Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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We’re really digging the poster.

On Saturday, the Rufina taproom will host Second Street’s first Crab and Pilsner Festival, and you’re all invited. The event goes from 11 a.m. on Saturday to 10 p.m. on Sunday. Yes, it’s a two-day festival, and it seems like the perfect thing to bring your dad to on Sunday, because it’s Father’s Day, in case you’ve forgotten. And, gosh darn it, dad deserves good beer! And, if dad’s into the light stuff, like most dads are, well, we know where he can find a few of them this weekend.

The Crab and Pilsner Festival is free to attend. You don’t have to buy tickets or make reservations. Just get to 2920 Rufina Street early enough to buy your pilsner glass and T-shirt. All pilsners will be sold at regular pint prices, but you can buy flights as well. And, we’re pretty sure they’ll let you sample a few more, if you ask nicely.

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You can wear the poster? Even better!

As of the posting, we’re still missing a few beers from some of the breweries, but there will be pilsners from 17 breweries in total.

Blue Corn — Atomic Blond

Bosque — TBA

Boxing Bear — Body Czech

Canteen Brewhouse — High Plains Pilsner

Duel — Sorachi Ace Pilsner

Enchanted Circle — Palisades Pilsner

Kaktus — Kaktus Pilsner

Marble — Marble Pilsner

Marble Heights — Thunder From Dortmunder

Santa Fe — Freestyle

Second Street — Agua Fria Pilsner

Sidetrack — Sidetrack Pilsner

Starr Brothers — Starrphire

Steel Bender — Schnitz ‘N Giggle

Taos Mesa — Koenig Lager

Tractor — TBA

Turtle Mountain — TBA

As the name of the festival implies, it’s also a crab festival, with a menu put together by Second Street’s southern chef Milton Villarrubia, which, if you’ve ever eaten at Rufina, you’d know this man can do southern food.

MENU:
Crab and Tasso Gumbo
Cup $7.50 / Bowl $15
Succulent Gulf blue crab meat and house-made smoked Cajun Tasso Ham are cooked in a seafood stock with trinity, chef’s signature dark chocolate brown roux. Seasoned to perfection with Cajun spices and served with white rice, grilled baguette, and garnished with green onions.

Snow Crab Plate
Half Portion $18.50 / Whole Portion $37
Traditionally boiled Pacific Northwestern snow crab-cluster, served with boiled red potatoes, corn, crackers, and melted butter.

Dungeness Crab Plate
Half Portion $18.50 / Whole Portion $37
A Pacific Northwest classic! Dungeness crab served with boiled red potatoes, corn, crackers, and melted butter.

Sides
Corn on the cob – $.75 each
Red Potato – $.75 each
Andouille Sausage – $3.50
Whole Artichoke with Caper Aioli – $7
Dry Creole Spice – $1

There will also be a free live show on Saturday by guitarist Combsy, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to keep us all entertained well into the night.

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Hello, proper glassware!

This will be a different festival than our Albuquerque crowd will be used to, but then again, this model seems to work for most of Second Street’s festivals, where it’s a little less of a line and sample-fest, and more of a food-and-drink-and-music hangout. At these things, I’ve never left feeling like I’ve spent too much or gotten too little to taste, and I’ve always made a few new friends. So, I’ll be there on Saturday, enjoying some of the best clean and clear beers our New Mexico breweries have to offer under one roof.

To the pilsner, where mistakes have nowhere to hide, raise ‘em up!

— Luke

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Broken Trail will clean out that lot to the left for the St. Baldrick’s Brew Fest this Saturday.

There are many beer festivals that give a portion of the proceeds to worthy charities. Then there is the St. Baldrick’s Brew Fest, which puts its charity front and center, and will see 100 percent of the net sales go to the cause. It all goes down this Saturday at Broken Trail’s main location at 2921 Stanford NE starting at 4 p.m.

To learn more about the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and this new festival, I sat down with Broken Trail owner Matt Simonds and event organizer/one-woman-army Morgan McLain.

In the past, Morgan had teamed up with Red Door, but that ended last year.

“Last year, we didn’t do a big event, Red Door was in the middle of opening several other businesses,” she said. “We decided to do a St. Patrick’s Day special at Broken Trail because the first couple of events for St. Baldrick’s were held at an Irish pub in New York.”

The small event raised about $300, Morgan said, but more is always good.

“When we were thinking about this year, after all of the kerfuffle we went through with Red Door, it made sense to do it here (at Broken Trail),” she said. “(Matt) had offered that up last year. We decided to do it here, but we asked are we just going to do a (small) event or throw a party. When the Red Door event started up, we challenged all the brewers (to shave their heads) and they came through the first year, which was great. We decided why not do the same thing, we have the space to do it, we have the licensure to do it, which is something we didn’t have at Red Door. We reached out to 15 or 20 breweries.”

Broken Trail will make use of its spacious, and fenced-in, exterior lot for the festival.

“The idea is that let’s utilize the huge space that we have,” Matt said. “We’ve basically invited breweries to come in and hopefully donate kegs if not sell it to us at a reduced rate. Then with the idea that 100-percent of the net sales will be going directly towards St. Baldrick’s. So hopefully we’ll have tents set up.”

The breweries on hand will include Canteen, Little Toad Creek, Quarter Celtic, The 377, and Tractor. Steel Bender will donate a keg, too, and the forthcoming Hollow Spirits will pop up as well (as Morgan put it best, “Hollow Spirits will be here with a banner and Frank’s head, but I don’t think they have anything to contribute, but they’re working on it.”) Fork & Fig will cater the event, and Nomad’s BBQ will park its truck and smoker at the event as well. Pop Fizz will be present, too. On the music front, Morgan said, “Red Light Cameras and Le Chat Lunatique are both playing because they love me, and so I badgered them (a lot).” The traditional act of having one’s head shaved during the event will also occur, and yes, Morgan has signed up Matt, among others.

It is no easy undertaking to put all of this together, but this year marks a milestone in Morgan’s personal life.

“It makes the most sense to have a (big) party,” she said. “This is a huge year for me, it’s my 25th year cancer free, so we had to do it up great. Why not have a party? We might as well have a big festival. It’s more fun to do that and I feel like in the long run it’s easier to do that than just have one small event.”

Morgan was lucky to survive cancer as a child, but the disease did not end with her, so she has remained active in helping others.

“Over high school and the beginning of college I actually lost three of my friends that I had known through the oncology department,” she said. “One of them lost his original battle and two of them with their relapse as young adults in their mid-20s. That, of course, hangs around with you.

“Cancer has been pretty pervasive in my family and my life. My father passed away from cancer, I’ve lost friends from cancer.”

Morgan said she also has a number of friends working in the medical community, many in cancer-related fields, both here in Albuquerque and around the country. Growing up, she was also involved in another local charity, Camp Enchantment, which helps children who are cancer survivors.

“Childhood cancer is probably the most underfunded kind of cancer,” Morgan said. “The National Institute of Health is offering only 4 percent of their funding budget to cancer research, although that’s changing now. The Scott Act passed (last week), it’s the biggest piece of legislation that ever passed for childhood cancer research. It guarantees them $30 million over the next five years. It goes to the National Institute of Health and the National Cancer Institute for ongoing clinical research for kids who have survived cancer and longevity after that and how childhood cancer affects you as an adult.”

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is the largest private organization in the country that raises money in the fight against childhood cancer, as well as helping the survivors get on with their lives.

“As an adult with cancer there are obviously lasting effects from the chemotherapy, but especially as a child who has to go through a really intense type of therapy, there are side effects that can last a lifetime,” Morgan said. “Whether it’s cognitive defects, whether that’s learning disabilities, whether that’s physical defects, you have to have something amputated. Long-term effects from childhood cancers aren’t as widely understood as adult cancers are. If you have childhood cancer your odds of having cancer again skyrocket in your adult lifetime, regardless of where you live, what you do, what you come into contact with, et cetera. It’s not a matter of if, but when.”

A huge thanks to Morgan and Matt for taking the time to sit down and talk about this important cause. We hope to see everyone out at Broken Trail this Saturday (and yes, we will get those beer lists to you before the end of the week). If you cannot attend, but are interested in donating, go the event’s official page.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

That’s a might nice trophy to bring home from Burning Can. (Photo courtesy of La Cumbre)

Four New Mexico breweries combined to win six medals, including three golds, at the annual North American Beer Awards this past weekend. La Cumbre was not one of those breweries, but it did earn the trophy for King of the Can at the annual Burning Can Festival hosted by Oskar Blues.

The NABA medals were handed out at the Mountain West Brewers Fest in Idaho Falls on Saturday. The North American Brewers Association organizes the event.

Boxing Bear, Quarter Celtic, Santa Fe, and Tractor were the local winners this year. Quarter Celtic joined the list after the other three breweries all earned medals last year as well.

This year, Boxing Bear won gold for Featherweight Session IPA in the Session-Style IPA category and silver for Common Ground in the California Common category.

Quarter Celtic took home silver for Pedro O’Flannigan’s in the Latin American or Tropical-Style Lager or Ale category, as well as a bronze for MacLomas Stout in Session Beer.

Santa Fe brought back gold for Pale Ale in the Ordinary Bitter/Best Bitter (ESB) category. Tractor also earned gold with Thai Basil Mint Cider in the Specialty (Flavored) Ciders category.

Burning Can was held in Lyons, Colorado, and La Cumbre won for Elevated IPA. We would share a link but the Oskar Blues website is, um, not good.

If there are any other recent competitions that we have not mentioned, please let us know.

Congratulations to all the breweries on their accomplishments.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The future home of Restoration Pizza by Bosque Brewing, across the parking lot from Cabela’s.

While doing a weekly perusal of pending small brewer licenses, the Crew stumbled upon a new one that threw us off for a minute. Restoration Pizza by Bosque Brewing was a new addition, but also one we had heard nothing about. After contacting the Bosque staff, they were also a bit surprised.

That was due to a switch in the licensing with the State of New Mexico.

“I got a phone call on Thursday saying they received it, but they couldn’t accept it,” managing director Gabe Jensen said. “Then you email me on Sunday. How in the world did that happen?”

Well, the State is slow to change things on its website, but the point is that this new project is still happening, with only a change to where it will be one of the three potential new taprooms to come out of the Bosque North production facility in Bernalillo. No matter the license, the point of Restoration Pizza is to offer up something new, but with a distinct Bosque flavor.

“The long and short of it, it’s a simple pizza, salad, and beer joint, that’s it,” Gabe said. “(But) the concept is different than what we’ve always done.”

The difference will be in the employees. Restoration Pizza will have 50 to 70 percent of its staff made up of people with physical and mental disabilities. The restaurant will be located at the Legacy at Journal Center complex off Jefferson that is anchored by Cabela’s. The 3,400-square foot space will be inside the building on the east side of the property.

Gabe said the idea was born out of a series of conversations with one of his friends, Nathan Winham.

“He had a program in Arkansas where he did work programs for individuals with (cerebral palsy), Down’s Syndrome, autism, and we were talking about him starting up another one here in New Mexico,” Gabe said. “He was lamenting on how hard it is; you have to get grants (and) it’s going to take a long time. After a few conversations with him, and then conversations with Jess and Jotham and John, we were like can we just do this without all the red tape. Can we make a program, a concept that works with that?”

Along with Bosque director of culture and engagement Jess Griego, director of operations Jotham Michnovicz, and brewmaster John Bullard, Gabe and David came up with a plan.

“When we announced it internally, I think the mantra was making things better,” Jotham said. “That’s one of the things we really want to do in New Mexico and lives in general is just make things better. We’re trying to create a cooperative environment that allows people competitive and fair wages, when that would not necessarily be an opportunity under other circumstances. The dignity of human life is a big deal to us. That’s one of the things we’re striving for in all capacities, whether it’s a co-worker or a customer.”

Jess added that it fits the Bosque model of engaging with the community.

“We really want to create a environment that’s going to enhance the lives of our co-workers, all these new co-workers as well, (and) create a community around this Restoration Pizza that kind of engages the community more and makes an impact,” she said. “We’re always looking for those opportunities internally. And then, to have this new branch of our company that’s going to hopefully provide that even more for a wider range of people with different abilities is really exciting to us. It’s a lot of gray areas and unknowns that we need to sort out still, but I think overall usually our mission is to make things better, to engage our community, to outdo ourselves. This opportunity, I think, is going to be a shining example.”

The plan is to have Restoration Pizza open before the end of 2018. Bosque will also be working with Adelante Development Center, a local non-profit that works with differently abled persons.

It will only be the latest in a seemingly never-ending series of projects for the Bosque staff, who continue to push the company forward. The Bernalillo facility is nearly finished, though no exact opening date has been set, while ground should be broken soon on the Open Space project along the Interstate 25 frontage road, which will replace the current San Mateo brewery and taproom. After all that is completed? Oh, we expect Bosque is far from done.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Festival season begins now!

The annual Blazin’ Brewfest is set for today (Friday) along Main Street in downtown Las Cruces. A total of 18 breweries will be present, some from as far away as Abiquiu, Clovis, Santa Fe, and Taos, to many of the Albuquerque breweries and the locals down south.

Things kick off at 5 p.m., with tickets costing $20 per person. There may still be some online and more available at the gate while supplies last.

This is a NM Brewers Guild event, so if you are in Southern New Mexico/West Texas, or are willing to make the drive down, please show up and support the Guild.

Need any final convincing? How about knowing what’s on tap? We have 15 of the 18 breweries’ lists, and will add the others if they pop into our inbox.

  • UPDATED—>Abbey: Monks’ Wit, Monks’ Ale, Monks’ Dark, Monks’ Golden, Monks’ Dubbel, Monks’ Tripel Reserve
  • Bosque: Lager, IPA, Elephants on Parade, Brewers Boot Amber Ale, Scotia Scotch Ale, Pistol Pete’s 1888 Blonde Ale, Driftwood Oatmeal Stout, Citronic Sessions
  • Canteen: Exodus IPA, Raspberry Wheat, Laid Back Lager, Dougie-Style Amber
  • High Desert: Rio Rift IPA, Cerveza, Saison, Peach Wheat, Dark Bock
  • Kaktus: TBA
  • La Cumbre: BEER, A Slice of Hefen, Elevated IPA, Project Dank IPA, Snafued Hazy IPA (special tapping at 7 p.m.)
  • Little Toad Creek: Smarte Blonde, Copper Ale, Grumpy Old Troll IPA, Pendejo Porter
  • Marble: Double White, Passionate Gose, Cholo Stout, Pilsner, DIPA (cans), Imperial Red (cans)
  • Pecan Grill: TBA
  • Picacho Peak: Picacho Lite, Cafe Negro Black IPA, Dukes Reserve, Mandarina Nugget, Keller Hefe, Dry Bones Irish Xtra Stout
  • Red Door: Unhinged Cider, Roamer Red, Threshold IPA, Vanilla Cream Ale
  • Roosevelt: Eleanor’s Blonde Ale, Portales Pale Ale, Full Stop Amber Ale, Clovis Point IPA
  • Santa Fe: Reluctant IPA (Hazy Imperial), 7K IPA, Twisted Root
  • Second Street: Red and Yellow Armadillo (Imperial Red), 2920 IPA, Agua Fria Pilsner, Kolsch, Rod’s Best Bitter
  • Spotted Dog: Raspberry Truffle Ale, Chien de la Passion (Sour Farmhouse), SD IPA, Dunkelweizen, Kolsch, Spring Thing (Belgian Farmhouse)
  • Steel Bender: Manana Tropical IPA, Red Iron Red, Steel Bender Lager, Raspberry Dynamite, Ingenio (bottles)
  • Taos Mesa: TBA
  • Tractor: Thai Basil Mint Cider, Apricot Wheat, Coloring Night (Fruited Wheat)

We put some of our favorites in bold from the breweries we visit regularly here in the ABQ and Santa Fe areas. Try those, try different ones, just do whatever makes you a happy beer lover.

If you head out tonight and have some pictures you would like to share far and wide on social media, send them over to nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com, or to any of our pages on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Just stay safe and have a great time. Here’s to supporting local beer!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Somebody has a new home on Candelaria, not far from La Cumbre!

For anyone that was still unaware, Southwest Grape and Grain has moved to a new home at 3401 Candelaria Blvd NE on the north side of the street just west of Carlisle. As the Crew’s main home brewer at this point, I, Franz Solo, headed over to meet with owner Donavan Lane to get a tour of the new space, and gain some sense of what he has planned going forward. We first took a look at the main sales floor.

Donavan: Kind of the same setup as before, a little bit more space up here. It is amazing how much of a difference a few hundred square feet makes. I mean, we had maybe only 400 square feet of additional space in the showroom area compared to the old location, but it makes a huge difference. 

Solo: That it does, because you actually have space around the counter. You’ve got easy access to all of the different sections which are all easier to see. A definite improvement to the shopping experience, in my opinion. 

Space, glorious space!

Donavan: Yeah, this will allow us to look at maybe some other products to bring in, and we have more than enough floor space where if we need to add in another shelf or two we can definitely do that. So we will be looking at that in the next couple of months, some other possible products to carry. 

The grain room is pretty much the same setup we had at the other shop.

Solo: But it’s just so nice and open and …

Donavan: Visible?

Solo: Yeah, visible, it’s not tucked around the corner in the back.

Donavan: Especially for our existing customer base who have been brewing for a long time and coming to us, they knew to go down the hall at the old shop and the grain room is right there. But, for new customers they would walk in and they would never even know this was part of the store, and just having the display bins with all of the different malts it’s just cool looking. So when we designed the space I knew I wanted windows, I wanted this to be visible. The nice thing is that this is kind of a focal point of the store now which is great. 

Southwest Grape and Grain now has a dedicated classroom space.

As some of you may remember from brewing classes offered at the old location, they were held kind of in the middle of everything. I’m glad to say that Grape and Grain now has a dedicated classroom area off of the main floor. We talked a little bit about plans for this space now and in the future.

Donavan: So since we have this space designated as a classroom, I mean we are looking to expand our offering of classes, try to team up with more people on that. I’ve been talking to Brian (Langwell, of Left Turn Distillery) for probably an entire year that we ought to set up a distilling class and things like that. I have a friend who does one of those paint and wine class things, so we will probably look at setting up and doing those here. 

Solo: I mean it is a great space for it.

Donavan: Any other classes we can offer to utilize this space will be something we have in mind. 

The future brewing room and growler fill stations are in the back corner.

New and forthcoming additions to the shop will include a growler-filling station and dedicated brewing area for brewing on site, which is awesome all around.

Donavan: We have our walk-in cooler and our growler-fill station, the intent of it kind of is to brew a few of our own beers, which we will put on tap more as demonstrations than anything. The idea being that if you want to make an IPA or something, here’s one on tap and here are all of the ingredients in a box kind of a thing.

Solo: Yeah, make it and see how yours turns out and then you can learn something and have fun doing it.

Donavan: We eventually plan on putting 20 taps of all of the different local breweries. If a customer wants a pint while they are shopping, that’s great. Overall, however, the focus will be on growler fills, get your homebrew ingredients, get your local beer, and take it home to enjoy while you are brewing. 

This will eventually be our brewing room once we get it finished out the rest of the way. I still have a little 2-barrel system that I had at Broken Bottle, so we are going to set it up and then bring in a few small 1-barrel fermenters and start offering brew on premises. We are looking to do collaborations with Worthogs, Dukes of Ale, with you guys, and so on. Ariel (Figueroa, of Worthogs and a good friend of ours) and I have talked about maybe doing another Battle of the Beer Geeks type of thing, doing another little kind of twist on that with all of the different beer-related clubs in town. 

Make sure to get some reading materials.

Solo: Sounds great to me, the more brewing the better. 

Donavan: We are still waiting, though. We haven’t yet officially submitted our (small brewer) license yet. I’ve got it almost completely done, but the last couple of months with trying to finish up the remodel here and plan the move and everything. 

Solo: Yeah, you’ve had enough on your plate. 

Donavan: It finally just got to the point where I was trying to get it done in the evenings and stuff. Eventually, I had to just put it on the back burner for the time being, get the move done and then finalize it when everything else was all done. Hopefully sooner rather than later we will get it all taken care of and be able to start utilizing this brewing space and get the growler station going.

Solo: It’ll be fun for sure. It’s cool seeing this coming to reality having talked to you, what was it, over a year ago?

Donavan: Yeah, when I bought the shop from Kevin (Davis). It took a lot of planning and between finding the right building and getting a landlord that was willing to work with you and all of the different stuff involved there. But yeah, it’s finally done. Well, mostly done. 

The hops and yeast fridges made their way to the new location.

Solo: You have all of the main stuff tackled.

Donavan: The rest of the stuff is pretty much kind of the same. We tried to keep the same sort of layout and flow of it as close as we could to the other shop. You’ve got your hop fridge, your yeast fridge, your DME and LME, and all of that stuff together, your equipment and kits and stuff all together. So that it is the best possible flow we could create for the layout at this point. Of course, as time goes on we will refine placement of items and such, but the basic idea is already in place. 

The other longer-term thing is that when we get our brewer’s license, we had it put in the lease (that) this outdoor space is ours to utilize. So we are going to put a few chairs and tables out here in this little patio space where you will be able to sit out(side) and have a beer if you want to. Saturday at the grand opening for national homebrew day we had everyone out here where it was the perfect space for everyone to set up and do their brewing demos. Our focus isn’t to try to be a brewery or a taproom or a bar, but to try to bring a little bit of that into the shop is what we had in mind, something of the whole beer experience in one place. If La Cumbre is packed on a weekend and you were on your bike, you can just come over and have a beer here, or once people know that we are doing this you can come down and get three different growlers from three different breweries all in one place. 

Solo: Don’t have to drive all around town to get multiple fills which is quite convenient. Awesome. 

Donavan: It’s been a long couple of months, but it’s mostly all done.

Solo: Hey, you’ve got it man, you’re here.

The grain room is so much more open now.

So for all of you homebrewers out there, head over to the relocated Southwest Grape and Grain and check it out for all of your brewing needs. We will keep you posted as well with any updates to the brewer license/growler station as they come our way.

Until next time, I bid you happy brewing and Skål!

— Franz Solo

Take a trip to Silver City this Saturday for Toad Fest at Little Toad Creek.

Last year, the Crew was heading back from our tour of the southeast breweries when we made the rather crazy decision to suddenly head over to Silver City to catch Toad Fest at Little Toad Creek. This small-but-fun festival, run by the NM Brewers Guild, is a fun way for folks in the southwest corner of the state to try some unique beers from up north.

This year is no different, as the Guild is taking 19 beers* from Albuquerque and Santa Fe breweries. Many of them are specialty and seasonal offerings, rather than just the usual packaged or house beers. Toad Fest will take place Saturday from 2 p.m. to midnight at the Little Toad Creek Taproom on the corner of Broadway and Bullard Streets. The beers will be tapped inside at the main bar and outside in the courtyard/patio area on the east side of the building. There will be a beer garden in the alleyway with games, too.

The live music lineup is Amos Torres at 2 p.m., Sissy Brown at 5 p.m., and Shotgun Calliope at 8 p.m.

Now, as for those beers, here are the 19 we were informed about (hence the * above). Little Toad Creek said on the event’s Facebook page that there will be 24 available, including some from its own supply.

  • Bombs Away: Hellfire Green Chile Golden
  • Bosque: Strawberry Sabotage, The Good Place (PA)
  • Broken Trail: Pepe the Mule, Double Black Ale
  • La Cumbre: Project Dank, Slice of Hefen
  • Marble: Session IPA, El Gabacho
  • Nexus: Imperial Cream Ale, Scotch Ale
  • Red Door: Roamer Red, Vanilla Cream Ale
  • Santa Fe: 7K IPA, Twisted Root
  • Tractor: Lemon & Honey, Goathead Hador (Doppelbock)
  • Turtle Mountain: Copper Lager, Amnesia Ale

Per the event page, Sidetrack and Taos Mesa are also scheduled to be available, so if we learn the identity of those beers, we will update this list.

Luke and I had a great time at Toad Fest last year. The event was packed, but not overly crowded. The staff and crowd were friendly and helpful. It was a great way to enjoy some beers and soak in the culture of the mountain town.

If you need to get out of town for the weekend, consider Toad Fest.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Who wouldn’t be smiling after taking over as a head brewer?

A few months ago, the Crew was surprised to see an advertisement for a head brewer position at Red Door Brewing. We were less surprised by the identity of the person who eventually earned the right to succeed founding brewer Wayne Martinez.

Matt Meier, formerly of La Cumbre and Marble, has taken the reins at Red Door after crossing off every box on the checklist of owner Matt Biggs.

“We solicited resumes from a ton of people, a lot of them from out of state,” Biggs said. “I think for us, it was really nice to be able to hire in state and preferable, because we know the quality of beer inside New Mexico and we don’t necessarily know the quality of beer outside of New Mexico, which can be hit or miss. When we look at people trained by certain breweries, we have no idea what (quality) that brewery was.

“We got a (lot) of resumes from people locally, and we narrowed it down to a few people, and at the end of the day in terms of experience and kind of personality and all the different factors, we had a really tough time making the decision when we started interviewing New Mexicans. We just felt Matt fit the bill of what we’re looking for, which is somebody that’s ready to take that next step (and) really excited about doing that, also. I’m pretty happy that we did that so far.”

For Matt Meier, the chance to take charge of his own brewhouse was too good to pass up.

“For me, I saw it as kind of like when you’re shopping for a house,” Meier said. “It’s got good bones. I want to put my twist on it. It’s got a good group of regulars. It’s got its two other taprooms. It’s ready to blast off. It just needs something to stand apart, to make it separate. In this town, there’ s a brewery every quarter of a mile it seems. I want to give people a reason. It’s easy to pass us on the way to La Cumbre. I want people to peek in the parking lot to see cars, (say) oh, man, something is happening over there. I want this place to, like I said, just start popping up on people’s radars.”

Matt Meier, left, handled his first Crew interview with aplomb.

Meier started his brewing career on the other side of the country.

“Before we moved out here, my wife and I, she landed a job at UNM, we were in South Carolina,” he said. “I brewed at a 3-barrel brewhouse called Conquest, and that’s in Columbia. That’s where I cut my teeth brewing. Before that, I was a lowly bottle line guy at Thomas Creek Brewing in Greenville. I’ve been in the industry for seven years, but only brewing in Albuquerque for two.”

Meier said he learned a lot in those two years, mainly from one brewmaster in particular.

“When I first moved here two years ago, I got a job at Marble. I was working up at the Heights with (Josh) Trujillo. He was probably the greatest influence on my brewing that I could ever ask for, he’s like frickin’ Yoda. He is, he’s like a brewer Yoda. I learned so much under that guy, and I will forever be indebted to him.

“That led me to getting a job at La Cumbre, and that was my most recent place, shift brewing for them. When this came open, I jumped at it. I finally got a place where I can stretch out my creativity and put my spin on some beers. That was my Albuquerque brewing experience.”

Meier is certainly not the first new head brewer to spring up from the ranks at the two biggest breweries in town. Kaylynn McKnight (Toltec/Nexus) and David Kimbell (Bombs Away) both cut their teeth at La Cumbre, while Mick Hahn (Turtle Mountain) and Andrew Krosche (Kellys/Chama River) got their brewing starts at Marble.

Matt tells us all about his New England IPA (full haze was not yet in effect when we visited).

During his time in Albuquerque, Meier said he learned what the local craft beer-loving crowd likes.

“Oh, hops,” he said. “As long as we can afford it, I’ll give it to them. Hops are expensive. I was lucky enough that the owner here, Matt Biggs, kind of let the leash off me on my first beer so I could spend a little bit on some hops and different yeast. I’ll throw hops at a few beers every now and again. It’s not sustainable to do it every beer, I wish I could.”

That first beer was the New England IPA that debuted Friday. Franz Solo went ahead and reviewed that beer for us already, and if our resident chief hophead liked it, it should be a popular beer with most folks around town.

“That’s my first special that they let me write, that I could actually fit my beer into the schedule,” Meier said. “That has Mosaic, Citra, and El Dorado. Now I’ve got a good portion of all those great hops in the back. Future beers will be designed around them. Getting rid of those hops is a tough, tough task.”

Meier was smiling when he said that last line. He was still smiling when he went over the other beers he has on the schedule.

“The next special I’m brewing (is) an English-style IPA, it’s a little toned down, a little malty, English malt, English hops,” Meier said. “It’s sessionable, well, my definition of sessionable. It’s still above 5 percent. That came from inspiration from our (distribution) guy, David Garcia. Him and I were talking and he’s really been looking for a good English IPA around (town). I’ve got the yeast for it coming off this New England IPA, let’s do an English IPA. After that, I’m going to keep that yeast strain going, do an ESB.”

Fans of some of the most popular past seasonals at Red Door need not panic that those beers are all going by the wayside.

“I’ve got plans to bring back the Blackberry Hefeweizen that was popular last summer here,” Meier said. “So yeah, I am going to listen to what the regulars want, what the employees said sold (in the past). I’m not trying to rock the boat too much. That will be out probably right around Albuquerque Beer Week.

“I’ve (also) got a Berliner Weisse and a pilsner planned. That probably covers the next two months of specials. Then we’ll see what so far I’ve made, what the feedback is, and if the people want me to bring back New England (or) bring back English.”

It is a rare thing indeed to get three Crew members in on one interview. The power of the beer, and actual free time, compelled us.

To brew all those new beers, while also keeping the year-round beers in good supply, Meier said he will need some new equipment.

“It’s funny you mention that, we are ordering a new hot liquor tank,” he said. “We currently do not have one. We have an empty 30-barrel fermenter that I heat up all my hot water in the kettle. I mash in from the kettle, fill it up, heat it, and send it over to the fermenter for my sparge water. Then send it back over top while I’m sparging. That’s not sustainable, that’s not going to work forever. Right now I can only do one batch of beer a day. We’ve got a 7-barrel brewhouse and 15-barrel fermenters, so I have to brew twice to fill them. It’s just time consuming.”

Meier made a list of everything else the brewery needs to move forward.

“First order of business, I gave Matt Biggs an inventory of what I think we can use,” he said. “It kind of goes with his thoughts of let’s grow. He wants this taproom filled, he wants distro to be able to step it up. Right now we have the reins on distro because we have to keep up with the taprooms. I don’t want to ever hold back from selling more beer.”

Another major benefit of having the hot liquor tank will be to free up that 30-barrel fermenter, which is the biggest tank in the brewery.

“(Once) we’ve got that hot liquor tank, we’re going to be filling up that 30-barrel vessel that has been a holding tank,” Meier said. “We’ll get that moved out, get the glycol hooked up, and I’ve asked Matt to purchase a 30-barrel bright. Then we’ll brew into that full-time. Then I’ll only have to brew IPA once a month. That frees up a fermenter every two or three weeks for another special.”

As anyone working in a brewery knows, there is no sense in putting an exact timetable on the arrival of the equipment, but it should be sooner than later.

“Right now, we’re at the mercy of tank manufacturers and their backlog of orders,” Meier said. “Once we get that hot liquor tank and bright in here, we’ll get rocking and rolling.”

Red Door will also be increasing its supply of kegs.

“Every day we find ourselves cleaning six to 10 kegs just to make sure tomorrow’s kegs get full,” Meier said. “I want to make sure that we’re not depending on collecting empty kegs to fill orders for tomorrow. We want to have a little bit of a backlog of kegs and that will open up things for distro.”

Franz Solo went back and got the New England IPA to take home.

An ideal outlook for the future at Red Door would see more growth, possibly beyond the city limits, Meier said. That will all depend on finances, of course.

“I would love to see it grow into production,” Meier said. “If we can prove in town that this is a brand people respect and will continue to visit, then it’s worth taking it outside of Albuquerque. Which, without money being an issue, (means we) get a bigger brewhouse. Then we get rid of the 15-barrel fermenters and brights; then we get 30s. Baby steps, we’ll get there.

“I would love that to be the vision of this brewery, just to keep growing it. It’s in a good spot right now with its three taprooms and this core brewery, but growing into other markets, growing this Albuquerque market, trying to grow our pie share, we’ll see what happens.”

If everything goes right and Red Door eventually outgrows its space on Candelaria, Meier said he has a plan for that as well.

“We’ve got plenty of room to grow for this facility, by no means are we talking about a new building at this point,” he said, before adding with a laugh, “But hey, if it comes to it and money is not an issue, we’ll build a huge Bernalillo brewery right next to Bosque.”

All of us in the Crew are looking forward to what the two Matts can do with Red Door going forward. The New England IPA is a great start. Head on over to any of the three locations and let us know what you think.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

It’s party time, excellent! (Image courtesy of Marble)

In case anyone has somehow missed it, Marble Brewery is celebrating its 10th anniversary this week. The first in a wave of modern craft breweries in New Mexico, Marble has set so many standards for the industry that we felt it would only be appropriate if we went out and put together a week’s worth of stories.

First up, of course, is letting everyone know what is happening this week. To make sure we had all the info, I sat down with marketing and events coordinator Geraldine Lucero.

Today (Monday)

“The series of events, it all starts on Monday,” Geraldine said. “We’re collaborating with Farm & Table for our 10-year anniversary beer dinner. We put (two) of our gold medal (winning) beers on the menu, so we’re going to be doing the triple-berry gose, the Cholo Stout and Imperial Red — those are our two golds — and then we added a Smoked Helles, and Ringleader, our 10-year anniversary ale.”

All of that represents the good news. The bad news is the dinner already sold out last Tuesday, so if you did not make a reservation in time, our condolences. You can still try most of those beers at any of the taprooms, and of course visit Farm & Table on another night to still indulge in some great food.

Wednesday

This will mark the official release of the 10th anniversary beer, Ringleader, at all three taprooms. Ringleader is basically Double White that has been bottle conditioned (or stainless steel keg conditioned) with brettanomyces added into the mix. Bottles will be for sale in addition to the beer being on tap.

“Brett fermentation under pressure creates a different spectrum of flavors than the fermentation in barrels,” head brewer John Heine said.

There will also be live music downtown by The Dirty Shades from 6 to 9 p.m.

Thursday

The Westside taproom is throwing a party of its own, one with a specific theme.

“Thursday we’re doing something pretty fun at the Westside, an 80s-themed prom with DJ Wae Fonkey,” Geraldine said. “We’re encouraging patrons to dress up in their 80s prom attire. It’s from 7 to 10. The Westside is all about 80s dance parties. It’s so much fun. It’s prom season, so let’s do 80s prom. We’re pretty stoked about that.”

Admission is free, and the best dressed will be crowned as king and queen. We can confirm that one brave member of the Crew is going to this event, so please, send us lots of ridiculous photos of Brandon if you can find him in the crowd.

Friday

Yes, we know it is the infamous 4/20, and brewers around town know that as well. Expect a lot of hop-forward beers, and Marble will be in on the fun with the return of DIPA Especial at all locations. Pherkad will provide the music downtown from 8 to 11 p.m., while Ray Anthony and Powerslyde will be at the Heights from 7 to 10, and The Deal will be at the Westside from 8 to 11.

Saturday

There is gonna be quite the gathering down there this weekend.

This is the day of the main anniversary party that will take over not only the entirety of the downtown taproom, but Marble Street outside and the north parking lot as well.

“Saturday is the big day, the big anniversary festival,” Gerladine said. “We’re opening at noon. We’re going to have a Marble Market in our north parking lot with 12 vendors. This lot will be closed down. We have a pretty good mix of people with some really, really cool stuff. We have a photo booth that’s going to be sponsored by the Watermelon Mountain Ranch. We’re going to take donations for that.”

There will also be a dunk tank and a raffle for Southwest Airlines tickets.

“The money that these non-profits make is all for them,” Geraldine said. “We just wanted them to be a part of this.”

Out front will be the main party area.

“Marble Street is going to be shut down with two extra beer stations,” Geraldine said. “Then inside the tents we’ll have a stage for performance artists, magicians, dancers, belly dancing. We’re setting up a fortune teller underneath the stairs, that will be kind of cool.”

Customers are encouraged to get in on the carnival/circus theme, so grab your best costumes or throw something together. The idea is anything goes (within the realm of decency, of course).

Geraldine said the food truck lineup is set, with Don Choche leading off from noon to 8 p.m. That truck has been with Marble since almost the beginning. Street Food Institute will join the fun from 2 to 10, and Gourmet Doner Kabob will be on hand from 4 to 11:30.

The music lineup runs as follows:

  • Silver String Band noon-1 p.m.
  • Tres Pendejos 1:15 p.m.-2 p.m.
  • Concepto Tambor 2:20 p.m.-3:20 p.m.
  • Reviva 3:40 p.m.-4:40 p.m.
  • Baracutanga 5 p.m.-6 p.m.
  • Mondo Vibrations 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m.
  • Red Light Cameras 8:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m.

The event is free up until 3 p.m., then it costs $5 to get in. Children are permitted with an accompanying adult until 8 p.m.

“We’re putting a lot of energy into this party on Saturday,” Geraldine said. “I’m so excited for it, it’s going to be awesome.”

Monday, April 23

The final event is for brew club members only at the downtown location.

“Then on Monday the 23rd we’re having our brew club appreciation party,” Geraldine said. “That’s on the rooftop deck from 6 to 8 p.m. Music by DJ Leftovers, he’ll be doing a vinyl set, with small bites provided by Artichoke Cafe. We’ll be doing a sneak peek of some beers not on tap at any location yet. That will be fun.”

Having recently tried a few unreleased beers at the Mav Lab in the Heights (thanks again, Josh), I can say you are all in for a treat.

We will continue with our look at 10 years of Marble with a bit of a history lesson from president Ted Rice on Tuesday.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

It was a festive atmosphere at Tart at Heart last year.

Sour lovers can rejoice for the fourth time as Tart at Heart is set to return to Sister on April 14 from 2 to 5 p.m. To get the scoop, I sat down with organizer Angelo Orona of Craft King Consulting over beers this week.

“It’s going to be a similar approach as the (three) last years,” Angelo said. “Of course, we have a couple tricks up our sleeve. We’ve got really great beers. We’ve got some local breweries, some regional breweries, and of course we’ve got some stuff from Europe as well. We’ve got some ringers.”

VIP tickets are $50 apiece and available online only. That is so customers can order the right size commemorative T-shirt that comes with the ticket. VIP gets customers in one hour early at 1 p.m. with a custom beer glass and unlimited tastings.

General admission tickets cost $35 apiece and can also be purchased online, or at Sister itself or Jubilation. Angelo said that if there are any tickets remaining on the day of the event they will be sold at the door, but Tart at Heart is limited to 300 tickets total. Last year, only about two tickets were available at the door.

One complaint from last year was how jammed it felt inside, so Angelo said they will correct that this time around.

“Last year we got some feedback about how crowded it was,” he said. “Obviously Sister Bar has limited space. They’re known for being a pretty intimate concert venue that has great beer and great food now. But, what we noticed is last year we invited 300 people to Tart at Heart, we’re going to have the same number of tickets, but we’re going to spread the breweries out over a larger area so they’re not all in that U-shape inside the dance floor. Hopefully that will get some better flow in there, spread the crowd out a little bit, so everyone is not bumping while mingling. That was probably the most consistent feedback I heard from last year.”

Fans should expect a little more elbow room at Sister this year.

The popularity of sours has not ebbed since the first Tart at Heart in 2015, and if anything the availability of the style has increased significantly, especially on a local level. Angelo said it would be nice to believe that has event has helped broaden the palates of local beer drinkers, but he explained that it probably goes beyond that.

“We’d like to think so, but honestly it’s really about I think the beer IQ of the common craft beer drinker is way higher than it was when we started,” he said. “I think people go through phases of wanting the highest ABV, hoppiest IPA that they could find. Eventually I noticed a lot of them end up at sours as they progress at stuff. I think the natural evolution of a craft beer drinkers’ palate is to gravitate towards more esoteric and unique beers as they get more experienced.”

The rise of dedicated sour programs at local breweries means more local entries will be present this year.

“This year Dialogue is sending us some beer,” Angelo said. “They’re going to send us a blood orange gose. We have Rowley Farmhouse (and) they’re going to send us three separate beers. They’re going to be pouring out of bottles. They’ll have one beer that’s exclusive to VIP. They’re keeping some of those under wraps, they’re pretty special, (and) they want to keep it a surprise until the event. Marble is going to send us two archived beers that they’re being a little tight-lipped about as well, which is good for us, we like the surprise element of that.”

Angelo said that Steel Bender is also confirmed to attend, and others are lined up, but have yet to confirm.

Among the international entries, one of note is Brewski’s Beet Me With Passion, Honey!, a Berliner Weisse from Sweden made with beets, passionfruit, and honey. Some of the others that have been confirmed are as follows (we will update this list as more beers are announced).

  • Goose Island Madame Rose and Foudre Project #2
  • Bell’s La Pianiste
  • New Belgium Apple Felix (Love Series)
  • Birra Toccalmato’s Salty Angel (from Italy)

There will also be a charity component to the event, with a portion of the proceeds going to a local family that has two children who have been diagnosed with Gaucher disease, a genetic disorder.

Get those tickets fast before they are gone.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister