Posts Tagged ‘Blue Corn Brewing’

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Thanks for the shots, Duel!

Greetings fellow, ale-ficionados! Man, do we have something special for you happening up in Santa Fe! Tomorrow (Thursday), Blue Corn Brewery is hosting a special cask festival at their southside location, featuring ALL six Santa Fe breweries under one roof. To get your palate wet, I’ve got a list of beers, as well as the skinny on the chow. Read on to see what you’ll be enjoying, or sorely missing.

Blue Corn Brewery – Heffeweizen on honey. 15 IBUs, 5.4% ABV

Chili Line Brewing Company – Smoked Porter or a cask Lager.

Duel Brewing – Duel’s classic Fiction IPA inoculated with sour beer from their cellar and seven pounds of Apricots.

Rowley Farmhouse Ales – Irish Stout on Madagascar vanilla bean, primed with organic molasses.

Santa Fe Brewing Company – Western Bloc (re-)dry-hopped with Huell Melon and Chinook hops. 75 IBUs, 6.7% ABV

Second Street Brewery – U2 Dry Stout, Second Street’s traditional Irish dry stout with a luscious mouth feel, and a bit more complexity than the archetype. O.G. 1.054, 32 IBUs, 5.7% ABV

And of course, a Blue Corn beer event wouldn’t be complete without great food for pairing. Even though Chef David Sundberg has moved on to bigger and better things, the evening’s entrees are in the very capable hands of Chef Memo. Make sure to bring an appetite for the following:

  • Fried avocado topped with pico de gallo and a jalapeno-cilantro aioli
  • Cauliflower wings served with bleu cheese and hot sauce
  • Deep-fried goat cheese-stuffed jalapeno poppers
  • Short rib wonton mini tostadas
  • Salmon mousse mini crackers

For $30, each guest will receive a seven-ounce glass, which includes a pour of each brewery’s cask beer, as well as servings of all the delicious bites. For reservations, call (505) 438-1800. 6PM.

Why should you go? As if a fun cask beer event falling on a Thirsty Thursday isn’t reason enough on its own, consider the following. How many opportunities do you get to enjoy great beer from all six Santa Fe breweries, while also getting the chance to speak to the brewers directly about their craft, current beers, and upcoming projects in a more intimate setting than, say, a grand casino ballroom? Fewer than you’d think. Also, this will be Chef Memo’s first event, so we’ll be getting a taste of what’s in store for Blue Corn’s future menus. Listen, take my word for it, Blue Corn knows how to host a swinging swig-shindig. You don’t want to miss this one if you can help it. I know I won’t. I hope to see you there, and remember to keep thinking globally and keep drinking locally.

Cheers!

— Luke

Luke123 Steel Bender

For more @nmdarksidebc info and #CraftBeer news, follow me on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro!

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Head brewer Paul Mallory has settled into his role at the helm of Blue Corn.

The last time I interviewed Paul Mallory, head brewer at Blue Corn, it was about his entrance into the New Mexico brewing scene. For this entry in the Look Back/Look Ahead series, Paul and I sat down to discuss some of his new creations and chat about how his first year (six months to be exact) went, and what he wants to accomplish at Blue Corn in the coming year.

Thursdays always seem like the best time to catch the head brewers at Blue Corn. Usually I head over after work, sit down at the bar, and start on a beer before they finish cleaning up from a brew day. Well, this was no different, except that I’m more excited to get back to tracking down stories for the Dark Side Brew Crew after surviving festival season for Santa Fe Brewing, and taking what I felt was a much deserved month off from all but work-related duties for November. (You earned it. — S) It’s good to be back, though. I definitely missed hunting down stories, writing up questions, talking to brewers, and geeking out on their new beers. Glad to be back, indeed!

Walking in, I said hi to my pals who work there, and took a comfy corner spot at the big copper-topped bar. Glancing around, I saw some locals, who, from second glance, could be considered regulars at most of the brewery taprooms around town. It’s always good to see them with a pint glass, no matter where they are. They’re a big part of our great craft beer community here in Santa Fe, and a big percentage of the folks for whom we write these stories, and as always, I’m proud to share the rail with them.

Paul came out from the back after a few sips of my beer, and we found a table close to where I sat recently for another excellent beer dinner put on by Blue Corn in November. Resisting the urge to gush about how much I enjoyed the food and beer at that event, I launched straight into my questions.

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The dining room makes for great big beer dinners.

DSBC: How was Blue Corn’s year?

Mallory: It seems like we had a good year. We had a bit of personnel change. We got some medals at a few competitions, and I feel we continue to push the boundaries with a lot of our seasonal beers.

DSBC: Sounds like it was a good one. How about for you, personally? Was it nice coming home?

Mallory: Yeah, I really enjoyed coming home. I got a warm welcome from friends and family, of course, but also, in such a short time, the New Mexico beer industry was really welcoming, so that was really nice. I also had to make the transition from production brewery to brewpub, so that was really interesting. It took me a little while to adjust, but in the end, I’m really enjoying it. I really like the amount of new seasonal beers that we have to come out with at a brewpub. It’s really something! All of the ideas that I’ve had for a while … I got done with those pretty quickly. I had to dig a little bit deeper into my idea book.

DSBC: And, you’ve come up with some great stuff! What were some of the highlights for Blue Corn this year?

Mallory: Right around the time I started, we got some medals at the North American Brewers Association Awards. We got a gold medal for the Oatmeal Stout (Category), and a silver for the American Style Brown Ale. We didn’t get an award at the New Mexico IPA Challenge, but we did pretty well with the number of votes. And, I just had a really good time making the beer, having friends and family come out to support, not only my beer, but everybody’s. So, I just had a blast doing it. I had heard about this competition, but I had never participated, so it was just a blast, and it was maybe a month or two into the job. It was really cool, because it was the most hops I’ve ever used in a beer. I think I told you that, (in) the first interview. You know, a month in, and they’re like, “Please, use twice as many hops as you’ve ever used in a beer.” I said, “Yes. Done.”

We also got a bronze medal for our Russian Imperial Stout, which you tried at the dinner, last week.

DSBC: Yeah, that was certainly medal worthy.

Mallory: We got a bronze at the Santa Fe Open, for that.

DSBC: All these competitions, whether big or small, make better brewers.

Mallory: For sure, and you know, I think we really want those bigger medals, too. And, I have no doubt we’ll get them eventually. We got good notes back from GABF. It’s just a matter of time. We’ll keep knocking at the door.

DSBC: Personal highlights?

Mallory: One thing was I got to make more lagers. At the production facility I was at before, we didn’t have a lager (yeast) strain. We didn’t have much tank space to do lagering.

DSBC: That was at Black Diamond and Ghosttown in Oakland?

Mallory: Yeah. We didn’t do any lagers there, and we did a few at Black Diamond. I think I’ve already got to do maybe three or four here now, and I love it. Anything new to me, that I have to learn, is really exciting for me.

DSBC: It was your first time at a brewpub, as opposed to the production facility, and you took over as head brewer, were there any struggles or obstacles in that six months?

Mallory: Yeah, you know, I think the adjustment of going from production to brewpub is actually easier than the other way around, because it’s almost like you’re slowing down a bit. So, the adjustment wasn’t that difficult. And then, having James (Warren) there for support has been nothing but good. Can’t say I have many complaints about the job here.

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Is it just us, or is that new at Blue Corn?

The biggest difficulty has been changes in management, and keeping everyone on the same page. But, with each new rotating manager (which is how Santa Fe dining cross-trains their employees), it becomes the head brewer’s job to make sure that the managers are on the same page when it comes to maintain the all-important craft beer culture at the brewpub. Mallory told us that his assistant brewer, Braden Oehler, has spearheaded the task of educating the employees about beer, as many assistant brewers have traditionally done in the past.

Mallory: Another big challenge is building a beer culture in Santa Fe. I feel like most people want to drink margaritas and wine, here in Santa Fe.

DSBC: That just means we have work to do. To the Batmobile, Paul! It seems like you’ve done a good job of keeping the craft beer culture alive with the beers you’ve done this year. How’s business currently? Are you keeping up with the demand from the Draft Stations?

Mallory: Yeah, it seems like early in the year, in the summertime, we were running out of one of our house beers every once in a while. And, that’s just how it is. We just have so many tanks, and that’s how it is. Right now, we’re in probably the slowest time of year, and it might be like that for a month. And then, it might be slow in January or February, so we’re kind of using that as an excuse to take on other projects. So, I have some sour critters going in the back, cropping up in some 5-gallon carboys.

DSBC: Let’s talk about those in a minute. Blue Corn’s had a good year. I remember in previous interviews, there were hints, maybe rumors at expansion, but it sounds like Santa Fe Dining has their hands full with Kellys at the moment. Can you comment on any expansion in Blue Corn Brewery’s near future?

Mallory: I think most of the expansion is with Kellys and Chama River. I can kinda comment on that, but that’s more James’ realm. All of our exciting news here at the brewpub is more beer-related.

DSBC: And, there’s nothing wrong with that! Do you have any big beer events coming up that the readers should know about?

Mallory: One big thing that’s coming up is our 20th anniversary in February.

DSBC: How about some details?

Mallory: I don’t know the day exactly, but it’s in mid-to-late February. We’re going to do two beers for it. So, we’re going to do a Parti Gyle. And what that is, is that we’re going to do one big mash and do two runnings off of that same mash. So, the first runnings are going to be really high gravity, meaning a high-alcohol beer, and the second runnings coming off are going to be a lot lower in gravity, so, a lower-alcohol beer. It’s going to be pale colored malts for the grain bill. We’re going to do a Belgian-style tripel as well as a Belgian-style table beer or a dubbel-style pale ale, something like that. And, we’re going to make a big event out of it, invite some brewers from Albuquerque to come up for brew day, just to hang out and talk shop. It’s going to be fun, but I’m a little nervous about it, because I’ve never done it before. I’m going to have to be watching all the gravities on the runnings, and do all these things I’ve never done before, and then also have people watching me possibly screw it all up.

DSBC: No pressure. By the way, how did you decide on the Parti Gyle for the anniversary beer?

Mallory: It’s interesting because we wanted to go big for the anniversary, but the president of Santa Fe Dining, said, “Well, what about … doesn’t anyone ever make an anniversary beer that’s drinkable?” And, I said, why don’t we do both from the same mash?

DSBC: I dig it. Since Blue Corn’s news is more beer related, what do you guys have for us? You mentioned sours.

Mallory: Yeah, definitely. So, we have the organisms cropping up in the back. We have some Brettanomyces and some Lactobacillus, and I think I would like to get some nice clean sours without any acidic acids or pedeo or diacetyl, stuff like that. So, the other thing that we have going for us is we have these big brite tanks in the front that you see. And, a lot of times, we try not to use them. They’re more hassle than they’re worth, to clean them, to transfer. It works out though, if we want to put sours in there, because we move it, and then we let it sit, so we don’t have to move beer in and out constantly. And then, it makes sense. And, we don’t have any risk up there of getting contamination from a barrel that we don’t know what organisms are living in there. So, hopefully we can control it, and get a nice, clean, predictable sour, and they’ll be out of the way, so I think we’ll get some good age on them, and we’ll release them when they taste good.

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There might be sours in those tanks soon!

DSBC: I resisting the urge to call it a brite idea. It’s tough, though. I like bad puns, that’s why I work in the beer industry.

Mallory: (Laughs)

DSBC: What sort of sours are you thinking about making — lambics, framboises, American wilds, krieks? Maybe a Flanders Red?

Mallory: I guess I haven’t thought that far ahead. But, we have three tanks up there, so we could do a little bit of everything. I could envision one with both Brett and Lacto. I could also see a Berliner Weisse with just Lacto, but yeah, you’re right. The sky’s the limit. And, I’m not afraid of adding fruit to those, so we’ll see.

DSBC: So, the beer that I’m drinking right now is the Lobo Rojo. I know this beer will be available in Albuquerque at the Lobo games. How’d it get the name? Tell us a little bit about this beer.

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Lobo Rojo, coming soon to actual Lobo games!

Mallory: This is sort of a beer that we’re thinking could replace our amber, if we’re thinking of replacing our house beers. We are thinking about … should we replace one or two of our house beers? And so, this is kind of a prototype. We wanted something a little hoppier than our amber. So, the idea was to get as much malt and hop flavor into a beer that’s still low in alcohol, that you could drink a lot of. So, we have some really nice malts in there, some Maris Otter, and we also used a bunch of American hops like Mosaic and Citra. So, it has a really nice dry-hop aroma, and hopefully a really nice malty backbone as well.

DSBC: I like it. It works very well. I think it’s a little scary to hear that you may replace some of the old house beers, which have been around for a long time, but it’s exciting too, to know that you’re willing to do so. Any word on what other beer you might replace?

Mallory: Yeah, we pretty much look at our two lowest selling beers, and that is our brown and our amber. If we do anything, we would replace our amber with our red, and would replace the brown with a pale ale. We brewed a prototype for that, as well. It’s in the back; I’ll pour you off a little sample of that. And again, kind of the same idea, make it really drinkable and pack it full of flavor.

DSBC: I remember when we spoke last time, pale ales were your thing, and you wanted to make something happen with them.

Mallory: Yeah, pale ale is kind of my (stranded on a) desert island beer.

DSBC: Anything you’d like to add for the beer-drinking public of New Mexico?

Mallory: We’re going to keep pushing the boundaries with IPAs in all different ways — the malt bill, the hops, type of hops, the technique that we put the hops in. We’d also like to do some barrels, too. I think we’re shopping around to see what we can do, try to get some barrels from local sources, possibly do some collaborations, and possibly doing some collaborations with other breweries, or other local suppliers of ingredients of all sorts. Yeah, pretty much keep it interesting. Look for a little bit of everything. We’re not afraid to do big beers in the middle of the summer. We’re going to do sours, barrel-aged beers, IPAs. We’re going to really do a little bit of everything. As the beer-drinking public, we want you to come in and just trust that we’ll have something new and interesting almost every time you come in here.

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Blue Corn has been a longtime staple in Santa Fe’s craft beer community. With their long line of talented brewers that have come and gone, they’ve helped shape what craft beer is in our small town. Blue Corn’s solid list of house beers can be credited with teaching many Santa Feans and visitors what good craft beer is.

It’s no secret that the house beers have remained the same for many years now. Some have done very well both in sales and garnering medals from major competitions. This list of core beers is one that regulars do not want to see messed with, or at least, not by much. But, as the craft beer drinker has changed, and the industry has changed, perhaps it’s time for the old brewpub to change its list of ‘tried and true.’

The big news at Blue Corn next year is not expansion of brew space, but more an expansion of imagination and possibility. Most of those house beers have been on the menu for a very long time, a couple, at least, since the days of the first head brewer, Laure Pomianowski. But, with the possibility of changing two core beers that have been around quite a while, the sky is the limit on what can happen at Blue Corn, now.

What Blue Corn has done right over the years, is that they have allowed their brewers to explore and to experiment with whichever brews they want. Santa Fe Dining may be a careful parent company, but they have always trusted the brewer to do what they think is best, and in turn, that has made for more of a craft-beer-centric establishment than anything else. Aside from the two possible new house beers, it’s the new seasonals we tend to get more excited about with each visit, because there is never a shortage of them.

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The Apparition Pale Coffee Ale is coming soon!

“Out of five fermenters right now, four of them are seasonals,” Mallory said. And, after trying Lobo Rojo, and the prototype pale ale, as well as another specialty, Apparition, a pale coffee beer (similar to La Cumbre’s Mind Phoc), I understand just why you trust the brewer, or why you choose a brewer you can trust to explore and experiment. With Paul Mallory, Blue Corn’s beer is in good hands, and I can’t wait for another great year, full of exciting seasonals to stop in and try.

Cheers,

— Luke

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For more #CraftBeer news and @nmdarksidebc info, follow @SantaFeCraftBro!

 

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 six breweries and one down in Socorro and one in Los Alamos 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.

A lot of the time this weekly feature ends up being pretty Albuquerque-centric. Part of that is due to the majority of New Mexico breweries being located within the metro area, and many of the festivals. Every now and again, it is nice to highlight a series of events in other towns as well. This weekend, if you allow us to say a weekend starts on Thursday, Santa Fe will be the place to be for lots of beer events. First up, the first Fiesta Brew Fest is set for Thursday at 5 p.m. in the Luna Building at 505 Cerrillos Road. Tickets cost $10 and it will feature four breweries and one cidery. Chili Line is the local Santa Fe brewery (we are hoping to belatedly add them to the listings below), plus New Mexico Hard Cider, Red Door, Boxing Bear, and Bosque will be present. There will be a food truck and live music. For more details, check the Santa Fe Reporter. Oh, and there is more …

  • If a fest isn’t your thing, head over to Blue Corn for their final Beer Garden of the summer out on the patio this Thursday. They will be releasing their Wet Hop American Strong Ale (8% ABV). There will be food specials as well.
  • For Friday, hit up any Santa Fe Brewing location (even down here in ABQ) for the release of the new Estate-grown Neo-1 Wet-hop Pale Ale. It is a mouthful, so hopefully the flavor will live up to that descriptive name.
  • Then on Saturday, head over to Second Street for the annual RescueFest, which benefits Atalaya Search and Rescue. It runs all day and will feature plenty of live music and more.
  • Finally, there will be a special tap takeover Sunday at Rowley Farmhouse Ales. Ballast Point is bringing 11 special beers, many available in New Mexico for the first time. There will also be a raffle of some rare, specialty beers, plus other goodies, all in the name of Chantal Leyh’s Cancer Fund. Check their Facebook page for more details, but it kicks off at noon and runs until closing at 10 p.m.

On the new beer front this week, there are some new options to check out. The El Dorado S.M.A.S.H. debuted at Bosque over the past weekend. Canteen brought back Tail Waggin’ IPA, this time on CO2, and added Grapefruit Exodus IPA. The Monzon Wet-Hop Pale Ale debuted at La Cumbre back on Friday on tap and in bombers. There is a fresh batch of Double IPA at two of three Marble locations, plus Pumpkin Noir is also back in time for the season. Nexus swoops in with Bird of Prey IPA and Kaylynn’s Altbier also returns. Cascade Pale Ale makes its debut at Sidetrack. Wooden Teeth, formerly Hockey Teeth, is back at Turtle Mountain.

Up in Santa Fe, I mentioned a couple of the new ones above. Santa Fe also has Idaho?! IPA, an experiment of sorts. Second Street brought back Golden Ale and added XX Extra Special Bitter. Over in Los Alamos, Bathtub Row introduced Caldera Sundown Hoppy Wheat, Northern English Browne, and White Room Cream.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of September 5.

To break down each “capsule,” I listed the brewery (with Web page linked), its phone number and hours of operation. Under “Beers” are the new or seasonal beers on tap for this week.

Albuquerque metro area breweries

Albuquerque Brewing Co. — (505) 797-1842

(Mon–Fri 3-10 p.m., Sat 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun noon-8 p.m.)

Beers: Tilted Windmill IPA, High Plains Drafter Blonde, Duke’s Pale Ale, Imperial Red, Session IPA, Bayou Smash Saison, American Golden Stout, Vienna Amber. The Tilted Windmill is now the permanent IPA on tap at ABC. The Vienna Amber is the newest addition.

Live Music: TBA

Other Events: Every Monday will now be game night at ABC, with everything from Pokemon to Cards Against Humanity. Also, all Blonde pints are just $2.50.

Saturday will feature the Tom’s Green Chile Amber release party, starting at 1 p.m. We had a little feature on the origins of this special beer last year.

Happy Hour/Discounts: Monday–Saturday, 3 to 6 p.m.; Sunday, all day

Ale Republic — (505) 281-2828

(Mon–Thurs 2–10 p.m., Fri–Sun noon–10 p.m.)

Welcome to the listings, Ale Republic! In case you missed their opening in Cedar Crest, we covered it a short while back. We were remiss in getting them into the listings here, but at last, here they are. Check their website and Facebook page for constant updates on all the goings on at the only brewery in the East Mountains.

Alien Brew Pub — (505) 884-1116

(Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–midnight, Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–2 a.m., Sunday 10 a.m.–midnight)

Beers: Call the number above for details on any small-batch beers currently available. They change frequently. The rest of the lineup is from the Sierra Blanca/Rio Grande family of beers.

Back Alley Draft House — (505) 766-8590

(Sun–Weds 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Thurs–Sat 4 p.m. to midnight)

Beers: Contact the brewery for an updated list.

Happy Hour/Discounts: Sundays are Service Nights at Back Alley, with $2 off all beers for service industry workers. Bring your server’s ID and you will be rewarded. All beers are $1 off on Tuesdays.

Bistronomy B2B/Lobo Beast 101 — (505) 262-2222 (B2B), (505) 247-2116 (Lobo)

(B2B: Mon–Tues 4-9 p.m., Weds noon-9 p.m., Thurs–Sat noon-9:30 p.m., Sun noon-9 p.m.; Lobo: open every day 4 p.m. to close)

Beers: Contact the brewery for an updated list.

The Blue Grasshopper — (505) 896-8579

(Noon to 11 p.m. most days, call for more info)

Beers: June Bock, Kreem Ale. Well, look at that. Two house beers on tap, both brewed especially for summer.

Live Music: Bands perform from 6 to 9 p.m. every Tuesday through Saturday. Click the link for the schedule.

Boese Brothers Brewery — (505) 382-7060

(Hours: Mon–Thurs 3 p.m.–midnight, Fri 3 p.m.–2 a.m., Sat noon–2 a.m., Sun noon–10 p.m.)

Beers: Patriot Porter, La Onza White Ale, Dr. Strangehop XPA, Duke City Lager, Cherry Bomb, Sour Strangehop, 101 Anniversary DIPA, Clockwork Orange DIPA. The two DIPAs are the most recent additions to the lineup.

Happy Hour/Discounts: Boese will have a happy hour from 3 to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, with $3 pints. You can also get $3 pints all day Tuesday and $6 growler fills all day Wednesday.

News: They have a website at last! Click the link above for more info.

Also, Oktoberfest, the beer and the celebration, return to Boese Brothers on Sept. 17.

Bosque Brewing Company — (505) 750-7596 (main brewery), (505) 508-5967 (Nob Hill Public House), (575) 571-4626 (Las Cruces Taproom)

(Main brewery on San Mateo: Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.-midnight, Sun noon-8 p.m.; Nob Hill: Mon–Weds 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Thurs 11 a.m.-midnight, Fri–Sat 11 a.m.-1 a.m., Sun noon-11 p.m.; Las Cruces: Sun–Thurs noon-11 p.m., Fri–Sat noon-midnight)

Beers: Scale Tipper, Hot Bosque, El Dorado S.M.A.S.H., Old Man Jameson, In Memory of Cyp, 8 Days of Wheat. The Cyp (4.5% ABV, 15 IBU) is an American-style lager, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity, while the 8 Days of Wheat (5.6% ABV, 12 IBU) is pretty self-explanatory. Scale Tipper is back and the supply will not last long, especially in bombers, though those are now for sale at multiple liquor stores around town, including Jubilation!

Happy Hour/Discounts: Bosque has a happy hour running from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and all day on Sunday. Look for special menu items and get $1 off your favorite pints.

Bow & Arrow Brewing — (505) 247-9800

(Mon-Weds 3–10 p.m., Thurs 3–11 p.m., Fri-Sat noon–midnight, Sun noon–9 p.m.)

Beers: Flint & Grit (British Mild), Sun Dagger (Saison), Crossed Arrows (Scotch Ale), Hoka Hey (IPA), Jemez Field Notes Lager, Desert Standard Hop Session, Wildorado Unfiltered Wild Rice Pale Ale, Bury My Heart (Belgian Pale Ale), Wayward Arrow Hefeweizen. The most recent additions are the Wildorado, Bury My Heart, and the Desert Standard Hop Session.

Happy Hour/Discounts: Bow & Arrow has happy hour every Monday through Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. Get $1 off pints.

Boxing Bear Brewing Company — (505) 897-2327

(Sun-Thurs 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri-Sat 11 a.m.-11 p.m.)

Beers: Centennial S.M.A.S.H., Kerfuffle British IPA, Featherweight Session IPA, Bearcat Altbier, New MexiKolsch, Pineapple Kolsch, Red Glove, Strawberry Wheat, Bearfuzz Peach Sour (bombers only), Baltic Bear Porter (bombers only). The New MexiKolsch (4.8% ABV, 20 IBU) is back by popular demand. Also returning for another run is the Red Glove (7.2% ABV, 100 IBU), a powerful double red.

Happy Hour/Discounts: Every day at lunchtime (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), for just $10 you can get a pint and a panini of your choice.

Events: Geeks Who Drink is held every Wednesday from 8 to 10 p.m. at Boxing Bear.

Broken Trail Brewery & Distillery (formerly Distillery 365) — (505) 221-6281

(Mon-Thu 3-9 p.m., Fri 3-10 p.m., Sat noon-10 p.m., Sun 11 a.m.-8 p.m.)

Beers: Otero ESB, Lone Pine Pilsner, Sancho Saison. New names, same (good) beers.

Live Music (main location): TBA

Other Events: 10 Drink Minimum host a Cards Against Humanity night at the main location every Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Broken Trail has a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar at the main location. You can purchase three bloodies for just $20.

Every Tuesday all house beers are just $2 a pint.

Canteen Brewhouse — (505) 881-2737 (brewery), (505) 200-2344 (taproom)

(Brewery: Sun–Thurs noon–10 p.m., Fri–Sat noon–midnight; Taproom: Open daily 3–10 p.m.)

Beers: Mongrel DIPA, Panama Joe Coffee Stout, Cheeky Codswallop ESB, Tail Waggin’ IPA, Grapefruit Exodus IPA, Fill in the Blanco IPA, Exodus IPA (on nitro). Fill in the Blanco is a white IPA, if you couldn’t guess. Welcome back to one of our all-time favorites, Panama Joe! Beware, this batch will wake you up.

Live Music: Thursday—The Real Matt Jones, 6 to 9 p.m.; Sunday—Russell James Pyle and Dry Heat, 4 to 7 p.m.

News: The Canteen taproom at Tramway and Cloudview is now open. They have all the regular beers and four seasonal taps, plus crowlers and a cooler with six-packs of Exodus and Dougie Style Amber for sale. There is a full menu, too, including flatbread pizzas.

Cazuela’s Seafood & Mexican Grill — (505) 994-9364

(Open daily 8 a.m.–10 p.m.)

Beers: Papacabra (Double IPA), Acapulco Gold (Mexican Lager), Chupacabra IPA, Piedra del Fuego Stoned Cream Ale, Beer for My Horses (Oatmeal Stout). These are the regular house beers. Call the number above for an updated seasonal list.

Chama River Brewing Company — (505) 342-1800

(Sun–Thurs 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–midnight)

Beers: The Lighter Fare, Heavy Cream, Diabhal’s River, Smokey the Brown. These are special batches of Heavy Cream and The Lighter Fare (ESB), both of which were brewed for the competition at the upcoming Great American Beer Festival. Diabhal’s is a collaboration Belgian strong ale made with Quarter Celtic.

News: Chama now has a rotating nitro tap. Call to see what is available this week.

The Firkin Brewhouse — (505) 881-0702

(Mon closed, Tues-Thurs 3-9 p.m., Fri-Sat noon–11 p.m., Sun noon–9 p.m.)

Beers: Burque Vanilla Nut Brown, Blackout Stout, Ombibulous IPA, Prohibition Mash Ale, Olympic Gold Ale.

News: We went to Firkin recently and found out they are still open. Note the new hours above.

Kaktus Brewing — (505) 379-5072

(Bernalillo hours Mon-Thu 2-9 p.m., Fri-Sat 11:30-10 p.m., Sun 11:30-9 p.m.)

Beers: Stout, Helles Lager, Honk Ale, Maibock, Brumoso Hefe, Guy IPA, Red Card, Scotch Ale, DjinnJar Kombucha, Albuquerque Rapid Transit Ale. The Albuquerque Rapid Transit Ale is a pickle juice porter, with proceeds going to the fight against the project that would tear up Central. Drink it if you dare, like our own Reid did, and he lived to tell the tale.

Events: The Desert Darlings belly dancers perform from 7 to 9 p.m. on almost every Thursday at the Nob Hill taproom and then Sunday in Bernalillo from 6 to 8 p.m. If you’ve never seen the Desert Darlings in person, you’re missing out.

Every Sunday in Bernalillo, Kaktus is hosting a brunch special from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., with breakfast pizzas and drink specials.

Happy Hour/Discounts: Kaktus has several new weekday specials in Bernalillo, including $3 pints on Monday, $9 growlers on Tuesday, $6 bison nachos on Wednesday, and $8 Frito pie and beer on Thursday.

La Cumbre Brewing — (505) 872-0225

(Open every day at noon)

Beers: Arrogant Bastard, Dunkel Jefe, Monzon Wet-Hop Pale Ale. The Monzon is available on tap and in bombers. You can still find State Fair Cream Ale in cans all around town.

Live Music: TBA

Other Events: Yoga is back at the taproom every Sunday at 10:45 a.m.

Lizard Tail Brewing — (505) 717-1301

(Mon–Weds noon-9 p.m., Thurs–Sat noon-midnight, Sun noon-7 p.m.)

Beers: Call the brewery for an updated list.

Happy Hour/Discounts: Lizard Tail’s happy hour runs seven days a week from 3 to 6 p.m. You get $1 off food, flights, and pints.

Events: Lizard Tail will host Geeks Who Drink every Tuesday at 8 p.m. Every Thursday features karaoke from 8 to 11 p.m.

Marble Brewery — (505) 243-2739 (downtown), (505) 508-4638 (Westside), (505) 323-4030 (Heights)

(Downtown: Mon–Sat noon–midnight, Sun noon–10:30 p.m.; Westside: Mon–Thurs noon–11 p.m., Fri–Sat noon–midnight, Sun noon–10 p.m.; Heights: Mon–Sat noon–midnight, Sun noon–10:30 p.m.)

Beers: Dang Pale Ale, Double IPA (Downtown and Westside), Pumpkin Noir (Westside and Heights), Stout Americano (Heights only), Imperial Stout (Heights only). Whoa, wait, Pumpkin Noir is back? Apparently so at two of three locations. Last year’s batch went quick, so get it now!

Live Music (downtown): Friday—MoonHat, 8 to 11 p.m.; Saturday—The Higgs, 8 to 11 p.m.

Live Music (West Side): Friday—Gabe Tafoya, 8 to 11 p.m.; Saturday—Alex Maryol, 8 to 11 p.m.

Live Music (Heights): Friday—Stacy & Kay Kay Mac, 8 to 11 p.m.; Saturday—Eryn Bent, 8 to 11 p.m.

Other Events: Brewery tours occur at the Downtown Pub every Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

Nexus Brewery — (505) 242-4100 (brewery), (505) 226-1055 (Silver Taproom)

(Brewery: Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Sun 11 a.m.–8:30 p.m.; Silver Taproom: Mon–Fri 4-10 p.m., Sat noon-10 p.m., Sun noon-9 p.m.)

Beers: Salted Caramel Stout, Bird of Prey IPA, Kaylynn’s Altbier, Wrath of Kolsch (Silver taproom only). We are downright shocked that you all have yet to drink up the Salted Caramel Stout. Shocked! Welcome back to the Bird of Prey and

Happy Hour/Discounts: Monday–Friday, 3 to 5 p.m., get $5 off appetizers at the brewery.

Pi Brewing — (505) 890-9463

(Sun–Thurs 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–10 p.m.)

Beers: Discordia IPA, U Down w/ BVP?, Pineapple Express, Amber’s Amber, Zinister Dichotomy, Cardinal Sin Red, 40 to 5, Scotty Doesn’t Know. The Zinister (6.3% ABV) is a potent red sour. The 40 to 5 is an American pale wheat ale.

Ponderosa Brewing Co. — (505) 639-5941

(Sun 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Mon–Sat 11 a.m.–11 p.m.)

Beers: Enkel Biter Belgian Wheat, Azacca Pale Ale, Preacher’s Daughter, Alt the Hoople, Manzano Milk Stout, Cascadian Pilsner. The Preacher’s Daughter is for sale on tap and in bombers, both at the brewery and at Jubilation.

Quarter Celtic Brewpub — (505) 503-1387

(Sun–Thurs 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.)

Beers: Pedro O’Flanagan’s Mexican Lager, Dusk’s Early Light, You Reek of Pale Ale, Vienna Lager, #GFF, Diabhal’s River. GFF stands for Grapefruit Forver, so you can guess what they added to this IPA. The Diabhal’s (11% ABV, 30 IBU) is a massive Belgian golden strong that is not for the faint of heart. This is what happens when you put Brady McKeown and Chama River’s Andrew Krosche together on the same brewhouse for a collaboration.

Red Door Brewing — (505) 633-6675 (brewery), (505) 990-3029 (downtown taproom)

(Brewery hours: Mon–Thurs 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Fri 11 a.m. to midnight, Sat 7 a.m. to midnight, Sun 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Downtown taproom hours: Mon–Thurs 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m. to midnight, Sun 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.)

Beers: Vanilla Cream Ale, Downtown Pale Ale, Blackberry Hefeweizen, Nieuwe Bruin. The Downtown Pale Ale (5.6% ABV, 37 IBU) was brewed in honor of the new downtown taproom, but fear not, it is available at both locations. The Nieuwe (6.7% ABV, 20 IBU) is a variation on an Oud Bruin, a tart and sour dark beer.

Live Music (main location): Monday—The Draft Sessions, 7 to 9 p.m.

Other Events: Saturday morning will mark another round of Beer and Breakfast at the main brewery. From 7 to 10 a.m. you can gather with friends for some food truck-supplied goodies with a pint of beer. Thank the sports gods, a full slate of games is back this weekend. The Manchester Derby kicks things off way too early, so DVR that one, then head over for some additional big matchups like Arsenal vs. Southampton and Stoke vs. Tottenham at 8 a.m., followed by Liverpool vs. Leicester City at 10:30 a.m.

Rio Bravo Brewing Company — (505) 900-3909

(Mon–Thu noon–10 p.m., Fri–Sat noon–11 p.m., Sun noon–9 p.m.)

Beers: Rio Bravo Amber, Weizen, Randy’s Shandy, Dirty Rotten Bastard IPA, Snakebite IPA, Black Angus Stout, Randy’s Red Ale, Duke City Pilsner, Old Town Porter (regular and barrel aged), Barley Wine (regular and barrel aged), Winterfest Marzen, Level 3 IPA. The popular Karl’s Sommer Bier is back on tap as well.

Live Music: Today (Wednesday)—Shane Wallin, 6:30 p.m.; Thursday—Ely Write, 6:30 p.m.; Friday—Eileen and Cross Country Band, 7 p.m.; Saturday—The Dregz, 7 p.m.

Other Events: Saturday—Cornhole Tournament, noon

Sandia Chile Grill — (505) 798-1970

(Mon–Sat 8 a.m.–8 p.m., Sun 8 a.m.–6 p.m.)

Beers: Call the brewery for an updated list.

Sidetrack Brewing — (505) 288-6468

(Mon–Thurs 3–11 p.m., Fri 3 p.m.–midnight, Sat noon–midnight, Sun noon–10 p.m.)

Beers: Pub Ale, Railhead Red, Switchgear IPA, Dark Engine Stout, Shoofly Wheat, Cascade Pale Ale. The Cascade replaces the departed Zoso S.M.A.S.H. Take note, Switchgear is currently out, but the new batch should be on tap Friday.

Cask: Pub Ale and Stout, with cocoa nibs added, will be in the firkins all week.

Starr Brothers Brewing — (505) 492-2752

(Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day)

Beers: Starrstruck IPA, Double Live Jonzo, Red Zepplin, Electric Sun, LampShade Porter, L.A. Woman, Rosin Dubh. Rosin Dubh is a new Irish dry stout. The Porter and L.A. Woman (blonde ale) are also recent additions to tap.

Events: Starr Brothers will open at 8 a.m. every Saturday for Premier League soccer games, with breakfast specials and more. See the Red Door entry above for some of this weekend’s big matchups.

Tractor Brewing Company — (505) 433-5654 (Nob Hill Tap Room), (505) 243-6752 (Wells Park)

(Nob Hill: Sun–Weds noon–midnight, Thurs noon–2 a.m., Fri–Sat noon–2 a.m.; Wells Park: Mon–Thurs 3 p.m.–close, Fri–Sun 1 p.m.–midnight)

Beers: Berry Cider, Maibock, Grapefruit Wheat, Cerveza New Mexico Lager, Summer En Blanc Belgian Witbier, Barrel-Aged Barley Wine (Wells Park only), Kolsch, Tupac Cali Red, Nitro Coffee Stout (Wells Park only), Ebony & Ivory Pale Stout, Hillario DIPA, Dank Johnson DIPA, You’re Fired DIPA. Tractor’s take on a Kolsch is a bit different, but still tasty. They dry hopped it with Mosaic, giving it a different aroma.

Live Music (Wells Park): Thursday—The Lymbs acoustic session, 8 p.m.; Saturday—Eileen & the In-Betweens, 8 p.m.

Live Music (Nob Hill): Today (Wednesday)—Solos on the Hill: Cali Shaw, 8:30 p.m.; Saturday—Setting the Tone: Holly Durante, 5 p.m.

Other Events: Poetry and Beer is back today (Wednesday) at Wells Park starting at 7 p.m.

Nob Hill will host the Barry Schwartz Art Opening on Thursday at 6 p.m.

Drag Queen Bingo returns to Wells Park on Friday at 8 p.m.

Every Monday at Wells Park you can now find Mondays on the Mic starting at 6 p.m.

Kamikaze Karaoke is back at Wells Park on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Also, every first Monday of the month at both Tractor locations is Beer for a Better Burque night. For every pint you buy $1 can go to one of four charities that have partnered with Tractor. You can also opt to purchase a special growler with the logo of your favorite charity.

You can grab your own musical instrument and head to Nob Hill for the ultimate jam session. Tractor Tune Up, hosted by the Virginia Creepers, is now an official event happening every Monday starting at 7:30 p.m. Then at 8 p.m., ABQ Pens & Pints is a new weekly event!

Happy Hour/Discounts: Tractor now has a late happy hour from 9 p.m. to midnight on Mondays with $2 classic beers and $3 seasonals.

Turtle Mountain Brewing Company — (505) 994-9497

(Kitchen hours: Mon–Tues 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Wed–Thurs 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Sun 10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Reminder: TMBC closes early when business dictates. Please call.)

Beers: McSmack, Blueberry Yum Yum, Jac’s Elope Raspberry Pale Ale; One, If By Land. The McSmack is a Scottish ale, in case you could not guess by the name. The malty sweet McSmack demands a visit to TMBC, before it runs out like the Kiwi Killer Southern Hemisphere IPA just did.

Santa Fe breweries

Blue Corn Brewery — (505) 438-1800

(Open daily 11 a.m.–10 p.m.)

Beers: Ginger Plum Saison, Rakau Pale Ale, Chaparral IPL, Pope Porter, Wet Hop American Strong Ale. The Chaparral, an India Pale Lager, is now available. The new Strong Ale debuts Thursday on the patio. See our intro for more details.

Chili Line Brewing — (505) 500-7903

(Mon–Sat 4–10:30 p.m., Sun 11 a.m.–10:30 p.m.)

UPDATED >>> Beers: Lager, Jefeweizen, sI.P.A.papu, Pineapple sI.P.A.papu, India Pale Lager, PG IPA, Smoked Wheat Porter, Stout. Chili Line specializes in smoked beers, and trust us, we had their smoked IPA, and it is very, very different than what you are used to (and not necessarily in a bad way). They also have rotating specialty beers in addition to the core lineup, which we have added here in the Pineapple sI.P.A.papu and the IPL. They also have four guest taps, including a cider.

Happy Hour/Discounts: Buy two beers and a pizza and get another pizza free.

Duel Brewing Company — (505) 474-5301

(Brewery: Mon–Sat open at 11 a.m., Sun open at 1 p.m.; ABQ taproom: Mon–Thurs 2 p.m.–midnight; Fri–Sun noon–midnight)

Beers: Bad Amber, Fiction (IPA), Fantin (Double Pale Ale), Titian (Golden Strong), Grunewald (Imperial Porter), Dark Ryder (Dark Strong), Cezanne Origine (Spring Saison), Hair of the Wolf (Experimental), Harmonia (Barrel-Aged Sour IPA), Monomyth (Belgian DIPA). The most recent addition here is the aptly named Monomyth, which checks in at 9-percent ABV and 90 IBUs.

Events (ABQ taproom): Thursday—Drink & Draw featuring Cloudface, 7 p.m.; Saturday—Enchanted PopUp Presents: ArtBeats, 5 p.m.

Happy Hour/Discounts: Happy-hour Monday through Friday 4-6 p.m. (discounts for all draft beer), Growler Saturdays ($3 off growler fills).

Rowley Farmhouse Ales — (505) 428-0719

(Open all week from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.)

Beers: Notorious BdG. Say hello to Santa Fe’s newest brewery, which opened last weekend. They have some guest taps, plus their first offering, “a malt-forward biere de garde that was fermented solely with Brettanomyces Bruxellensis var. Drei,” as described on their Facebook page. The kitchen is in full swing, too. Head on over!

Events: See our intro above for the Ballast Point tap takeover on Sunday.

Santa Fe Brewing Company — (505) 424-3333

(Main taproom: Mon–Sat 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Sun 2-8 p.m.; ABQ taproom: Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–11 p.m.; Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–midnight; Sun 11 a.m.–10 p.m.)

Beers: Oktoberfest, Autonomous Collective DIPA, Sunset Limited, Idaho?! IPA. The Sunset Limited, a collaboration with a Louisiana brewery, debuted recently. Oktoberfest is back on tap and in six-packs. Get some, it’s a wonderful batch this year. The Idaho?! is an IPA made with experimental hops.

Events: The new Estate-grown Neo-1 Wet-hop Pale Ale will debut at all three locations on Friday.

Happy Hour/Discounts: $1 off growler refills in the tasting room on Mondays. $2 pint Tuesdays at the Eldorado Taphouse. On Wednesday, there is a $2 pint special in the tasting room. On Thursday, there will be $1 off growler refills at the Eldorado Taphouse.

Second Street Brewery — (505) 989-3278 (Railyard), (505) 982-3030 (original location)

(Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Sunday noon-9 p.m.)

Beers: Kolsch, IPA, Cream Stout, Trebuchet DIPA, Rod’s Best Bitter, International Steam Pale Ale, XX Extra Special Bitter, Golden Ale, British Mild. The new one here is the XX Extra Special Bitter, which just sounds delightful. Get some Trebuchet, a silver medal winner at the World Beer Cup, before the supply runs out.

Live Music (Original location): Thursday—Patio Series: Welsh & Watt; Friday—Half Broke Horses; Saturday—multiple bands will be at the Atalaya RescueFest (see our intro for more details)

Live Music (Railyard): Friday—Alex Maryol; Saturday—Barbwire; Sunday—Patio Series: Lone Pinon

Other Events: Every Tuesday night, the Railyard location will have Open Mic Night hosted by Ben Wright. Every Thursday night, Geeks Who Drink will be at the Railyard at 8 p.m.

News: Second Street is moving ever closer to opening their third location, which will feature a taproom and a full production facility.

Other breweries you need to visit

Bathtub Row Brewing — (505) 500-8381

(Mon–Weds 2–10 p.m., Thurs 2–11 p.m., Fri–Sat noon–11 p.m., Sun noon–10 p.m.)

Beers: Little Boy GFB, Mild at Heart, Caldera Sundown Hoppy Wheat, Northern English Browne, White Room Cream. Another big tap turnover recently went down in Los Alamos, with Caldera, Northern English, and White Room making their debuts.

Events: Thursday—Open mic, 6 p.m.

Twisted Chile Brewing — (575) 835-2949

(Mon–Thurs 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Sun noon-8 p.m.)

Beers: Zia Pilsner, 790 IPA, Hose Co. 1 Red Lager, Venom IPA, KC’s Irish Stout, McFadden’s Scotch, English Porter, El Camino ReAle Summer Pale, Love Potion Peach, Schwarzbar Black Lager. The most recent addition is the English Porter. Before that came old favorite Schwarzbar and the new Love Potion, a peach wheat.

Live Music: TBA

Other events: Today (Wednesday)—Open mic, 6:30 to 9 p.m.

* * * *

That’s all for this week! If you have any questions or comments, leave them below or contact us on our Facebook page.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Amid a sea of people taking pics on their cell phones, the Boxing Bear brewing team holds their NMIPAC trophy aloft!

Amid a sea of people taking pics on their cell phones, the Boxing Bear brewing team holds their NMIPAC trophy aloft!

Another year, another IPA Challenge is in the books. Only for the first time in a while, there will be a new champion holding onto the trophy.

Boxing Bear held off Canteen and 3 Rivers in the closest vote in NMIPAC history. The final round was decided by hundreds of beer lovers/hopheads on a (very) toasty afternoon at Tractor Wells Park. When everything was counted, Boxing Bear had 81 votes, Canteen finished with 79, and 3 Rivers garnered 68. That ended the two-year reign of Bosque as champion, as well as the three-year reign of brewer John Bullard, who had previously won at Blue Corn in 2013.

The final totals, for those who are interested in such numbers.

The final totals, for those who are interested in such numbers.

A whole lotta folks asked us about which beer was which. Here is the list (we did not get a photo, sorry) of the beers by their number on the tray.

  1. Red Door
  2. Taos Mesa
  3. Quarter Celtic
  4. Starr Brothers
  5. Bosque
  6. Sidetrack
  7. Santa Fe
  8. Tractor
  9. Canteen
  10. Chili Line
  11. La Cumbre
  12. Boxing Bear
  13. Second Street
  14. Blue Corn
  15. 3 Rivers

As for the victorious head brewer, Justin Hamilton was all smiles after he got to hold the trophy aloft with assistant brewer Dylan Davis.

“I think it’s great, honestly,” Justin said. “The reaction to it is a little bit of stunned, but we’re also super happy to represent New Mexico. All of us have been locals for a long time. I grew up here, so did Dylan. For the fact that we’re local brewers, that we’ve been involved in the brewery scene for a long time, we were able to bring it home to our new place, that’s really awesome.

“Being that I was a part of the IPA Challenge for the last decade, and not being able to bring one home, this is hard. A lot of these guys it’s their first year, second or third year, I’ve been doing it for a long time. After years of contention it’s nice to have that boy sitting on our bar top.”

A big thank you to the tireless efforts of Tractor co-owner Skye Devore, left, and Brewers Guild director John Gozigian.

A big thank you to the tireless efforts of Tractor co-owner Skye Devore, left, and Brewers Guild director John Gozigian.

Starting last September, the accolades have been rolling in for Boxing Bear. First came the silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival for Chocolate Milk Stout. Then came a gold at the World Beer Cup for the same beer. Being able to hang their hat on a totally different style for Boxing Bear is huge, as it shows they are not just a one-trick pony of a sort.

“It’s great to bring it home,” Justin said. “It feels good that we have hopefully set our niche in the fact that New Mexico has good beer and that we’re one of the really good breweries here in New Mexico that’s up and coming and we put a lot of pride into our beer. I think people saw that.”

Do not expect Justin or Dylan or anyone else at Boxing Bear to kick back and rest on the laurels of their victories in the last 10 months.

“This is a thing you see with breweries — you win things in a row, then you won’t win (anything) for years,” Justin said. “It’s good we’re doing well, but at the same time all of us have a very similar viewpoint in our breweries that we want things to be good, and if they’re not good we want them to be better. We are constantly looking for a way to improve our product, even if people say it’s good. Even if people tell us our products are good, we can tell if they need to be done better. I think that’s one of the reasons we are having a really good year.”

Justin credited his small, tight-knit staff for the victory. In a way, he said, being a bit smaller in size has helped Boxing Bear establish themselves alongside the state heavyweights.

“I think the fact we’re all pointing in the same direction, everyone in our building is contending for (creating) the best product that we possibly can (and) great service from the pub viewpoint,” Justin said. “And also we really want to show Albuquerque, New Mexico, in general that we’re here for beer, we’re here to put out a great product, we’re here to put out what New Mexico expects as beer as far as what you’ve seen from Marble, what you’ve seen from La Cumbre, what you’ve seen from Bosque. We want to be on the same level of amazing beer that is known locally, nationally, and worldwide. That’s our goal.”

There were tough calls all around on this tray.

There were tough calls all around on this tray.

Justin has worked at a number of breweries over the years, so he has shared in past glories. This one, though, is his own.

“We’re having a great year,” he said. “For me, my thing is, I’ve been a part of a lot of great breweries. And it’s nice to kind of carve my own niche right now. It’s nice to get recognition for that. I’ve worked for lots of great breweries, but this is mine now, this is ours now.”

Now it is just a matter of getting everyone else out there to continue to recognize just how good we have it with our local breweries in New Mexico.

“I think that’s the thing about New Mexico and Albuquerque in general — we have literally some of the best beer in the world,” Justin said. “There’s not a lot of states that can say that. Our city alone, not only our city, but our state has literally some of the best beer in the world. People are drawn to that, no matter where (they) are. I think that things like this are great for locals, and for people that are involved with it, but when we win stuff on an international and national scale, and it brings it back home and then we win a local event, it makes it even better.

“It just really brings it full circle because we still get the question of where are you, who are you, which is fine. People still ask that question about Bosque. But it’s a lot less people. This is a great thing that will let people know we are a great force of good beer in New Mexico and we will continue to do that.”

We will raise a pint (or two) to that sentiment!

Another IPA Challenge is complete. We look forward to the 2017 version.

Before that happens, however, we have a few special thank yous to hand out for the finale: to Brewers Guild director John Gozigian; to his hard-working team of volunteers who poured the beer (including Angelo Orona); to Skye Devore, David Hargis, and every single staff member at Tractor (Lauren, Melissa, Nicole, and on and on); and finally, to all of you, our fellow beer drinkers! We (barely) beat the heat and had a great time, all while reminding people just how strong and vibrant our local beer scene really is.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The Brewers Guild posted this photo of the results from the 3 Rivers round of the IPA Challenge.

The Brewers Guild posted this photo of the results from the 3 Rivers round of the IPA Challenge.

The NM IPA Challenge continued Wednesday night at 3 Rivers Brewery in Farmington, with 80 people coming out to partake and vote for their favorite. The hometown brewery had a respectable showing with 11 votes to give it 22 through two rounds, but Quarter Celtic was the round winner with 18 votes (26 total).

Boxing Bear, though, maintained their lead with another 13 votes to raise their total to 32. The breweries are listed below their voting totals from the first round at Santa Fe Brewing on Saturday and the second round at 3 Rivers.

  1. Boxing Bear: 19 + 13 = 32
  2. Quarter Celtic: 8 + 18 = 26
  3. Blue Corn: 17 + 5 = 22
  4. Starr Brothers: 11 + 11 = 22
  5. 3 Rivers: 11 + 11 = 22
  6. Bosque: 17 + 1 = 18
  7. Canteen: 12 + 4 = 16
  8. La Cumbre: 12 + 1 = 13
  9. Santa Fe: 10 + 2 = 12
  10. Second Street: 9 + 3 = 12
  11. Tractor: 10 + 1 = 11
  12. Chili Line: 8 + 2 = 10
  13. Red Door: 7 + 3 = 10
  14. Sidetrack: 6 + 4 = 10
  15. Taos Mesa: 6 + 1 = 7

The most shocking results from the round were Bosque, the two-time defending champion, and La Cumbre and Tractor getting just one vote apiece after stronger showings at SFBC. Starr Brothers continued to shine among the newcomers, doubling their voting total. (Yes, Quarter Celtic is a new brewery, too, but they have one of the most experienced brewers in the state at the helm.)

Brandon and I will be at the final round Saturday, which starts at noon, to provide live updates and blurry photos and the like. Do remember, Tractor is closing off the front parking lot for the event in case the crowd spills over from inside the brewery. Take this into account if you’re driving over. As always, Uber, a designated driver, or at least a carpool is your best bet.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Let's get this thing started!

Let’s get this thing started!

More than 160 patrons packed The Bridge at Santa Fe Brewing on Saturday afternoon to cast their votes in the first of the three main rounds of the 2016 NM IPA Challenge. The initial tallies suggest this is going to be a close one, though a lot can change between now and the final votes this coming Saturday at Tractor Wells Park.

The final results. Voting totals are on the right, the beers by number are on the left.

The final results. Voting totals are on the right, the beers by number are on the left.

Boxing Bear has the early lead with 19 votes, picking up where they left off after tying for the lead in the preliminary round at Rio Bravo last weekend. Those votes do not carry over, so everyone was starting from zero this time around. Blue Corn and two-time defending champion Bosque tied for second with 17 votes.

After that was quite the cluster of breweries who could be sleepers down the line. Canteen and La Cumbre earned 12 votes. Starr Brothers and Three Rivers picked up 11. Host Santa Fe and future host Tractor snagged 10. Second Street snuck in there with nine, followed by Chili Line and Quarter Celtic with eight, Red Door with seven, and Sidetrack and Taos Mesa with six.

Guild director John Gozigian was in charge of tallying the votes.

Guild director John Gozigian was in charge of tallying the votes.

The next round is Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Three Rivers. The hosts have encouraged folks up in Durango to make the drive down, so it could be a different crowd in terms of what they want in an IPA.

A big thanks to Luke for keeping us all up to date on social media. He had more work to do for SFBC, which was hosting a post-event free concert, otherwise he would have written this himself. The pictures are all his, so here are a few more!

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Hello, happy beer lovers!

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That’s being serious right there. Just don’t get any beer up your nose.

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So many hops, so little time.

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Always good to see a familiar face.

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When your GM is smiling like that, you know the SFBC staff has done a good job.

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Cheers to that!

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It’s a meeting of directors past and present.

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Ride on, beer lovers!

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Hey, we know these two! Glad they made it down from Los Alamos.

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Whenever we see brewers gather like this, we hope for future collaborations.

If anyone out there who is planning on attending Wednesday’s round in Farmington and wants to be our special correspondent, please contact us at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com or via social media. The most important things we would need are photos and the voting totals.

The rest of us will see the rest of you at Tractor Wells Park!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

This year's many, many IPA entries.

This year’s many, many IPA entries.

And we are off! The preliminary round of the 2016 New Mexico IPA Challenge is complete, with 16 15 breweries advancing to the three main rounds that will begin next weekend at Santa Fe Brewing. This came out of the 28 beers that were sampled in a blind taste test Saturday afternoon at Rio Bravo.

Editor’s note: We have been updated by the Guild that Rio Bravo does not advance.

Were there surprises? Of course, both in some of the breweries that scored well and in some that did not. One of the new wrinkles in NMIPAC is that the three host breweries — Santa Fe, 3 Rivers, Tractor — were guaranteed to advance no matter their voting totals. In the end, only the first needed that bye to advance, as 3 Rivers (nine votes) and Tractor (seven votes) would have qualified regardless.

The results of the preliminary round, with the breweries listed by their numbers on the left, voting totals on the right.

The results of the preliminary round, with the breweries listed by their numbers on the left, voting totals on the right.

Every brewery that was eliminated garnered less than seven votes. Those are, with voting totals included, Bathtub Row (4), Cazuela’s (1), Chama River (2), Enchanted Circle (2), Kaktus (2), Little Toad Creek (4), Lizard Tail (3), Marble (6), Rio Bravo (3), Roosevelt (4), Sierra Blanca (6), Spotted Dog (1), and Turtle Mountain (2). While some of those breweries are newer or in more remote locations, seeing big names like Chama, Marble, Sierra Blanca, and Turtle were all surprising.

The advancing breweries, including the hosts, are Blue Corn (10), Bosque (13), Boxing Bear (33), Canteen (33), Chili Line (10), La Cumbre (13), Quarter Celtic (24), Red Door (7), Santa Fe (3), Second Street (7), Sidetrack (7), Starr Brothers (17), Taos Mesa (13), 3 Rivers (9), and Tractor (7). In terms of the two trays, numbered 1-14 and 15-28, the leaders were Boxing Bear and Canteen for the first tray and Quarter Celtic for the second tray. It was nice to see some of the newcomers, all of whom opened this year, make the final cut in Chili Line, Quarter Celtic, Sidetrack, and Starr Brothers.

In the interest of full disclosure, Brandon had the first tray and picked Canteen. I had the second tray and picked Starr Brothers, though it was close between their offering and Quarter Celtic.

The next round of NMIPAC will be Saturday, July 16, at Santa Fe, followed by a stop at 3 Rivers in Farmington on July 20, and the grand finale at Tractor Wells Park on July 23. Luke will have the SFBC stop covered for us, and the rest of the Crew will see you all at Wells Park.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

p.s. Kudos to the staff at Rio Bravo for putting on such a smoothly-run event. All of us attendees appreciated your hard work!

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Paul never has to ask for anyone to help him get something from the top shelf.

Blue Corn Brewery has undergone quite a bit of change throughout the years since it opened in 1992. One thing that hasn’t changed is that this humble 7-barrel brewpub has been a springboard for many great careers in the New Mexico Brewing industry. The names Daniel Jaramillo, John Bullard, Jordy Dralle, Justin Hamilton, and James Warren come to mind. Flipping through Blue Corn’s old log book reads like a modern history book of brewing in New Mexico. It’s a fine list.

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How long has Blue Corn been around? None of the Crew was old enough to even drive, much less drink, when it opened.

Recently, a new name was etched into that list. The name is Paul Mallory, and I’m here for his story.

It’s a hot Thursday afternoon, one of the hottest yet in Santa Fe, the kind that has you pausing one too many times beneath the office air-conditioning and begging for the bell to toll ‘Beer:30.’ When it’s time, I drive just down the road from work, brewery to brewery, which is less of a pub crawl than it sounds. I sit down at that same familiar bar. My old friends, the copper serving tanks, are as welcoming as ever. I choose the one beer I hadn’t yet tried on the board, the Blueberry Gose. It’s as refreshing as you want it to be. New head brewer Paul Mallory meets me just in time to order a pint of Summer Lager. Pints in hand, we look for a table. Paul has a friendly demeanor. A few minutes talking to him, and it’s hard not to like the guy.

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All the tools of a beer writer in one place.

After we cheers to our first interview, I get a little background from Mallory. He tells me that he’s from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and shares that he may have gone to school with Franz Solo. No way! I say. I feel cliché tossing in ‘small world.’ If there are any stories there, I’ll be sure to let Franz be the one to tell them. I get straight into brewing. Paul tells me that before Blue Corn, he had been professionally brewing for about four years; nine if you count his homebrewing. His parents gave him his start, having given him a homebrew kit all those years ago. As with many homebrewers that became professional brewers, he was hooked from the start. From then on, he read books, talked to pros, and kept following his curiosity. He would talk to local brewers in Albuquerque, but more importantly, he listened to them. He took their advice and that led to taking beer-judging classes. They also advised him to go to school if he really wanted to pursue brewing. Again, he took their advice; that led him to the brewing program at UC Davis. At one point, he even did an internship at Marble, which was another foot in the door.

After the program at Davis, Mallory began his professional career at Black Diamond Brewing Company in the East Bay Area (Concord, Calif., to be specific) to get us closer on the map. There, he was hired as assistant brewer, and pretty quickly he was promoted to head brewer there. He was there for about three years.

Mallory: It was a good, challenging job, because it was a production brewery, so you know we were on a 15-barrel system, brewing about six times a week, kegs and bottles, and sending to all these different states. So, stability, shelf-life, all that really mattered.

DSBC: How many states is Black Diamond in?

Mallory: I think we were in 13 to 15 different states. We had beer in Brazil and Italy. Too much, honestly. We were like, the Italians must be digging the old hop flavor, because I don’t know why they would like beer that’s made that trip. (Laughs)

DSBC: Did you work anywhere else after Black Diamond?

Mallory: Yeah, I went and worked with some buddies in Oakland at this really small brewery, which had its own set of challenges. It had a new 15-barrel brewhouse that they hadn’t hooked up yet, so I went in there, really trying to get their recipes dialed in, their processes, their lab, all that before they went on to the bigger scale. It was great. It was really fun to just work with friends and try to get their brewery off the ground.

DSBC: After that, you found Blue Corn? How did that happen?

Mallory: Yeah. Well, I was traveling, and my girlfriend sent me this email. And, so I was in a place with not very good internet. (Stoutmeister? Sound familiar? — Yes, all too familiar.) I really scrambled to get this resume in before the deadline closed and all that. So, somehow it worked. I spent one of my travel days getting my resume together, shot it over to James, and yeah, I got lucky, just with the timing. I was gonna move to Santa Fe, either way, and I really wanted to keep brewing.

DSBC: Now that you’re at Blue Corn, what sort of direction would you like to see the beer go?

Mallory: I’ve gotta say, James has been very creative. I’ve looked over his past recipes, and I’ve had his current beers. I’d like to keep it going. I’m sure I have some things that I can bring to the table because I came from another region in the country. I’ll definitely try to add that and just try to keep pushing the boundaries. I’ve looked through his old recipes and I was like, oh, I’ve done one of those, or I’d like to do one of those. There’s definitely a lot of overlap, too.

DSBC: What are your current favorite styles?

Mallory: I think it really depends on the time of time of day, time of year, whatever. If it’s a really well brewed beer, I’ll drink it. I’ll brew any style! But, hops, I really like hops, as most people do. (Laughs) I like the big, hoppy beers, but I’m obsessed with those pale ales. I like IPAs. I like session IPAs, but right in the middle are those pale ales, just super balanced, a lot of body, good strong bitterness, bold American or New Zealand hops. I want to be able to drink a few.

DSBC: Any beers you don’t particularly like to brew?

Mallory: I guess smoked beers. It’s just not my thing. I have friends who keep trying to find a smoked beer that I’ll like, and I’ll give it to them. They kind of found some that I do like more than others, but it’s just not a style you’ll see me do anytime soon.

DSBC: It’s a certain fringe style, either you like it or you don’t, like pumpkin ales or chile beers. Looking forward, what would like to see more of at Blue Corn?

Mallory: I think I’d like to help build the culture here. I think a lot of people don’t know how good a beer we make here. I think people think of our house beers, and that’s it, and they don’t really know about all these exciting seasonals. I don’t think they even know how good our house beers are. I’m really trying to work with the front of house, the kitchen, maybe the other location downtown. As for the beer, I kind of just want to keep it going. I’d like to follow in James’ footsteps and, of course, throw in my own flavor in there.

DSBC: It’s probably early to ask, but do you think you’ll be working on any special projects in the near future, barrel-aging kind of stuff? Sours?

Mallory: I hope so! I think when things slow down, at the end of summer, I’ll definitely look to fill my time by doing some more adventurous things with barrels. Yeah, and we’ve got a few to play around with, that we’ve been kind of tasting off of the last week.

DSBC: So, what kind of specialties can New Mexico expect to see at Blue Corn with the Mallory flair this year?

Mallory: Well, I guess I have my little black book with all my ideas in it. I can’t say for sure what I’ll draw from there, coming up, but in the past I’ve made a ginger saison for the summer, or maybe a rye pale ale, or maybe a pale ale that’ll showcase a new hop variety that most people don’t know about. I could go on and on, I guess.

DSBC: I’d let you, but we’ll save it for future interviews. What can you tell us about our current specialties that you have on tap?

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The variety of seasonals at BC is always outstanding.

Mallory: Yeah, of course. So, last week we released the Blue Corn Summer Lager, which actually has blue corn in it. It’s from New Mexico, some local blue corn flakes. And, you know the blue corn just dried the beer out. It’s nice and crisp. Real light body.

DSBC: It’s a good American light lager.

Mallory: Exactly. We threw some American hops in there, too, just to keep it fairly traditional to them with a little twist. And then, I don’t know if it’s because we knew there was blue corn in there, but we thought we saw a little tint or a little haze.

DSBC: It could just be in your head.

Mallory: I think it might be, but there definitely was during the early part of the brewing process, but it seemed to clear up later. And then, today, we released the Blueberry Gose. We used a little bit of acidulated malt to just give it a little tartness. We used a little bit of coriander and salt to give it the spice and the body. We used over 50-percent wheat on it and blueberry puree. And so, again, it’s somewhat traditional, and then we throw in a little twist. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. It’s nice and drinkable.

DSBC: I know you’re going to try new things. Will you continue to do some of the new favorites that people really latched onto? I’m not talking about the cores, but the big beers that people have been enjoying like the Barleywine and Russian Imperial Stout, which have become kind of an annual thing?

Mallory: Yeah, I’m definitely happy to listen to what the customers want. I know that instead of our regular Honeywheat, we put blueberry in it one year, and it was like one of the best-selling beers of all-time. Barleywines, those, I’d be happy to do again if that’s what the people want. We are going to do a Russian Imperial Stout coming up, and Santa Fe Dining has a coffee roastery as well, so we’re going to get coffee from 35 North, and put it in the Russian Imperial Stout. And, with James’ inspiration, you know he likes his big beers, and he’ll release them at any time of the year, so we’re coming out with that soon. And then, we’re also doing the IPA Challenge this year, too. So, I know we got second place, last year.

DSBC: And you guys brewed that yesterday, right?

Mallory: That’s right, and hopefully we do well with that.

DSBC: Can you give us a little teaser about it? And, you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

Mallory: Um, yeah. It seems like a lot of the brewers are keeping it somewhat quiet, but yeah, kind of like last year, just a bunch of hops, just more hops than I’ve ever put into a beer.

DSBC: Even at Black Diamond? Cool.

Mallory: Yeah.

DSBC: In the Dark Side, we’re fans of really big beers, beers that consume you, not the other way around. Any of those in your black book?

Mallory: Hmm, let’s see. We did a quad at Black Diamond that I was a big fan of. I know we have one on right now that James made, and that’s really tasty. I’m a fan of the ones we already have. I love barleywines. I love quads. And, you know, we’ll see about getting our hands on some yeast in the winter when we have some more tank space, and maybe do a dopplebock lager, something like that.

DSBC: Last few questions. What kind of beer do you have in your fridge?

Mallory: Um, (Sierra Nevada) Torpedo. I know it sounds like I’m missing the Bay Area, where I was just living for the last five years, but honestly, I went to the corner store, and they didn’t have any local stuff. I ended up buying from California.

DSBC: Shaking my head at you, distributors. I’m kidding.

Mallory: I still feel new to the beer scene here a little bit, and I’m super excited to try all these new beers on the shelf by these local breweries.

DSBC: Anything you’d like to add for our New Mexico craft beer drinkers?

Mallory: I’m just excited to be back home. As good as the California Bay Area brewing scene was, I honestly feel like New Mexico is one step above.

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Nice touch there on the beer board, BC staff.

* * * * *

At Blue Corn, I’ve heard and used the phrase “big shoes to fill,” a lot. In my early opinion, I think Paul definitely has a chance, and of the Bunyan and Babe size. He’s both tall and very knowledgeable, but in either event, he won’t talk down to you. As a brewer, he’s at a good age for what he’s doing and where he is. At 31, he seems to understand the industry in a longitudinal sense, while still being young enough to not be set in his ways.

He’s confident in his abilities, yet seems ready to learn from anything and anyone. He trusts his brewing process, and so seems excited to test his new system in the name of beer experimentation. He’s happy to brew traditional styles while also keeping up with “what the kids want,” to quote former head brewer James Warren.

If Paul’s Brew-Fu style is as strong as his knowledge, hands-on experience, and passion for the craft, then I’m sure his future will be as bright as those of his predecessors. Welcome home, Paul. We’re all excited to see what you’ll have waiting in the fermenters for New Mexico in the coming months. Cheers!

— Luke (Craft Crusader)

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A selfie with the new Head Brewer. It happened. I’m less sorry than you think.

For more New Mexico #CraftBeer news and info, follow @nmdarksidebc and me, Luke, at @SantaFeCraftBro!

One IPA to rule them all!

One IPA to rule them all!

The announcement went out on Tuesday, and hopheads across the state rejoiced, for the New Mexico IPA Challenge is returning to the land. Now 28 breweries will do battle, as all seek to remove the three-time king, John Bullard, from his iron throne.

OK, fine, it is a bit of Game of Thrones there, but that is the theme this year, said NM Brewers Guild director John Gozigian. We met for some pints and a good old information download at Bosque Brewing on Wednesday afternoon.

“We’re kind of running with a Game of Thrones theme,” John said. “It all makes sense. The brewing community in New Mexico is kind of incestuous, it really is. Everybody’s worked here and there. All the houses have been mixed, kind of, so it kind of lends itself to that.

“You’ve got a guy like John Bullard who’s won it three years in a row for two different breweries. He’s the guy that everybody wants to dethrone. You’ve got all these usurpers out there that would love nothing better than to make him pay.”

Bullard has won three in a row, the last two at Bosque and two before that Blue Corn. His title defense starts on Saturday, July 9, at Rio Bravo for the preliminary round. After that, the scoring rounds will be at Santa Fe Brewing on July 16, at Three Rivers Brewery in Farmington on July 16, and the grand finale will be at Tractor Wells Park on July 23.

The other 27 combatants who will face off with Bosque are, deep breath, as follows (* = confirmed first-time participant): Bathtub Row, Blue Corn, Boxing Bear, Canteen, Cazuela’s, Chama River, Chili Line*, Enchanted Circle*, Kaktus, La Cumbre, Little Toad Creek, Lizard Tail, Marble, Quarter Celtic*, Red Door, Rio Bravo*, Roosevelt, Santa Fe, Second Street, Sidetrack*, Sierra Blanca, Spotted Dog, Starr Brothers*, Taos Mesa, Three Rivers, Tractor, Turtle Mountain

Last year there were 23 participants, so to get to 28 is immense in and of itself. Rather than copy the same format as the VIPA Challenge, there will instead be a new format for the opening round at Rio Bravo.

“It’s going to be a little different though it’s going to accomplish the same end,” John said. “Last year was the first time that we had to winnow the field down to a manageable amount of beers to take on the road, so attendees at the subsequent stops got all of them in one sitting.

“We capped it this year at 28 breweries. They can only enter one beer. It all goes back to the lunch lady trays that we’ve always used. You can fit 14 of those plastic tumblers on one of those trays. You can fit 2-to-3 ounces in there, a big enough sample where you can reasonably evaluate the beer. So, that limits it to 14 in a flight. Plus, given the quantity of each one, you can’t go less than 2 ounces, so that ends up (28) ounces of beer per flight, plus you get the complimentary pint. We don’t want people to over-consume.”

The format now will feature two separate trays, labeled A and B. One will have beers numbered one through 14, the other 15 through 28. Each attendee will only receive one of the two trays, and will rank the beers on his/her tray only. An equal number of the two trays will be distributed so all beers will have an equal chance, regardless of which tray they are on.

“We’re going to be smart, the ones that have done well in the past, they’re not going to all be on one flight,” John said. “They’re going to be spread out in a way that makes sense. We’re going to take the top 12 to 14 out of that first round at Rio Bravo and then take those to the next stops.”

Yes, you and your best friend/significant other/old drinking buddy can each get a different tray and sample from the other, but you can only vote for one. Basically, drink up as much as you want off your tray first for proper voting, then, if your palate can take it, try from the other tray.

“So, the first one is going to be fun,” John said. “That’s where we get the field down to where it’s supposed to be. Even with 28, there’s going to be some good IPAs that get left behind. There are a lot of good IPAs out there now. For sure, those top 12 or 14, they’re going to be some great beers.”

Tickets for all four rounds are now on sale online, and paper tickets will begin appearing at the breweries (full list TBA) in the next couple of weeks.

Get them early this year. Even as big as Rio Bravo is, and Tractor WP will be (they are going to close the front parking lot along 4th for additional capacity), there will be ticket caps. This should be the biggest NMIPAC ever, both in terms of participating breweries and attendees.

After the opening round, the remaining rounds should be what you have come to expect, 12 to 14 beers numbered on a tray for a proper blind tasting. As attendance outside of Albuquerque has always lagged behind, the folks at Three Rivers are trying something new this year to get their numbers on par with at least Santa Fe.

“Actually, those guys are going to try to get people from Durango,” John said. “They’re going to put up posters at the breweries in Durango. I hope we get some attendance from there because, I think New Mexico’s beers, especially the IPAs, are well enough known now, at least in our neighboring states, it’ll be worth the 30-mile trip for somebody from Durango to come check out. Especially when we have gold medal winners and National IPA Challenge winners all submitting beers.”

Start doing your hop homework people. Prep those palates, get your ticket(s), and the Crew will see many of you at Rio Bravo and/or Tractor sooner than later.

One IPA to rule them all! We can get behind this theme.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Arguably the best event of Beer Week was the Beer Premier.

Arguably the best event of Beer Week was the Beer Premier.

Friday night’s New Mexico Brewers Guild Beer Premier and Matanza was a unique event and it was my first time attending this festival. It turned out to be my favorite event of Beer Week. As is the case with any event, there were some bumps in the road, but overall it was fantastic.

All the advertising for the event stated the doors would open at 5:30, but the organizers were unaware of this and so some of us were left standing outside waiting for about 20 minutes. However (even though nobody had any beer yet), nobody was overly concerned, and this mellow mood continued throughout the night. I don’t think I have ever seen such a laid-back crowd in Albuquerque, even at a beer festival.

We were very happy to be one of the first ones in the gate, because we were able to secure a table for two in the shade. It was a very warm afternoon and evening, so I felt very grateful for that table and chairs. It’s a beautiful venue, and it was a nice place to spend some quality time with those you love, or those who just love beer. (Note to self: Next time bring insect repellent; I didn’t, and I got a lot of bites right at dusk.)

Good beer to your right!

Good beer to your right!

A few minutes later, the beer began to pour. There were two beer “stations,” one on the south side and one on the north side, with two beer professionals pouring four beers each. I did hear some mild “complaining” about an inability to interact (as advertised) with the brewery staffs. There was representation from breweries, but they were often either roaming around, or not actually pouring their own beer. Again, since everyone was mellow, it came across as comments for improvement rather than actual griping.

It was a slow start for the south side beer station as they had problems with some of the lines, but everyone just gravitated to the north end while that was being fixed. Also, the south side did not have beer lists at the beginning, so nobody really knew for sure what they were ordering. Someone passed out beer information sheets to all the attendees after I was almost halfway through what I most wanted to taste. This probably should be done upon entry.

The beer — oh, the beer! It could be a pretty risky proposition having only never-before-released beers at a festival. On the other hand, it’s a nice change of pace, because having mostly the breweries’ regular beers can get a little stale, so to speak. If this festival was any indication, we have now reached yet another pinnacle in the Albuquerque brewing community. The brewers are at the level where even the more “experimental” beers are so damn good, I would seek out and drink at least 80 percent of them. I started with some of the lighter beers and worked my way to the darker ones. On his third sample, my boyfriend Dave looked at me wide-eyed and exclaimed, “Three for three!” It continued on in this fashion.

Happy beer drinkers as far as the eye could see!

Happy beer drinkers as far as the eye could see!

I decided to rank the beer I tried on a 1.0-to-5.0 scale, as one might on one of the popular beer ranking sites. Two of my fellow Brew Crew Bullpen members were in attendance, and Kristin remarked about having to manually input all the beers into Untappd. Good for you, Kristin, that’s a lot of work! (Since these were never before released, they would not be on there yet.)

There were so many good ones there that I will just relay some of my highest, as well as my lowest scores. Keep in mind in this case, that the lower scores could be affected by a comparison issue because I was sampling so many types of beers. If anyone out there attended the event and wants to share his/her ratings, please email us at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com or leave us a message via any social media site. We want to know what you thought about the beers, and the event as a whole!

Higher Scores

  • WINNER (for me): La Cumbre Nitro Barrel-Aged Malpais Stout 4.8 (Just outstanding!)
  • Chama River Heavy Cream Ale 4.4
  • Sierra Blanca Whiskey Stout 4.3 (I heard very positive feedback around me as well for this beer, which actually debuted in four-packs of bottles at Jubilation before Beer Week.)
  • Tractor Summer en Blanc Witbier 4.2
  • Bosque What the Dunkel? Dunkelweisen 4.0

Lower Scores

  • Quarter Celtic Dusk’s Early Night Black Lager 3.8 (On its own it would be pretty good, and it did have some good flavor. There was nothing off about this beer, it just couldn’t stand up to some of the bigger ones for me.)
  • Canteen Grapefruit Hop Baller IPA 3.2 (So many people loved this one, but I wasn’t one of those people. I’m not a big IPA person, but Dave is, and we both had some issues which resulted in a fairly lengthy discussion about this beer. I think this had five hop varieties. To me, I was understanding the Citra and Amarillo hops, but the earthy Mosaic was a strange combination with such a citrusy beer. Your opinion could very well vary.)
  • Blue Corn (“Mystery Belgian” as described by the person pouring) Barrel-Aged Brett Cherry Ale 3.0. It was an oaky, smoky Belgian sour that just wasn’t my thing. Personal preference.

I have to give a shout-out to the mellow crowd. I heard more informed questions and intelligent beer discussion among attendees than I ever have at a local beer event. (Late development — I just got another email from Kristin and she commented on the same thing. It must have been pretty noticeable! We both felt that people really cared about the beer and were not just trying to slam as much beer as possible.)

The food lines got a bit long.

The food lines got a bit long.

Since this is mostly about the beer, I saved my food comments for the end. The staff did a good job of making up tacos in easy-to-walk-away-with containers, but the way the condiments were set up at the end made for a complete logjam. At one point I located one person I knew near the back of the food line and timed that it took them 24 minutes from start to finish to pick up their tacos. The line ended up getting very long for a while, because you would get your tacos, but you had to stand there and hold up any progress while you added your salsa, etc., and the line would stop moving. The line also started to interfere with the north beer station line.

If you could have taken your tacos to another table out of the way where people could go to either side to add toppings, it would have flowed better. I was worried that some people would just decide not to bother with the food. That was a little scary with all the beer that was flowing. I also felt a little disappointed in the selection of toppings. Something I read gave me the impression there would be more things available than one type of salsa (green), loaded with lots of big chunks of onion and cilantro, crema, and more raw white onions and more cilantro. I’m not a fan of raw onions or cilantro. The pork tacos themselves tasted good.

Kristin also noted that there was no vegetarian option. This could easily have put quite a few more people off from eating anything since this was the only food available. It would have been nice to have roasted vegetables for veggie tacos, and some rice along with the beans. (I don’t know if the beans were vegetarian, because I am allergic and cannot eat them).

Hey, look, there's Kristin! And Adam! And the back of Silas' head!

Hey, look, there’s Kristin! And Adam! And the back of Silas’ head! And Karl in a bright orange suit!

Final random thoughts: my other fellow Bullpen attendee Adam and I both thought it may have been our first beerfest that had a DJ. And, I was happy to see Marne and her new cutie-pie baby!

Cheers!

— AmyO