Archive for the ‘Beer Notes’ Category

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

Beer Notes: Tart times at Rio Bravo

Posted: October 14, 2016 by cjax33 in Beer Notes
Tags:
The Raspberry Sour makes its debut today at Rio Bravo.

The Raspberry Sour makes its debut today at Rio Bravo.

Rio Bravo head brewer Ty Levis said, long ago, that he fully planned to take advantage of the many barrels in his possession to branch out beyond simply doing standard barrel-aged stouts, porters, and barley wines. A sour program was coming, at least as soon as things finally settled down in terms of production at the brewery at Second Street and I-40.

“The pressure of regular production kept us from doing this until now,” Ty said. “We have volume considerations that have to come first.”

The quiet time of year, when brewers can get back to their mad scientist roots, is now upon us. Rio Bravo will release their new Raspberry Sour today (Friday) at the brewery.

“This beer is really cool,” Ty said. “I’m definitely happy with it. I started out by talking our pilsner and aging in it wood barrels for nine weeks. We had about 120 gallons up there.”

From there, Ty added the raspberry puree to the fermentation process. For the souring process, he took notes from other breweries in the area that had produced kettle-soured beers in the past.

“We used Nancy’s Pro-Biotic Yogurt,” Ty said. “It worked really well. We saw a pH drop from 5.1 to 3.5, which is just crazy.”

The resulting beer can almost serve as an entry-level sour ale. It has the color and aroma of raspberries, while the flavor is more tart than truly pucker-ish.

“We used the right yeast, too, a dry, British pale yeast,” Ty said, which helped keep the fruit sugars in check.

A Cherry Sour is also in the barrels upstairs and should be ready in about two weeks. That should offer up a considerably different flavor profile, with even stronger sour elements.

“I’m super happy with how this (the Raspberry) turned out,” Ty said.

Surprise layoffs at a craft beer heavyweight

The news that Stone Brewing was laying off 75-plus employees in Escondido, Calif., shocked the craft beer community on Thursday afternoon. So, what does that mean for New Mexico’s breweries?

Absolutely nothing.

Stone is not the start of some trend, not the beginning of the feared bursting of the craft beer bubble. The company sent out an official statement, clearly written by a team of lawyers and publicists, that said Stone is reorganizing/restructuring. These things happen to breweries, just like any other business, though usually not on such a large scale. Then again, for most breweries, getting rid of 75-plus employees would be impossible as few in New Mexico employee nearly that many people.

We have seen past instances of brewers, owners, and managers quietly departing from our local establishments. The great Marble re-branding/restructuring of 2014 saw the departure of co-founders Jeff Jinnett and John Gozigian, but it did not lead to the mass upheaval that many feared. It was handled professionally and life continued normally.

For now, the Stone layoffs can be treated as an isolated incident. If it starts becoming a trend, then people can start to panic. For now, all is well, let us move along.

Sampler tray

  • One of our readers informed us that a small brewing operation will not be renewing its small brewer license the next time that comes up, which is actually next week, as it turns out. Instead, the business will function simply as a bar/taproom. When we receive official confirmation, we will reveal the name.
  • Construction has begun at last on the newer, larger Las Cruces taproom for Bosque Brewing. The existing taproom will stay open until the new one is ready to go. Both are located in the same complex across from New Mexico State.

That is all for now. I gotta get back to work on the beer history book. Oh, OK, I can share one little bit of history for you all …

Ty was telling me how his father, Mike Levis, who founded Santa Fe Brewing, liked to claim that it was the first brewery to open in New Mexico since Prohibition was enacted in 1920. Well, not quite, as it turns out. The New Mexico Brewing Company operated from the summer of 1936 until January 1937 in a building at Second Street and Marquette in downtown Albuquerque. It went bust and was sold at auction to a new owner, who renamed it Rio Grande Brewing Company. That brewery was up and running from 1937 until 1939, when it went bankrupt with an astounding $120,000 worth of debt (think of the era, that was a lot). From there, the state was silent on the brewing front until the Levis family brewed up Santa Fe Pale Ale in 1988.

Oh, and once again, if anyone out there has any pictures or images from the ABQ beer scene in the 1990s or early 2000s, I would love to scan them and use them in the book!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Beer Notes: A closing, a festival, awards, and more

Posted: September 23, 2016 by cjax33 in Beer Notes
Farewell to Chili Line, we hardly knew ye.

Farewell to Chili Line, we hardly knew ye.

As we stated on Facebook, this is a newsy Friday. Here is everything that would otherwise have slipped through the cracks.

A brewery comes to an end

The short-lived Chili Line Brewing announced on Friday that they are closing up shop inside Pizzeria De Lino.

This was posted on the Facebook page of the six-month-old brewery.

Well it was fun but it looks like Lino is pulling on the plug in the brewery. It wasn’t being in enough capital to cover expenses. See you on the flip side.
Ps. 2bbl brew house (qualifies as a 3bbl system) and 2 fermenters for sale call me at (505)500-7903 all other inquiries call Lino. (505)577-5353. And if there are any brew jobs available keep me posted.

It is always a shame when a brewery, no matter how big or small, closes its doors. We wish Alexander, the brewer, good luck in his next endeavor. Look for more on this story early next week.

A new festival debuts

The Alibi on Tap is set for Saturday from 4 to 10 p.m. at the ABQ Rail Yards. A combination of beer/wine/spirits sampling, plus live music and burlesque (!), this fest will have sampling (up to 10), plus pints for sale and growler fills.

Naturally, we did our best to make sure all the beer lists were as complete as possible. Here is what we received as of Friday afternoon (if any late updates arrive, they will be posted). UPDATED: We added Duel and Starr Brothers’ lists.

  • Bow & Arrow: Crossed Arrows (Scotch Ale), Sun Dagger (Saison)
  • Boxing Bear: Body Czech Bo Pils, Ambear, Uppercut IPA, La Flama Blanca, Apple Bear Cider
  • Dialogue: Belgian IPA, Belgian Dark Strong, two more TBD
  • Duel: Monomyth, Bad Amber, Fantin, Whistler
  • Left Turn/Palmer: MWA, Palmer’s Pale Ale, Guero (Belgian Wit)
  • Pi: Pumpkin Pi (saison), Discordia IPA, Pineapple Express, Scotty Doesn’t Know
  • Quarter Celtic: Mor-buck IPA, Dusk’s Early Night, Knotted Blonde, MacLomas Stout
  • Rio Bravo: TBD
  • Santa Fe: TBD
  • Sidetrack: TBD
  • Starr Brothers: Red Zepplin, Thunderr Ale, Motorbrreath, Electric Sun
  • Turtle Mountain: Raspberry Stout, Honeymoon RIOT!, two more TBD

You can still find tickets online for $15 apiece, or it will be $20 at the door.

First awards

Enchanted Circle Brewing, up in Angel Fire, picked up their first award since opening earlier this year. The Taos Chile Challenge, held at the Taos Country Club last weekend, had a “Battle of the Micro Breweries” event. Enchanted Circle took home the people’s choice award out of 10 breweries in attendance. Comanche Creek was second and Taos Mesa came in third. Hmm, looks like there could be a little friendly rivalry developing in Northern New Mexico.

Congrats to Enchanted Circle. We look forward to finally trying their beer at the upcoming New Mexico Brew Fest on Oct. 1.

Sampler tray

  • Palmer Brewery and Cider House will have a grand opening on Nov. 5. Brewer Rob Palmer said he hopes to have multiple beers on tap. Right now he has his MWA (Malt With Attitude), Pale Ale, and Guero (Belgian Wit) available. There is also a Scotch Ale aging in barrels in the back that should be ready.
  • The proliferation of Oktoberfest/Marzen beers around town continues, much to our collective delight. The most unique of the bunch is the Council Fire, a smoked marzen, at Bow & Arrow. Definitely worth trying just to see how different it is. The sweeter German malts and smoked elements work in wonderful balance.
  • For a more traditional version, try the Oktoberfest at Bosque (it is on tap at Nob Hill and will be shortly at the main brewery). Or, try the variations at Red Door or Tractor. Of course, picking up a six-pack of the Santa Fe classic variant is worth your time, too. Hey, in our humble opinion, Oktoberfest > Pumpkin Beer. It’s not even that close.
  • We have received confirmation that Bare Bones Brewing is the operation looking to move into Cedar Crest near Ale Republic. BBB has not applied for a state license yet, but it is under construction, according to its neighbors at the Greenside Cafe. Those folks will keep us updated on the project from what they see, while we keep refreshing the state website.

That is all from us this week. If you have any updates or news, please contact us via social media or at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

From left, Stoutmeister, Shilling, Franz Solo, and E-Rock gathered for the first Beer Battle back in February on Super Bowl Sunday.

We have come a long way, added more members, and more facial hair, since we started writing about beer in 2012.

A little while back, well, five stories ago, we hit our 1,000th post here on this site. There was no celebration or anything, but it was a bit of a milestone. We have written a lot about beer the last four-plus years, and we plan to keep this thing going as long as we are able to devote the necessary time and energy, and as long as all of you keep drinking and reading. Thanks, everyone, from the brewery staffs to their customers, for making it all possible.

Now, all that being said, we have a whole lotta news items to get to, much of which pertains to this weekend.

Get your collaboration on

Quarter Celtic brewer Brady McKeown told us that he had a collaboration beer on deck a little while ago. Then, long after The Week Ahead in Beer was published, he remembered to let us know that today (Friday) will mark the debut of this new creation. Quarter Celtic and Chama River brewed up a Belgian Strong Ale that checks in at 11-percent ABV and 30 IBU. It will be available on tap at both locations all day today and then until the supply runs out.

Make sure to head over to either place and order a pint. It is always a good thing to see our breweries collaborate. We need more collaborations, but they will only happen if the sales justify making them.

Also, don’t forget that today features $3 pints of Oktoberfest over at the Santa Fe Brewing taproom at Green Jeans. And conveniently, SFBC is located in between Chama and QC!

Toast of ABQ beer lists

Five local breweries are participating in the Taste & Toast of ABQ at Uptown on Saturday. The event costs $20 per person and gets you 10 samples from participating restaurants, vendors, and breweries. Ultimately they want you to buy pints, so make sure to support the breweries this way. It’s OK, because the food lineup is potentially tremendous. Local favorites like Artichoke Cafe and Cocina Azul will be there, along with Chocolate Cartel, Villa Myriam Coffee Roasters, and Uptown-based restaurants like Elephant Bar and Marcello’s. The whole thing is a fundraiser for charity, too.

Over on the Toast side, there will also be a couple wineries and Broken Trail will have their spirits available. Here are the brewery beer lists, or at least those who provided theirs (if the others send us their lists, we will update).

  • Kaktus: Helles Lager, Scotch Ale, Honk Ale, and one more TBD
  • La Cumbre: TBA
  • Marble: Double White, IPA, Pilsner, Red Light Lager, Galaxy Pale Ale
  • Quarter Celtic: Pedro O’Flanigan’s Mexican Lager, Rye’t Side of Dublin, Crimson Lass Irish Red, Quarter Porter
  • Tractor: TBA

The event runs from noon to 5 p.m. You can purchase tickets online in advance.

Brewery space available

Speaking of Villa Myriam, they recently outgrew their original business space at 2420 Midtown Place. Thus, the real estate agent looking for a new tenant sent us an email asking if we knew of any new breweries looking for a location. (Yes, we were surprised at this, but why not share it?)

It is about 4,800 square feet, occupying Suites F and G. There are already floor drains, cold storage, a drive-in bay, and more. Anyone interested can contact Riley McKee at Maestas & Ward at (505) 878-0001.

And another anniversary

Lizard Tail turns two this weekend, an anniversary we almost missed. They will be celebrating all day Saturday. The Black House Angels will provide the music at 8 p.m. Beyond that, we would suggest anyone interested contact the brewery for more details.

Beer festival news

There are two major upcoming beer festivals with Hopfest set for Isleta Casino on Aug. 27 and then the Mountain West Brewfest returning to Bernalillo on Sept. 3-4.

For the latter, they released their list of attending breweries. MWBF is no longer associated with the NM Brewers Guild, and thus, the lineup is missing some major names. Who is scheduled to be there? Albuquerque Brewing, Bosque, Canteen, Enchanted Circle, Firkin, Kaktus, Palmer, Ponderosa, Rio Bravo, Sandia Chile Grill, Santa Fe, Starr Brothers, and The 377 Brewery are planning on attending.

So who is not there? Well, the big ones are obviously Boxing Bear, Chama River, La Cumbre, Marble, Nexus, Quarter Celtic, Red Door, Tractor, and Turtle Mountain from the ABQ metro area, plus Bathtub Row, Blue Corn, Duel, Second Street, and Taos Mesa from outside the metro area (as breweries that frequently attend fests). This will give some of the less-well-known breweries a chance to strut their stuff, plus newcomers like Enchanted Circle (which opened in Angel Fire in April) and the forthcoming 377 figure to draw long lines of curious folks.

Still, it is a bit of a disappointment in how many breweries bailed out on what was once promised as the largest beer festival in NM history.

Meanwhile, the actual largest, Hopfest, is adding a new feature this year. The Brewers Guild Sensory Analysis Seminar will be hosted by our friend Angelo Orona of Craft King Consulting. This half-hour course will take place at Hopfest at 3:30 p.m. (the whole event is 2-6) It will cost an extra $10, and tickets are limited, but they will benefit the Guild and our breweries. You will get a thorough overview of beer styles and flavors, plus you will get to see what an off-flavor kit can do to beers so you can better understand what you should and should not be tasting. You will get a special sample of Sierra Blanca Whiskey Barrel-Aged Stout and a commemorative 13-ounce glass.

New breweries update

Here is the latest news on the breweries that are coming to New Mexico in the next few months. Those without a city/town listed are in ABQ. We only included breweries that have officially applied for a small brewer license.

  • Ale Republic (Cedar Crest): They reported on Facebook that they have all five Bernalillo County permits. Now they just await their small brewer license and a health permit. They are also hiring servers, so contact zach@alerepublic.com.
  • Bombs Away Beer Co.: We still know nothing about this brewery beyond the name on the application. Anyone out there got info?
  • Colfax Ale Cellar (Raton): Here is a link to our recent update on Raton’s first brewery.
  • Dialogue Brewing: They have a ton of construction photos on Facebook right now, so progress is continuing. There is no set opening date yet (probably a smart thing).
  • Drafty Kilt Brewing: They officially changed the name (it was OffKilter, but that was already taken). By the pictures on Facebook, it looks like their final construction is near completion. We project a fall opening.
  • Flix Brewhouse: Construction continues on the West Side movie theater with a brewery. They said on social media the plan is to be open in December. Looks like we know where we will be watching Rogue One.
  • Hops Brewery: They have one license active and another pending. We are not sure what any of that means. We are also totally unsure of their progress. Anyone out there hear about them?
  • Rowley Farmhouse Ales (Santa Fe): Construction is all but over, just a few little aesthetic touches remain. They hope to be open later this month. Once he gets back from his vacation in San Diego, Luke will be on the case. (And yes, SFBC does allow Luke to go on vacation; of course he picked a beer town to visit, thus reinforcing the fact that his girlfriend is a wonderful human being.)
  • Sleeping Dog Tavern (Santa Fe): We still do not know much about this plan for the tavern to start brewing its own beer.
  • Steel Bender Brewyard: Contact has been made with the owners, who have hired a notable local brewer to run the show. We should have more news on this North Valley project in the next couple of weeks.
  • The 377 Brewery: Their brewer told us that the build out is nearly complete, now they just await all the permits and licenses. It will still be a while before they are open.

Know of any other breweries in the works? Contact us at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Sample tray

  • There will be a special Stone tasting at Jubilation today (Friday) from 4 to 6 p.m. Rather than more of the usual offerings, they will be featuring Mocha IPA, Citrusy Wit, Wussie Pils, Enjoy After 7/4 Brett IPA, and the 20th Anniversary Citracado IPA, which was made with Citra hops and avocado honey. That looks … different.
  • John Bullard has brewed up a new batch of his award-winning IPA, Scale Tipper. Look for it on tap and in 22-ounce bombers in a few weeks at all Bosque locations.
  • The 2016 Doggie Dash and Dawdle Kickoff Party will be at Boxing Bear on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can register for the Dash, enjoy some live music, and $1 from every pint sold goes to Animal Humane. If you lack a furry friend for the Dash, fear not, they will have mobile adoptions there as well!
  • Fill in the Blanco IPA, a white wheat hoppy beast, was added to the seasonal lineup at Canteen on Thursday. Meanwhile, over at La Cumbre today (Friday), they have Red Ryeot dry-hopped with Comet in the cask.
  • Speaking of La Cumbre, they will have another Lego Build-Off at the brewery on Tuesday. Sign up starting at 6:15 p.m. and it all gets underway at 7. The winners get $10 gift certificates.
  • Ponderosa has their fourth head brewer in place. Antonio Fernandez has taken over the operation from Bob Haggerty. We will try to set up an interview with Antonio in the near future and we will also update you on where Bob is headed. (Fear not, he is not going far.)
  • Starr Brothers will open at 8 a.m. this Saturday to show all the opening matches of the Premier League season. You might just see some Crew members and our friends over there. I’ll be the guy bitterly ruing Newcastle’s relegation all season.

* * * * *

That is all for now. Remember, if you have any tips about beer news in New Mexico, contact us via social media or at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Now that looks like a relaxing place to enjoy a pint outdoors.

The Sierra Blanca Beer Garden will be packed this Saturday for their 20th anniversary party.

Sierra Blanca Brewing is celebrating their 20th anniversary this Saturday with a big party at the brewery in Moriarty. From 2 to 9 p.m., the beer garden will be hopping (pun intended) with live music, food trucks, a kids zone, and more.

There is a $5 cover, but kids 12 and under get in for free. Dirty Modine and Stanley Cattle Guards will provide the musical entertainment. All of the Sierra Blanca, Rio Grande, and Alien beers will be available, plus a few special surprises, including the Whiskey Barrel Aged Stout.

Head on out there Saturday and wish the entire staff a happy anniversary!

New taprooms update

Good news on the taproom front, Red Door will be opening their downtown location next week. Yours truly will have an advance look at the place, so look for some pics and more info on Monday.

For those who may have forgotten, the taproom will be located in the lobby of the Simms Building at 4th and Gold. The grand opening will be Thursday starting at 11 a.m.

As for the other taprooms, there is nothing official on opening dates yet, but both Canteen (I-40 and Tramway) and Marble (Montgomery east of Eubank) have said they hope to open by the end of July.

New breweries update

Construction continues at Dialogue Brewing near downtown. (Photo courtesy of Dialogue Brewing)

Construction continues at Dialogue Brewing near downtown. (Photo courtesy of Dialogue Brewing)

There are still 12 breweries on the way with the small brewer licenses pending with the state. First, for the ABQ-area breweries, here are the latest tidbits we know.

  • We shared the link from ABQ Business First last week about Flix Brewhouse, which is making progress on the West Side. They are still a long ways from opening, but certainly there is already a lot of excitement, judging by everyone’s reactions to the post. When we know more about the specific brewing aspects, we will share them.
  • Drafty Kilt, formerly OffKilter, is getting close to opening. Mike Campbell, formerly of Tractor and Cazuela’s, will be ready to brew as soon as all the permits come through. We hope to get a tour soon.
  • There is nothing new on the Nob Hill-based Hops Brewery, nor the Steel Bender Brewyard in the North Valley. Neither has any significant online presence yet, so we have to guess they are further away. Ditto The 377 Brewery near the Sunport.
  • Progress continues on Dialogue Brewing on 1st Ave. north of Marble. They have had a lot of pictures of their progress in construction, but it does show they are still a ways from being open.
  • New to the listings for pending licenses is the Bombs Away Beer Company. We have searched for more info, but come up empty. All that is known is that it is somewhere in the 87123, which could put it up near the Foothills and the Canteen taproom, or it could be the fabled Four Hills brewery that folks have been whispering about for a while. If anyone out there has contact info for this new endeavor, please send it our way.
  • Palmer Brewery and Cider House has an active license now. We were told they are not at fully brewing capacity yet, but some of their beers are being tapped at Left Turn Distilling.

As for the breweries outside the ABQ metro area …

  • Construction progress continues at a good pace for Ale Republic in Cedar Crest. We figure a fall opening is likely, though they could surprise us.
  • Sleeping Dog Tavern in Santa Fe has now applied for a small brewer license. We will try to find out more on their plans, see if they are going small like Chili Line or aiming for something bigger.
  • Route 66 Junkyard Brewery in Grants is still aiming for a July 1 grand opening. There is a story in the Gallup Independent, but it is subscriber-only, so we can’t share the link.
  • Milton’s Brewing in Carlsbad is inching closer to opening. Their small brewer license is active, so now it is just a matter of finishing the buildout and getting the beer flowing.

That is all from us for this week. Check back next week when we should have some more substantial info on the new brewer at Blue Corn, updates on the progress of Second Street’s new brewing facility, and more.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister