Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Bombs Away Beer Company has brewed a new red IPA in honor of Air Force Tech Sergeant Phillip A. Myers, who died in Afghanistan in 2009.

In the short time it has been open, Bombs Away Beer Company has become a frequent hangout for many active-duty service members from Kirtland Air Force Base, as well as the many retired military who live in Albuquerque. This Veterans Day, BABC is giving back with a special beer brewed in honor of an Air Force sergeant who lost his life serving his country.

Phil’s Incendiary IPA is the creation of not just head brewer David Kimbell, but also Casey Pascoe, who served in the Air Force with BABC owner John Degnaro. The beer was made to honor Tech Sergeant Phillip A. Myers, who died in Afghanistan on April 4, 2009, when he was just 30 years old, leaving behind a wife and two children. Proceeds from the sale will go to the EOD Warrior Foundation, a charity that supports veterans from Air Force Explosive Ordinance Disposal and their families.

“We were approached by the Explosive Ordinance Disposal shop on base that they were putting together a charity fundraiser and they wanted to know if we wanted to be a part of it,” John said. “We said yes. It was actually a golf tournament, so we sponsored a hole. After that they said do you want to put up an item for a silent auction as part of the charity. I said yeah, but I don’t really know what to auction.

“I kind of kicked it around a little bit, so we came up to auction off basically a brew day. The winner of the auction would come in, they would brew the beer, and then we would eventually release the beer and proceeds would go back to the charity.”

Then it was just the matter of the right person winning that prize in the silent auction.

“Highest bidder, that was me,” Casey said. “I’d been here (to BABC) before. I’d seen the progress they had done on making the brewery. When I saw that at the auction, I was like I had to get that.”

Of course, winning the prize was one thing, making the beer was another.

“I’d never brewed before, so I think after the golf tournament we all ended up here,” Casey said. “The soft opening we all ended up back here. I let them know that I had won the auction and was looking forward to brewing some beer with them.”

Casey had a good idea of what kind of beer to make.

“It was between Casey and David to come up with how the beer is going to look, as far as what style,” John said. “Casey said, ‘I want to do a red and I want to name it after a fallen EOD tech named Phil Myers,’ who was a friend of both of ours.”

The incendiary part of the beer name holds double meaning.

“It’s in the EOD or ordinance world, it’s the color of the bombs, they have a red stripe on them,” Casey said. “And, Phil was a red-headed dude with a big ginger beard because when he was deployed he was out of regs, like most of us were, because we were out in the middle of nowhere. We didn’t have all the stuff to shave every day. I think that would be the best (name).

“I think that that also falls in line with the names of the beers they already have up on the board. Phil was a bit of an incendiary fella himself, I guess you could say. Everything he touched kind of caught fire, whether it was being a mentor to me as a young airman, or just everything he did he excelled at.”

Air Force veteran Casey Myers, up bright and early, brewing beer for the first time in his life.

Phil would probably have been amused to know just how much hard work Casey put into the beer.

“Learning to brew with David in the back, I didn’t realize how much work that was,” Casey said. “It’s a lot of work. I think I went home that day and I put the kids to bed at 7 and I hit the pillow at 7:30. I learned a lot.”

As for the beer itself, it should satisfy the hop-loving palates of Burquenos.

“I guess you could say what Casey wanted was something with a lot of citrus aroma, so I used a lot of citrus-forward hops (like) Citra, Centennial,” David said. “There are some dark fruit notes in there (too). It makes for a very malty IPA.”

Phil’s Incendiary IPA will go on tap this Saturday for Veterans Day. Also, BABC will be launching its brewery membership, with special discounts for active-duty service members and retired military.

Raise those pints high this weekend.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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Tonight (Thursday), Blue Corn is hosting another epic beer and cocktails dinner, with Santa Fe Spirits, at their south side location. Because we’ve had so much fun at these dinners in the past, we wanted to give you a quick look at what you’ll be enjoying tonight.

APPETIZER (1st Course) Paired with gin and tonic with Mosaic hop bitters
Crispy kale croquettes served with a herbal aioli

CHEF’S SALAD (2nd Course) Paired with Atapiño brown ale cocktail
Citrus-marinated chicken breast, roasted piñon nuts, orange segments and caramelized red onions on a bed of spring mix, with a sweet and tangy vinaigrette

ENTREES (3rd Course) Paired with a brandy honey wheat cocktail
Farm-raised Atlantic salmon poached in herb-infused extra virgin olive oil with baby carrots and 40K Honey Wheat jasmine rice

DESSERT (4th Course) Paired with a barrel-aged imperial porter, aged in a used Kolkeegan Whisky Barrel from Santa Fe Spirits
Chocolate volcano-molten bundt cake topped with vanilla ice cream and roasted-spiced pecans

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Why you should go: Aside from the always excellent food and beer, mixed with the award-winning guest-showcase of cocktails, these beer dinners serve as a great chance to mingle with other people who love crafted beverages as much as you. Personally, in addition to seeing plenty of other friends in the industry at these things, I’ve always met someone new, and each and every time made a new friend. Hell, I met the guy I bought my house from at one of these beer dinners at Blue Corn.

Also, in a fun, intimate setting, you get to sample special unique creations not usually found on your regular weeknight menu. You get to see the best of what these chefs and brewers have to offer, and then talk to them about it! It is completely underrated, being able to talk to a brewer about the passion he or she puts into their work. Better still, the brewers actually have a spare moment to sit and chat. Any event where the brewers and/or chefs/distillers will walk around and talk with you about what they’re trying to achieve, and the process involved, is worth its weight in gold. It will change your dining/drinking experience forever. To me, that’s worth the price of entry.

You might look at $45 per person as being pricey, but you certainly get your value from these events. Four-course dinners alone fall along that range. Pair them with craft beer, craft cocktails, and good conversation, and the experience is a steal. Get your tickets. Drink some craft. Make some friends. Here’s to keeping it local!

Cheers!

— Luke

For reservations, email manager@bluecornbrewery.com or call (505) 438-1800. The event is from 6-9 p.m.

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Twitter: @santafecraftbro

Untappd: SantaFeLuke

Counting down the days till Expedition and its stout friends arrive from Michigan! (Photo courtesy of Bell’s Brewery)

It was pretty awesome and all when Bell’s Brewery started distributing in New Mexico last month. After the initial excitement just to get beers like Two Hearted and Kalamazoo Stout here, plenty of folks started asking that one, inevitable question: “Where are the seasonals?”

Oh, they are about to arrive in a big, big way. Bell’s sales rep Silas Sims sent us the full list of upcoming seasonal beers coming to New Mexico, plus just where you will be able to sample them, enjoy them on tap, and get them to go.

First up, sour lovers, get ready for The Wild One (6.5% ABV, 20 IBU), a sour brown ale aged in oak foeders with a little brett thrown in for an extra funky kick. If you prefer something maltier and chewier, Christmas Ale (7.5% ABV, 35 IBU), a hefty Scotch ale, is “certain to make any occasion festive, or at least a bit more bearable,” per the Bell’s website.

Then comes the darkness, a quartet of excellent stouts that has the Crew already saving up some money in advance. Expedition Stout (10.5% ABV) is a massive Russian Imperial Stout that has earned plenty of fame among the fans of the darkness. It does not arrive alone, as two dessert stouts will accompany it to Albuquerque and points beyond. Cherry Stout (7% ABV) is a little more tart than sweet, using only Montmorency cherries from the Traverse City area in Michigan. Meanwhile, Special Double Cream Stout (6.1% ABV) gets its sweetness and smooth mouthfeel not from lactose, but from a blend of 10 special malts.

Finally, the whale of the bunch will be here, but in limited supply. Black Note Stout (11.2% ABV) is a wonderful behemoth, a bourbon barrel-aged blend of the Expedition and the Special Double Cream. “Aimed squarely at the stout and bourbon aficionados, Black Note makes a grand statement about the art of the dark.” That is just beautiful poetry right there, people.

These beers should arrive by the end of next week, meaning November will be getting off to a great start. Jubilation will have them, as should both Total Wine locations and both Whole Foods locations. Additional retailers will be announced when that information becomes available.

For those not quite sure if you want these beers, there will be some special tastings and tappings coming up as well.

  • Friday, November 3: Sister Bar will host the first tapping of Black Note from 5 to 8 p.m., with Porter, Oarsman, Lager of the Lakes, and Two Hearted also available.
  • Thursday, November 9: Jubilation will have a tasting of select beers (no Black Note, sorry, it is a limited amount) from 4 to 6 p.m. Keep an eye on their social media for the full lineup.
  • (Black) Friday, November 24: O’Niell’s on Juan Tabo will have kegs of Black Note, The Wild One, Winter White, and one TBD beer on tap from 5 to 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, November 30: Whole Foods on Carlisle will have a tasting of all available beers from 4 to 6 p.m.
  • TBD date in December: There will be another Black Note tapping, this time at Nob Hill Bar & Grill. We will share that info when it is available.

Stout season is upon us! Glory to the elder gods!

Now we can’t wait to see what our local breweries will produce this season to go up against these national heavyweights. We have a feeling the winner will be … all of us!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

This is just one of the many big events on Saturday.

As we noted back in The Week Ahead in Beer, this Saturday is chock-full of beer-soaked events in Albuquerque and points nearby. To help everyone pick out where to go, we offer up a more detailed look at all of them.

We already covered ULLR Fest in Los Alamos, with an updated entry for Boxing Bear (thanks, Justin!), so you can also consider that fun annual event. Here are all the others. All times listed are for Saturday unless noted.

Out of town events

Sierra Blanca 6th Annual Oktoberfest

  • When: 2-9 p.m.
  • Where: Sierra Blanca Brewing, Moriarty
  • How much: $12 for Sam’s Famous Bratwurst Dinner (kids 12 and under are free)
  • Live music: Tom Williams and Full Moon
  • Other fun stuff: There will be a kids’ zone, so rest easy, parents. Kids also get a free plate with a hot dog, chips, and a soda.
  • Special beer(s): Oktoberfest and Whiskey Stout

Atalaya RescueFest

  • When: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Where: Second Street original location
  • How much: No cover
  • Live music: Andrew Primm, Petty Theft, The Bus Tapes, Swing Soleil, Bill Hearne (set times TBA)
  • Other fun stuff: There will be commemorative pint glasses and apparel, plus a live auction and a raffle.
  • Special beer: Atalaya Altbier

In town events

Rio Bravo Second Anniversary Weekend

  • When: Today, 7-11 p.m., Saturday, 3-11 p.m., Sunday, 4-7 p.m.
  • Where: Rio Bravo
  • How much: No cover
  • Live music: Today—Le Chat Lunatique, 7-9 p.m., hONEyhoUSe, 9:30-11 p.m.; Saturday—Fred Johnson Band, 3-4 p.m., Higher Ground Bluegrass, 4:20-6:20 p.m., Silver String Band, 6:40-8:40 p.m., The Squash Blossom Boys, 9-11 p.m.; Sunday—Women in the Arts Showcase featuring musicians Anabellie Rivera and Elizabeth Marie Berry, 4-7 p.m.
  • Other fun stuff: This weekend also marks the grand opening of The Burger Stand at Rio Bravo. There will be lots of food specials, including a Saturday shrimp boil in the Bier Garten. Sunday’s Women in the Arts Showcase is hosted by poet/singer/author/activist Ebony Isis Booth and will feature 10-year-old author Marisol Paramo, a live artist auction, and women-owned businesses and arts vendors.
  • Special beer: Schwarzbier

Ponderosa Third Anniversary Party

  • When: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
  • Where: Ponderosa Brewing
  • How much: No cover
  • Live music: Bands TBA
  • Other fun stuff: There will be door prizes, plus a special beer, cheese, and salami tasting for $30 that includes a free stein you can fill with your favorite brew. There will also be a special event called Wine Down with Art featuring Suki Willoughby from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Special beer: Barleywine (archived keg)

Albuquerque Mountain Rescue Brew Fest

  • When: Noon-11 p.m.
  • Where: Marble Downtown
  • How much: No cover
  • Live music: The Real Matt Jones, noon-1 p.m., TV Killers, 1:30-2:30 p.m., Stanlie Kee and Step In, 3-4 p.m., DJ Leftovers, 4:30-6 p.m., Sol De La Noche, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Cynical Bird, 8-9 p.m., Wagogo, 9:30-11 p.m.
  • Other fun stuff: There are three rounds of silent auctions, a raffle, limited edition commemorative T-shirts, pint glasses, stickers, and hats, plus three food trucks (Saep Fire Grill, Soo Bak, Street Food Institute).
  • Special beer: Sandia Sunset Saison, brewed with watermelon

SOMOS Albuquerque

  • When: 4-10 p.m.
  • Where: Downtown on Central between 3rd and 7th Streets, running north to Copper and south to Gold.
  • How much: $10
  • Live music: There are four stages, Dance, Hip Hop, Rock, and Country/NM. Dillon Francis will headline the dance stage from 8:40-9:55 p.m. Deltron 3030 will headline the Hip Hop stage from 8-9:15 p.m. Minus the Bear will headline the Rock stage from 8:15-9:30 p.m. Jackie Lee will headline the Country/NM stage from 7:45-9 p.m.
  • Other fun stuff: There will be multiple food vendors, the Nuevo Tech Experience at Mezcal, native dance at the Kimo Theater, many local commercial vendors, a family zone, and more.
  • Special beer: None, but there is a beer garden with 10 local breweries, including Bow & Arrow, Marble, and Tractor.

If you are planning to attend multiple events, or even one for a good chunk of time, please use a designated driver, Lyft, Uber, or a taxi. We want to make sure everyone has a fun and safe time this weekend.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The annual autumnal festival returns to the mountains above Los Alamos. Skal!

The days are getting shorter, and there’s a bit of a nip in the air here in the higher elevations. Fall will be here soon, officially, and with it the prospect of snow. To many people, snow means skiing, but, only if there’s enough of it! To please Ullr, the Norse god of snow and winter, Pajarito Mountain Ski Area and the Los Alamos Ski Club host a festival each fall in the hope of bringing abundant snow. And, if you’re going to host a Nordic-themed festival, then you’re certainly going to include an abundance of beer.

This year’s ULLR Fest will be taking place Saturday at the Pajarito Mountain above Los Alamos. The weather has been very nice, so it should be a very pleasant afternoon (though being a mountain, you have to prepare for nearly anything, so dust off those hoodies). Being a themed event, there will be a costume contest, so bring your finest Viking garb.

Several New Mexico breweries will be in attendance to satisfy your thirst, and wine will also be available. For $15, you get a souvenir glass, unlimited tastings, and a pint of your favorite beer. Pints will also be available for purchase (cash only, please). Bring your ID! The beer portion of the event will begin at noon and run until 5 p.m.

Stoutmeister has been hard at work putting together beer lists for the attending breweries, and so far most have responded. Hopefully we hear back from the last three breweries before the festival begins.

  • Bathtub Row: Hoppenheimer IPA, Kritical Kolsch, Flat Cap Brown
  • Blue Corn: Apparition Pale Coffee Ale, Saison aged with Brett, Gold Medal Oatmeal Stout, Ginger Braggot
  • Bosque: Elephants on Parade, Oktoberfest, Pistol Pete’s 1888 Blonde Ale, Bosque IPA
  • UPDATED–> Boxing Bear: Uppercut IPA, Ambear, Chocolate Milk Stout, Pineapple Upside Down Beer, Cider
  • La Cumbre: TBA
  • Marble: Double White, IPA, Pilsner, Marblefest (making its debut!)
  • Red Door: Blackberry Hefeweizen, White AF IPA, Roamer Red, Oktoberfest
  • Santa Fe: Santa Fe Gold, 7K IPA, Happy Camper IPA, Nut Brown
  • Second Street: Fulcrum IPA, Atalaya Altbier, LVL Stout, Summer Rain Sour, Double X ESB, Kolsch
  • Taos Mesa: Mosaic IPA, Black Widow Porter, Kolsch 45, Great Scot Scottish
  • The 377: TBA

There are numerous other fun events planned for the day:

  • Disc Golf tournament begins at 10 a.m. at the Lodge; entry is $20. There are Pro/Advanced/Novice/Female Divisions. Cash payout for top three players in each division.
  • STRAVA self-timed downhill mountain bike race (download the app and time your run as many times as you want, prizes for the best time at the end of the day). This event is free.
  • Pajarito Poker Run mountain bike ride (pick a card as you board the lift each time, take any run you want, best two hands at the end of the day wins a prize). This event is also free.
  • NEW THIS YEAR: Downhill Mountain Bike Rentals and free lessons all weekend.
  • Lift Served Biking and Hiking 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

On top of that, there will be some great music provided by Bronach and Felix y Los Gatos.  The cafeteria will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. to soak up the beer.

As usual, a shuttle will run between Sullivan Field (adjacent to Los Alamos High School) and the ski area every 30 minutes, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Also, shuttle service will be available to the White Rock Visitor Center. Call 661-RIDE (7433) to arrange that service.

Cheers!

— Reid

Your weekend just got more crowded with yet another event. But it’s for a good cause, so get out there and enjoy a pint!

Just when you thought we had all the weekend’s events covered in The Week Ahead in Beer, two more popped up, and we thought we might provide some additional details on one other. We will have our first review of the Desert Valley Brewing taproom up later today.

Oktoberfest at Taos Ski Valley

This Saturday and Sunday, from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., skedaddle on up to The Bavarian Lodge & Restaurant for the annual celebration of the German harvest. There will be plenty of food and beer, naturally, and you can reserve your stein in advance if you click here.

That same link will also help you find a discounted hotel room, since you might as well stick around in the beautiful ski valley before the snow shows up and Leah Black reclaims her favorite mountain.

Get on up there and have some fun!

Mariposa Fun(d)raiser at Bow & Arrow

The Mariposa Fund is holding their annual fundraiser this Saturday from 7 to 9 p.m. The fund provides reproductive healthcare to women who are otherwise not eligible. There will be fun and games, and of course plenty of Bow & Arrow beer on tap. If you would like to contribute to the fund but cannot attend, click here.

In other Bow & Arrow news, they have re-done their Scotch ale recipe and renamed it True Aim Scotch Ale. We are always supportive of bigger and better Scotch ales. B&A has also added Fast Luck Dry-Hopped Pale Ale for the weekend, and will have Wolf Eyes Oktoberfest on tap this coming Thursday. From Sept. 25-30, B&A will donate $1 from every pint sold of Wolf Eyes to the UNM Alumni Association in honor of homecoming week.

Golden Days Brew Fest at Santa Fe Ski Area

We mentioned this one before, but thought you could use a few more details. It runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The cost to enter is $18, which gets you a silicone pint glass, three samples, and one pint of your favorite beer. There will be extra runs of the 255 Mountain Trail Bus as well, so no need to drive up. Click here for more details.

As for the attending breweries, Boxing Bear, Broken Trail, Dialogue, Drafty Kilt, and La Cumbre will be heading up from Albuquerque. Locals on hand will include Chili Line, Santa Fe, and Second Street. New Mexico Hard Cider will also be on hand.

* * * * *

The Crew will be bouncing around to various events and beer releases all weekend. We will also be attending the memorial/tribute show to our late friend and fellow beer geek/metalhead Justin Shearer on Saturday night (8-11) at The Moonlight Lounge. If you knew Justin, come on by and join us and his family and friends from around the country. Local bands Futilitarian, Jagged Mouth, The Extinction, and Distances will perform.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Choose from among 25 breweries’ most excellent beers and have the proceeds go to a good cause? Sign us up!

The staggering toll of Hurricane Harvey is still being felt across Texas, with many homes and businesses lost to the destructive flooding. Included among those are craft breweries, and their employees, many of whom no longer have a job as a result. The MBAA (Master Brewers Association of Americas) Texas District reached out to neighboring states for help. Tractor Brewing president Skye Devore responded by creating Hops for Harvey, a special event this Wednesday running from 3 p.m. to midnight.

Tractor and the New Mexico Brewers Guild have pulled together 24 other local breweries to each provide one keg of a special beer, with 100 percent of all profits going to the MBAA Texas District. Throw in one to-be-determined Tractor beer, and that will mean 25 different beers will be available at the Wells Park taproom for one night.

“I think it’s really cool, because it’s like a miniature brew fest,” said Tractor marketing director Jeremy Kinter. “What I like about it is the New Mexico breweries were really quick to jump on board. The day of (announcing), we had like 19 breweries jump on board. They’re not just regular beers, not the flagships, either. They’re throwing some special beer at us. It’s just amazing, the reaction has been extremely impressive. I’m proud to be a part of the Albuquerque brew scene.”

The original plan was to just have a pizza party, Jeremy said, as national Papa John’s was going to donate all of its profits from Wednesday to the relief effort. That changed once the MBAA Texas District made contact.

“MBAA Texas District reached out to see who might be able to provide support to breweries in the Houston area as some are underwater,” Jeremy said. “Flood insurance for businesses is only available through the government and does not cover lost business or lost wages, only physical damages. Brewery employees who may have been lucky enough not to be flooded out at home could arrive to work to find their brewery and employment gone or temporarily closed. Government aid takes time to reach them.”

Any money that is not needed by the breweries in Texas or their employees will then be donated to other parts of the relief effort, Jeremy added.

There will be growler fills allowed at the event. As for what breweries are participating, we have that list below, and as they name the beers they are bringing, we will keep updating this list right up until the doors open at Wells Park.

  • Abbey: TBD
  • Bombs Away: TBD
  • Bosque: IRA (India Red Ale)
  • Bow & Arrow: TBD
  • Boxing Bear: Crystal Kolsch
  • Broken Trail: Pepe the Mule
  • Canteen: Exodus IPA
  • Chama River: TBD
  • Dialogue: TBD
  • Duel: Marcel (Sour Wit)
  • La Cumbre: TBD
  • Marble: Double White (freshly brewed batch)
  • Nexus: TBD
  • Ponderosa: Blueberry Stout
  • Quarter Celtic: Clark IPA
  • Red Door: White AF IPA
  • Rio Bravo: Cherry Wheat
  • Rowley Farmhouse Ales: Germophile (Berliner Weisse)
  • Santa Fe: TBD
  • Sidetrack: Pub Ale
  • Sierra Blanca: Single Hop
  • Steel Bender: The Village Wit
  • Taos Mesa: TBD
  • Tractor: TBD
  • Turtle Mountain: Lemongrass Honey Wheat

No, that is not a typo, one of the last kegs available of a Chama River beer will be there. Hey, better this than throwing it out, right?

A big thumbs up to Skye and the staff at Tractor for organizing this, and to the Guild for making sure to bring everyone together. Thank you to all the breweries for donating kegs, especially for the fact that these are not the cheaper beers in their lineups, yet they are essentially giving them away for free.

Guess I know where I will be pregaming the Social Distortion concert on Wednesday.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Pondering the future of beer festivals in New Mexico

Posted: August 22, 2017 by cjax33 in Events

Do huge festivals with unlimited sampling still have a place in the future of craft beer?

During stretches without much in the way of brewery news, big or small, I tend to find myself stepping back and taking a big-picture look at the state of the craft beer scene in New Mexico.

Perusing the latest slate of beer-related emails, I took note of the fact that Hopfest, returning this Saturday, is now 10 years old. That is a fairly remarkable accomplishment for any annual festival, particularly in the constantly shifting craft beer scene.

Consider the landscape when Hopfest first began. At that time, Marble Brewery was only a few months old. The only other operational breweries in Albuquerque were Chama River, Il Vicino (now Canteen), and Kellys, with Tractor in Los Lunas and Turtle Mountain in Rio Rancho comprising the totality of the metro area’s craft beer options.

Hopfest has changed quite a bit over time, up to 70-plus breweries now, moving to successively larger venues, and so on. What has not changed is the general theme: buy a ticket, get unlimited samples. Back in 2008, that was the standard format of most festivals around the country. They took their cues from the Great American Beer Festival, and it worked.

The question now is does that format work anymore? It is certainly worth debating.

Other festivals tend to limit the number of samples, in an effort to get customers to eventually buy a pint, so the participating breweries can make some money back. While large breweries like Marble and Santa Fe can write off the beer they give away for free as a marketing/promotional expense, it can be much harder for the smaller breweries and brewpubs. Those only make so much beer, so giving away any of it for free can be a blow to the bottom line, unless the owners truly believe they can recoup the costs through the free advertising the festival can bring.

Another argument against unlimited sampling is that craft breweries no longer need such events to draw in customers. That certainly holds true for some of the more established brands, but not necessarily for all. New breweries can still argue they benefit from being introduced to a public that might not always wish to venture out beyond the places where they are already comfortable. Festivals like Hopfest and its May counterpart, Blues & Brews, also tend to draw in a younger crowd. From a strategic standpoint, it should be easier to convince someone is his/her 20s to embrace craft beer than someone in his/her 40s or 50s.

Festivals with limited sampling seem to at least have a place with the more serious beer geeks.

Smaller, more exclusive festivals have their place as well. The notion that more “serious” craft beer drinkers attend those events seems to hold true, be it BearFest or WinterBrew. Of course, those folks are usually well versed in craft beer, so do they actually need a festival as existing customers? It usually just depends on the intent of the festival. WinterBrew, for instance, is viewed, first and foremost, as a fundraiser for the New Mexico Brewers Guild (as is the IPA Challenge). On a secondary note, it can bring Albuquerque residents north to Santa Fe to try the breweries they might not otherwise visit on a regular basis, outside of those that package and distribute.

The problem that exists with the smaller fests is that sense of exclusivity. Namely, does it keep new customers away? Once the loyal beer geeks snatch up their share of the tickets, what remains? There are many people, especially in New Mexico, who wait until the last minute or just prefer to walk up and buy at the door.

In other states, too, the cost of attending festivals has climbed to significant heights. They are still well-attended, and more than one brewery owner has predicted that eventually New Mexico’s festivals will have to catch up to those in Colorado and Arizona in terms of cost. Otherwise, local breweries may continue to drop out without the financial bump, leaving the festivals largely in the hands of the distributors, who treat them almost entirely as promotional write-offs. The counter argument to that is the same when it comes to arguing about the cost of sporting events and the like, that New Mexico is simply too poor of a state, and even middle class beer drinkers would be loathe to part with $50, $75, or $100 for a festival, no matter the format.

Already, there are signs of festival fatigue among local establishments. Take Nexus, for instance, as a popular local brewery that has largely abandoned the festival circuit. It is extremely rare to see breweries from the outer regions of New Mexico attend festivals in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, while the only breweries from the two I-25 cities to head to the far north, south, or southeast are usually just those that package and distribute far and wide. Otherwise, barring an event being a Guild fundraiser, everyone tends to stay in their own neck of the woods.

Festivals meant to support the NM Brewers Guild, like WinterBrew, remain popular with the breweries themselves, including many who do not attend larger events.

It all makes for an interesting set of arguments and counter arguments. There is seemingly no perfect beer festival setup, at least in terms of limited/unlimited sampling and overall cost. For every person who is fine with limited samples, the odds are that others are not. For every brewery happy to attend festivals big and small, there are others who will be more selective if not sit it out entirely. Simply put, there is perhaps no right or wrong set of answers when it comes to the future of beer festivals in New Mexico and beyond.

For now, the big events like Hopfest and Blues & Brews will seemingly continue to roll along, as will the smaller festivals like WinterBrew and the events on Pajarito Mountain above Los Alamos. Other festivals struggling to find that niche, like the once-ambitious Mountain West Brew Fest (yes, it is coming back Labor Day weekend, though it is down to just seven attending breweries), may struggle and fade into the past, like Marble’s Septemberfest, the New Mexico Beer Cup, and many others.

Of course, this is all just my opinion. The Crew and I want to know what you think. Sound off in the comments, on social media, or if you would prefer a private conversation, email us at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

A.R.T. construction remains a major headache for local businesses along Central west of downtown.

The area west of downtown along Central Avenue suffered a black eye earlier this year when the owners of Draft Station announced it was closing. The prime spot for craft beer in the area was gone, snuffed out by a disastrous sewer spill caused by the construction of the Albuquerque Rapid Transit system.

All these months later, the construction remains, but craft beer has not disappeared from the area. Two local businesses are still carrying only local beer taps, and both are doing everything they can to still attract customers even amid the ongoing headaches on the road outside.

Amore Neapolitan Pizzeria and 5 Star Burgers, next door neighbors just to the east of where Draft Station once stood, both still have their local-only beer taps in place. Each offers up a fairly different lineup at present, meaning if you feel like a burger instead of a slice, or vice versa, your beer options can differ as well. The important thing is both places, also locally owned and operated, continue to keep New Mexico brews on tap.

Half of the all-local beer taps at Amore.

Amore currently has beers from Boese Brothers, Bosque, Boxing Bear, Ponderosa, Red Door, and Santa Fe. They include some specials like Boese’s Patriot Porter on nitro, Boxing Bear’s Tropic Thunder IPA, Red Door’s Rye Steam, and SFBC’s hugely popular 7K IPA. Every Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m., pints are $3.

Across the sidewalk at 5 Star, Bosque, Boxing Bear, La Cumbre, Marble, Red Door, and Santa Fe are all available. There are always two rotating taps, usually from La Cumbre and Marble. The former has the popular El Jugo on tap at the moment. 5 Star has a daily happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. with $3 pints.

The taps at 5 Star Burgers.

For those who prefer exact addresses to punch into the Google Maps on your phones, 5 Star is located at 1710 Central Ave. SW, while Amore is at 1700 Central. Some folks told us that when Draft Station closed, it took away one of their favorite gathering spots for local beers in that area. Well, we just wanted to let you know that there are still two more options, and with football season just around the corner, options are good.

In addition to just the beer and the great food, every Saturday this September from 1 to 4 p.m., Immastar Productions is bringing live music to the space between the two restaurants. Alto Estilo will perform free shows once every weekend. Local beer, local food, and local music all add up to a big win.

Brave the construction and help keep these local businesses alive. Now is not the time to abandon them. And, yes, there is plenty of parking!

Thanks to our friends Brian and Carlos for the heads up on all of this.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

This specific fest is not one of those listed below, but we needed a photo of an out-of-state event, so voila!

OK, fine, we were about to go two days in a row (my fault) without a story, but inspiration struck me. Or, well, I was cleaning up and found my copy of Southwest Brewing News and glanced at the upcoming festivals list. Thus, for those of you without kids who can still travel these next two months, here are some options for beer if you just need to get away for a bit. In every case this lists a Saturday event, except when it covers more than one day.

August 12: Aces & Ales 8th Annual Strong Beer Festival

Las Vegas is always a good getaway spot, so rather than blowing all your money on blackjack or poker, head over to blow it on beer! You can find the event page online. A bunch of breweries not available here will be there, including AleSmith, Bear Republic, Bottle Logic, The Bruery, Epic, Noble Ale Works, Pizza Port, and Tenaya Creek.

August 19: Stone 21st Anniversary Celebration & Invitational Beer Festival

This huge fest is being held on the campus (!) of Cal State San Marcos. There are rare beer all-access tickets, or you can purchase a ticket for session A or B. The all-access runs from 1 to 8 p.m., the two sessions are divided into four-hour blocks. Just about every bad ass California brewery will be represented along with the hosts, including 21st Amendment, AleSmith, Beachwood, Bottle Logic, The Bruery, El Segundo, The Lost Abbey, Noble Ale Works, Pizza Port, and Russian River, plus a few from out of state. Tickets and more info can be found here. Oh, and the best part? All the profits go to charity.

August 26: 19th Annual San Juan Brewfest

Trek up to Durango, if you are not going to Hopfest here, and enjoy this delightful festival featuring a slew of Colorado mountain breweries who do not distribute outside their state. It is held in a park adjacent to downtown and is a huge favorite among all our friends who have attended in the past. If you feel homesick, La Cumbre, Marble, and Santa Fe will be there. We just want to try The Mr. Grumpy Pants Brewing Company, for its name alone.

September 2

It is Labor Day Weekend, so stay home, stay safe, avoid the headaches of travel. Just make sure to load up on beer, first. And grilled meats.

September 9

Not every weekend has a great fest. Rest up for the next one.

September 16: Oktoberfest

The granddaddy of ’em all kicks off in Munich, running until October 3. I went as a kid. I could not understand why all the nice Germans were turning red and falling over all the time. If you don’t have any Europe money stashed away, head down to Austin for the first anniversary of the Oskar Blues brewery down there.

September 22: 23rd Annual San Diego Festival of Beer

Held downtown every year, this event actually takes place on a Friday. Early bird tickets cost $40 through August 31, after that it goes up to $50. This is another charity-driven event, fighting cancer. In addition to a number of the big breweries mentioned for the two previous California fests, this will include Karl Strauss, Artifex, Figueroa Mountain, Absolution, Modern Times, and more. Even Allagash is coming from way out in Maine for the fun.

September 30: 31st Annual Great Tucson Beer Festival

Our friends in Tucson are finally catching on that craft beer is good (their number of breweries has tripled since my last visit in 2015). This fest was a big part of that inspiration. Held at the Kino Sports Complex, onetime spring training home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox, it will feature plenty of local and regional breweries. Tickets will cost $35 for general admission and $70 for VIP in advance (add $10 to each day of). The out-of-state breweries include Fort Collins, Maui, Mission, Modern Times, Pizza Port, Saint Archer, and, yes, Santa Fe. Notables from in-state include Barrio, Freak’N, Huss, Old Bisbee, and Prescott.

October 5-7: Great American Beer Festival

This is not just an opportunity for Franz Solo and I to brag about getting media credentials. OK, it totally is, but if you see us up there, join us for a hearty toast in the Halls of Valhalla.

Back to actual, researched news the rest of the week. I promise.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister