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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Get your ABQ Hopfest beer lists here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Red River was just as glorious as the pictures make it look.

Fall was suddenly and dramatically in the air recently as Dave and I trekked up north to visit some breweries we have been trying to visit for some time. We welcomed the cooler air and monsoonal rains as we made our way around arguably the most beautiful area of the state. Our plan was overly ambitious, and we knew that we were not going to get to everything we wanted to see with just one overnight stay in Taos. Sadly, some of our curiosity stays with us as we wait for another time, another adventure.

We did have a main goal, a must-do if you will. Having seen the amazing pictures online of Red River Brewing Company, we decided that would be our primary destination. If nothing else, we were bound and determined to make it to the brewery that was able to win the first round with its maiden entry into the NM IPA Challenge. An overall fourth place finish was also quite impressive.

Red River has one of the best atmospheres for a brewery in the state.

We were blown away. It’s even much, much nicer in person. Dave declared it the nicest brewery atmosphere in all of New Mexico and Arizona. We tried the winning entry, Bad Medicine DIPA. While not our style, it was easy to see why it impressed. Our pick of the sampler we ordered was the Amarillo SMASH.

When I was researching what route we wanted to take, I was looking at Google Maps and found something very interesting. A roadhouse-y kind of dive bar/beer hall in the middle of the northeastern part of the state. I guess technically it’s in Maxwell, but there is not much near there, for sure. Due to its name, I was fixated on getting there. The online reviews are great and it’s a 15-minute drive from Cimarron. The place, my friends, is Colfax Tavern & Diner at Cold Beer New Mexico. Let that sink in. Cold Beer New Mexico. Who the hell knew?

One of the more unique beer bars in the state can be found near Maxwell.

I saw a beer koozie on their website that I knew I needed to have. I bought one, so I am now a very proud owner. Speaking of owners, the owners of this place are incredibly welcoming. I even heard them telling another customer they had someone in there from Australia recently. I would be remiss if I did not mention that they have their “own” beer on tap — “Cold Beer.” But, it’s brewed by Full Sail in Oregon. The owner said nobody in New Mexico wanted to brew it for them. I am putting out the call, some Northern New Mexico brewery should step up and brew them a beer. This place is awesome. In fact, my personal opinion is (of course I do not know the possible reasons why this has not happened) that Colfax Ale Cellar in Raton should get together with them on this. They are neighbors, and Colfax is in the name, after all. Although we didn’t make it as far as Raton, I had one of their beers in Cimarron, a golden ale, and it was outstanding.

The beer isn’t quite ready yet, but the guest taps and the barbecue are reason enough to visit Blu Dragonfly in Cimarron.

I had the Colfax Rabbit Chaser Golden while having lunch at Blu Dragonfly Brewing and Smokehouse in Cimarron. Blu Dragonfly does not have its own beer on tap yet, but should have it on by Oktoberfest. The barbecue was outstanding, and that golden ale had just enough kick and a clean finish to cut through the richness of all the meat. I must admit to basically inhaling the mac and cheese as well …

Owner Colin is very civic minded. That day, Blu Dragonfly was welcoming all the bicycle racers in the race they organized with Philmont Scout Ranch. It was fun to cheer each racer as they came to the finish line and grabbed a much deserved beer (the riders were over 21, of course). Colin then surprised me by giving me one of their awesome pint glasses I was coveting. Thanks, Colin!

Don’t forget about Enchanted Circle in Angel Fire.

We took a different route on our way back to Taos and finally stopped at Enchanted Circle Brewing Company in Angel Fire. I forgot how beautiful that town is because I haven’t been there in forever. The Nice Day IPA was aptly named. We watched a massive rainstorm sweep through (the third or fourth of our trip already) and toasted to Zeus for bringing the weather.

It was time to get back to Taos and get settled into our hotel. We made one final trek that night to the Taos Mesa Brewing Tap Room near the plaza. It was our first trip to this location, though we have been to the Mothership outside of town. It is fantastic and not to be missed when in in Taos.

The Taos (Mesa) Tap Room in the heart of town is definitely worth the visit.

The next day, we made a few stops in Santa Fe on our way home to visit places that we cannot easily get to when we take the train. That day probably deserves its own story so I will save that for some other time.

Suffice it to say, it’s not just the weather that is getting cooler up north. The brew scene is as well. We cannot wait to get back up there to revisit our new favorites and visit the ones we missed.

Cheers!

— AmyO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s seven breweries, one in Los Alamos, one in Moriarty, one in Red River, and one in Las Cruces also joining the party.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Man, there is so much to cover again this week, what shall be the lead? Well, if you have been following us for the past six-plus years … OF COURSE IT’S THE METAL SHOW. Yes, metal is back at a brewery, only this time it is up in Santa Fe at Tumbleroot’s location on Agua Fria. This special Black Metal Takeover on Monday opens at 7:30, with tickets costing a measly $10. That gets you in to see Santa Fe’s own malevolent masters of metal, Dysphotic, as well as the new local group, Heretical Sect, featuring members of Superstition and ex-Predatory Light. Two traveling bands will also be on hand, with both hailing from the frozen wasteland, er, picturesque Midwestern state of Minnesota. Ashbringer and Amiensus are coming a long way to melt some faces, so make sure to load up your crew and head to Santa Fe for this epic set. Plus, it is a perfectly good excuse to finally try Tumbleroot if you have not been there yet.

As we noted, that is hardly the only big event this weekend. High and Dry is hosting Second Street as its guest brewery of the month, and there will be a special launch party tonight. Today will also feature a special ticket party for Saturday’s Albuquerque Hopfest, hosted by Steel Bender. That fun kicks off at 4 p.m. Friday night will see the First Friday Artwalk in downtown ABQ, with Boese Brothers, Sidetrack, and the Duel taproom all participating with art shows and live music. Saturday will of course feature Hopfest taking over the Isleta Casino, and we will have a full preview of that later this week. Finally, Sunday will see the new Crafts, Crops & Hops Autumn Beer Market at Canteen from noon to 7, with live green chile roasting, live music, multiple vendors, and, of course, delicious beer. No rest for the wicked this week, people.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bow & Arrow is releasing Peach Cosmic Arrow on tap and in bottles on Saturday. Boxing Bear sticks with its haze phase with MurkQueño Hazy IPA going on tap this Friday. Canteen brings back Raspberry Wheat and Fill in the Blanco (White IPA). Dialogue has a trio of newbies in What’s Golden Ale, Strazberry Berliner, and Young Guns Dank Wet Hop IPA. Kilt Check resurrects two old favorites in Covfefe Hefe and McRojo or No?. La Cumbre rolls out Quick and Easy Pale Ale, plus that delicious Dortmunder is on at both taprooms now. Marble added more Desert Fog, plus the Eastside IPA is now on tap. Sidetrack has more CO-MO IPA to keep everyone happy. Steel Bender goes big with the double release of Black (Hole Sun) IPA and OktoberFiesta on Thursday. The 377 should have more Ginger Beer and its Oktoberfest on tap by Friday. Toltec added a Mojito Kettle Sour a little while ago, and Dr. Rudi Single Hop should be out today. Tractor tapped this year’s batch of Traktoberfest on Tuesday, so get it while it’s fresh. Turtle Mountain has Tropical Menagerie and Macaulay Kolschin ready to go as soon as a couple taps open up, which should be this week.

Up in Santa Fe, Blue Corn lightens up with some Covhefe.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of September 3.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ah, Arizona football, driving Stoutmeister to drink for more than 20 years.

A holiday weekend provides plenty of chances for members of the Crew to explore our local beer scene. From beers-to-go to visiting breweries to the ages old blend of football and beer, we had some fun out there.

My weekend actually runs Wednesday and Thursday, but this week I found myself out and about on Friday as well. For lunch, I swung by La Cumbre to try the new batch of Oktoberfest that had just been released. It is a wonderful batch, available in cans as well as on tap. I was also quite pleased that my gamble about My Sweet Basil having German-themed food to go with the beer also panned out.

Later that night, after work, I hit up Bosque, but alas, all the Scale Tipper IPA cans had long since sold out. There was still some on tap, at least. From there, it was off to Red Door’s Wyoming taproom, which was in its surprise last night of business. Most of the beer had already been consumed, but I snagged a final pour of Paint it Black Milk Stout. It was a shame to see the place close, as it was packed many nights, and it certainly went out with a bang.

Finally, I was trying to be good Saturday, but then the Arizona football team went out and, well, played like usual, choking against BYU in the season opener. Thus, I opened a 2018 Founders KBS. Oh, Wildcats, once again you have me looking ahead to basketball season.

Speaking of beer and football, here are the rest of the Crew’s adventures.

Keeping it local at the tailgate

If Incarnate Word football fans existed, they would have seen lots of local beers at the tailgate.

I would venture to say my holiday weekend was likely a little different than most of yours. It’s all about opening weekend for tailgating and football. We tailgated Friday overnight and all day and into the night after the game on Saturday. Sunday was recovery and Monday means catching up on errands and things around the house. It was a rainy, misty, awesomely cool day on Saturday. The picture reflects this perfectly. Our tradition is to get at least one type of Santa Fe Brewing “Zia cans” to show off to visiting teams. Sadly, we never met any Incarnate Word tailgaters on Saturday. It doesn’t matter, though, it still always tastes great.

— AmyO

Holiday bites and brews

There are worse ways to spend Labor Day.

Starr Brothers Brewery was open for business on Labor Day and I took full advantage. I’ll confess that the main purpose for the visit was a quick snack to hold me over till dinner, but that always couples well with a nice beer. I have always enjoyed their food and this time I was specifically aiming for tacos. They are small and a little bit gourmet, but quite tasty and on-point. I had a chicken taco and a steak taco. My mom, who was visiting from Chicago for the weekend, enjoyed her fish taco. I started with a pint of There Gose Them Boyzz, which is a cleverly named and tasty boysenberry gose. It was a fruitier than the average gose, but was still tart with a tinge of salt, as it should be. I also enjoyed a pint of Bottoms Up Kolsch. This kolsch gave me exactly what I wanted from the style. It was no frills, but it checked the kolsch box that needed checking. Never unhappy after a visit to Starr Brothers Brewery. Cheers!

— Andrew

The new big boys (?) on the block

This is not Brandon’s fridge, but it could be. (Photo courtesy of Steel Bender Brewyard)

Can Steel Bender become a new powerhouse brewery in NM? Recently, in discussing the brewing industry here in the state with a friend, this question was posed to me. Honestly, I didn’t have an answer, as any answer would be fairly complex. As I enjoyed a few nighttime ales this weekend, it struck me that, aside from my 2016 KBS that I had opened, each of the other beers I had enjoyed WERE FROM STEEL BENDER. That’s right, Red Iron, Skull Bucket, and Tangerine Dream. That got me thinking that, at least in terms of sales, packaging, and distribution, perhaps the answer could be yes. Now I know some will argue that they are still a new kid on the scene and lack the cred in terms of accolades (GABF, WBC, etc., hardware is always lovely when you bust your ass as a brewer!), but if more and more people are buying and enjoying their beers, that says a lot about this brewery that is only over a year into existence. Therefore, I’m of the opinion that this distinction is on the horizon for the taking for the SBB crew, and good on them for that.

— Brandon

A rhapsody of a pilsner

There is nothing frightening about this Bohemian pilsner. Right, Galileo?

This past week saw some wonderful new projects come to fruition for ABQ’s beer community. Luckily that meant stopping by La Cumbre’a new westside location. The Thunderbolts and Lightning Pilsner by far stole the spotlight among the expanded tap list with its brilliant clarity, and clean, pleasant light citrus, and refined, distinctive malt character. The excitement is certainly building as we enter Oktoberfest season as well- keep an eye out for all the new releases!

— Jerrad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time, stay positive, Burque.

— Stoutmeister

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From left, John Rowley, Wes Burbank, and Jeffrey Kaplan. Cheers to more years, gentlemen!

This Sunday, Rowley Farmhouse Ales (RFA) is throwing a huge party for their second anniversary, and I sat down with the guys to get the details on where they’ve been, what they’ve seen, and where they’re going.

Rowley Farmhouse Ales opened in 2016. In two years, they’ve experienced a few changes, pumped out a ton of different beer styles (not just farmhouse ales and sours), and solidified themselves as a great bistro for beer geeks in the Santa Fe area. In two years, they definitely had more highs than lows.

I asked the guys what their favorite thing about being open for two years was.

“That we’re still open!” co-owner and chef Jeffery Kaplan joked. “In two years, we’ve gotten some really awesome accolades and appreciation from the local community.”

One such accolade came from CraftBeer.com, naming Rowley Farmhouse Ales best beer bar in New Mexico for 2018. They also received a Local Hero Award for 2018 from Edible New Mexico for Best Gastropub.

Local Hero Award

RFA wins Best Gastropub 2018

“A lot of the local community has come back again and again,” Kaplan said. “(RFA) has turned into this local neighborhood spot that people are enjoying. That’s kind of been my favorite thing.”

Two years haven’t been without its choppy waters, but the Rowley crew have always been able to weather the storms. Who could forget the one time when the wind blew the big tent away from the patio area? Tent season was indeed over. And then, there was the Great Deluge of 2018. My mother and I actually got stuck at RFA for that event, and I’ll say, it is not a bad place to get caught in a storm.

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A packed house on a Monday night, taking pics of the storm.

Over the past two years, RFA has earned the respect of Santa Fe foodies by always trying out fresh ideas and keeping what works. It’s pretty simple. Every season they change their menus, keeping popular plates, and ditch the dishes that didn’t work out as well. They’ve also made tweaks to everything from the kitchen to the brewhouse. Some were larger tweaks than others, like the construction of a new patio covering to rearranging equipment in the brewhouse.

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That cover should not blow away in the wind.

“We just ran out of space,” co-owner and brewmaster John Rowley recalled. RFA reached a point where they had to move equipment outside. They got a trailer, which now houses everything they don’t use on a daily basis. Now they have space they need to bottle and move around.

Sitting on two years, the guys are pretty happy where they are.

“We brewed 250 barrels last year, which, for a brewery of our size, is a pretty good start,” Rowley said. “Yeah, we’re on the right track. I think our beer quality is good. We’re brewing the stuff we want to brew.”

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Age away, you beautiful beers.

I also talked to their new head brewer Wes Burbank about the immediate future of Rowley Farmhouse Ales. He’s very happy to have found a good home here in Santa Fe, and he’s pretty optimistic about Rowley’s future.

“We’ve got a solid foundation right now,” Burbank said. “I want to do what we’re doing, but more of it, and get it into more people’s hands, which we’ve already started doing. We’ve got quarterly drops in Denver, which might increase. There’s more of a market there for these types of beers. New Mexico is kind of still untapped for us. It’s a huge market (for RFA) to break into.”

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From barrel to glass.

“We’re trying to focus on our current markets, trying to grow those,” Rowley added. “We will have a lot bigger capacity next year with our 40-barrel foeders.”

Rowley will be getting the two foeders in about 12 weeks. With them, RFA will have two stock sour beers, souring all the time. And, with the size of their brewhouse (seven barrels), they can pull seven barrels out. They can put seven barrels of wort in. They can constantly be pulling solera. If you want to know what that means, take a look at this wiki article from our friends at Milk the Funk.

“Once filled, the foeders will never be empty again,” Burbank said. “Unless we move.”

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Take-home bottles and cans are great for RFA fans who don’t actually live in Santa Fe.

Party Down

Where: Rowley Farmhouse Ales

When: Sunday, noon to 7 p.m.

What: They’ll have seven hours of live music, including several solo artists, Shake Alert, and Nacha Mendez. There will also be a silk screener making custom shirts.

Why us beer geeks should go: RFA will be pouring tons of their rare barrel-aged beers from their backlog. About 19 of them, including Cerise Redux, Mixed-Dubbels Curling, the Ab Initios, a raspberry Oud Bruin, and the Framboisen, a special beer made for the event, as well as some other really cool barrel-aged goodies.

Additional: No cover charge. Plus, Wes said Slayer might show up. I’m hesitant to promise that, however.

*****

When Rowley Farmhouse Ales opened back in 2016, they only had one beer on tap made on their 1-barrel brewhouse. It wasn’t even quite ready, Rowley said. Today, they have a huge catalog of beers they’ve made that they can pull out anytime they want for a good time. Some of them have been aging down below in the barrel room for two years. To say they’ve come a long way is an understatement. But, they keep growing, and everything keeps getting better with age.

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After this toast with a certain imperial stout, things got blurry.

So, head over to Rowley Farmhouse Ales on Sunday and help them drink a few of their rare beers. Wish ‘em a happy birthday, and tell ‘em Luke sent you. Maybe don’t do that last one. To the whole crew at Rowley’s, we’re so glad to have you here in town. Thank you for your excellent hospitality and delicious food and beers. To your continued success and many more years in the business, cheers!

— Luke

Also on RFA’s plate:

NMDOG Meet & Greet and Fundraiser!

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Join us to meet adorable, adoptable NMDOGs today (Saturday) from 1-5 p.m.! As always through Sept. 30, $1 from every full pour from the Pulls for Pups handle will benefit NMDOG.

For more @nmdarksidebc info and #craftbeer news, follow me on Twitter at @SantaFeCraftBro. Untappd: SantaFeLuke

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In their finest bow ties, the Blue Corn boys heft the hardware

SANTA FE — It has now been a few weeks since Blue Corn Brewery brought home the New Mexico IPA Challenge trophy. With their busy late-summer schedules, and their transition to a new chef and menu, the staff just now got around to celebrating. Well, they did it in true Blue Corn fashion with another epic beer dinner to give Santa Fe a chance to cheer Blue Corn’s big win, as well as introduce us to the new man behind the menu.

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General manager Michelle Kyle introduces head chef Josh Ortiz.

Chef Ortiz had just moved across town from Rio Chama, one of Santa Fe Dining’s more upscale establishments, just a 5-minute stroll from the Plaza. It was there that he truly sharpened his knife as the sous chef. Before that, he worked under Kelly Rodgers at La Casa Sena, another fine downtown eatery.

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Baby arugula, fresh pomegranate, triple cream brie, avocado, basil vinaigrette, pine nuts, pomegranate balsamic reduction, all paired with Pomegranate Gose.

“We’re all really excited that (Ortiz) is here,” assistant brewer Andy Lane said. “His new dishes (on the updated menu) are amazing.”

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Shrimp Tempura, jumbo lump crab salad, crispy wonton chip, spicy mango chutney, micro cilantro, all paired with La Marcha Wedding Lager.

Across four courses, we really got to know what Ortiz brings to the table. From the arugula salad with fresh pomegranate, pine nuts, and brie, to the jumbo lump crab salad with shrimp tempura, to the duck confit with orange segments and orange glaze, and finally to the dessert course of dark chocolate custard with whipped cream mousse and macerated strawberries, we all got a thorough introduction to Ortiz’s chops.

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Duck confit, white bean summer succotash, roasted cipolini onions, orange segments, frisee, orange glaze, all paired with Gatekeeper IPA.

Having been to several of these beer dinners now, I thought that the food was much better in practice than it was on paper. I’ve seen arugula salads and duck confit dishes in a few multi-course prix fixe menus, but at Blue Corn that night, each course was so creatively crafted, balanced, and paired that each dish felt fresh and exciting. Each bite was a new trip down the rabbit hole, chaotic and uncertain of where you’ll land, but in a very good way. I regret that I didn’t take a look at the new and updated regular menu, but after stuffing myself with so much deliciousness, I couldn’t possibly think about more food for a few days. Can you blame me?

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Dark chocolate custard, graham cracker-hazelnut crust, whipped cream mousse, macerated strawberries, all paired with Oatmeal Stout.

That night in Santa Fe, Blue Corn brewers also hoisted up the IPA Challenge trophy for the second time in the brewery’s history. The first win came from John Bullard in 2013 with his Resurgence IPA. Blue Corn is still the only brewery to win this coveted trophy from outside the Albuquerque metro area. Last year, head brewer Paul Mallory wasn’t as pleased with how his IPA ultimately turned out.

“I wanted more from it,” he said.

This year, he and Lane really worked on getting the recipe to where they thought it should be.

I reached out to Mallory to get an idea as to what the IPA Challenge win means to him, to Blue Corn Brewery, as well as the New Mexico craft beer industry.

DSBC: What does winning the IPA Challenge mean to you, personally?

Mallory: Winning the IPA Challenge means a lot to me. It was a really great way to get people excited about trying our beer. It was really amazing to be able to celebrate with family, friends, co-workers, and customers as well.

DSBC: How does winning the IPA Challenge impact Blue Corn’s current production?

Mallory: We have had trouble keeping the Gatekeeper on tap since the win. We have all of our other beers we’re trying to keep up with at the moment, too. But, we will do our best to keep brewing the Gatekeeper. As long as people keep enjoying it, I’ll keep brewing it.

DSBC: When will it be available again?

Mallory: We currently have it on tap now. I hope it will be on for another week or so, but you never know how fast it will go.

DSBC: Plans for next year’s challenge?

Mallory: I haven’t thought about next year’s competition yet. I’m not sure if we’ll change it up or not.

DSBC: Why do you feel it’s important that we have competitions like this?

Mallory: I think competitions like this are great because they push brewers to be their best or most extreme, depending on the competition. In New Mexico, I really feel the competitions help build camaraderie as well. The NM Brewers Guild does a great job with that aspect of it.

DSBC: Lastly, what’s Blue Corn taking to GABF?

Mallory: We are taking the Gatekeeper IPA, Gold Medal Oatmeal Stout, End of the Trail Brown Ale, Barrel Aged Cosmic Darkness, and Pomegranate Gose to GABF this year.

Blue Corn Brewery will have a booth at the event.

* * * * *

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Cheers to more beer dinners!

I would personally like to thank all the staff at Blue Corn Brewery for their hard work and incredible hospitality. To your well-deserved victory, to your new chef, we raise ‘em up!

Cheers!

— Luke

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I don’t always drink fancy cocktails… But when I do, I do it in a Maiden shirt.

For more #craftbeer news, @nmdarksidebc info, and shameless Untappd check-ins follow me on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro. Untappd: SantaFeLuke

Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s seven breweries, one in Los Alamos, one in Moriarty, one in Red River, and one in Las Cruces also joining the party.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

At this point, when Friday rolls around and there is no special canned beer release somewhere in the metro area, that is what seems like the anomaly. Thankfully, this is one of those now-normal Fridays, with a special treat as two of our favorites from the past make a triumphant return. La Cumbre is bringing back its delicious Oktoberfest as soon as the doors open at noon. Bosque, in the meantime, is making the long-awaited transition from bottles to cans with Scale Tipper IPA. The two-time New Mexico and National IPA Challenge winner will be available in the 16-ounce cans in four packs at all Bosque taprooms this Friday at opening. The two beers are such a delightful contrast, malty versus hoppy, that we will easily make room in our beer fridges for some of both.

A big event for the upcoming three-day weekend will see Santa Fe Brewing bring its ongoing 30th anniversary celebration to Albuquerque. The taproom at Green Jeans, from open to close, will be one big party site this Saturday. There will be live music, beer specials, and more, with $1 from every pint sold going to New Mexico Autism Society and Watermelon Mountain Ranch. There is also the return of Marble’s Labor Day El Festival on Monday at the downtown location. Scroll down to the Marble entry for the full lineup of bands.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Ale Republic has more Diablo de Oro, Bug Juice, Blonde, and Strong Dark and Handsome. Bombs Away heats up the sweet with Meltdown Vanilla Brown. Bosque also gets a little hazy with Lomas and Open Space, and a little malty with Down in the Hollow and the spectacular Fresh Start. Boxing Bear digs up some Guava Gose and will add Pineapple Milk Shake later this week. Canteen brings back Hank ESB. Marble unearths some Abbey Gold. Ponderosa has fresh Oatmeal Stout at last. Red Door resurrects Lemongrass Pilsner on Friday. Sidetrack tunes it up with Turntable IPA Track 4, plus Sunburst Pale Ale is back and Crystal Cream Ale debuts. Steel Bender will have more Manaña Tropical IPA.

Up in Santa Fe, Rowley Farmhouse Ales scrolls ahead with Agent Scully – Season Two, Episode 3, plus Sonora Weisse and Greyscale are available. Over in Red River, RRBC brings back Bad Medicine Honey DIPA and adds Amarillo SMASH.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of August 27.

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