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Look, a full beer lineup all made on site is now at Lava Rock!

The last time any of us visited Lava Rock Brewing on the westside, an actual beer lineup was just starting to take form. Since then, we had received word that head brewer Ram Khalsa now has that promised full lineup on tap, and with some time to kill on a Tuesday afternoon, this here editor-in-need-of-a-story headed west of the Rio Grande to check it all out.

At this point, I should not expect to find myself as an anonymous drinker at any brewery in town. Ram was behind the bar, checking on the beers while more beer was being brewed in the back, and he was quick to welcome me to the brewery. I was promptly greeted with a sampler flight of six beers (which is standard), plus a seventh that he felt I needed to try.

Part of the impetus for trying those Lava Rock beers was due to the fact that the brewery, which now partners with M’tucci’s as its kitchen operator, is offering up a special this Wednesday. For $24, customers can get a flight of six 5-ounce samples of beer, each paired up with a specific appetizer.

  1. Gila Gose with shrimp and crab ceviche
  2. Shiprock Saison with honey balsamic chicken wings
  3. Petroglyph Wit with watermelon with feta and basil
  4. Brown Trout Lager with sausage orzo ragu
  5. 32 Bravo DIPA with BBQ meatballs with arugula and apple mustard
  6. Capulin Pale Ale with chocolate cherry tart with hazelnut cookie crust

Hello, sample tray. Not pictured, the Gila Gose. But, what is there makes for a really nice color rainbow.

As always, I must remind everyone that I am not a fully trained cicerone or anything of the sort. Beer is incredibly subjective, and I highly encourage everyone to try the beers, make up your own opinions, and offer constructive criticism where applicable. I had the unique opportunity to comment directly on the beers to Ram, so these were my thoughts on the seven beers that I sampled, five of which will be part of that special pairing Wednesday (I had to leave out the Petroglyph Wit as it has an ingredient that my body considers an unfortunate allergen).

  • Gila Gose (4.5% ABV, 6 IBU): Ram was proud of this offering, which is a straight, non-fruited gose. Oh, sure, there are a couple fruited goses (peach and prickly pear) on tap, for those who like such things. “I just felt a traditional gose could stand on its own,” he said. This one has just enough of that salty forward flavor, with not too much of the sour element on the back end. It goes down quite easy in this scorching late-summer heat.
  • Shiprock Saison (8% ABV, 30 IBU): While this French-style farmhouse has many of the hallmarks of the style, Ram also went ahead and dry hopped it with a dash of Nelson and Mosaic. There’s a bit of hop dryness on the back end, as well, but for the most part the Belgian-like yeast funk and a bit of spiciness are there to dominate the start and middle.
  • Brown Trout Lager (5.7% ABV, 20 IBU): The dark copper color aside, “You could drink this in the heat,” Ram said, as it is a lighter brown lager in the style of a German dunkel. The German malts and hops are there, but for the most part it is just smooth and comforting, and should hold one over until more of the popular Valles (Helles) Lager is ready soon. (There are two other lagers on deck, as well.)
  • 32 Bravo DIPA (8% ABV, 110 IBU): Ram has previously worked at La Cumbre and Santa Fe Brewing, but he said that the hop-forward beers are still a work in progress on Lava Rock’s 10-barrel brewhouse. This DIPA is not overpowering, harking back to the style from 10 years ago. This is not a juicy, sweet beer, but instead a chewy hop bomb that is slowly growing into something worthy of the behemoths that have set the local standard for DIPAs.
  • Capulin Pale Ale (6.2% ABV, 33 IBU): A coffee pale ale, this is not a copy of Sidetrack’s Buzz Bomb. If you like your coffee big, bold, and roasty, with no sweetness, this one is for you. Ram did say that the batch is an older one, but future changes could be coming since this style has not quite found its proper niche on the westside.
  • Volcan IPA (6% ABV, 80 IBU): The house IPA, Ram said he is still tinkering with this recipe. It is based in part on the classic Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, with more of an amber color and some of the old-school northwestern hops. Ram said he didn’t do much dry hopping, which in my personal opinion this one could use in the future.
  • Seismic Stout (5% ABV, 25 IBU): Of course I got the stout; I wouldn’t be living up to my nickname if I didn’t, right? This is an Irish dry stout, with hints of smoky roast and a slight bit of sweetness from the malt that offers up hints of chocolate and toffee. It is not a big, chewy stout, but this time of year, that is just fine. “Bigger stouts are coming this winter,” Ram said, which is music to my ears.

Overall, Lava Rock is still a work in progress on the beer front, but it is trending in the right direction. Ram has the proper beer education from La Cumbre and SFBC, and as he dials in his recipes and grasps the wants and needs of his customer base on the westside, things should start to settle in at the pub. Considering how much of a struggle things were in the beginning for Lava Rock, it is almost like a new brewery/restaurant has moved into the same location, which in a way it has, so to speak. The kitchen is all M’tucci’s, the beer is now all made on site, and it is worth another visit for beer lovers.

Please let us know what you think, and if you have some constructive criticism on the beer front, we will be happy to pass it along.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The forthcoming Bow & Arrow Rambler Taproom will be smaller than the main location, but it will feature much of the same aesthetic charm.

The recent rumors of an Albuquerque brewery heading to the Four Corners proved to be true earlier this week, as Bow & Arrow Brewing officially announced it will be opening its first offsite taproom in Farmington. The Rambler Taproom is aiming for a winter opening, said Bow & Arrow CEO Shyla Sheppard, and is the product of a long search for a second location that had started in Albuquerque.

“We’ve been looking for a while,” she said. “Actively looked all over Albuquerque and the metro area. We explored quite a few properties, actually. But then again, as you know better than most people, there’s a lot of movement taking place right now in the market. Maybe there’s a future opportunity for us somewhere here, but for our first offsite, the more we looked at the Four Corners area, (we found that) it’s very much in line with how we’ve positioned ourselves, branded ourselves being about the American Southwest, and the Four Corners is really kind of the gateway of all of that.”

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Outgoing Turtle Mountain head brewer Mick Hahn, left, passes the “torch” to new head brewer David Pacheco. Blessed be the beers!

It has been a few years since a head brewer has moved from one Albuquerque area brewery to another. That relatively static era is over as Tractor Brewing looked locally to fill its vacant head brewer position, finding the right man for the job at Turtle Mountain Brewing.

Mick Hahn is jumping from one brewery celebrating its 20th anniversary this year to another, leaving the cozy brewpub confines in Rio Rancho for the bustling production facility in Wells Park. To catch up on how this all went down, I met up with Mick, Tractor co-owner/brewmaster David Hargis, TMBC owner Nico Ortiz, and his new head brewer, David Pacheco.

“It was pretty quick,” Mick said. “David Hargis called me two weeks ago Monday, when Nico was (on vacation) in Costa Rica, which is always good. I had seen the posting for the position on the (New Mexico Brewers) Guild newsletter. I definitely thought about what it would be like to be their head brewer. I didn’t think much of pursuing it until he called to tell me we had been looking for someone, and hadn’t gotten a whole lot of interest and are you interested, because we’re interested in getting you.

“I met with him the next day to just to talk it over a little bit more. I met with him towards the end of the week when Nico was coming back from Costa Rica. They got in Thursday at 5 o’clock and I told him Friday at lunch that this was all happening. I had less than a week to figure out if this was going to go forward.”

Nico said he knew Mick’s departure was almost an inevitability.

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Owner/brewer Sean Lawson welcomed the Crew to Turquoise Trail Brewing for the first time.

The blank spots on the map continue to fill up with breweries and taprooms.

Turquoise Trail Brewing is the latest addition to the East Central corridor, landing at 11016 Central SE, a short drive east of Bombs Away and west of the Tractor Four Hills Taproom. The new brewery has quietly opened, as its own beers are not on tap yet, but owner/brewer Sean Lawson said he needed to start making some money back on a property that he has been leasing for a calendar year now.

“I’m really hoping to have the brewery up and operating in four to six weeks,” Scott said. “I’ll have my own beer on tap in two months. I think that’s pretty realistic.”

For now, there is a wide range of guest taps, many from breweries far, far from the location next door to the Dion’s at Elizabeth and Central. I grabbed a pint of Dialogue’s Nugget to the Rack imperial amber and sat down to find out just what in the world possessed Sean to open Albuquerque’s 35th brewery.

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It seems like it was just yesterday when we took this picture of Boxing Bear co-owner/head brewer Justin Hamilton atop his new brewhouse, but it was actually five years and many, many beers ago.

Five years does not seem like a long time in any business, but the craft beer world that Boxing Bear Brewing entered into in 2014 has changed an awful lot.

After all, back then the Westside was largely devoid of breweries and off-site taprooms.

“It’s crazy when we opened and then there was (only) the Stumbling Steer at the time,” co-owner/head brewer Justin Hamilton said. “The closest after that was Turtle Mountain. Now we’ve got breweries on every block. There’s a lot more breweries now, but that being said, five years later we’re still doing all right.”

Boxing Bear will celebrate its fifth anniversary with an all-day party this Saturday, with live music, vendors, and food trucks out front.

“Five is a good one,” Justin said. “We’re super excited to be here. It’s been a crazy five. Some places haven’t made it that far, some have made double. It’s just been fun to kind of see how much has changed. It’s been wild.”

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No one really thought that Bosque North was going to be the final project for the ever-expanding brewing enterprise, right?

Bosque Brewing does not sit still.

Oh, sure, there appear to be stretches of inactivity when it comes to adding more locations to its portfolio, but do not be fooled. Somewhere out there, Bosque has its eye on another taproom, and over the course of this summer, we have all become aware of three forthcoming projects in three different cities.

To learn a lot more about what is coming to Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and Santa Fe, I sat down with three of Bosque’s owners, chief development officer Jotham Michnovicz, chief experience officer Jess Griego, and chief production officer/brewmaster John Bullard.

First up, the new Albuquerque taproom/secondary brewery that will be located on the Westside at Coors and St. Joseph’s. It will effectively be the replacement for the original San Mateo brewery/taproom that closed earlier this year and transformed into La Reforma Brewery. Of course, that original replacement was supposed to be the Open Space project at Venice and the Interstate 25 frontage road.

Jotham said it was not just the seemingly endless series of delays that caused Bosque to scrap Open Space and head west, but a multitude of reasons.

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Beer manager Jordon Jenson talks beer with the Dark Side Brew Crew.

The list of bonafide bottle shops in New Mexico is not a long one. Sure, there are a few tried and true options that we’ve turned to for our various package booze needs over the years. There are, of course, the wine super stores sprouting up everywhere like Neomexicanus hops on a Southwestern bine. But, in terms of serious sud-slingers, New Mexico has been kinda dry, wouldn’t you say?

When I think of the two best places to find beer outside of the breweries in northern New Mexico, I first think of Jubilation in Albuquerque and Susan’s Fine Wine and Spirits in Santa Fe.

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The store is still well-stocked with beer, wine, and spirits to go.

This Friday, Susan’s Fine Wine and Spirits is officially launching their newly finished beer bar, and wine and spirits bar, with a grand opening celebration.

The new bar area, in my opinion, now places Susan’s neatly on the same shelf as many quality bottle shops I’ve wandered into during my travels to beervanas like Portland, Denver, and San Diego.

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New seating area in Susan’s.

Of course, opening a bar inside a store isn’t a new idea. Whole Foods did it ages ago to pretty fair success. But, what a beer bar does differently inside a serious beer and spirits ‘shoppe,’ is it invites the conversation back to beer and spirits, and elicits the feeling that it’s okay to be excited about the drink again. And, for me, it did exactly that.

In just 10 minutes of sitting at the rail of Susan’s new beer bar, talking beer with beer department manager/store assistant manager Jordon Jensen, about what beers have recently come through Susan’s, and the possibilities of what beers could be coming soon, I soon became gleefully excited about beer again. I couldn’t explain the feeling. It was like a painter re-discovering his love for art, after nearly forgetting that art was much more than a means to keep the lights on.

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Jensen serves up a cold one.

“Opening a bar in (Susan’s) was an idea we always had,” Jensen said. “Once we realized we already had the license, it was kind of a no-brainer.”

The idea came from a lot of inquiries about specialty brews that never made it into cans. Having worked for National Distributing Company, Jensen was familiar with brands like Marble, who had a great experimental program, where every week they would put out something unique and fun, and send an email to the distributors.

“We decided the best way we could get these beers to people was by getting them on draft,” he said.

Not only can you get a growler to go, you can have a pint in hand while you shop. The whole place is licensed. Jensen says that beer was the heart of the idea, and it blossomed from that inspiration to create a wine and spirits bar at the other corner of the store.

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The wine and spirits bar is nicely stocked.

As for the beer side, Susan’s has 10 taps that they’ll be rotating like crazy, with fun local stuff and tough-to-get, out-of-state surprises befitting of a well-stocked bottle shop.

For Friday’s party, Jensen told me that they’ll be featuring 10 local New Mexico breweries, mostly from Santa Fe and Albuquerque, with brewery reps on hand to talk up their products.

The full list is as follows:

  • Second Street Brewery
  • Marble Brewery
  • Ex Novo Brewing
  • Steel Bender Brewyard
  • Taos Mesa Brewing
  • Rowley Farmhouse Ales
  • Bow and Arrow Brewing
  • Tumbleroot Brewery & Distillery
  • Beer Creek Brewery
  • Bosque Brewing Co.

There will be music and snacks, and Jensen said beer will be sold as cheap as they can legally put it in a glass. They even have a deal for a discount off drinks with a food purchase at nearby El Chile Toreado, one of the very best taco trucks in town.

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Santa Fe’s finest bottle shop just got better!

“When Total Wine opened up, we took a decent hit. But, we’re starting to get people back,” Jensen said. “So instead of trying to compete with them, we’re just all about carving our own niche out and excelling within it. It’s the only beer store in town where you can have a beer in your hand while you’re shopping, or you can have a glass of wine while you’re shopping.”

The grand opening party is Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. at Susan’s Fine Wine and Spirits at 1005 South St. Francis Drive, Suite 101.

To Susan’s Fine Wine and Spirits’ continued success, cheers!

— Luke

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For more Craft Beer info and @nmdarksidebc news, follow me on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro. Untappd: SantaFeLuke

Bosque Brewing provided us with this rendering of its future Westside taproom and brewery.

A rather important e-mail dropped in our laps during lunchtime, which revealed that Bosque Brewing is switching up a big part of its plans for the future.

The long-awaited and long-delayed Open Space Project at Venice and the I-25 frontage road, which was meant to serve as the specialty/seasonal brewery replacement for the original San Mateo location, has been abandoned. Instead, Bosque will build its secondary brewery on the Westside at a location near the intersection of Coors and St. Joseph’s.

Per the press release, this new space will have a 4,000-square-foot brewery, capable of brewing 5,000 barrels of specialty/seasonal beers per year, and an attached 5,000-square-foot taproom modeled after the other Bosque locations. In addition, there are plans for a 9,500-square-foot beer garden outside.

“Given our presence with Restoration Pizza and collaboration with La Reforma Brewery in Northeast Albuquerque, we felt it was a natural next step to serve Albuquerque’s Westside community,” Bosque Brewing Co. CEO Gabe Jensen said in the press release. “After some time of reflection, we decided it was in the best interest of Bosque Brewing Co. and the surrounding neighborhood to sell the land for what was originally planned as the Open Space Project. This decision was made so we can continue our focus on providing world-class beer and experiences throughout New Mexico and Southwest Colorado.”

When we are not all stuck at our day jobs in the middle of the week, rest assured that the Crew will be following up on this story.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Bow & Arrow head brewer Ted O’Hanlan loves his new foeder.

The Crew has long been remiss about sitting down and talking with Bow & Arrow head brewer Ted O’Hanlan. Upon seeing photos of a new toy that showed up at his brewery at the end of last week, I decided it was time that we rectify this matter, and lo and behold, our schedules permitted such a time.

Bow & Arrow parted ways with its first brewer in early 2017, just a year after it opened, which prompted a nationwide search for a successor. Ted, who has family ties in the area, came out from North Carolina, and ended up being hired in March of that year.

“I originally did IT work,” he said. “I worked at EPA for a while. Then, when the recession hit and I got laid off, I tried to find a new career path, which involved me going to culinary school. Working for a little while in kitchens and realizing that was not an environment that I particularly liked. I tried my hand at cheese making and farming for a little while.

“I’d been a home brewer that whole time. As I gradually got more serious about my homebrewing, which happened to coincide with the initial boom of brewery openings in North Carolina. That just kind of gave me a door in. I started working at Full Steam. They were originally interested in me because of my culinary background, and it just fit for me.”

After working at Full Steam from 2011 to 2014, and then at Black Tooth from 2014 to early 2017, Ted said he was ready for a change.

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Quick guide to brewery hours on the 4th of July

Posted: July 4, 2019 by cjax33 in News

Before these go off en masse, take note of when the breweries are closing shop for the holiday.

Happy Fourth, everyone! As a public service, we did our best to compile the times all of our craft breweries are closing today, if different from normal, and noting which breweries are closed for the day. We want to make sure that if you are going to the source for your craft beer needs on this holiday, you do not show up too late or waste a trip entirely.

If a brewery is not listed below, that is because no info was found online. We would advise you to call them before driving/biking/walking over.

Albuquerque-area breweries

  • Ale Republic: normal hours
  • Black Snout: normal hours
  • Blue Grasshopper: normal hours (all locations)
  • Boese Brothers: closed
  • Bosque: closing at 8 (all locations)
  • Bow & Arrow: closing at 8
  • Boxing Bear: closing at 6 (both locations)
  • Brew Lab 101: normal hours
  • Canteen: normal hours
  • Cantero: closed
  • Differential: normal hours
  • Ex Novo: closing at 7 (call to confirm)
  • High and Dry: closing at 5
  • Hops: closed
  • Kaktus: closed
  • Kilt Check: normal hours
  • La Cumbre: closing at 6
  • La Reforma: normal hours
  • Lizard Tail: closing at 6
  • Marble: closing at 8 (all locations)
  • Nexus: closing at 4 (all locations)
  • Palmer: closed
  • Ponderosa: normal hours
  • Quarter Celtic: closing at 7 (both locations)
  • Red Door: closing at 8 (all locations)
  • Sidetrack: closing at 6
  • Starr Brothers: closing at 4
  • Steel Bender: closed
  • Thirsty Eye: closed
  • Toltec: closing at 8
  • Tractor: Wells Park TBD, but all other taprooms closing at 9
  • Turtle Mountain: closing by 3

Santa Fe-area breweries

  • HoneyMoon: closed
  • Rowley Farmhouse Ales: normal hours
  • Tumbleroot: closed

Other breweries

  • Bathtub Row: closed
  • Sierra Blanca: normal hours
  • Truth or Consequences: normal hours

One celebratory craft beer option is the beer garden at the Freedom 4th celebration tonight at Balloon Fiesta Park. Attending local breweries and distilleries will include Abbey Brewing, Bosque, Boxing Bear, Broken Trail, Canteen, Hollow Spirits, La Cumbre, Left Turn, Lost Hiker, Marble, Quarter Celtic, Red Door, Starr Brothers, The 377, Toltec, and Tractor. Admission is free for the event, but you will have to pay by the beer/cider/cocktail.

The most important thing to remember today/tonight is to be safe. Do not risk yourself or others. Use a ride-share service, find a sober friend, or just ask nicely if that couch is a good spot to fade away. We want all of you back at your favorite breweries this weekend, safe and sound.

Now if you will excuse us, Franz Solo is grilling up a metric ton of ribs and bratwursts, so we are off to get fat and happy.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister