Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Duel ABQ taproom closes after all

Posted: October 8, 2018 by cjax33 in News
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Farewell, Duel taproom, we hardly knew ye.

The Duel Brewing taproom in downtown Albuquerque is no more.

After hearing rumors for a week, the Crew ventured downtown last Wednesday to see for ourselves if the taproom had indeed closed. By all appearances, it has been shut down, and with the deletion of the site’s Facebook page, we feel confident in writing that the taproom has closed.

We had been waiting for a response from Duel owner Trent Edwards, but he has not written us back. Our last communication with him came after this story, in which we noted that there was an advertisement online for the taproom space being up for lease. Edwards vehemently denied that his taproom was closing in a series of emails, culminating with an official statement that simply read “On the record: Duel Taproom ABQ is not closing.” We received that email on September 7, but nothing since.

This sign was posted adjacent to the Duel taproom.

Our quick visit to the taproom, after its posted time of opening (2 p.m.), found the entire building to be dark. A large for lease sign, by Coe & Peterson Properties, was on the outside. While the big logo was still up on the upper facade of the building, the front entrance had been scraped clean of the logo and hours of operation. There was no visible movement inside as all the lights were off, with the chairs still up on the tables.

People involved in the downtown music/arts scene informed us that all of the events scheduled at Duel had been relocated to other nearby breweries, including Sidetrack and Boese Brothers.

Right now, we can only speculate as to why the taproom closed. The likeliest cause is that it simply was not making enough money to cover the cost of the lease for such a large space. Duel had one of the largest, if not the largest, off-site taprooms in the state. Throw in the location on Central, where rent costs are higher than elsewhere in the city, and it was seemingly tough to make a profit. Again, though, this is only speculation until we have an official interview with Edwards.

The Duel signage had already been scraped off the main entrance.

Duel is the second downtown taproom to close in recent months, following Monk’s Corner, which shut down due to financial reasons at the end of July. That leaves only Boese Brothers, Sidetrack, and the Red Door taproom in downtown proper (we consider Marble to be a part of the Wells Park neighborhood since it is north of Lomas) in terms of craft-beer-specific establishments. Downtown breweries in the 1990s included the first Rio Bravo Restaurant and Brewery and San Ysidro Brewing, which closed in 1998 and 1997 respectively.

Our condolences to Duel’s fans in ABQ. We hope everyone in Santa Fe continues to support the brewery there.

— Stoutmeister

This dirt lot on the corner of Alameda and San Pedro will be the future home of a new Santa Fe Brewing taproom.

By now, you’ve probably have already heard of Roy Solomon’s new Green Jeans-style project coming soon to the Northeast Heights in Albuquerque. If you haven’t caught the story, click on over to our friends at ABQ Business First for the details about the new shipping-container project called Tin Can Alley. They have the scoop on the restaurants and other establishments that will reside on the northeast corner of Alameda and San Pedro.

But, if you’re not bent on switching over, and because we’re the Dark Side Brew Crew, we’ve got a few more details on the beer side of things.

The story mentions that Santa Fe Brewing Company will open yet another taproom in this new Albuquerque location. But, how can that be, since they are maxed out with three existing off-site taprooms?

Friend to the industry and Crew, Brian K. BikeRider asked, on Facebook: “According to the report (…), a Santa Fe brewing taproom will be located at this new development. As most know, State law allows local brewers to have a tasting room at their brewery and three off-side taprooms. Right now, Santa Fe Brewing has three off-site taprooms: Green Jeans Farmery (Albuquerque), Eldorado (Santa Fe), and the Brakeroom (Santa Fe).

He continues, “This begs the question when this SFBC taproom opens at the new Tin Can Alley development in Albuquerque, which existing taproom is going away?”

Good question, Mr. BikeRider, good question.

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SFBC owner Brian Lock enjoying a beer after getting fully permitted for the new event space in 2016.

For answers, we decided to go straight to the source, Santa Fe Brewing owner Brian Lock. In an email, he replied, “Santa Fe Brewing Co. has applied for a Small Wine Grower License with AGD (Alcohol and Gaming Division) back in August and will be going in front of the BCC here in Santa Fe on October 30 for the license approval. Santa Fe Brewing Co. has been doing R&D for the past four months producing its own cider and provided the license is granted, then three additional taprooms will become available under that license. So my plan is not to close any existing taprooms, unless the approval does not go through, in which case I will have to make a decision.”

So, there you go. I think we got the answer we were looking for, for now. And, we’ll have to wait and see how things press out. Ha. And, bonus, we got to take a sneak peek into the future direction of Santa Fe Brewing! How do you like them apples?

Now, in case you didn’t grab the details from the other article, they’re aiming at doing much of the same as they had with Green Jeans Farmery with a lot more space to work with, this includes taking care of previous concerns, for example, doubling the parking. And, if you previously had trouble finding a seat on their rooftop patio at Green Jeans, there will be about 7,000 square feet of space with mountain views to enjoy SFBC’s latest creations paired with some international cuisine.

The new SFBC taproom will be around 4,500 square feet, but the plan is that the entire complex will be permitted, so you can take your beer and wander around with it like a Hawaiian shirt-wearing party guy in Vegas or New Orleans.

The new shipping container mega facility will be located on the corner of Alameda and San Pedro. They’re looking at a July opening, so it’s my guess/opinion that it’ll be another September opening for Solomon and company. (You know how things go with permitting/licensing in ABQ.)

To another fun location for families with adults to play in the ABQ area, and to Santa Fe Brewing Company’s future success, cheers!

— Luke

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Ballast Point tour and stuff.

For more #CraftBeer news, @nmdarksidebc info, and my beer ‘reviews,’ follow me on Twitter @SantaFeCraftbro!

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

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

Rio Bravo celebrates its third anniversary

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

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

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

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

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

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

ULLR Fest heralds winter’s eventual return

The mountain calls to you. Come to the beer.

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

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

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

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

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

Ex Novo will be at Corrales Harvest Festival

Oh, hello, beer fridge of goodness.

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

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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

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

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

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

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

(more…)

The old brewhouse is still going strong at Chama River, now brewing most of the beers for Kellys Brew Pub.

There are still faint echoes of the brewpub that was at Chama River. The booths are still there, the copper-top bar is still present, and much of the kitchen equipment remains. It has all gathered some dust since Chama closed its doors in August 2017, but one thing remains operational — the brewhouse.

Yes, there are still beers being made at Chama, even with the rest of the business shut down. That is where Andrew Krosche, the director of brewing operations for Santa Fe Dining, spends most of his time. With a year to reflect on what happened, I sat down with Andrew at that copper-top bar recently over pints of his crisp and clean American Pilsner.

“So when we took Kellys over and Chama was still open, plus Blue Corn, we had three breweries working independently under one umbrella,” Andrew said. “Once Chama was closed, we continued working out of Chama, that’s (assistant brewer) Cordell (Rincon) and I at the time, brewing for inter-company distribution under the Chama name cause there was a few beers throughout the restaurants that were staples.”

With the Chama brewhouse still at his disposal, Andrew soon decided how it would best be used.

“Somewhere around that time, when you’re only brewing enough to keep a few restaurants going, it’s hard to make sure the product is fresh,” he said. “So in response to that, also knowing that Kellys with pretty slow with lots of drama that happened right before we bought it, I decided to bring all the brewers together under one roof and work out of Chama’s system, that being the best system in the company. I spent a lot of time rebuilding this facility in the two years that Chama was still open. Also, it kind of gave everyone a chance to work on the same level, to understand my terminology and what was expected. Everyone was on the same page.”

The tanks are still full of beer in Chama’s walk-in cooler.

Andrew, along with Blue Corn head brewer Paul Mallory and Kellys head brewer Dan Cavan, have been able to stay on that same page since.

“Fast forwarding to now, we’ve got the eight house beers at Kellys, (plus) a few inter-company accounts up in Santa Fe,” Andrew said. “It works out very nicely to continue working out of here (because), one, we can brew smaller batches, keeping everything fresh, keeping the quality up. Everything is served out of kegs over at Kellys, so it’s easy enough to have them to place an order for the week and then we can just use the delivery van. In that case, it’s really nice.”

It also helps in one other area for Kellys.

“Kellys, obviously, doesn’t have a barrier between the brewery and the restaurant,” Andrew added. “It is kind of nice brewing here and not worrying about say guests wandering into the brew space. Not that it’s their fault, you would have no idea you couldn’t come back there. For me, it’s just a huge liability because if we’re CIPing and some caustic sprays onto some innocent bystander, it’s not the best of things.

“That’s kind of where we are with this facility. We’ve definitely been enjoying it with this little retreat.”

On occasion, the Kellys brewhouse does get fired up to make a beer or two.

“We have been brewing, or had been brewing, occasionally over there, keeping the machinery still going,” Andrew said. “It’s like an old car, you don’t want to let it sit too long or more problems start. That, and obviously we have to keep our small brewing license and we have to have a minimum of barrelage. So we do that to supplement, usually with some of our top sellers or brews that work really well on that system, as opposed to the ones here.”

Certain styles of beer actually tend to turn out better on Kellys’ system, as opposed to the Chama brewhouse.

“The water in this city is great for stouts, and they’ve got minor filter system and no softener,” Andrew said. “Brewing over there for something like the stout or apricot (wheat) is fine with the city water. Whereas over here, I would never brew the lager there. Here I’ve got a water treatment facility to ensure it’s the best I can make it for the water.”

What was once a bar is now a brewer’s office.

Andrew has managed to turn the bar area into his own office. His laptop and a pile of paperwork sit atop the bar. He keeps a few clean glasses behind the bar as well, for quality control and that sort of thing. Those couches that were over by the entrance have been moved to where the tables used to sit by the bar. There is one TV still running, with the laptop hooked up to it. A pile of beer books sits on one of the remaining tables below it.

As for how long this setup will continue for Andrew, Chama River, Kellys, and all the rest, it is a bit of an ongoing mystery.

“Honestly, I don’t even know,” he said. “I know we own it and (Santa Fe Dining president) Gerald Peters likes that he owns it. As far as I know, selling is not something that is an option. I’ve definitely written game plans for any scenario, mainly because if and when something happens, I want to make sure that my crew is ready, that we can handle it. Just a little preemptive planning, but you never know. This isn’t like moving some kitchen equipment, this is going to require weeks of moving. ”

The craft beer world around the old-timers like Kellys and Blue Corn continues to evolve, but for the most part, the brewpubs have seen neither a sharp rise in business, nor a sudden decline.

“Looking at numbers, if we’re just going to go barrelage-wise, nothing has really changed, at least since I’ve been running things,” Andrew said. “Blue Corn’s barrelage has been the same for the last four years or so. Chama’s was for the two years I was here with it. Kellys is about the same. We’re not getting massive growth. I think a lot of reasons for that is there’s a lot more places to go. There’s a lot more neighborhood pubs. The traffic of going to the places nearest to you is not ours nowadays.

“But, being steady and consistent, that’s a plus. I’m confident that with Paul already (winning) the IPA Challenge, I’m sure that his numbers are growing right now, which is great. With the changes that Dan and myself have kind of put (into) Kellys, working on recipe development and really trying to show the public that it’s different, I feel that we can start seeing a rise soon. Maybe not through this winter, but by next spring I feel like things will change for the better.”

With so many other craft beer options out there, Andrew said it has been tough convincing folks to give Kellys another chance.

“Unfortunately, yes, (but) then our marketing team is doing their best to let the public know that things are different,” he said. “I think the challenges that we run into is a lot of times Kellys is obviously one of the oldest breweries in Albuquerque and they had gained a (bad) reputation over so many years, that a lot of times people I feel when they hear Kellys they just kind of zone out.

“They’re not even paying attention that it is a new ownership, a new brewing team, a lot of it is word of mouth. I’ve been pushing a lot of festivals for Kellys. If we can’t get the public to hear us, let’s get some samples in their hands so we can prove to them right there, real time, that this product is superior to what it used to be.”

One of the ways to do that was to move some of the Chama recipes to Kellys.

“We did cross a few beers over to Kellys,” Andrew said. “The Sleeping Dog Stout is now a Kellys beer. We didn’t change it at all, it’s a strong, solid stout that’s been around forever. The Kellys IPA, for lack of a better word, is practically the Jackalope.”

Even brewers need a comfy spot to take a break now and again.

After a brief chat about the many late summer/early fall festivals, Andrew explained one of his other strategies with Kellys that differs from many of the other breweries around town.

“The way I’ve focused Kellys right now is, cause you were asking about what we’re taking to festivals and if we’ve changed it or not, we have eight house beers as opposed to your typical six and four specials,” he said. “What brings in regulars is your house beers, not your specials. We wanted a good, broad menu that caters to everyone’s tastes and really focus on those to make sure those are the best that we can give, and not worry about specials as much.

“When we build a menu for a festival, we typically don’t change it and we are very rarely going to take a special, because we want the house beers to be the focus. We want people to know they can come into the restaurant at any time and that beer will be there just as the way that they remembered it.”

Of course, just like any mad scientist brewer, Andrew is still cooking up some innovative seasonal/specialty beers from time to time.

“Speaking of specials, it’s very rare that we do one so when we do one we get pretty pumped about it, not sure when this is going to be released because we have to taste it over the next few weeks, but I just transferred an American pale ale into the server onto cocoa nibs and coconut extract,” he said. “So we’re making like a chocolate coconut pale ale, and it’s very hop forward. It drinks almost like an IPA, but the alcohol is like a pale ale. We’re pretty excited about it. It smells great. We picked the hop bill to match the coconut.”

We definitely look forward to trying that rather offbeat-sounding beer whenever it is ready. I will highly recommend the American Pilsner, as well, and Canteen head brewer Zach Guilmette swung by later to hang out for a bit, whereupon he declared it to be one of his favorite lagers in town.

For the most part, it is just good to see a great brewer like Andrew still getting to showcase his talent, even if the current setup between Chama and Kellys is a bit unusual. We encourage everyone to head back to Kellys and give the beers there another shot. We will certainly be stopping by after we get back from the Great American Beer Festival later this week.

Thanks to Andrew for the interview, the beers, and the tour through the ghostly little building he still inhabits.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Red Door soars toward year number four

Posted: September 12, 2018 by Franz Solo in Events, News
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Red Door brewer Matt Meier has a new beer ready for us on Friday!

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

Solo: So you have a fourth anniversary coming up.

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

Solo: He’s the best. 

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

See you all there and Skål!

— Franz Solo

That red building back there is the future home of Blue Grasshopper’s brewery and taproom in the Wells Park neighborhood.

The brewing conditions at the original Blue Grasshopper Brewery and Pub in Rio Rancho have always been more than a bit cramped. That will be changing in the future, but not through any expansion of that location. Instead, Blue Grasshopper is building a full-sized brewery in a renovated warehouse on the corner of Summer and Second Street in the Wells Park neighborhood.

I stopped by to visit brewer Peter Apers, who is overseeing the construction, on a smoky morning a couple weeks ago. (Remember the compost fire in the South Valley? Yeah, those were some unpleasant conditions to drive into.) Peter gave me a quick tour of the half of the 10,000 square-foot building that will be home to a taproom and a kitchen. The construction/demolition that day was largely focused on the half where the brewery will go.

“We needed a place to brew beer,” Peter said. “Neither of our places over there (on the West Side) really have the room. Rio Rancho can benefit from a full kitchen, so we need to get that brewing system out of there.”

The small brewhouse will become the pilot brewery at the new location, right on the north side of the bar/taproom area where customers can watch the brewers at work.

“This will be our pilot brewing system section,” Peter said. “We’re going to bring that small brewery over from Rio Rancho. We’ll do our recipe development here. The big space that you saw next door is going to be our main (brewing) area.”

The new brewhouse has not been ordered yet, but it could be one of the biggest in town.

“It’s still open for discussion, anywhere between 24 and 48 (barrels), but time will tell,” Peter said. “We’ll see how our beers are developed here and how that justifies growing that quick. If not, we’ll just do a co-op in there and put in a brew system we can co-op with the smaller brewers, give them a chance to go bigger. We have the space.”

A shot from earlier in the summer, courtesy of Blue Grasshopper, showing the ongoing interior construction.

Blue Grasshopper will still carry a large swath of beers from across the state. Peter said the cold room they are building can hold around 200 kegs, with the expectation of 100 beers on tap at any time.

“We’re going to represent all the brewing in New Mexico,” he said. We’re trying to get as many of their beers as we can. That’s been the whole idea from the beginning.

“The more beer you put on tap, the more space you need. It’s tough for our existing places to make that switch. They don’t the space to put in the (bigger) cold rooms, or the time to tear it all apart. It’s a bit premeditated.”

There will be a full kitchen on the south side of the taproom area to support all of that beer.

“This area also needs food,” Peter said. “There’s a lot of breweries here, but there’s really no food. For (Rio Bravo and Tractor) it was an afterthought, and it’s tough to do. Here we do it (in advance).”

Blue Grasshopper will also have a sizable patio on the east side of the building facing Second Street. As for the opening date, that is a long way from being set.

“We’re somewhere in the middle,” Peter said. “We’re taking it easy, baby steps. We’re in no hurry.”

There are still issues with the surrounding neighborhood that are beyond the control of Blue Grasshopper and the other nearby breweries. Peter said he hopes over time that the City of Albuquerque will be able to come with an actionable plan to deal with those issues.

“I think this area has tremendous potential as a brewery district, and it’s affordable,” he said. “That’s why we’re taking our time because (the City) is still trying to figure out how to grow this area, so to speak … figure out the infrastructure, all that stuff.”

The Crew will be sure to keep track of the ongoing progress for Blue Grasshopper. Thanks to Peter for the quick tour and interview.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Get your ABQ Hopfest beer lists here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The Red Door taproom in simpler times. And no, we don’t know what happened to all those floating red doors.

The abrupt closure of Red Door’s taproom at Wyoming and Comanche caught many people by surprise last Friday, but it had actually been the culmination of a month-long disagreement. During a stop at the main brewery to talk about the upcoming fourth anniversary party on Sept. 14, I learned a little more about the reason behind the taproom’s closure from owner Matt Biggs.

It all boiled down to a clause in the lease with 3517 Wyoming LLC, the landlord, that stated that Red Door would have the only taproom in the complex, Matt said. Meanwhile, next door, Poki Poki Cevicheria was expanding into adjacent suites in the building, but it was not a restaurant expansion. Poki Poki put in a boba bar in one suite, and what appeared to be a taproom in the next.

In the eyes of Red Door, that was a violation of the lease, Matt said. Red Door and the landlord tried to work a resolution for pretty much the entire month of August, but when they reached an impasse, Matt made the decision to shut down the taproom. Red Door filed a complaint in district court on Tuesday, beginning a lengthy legal process to reach a solution with 3517 Wyoming LLC. The LLC’s listed manager is Steve Coe, of the developer Coe & Peterson.

It is another sign of the difficulties in leasing commercial properties in Albuquerque.

To counter the bad news, Red Door also had some good news to share. Matt said the brewery recently signed an agreement for distribution with Premier.

“We balanced the pain of losing our taproom with this agreement,” Matt said.

For now, it will only be keg distribution, but Matt said “they want us to put the beer in cans.” That will take time to set up, but the current plan will be to start with Mother Road Mobile Canning and go from there. Matt and head brewer Matt Meier are working with Premier to figure out which beers to can, and then they will see what sells best and stick with that going forward.

We wish Red Door the best of luck going forward, both with distribution and with sorting out everything with its former taproom landlord. We will have more on the upcoming anniversary party next week.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Red Door abruptly closed its taproom on Wyoming last Friday, but patrons were able to enjoy one last pint or two.

The last month-plus has seen good and bad news coming out of several off-site taprooms around Albuquerque, ranging from two openings to two closings to other potential developments that have left folks wondering if the bubble is bursting. As a public service, we tried to sort through the rumors and figure out the solid facts.

On the good front, La Cumbre Westside and Tractor Westside are both humming along. Tractor opened first on McMahon, just east of Unser, and quickly captured the vibe of its other locations. La Cumbre opened to huge crowds with a touch of the original location blended with a more modern atmosphere. We also got good news that Quarter Celtic will open its first taproom in early 2019.

Then, there was everything else. First came the news at the end of July that Monks’ Corner was closing its doors. The location at Third and Silver was never able to draw in the crowds like Abbey Brewing had hoped, and in the end, the decision was made to shut down that taproom. Whether or not a replacement ever opens is something that will be decided at a later time.

Of course, since then, events might have given Abbey a reason to pause. All of us in the Crew were as surprised as anyone when Red Door abruptly announced the closure of its Northeast Heights taproom at Wyoming and Comanche. The taproom was packed with folks on Friday night, answering the call to help drink up as much of the beer on hand as possible. By the time I arrived around 9 p.m., there were only four house beers and the cider left on tap. All the seasonals were long gone.

I missed owner Matt Biggs by mere minutes, he later told me, but we will be meeting this week to discuss Red Door’s upcoming fourth anniversary. The reason given by Red Door in its social media posts was “a landlord dispute,” which sadly is not all that shocking around Albuquerque. Anyone remember when Pi Brewing had to shut down after its corporate landlord put off repairs to the damaged building for six months? (It had been hit by an out-of-control pickup truck that crashed off Coors.)

The specter of a bad landlord, or something similar, then seemed to crop up with the Soo-bak food truck posted that it was no longer going to park outside Tractor Nob Hill due to an unexplained dispute with the new property owner. That, in turn, led many to suspect Tractor would also shut down its original Albuquerque location, which has been serving folks since 2011. I contacted president/co-owner Skye Devore via email, and she said no one should panic, that Tractor is not closing the taproom.

“The building was purchased last year and we are working on adjusting to the new dynamic, which includes having a cafe next door, but we have no intention of shutting it down,” she wrote. “The food truck situation is delicate. In no way does Tractor want food trucks to cease service and their food will always be welcome in our Nob Hill location.”

So far, it seems this is an isolated incident rather than a radical change to the long symbiotic relationship between Tractor and the food trucks. Considering that the new landlord was also helping Tractor out by giving the brewery the space to expand its walk-in cooler and add more bathrooms, overall the relationship seems to be OK.

Now that everyone is breathing easy again, we feel that we can now report that the Duel taproom in downtown Albuquerque is closing some time in the near future. Real estate ads, like this one on Craigslist, have shown that the space is up for lease, though there has been no official announcement from the brewery in Santa Fe. Events are still listed through Saturday, September 15 on the taproom’s Facebook page, so it seems the closure is not necessarily imminent. We will keep an eye on the situation as it develops.

Before anyone starts screaming that the bubble is popping around here, most of these closures appear unconnected. It is possible to draw the line between Duel and Monks’ Corner, and the general difficulty of staying open downtown. People can point to the crime and other issues there, but we have long felt that downtown is simply a different animal as far as the crowd goes. It is not an area populated with craft beer lovers who want to kick back and relax, but is instead a more high-energy area of rising and falling trends. Basically, the downtown crowd is incredibly fickle, and with a few exceptions (Anodyne, looking at you), it can be very hard for any bar or taproom to gain a foothold there. Then throw in the issues with crime and the ongoing exodus of businesses from the area (which impacts lunchtime and happy hour crowds), and it pretty much conspired to kill Monks’ Corner and, apparently, Duel.

The boom times may be coming to a close, that is true, but it does not necessarily mean a massive contraction is at hand. Breweries and taprooms will not be shutting down en masse, but fewer and fewer are on the docket to open. At present, there are only three confirmed breweries pending for the ABQ metro area, plus three off-site taprooms.

In other words, yes, we have seemingly hit our saturation point. The remaining areas in town that lack craft beer are either too expensive in terms of rent, or too stricken by poverty. Darn, guess we will have to live with the award-winning breweries that are already here, instead of always looking to see who is coming next.

If anyone out there ever has any information for us on our local breweries, please, never hesitate to send it to us at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com, or contact us via our social media pages.

Until next time, stay positive, Burque.

— Stoutmeister