Archive for the ‘News’ Category

The frame has gone up and the foundation has been poured for the future Tractor taproom in Los Lunas, the brewery’s original home.

Twenty years ago, Tractor Brewing came to life in the Village of Los Lunas. Five years ago, it left the village behind, moving all of its brewing operations to Albuquerque. Later in 2019, it will move back to Valencia County in the form of its fourth offsite taproom.

To get a better read on this version of you can go home again, I sat down with Tractor president/co-owner Skye Devore. Her brewery already has three offsite taprooms in Albuquerque — Nob Hill, Four Hills, Westside — but the opportunity to add another was too good to pass up.

“Because we wanted to do another something, and we feel like Albuquerque has got a lot of Tractor right now,” Skye said. “We thought it would be a good idea for something not in Albuquerque, but I don’t want to drive too far, so Los Lunas seems perfect. There’s a lot going on there economically right now.

“I remember when we were there before, it used to be so hard to convince anybody to drink craft. Now it’s just not like that anymore. Now it’s a great place to be.”

The brewery will be located off Main Street, not far from the Facebook Data Center.

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There’s a beer party on Friday and everyone is invited!

It is not often that a beer festival, big or small, sneaks up on us, but that was the case with the Bacon Jam Block Party. This neighborhood event, which will feature four breweries, is set for Friday from 2 to 11 p.m.

The new restaurant Bacon Jam is located on the southeast corner of Girard and Candelaria, and neighbors Palmer Brewery and Left Turn Distilling have been instrumental in helping the owners prepare for this mini-festival, which is free to the public.

“He’s just wanting to have a get-together to introduce his new restaurant, Bacon Jam, to the neighborhood,” Left Turn owner Brian Langwell said of the Bacon Jam owner. “And, let everyone know there’s a bunch of breweries in the neighborhood. … (But) they usually know that. The theory was we’re going to get every brewery in the neighborhood together and do this. We got every brewery except La Cumbre. They didn’t see the need to send someone half a block down the street.”

Rather than block off part of Girard, the party will be contained in the large Bacon Jam parking lot and patio that faces Candelaria.

“We’re going to serve on their patio outside,” Brian said. “The four breweries that are participating are Red Door, Canteen, ourselves Palmer and Left Turn, and Cantero. We’re going to set up our little portable booths out on the patio out there. They’ll do beers and we’ll do cocktails. We’re going to block off the majority of their parking lot out there, have a stage out there and do live music. I know the guy from Bacon Jam is going to do food specials so everybody can try his food.”

If you have driven up Candelaria recently, you might have noticed this spot, which will be the setting for the block party.

The Left Turn/Palmer tasting room will be open during the festival.

“We’re going to be doing really simple stuff (at the festival),” Brian said. “We’re going to have limited staff.”

“If they want the fancy stuff, they can come in here,” Rob Palmer added.

The festival will mark the debut of the new Left Turn bourbon, which is being readied for bottling as soon as the labels arrive, Brian said.

Take note, this is not a free sampling festival. Beer will be sold in pints, only. A portion of the proceeds will go to the charity Warehouse 508.

As for the beers being poured:

  • Canteen: Fill in the Blanco (White IPA), High Plains Pilsner, Boysenberry Wheat, Munich Dunkel
  • Cantero: IPA, Deaf Dog Brown, Brew-ha-rista (Red Chile Stout), Cream Sour
  • Red Door: Rickety Cricket (Green Tea Raspberry Hefeweizen), Lemongrass Pils, Unhinged Cider

“It’s just basically a big block party to introduce Bacon Jam to the neighborhood,” Brian said. “I’m just the guy that did the permits.”

Thanks to Brian and Rob for the quick chat and the helpful info, and of course for wading through those giant stacks of paper to get those permits done.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Lava Rock’s own beer begins to flow at long last

Posted: April 17, 2019 by amyotravel in News
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Lava Rock has started brewing on a full-size system at long last.

I very rarely get to the west side of town, so after an overnight stay at Route 66 Casino Hotel for my birthday, I made a point to quickly swing by Lava Rock Brewing Company at 2200 Unser Blvd.

The Crew had heard that they are now brewing their own beer on a full-size brewhouse after the first system purchased before opening was rejected by the City of Albuquerque. Therefore, I thought I should pop in on the way to Flix Brewhouse for a birthday movie.

Luckily, head brewer Ram Khalsa happened to be there, working on some equipment. Ram has experience at several local breweries, including La Cumbre. We had a brief chat and I took a couple of pictures to entice our readers.

First off, I just have to note that I would be ecstatic if I lived in the area and finally had two places to hang out for beer in such close proximity — Lava Rock and Growler USA. (No, this location of Growler USA still cannot fill Growlers due to the state laws regarding full liquor licenses, but there are nearly 100 taps, so that is pretty impressive.)

The tanks at Lava Rock are finally being filled with beer made on site.

I was able to sample the two house-made beers on tap at the time, Volcan IPA and Seismic Stout. The IPA is on the malty side, which may play well to the area. However, Ram said for the next go-around that he hopes it will be a little less malty, though he added that he doesn’t want it to be overly hoppy, and less dry on the finish. Both beers are highly drinkable and do not suffer from the “watery syndrome” that often occurs in the beginning at new breweries. On deck in the fermenters were a Belgian wit and a blonde, with plans for a hazy IPA soon, Ram said. The goal is to have eight house beers and two-to-four rotating seasonal/specialty offerings.

If you live in the area, I hope you are already a regular. If not, head over and check out Lava Rock. It has a full kitchen with a weekday happy hour, and the patio is open to enjoy the warmer weather. The space looks great, and the two staff members I met were very nice and incredibly welcoming.

Cheers!

— AmyO

The calm before the storm … of fun! Marble will celebrate its 11th anniversary with a huge street party this Saturday.

Marble Brewery is growing up fast, with its 11th birthday coming up this weekend. Naturally, being Marble and all, the staff is throwing a huge fiesta for all of its loyal patrons, with additional events and beer releases sprinkled throughout the week.

To get the lowdown on all of it, I sat down with marketing director Geraldine Lucero, who is the keeper of all celebratory knowledge at 111 Marble Avenue.

“We’ve got an event planned every night this week,” she said. “We kicked it off with our Brew Club appreciation party on the deck (on Monday). It was just our way of saying thank you to all of our loyal patrons that have been there. A lot of them have been Brew Club members for a long time. So we just gave them some free food, our way of saying thank you, that we love you, and without them we couldn’t do it. That’s what this whole week is about, saying thank you by giving (our customers) these awesome events to be entertained with.”

The beer dinner is nearly sold out tonight, while the 19.2-ounce cans will go quickly Saturday.

Next up on the event calendar is a first-time beer dinner collaboration between Marble and a popular Nob Hill restaurant.

“Tonight we are doing a beer dinner at Frenchish in Nob Hill,” Geraldine said. “Josh (Trujillo) and I met with Chef Jennifer James and her team. It’s been a weeks now, but we hosted them here to taste some beers and work on a menu. It’s going to be her first beer dinner, I believe. She said it’s a little out of my element, but she’s such a talented chef that I’m really excited to see how the dinner goes tonight. We’re close to that, a close sellout, too. We have a few seats left for that. My goal is to sell out every event this week.”

Call (505) 433-5911 to see if you can still get a reservation. The cost is $75 per person for a four-course dinner that starts at 6 p.m.

“We’re really excited about that,” Geraldine said. “We’re going to feature the last keg of the 111 Rosé that John Heine brewed. We’re bringing eight Marble team members. I’m just really excited. I love beer dinners, I love Jennifer James, and I love Frenchish. I sought them out and asked them to have this beer dinner with us because they’re amazing.”

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Despite its hidden location, customers are finding their way to Cantero.

The best laid plans do not always come to fruition. We sent one of our writers to Cantero Brewing back in the fall, only to have him then move to California for a new job. After deciding that he was never going to actually send us the story, I trekked over to the brewpub at 3351 Columbia Dr. NE to catch up with brewers David Rosebeary and George Gonzales.

“I think it’s been going really well, actually,” David said. “We’ve been really busy. We hit that normal lull around wintertime. That’s definitely a lesson learned. Other than that, we’ve just been more familiar with our brewhouse. I feel like the quality of the beer is getting better and better.”

Located in the Brewery District just a few blocks from Canteen Brewhouse and La Cumbre, Cantero has managed to find its niche since our first visit thanks in large part to its extensive food menu.

“I think so, and also we’ve been using beer in our recipes,” David said. “Like our chicken and waffles, we use our (red chile) stout in their syrup. We have a pretty close relationship with our kitchen. Whenever (our chef is) choosing stuff, he’s also asking us for pairing ideas.”

The food menu at Cantero has been a major draw.

That synergy between the kitchen and brewing team has helped. A sizable lunch crowd arrived on a weekday as the interview took place.

Of course, much like the brewery there before it, Cantero has had to deal with its somewhat remote and random location, just south of Aztec and a block east of the I-25 northbound frontage road. So far, though, customers have managed to find their way.

“A lot of people are saying they finally made it in,” George said. “We’ve had people who had us on their to-do list, but they finally tracked us down. We did do a Groupon that got us some exposure. We had a pretty good success with that, it got a lot of people to finally make it in.

“That was a big part of the Groupon that we did was that it featured food as part of the deal. That way they get exposure to the whole product that we offer. Hopefully they come back for the beer.”

David said for the most part, customers are finding Cantero simply through social media and the like.

“Basically, that’s it,” David said. “We’re just really focusing on natural growth. We’re not trying to do too much to coerce people into coming. We want them to come of their own accord. We’ve got a lot of word-of-mouth.”

The weekday lunch crowd found their way to the brewpub.

Like so many breweries that have come before, in that spot and elsewhere around town, finding out what the public wants in the styles of beer has proven to be a bit of a surprising challenge for Cantero.

“That’s how it’s been going; it’s pretty interesting to see what hits and what doesn’t,” David said.

“It’s a tug of war between the serving tanks, we’re trying to log what’s been selling and what’s not, and then all of a sudden we’ll face a lull,” George added.

“It’s really hard to figure out,” David said. “Springtime we’re figuring more sours are going to be working its way out, but even on some of the nicer days it seems the darker beers are working. That’s sort of been a surprise.”

As if they were speaking of me, I ordered a Deaf Dog Brown, which was smooth, creamy, and not-too-sweet.

“The brown is going to stick around, it’s one of our favorites,” George said. “It’s not the fastest seller but it’s definitely steady. That’s the one in the last month or so it went boom. I was thinking warmer weather, we were going to dial in the lagers and some of the lighter offerings, but people are digging the dark.”

The rich and creamy Deaf Dog Brown.

David and George do have the advantage of a 1-barrel pilot system alongside their 10-barrel brewhouse, which gives them the chance to play around with some unique beers without ending up with too much left over.

“Definitely keeping things steady is (key),” David said. “We have our pilot system that we like to brew on, so there’s some funky offerings coming from there, some fun stuff coming.”

The duo is looking everywhere and anywhere for what might be the next beer style to hit it big.

“I have friends in other areas,” George said. “I have a friend who works in a beer bar in New York. He’s a genuine geek, working on his doctorate there at NYU, but he’s also a bit of a beer geek. I try to see what’s happening over there. We’re trying to see different trends, if we can get an early jump on something, which would be nice.”

One area where the brewers have seen growth on the national market is with beers with a lower ABV (alcohol by volume).

“I’ve noticed, even as far as national brands, the craft ones, gravitating toward smaller beers with bigger flavors,” George said. “I really like how some substantial some people’s 4-percenters are. I think that might be something we’d like to approach, to give that lighter option, get a few lawnmower beers out there.”

David mentioned he would like to see some hop-forward beers with a substantial amount of flavor, but sticking to the lower ABV trend.

“Not so much toward the session IPA (trend),” George added. “For me that was never really a hit. I wanted to like them, but I never really found one. But, I like the idea.”

Brewers George Gonzales, left, and David Rosebeary, from a prior visit of ours to Cantero, are quite proud of that old workhorse of a boiler back there.

Neither David nor George had ever brewed on a commercial scale before, but both said they are a lot more in sync with the main brewhouse and the old-school boiler in the back.

“The boiler has actually been doing” — knocks on wood — “really well the last couple months,” David said. “We’re working with our boiler guys and they’ve got it dialed in pretty well. The brewhouse, I think, has been performing well and we’re definitely getting more comfortable with it and used to it, so brew days have been going a lot more smoothly.”

“Scaling (up) has been a lot less problematic,” George added.

With things settling down internally, Cantero will be participating in more events this year, starting with Albuquerque Beer Week in May.

“We have an event here for Beer Week, we’re going to do a beer release, (but) I’m not comfortable saying what that is going to be quite yet,” David said. “We’re going to be doing a beer release and probably a food pairing as well.”

There is also a potential block party with Canteen, Palmer, and Red Door tentatively scheduled during Beer Week, assuming the City of Albuquerque approves, George said. Cantero will also be part of the biggest event of Beer Week.

“We’ll be at Blues & Brews,” David said. “We’re starting to get out there a little bit more. We don’t want to participate to the detriment of what we have on stock here. We want to participate, (but) we’re just trying to hedge our bets a little bit.”

We still dig this old truck that’s permanently parked out front.

A big thanks to David and George for taking time out of their brew day to chat. We look forward to what they have coming down the pipeline, particularly that multi-brewery block party if it comes to pass.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

You do not need to wear a bunny hat to enjoy Tart at Heart’s beer lineup this year, but you could.

After waiting patiently, the beer list for Saturday’s Tart at Heart 5 is finally set and ready to go. For event details, check our previous story.

Twenty-one of the beers that will be available for sampling are from 10 local breweries, with the other eight coming from out of state for Saturday’s 2-to-5 p.m. event at Sister Bar.

If any last-minute changes occur, we will update this list. UPDATE: It turns out The 377 Brewery is also in attendance, bringing two more local sours to the event.

  • Bell’s Brewery: L’Appel du Vide-Blackberry Sour
  • Boulevard: Love Child #9
  • Bow & Arrow: Cosmic Arrow, Desert Revival
  • Canteen: Social Capital with jasmine and raspberry
  • Cantero: Tamarind Sour
  • Dialogue: Sour Raspberry, ODB Kettle Soured English Mild
  • Firestone Walker: Bretta Tangerine
  • Goose Island: Bourbon Country Bramble Rye
  • La Cumbre: Blood Orange Sour
  • Marble: 111 Rosé, Abbey Brett
  • New Belgium: Transatlantique Kriek
  • Odell: Brett Golden Sour Ale
  • Red Door: Blueberry Pie Berliner Weisse, Lemonade Stand
  • Rio Bravo: Cherry on Brett
  • Rowley Farmhouse Ales: Cote d’or Pinot Noir, Greyscale, Sonora Weisse, Grandissant (VIP only)
  • Steel Bender: Pucker Up Buttercup, Brett Innuendo, Ned’s Sour Pail, Ned’s Sour Pail with boysenberry, Viejo Agrio
  • Stone: Winter Harvest-Vintage 2014
  • The 377: Freya, Cosmos
  • Upslope: Wild Christmas

Pack some antacids, leave the car at home, and have fun this weekend. After all, there will only be about two-and-a-half hours between the end of this and the start of the New Mexico United game.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Senate Bill 413 passed the Roundhouse and obtained the Governor’s signature.

The good news broke Wednesday night at the top of the page listing bills signed into law by Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham. Senate Bill 413, which we profiled just recently, got the signature that craft breweries were hoping for and will become effective on July 1.

To sum up the benefits of the bill, breweries will now be able to sell beer at 11 a.m. on Sundays (no more waiting until almost halftime of NFL games); they can have private celebration permits for events like weddings, graduation parties, and so on; there will be minimum standards (50 barrels a year or 50 percent of all sales coming from beer brewed on site) for businesses to hold a small brewer license; and the excise tax has been ironed out, with breweries paying $.08 per gallon on the first 30,000 barrels produced. There are also benefits for cider producers and craft distillers.

In a legislative session crammed with so many bills, and an uncertain environment with the change in governors, no one was quite sure if the bill would pass. Thanks to State Rep. Javier Martinez and Senator Mimi Stewart, Guild lobbyists Al Park and Jason Weaks, and the tireless work of Tractor Brewing co-owner/president Skye Devore (who publicly spearheaded the Brewers Guild’s efforts), this bill not only passed both houses, but it reached the governor’s desk. At that point, all everyone could do was wait and hope it would not come down to Friday’s final deadline.

Thankfully, that wait ended Wednesday night, as Rep. Martinez tweeted out the news of the bill being signed, and a whole lot of online congratulations followed throughout the New Mexico craft beer community.

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The sours and barrel-aged beers will be back at Sister in a week-and-a-half! (Photo courtesy of Craft King Consulting)

Pucker up, people, because one of your favorite beer tastings of the year is back for another go around. Tart at Heart returns to Sister on Saturday, April 13 for its fifth annual onslaught of sour and barrel-aged beer goodness. To get the scoop on what this year’s event holds, I sat down with the main man behind the event, Angelo Orona of Craft King Consulting.

“We’re trying to do it big for the fifth year, for sure,” he said. “Some of the same concepts are going to be in play this year. Obviously we’ve got a lot of sour and barrel-aged beers … always trying to get the most exclusive (and) interesting beers into the state.”

This event sells out every year, and for those still hoping for a VIP ticket, sorry, you are already too late. Those sold out shortly after our interview took place; Angelo said there were only 10 left at the time we sat down. There are still general admission tickets ($40) for sale online and at the Kelly Liquors on Juan Tabo. Those still get you in for three hours of unlimited tastings from 2 to 5 p.m., and you get to keep the commemorative glass. VIP ticket holders get in at 1 p.m. and also keep the glass and a special T-shirt designed by local artist Chris Erickson.

Whether it is three hours or four hours of unlimited tasting, Tart at Heart has always brought out some unique and special beers, from local and regional breweries, plus national and international ones as well.

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Yeah, it was crowded for a couple hours at the farewell fiesta for Bosque’s San Mateo taproom.

The Bosque San Mateo taproom closed out its nearly seven-year run with a farewell fiesta on Saturday. The only thing is, Bosque will still be brewing at that location, even with La Reforma Brewery set to take over the taproom space this summer. How it will all work going forward comes down to one word — synergy — as 8900 San Mateo NE moves into the future.

To get all of this cleared up, I sat down with La Reforma co-founder John Gozigian, Bosque chief experience officer/owner Jess Griego, and Bosque chief executive officer/owner Gabe Jensen.

“There’s a lot of confusion over who’s behind each thing,” John said. “So La Reforma is a project that was put together by me, Jeff Jinnett, and some investors we brought in. Bosque is involved as well. They contributed basically the entire physical plant, brewing and kitchen equipment, and are substantial owners of the company, too.

“There’s been a lot of synergies developed as the project has moved forward. We’ve figured out a lot of efficiencies and synergies that I think will be good for both businesses. One of the coolest things that’s happening is the current brewers at Bosque San Mateo are going to remain on site and be the brewers for La Reforma. And, they’re also going to be brewing all of Bosque’s one-offs and seasonals for the foreseeable future.”

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The lights at the original Bosque location are turning off this weekend, but not before a big party takes place.

The end is nigh for the Bosque San Mateo taproom. A Farewell Fiesta is scheduled for this Saturday to say good-bye to the original location, and rather than mourn its passing, the Crew and some of the staff got together to share memories, stories, and more.

“We just want it to be a celebration,” said director of culture and engagement Jessica Griego. “Just give one final thank you, but not (totally) final, to everyone who’s supported us over the last six-and-a-half years. We don’t have any of our current co-workers scheduled that day so that they can enjoy themselves. We’re (the owners) going to be serving beers.”

First, we wanted to make sure everyone has all the info about the event itself, so events coordinator Ezekiel “Zeke” Gomez joined the staff interview.

“We really just wanted to throw a big party to say good-bye,” Zeke said. “That taproom has so many memories. So many people have come from that taproom. I started at that taproom.”

The fiesta starts at 3 p.m. and runs until 9. Tickets cost $10 and can be purchased online or at the door, and Zeke promised that there will be plenty of tickets held back for door sales. The entire parking lot will be fenced in, so the Crew recommends that you take an Uber or Lyft to this one, as there will also be the Food Truck Festival at the Balloon Fiesta grounds nearby, which could create a bit of a traffic snarl on Alameda.

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