Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Staff members from the breweries involved in the One for 5 Pale Ale share a light-hearted moment at Albertsons Market during the official launch party.

Local breweries have been working hard to benefit many charities over the years in the Albuquerque area, but a new initiative is taking things to an even more collaborative level.

Bosque Brewing, Sierra Blanca Brewing, and Steel Bender Brewyard have teamed up to create a new beer to benefit The Storehouse New Mexico. One for 5 Pale Ale is the result, with six-packs of this beer now for sale at 25 Albertsons Market locations throughout the state, plus on-tap sales at the breweries later this week.

The twist with this collaboration is that 100 percent of the profits will go to The Storehouse, which is the largest food pantry in New Mexico. The nonprofit has been a chosen charity for Steel Bender since the brewery started, but now its fellow Admiral Beverage-distributed breweries have hopped on board to create this special beer.

Steel Bender co-owner/marketing director Shelby Chant said everything came together quickly as a beer was needed in time for Hunger Action Month in September.

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This still at Hollow Spirits will soon have some company on the equipment side as the distillery starts brewing beer.

During the ratification of the small brewer license as part of Senate Bill 413 this past spring, it noted that places with licenses not using them to brew beer would soon have a decision to make. They could either start brewing, with the promise of making a minimum of 50 barrels per year or have their own beer account for 50 percent of sales, or they would have to seek a new license to continue to selling guest taps.

Since distilleries do not fall under the reciprocity law between breweries and wineries in New Mexico, those with small brewer licenses would either have to give them up or starting producing something other than just hard liquor. In the case of Hollow Spirits, it means it will soon be time to add the title of brewer to the business card of head distiller Martin Ulloa.

“Our one-year anniversary will be December 6, so we’re planning to release our first beer then,” Martin said. “I do have a beer background. I’m going to go pretty easy (with) something I like to drink, something sessionable, maybe on the helles side, maybe on the pilsner side, and then go from there.”

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The beers will be poured again this year at Loretto Park in Bernalillo.

The Mountain West Brew Fest is back at Loretto Park in Bernalillo this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with 13 local breweries participating, along with some distilleries and wineries.

Tickets can still be purchased online. General Admission A tickets cost $20 and get you a commemorative pint glass and seven free samples. General Admission B tickets cost $10 and get you the glass and three free samples. There’s also a military ticket for those with valid military ID that get you the A tickets for $15. Anyone under 21 can attend as long as they are accompanied by a parent or guardian. Tickets for those ages 13 to 20 are $5, while 12 and under are free.

So, yeah, it is not an unlimited sampling event. Use your sample tickets wisely to help you choose the pints.

There will be live music throughout the day. The lineup from start to finish will be Calvin & Jazz Trio, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Hillary Smith & Chillhouse, 1-2:30 p.m., Brandon Saiz Band, 3-4:30 p.m., and Black Pearl, 5-6:30 p.m.

Food trucks scheduled to be in attendance include Punchy’s Pizza, CCR Roasting, La Rivas, Snow Cone Express, Sparky’s Chicano Dawgs, Powdrell’s BBQ, El Sazon de la Tia, Ortiz Jerky, Castanedas Kitchen, NM Kettle Korn, El Toro Loco, Las Comadres, and Solo Ink Pretzels.

As for the non-brewery providers of alcoholic beverages, your options include Sandia Hard Cider, Left Turn Distilling, Noisy Water Winery, and Sheehan Winery.

Finally, we reached out to all the breweries with which we have contact, and a few got back to us. If the others drop us a late line, we will update the empty listings below.

  • Bosque: Elephants on Parade, Pistol Pete’s 1888 Ale, Open Space Haze, Beyond the Trees (Cider), Jetty Jack, Driftwood Oatmeal Stout
  • Boxing Bear: Uppercut IPA, Black and Blue Tart, Chocolate Milk Stout, Ameri-Kolsch, AppleBear Cider
  • Broken Trail: TBA
  • Desert Valley: TBA
  • Dialogue: TBA
  • Enchanted Circle: TBA
  • Kaktus: TBA
  • Kilt Check: Groundskeeper Willie Cream Ale, Outlamber Amber Ale, Black Sunshine Porter
  • 1933 Brewing: Patriot IPA, Harlow’s Hef
  • Palmer: IPA, Bourbon Barrel-Aged Cockness Monster, Orange Cider
  • Second Alarm: TBA
  • Steel Bender: Skull Bucket IPA, Raspberry Dynamite, COMPA Los Ranchos Lager, Steel Bender Cider
  • The 377: TBA

To all those going, have fun, stay safe, and remember, this is our last local festival until NM Brew Fest in October.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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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