Archive for the ‘News’ Category

It sure looks like a Blue Grasshopper. (Photo courtesy of Darlaina Chapman)

Over the weekend, the Crew was made aware that Blue Grasshopper had opened its third location down in the Wells Park neighborhood. This will eventually be home to their brewing operation, replacing the small space at the original taproom in Rio Rancho.

Located at Summer and Second Street (specifically 1401 Second NW), we took a very early look last year while it was still under construction. The taproom portion is now ready for business. AmyO talked to the general manager of the Westside ABQ location and found out that the total space amounts to about 10,000 square feet, with half of that for the taproom.

Visitors to the taproom told us that it has the same pizza-led menu, with a wood-fired oven in place. There are about 50 taps of beer from all around the state.

Owner Greg Nielsen sent us a message that the grand opening will be the weekend of June 8-9, after ABQ Beer Week is over. Until then, please enjoy these photos from two of AmyO’s friends who visited over the weekend.

Some nifty artwork already adorns the walls. (Photo courtesy of Darlaina Chapman)

The bar area around the pizza oven. (Photo courtesy of Brian Polansky)

There is plenty of space to move around. (Photo courtesy of Brian Polansky)

The stage area for live music. (Photo courtesy of Brian Polansky)

Looking from the bar toward the entrance. (Photo courtesy of Brian Polansky)

We will have a full story on the new site soon, once we are also done with Beer Week coverage. Thanks to AmyO for tracking down much of this info.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

We are firmly of the belief that beer labels should be fun.

Timing is everything in life, in brewing, in beer awards, you name it. Rio Bravo Brewing was in the process of canning its Freak Juice Hazy IPA for a Friday release when it received word that the brew won a bronze medal at the Australian International Beer Awards on Thursday.

“Yeah, we got an email from Australia saying the preliminary results were in and we won a bronze medal,” head brewer Ty Levis said. “I just replied, ‘Oh, sweet, we just finished packaging it yesterday afternoon.’ We were just getting the cases ready for Admiral (Beverage Company) for distribution.”

Freak Juice (6% ABV, 40 IBU) was made with 60 pounds of hops, and then an additional 60 pounds on the dry hop. Citra, Mosaic, and Amarillo are the hops in question. I got a quick sample and it is an aggressive hazy IPA, with a big aroma.

“We came up with a completely different package design (too),” Ty said.

Yup, that’s a hazy one.

It is definitely an eye-popping design on the 16-ounce can. The beer will be available in four-packs wherever Rio Bravo is sold, and there will be a release party today (Friday) at the brewery from 4 to 7 p.m.

In additional AIBA news, Quarter Celtic also got two medals, a silver in the Chocolate Beer category for Mocha Hipster Bomb (a collaboration with Palmer Brewery which won a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival last year), and a bronze for Crimson Lass in the Irish-style Red category.

Congrats to all the winners.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Truer words were never spoken. Now it’s time to party with Nexus all weekend!

Rather than try to jam it into an already packed Memorial Day weekend, Nexus Brewery is moving up its anniversary party to this weekend. All the feasting, drinking, and fun will take place at all three Nexus locations Friday through Sunday.

“As we move into our eighth year in operation, we are thankful for the support we have received from the community,“ owner Ken Carson said in a press release.

The beer part of the celebration begins today (Thursday) with the return of Beam Me Up Scotty (8.1% ABV, 28 IBU), Nexus’ classic Scottish Wee Heavy. Friday will mark the arrival of a new beer, 8 of 9 Blood Orange American Wheat (5.6% ABV, 21 IBU).

There will be live music, of course, with the Racine Kreyol Band taking the stage Friday at the original location from 6 to 9 p.m. RKB will then head to the Nexus Blue Smokehouse to perform on the patio Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m. The Gershom Brothers will provide the music at the main location Saturday from 1 to 4, followed by Raven Rutherford and her Sweet Potato Pie Band from 6 to 9. The Gershom Brothers will then head over to the Nexus Silver Taproom to perform Sunday from 2 to 5.

As for food, there will be quite a few specials in addition to the classics like chicken and waffles. Shrimp and grits, green chile hush puppies, and strawberry slab pie will be available at the brewery. Nexus Blue and Silver will have gumbo and red beans and rice available for the weekend.

There will also be special eighth anniversary shirts and pint glasses for sale.

“We come to you this eighth year by adding BBQ to our menu in the form of Nexus Blue Smokehouse. This is ‘The Next Generation,’ so to speak,” Carson said. “We have become more than just a brewery, we are a full-fledged restaurant that makes its own beer, and we can stand head-to-head with any brewery or restaurant in Albuquerque. These concepts are created around casual vibes where you can come to socialize with your family and friends. That is what being in the Nexus is about.”

We will raise a pint, and probably a drumstick or two (one fried, one smoked BBQ) to Nexus this weekend.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The next Red Door taproom in Roswell is in a rather large building. (Photo courtesy of Ali Cattan)

The other day, during a routine check of pending small brewer and small brewer offsite licenses, a new one popped up that caught our eye. The timing and the location stood out, in particular, as a busy Albuquerque brewery is making another move far to the east, and now a little bit south.

Red Door Brewing is heading to Roswell for its third offsite taproom, just a few months after its Clovis taproom opened up. I sat down with owner Matt Biggs and head brewer Matt Meier to talk about this latest endeavor, which they expect to open this fall.

“Yeah, we weren’t really looking right away, but I was in Roswell for a hunting trip last year and came across a building that was super cool,” Biggs said. “It’s down in the industrial area. It was an old barbecue restaurant. I want to say (before that it was) an old rail station. It was in a cool, industrial part of town. Anyone that knows Roswell there’s like a massive silo you can so from most of the town. It’s right across from that, a couple blocks off Main Street.”

Specifically, it is located on the northeast corner of the intersection of Railroad Avenue and East Third Street. That puts it two blocks east of Main Street/Highway 70 and one block north of East Second Street/Highway 380, the two main roads through Roswell.

“So I went and talked to people about it,” Biggs said. “The owner was super motivated to do something with it. It just kind of worked out. We actually kept kicking the can down the road to make sure Clovis was operating smoothly. We were supposed to execute a lease on Roswell in January, I think. We told them we weren’t ready. Clovis opened, had normal opening hiccups, so I spent about a month, not quite a month getting those resolved. Now it’s operating relatively smoothly. I’ve got a killer staff down there. They’re all trained up, all ready to go. We’ve kind of gotten our beer deliveries down.”

The pavilion across the street from the taproom will be used for special events. That’s Red Door operations manager Ali Cattan to give an example of the sheer size of the space. (Photo courtesy of Matt Biggs)

With the Clovis taproom locked down, that turned Biggs’ attention to getting Roswell going.

“It’s set up as a restaurant with a draft line, so very little,” Biggs said. “We’ll probably update the kitchen a little bit. There’s an event side of it. So basically the building we’ve leased is a three-component building. One side is the restaurant. One side is a covered breezeway that is actually kind of an indoor/outdoor patio. We’ll roll up the doors on it so it’s completely open. Then there’s an event space. The event space can’t be utilized because it’s not sprinkled, so once we kind of finalize that we can use it for special events.

“Then across the street is this massive pavilion that used to an old cotton warehouse. I want to say it’s ballpark 10,000 square feet. It’s just an old industrial warehouse. They’ve taken the siding off of it, they’ve electrified it, there’s water running into, there’s a barn owl living in the rafters, which is great because it keeps the pigeons down. We’ve also leased that as well. All of that we can utilize, the pavilion mostly for special events. It’s across the street from the restaurant, so we can’t operate it off the same license.”

To help prepare the brewery, Meier got some new toys to play with to keep up with the already increased demand between Clovis and the fact Red Door is now canning its Vanilla Cream Ale.

“In the preparation for this and with the shock of what Clovis was capable of, we bought four new tanks,” Meier said. “We got those in (a couple) weeks ago now. We’ve got three more 30 (barrel) fermenters and a 30 bright, which is going to be huge for us.”

“I think it’s over doubled our production,” Biggs added.

“Now, from my point of view it’s kind of funny, all right, we’ve got Clovis stable, we’ve got Clovis into a rhythm, I know what to expect, and it’s going to get all thrown upside down when Roswell opens,” Meier said.

Red Door will also have a new canning run soon, with Irish Red joining Vanilla Cream in package, keeping Meier plenty busy before Roswell opens.

Another view of the taproom building looking from south to north. (Photo courtesy of Ali Cattan)

As for the local response, Biggs and Rael found a receptive audience so far among the local politicians.

“We actually were just down there last week, and Dustin and I gave them a very short heads up,” Biggs said. “They were really nice and super welcoming. The mayor and the city councilor that manages our district and the city manager all bought us lunch. They were super enthusiastic. They’re pumped to see something going into that space. It’s been vacant for a little bit. I think they’re really excited to have another brewery in that district (near) the Main Street area. Black Cock (Brewery) is in a different part of town.”

Roswell is the fifth largest town in New Mexico after Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Rio Rancho, and Santa Fe, so it is about time that it gets another craft brewing option. We wish Red Door plenty of luck keeping up with all of its far-flung and nearby customers.

A big thanks to the two Matts for meeting up today.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Toadfest at Little Toad Creek in Silver City is always worth the drive.

The New Mexico Brewers Guild and Little Toad Creek Brewery and Distillery are teaming up for their annual event, Toadfest, this Saturday in Silver City from 2 p.m. to midnight. This free event will feature 21 different beers and ciders from 12 different breweries, all packed into the LTC taproom at 200 N. Bullard Street.

The setup of Toadfest has 10 beers poured on the back patio and the other 11 at the main bar inside. There will also be some live music indoors, and some fun and games in the alleyway behind the taproom (the other side of the alley is actually the creek that runs through the town, making for a lovely afternoon/evening setting). Luke and I got to go to Toadfest back in 2017 and we had a blast, so we highly recommend the drive down. Silver City is a very charming town, and worth the visit anytime of the year.

Guild executive director Leah Black was kind enough to send us the list of the beers/ciders, though we are all still waiting on Boxing Bear to identify which offerings they are sending south. UPDATE: See below.

Patio pours

  • Bosque Open Space Haze
  • Bosque Beyond the Trees (Cider)
  • Canteen Fill in the Blanco (White IPA)
  • Marble Double White Triple Berry
  • Sierra Blanca Green Chile Cerveza
  • Sierra Blanca Alien IPA
  • Steel Bender Compa Los Ranchos Lager
  • Boxing Bear Uppercut IPA
  • Truth or Consequences Cosmic Blonde
  • Rio Bravo Freak Juice (Hazy IPA)

Bar pours

  • La Cumbre Elevated IPA
  • Picacho Peak Green Chile Amber
  • Steel Bender Raspberry Dynamite
  • Canteen High Plains Pilsner
  • Tractor Blood Orange Cider
  • Little Toad Creek Grumpy Old Troll IPA
  • Rio Bravo Squirrel Nuts (Peanut Butter Hazelnut Brown)
  • Boxing Bear Ambear
  • Marble Cerveza
  • T or C Buckhorn IPA
  • Little Toad Creek Copper Cream Ale

For those of you that can go, remember this is an event that benefits the Brewers Guild, as well as our friends at Little Toad Creek. Have a great weekend!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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