Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Gazing down upon a Taos Brewmasters Festival from years past.

If there is such a thing as a white whale among New Mexico beer festivals, for me it is the Taos Brewmasters Festival. It has been around for 23 years counting this Saturday’s event, and yet I have never managed to time my own schedule to where I can thanks to either my day job or my other job as a freelance sportswriter.

Just because I cannot go, however, does not rule out the rest of you from visiting this classic beer festival nestled in the confines of the Taos Ski Valley. The fest runs from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, with $35 tickets available at the door. There will be 22 breweries present from around the country, including nine from New Mexico, plus one distillery and one place that focuses on kombucha.

The Blonde Bear Tavern, Bavarian, Common Fire, Rhoda’s, and more will provide the food to make sure no one is drinking on an empty stomach.

We asked all nine participating New Mexico breweries for their beer lists. Here are the ones who responded. If the others respond before the festival begins, we will update this list.

  • Bosque: IPA, Lager, Scotia Scotch Ale, Elephants on Parade, Pistol Pete’s 1888
  • La Cumbre: Big Door Prize, Project Dank, Ryeot IPA, Elevated IPA, A Slice of Hefen, Malpais Stout
  • Marble: Wildflower Wheat (in new cans), IPA, Desert Fog, Double White, Cholo Stout, Imperial Stout
  • Rio Bravo: TBA
  • Santa Fe: TBA
  • Sierra Blanca: Cherry Wheat, Vanilla Milk Stout, Alien Amber, Desert Pilsner, Bone Chiller Brown, Whiskey Stout
  • Steel Bender: Skull Bucket IPA, Raspberry Dynamite, Compa Los Ranchos Lager, Lloyd’s 3 O’Clock Kolsch, Gris-Gris, Ned’s Sour Pail (with and without boysenberry), Viejo Agrio
  • Taos Mesa: TBA
  • Tractor: Almanac IPA, Farmers Tan Red Ale, Delicious Red Hard Apple Cider, Milk Mustachio Stout

The other participating breweries from outside the state are 10 Barrel, Bell’s, Firestone Walker, Four Peaks, Full Sail, Heineken USA, Left Hand, New Belgium, Odell, Sierra Nevada, Steamworks, Stone, and Upslope.

Grab a brew and enjoy some time on the slopes! Just probably in the opposite order.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Winter is Here

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

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

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

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

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

(more…)

01bbac55d212b0d61afb64447b33f2535df42ea257

Dave Merkin, workin’ it. Hails!

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

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

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

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

(more…)

01f222a0b0224476e4f572bf6c2998214205dafe33

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

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

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

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

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

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

(more…)

012a2fd82654bdc6d3bbd9227ddff09562c2f61ce5

Raise ’em high to celebrate the season!

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

018868f6e9cb60ec5cb19b0d68a3941992c23124af

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

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

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

01645451f334a1c0fe60bb5602a19b4695fcc621dc

The sun did not deter the crowd.

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

0112e5040a182e84d51c79726ceff1e4de3c873c3f

A man cannot live off beer alone.

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

01812466e60f646bf07d2e8416af04782a8b33ad39

One of the great partnerships of our state.

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

01fb51afe4d5568fb8733a8f3c668e8e3bf2dbff63

Rio Bravo brought the beer and the merch.

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

0181414aa79e383c3434daa5e2421e8e50799e5401

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

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

014e16b60aaea295c440b818fdcd69e82d79a8ca9c

Comanche Creek served up a winner!

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

015684f921ad31eb23b2d3d7856eecfca5fff3596d

Ginger Beer from The 377 FTW!

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

0159dc7d51dfaace7933987c27babf20aed295416c

Enchanted Circle closes out the festival with smiles.

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

0112318b0c4b1c10d6c556e7cfb2d6815718152964

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

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

01c70b2cabec07e895f8dea4bf0490574038bf6540

Red River Brewing head brewer Chris Calhoun raises a toast.

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

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

01519cf03634ed736e5e9b81be8aa1607d326e743a.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 22-ounce bottles:

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

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

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

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

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

01e339b88a5c0739cffe294ba8ea39c171f7f6751e

And one Double Tipple for the Dark Side, please!

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

010efb13cfe6eafbf4b5ec1af1a514c4e865db2219

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

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

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

Prost!

— Luke

 

0159a5816917d165ec326d9580784b40e71d3f1f1c

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

Say hello to Rio Bravo’s third-anniversary beer.

Not every significant beer event for the weekend can make it into The Week Ahead in Beer. We missed two that we should have known about, plus a third one popped up Thursday morning.

Rio Bravo celebrates its third anniversary

The good folks at Rio Bravo are jamming all sorts of fun into an all-day celebration Saturday. There will be live music, a chile cook-off, a charity beer, and a special new beer release.

Rio Bravo’s third-anniversary beer is Cherry on Brett. Brewmaster Ty Levis took the Cherry Wheat and aged it in barrels for seven-to-nine months, adding two strains of brettanomyces. He then hand bottled this sweet, funky sour, so give the man some props for that hard task alone. Those will be available upon the opening of the doors at 11 a.m.

If sours are not your thing, buy a pint of 94Rocktoberfest. For every pint sold, $1 goes to the Hops for Hunger program.

The chile cook-off will be at 3 p.m. Bring two gallons worth of your favorite recipe using New Mexico chile. The cost is $10, with $5 of that going to the Storehouse. The public will judge from 3 to 5 p.m., with a celebrity judging panel joining in on the fun at 4. Email jennifer@riobravobrewing.com for more info on how to enter.

There will also be local artists and vendors on hand, plus Creamland will be there creating ice cream floats, so yes, this is an all-ages event.

As for the music and more, the lineup is as follows: House music, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Black Pearl Band, 1-3 p.m., Poetry, 3-3:30 p.m., Icon Ulibarri & Cafe Mocha, 3:30-6 p.m., DJ Flo Fader, 6-8 p.m., Soul Divine, 8-11 p.m.

ULLR Fest heralds winter’s eventual return

The mountain calls to you. Come to the beer.

The folks at Pajarito Mountain, above Los Alamos, are preparing for the start of the colder months by throwing an annual party. ULLR Fest returns Saturday, so grab your best viking gear and head up the mountain.

There will be a BeerFest from noon to 5 p.m. In addition to local boys Bathtub Row, those in attendance will include Blue Corn, Boxing Bear, Broken Trail, Red River, Santa Fe, Second Street, Taos Mesa, The 377, Tractor, and Tumbleroot. It’s a $15 cash ticket to get all the beer samples you could ever want.

In addition, there will be live music from Auto Electric, plus a downhill bicycle race, a disk golf tournament, and a viking costume contest. Shuttles will leave Sullivan Field at Los Alamos High School every 30 minutes. The cafe will be open all day to keep people fed.

We will work on getting some beer lists for you and post them here as they arrive.

  • Bathtub Row: Little Bird Blonde, Hoppenheimer IPA, Oktoberfest, Ullr Fest (8.3% ABV)
  • Blue Corn: Gatekeeper IPA, Covhefe Collab, Oktoberfest, Oatmeal Stout, Pomegranate Gose
  • Boxing Bear: Das Bear German Pilsner, Uppercut IPA, Applebear Cider, Coffee Chocolate Milk Stout, Black and Blue Tart
  • Broken Trail: TBA
  • Red River: Bad Medicine Honey DIPA, Tucker-Brau Oktoberfest Marzen, Lazy Bear Blonde, Greenie Peak Wheat (plus root beer for designated drivers)
  • Santa Fe: TBA
  • Second Street: TBA
  • Taos Mesa: TBA
  • The 377: 377 IPA, Porter, NM Lager, Ginger Beer
  • Tractor: TBA
  • Tumbleroot: TBA

Ex Novo will be at Corrales Harvest Festival

Oh, hello, beer fridge of goodness.

Though the brewery is still a long ways off from opening, the good folks at Ex Novo are bringing some beer samples to Corrales on Saturday. There are an estimated 400 samples available, so it will be first come, first serve, until the beer runs out. The Harvest Festival will be located at 4895 Corrales Road, across from the fire station. Things will kick off at noon.

Ex Novo is based in Portland, Oregon, but owner Joel Gregory is from Corrales, so he will be opening a second brewery in his hometown in 2019. Among the beers in the Instagram photo are Eliot IPA and The Most Interesting Lager in the World, plus a slew of specialty brews. Our eagle eyes spy Dark Czech Lager, Puff Puff Passion, and Fresh Hop Eliot in those crowlers.

If there are ever any events that we miss, be sure to let us know in advance. You can reach us via any of our social media pages, or at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

This is one event you cannot miss … unless you bought tickets to a metal show in Denver months ago.

Timing is everything in life. For instance, this Saturday is both Marblefest here in Albuquerque and the Amorphis/Dark Tranquillity/Omnium Gatherum/Moonspell metal show in Denver. Many of us in the Crew bought our tickets to the latter a while ago, so we are northbound again, but that just means the rest of you will have more beer to drink at 111 Marble Avenue this weekend.

Marble’s marvelous marketing and events coordinator Geraldine Lucero invited me to stop by the Heights taproom before GABF to talk about this awesome festival that I will personally miss. (Sniff) We were joined by brewmaster Josh Trujillo to discuss the beers as well.

The event begins with a VIP sampling session from noon to 2 p.m., followed by the general admission festival from 2 until 11. It costs $20 for VIP tickets and $5 for GA. General admission tickets will be on sale at the door only. Tickets for VIP are available at all three taprooms, or you can order VIP online. Those go up to $25 on the day of the event, so get ’em early. Geraldine said that the VIP gets you a commemorative tasting glass, six 4-ounce pours, a food pairing, and you get to enjoy music from Red Light Cameras.

“That’s going to be really exciting because we’re limiting the amount of tickets we’re selling to that,” Geraldine said. “We want it to be a lot smaller where people (won’t) wait in lines, taste as much beer as they want, talk to the brewers on hand. We’re trying to give them an awesome VIP experience.”

(more…)

Red Door soars toward year number four

Posted: September 12, 2018 by Franz Solo in Events, News
Tags:

Red Door brewer Matt Meier has a new beer ready for us on Friday!

Another year has passed for Red Door — wait, how did this year just, wasn’t it just GABF, ahem, never mind! — and they will be celebrating this Friday at the Candelaria brewery location (we recommend utilizing Lyft and such as parking is at a premium). Stoutmeister and I sat down with head brewer Matt Meier, owner Matt Biggs, and taproom manager Ali Cattin to get all of the details.

Solo: So you have a fourth anniversary coming up.

Cattin: So for the actual day of we are doing anniversary pint glasses as we do every year. We have a logo for this year that we think looks like a Zia, which has the Red Door logo in each of the four quadrants. The company that does our T-shirts, Risen, (is) coming to do a live screen printing of that anniversary logo. We are not going to do a run of shirts, so if you want that four-year logo on anything, you have to come on Friday the 14th. We will start giving away pint glasses at 5 o’clock, music will start at 8 p.m., Ryan Painter and Jake Phillip’s band will be here, and we will do a big set up with the doors to the patio open so there will be a good indoor/outdoor experience happening. Our food truck, the Side Door Kitchen, will have some specials that night and we are also bringing in Nomad’s BBQ as well. 

Solo: He’s the best. 

Cattin: Albuquerque Axe, our neighbors over here, are bringing their mobile unit so we are super excited about that. So we will have Nomad’s and Albuquerque Axe out back, music inside, pint glasses, T-shirt printing, (and) the Cornavore will also be here with a special birthday blend for us. 

Biggs: 94 Rock will be here promoting the Storehouse Hops for Hunger event, too. They will do some live broadcasting from 5 to 7 p.m. 

Meier: We will be releasing a Double Vanilla Cream Ale which is going to GABF, as well.

* * * * *

That all sounds good to us, so head on down this Friday evening for a night of great beer, including the awesome-sounding Double Vanilla Cream, excellent food and BBQ, anniversary pint glasses, T-shirt screening, music, local popcorn, 94 Rock, and one of my personal favorites, axe throwing!!!! Also of note, $1 from each pint of Dunkel (delicious German wheat) will go to the Storehouse, so do some good while enjoying a pint. 

See you all there and Skål!

— Franz Solo

Get your ABQ Hopfest beer lists here

Posted: September 7, 2018 by cjax33 in Events, News
Tags:

It’s almost time for the 11th annual ABQ Hopfest, which kicks off Saturday at Isleta Casino.

It is a couple weeks later than usual, but the annual Albuquerque Hopfest is back at Isleta Casino this Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m. (2 to 6 for extra hoppy hour and VIP ticket holders)

There are a few subtle changes this year, but for the most part it will be the same mondo-sized beerfest you have all become accustomed to over the past several years. There will be some new bands between the different stages, which will now include a stage in the VIP area. Pizza 9 will also be roaming about, offering up free pizza samples, so that should go over well since pizza and beer always go together.

As per usual, we advise everyone to either take the Rail Runner south to the Isleta stop, or rely upon Lyft/Uber/taxis to get back and forth. Or, if you have that one awesome friend/relative, get ’em to be your designated driver. Tickets are still available online here and should be available at the door. You want that extra hoppy hour ticket ($40, and as of this morning those were 85% sold out), because it gives you a much more chill hour in which to try all the great beers you really want to try without waiting in line for too long.

So what beers are going to be poured? Well, we have the list from the event program, with a few updates from the local breweries. Here is the most up-to-date list that we were provided. Breweries in bold have changes since the event program was printed.

  • Bathtub Row: Mexican Lager, Irish Red, Hoppenheimer IPA, Cebolla Wild Hop Pale Ale
  • Bosque: Lager, IPA, Scotia, Pistol Pete’s 1888 Ale, Elephants on Parade
  • Canteen: Laid Back Lager, Flashback IPA, Pecos Trail Brown, La Luz Wheat
  • Chili Line: Lucky Luke (Blueberry Lavender Saison), Que Picante (Red Chile Rauchbier)
  • Dialogue: Jurassic 5 What’s Golden Ale, Raspberry Sour
  • Enchanted Circle: Hells Bells Helles Lager, Panty Tosser Peach Wheat, Red River Red Ale, Bourbon Vanilla Porter, Glory Hole IPA
  • Flix Brewhouse: Luna Rosa, Lupulus IPA, Das Umlaut (Oktoberfest), Velvety Puppet Love (Raspberry Witbier)
  • Hops: Dad Joke (Kentucky Rye Common), Hop Hill IPA, Chica (American Pale Ale)
  • Kellys: American Lager, Apricot Wheat, Red, IPA
  • Kilt Check: Campbell-Toe IPA, Kilt Rocks Imperial Red, Covfefe Hefeweizen
  • Marble: Desert Fog, Eastside IPA, New Mexico State Fair Hazy Pale Ale, Double White (Ringleader for VIP)
  • Nexus: New Mexico Snow IPA, Imperial Tribble Red Ale, Coffee and Cream Ale, Lemon Wheat
  • Rio Bravo: Snakebite IPA, Roadkill Red, Pinon Coffee Porter (all in cans), Cherry Wheat, Blurred Lines NEIPA, Wildcard Weissbock, Level 3 IPA, Lemongrass Wit, Blueberry Mint Gose (all on draft)
  • Santa Fe: 7K IPA, Merky IPA, Pepe Loco Mexi Lager, Oktoberfest
  • Second Street: Agua Fria Pilsner, Boneshaker Special Bitter, 2920 IPA, Barrel-Aged Skookum, Chin Gose, MBV Stout
  • Steel Bender: Skull Bucket IPA, Lloyd’s 3 O’Clock Kolsch, Raspberry Dynamite, Compa Los Ranchos Lager (Tangerine Dynamite for VIP)
  • Toltec: Rye Lager, Altbier, Stout, Dr. Rudi Single Hop
  • Tractor: Simcoe Single Hop Pale Ale, Azacca Single Hop IPA, Green Bullet Drop Hopped Cider, Almanac IPA, Delicious Red Hard Apple Cider, Farmer’s Tan Red Ale, New Mexican Lager, Milk Mustachio Stout

Sierra Blanca also informed us that it the brewery will not be attending, which came as a surprise to us and the event organizers (if we get a further update about what is happening, we will share it here). If any additional brewery updates come in, we will update those as well.

New breweries at the event will include locals Hops, Second Street, Steel Bender, and Toltec, plus Bell’s Brewery and Austin Eastciders. There was also hope that Cantero Brewing would make its debut at Hopfest, but that has not yet been confirmed whether or not it will attend.

However it pans out, have fun out there, beer lovers. Just make it home safely, OK?

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The New Mexico Distillers Guild continues to grow alongside its brewing brethren.

Editor’s note: As we have documented many times before, real life often gets in the way of all of our stories being published in a timely manner, and sometimes breaking news like the La Cumbre taproom opening can further delay an article. That happened here (the event below was August 11), but we still felt like there was some important information to share, so away we go. — S

The weather was not looking particularly great, as Shawna and I set out for Downtown Albuquerque. What looked to be a storm front was pushing up from the south along the Rio Grande. We took a bit of solace in the idea that we were going to be inside for the second annual NM Distillers Guild Festival, but we were wrong, very wrong. As we reached the Banque Lofts along Central and Second Street, we were greeted at the door, collected our commemorative tasting glasses, and proceeded into an elevator, with the instructions simply to press the “R”. Up we went, nine floors and onto the landing for the massive rooftop patio which was to host the event.

The diffused and setting sun and the views overlooking Albuquerque quickly left a memorable impression, as by a stroke of luck the weather held off, despite some heavy gusts in the beginning. It was reminiscent in form to the beer-focused festivals, with each distillery setting up their unique tables and tents, eagerly waiting to educate and lend a sample.

With but a modest understanding of the styles and production methods at hand, this made for an exciting and eye-opening adventure in terms of flavors and possibilities with distilled spirits and liquors. Participants included Left Turn, Tractor, Broken Trail, Hollow Spirits, Little Toad Creek, Algodones Distillery, Santa Fe Spirits, and Still Spirits. There was certainly no bad, or even mediocre, cocktails or samples to be had. Each distillery had certainly brought out the big guns innovation-wise, and were ready to impress.

Hollow Spirits owner Frank Holloway, right, is a familiar face to folks in the beer scene.

Among all of this is where we met with Frank Holloway and chef Tristin Rogers with Hollow Spirits, which will soon be opening in the Wells Park neighborhood (1324 First Street NW). Frank’s name may sound familiar from his previous endeavors with Red Door Brewing. With a warm reception, and the crowd still building, we took the opportunity to talk about the festival and his current project.

“Luckily we are still small enough that we could pull off this venue, it’s a beautiful view,” Frank said. “Last year’s (Spirits Festival) was up here, too. There haven’t been too many changes. I would say we are getting better at the process. The setups are getting a little bit better, everyone is starting to bring out their tents; all the setups are a little bit better.”

The upturn in interest and founding of more distilleries definitely added to the overall participation this year, Frank said.

“There are more people than last year,” he said. “Tractor is here now, too. That has been huge to the scene, especially when you understand them from the beer side.”

The drinks were poured into the evening.

While still dwarfed by the beer community in terms of numbers, the Spirits Festival was a testament to the growing traction of the distilling side of beverage production here in New Mexico. (Stay tuned to the NMDSBC for a follow-up on the NM Distillers Guild itself.)

Taking the opportunity before the wind decided to almost take off with some tents again, we further discussed the progress of Hollow Spirits and what seems to be the light at the end of the tunnel in terms of projects.

“It seems like we’re about a month out,” Frank said. “We’re painting, about to do the floors, pretty much all the plumbing and electrical is done.”

Frank said he was cautiously optimistic, but determined to finish.

“I’ve been in the bar industry serving, distributing, opened Red Door, since I was 19,” he said. “No matter if your job is the coolest job in the world, you get tired of doing the same thing over and over and over again. So personally, I don’t want to do the same thing over for myself or my staff. So for the most part, we’re going to try and rotate (our selections) as much as possible and do seasonal drinks.”

Hollow Spirits will be working with local growers to acquire some fresh ingredients to help in bursting out of the norm.

Moving onto the topic of food, we were excited to hear there is a kitchen in the works.

“We’re not opening with food, (with the) reason being we were not sure we had the finances to initially start the kitchen, but wound up getting everything we needed for the kitchen,” Frank said. “Now we just don’t want to delay the City in terms of paperwork.”

A reasonable decision, especially when trying to keep the estimated one-month-until opening time frame.

Not all the food at Hollow Spirits will be solely for the purposes of garnishing the cocktails.

“We definitely want to do some pairing dinners, I want him (Tristin) to come to me and be like, ‘Hey, can you make this liquor, I want to do this food,’” Frank said.

While spirits are not as ‘famously’ paired with food as wine or even beer yet, they do have their place among some very satisfying dishes. Tristin added an interesting perspective to the situation.

“The idea is to kind of reprogram New Mexico diners’ minds … even if they’re not hungry, just stop by for some good drinks, enjoy, and treat it more like art,” he said. “So we want to educate you in good food.”

For those of you not as keen to spirits, Hollow Spirits will also be serving beer and wine from across the state.

As the wind finally settled down and no more human anchors were required to keep the tents from taking a 10-story plunge, it was time to try the wares. We met up with some familiar faces, downed a few excellent samples (in my humble opinion most notably Hollow Spirits’ Wheat Vodka, Little Toad Creek’s Te-Guy-La, and Algodones Distillery’s Gin). While this was certainly out of the usual for myself and Shawna, it proved to be a memorable and entertaining evening worth recommending next years Spirits Festival.

Cheers!

— Jerrad & Shawna