Archive for the ‘Beer Notes’ Category

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

That little construction project on McMahon near Unser is the forthcoming west side taproom for Tractor.

Time to clear out the old beer notebook once again …

Tap That offers up a different approach

For those who do not follow us on Facebook, you might have missed our discovery, per reader Matthew Abeyta, that there is a new taproom opening up this weekend. It is not, however, like most (or possibly) taprooms you have ever been to before.

Tap That, located on Montgomery just west of Louisiana (near the old Heimat House/Assets Grille), is hosting its grand opening starting at 5 p.m. today (Friday). The concept, as explained to us by our friend Angelo Orona, is where people come in, get a hi-tech bracelet, and use it to order the beers. There will also be a full food menu. It is not quite like one of those serve yourself taprooms that have popped up in other states (that is still against the law in this state, as far as we know), but it will be a different concept.

We would share more from the Albuquerque Business First story that ran a few weeks ago, but it is locked behind the subscriber-only paywall. Needless to say, if you can afford a subscription (we cannot), go get it, and help some fellow journalists stay employed.

Otherwise, head over to Tap That and let us know what you think. With luck, and a little free time, the Crew will head over there soon as well.

Tastings, tappings, and more

Outside the breweries, there is a fair amount going on this weekend that will keep us plenty busy. It starts today (Friday) at 4 p.m. as North Coast Brewing will be at Jubilation, presenting their most excellent Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout and other beers for tasting. Word is there will even be two bottles of the barrel-aged Rasputin, XVII and XX. It runs until 6 p.m. and is free, of course, but it is so hard to roll into Jubilation these days and not roll out with a box full of delicious beers from around the country and some delectable local offerings as well.

Once you are done there, head on down to Sister for a Bell’s tap takeover that starts at 5 p.m. In addition to the worth-the-hype Hopslam, an imperial IPA brewed with honey, there will be multiple other varieties available as well. The one we are excited about is the Whiskey Barrel-Aged Cherry Stout, which many folks have told us is a much more balanced version than the regular batch.

For events at breweries, might we suggest going to Marble Westside tonight at 8 to see our friend Kristen’s band, String Dinner. Hopefully her other band, Distances, which might be the best metal band in Albuquerque, will be performing again soon somewhere.

If anyone needs to get out of town this weekend, our friends at Truth or Consequences Brewing have suggested a trip south. Take a dip in the hot springs to relax, then head over to the brewery for some fun and new beers. Big River IBA (7.5% ABV, 69 IBU) went on tap Thursday. It is an India Brown Ale, a fun take on a slightly different IPA. The brewery has live music ever Friday and Saturday night, too. Special upcoming concerts include The Pine Hill Haints on Tuesday and The Booze Bombs on Thursday, both at 7 p.m. The latter band is described as German rockabilly, which has us imagining Rammstein crossed with Reverend Horton Heat, or something like that.

The TorC staff recommends The Firewater Lodge, The Blackstone, Riverbend, Las Palomas, The Charles, Indian Springs, and The Pelican as the best places to stay the night.

New brewery/taproom updates

  • High & Dry Brewing has quietly opened in the southeast. I took a tour the other day with brewer/owner Andrew Kalemba, so look for our full story early next week. For now, there are six guest taps available, but the house beers will not be on tap until the grand opening on February 10. It is a sweet little space that they have built on Adams just south of Lomas. It also might be one of the most deceptive taprooms in town. From the outside it looks quite small, but the inside can fit up to 88 people, with even more room in the back for brewing.
  • Tractor has a pending license for its forthcoming west side taproom, plus some pictures went up on social media this week (see above). Look for that space to open in the coming months.
  • It appears the mysterious 1933 Brewing Company announced for Rio Rancho will be moving into the old Fat Squirrel Pub and Grill on Southern Boulevard. Long ago, of course, that was the original location of Turtle Mountain. It will not be owned by the folks behind Pi Brewing, who also previously owned the Fat Squirrel, but by new owners.
  • Construction continues apace at Cantero and Lava Rock, but neither appears close to opening its doors. The Ponderosa taproom at the El Vado Motel redevelopment has been delayed (more on that with the Ponderosa Look Back/Look Ahead Series article coming next week) and will probably not open until later in the spring.
  • Another new addition to the list of pending small brewer licenses is Casa Vieja LLC in Corrales. We are pretty sure we know what this one is, too, but for now we are remaining mum at the request of the owner.

That is all from us today. As always, please let us know whenever you see anything out there that you think is beer news: nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The Brewers Association is working with the USDA to help hop growers, big and small.

Even in a slow news period, there are still little items we would like to share.

Brewers Association moves to support independent hop growers

The good folks over at the BA announced today that they have struck an agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Research Service (USDA-ARS) “to fund public hop breeding for the purpose of developing and releasing disease resistant aroma hop cultivars into the public domain, in support of hop growing efforts throughout the U.S.”

What that basically means is it will be even easier for more and more folks to start growing hops without worrying about copyrights and the like, so long as they are working to create disease- and pest-resistant strains. The hop-growing industry is booming in the Pacific Northwest, and now even local farms in New Mexico are beginning to pop up, such as Red Hat Hops in Los Ranchos. Fighting the scourge of disease and pests is a key to that continued expansion, as well as keeping costs due to shortages from spiraling out of control.

Coincidentally, Red Hat is hosting a special meeting this Saturday (invite-only) to bring together breweries, hop farmers, and other farmers to work in even better collaboration. In other words, your local beers may be getting even more local ingredients as everyone finds even better ways to work together. If one of the Crew can attend this event, we will have a full report next week.

International Stout Day returns

The glorious holiday known is back this Thursday, celebrating all that is great and wonderful about beers on the darker end of the spectrum. Canteen will be bringing back the award-winning Panama Joe just in time, but as always we encourage everyone to seek out great stouts all around the city.

Sadly, Driftwood Oatmeal Stout is no longer a part of the regular menu at Bosque, having been bumped from the lineup due to low sales and the need to make a permanent tap for the 1888 Blonde Ale.

Happily, Bombs Away Beer Company unveiled its first stout back on Friday, the mean and burly Stockpile Stout. This is not a sweet, creamy little thing, but instead a thick, robust stout that will go oh-so-well once the weather finally turns cold (which, as a side note, could very well be this weekend to coincide with the NMAA state soccer tournament, which always has terrible weather, as us freelance reporters always find out the hard way).

Look for more on Stout Day in the upcoming edition of The Week Ahead in Beer.

Rio Bravo hosts homebrew event

This Saturday is National Learn to Homebrew Day, with events across the country to encourage folks to start up or improve their existing techniques. The main event here in town will take place at Rio Bravo Brewing, which has the available space to host the Dukes of Ale and Worthogs of Rio Rancho. Southwest Grape and Grain should also be on hand.

We should have a lot more on this later in the week, but for now, check the Facebook pages of Rio Bravo and the rest for more details. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and admission is free.

Obligatory updates on new breweries

Here are the latest little bits and pieces about forthcoming breweries and off-site taprooms.

  • High and Dry Brewing, located on Adams just south of Lomas, is making some serious progress and could open before the end of the year. They are painting the exterior and just received their new 1-barrel brewing system.
  • Hollow Spirits, located on 1st Street between Dialogue and Marble, has begun its interior build-out. Friends and family helped in the demolition/clean-up of the warehouse space. The combined brewery/distillery is aiming to open in 2018.
  • Cantero Brewing, located in the old Firkin Brewhouse space on Columbia south of Aztec, and Lava Rock Brewing, located on Unser north of Ladera, are both moving along, though there is no big news from either place. It remains to be seen who will win the race between them and High and Dry to be the next brewery to open in Albuquerque.
  • Outside of the metro area, Guadalupe Mountain Brewing in Carlsbad now has an active small brewer license with the state. Anyone in the Carlsbad area looking for work can check the list of open positions on the brewery Facebook page.
  • Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery in Santa Fe is making some major progress. The still has arrived and the build-out of the production facility is nearly complete.
  • Lost Hiker Brewing in Ruidoso has received public approval and is now moving ahead with the final stages before opening, possibly before the year is out. The brewery already has merchandise for sale online.
  • Red River Brewing now has a pending license with the state. Construction of the new brewery building in the ski town is progressing quickly as the crew rushes to finish before the snow arrives.
  • We reported last month that Bare Bones Brewing in Cedar Crest had an active license, but that was not the case. Instead, the license has been withdrawn by the brewery owners, who told us via Facebook message that they are looking to go in a new direction. There were no further details, but it looks like Ale Republic will remain the lone brewery in the East Mountains for the foreseeable future.
  • On the new taproom front, Santa Fe Brewing has a pending offsite license for a new downtown location, though no exact address is listed. When we learn more, we will make sure to update everyone.

That is all from us for the time being. If anyone has news or updates they would like to share, please email us at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com or drop us a line via any of our social media sites.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Get ready to raise those La Cumbre pints soon, Arizona!

It was clearly time to clear out the old notebook once again …

La Cumbre expands distribution to the west

Last year, when I sat down with owner/master brewer Jeff Erway for our Look Back/Look Ahead Series article, he said that Arizona was definitely his next target for out-of-state distribution. The only thing he was lacking at the time was a distributor. Well, it appears he found one.

La Cumbre announced on social media that it will indeed expand to the Grand Canyon state, debuting in the Phoenix area on October 9 and moving out to the rest of the state in the weeks that follow.

“The responses on our Twitter account and Facebook and things like that has been overwhelmingly from Arizona,” Jeff told the Albuquerque Journal. “Arizona seems like the state that’s most thirsty for La Cumbre beer.”

La Cumbre will become the third New Mexico brewery to distribute in Arizona, joining Marble and Santa Fe. It also distributes in Colorado.

The Roswell mystery solved

For all the growth in craft beer in New Mexico, the fifth largest municipality in the state still has not attained its own craft brewery. Roswell, smaller only than Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Rio Rancho, and Santa Fe, has oddly been a craft beer dessert. If nothing else, it seemed like at some point, maybe an out-of-town brewery would at least put a taproom there. Well, that day is about to arrive.

Milton’s Brewing, headquartered in Carlsbad, has officially announced on social media that it will be opening a taproom in Roswell. Milton’s Off Main is slated to open at 315 N. Main St. later this year. It will mark the first off-site taproom for Milton’s and, as noted above, the first true craft taproom in town.

Obligatory forthcoming breweries update

Yeah, we dig that logo. As local as local can be.

As per usual, here is the latest info (if we have any) on the next wave of breweries. Take note, we only list those who have a pending small brewer license with the State of New Mexico.

  • Bare Bones Brewing now has an active license with the state, but the Cedar Crest brewery has yet to open. There are no updates on the brewery Facebook page, either, but we gotta imagine it is getting close. Keep an eye out.
  • Bombs Away Brewing also has an active license. We feel confident in saying it will be the next brewery to open. Stay tuned for an update sooner than later.
  • The only new pending license since our last check is for a place calling itself the Brewstillery. It is located somewhere in the 87106 zip code in the southeast part of town. If anyone out there has information on this new addition to the list, please contact us.
  • Cantero Brewing has its equipment now in place, per its social media. Looks like it is getting close and may be able to open before the year is out.
  • Guadalupe Mountain Brewing has also received its equipment down in Carlsbad. It should be getting close as well.
  • We solved two mysteries with one Instagram inquiry the other day. It turns out that High and Dry Brewing, which has an account, is one and the same with Volume 31 Brewing, a mystery pending license holder we spotted a few weeks back. The brewery will go by the former name, with a nice hot air balloon motif (surprisingly, a first for a local brewery, as far as we can recall). High and Dry will be located at 529 Adams St., which is just south of Lomas.
  • Lava Rock Brewing has a “coming soon” sign now posted outside the building on Unser just north of Ladera. We will take that as a good sign (pun intended).
  • Lost Hiker Brewing has a public hearing pending with Ruidoso Downs residents and officials on October 10. After that, it should be good to go to bring local craft to the mountain town.
  • Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery is also making progress in Santa Fe, per its social media pages. It is in the market for a brewer/distiller and bottle shop/market manager. If you have interest in either position, email the Crew and we can forward your info to the owners.
  • We do not have anything new on the following forthcoming breweries: BLUE (Albuquerque), Elkins Brewing (Grants), Glencoe Distillery and Brewery (Ruidoso), Switchback Brewery (Cloudcroft), and Toltec (Albuquerque).

As always, if there are any news tidbits we have missed, please drop us a line via social media or at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The swanky new patio bar at Rock & Brews will be running for their Saturday beer festival. (Photo courtesy of Rock & Brews)

Fridays are always a good day to catch up on all the news that would otherwise slip through the cracks. This week, we have some changes with the front-of-house at Rio Bravo, two special brews for college rivals UNM and NMSU, a Saturday beer fest at Rock & Brews, and, yes, of course some news on forthcoming breweries and off-site taprooms.

Moving and shaking at Rio Bravo

Rio Bravo has turned over three key positions recently, all designed to help the brewery run even better than before.

“We’ve got a lot of new people in here,” head brewer Ty Levis said. “We’re seeing some big changes, some real social media push, some (big) events coming up.”

As many have probably heard, Amberley Pyles is the new marketing and social media director. She brings a wealth of experience from her time at Marble Brewery.

Joining her are bar manager Chrystal Buzzard, who comes from Vintage in the Northeast Heights, and general manager Aaron Jackson, who has managed at numerous bars and restaurants at night over the years in addition to corporate management during the day.

Aaron and Amberley have already been making sure Rio Bravo takes advantage of its huge beer garden in the back for outdoor concerts and other events.

“We’ve had quite a few concerts back there now that we’ve had 300-plus people,” Aaron said. “We have many more to come this next month.”

One of the biggest upcoming events at the brewery will be its second anniversary party on September 22. That day will also mark the debut of The Burger Stand at Rio Bravo, which will make it the first brewery in the Wells Park neighborhood with a full kitchen.

“It will keep people here for a second beer,” Ty said. “It really does make a difference in the grand scheme of things.”

Rio Grande Rivalry gets its own beers

For those who do not subscribe to the Albuquerque Journal, you might have missed the back-to-back stories on two local breweries partnering with our state’s two main universities.

Bosque Brewing will join forces with New Mexico State to create Pistol Pete’s 1888 Ale, a blonde ale that will first go on tap at the Las Cruces taproom (natch). It will eventually be available at both Albuquerque locations as well, and at Aggies sporting events in Las Cruces.

“We are really excited to do this beer in collaboration with NMSU,” Bosque owner Gabe Jensen wrote in an email. “We have had great support in Las Cruces and being an alum of NMSU, just made this make sense. Not to mention how excited I am to have this beer available year round. It’s one of my favorite beers we’ve done.”

Once the Bosque production facility in Bernalillo is done, the 1888 will be canned as well and available in statewide distribution.

Meanwhile, the University of New Mexico will team up with Kellys Brew Pub and Santa Fe Dining to create Lobo Red Ale. There are plans to eventually can this beer as well, but for now look for on tap at Kellys and UNM sporting events. It should also be available at Chama River and Blue Corn, the other two breweries owned by parent company Santa Fe Dining.

Rock & Brews taps a wide variety of beers for patio festival

Before summer completely disappears, Rock & Brews is hosting a beer festival on the patio this Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m. There are special VIP tickets available in advance, which gets you two special pours and a commemorative shirt. Regular tickets cost $15 if you purchase in advance, going up to $20 at the start Saturday.

The beer list definitely has a fruity theme to it. Here is the mix of unique local and regional beers on tap.

  • Boxing Bear: AppleBear Cider
  • Marble: Strawberry Gose
  • Ponderosa: Raspberry Saison
  • Rio Bravo: Pink Boots Pale Ale (brewed in collaboration with ABQ chapter of Pink Boots Society)
  • Sierra Blanca: Cherry Wheat
  • Starr Brothers: Piney the Apple
  • Steel Bender: Saison de la Rosa (exclusive pour)
  • Golden Road: Tart Mango
  • Great Divide: Grapefruit Roadie
  • Oskar Blues: Fugly
  • Uinta: Lime Pilsner
  • Upslope: Belgian Blonde with guava

New brewery and taproom updates

We have news on two forthcoming taprooms, but at the request of the breweries, we are withholding their names. One taproom will be somewhere in the university area. We do not know the exact location, but it is a ways off, so stay tuned.

The other taproom is from an existing brewery in Southeastern New Mexico, but it will not be in the same town as its mothership. Instead, it will be the first craft taproom in Roswell. With a population of more than 45,000 people, Roswell is the largest town in New Mexico with no craft brewery or taproom to call its own. Again, once we get the green light to name the brewery and identify the taproom location, we will share it.

As for new breweries, we do have one new name since our last Beer Notes. Elkins Brewing is looking to open in Grants some time in the near future. As of right now, Elkins does not have any social media presence that we could find. If that changes, we will share it on our corresponding social media pages.

Otherwise, the forthcoming brewery list remains as follows (in Albuquerque unless noted): Bare Bones Brewing (Cedar Crest), BLUE, Bombs Away Beer Company, Cantero Brewing, Glencoe Distillery and Brewery (Ruidoso), Guadalupe Mountain Brewing (Carlsbad), Hollow Spirits, Lava Rock Brewing, Lost Hiker Brewing (Ruidoso), Switchback Brewery (Cloudcroft), Red River Brewing, Toltec Brewing, Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery (Santa Fe), Volume 31 Brewing.

Also, while Sandbar Brewery and Grill is now open, its small brewers license is still listed as pending, so it does not yet have its own beer on tap. When it does, we will head over to try it.

That is all for now. See some of you at the Slayer/Behemoth/Lamb of God show on Saturday!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Party time with Great Divide in a couple weeks!

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

Anniversaries and grand openings and soft openings

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

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

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

Exclusive beers en route

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

Boxing Bear to the Heights

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

More taprooms and breweries?

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister