Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Tart at Heart boasts another bountiful beer lineup

Posted: March 28, 2017 by cjax33 in Events, News

If this doesn’t help you get over tax day, nothing will.

Pucker up, sour lovers, Tart at Heart is returning for its third edition on Saturday, April 15. To whet your collective appetites, we figured why not share the beer list. Of course, more beers will be added, but fear not, we will have an even more in-depth preview in the days before everyone gathers at Sister.

Before the beers, we should also note that the event’s Facebook page just announced that all VIP tickets are sold out online. Kelly Liquors on Juan Tabo (505-292-4520) and Sister (505-242-4900) may have a few hard copies left, but please, call in advance before you head over and end up sad. General admission tickets are still available for $35 apiece.

The good news about this event is that it will attract even more local breweries than before. Also, should you not be the biggest fan of sour or overly funky beers, there will be quite the variety of specialties available.

The list of beers to date:

  • Canteen (2): Social Capital with cherries aged on French oak; Social Capital with orange peel, coriander, and vanilla
  • Cascade: Sang Royal (malt beverage with cherries aged on oak)
  • Chama River: Cream Anejo (tequila barrel-aged cream ale)
  • Duel: Suor Nelli (barrel-aged sour Scottish ale)
  • Enchanted Circle: Plum Sour
  • La Cumbre: Ryeot on Rye (strong red ale aged in rye whiskey barrels)
  • New Belgium: Apple Felix (wild ale aged in apple brandy barrels)
  • Santa Fe (2): Berliner Weisse; Berliner Weisse with cherries
  • Sierra Nevada: Barrel-aged Biere de Garde

The remaining breweries set to participate includes locals Dialogue, Marble, Rowley Farmhouse Ales, and Turtle Mountain, plus the big boys — Firestone Walker, Founders, and Stone.

Stay tuned for more beers and additional details. Go get those tickets sooner than later, though!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Turtle Mountain is getting the (anniversary) party started next week!

Sometimes it can be hard to squeeze all the important details about upcoming events into The Week Ahead in Beer, thus forcing some separate, but short stories. This is one of those, as we felt you all needed more details on the upcoming 18th anniversary events at Turtle Mountain.

The Rio Rancho institution is celebrating another milestone birthday with a few beer specials, plus a heck of a brewmaster’s dinner this coming Wednesday.

First up, they are tapping Coconut McSmack on Friday. Head brewer Mick Hahn spent about four hours toasting 75 pounds of coconut in the TMBC wood-fired oven to add to his popular Scottish ale. It should be a delicious weekend treat.

Then on Tuesday, look for a special cask of SCH Scotch Lager, which has run out on CO2.

The big fun then comes Wednesday. For this dinner of epic proportions, there will be plenty of beer-and-food pairings. It costs $50 per person, and seating is limited, so please call (505) 995-9497 as soon as possible to make your reservation.

What does that $50 get you?

  • Aperitif cask of Marzen
  • Appetizer: Tropical shrimp cocktail with pineapple-habanero salsa and roasted coconut flakes, paired with Coconut McSmack
  • Salad: Asparagus spring salad with roasted beets, hard-boiled quail egg parmesan crisp, house beer mustard vinaigrette, and seasonal greens, paired with Consensual Sensations 18th Anniversary DIPA
  • Entree: Lager-marinated and smoked prime rib, Marzen-steamed lobster tail, browned butter herbed fingerling potatoes, and agave glazed carrots, paired with Oaked Depravity Barley Wine
  • Dessert: House-made Irish stout ice cream with chocolate pine nut brittle, stout caramel drizzle, paired with Snakedriver Irish Stout

That all just sounds ridiculously amazing. Get on over to TMBC next week and celebrate one of our best breweries.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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Thanks for the shots, Duel!

Greetings fellow, ale-ficionados! Man, do we have something special for you happening up in Santa Fe! Tomorrow (Thursday), Blue Corn Brewery is hosting a special cask festival at their southside location, featuring ALL six Santa Fe breweries under one roof. To get your palate wet, I’ve got a list of beers, as well as the skinny on the chow. Read on to see what you’ll be enjoying, or sorely missing.

Blue Corn Brewery – Heffeweizen on honey. 15 IBUs, 5.4% ABV

Chili Line Brewing Company – Smoked Porter or a cask Lager.

Duel Brewing – Duel’s classic Fiction IPA inoculated with sour beer from their cellar and seven pounds of Apricots.

Rowley Farmhouse Ales – Irish Stout on Madagascar vanilla bean, primed with organic molasses.

Santa Fe Brewing Company – Western Bloc (re-)dry-hopped with Huell Melon and Chinook hops. 75 IBUs, 6.7% ABV

Second Street Brewery – U2 Dry Stout, Second Street’s traditional Irish dry stout with a luscious mouth feel, and a bit more complexity than the archetype. O.G. 1.054, 32 IBUs, 5.7% ABV

And of course, a Blue Corn beer event wouldn’t be complete without great food for pairing. Even though Chef David Sundberg has moved on to bigger and better things, the evening’s entrees are in the very capable hands of Chef Memo. Make sure to bring an appetite for the following:

  • Fried avocado topped with pico de gallo and a jalapeno-cilantro aioli
  • Cauliflower wings served with bleu cheese and hot sauce
  • Deep-fried goat cheese-stuffed jalapeno poppers
  • Short rib wonton mini tostadas
  • Salmon mousse mini crackers

For $30, each guest will receive a seven-ounce glass, which includes a pour of each brewery’s cask beer, as well as servings of all the delicious bites. For reservations, call (505) 438-1800. 6PM.

Why should you go? As if a fun cask beer event falling on a Thirsty Thursday isn’t reason enough on its own, consider the following. How many opportunities do you get to enjoy great beer from all six Santa Fe breweries, while also getting the chance to speak to the brewers directly about their craft, current beers, and upcoming projects in a more intimate setting than, say, a grand casino ballroom? Fewer than you’d think. Also, this will be Chef Memo’s first event, so we’ll be getting a taste of what’s in store for Blue Corn’s future menus. Listen, take my word for it, Blue Corn knows how to host a swinging swig-shindig. You don’t want to miss this one if you can help it. I know I won’t. I hope to see you there, and remember to keep thinking globally and keep drinking locally.

Cheers!

— Luke

Luke123 Steel Bender

For more @nmdarksidebc info and #CraftBeer news, follow me on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro!

The folks at Side Effex aren't getting quite as crazy as the Crew did in 2015, but any amount of The Abyss is worth it!

The folks at Side Effex aren’t getting quite as crazy as the Crew did in 2015, but any amount of The Abyss is worth it!

The Crew has been largely focused on events that occur either at our local breweries or that still involve them at off-site locations. Every now and again, however, a pretty cool event pops up around town that we think you all need to know about.

This weekend will feature a vertical epic of The Abyss, the epic imperial stout from Deschutes, at Side Effex downtown. There will be pours of the 2014, 2015, and 2016 editions. The event is actually broken over two days. Today (Friday) will feature a beer and food pairing for $30, with a sneak preview of the vertical, which will be held Saturday. The pairing today will feature three plates with a variety of food items paired with different beers. To RSVP, call ahead at (505) 243-oo28 or email mario@effexabq.com. It all starts tonight at 7.

The main vertical tasting will begin Saturday at 7. If you have never had The Abyss before, good lord, are you missing out on one of the finest stouts in the world. If you have had it before, but drank it all up every time it comes out, we highly suggest enjoying a vertical. It is a fascinating way to see the differences between the recipes for the three batches, as well as to what aging can do to a barrel-aged beer. The Crew did our own version of an Abyss vertical a couple years ago. It was tremendous.

* * * * *

Another off-site event to know about is the upcoming Tart at Heart 3, which will be held again at Sister on April 15. Go follow Jon Hamm’s advice and get your taxes won, then head over to try 25-plus rare sour and barrel-aged beers. You can already buy tickets online, with general admission costing $35 and VIP costing $45. The latter gets you in an hour early, plus you get some exclusive food-and-beer pairings courtesy of the kitchen staff at Sister. Tickets can also be purchased at Sister, Jubilation, and the Kelly Liquors on Juan Tabo.

There will be local breweries involved this year. The Canteen staff told me Thursday that they will be sending a new version of their popular Social Capital kettle sour to the event.

Angelo Orona, of Craft King Consulting, said he will be providing a full list of beers before the event, so stay tuned for that.

Take note, Tart at Heart has sold out the last two years, so if you love to pucker up with your beer, get your tickets ASAP.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

All the firkin fun you need in one place!

All the firkin fun you need in one place!

La Cumbre marketing director Cory Campbell was doing a bit of house cleaning when he stumbled upon a piece of the brewery’s past.

“I cleaned out one of the closets upstairs in one of the offices and found the old poster for it,” Cory said of the first Cask Ale Festival, held in 2011. “I asked Jeff how come we haven’t done this in a while? He goes, well, I don’t know. It was a fairly successful day that first year we were open, so we thought, why not try it again?”

This new edition of the Cask Ale Festival will be held this Saturday from 12:30 to 4 p.m. The first 200 to show up will get in for $25 per person.

“It’s first come, first served,” Cory said. “We have room for 200 people. Of course, our capacity is 150, so hopefully not everyone comes at the same time. It’s $25 at the door, there’s a free Lyft ride in there, there’s a Cask Ale Festival sticker, and there’s tickets to redeem for a pint (of your favorite).”

A total of 11 breweries, including La Cumbre, will have a cask on hand. Boxing Bear was originally scheduled to be there, but it was forced to drop out for undisclosed reasons. La Cumbre will make up for the missing cask with one more of its own.

“12:30 is when we’re going to be mass tapping everything, hopefully,” Cory said. “Hopefully all the brewers come and we can get a nice photo of everyone hitting the spigot.”

La Cumbre, of course, has a past award from the Great British Beer Festival for the top American cask ale for Project Dank. The brewery regularly serves up special casks throughout the week.

“I’m a big cask fan,” Cory said. “I like them a lot. I’ve been to England a few times and always enjoyed them off the bar top or if they’re in beer engines. I’m a real ale fan, for sure.”

Cory said La Cumbre will have Gracias Por Fumar, the smoked porter aged in brandy barrels, in one cask. The other he said will likely be some sort of IPA, possibly the new Ekuanot S.M.A.S.H. coming out soon. (UPDATE: It will be the Ekuanot, dry-hopped with whole-leaf Centennial.)

As for the other breweries, here is the info they provided for us: (UPDATED)

  • Bosque: IPA dosed with Mosaic Lupulin Powder
  • Canteen and Steel Bender (collaboration): Steel Can Porter with coconut
  • Canteen: Mango Exodus IPA
  • Chama River: Class VI Golden Lager
  • Marble: Oaked Out Cholo, a special version of the Cholo Stout aged in oak barrels for three months
  • Nexus: Mango Imperial Cream Ale
  • Palmer: Genevieve Pale Ale with Old Tom Gin botanicals
  • Quarter Celtic: MacLomas Dry Stout with white French oak chips and dry-hopped with Hallertau Mittelfrueh
  • Tractor: Julius Cream Pale Ale
  • Turtle Mountain: Parasol White IPA with tropical additions

The casks will be divided into two flights. Flight One will have the Gracias Por Fumar, plus the entries for Canteen/Steel Bender, Marble, Nexus, Tractor, and Turtle Mountain. Flight Two features the Ekuanot, plus Bosque, Canteen, Chama River, Palmer, and Quarter Celtic.

There may be an award, of sorts, handed out for the favorite cask. There will also be a raffle held for prizes throughout the afternoon.

“We should probably come up with some kind of tally sheet,” Cory said. “We’re also going to be doing some raffles every hour. We’re going to be giving away a growler or a T-shirt. The raffle tickets are included in the little package you get. You don’t have to pay extra for them or anything.”

Enjoy the firkin festivities, everyone!

— Stoutmeister

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Stout lovers, head to Los Alamos this weekend!

It’s a rare thing when I, your Los Alamos-based correspondent, get to write about a local festival! Some of you may have heard about the Brew Crew’s own annual Stout Challenge (which I have yet to attend, sadly), and as fine as that event was, this one may be even finer. The Bathtub Row Brewing Co-Op is hosting its Second Annual Stout Invitational this Saturday, with 15 New Mexico breweries bringing their finest stouts:

  • Bathtub Row Brewing Co-op
  • Blue Corn Brewery: Gold Medal Oatmeal Stout
  • Bosque Brewing
  • Boxing Bear Brewing: Chocolate Milk Stout
  • Chama River Brewing
  • Kaktus Brewing: Slow Loris Imperial Stout
  • Kellys Brew Pub
  • La Cumbre Brewing: Molinillo Stout on nitro
  • Red Door Brewing
  • Rowley Farmhouse Ales
  • Santa Fe Brewing
  • Sidetrack Brewing: Stoker Stout
  • Starr Brothers Brewing: Foggy Monocle (oatmeal stout)
  • Taos Mesa Brewing
  • Tractor Brewing Company: Cowgirl Coffee Stout

Note that Starr Brothers’ entry was the winner of the Brew Crew Stout Challenge. Let’s see if they can make it two for two. We will keep updating this list as more stouts are announced.

For $25, you get a commemorative glass, a sample of all 15 beers, and a full pint of your favorite. The day will be broken into three separate sessions, each lasting an hour and a half. They’ll start at noon, 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. Tickets for a session can be purchased at the ‘Tub, or you can purchase them online at nmbeer.org. The 4 p.m. session is already sold out, so act fast.

As soon as we have the identities of the competing stouts, we will update this post.

Cheers!

— Reid

Taos BMF 2014 Pic 6

We sent Luke up to the Brewmasters Festival in Taos a couple years ago. He had a whole lotta fun!

Happy cold, gray Thursday everyone. If you need some light back in your life, there is some good news for this weekend. The Taos Brewmasters Festival kicks off Saturday at the Ski Valley, marking its 21st annual running below the slopes.

Normally, the festival is held in December, but it was pushed back this year due to a lack of snow on the mountain above. Plus, the decision was made to no longer have the spring-time beer festival, but rather have just one fest. This one kicks off at 4:30 p.m. and runs until 7 at Tenderfoot Katie’s and the Martini Tree Bar, both of which are located at the base of Lift #1. It costs $30 at the door and you receive a complementary mug.

While plenty of you love to go skiing and snowboarding, we know ultimately that it is the pull of the beer that can be the deciding factor. Take note that this year’s fest is populated by a lot more out-of-state breweries brought in by their local distributors. There are not nearly as many breweries from Southern Colorado as in the past, as only Steamworks and Carver made the trip from Durango (neither is distributed here in NM, FYI).

The other out-of-state breweries are Alaskan, Boulder, Deschutes, Firestone Walker, Founders, Four Peaks, Full Sail, Left Hand, Mother Road, New Belgium, Odell, Oskar Blues, Sierra Nevada, Upslope, and the Craft Brew Alliance, which we think is that collection of breweries from the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii that is partially owned by the Evil Empire (InBev).

As for the locals, a total of 10 New Mexico breweries will be present. Here is what they are bringing, as reported to us by the breweries themselves:

  • Boxing Bear — Iron Lung Smoked Porter, Standing 8 Stout, Paw Swipe Pale Ale
  • Chama River — UPDATED: Class VI Golden Lager, Sleeping Dog Stout
  • La Cumbre — TBA
  • Marble — Double White, IPA, Priddy Bueno Porter, Spruce Moose
  • Red Door — Gateway Blonde, Calypso SMaSH, Strong Scotch Ale, Paint it Black Milk Stout
  • Santa Fe — UPDATED: Chicken Killer, Java Stout, Pale Ale, Happy Camper, State Pen Porter, SF Gold, Nut Brown, Black IPA, Adobe Igloo, plus two bottles to be released at different hours of Single Barrel Sour, and two bottles of Lemon Skynard also to be released at different hours
  • Sierra Blanca — TBA
  • Taos Mesa — Kolsch 45, 3 Peaks IPA, Tap Dance Barley Wine, BBA Black Diamond Export Stout
  • Three Rivers — TBA
  • Tractor — Farmer’s Almanac IPA, Farmer’s Tan Red, Mustachio Milk Stout, Delicious Red Apple Cider

Marble’s Tony Calder pointed out that this will mark the debut of Spruce Goose, a new stout made with (you guessed it) spruce tips. The Priddy Bueno just went on tap recently at the Marble taprooms here in Albuquerque as well. Iron Lung returned to Boxing Bear late Wednesday.

If any of us in the Crew were able to head up this weekend, we would also be making a beeline for that bourbon barrel-aged Black Diamond Export Stout and the Tap Dance Barley Wine at Taos Mesa’s booth. I suppose we will just have to hope they bring that down for WinterBrew in Santa Fe on Jan. 13. (Please? Pretty please?)

Of course, skiing/snowboarding and then drinking on an empty stomach would be a terrible idea. Five local restaurants — Bavarian, Blonde Bear Tavern, Medley, Rhoda’s, Sagebrush Inn — will be providing food during the festival.

Keep an eye on the weather, of course, but otherwise if your weekend is lacking in anything to do, we would definitely suggest a trip up north to try some quality brews in a beautiful setting.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

oktoberfest-in-stein

This the season for Marzen!

It’s Oktoberfest season once again, and you have plenty of choices to visit Oktoberfest celebrations around the state this year. Adding to the list is Santa Fe Brewing Company with their zany twist on a traditional Oktoberfest celebration, Oktoberfiesta. Sure, there will be brats, contests, dirndls, and a great Oktoberfest beer, but if you’ve ever been to Santa Fe’s version of this familiar festival, you already know that is where the similarity ends. There will also be tacos, mariachis, and baby goats. That’s right, the baby goats will be there on Sunday for the kids to pet, and the adults to do their best not to take one home. Who knew so many people loved baby goats?

It all happens this weekend as SFBC bring back their annual charity fundraiser superbash, and you’re all invited for Saturday or Sunday or both. If you’re not familiar with the concept, sometime in August, SFBC asks people to vote, via Facebook, for the local charities they would like to support. The top three with the most votes are then supported by the event with a portion of the door cover donated to the charity. The best part is that you get to choose which one of the three charities your money goes to once you get through the door.

This year the charities benefiting from all the Oktoberfiesta fun are Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society, Adaptive Sports Program New Mexico, and Esperanza Shelter for Battered Families.

“We always try to focus the whole event around the charities,” general manager Alana Jones said. “We want to give back to the community that’s given us so much. And, because we like to party.”

As in past years, the door cover also gets you a commemorative glass. Door cover varies depending on size of glass you select; five-ounce, half-liter stein, or full-liter stein, if you’re really thirsty. And, with all the great beer, you probably will be.

Speaking of beer, returning this year are the guest taps, from which you can sample. Below is the beer list from the five participating breweries, and I’m excited about each of them. Well, I don’t personally do pumpkin beers, but I’m always excited to prove my palate wrong. SFBC has certainly tried to acquire some interesting brews from these great breweries, including the brand new Rowley Farmhouse Ales in Santa Fe, who kindly donated a Rye Saison for the charities.

Canteen Brewhouse – Cheeky Codswallop ESB (5% ABV, 30 IBU)

Second Street Brewery – Oktoberfest (5.4% ABV), Red & Yellow Armadillo – Imperial Red Ale (9.2%, 82 IBU)

Bosque Brewing Co. – PSA Pumpkin Spice Ale (6%, 15 IBU)

Boxing Bear Brewing – Oso Loco Coffee Red (4.8%, 25 IBU)

Rowley Farmhouse Ales – Fields of Rye – Rye Saison (7%, 15 IBU)

As always, there will be food trucks on site, with plenty of German-themed meals, and tacos. I promised tacos, because what would Oktoberfiesta be without tacos, and eggrolls, right? Right.

Food Trucks: Dr. Field Goods, Egg Whoa Yeah!, Joe S. Sausage, Santa Fe Barbecue, and Taqueria Gracias Madre!

Contests: Returning this year are everyone’s favorite contests, brat-eating, yodeling, six-pack holding, and pumpkin painting for the kids.

Music: This year SFBC has loaded the big stage with great local talent and a variety of musical genres including mariachi, rock, Americana, reggae, marching band, and they’ve thrown in a little jam band and hip hop for good measure. It’s certainly an eclectic mix, but again, it’s Oktoberfiesta! The bands include Mariachi Diferencia, Pigment, Siren Shipwreck, Imperial Rooster, Mondo Vibrations, St. Range, The Hillstompers, and The Battlefield, from Los Angeles.

What’s different this year is that Oktoberfiesta is no longer under the big tent as in years past. It will take place at The Bridge at Santa Fe Brewing, the concert venue adjacent to the brewery. If you haven’t already experienced The Bridge, then Oktoberfiesta is a great reason to check out this great space. A concert venue run by a brewery? Great concept, right? Who wants to pay $15 per domestic beer anyway? We don’t.

It will also be your first opportunity to see the interior space of The Bridge, as this will be the first time SFBC opens the doors to the public. The event begins at noon both days, and ends at 8 p.m. on Saturday, and 6 p.m. on Sunday. After the event is over at The Bridge on Saturday, you can wind down with a little live hip hop from an up-and-coming group to end out the night.

This will be my third or fourth time at SFBC’s Oktoberfiesta. There may be one year I don’t totally remember. Those things happen. But, I truly hope you can come out for this fun event. It’s got a little something for everyone. Bring the family for the pumpkin and face painting, as well as ice cream and root beer vendors, and baby goats! The music and food will be excellent as always, but best of all, you get a great chance to support local beer, bands, food, vendors, and charities. Toss on those dirndls and lederhosen, or throw on a pancho if you wish; it’s going to be a fun weekend at The Bridge. I’ll see you there.

Prost!

— Luke

Get your finest viking gear on and head up the mountain for beer!

Get your finest viking gear on and head up the mountain for beer!

Greetings, gang. Bathtub Row Brewing in Los Alamos has had a new head brewer for a while now. We’ve been meaning to track him down and pick his brain, and the planets finally aligned Wednesday. We spoke with Nic Boyden about where he’s from, what he likes, and what his plans are.

We also discussed Nic’s special beer for this weekend’s upcoming event at the Pajarito Ski Area, Ullrfest! We know that there are other things going on this Saturday (NM Brew Fest and Corks and Brews in Albuquerque), but this is one of the premier events in the mountains near Los Alamos. The weather forecast looks promising, so it should be a great time. As always, activities other than beer drinking will include bike races, chairlifts and hiking, disc golf, and a viking-themed costume contest. Music will be provided by JJ and the Hooligans. If you think you will be participating in the beer portion of the agenda, you may want to take the free shuttle that runs between town and the ski hill every half hour.

The breweries that will be in attendance, with beer lists where provided. (Updates will be posted whenever we receive them until the morning of the festival.)

  • Bathtub Row: Ullr Beer (Sahti), Hoppenheimer IPA, Raconteur Table Beer, Fat Man Stout
  • Blue Heron
  • Boxing Bear: Oktobearfest, Ambear, Uppercut IPA, Cider
  • Chili Line
  • Enchanted Circle: Glory Hole IPA, Panty Tosser Peach Wheat, Wet n Wild, Octoberfest, Red River Red
  • La Cumbre
  • Santa Fe: Idaho IPA, Oktoberfest, Imperial Java Stout, Nut Brown (in cans)
  • Second Street: Southern Passion IPA, Rail Runner Ale, Red & Yellow Armadillo, Rod’s Best Bitter, 2920 Pale Ale, Kolsch
  • Taos Mesa
  • Tractor: Mustachio Milk Stout, Tractoberfest, Farmer’s Almanac IPA, plus cider cans
  • Unquarked Winery

What else does Bathtub Row’s new brewer have in store? Well, let’s find out.

Nic, the new head brewer at Bathtub Row, is looking forward to his first Ullrfest.

Nic Boyden, the new head brewer at Bathtub Row, is looking forward to his first Ullrfest.

DSBC: Hi, Nic. Thanks for meeting with us. How would you describe your beers?

Nic: Hoppenheimer (IPA) is the standard beer that we have here. That’s what everybody asks for the most. A bunch of hopheads here in Los Alamos. I try to brew a Hoppenheimer every other week, so we’re trying to keep it on tap. We’ll blow through a Hoppenheimer tank in about four days. If it’s released on a Wednesday it’s almost gone Thursday night and Friday night, and then Saturday, Sunday, we’ll have a little bit, and then it’s gone by the beginning of the next week. So, I’m trying to do that every other week, but still trying to keep a good variety. Otherwise I’d be doing that once a week. Trying to bring in some other IPA ideas, also. We’ve made some small tweaks to Hoppenheimer, but it’s pretty solid — bitter, hoppy Centennial-based beer. Sticking with that, made some small tweaks to it.  

DSBC: Do you have other ones that are staples? It seems like a lot of these are unusual ones.

Nic: Right. Every one of these was a first time. We’ll try to keep the Wit, which is pretty standard. Changing up the yeast strain right now. The next Wit we’ll be doing a little more frequently, but we’ll be sticking with that yeast strain for a while, really trying to dial that in. Everybody here has really been liking the Wit since before I was here. I’m not going to tweak that one too much. We want to keep a bitter, a light one, and a dark one, also.

DSBC: Do you think about it seasonally, too? It’s getting colder, so it’s time to start stocking more stouts and things.

Nic: I’m definitely going to try to do that. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, a hophead still wants an IPA. A malthead always wants a stout or brown or porter. Still trying to keep a variety, but at least let the subtleties of each beer be dictated by the season. In the summer, we’re trying to keep it fruity; in the fall, we’re going to have more beers with more spice to it, like your apple pie spices or your pumpkin beer. Everybody loves that. Definitely there will be darker stuff in the winter, too.

DSBC: Right now you have eight of your own beers.

Nic: Right now all of them are our own, so all of our taps are full.

DSBC: That’s a lot of room to play around even if you had four staples on hand; that’s four one-offs or crazy ones, whatever you want to try. Well, do you get to pick the brews?

Nic: I pretty much get to pick. I’m always trying to take suggestions and get some input on beers that we’ve done. I’m not going to just make every beer to (fit) my palate. We’re trying to sell some beers, try to keep some variety and some staples at the same (time), a balance of everything across the board. Pretty exciting that we have eight of our on tap right now. There was a point at the end of the summer where we were running out of beers so fast that we couldn’t keep all eight taps full even with guest beers. We were blowing through guest beers. After we blow through a Hoppenheimer, we’d put on a Boxing Bear (Uppercut) IPA. We’ve also done (Bosque’s) Riverwalker. As soon as we run through ours and theirs, then people will gravitate towards the next hoppiest thing, and then the pale’s gone. And then the hoppy pilsner’s gone (and) until Sunday afternoon we don’t have any beer whatsoever.

DSBC: Do you have kegs in reserve from other breweries that you can pull out?

Nic: Yes, we do, and we try to not (create) too much of stockpile due to space. What we’re usually going to order from another brewery are IPAs. IPAs are best when fresh, right, so we try to keep our stock as small as possible due to space and freshness. People got really thirsty over the summer.

DSBC: Plus the Lab is the factory in this town, and there lots of students that come in over the summer. Now that summer is out that’s probably why it’s calming down, and you know how much students drink.

Nic: I’m excited to have all eight of ours on tap. We’re just catching our breath after summer.

DSBC: I guess you do have to think about all of this when planning your own brewing schedule. You don’t want to stockpile too much of your own, either.

Nic: I’m still trying to figure it all out. I’m still new to town. I feel like wherever you go there’s a specific beer season. The only variables are how much does it drop off and sometimes it’s almost negligible, and in other towns it’s almost mud season like you’d have in a mountain town where tourists disappear for a while.

DSBC: Or ski season kicks in and suddenly they’re back. That brings up the next question. You mentioned you’re not from here, so where are you from?

Nic: I’m actually from Albuquerque. I’ve lived in Colorado for 10 years and been brewing up there for the last six or seven years.

DSBC: Where did you work there?

Nic: I got my start at Avery in Boulder. It’s huge. And then I moved down to Salida in the mountains and worked at Elevation four years after that.

DSBC: So, you’ve been working your way up the brewery ranks?

Nic: Yeah, I moved to Colorado to do environmental consulting as a field tech. Then found that I didn’t get paid anything, so I got into cell phone tower construction. I grew up and worked nine years at the Tram in Albuquerque climbing towers and stuff, so it was easy to transition that to cell tower construction. Really enjoyed the travel, but being a home brewer, I said that I didn’t care how much I made, I’m getting into the industry.

DSBC: So you were a home brewer before. You’ve liked beer for a long time, like a lot of us.

Nic: Yeah, I just took the leap. I took the first job I was offered. I applied to a lot of places on the front range of Colorado, and the first job I got offered luckily was at Avery. I just drove a forklift to get my start. I very quickly moved into packaging. I was the packaging lead and then I did some cellaring and then I moved up the brew deck. I worked my way up, getting on-the-job training at Avery. What was awesome was that they also paid me to do online schooling for brewing. When I felt like I was topping out with where I could go there, I wanted to move on and get more creative control, so I went to Elevation. A smaller place. I developed a few things and changed some things there, then I felt like I wanted to move to a place where every single week was a new beer and a new opportunity. More creativity.

DSBC: You couldn’t find that at Avery, huh.

Nic: I couldn’t find that at Elevation, either. That’s why I think this is a great fit for me. I have to keep the customer base happy with the IPA, the Blonde, the Wit … but beyond that, it’s complete creative control. It’s a lot more fun.

The current selection of beers at BRB.

The current selection of beers at BRB.

DSBC: What I’ve found is that there is a lot of sophisticated beer drinkers in this town. Plus, a lot of home brewers, they know their beers, and they love creative, crazy things, if you can pull it off. How did you find out about Bathtub Row?

Nic: I met Jason Fitzpatrick (the general manager) and Jason Kirkman (the assistant brewer) last fall at ColorFest at Pagosa Springs. I had a good, professional relationship with them, and once I heard that they were offering up a head brewer position, I decided that this would be a pretty good trip for me. I knew those guys already, so I figured they know what they’re doing, I’ll take the leap.

DSBC: What do you think of this town? It is different from other towns, it’s a little isolated … in World War II that was a plus.

Nic: It totally makes sense. It’s a cool little town, definitely. Cool, unique town … like you said, driven by the Lab. Moving from Colorado, I didn’t want to end up back in the desert. I’m a mountain person at heart. This was one of the few places that I could see myself moving back to New Mexico for. Being at 7,500 feet, getting the moisture, the cool air. Having trails right outside my door, I can bike, I can run, I can take my dog out. That’s the closest I can get to Colorado. I thought it would be a good fit. So far, it’s been nice living here.

DSBC: Albuquerque is of course a huge beer scene, just getting bigger all the time. But, you’d rather have a small town atmosphere, I guess.

Nic: Yeah, I’m from Albuquerque and moved to Denver. I was in downtown Denver, and ever since I’ve been stepping away. I went to Boulder which is smaller, and I went to Salida, which is smaller. And, I went to Los Alamos, which is probably about the same size as Salida.

DSBC: Unlike our previous head brewer, you didn’t get a whole lot of say about how things are set up or the equipment. Are you happy with what’s going on in back?

Nic: For what we can fit into this building, we’ve got a pretty decent setup. And, just speaking with the Board and Jason the GM, I’ve definitely heard what their long-term goals are, and their brew system itself was purchased from Bosque. They outgrew it in a year. So did we, actually. That would be the only thing that I’d like to really step up in the future. That’ll be down the road. We can catch our breath before next summer’s big season starts up again. Maybe we can get something in the works by then. But, right now we did just buy a keg washer that should have arrived yesterday. We’re going to get that installed so we can take care of our own kegs.  

DSBC: What did you do before with kegs?

Nic: We mostly took our kegs down to Santa Fe Brewing and paid them per keg to clean them. So, we’d drive them down there, drop them off, and then a week later pick them up.

DSBC: It’s like having to go to the laundromat!

Nic: Yeah, it’s just that the laundromat’s pretty far away. And, also they’ve got their own struggles trying to keep up with their own production, so we were on the back burner. They were doing us a favor. So, sometimes we wouldn’t have kegs if they had issues of their own that they needed to address. They definitely helped us out, but we decided to just take care of it ourselves. It’s not like the brewery is going anywhere, we can invest in a keg cleaner. That’s the next thing that’s been purchased and on the road somewhere. And, I think we will be getting at least one more fermenter pretty soon. It’s the number one limiting factor for our production right now. We’ll be maxed out on space back there after that.

DSBC: I suppose you could brew off-site and bring the kegs down here?

Nic: We could, but we want to stay true to Bathtub Row, make sure that the name makes sense. Holds true to the history of this place and what we’re about. Ideally we wouldn’t leave Bathtub Row as far as the facility goes, but maybe that’s way down the road. We have talked to the landlord just a little bit about expanding this building in the future. We haven’t been shot down yet.

DSBC: You mentioned Santa Fe Brewing. It seems like there’s a pretty tight-knit, friendly brewing community here. There’s also more and more competition, not so much here but in Albuquerque. Do you still feel that camaraderie?

Nic: I still definitely do feel the camaraderie. I feel like we’re making as much beer as we possibly can and we’re at our max capacity here. Nobody’s eating into our business, so it’s not even an issue for us. As far as breweries being competitive, I don’t really feel that too much because I think that coming from Colorado and joining the New Mexico beer industry, even though Colorado’s been around longer, I’m seeing the same thing … there’s just so much camaraderie. A very altruistic atmosphere where everybody’s trying to help everybody out. Ultimately our competition is not each other. There’s a huge market share that’s not craft beer.

DSBC: Those Budweiser guys?

Nic: Yup. We’re all friendly. It’s no issue whatsoever, especially here.

DSBC: Do you ever go to some of the other breweries? For “research” purposes?

Nic: Oh, definitely. I need to do a little market research. I’ll try to get off the hill as much as I can, but that is pretty rare right now. Since I’ve started, we’re kind of short-staffed, and summertime being busy, I’ve been here at the brewery almost seven days a week. Not really working hard on weekends, but there’s always something that needs to be kept up with or addressed. We can’t brew any faster. The only thing that slows down our schedule is if the yeast could work faster, I’d be brewing even more beer.

DSBC: Not much you can do about that, there’s no super yeast yet.

Nic: Nope, can’t rush those guys. I haven’t made it to as many places as I like. The industry is booming right now.

DSBC: A lot of them are putting out some really good beers too. Like, if you went down to La Cumbre and tried an Elevated, would you think about how you could reverse engineer it?

Nic: I like to interpret what they’re going for and see how it is received by everybody around me. I obviously have my personal tastes, but I want to make a beer that the masses really want to enjoy. When I say the masses, I really just mean the co-op and the local community because that’s who I’m brewing for. But, once I get a finger on the pulse of what they want here, which is basically the Hoppenheimer …

DSBC: A double IPA would be fine, too!

Nic: That would be nice to keep on tap. We (would) blow through that so fast. We have done some. Did you get a chance to try the honey double IPA?

DSBC: I bought one for a friend but didn’t try it myself, so no. It sounded good.

Nic: That was Jason Kirkman’s little baby. He did a fantastic job with it. He came up with all of that before I was here. I brewed it but it was all his. We used some local honey. We used some orange blossom water and copious amounts of hops. We ended up winning a national honey competition. There’s a large honey company, nationwide, based out of Colorado. They did a beer competition. They had an IPA category and a light beer category. Stouts, porters, browns, Belgian categories. It was nothing like the GABF, but we submitted a bottle of the honey double IPA and won the IPA (category). I think that’s a pretty stout category to try to win. Proud of Jason and his recipe. That’ll be coming back.

DSBC: You probably didn’t even use their honey!

Nic: No, we used local honey.

DSBC: No need to mention that on the form.

Nic: Ha ha, no. So we also have that submitted to GABF. We bottled enough to send to that competition as well as GABF.

DSBC: Anything else you’ve entered in GABF?

Nic: We entered the Redhammer, which is also Jason’s imperial red recipe. I had him come up and do that brew on his own and show me how he liked to brew that. That has been the best-received beer that we’ve entered in competition. I figured why not enter it again. We also did the wit, which has done pretty well also. No medals, but it’s advanced to the finals in some different competitions.

DSBC: And, you’ll continue to participate in the IPA Challenge? That’s big in this state.

Nic: Yup. There’s a lot of good IPAs that were down there. We have to step our game up.

DSBC: So what is your favorite beer? Just some personal info.

Nic: My favorite beer … Actually, I’d say that my favorite beer is Coors Original.

DSBC: Ha ha. I’ll have to edit that out.

Nic: It’s a solid German lager.

DSBC: I didn’t see that one coming!

Nic: No one does. It’s mostly water. That’s how I hydrate. And, it’s consistent, and that’s something I can geek out on as a brewer. Every Coors I’ve ever had in my entire life tastes exactly like a Coors. They’ve got the science down, for sure. Made with that Rocky Mountain water.

DSBC: You can taste the difference, eh? You’re drunk right now, aren’t you?

Nic: Ha ha. My girlfriend still lives in Salida, and we try to climb a mountain every weekend. She’s done almost every single 14er in Colorado, and some 10 times. She’s done quite a bit. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m going to try to summit a peak once a week when it’s climbing season. My favorite thing is to sit on top, eat some peanuts, and drink Coors Original. Doesn’t get you too drunk so you can get back down the hill.

DSBC: Yeah, you don’t need a double IPA right then. It’s not a good idea.

Nic: You can edit that all out.

DSBC: No, no, it’s a fun part. Anything else you want to mention?

Nic: I think it’s just great to be able to experiment here and try different styles. I’m really glad the community has been very open to that idea. I always have to keep an IPA on tap. I get plenty of request for reds and ambers. I try to keep those in rotation, but I feel like there so many other styles and I think it’s awesome that the educated beer drinkers are open to that. There are some places where you couldn’t do a mild and have people enjoy it, (a) three-plus-percent English mild, or a Belgian table beer. I’m really glad that people are open to that idea. It also allows me to do a SMASH on tap. I’m trying to showcase some hops. I think it’s pretty awesome that we can dance across all styles, as long as we keep our staples on, I can play around with whatever I want. That being said, Coors Banquet might be my favorite beer, but I love to make Belgians, I love to make sours. We have a great saison with peaches, brett, and lacto in barrels right now. It’s developing. It’s starting to taste good. That’s what I like best, a variety. If I want something standard, I’ll drink a Coors Original. I get to try everything. I definitely feel lucky to do this.

DSBC: You’re kind of living the dream for a lot of people that would be reading this blog, for example. Congratulations to you for having it all come together … and get paid for it! I’ve heard that for Ullrfest you’re making a juniper beer?

Nic: I’ve researched, but it’s nothing that I’ve tried. It’s sahti, a traditional Finnish beer. European malts and noble hops. The distinctive character of it is traditionally is mashed and filtered through a hollowed-out log filled with juniper branches. What I did is completely cover the false bottom of our mash tun with some fresh Los Alamos juniper boughs, and then threw all of the grain on top and mashed on top of that. It pulled the juniper flavor out of the branches. I’ll be adding a juniper berry dry spice at the end of fermentation, also. It’s going to be a good beer, hopefully. If you like juniper! With Ullrfest being the kick-off to ski season, we were thinking we would do something Scandinavian and maybe that’ll help with the snowfall.

DSBC: Sourcing local ingredients, too! That’s cool. Well, that’s about it. Thanks for your time.

Cheers!

— Reid

Alibi on Tap is the newest beer festival to pop up in Albuquerque.

Alibi on Tap is the newest beer festival to pop up in Albuquerque.

Beer festival “season” is in full swing, and it is easy to get overwhelmed and suffer from fest overload. And yet, Albuquerque welcomed another festival to the late summer/fall lineup back on Saturday. The new Alibi on Tap at the Albuquerque Rail Yards featured some new breweries in attendance, so I really didn’t want to miss out on this opportunity. Plus, although I know there is much contention surrounding brew fests held at the Rail Yards, I personally love the venue as an event space.

Because we took the noon Rail Runner train from Los Ranchos, we had about four hours of time to kill before the festival started. First, we trekked over to the open house for the New Mexico Steam Locomotive and Railroad Historical Society. This event was conveniently located near Bow & Arrow, so of course we stopped in for a pint. We had one of their seasonal beers, and it was fantastic, perhaps my favorite of all the beers I have tried at Bow & Arrow. It was Bury My Heart Belgian Pale Ale, number four in a four-part pale ale series. This day was already starting off well.

We still had some time before the event, so prior to walking over to the Rail Yards, we headed over to Duel on Central. While enjoying a goblet of Fantin (apparently there was an unintentional Belgian Pale Ale theme for the day), we were approached by a visitor from Las Vegas, Nevada. It was his first trip to Albuquerque and he was in town for a week-long convention at the Hyatt. He asked for advice about things to do nearby. We told him about Alibi on Tap and he seemed interested.

It was one of the more relaxed festivals in recent memory.

It was one of the more relaxed festivals in recent memory.

The weather was absolutely perfect, so there was no overheating (this can be an issue in that space). I enjoyed the reasonable entry fee and the limited amount of sampling tickets with a longer time to sample. The older I get, the more I tend to shy away from the free-for-all mentality at some beer fests. If attendees were so inclined it was possible to purchase additional samples as well as full pints of their favorite beers.

Because it was a new event, and I think perhaps because there are so many festivals this time of year, the crowd was particularly manageable. We arrived near the beginning and did not have to wait in any lines for entry or sampling. I was most interested in sampling the offerings from the two newest vendors, Palmer and Dialogue. It was both surprising and promising that Dialogue was in attendance on their opening weekend.

Sure enough, about 30 minutes after we arrived at the festival, we spotted “Vegas Bill.” We spent our entire remaining time there showing him around the different vendors and explaining the breweries and beers to him. It was actually quite a refreshing experience, because he had no prior knowledge, so there was no, “Them again? Been there, done that” attitude or preconceived notions. We were able to gain new perspective, as well, through his eyes and he really seemed to appreciate the experience. We left feeling quite proud of our stint as unofficial beer ambassadors.

Those of us lucky enough to be part of the first 100 tickets sold received a 32-ounce growler to “fill with your favorite beer.” You did have to purchase the actual beer to fill it, which was not explained in the promos, but it was sold at a reasonable price. If the indicator for our favorites was what we chose for our two growler fills, here were our choices — Pumpkin Pi from Pi Brewing, and Motorbrreath Smoked Porter from Starr Brothers.

Enjoy fest season, everyone! And, please, remember to take advantage of alternative transportation.

Cheers!

— AmyO