participating this year.

Other notable breweries not participating include Abbey, Bathtub Row, Boese Brothers, Cazuela’s, Desert Valley, Dialogue, Enchanted Circle, Milton’s, Picacho Peak, Rowley Farmhouse Ales, Sierra Blanca, Spotted Dog, Steel Bender, and Tumbleroot.

When the host breweries have been named, we will let everyone know.

American Craft Beer Week is back

In case you missed it, and if you don’t check into Untappd, you have probably have, but American Craft Beer Week is happening right now. There aren’t really any local events going on around New Mexico, mostly because a good chunk of the state’s breweries are gearing up for ABQ Beer Week, which starts a week from today.

The main goal of ACBW this year is to get people to seek out breweries that have adopted the Independent Craft Beer logo. You can find the list of New Mexico breweries by going here and searching by our state. Most of the craft breweries here have adopted the logo.

If you would like to have a little more fun, you can always print out the ACBW bingo card. For those who enjoyed running all over town for the Beer Passport last month, this one might be for you.

New brewery updates

Grants has a local brewery again as Elkins Brewing is now open.

There have not been too many additions to our list, but there is some news on openings.

  • Well now, after months of being a total mystery, Elkins Brewing in Grants has a Facebook page. Not only that, but it has either opened or is awfully close to opening. Located at the Lavaland RV Park off Exit 85 of Interstate 40, Elkins is right by the entrance to El Malpais National Monument. Per the Facebook page, Elkins was scheduled to open Tuesday, but there is no official confirmation that it did open. The plan was to have an American IPA, English IPA, Blond Ale, Rye Ale, Gose, and Imperial Stout on tap. One or more of us from the Crew will head out there soon enough to check it out. Welcome to the scene, Elkins!
  • Another brewery now in possession of an active small brewer license is Bonito Valley Brewing in Lincoln. So when will this small-town brewery open? Bonito Valley has announced that its grand opening weekend will be August 3-5. If you are not heading up to Denver for the LA Galaxy-Colorado Rapids game that weekend like some of our friends (the power of Zlatan compels them), then this might make for a nice alternative trip if you need to get out of ABQ.
  • A restaurant in Las Vegas, B3-BBQ, Burgers & Beer, has a pending small brewer license, which give that town its first local craft since New Mexico Craft Brewing closed down years ago (and was later reborn down here in ABQ as Desert Valley).
  • It sure looks like Red River Brewing will be open this weekend (we await an official notice), but even if it’s not, head to town for the Bacon & Brews festival this Saturday. Brandenburg Park will host the event from noon to 5 p.m. Participating breweries will include Abbey, Comanche Creek, Enchanted Circle, Red River, Santa Fe, and from all the way down in Ruidoso, Lost Hiker. There will also be wine, games, music, and more.

That is all from us for now. If you know of any news we have missed about breweries in New Mexico, please contact us via social media or at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The best selfies always involve Charlie Papazian. Congrats to Quarter Celtic on bringing home a World Beer Cup bronze! (Photo courtesy of Quarter Celtic)

Last night, the Crew paid a visit to Toltec Brewing to try the beer and food for the first time at an invite-only soft opening in advance of Saturday’s grand opening. We also brought along a laptop to watch the live stream of the World Beer Cup awards ceremony, which was going down in Nashville where the Craft Brewers Conference is taking place this year.

Category after category was announced, but no New Mexico breweries heard their names called. In the end, only Quarter Celtic earned a medal, taking a bronze in the International-Style Pilsner category for Pedro O’Flannigan. It was a stunning turnaround from the last WBC held in 2016, when seven New Mexico breweries claimed seven medals, including gold medals for Nexus (Honey Chamomile Wheat), La Cumbre (BEER), and Boxing Bear (Chocolate Milk Stout).

There are a few ways to look at these results, or lack thereof. First, congratulations to Quarter Celtic on claiming its biggest award to date, a tremendous accomplishment in a tough category to win. That is the most positive thing we can say.

As for everyone else being shut out, perhaps it is best to simply look at the lack of medals as motivation. While industry giants like Firestone Walker again cleaned up with multiple medals, there were numerous breweries popping up seemingly out of nowhere to take gold, silver, and bronze. Revision Brewing from Sparks, Nevada, took gold in the American-Style IPA category and silver in the Imperial IPA category. Honestly, we had never heard of Revision until those awards were announced (but yes, we are adding it to the list of places we need to visit). There are more than 6,000 craft breweries in the United States alone, so now more than ever, our local breweries will have to continue pushing the envelope if they want to break through and win more medals against an increasingly crowded field.

The countdown to the Great American Beer Festival starts now.

Speaking of Toltec

The first flight of beers at Toltec, from left, Imperial Agave Wheat, IPA, Hazy Pale, and Altbier.

We did enjoy the fun of trying the new brewery for the first time. Head brewer Kaylynn McKnight had four of her planned six house beers on the menu — Hazy Pale, Imperial Agave Wheat, Toltec IPA, Altbier — while the kitchen was churning out its full menu.

Kaylynn told us that mastering her new 7-barrel brewhouse has proven to be a bit of a challenge. The beers she wanted to have higher ABVs came in lower than expected (notably the IPA), while others ended up higher in alcohol (wheat, altbier). As such, the flavors are not quite where she wants them, but we found the Altbier and Hazy Pale to be perfectly drinkable for a brand-new brewery. The IPA is a bit rough and bitter, and she told us that future batches will be more balanced between the malts and hops. The Imperial Agave Wheat was the favorite of many other customers, so while Kaylynn said she hoped for a more sessionable wheat beer, it looks like that recipe is going to stay as is for the foreseeable future.

Hmm, on second thought, the best beer selfies are taken with Toltec head brewer Kaylynn McKnight.

On the food front, just about everything we tried was quite delicious. There is a beast of a burger called the Royale, and yes, you can order it with cheese. The BBQ bacon burger was my personal choice, and it was perfectly cooked, with a heaping side of seasoned fries. There are numerous other options, including personal pizzas, salads for all you healthy types, and there is even dessert. The kitchen staff and the servers did a good job of getting the food out in a timely manner, which is impressive for any brewpub right out of the gates.

The brewery has 11 televisions up and running, so we all had a great view of the NHL playoffs. Overall, Toltec is exactly the kind of comfortable brewpub that we expected. We will be back many times to see how the beers evolve. Oh, and since the Penguins won last night, it is also now part of our list of good-luck breweries for the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions.

Sampler tray

  • Drafty Kilt Brewing has officially been renamed Kilt Check Brewing. This ends a bit of a tumultuous run for the brewery, which had run afoul of the copyright a brewery in Atlanta had put on the name Drafty Kilt for its bottled Scotch ale. Make sure to head over and check out the new logo, but otherwise it will still be the same lineup of quality beers and laid-back atmosphere.
  • Route 66 Junkyard Brewery announced on Facebook that it has permanently closed. The Grants brewery did not offer up any sort of explanation for the decision, but it was also embroiled in a legal battle over the usage of Route 66 in its name. If the mysterious Elkins Brewing ever comes to fruition (it still has an active small brewer license), then Grants will not go thirsty for local craft beer for long.
  • There are four new pending small brewer licenses listed with the State of New Mexico. We had previously heard that Blu Dragonfly is on its way to Cimarron, so now that looks more official. The long-rumored Rail Brewery is coming to the Santa Fe Railyard some time in the future. Ravenswing Farm in Silver City has applied for a license. Then there is Black Cock Brewery in Roswell, which seems unlikely to open with that provocative name, as there is already a Black Cock Brewing Company in Orange, Calif.
  • The Little Toad Creek taproom in downtown Las Cruces looks like it will open next week, just in time for Blazin’ Brewfest, which is set to go down Friday, May 11. For tickets and more information, head over to the NM Brewers Guild website.

That is all from us for this week. As always, if you have any beer news, notes, or tidbits you would like to share, drop us a line at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com, or on any of our social media sites.

I am off to enjoy my 40th birthday today, which I refuse to turn into any sort of somber event. Instead, there will be many barrel-aged stouts, piles of delicious food, probably a round or two of Cards Against Humanity, and lots and lots of metal out by the fire pit.

May the 4th be with you!

— Stoutmeister

Hey, we know that brewer! Toltec’s Kaylynn McKnight and co-owner Diana Navarrette are getting the brewery ready for an opening this spring. (Photo courtesy of Toltec Brewing)

It has been a while since we busted out some Beer Notes, but the news was piling up in our inbox, so here we go again.

New brewery updates

By our count, there are 20 forthcoming breweries, plus one that just opened. Alas, there is also another that closed, as we note below. First up, the breweries with active small brewer licenses.

  • Callahan West Brewery (Mosquero): The brewery is open in this small town in Northeast New Mexico. It is located at 22 Main Street, on the west side of town, next to the Headquarters Restaurant. Details are scarce at this point, but there is a fledgling Facebook page, and we suppose it could make for an interesting summer road trip.
  • Cantero Brewing (ABQ-Brewery District): Slow but steady progress is apparent, with the brewing system now set up. We will drop the owners another line and see if we can get an advance tour/preview.
  • Elkins Brewing (Grants): There is still no website, no social media, or anything else about this brewery. If anyone out there has information, please send it over.
  • Red River Brewing: The staff seems to be putting the finishing touches on the interior of the completed building. Hey, someone had to benefit from the mild winter up north. It should be only a matter of time before we add Red River to our next Taos Trek (which we are way, way overdue to do again).
  • Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery (Santa Fe): Plenty of positive signs abound to the point of where we have to imagine it will be the next to open. Tumbleroot has begun brewing and distilling, and in addition is starting to book musical acts for its stage. Look for a preview in the coming weeks.

The snow finally showed up, but not before most of this new brewery was built. (Photo courtesy of Red River Brewing)

Now for all the breweries with pending small brewer licenses, who are, by and large, further away from opening.

  • 1933 Brewing (Rio Rancho): Located in the old Fat Squirrel building on Southern, we have seen construction getting underway. There is also a Facebook page and a website, finally, though neither have any real information.
  • BLUE (ABQ-Downtown area): We have no new updates about this brewery, which a source told us would be located somewhere along Broadway near Lead/Coal, similar in size and scope to Sidetrack.
  • Bonito Valley (Lincoln): The brewery’s Facebook page said it hopes to open by the summer along Highway 380 in Southeast New Mexico.
  • Brewstillery (ABQ-UNM area): We still have no information on this place.
  • Casa Vieja (Corrales): The existing event space may look to do some small batch beers, but will mainly use the license to sell beer and wine at the events it hosts.
  • Cloudcroft Brewing: Formerly known as Switchback Brewery, it will instead be named for the town it will call home in the mountains in Southern New Mexico. A full build-out is now underway, with a very rustic look to the site, which is quite appropriate.
  • Hollow Spirits (ABQ-Wells Park): The distillery/brewery has hired a head distiller, Trey Allen, but no projected opening date (or even month) has been listed.
  • Hopscotch Brewing (Artesia): First, the good news is that Deepwell Brewing is alive and well under a new name. The bad news is that it will take over the building previously occupied by Desert Water Brewing, which closed recently. Still, soon Artesia will be back to having two breweries, and that is a good thing.
  • Icebox Brewing (Las Cruces): There is a Facebook page, but beyond the address of 2825 W. Picacho Ave., there is no additional info.
  • Leaf & Hive (Santa Fe): One of two places looking to open in the capital city that will offer up mainly products that require a brewing license, but are not necessarily beer. The Facebook page says it will be honeybrew, a “heirloom cultured sparkling tea.”
  • Sourdough Mine Restaurant and Brewery (Socorro): Located in the old Twisted Chile space off the main plaza, the restaurant is already up and running.
  • Tall Pines Beer and Wine Garden (Ruidoso): This beer/wine bar has been in operation for a while. It remains to be seen how much (if any) beer it plans to brew.
  • Toltec Brewing (ABQ-West Side): The exterior signage is now covering all the entrances at 10250 Cottonwood Park NW. Inside, the brewery area appears ready, while the the taproom area is getting the final paint job. We can also confirm that former Nexus brewer Kaylynn McKnight will be running the brewhouse, while Adam Galarneau, formerly of Bosque, Marble, and Turtle Mountain, will be the general manager. Those are two talented and experienced people, a good sign of the commitment of the Toltec owners to putting their brewery on the map from the get-go.

That’s some swanky signage! (Photo courtesy of Toltec Brewing)

There are three other breweries we know are on the way, but have not yet applied for a license. We recently previewed Ex Novo Brewing and its plans to open in Corrales. HoneyMoon Brewery, a kombucha-centric operation, is coming to Santa Fe. Blu Dragonfly is coming to the northern town of Cimarron and has already joined the NM Brewers Guild far in advance of its opening.

If there are any other new breweries out there that we missed, please let us know.

We can also report that Guadalupe Mountain (Carlsbad) and Lost Hiker (Ruidoso) are now open and serving their own beers.

Politics and beer don’t mix here or anywhere

Well, so much for this legislative session.

One of the best things about breweries is how they are (usually) delightfully free of the venomous political discourse that has infected our country. Sadly, politics has a way of getting into the beer, and it rarely turns out well for any beer drinker, regardless of his/her affiliation.

Here in New Mexico, even after it passed both houses in the legislature, Senate Bill 204 died with a whimper when outgoing Governor Martinez killed it with a pocket veto. SB204 was designed to give breweries the ability to obtain private celebration permits. Currently, only distributors have these permits. Who knows why the governor did not like this bill, which had bi-partisan support.

It could be worse, however, as craft brewers in Maryland suffered a devastating defeat in Annapolis. Small breweries in Maryland face significant restrictions in how much beer they can brew and sell. Efforts to lift many regulations have failed, as the combination of macrobreweries and distributors have been opposed to giving craft breweries any advantages. Hopefully more progressive politicians will take another look at the situation next year.

Meanwhile, the announcement of pending tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum imports have left some in the craft beer industry worried. Those worries may be valid, as this story in the Wall Street Journal shows. (Thanks to Boxing Bear’s David Kim for the link.) A rise in the price of American steel and aluminum would benefit the manufacturers, but not everyone in the market may be able to afford those increases. That could hamper an industry that uses a hell of a lot of both metals. Ultimately, though, it is still early in the process, and time will tell what the full impact will be on the brewing industry.

Sampler tray

  • Little Toad Creek got some good news when its first taproom outside Silver City cleared a major hurdle. The City of Las Cruces has given its approval for the location at 119 N. Main St. Now all that remains is for state approval, which hopefully will come in advance of the Blazin’ Brewfest in May.
  • Red Door is looking to hire a new head brewer. We are working on finding out the details behind the departure of founding brewer Wayne Martinez.
  • Tart at Heart is returning to Sister for a fourth time on April 14. We will have more details as we get closer to this fun annual event.
  • Second Street will host the first Pilsner and Crab Fest at the Rufina Taproom on June 16-17. It will not be a competition, but a celebration of the style. We would love to see what other breweries bring to at least give us all the opportunity to do a side-by-side tasting.
  • Rejoice, haze lovers, for the Brewers Association has heard your cries. Three new hazy or juicy ale categories (pale, IPA, double IPA) have been added to the official ranks of the Beer Style Guidelines. Other categories have been added as well to reflect the ongoing evolution of craft beers. Click that link for more details.

That clears out the notebook for now. If anyone out there ever has any craft beer news to share, big or small, drop us a line at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com, or via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or just tapping on a Crew member’s shoulder if you spot one of us out and about at a brewery, taproom, or beer bar.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister