Posts Tagged ‘Blue Corn Brewing’

Winter is Here

If this isn’t the type of beer dinner that you would think we would be happy to present, you must be new around here.

It’s almost time for Blue Corn Brewery’s winter beer dinner! If you haven’t snagged your tickets yet, I’d get on that right away, as these things have a nasty habit of selling out like iheartradio concerts. On December 13, Blue Corn Brewery is bringing us a special pairing of wintry beers and the foods that love them, in a special event sure to live up to, well, every Blue Corn beer pairing dinner that’s preceded it.

I recently got a hold of Blue Corn head brewer Paul Mallory for a few words on his upcoming event.

DSBC: How did you and Chef Josh come up with the food and beer pairings?

Mallory: Chef Josh, (Manager) Michelle and I sat down and discussed ideas. I told Chef Josh what beers we had coming up and which beers I could brew to go with his menu. We often like to serve our seasonal beers for the dinners, so our guests can have something different each time they come for an event. We are pouring four beers that haven’t been brewed before, and many of them are malty and appropriate for the season and weather.

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There are a whole lot of Oktoberfest-style beers on tap around the metro area right now.

A whopping five more Oktoberfest-style beers went on tap in the Albuquerque metro area last week, joining multiple marzens that have already been on tap for a while. With so many wonderful lagers available, I just had to get out there and try as many as possible. My plan totally worked for two days, until a combination of sports (NHL openers and MLB playoffs mostly) and the need to watch season three of The Expanse caused me to fall behind. One of these years I will get to them all.

Anyway, my first three stops were Sidetrack, Boese Brothers, and Marble. I rather enjoyed Sidetrack’s offering, which did not overdo the sweetness. It was a solid, crushable beer, befitting the laid-back atmosphere of the pub. The Boese Brothers offering had been on tap for a while now. It did not quite have the flavor impact I had hoped for, but age may have been a factor. As for Marble, it was less of a marzen and more of a straight German lager. It is still a quality beer, as one would expect from brewmaster Josh Trujillo. I also got to try the Kottbusser collaboration beer, which was sweet yet bready, and the Jimmy Bock, a chewy little tribute to Shiner Bock.

Day two of the Oktober-quest took me to Toltec for lunch a pint of another tasty offering. I would like to try it side-by-side with Sidetrack, as both had many of the same tasty qualities. My final stop was at Bosque on the way home. Again, it was a bit lighter lager than the more copper-colored marzens of yore, but it was again a clean, balanced beer. A few years ago, the Oktoberfests had almost disappeared from taps in favor of the pumpkin beer fad, but thankfully that passed and now we are blessed with multiple marzens and lagers.

What is your favorite Oktoberfest on tap this fall? Yes, you can still include some from a few weeks back, like Santa Fe and La Cumbre.

Now for the rest of the Crew’s adventures from the past weekend.

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The old brewhouse is still going strong at Chama River, now brewing most of the beers for Kellys Brew Pub.

There are still faint echoes of the brewpub that was at Chama River. The booths are still there, the copper-top bar is still present, and much of the kitchen equipment remains. It has all gathered some dust since Chama closed its doors in August 2017, but one thing remains operational — the brewhouse.

Yes, there are still beers being made at Chama, even with the rest of the business shut down. That is where Andrew Krosche, the director of brewing operations for Santa Fe Dining, spends most of his time. With a year to reflect on what happened, I sat down with Andrew at that copper-top bar recently over pints of his crisp and clean American Pilsner.

“So when we took Kellys over and Chama was still open, plus Blue Corn, we had three breweries working independently under one umbrella,” Andrew said. “Once Chama was closed, we continued working out of Chama, that’s (assistant brewer) Cordell (Rincon) and I at the time, brewing for inter-company distribution under the Chama name cause there was a few beers throughout the restaurants that were staples.”

With the Chama brewhouse still at his disposal, Andrew soon decided how it would best be used.

“Somewhere around that time, when you’re only brewing enough to keep a few restaurants going, it’s hard to make sure the product is fresh,” he said. “So in response to that, also knowing that Kellys with pretty slow with lots of drama that happened right before we bought it, I decided to bring all the brewers together under one roof and work out of Chama’s system, that being the best system in the company. I spent a lot of time rebuilding this facility in the two years that Chama was still open. Also, it kind of gave everyone a chance to work on the same level, to understand my terminology and what was expected. Everyone was on the same page.”

The tanks are still full of beer in Chama’s walk-in cooler.

Andrew, along with Blue Corn head brewer Paul Mallory and Kellys head brewer Dan Cavan, have been able to stay on that same page since.

“Fast forwarding to now, we’ve got the eight house beers at Kellys, (plus) a few inter-company accounts up in Santa Fe,” Andrew said. “It works out very nicely to continue working out of here (because), one, we can brew smaller batches, keeping everything fresh, keeping the quality up. Everything is served out of kegs over at Kellys, so it’s easy enough to have them to place an order for the week and then we can just use the delivery van. In that case, it’s really nice.”

It also helps in one other area for Kellys.

“Kellys, obviously, doesn’t have a barrier between the brewery and the restaurant,” Andrew added. “It is kind of nice brewing here and not worrying about say guests wandering into the brew space. Not that it’s their fault, you would have no idea you couldn’t come back there. For me, it’s just a huge liability because if we’re CIPing and some caustic sprays onto some innocent bystander, it’s not the best of things.

“That’s kind of where we are with this facility. We’ve definitely been enjoying it with this little retreat.”

On occasion, the Kellys brewhouse does get fired up to make a beer or two.

“We have been brewing, or had been brewing, occasionally over there, keeping the machinery still going,” Andrew said. “It’s like an old car, you don’t want to let it sit too long or more problems start. That, and obviously we have to keep our small brewing license and we have to have a minimum of barrelage. So we do that to supplement, usually with some of our top sellers or brews that work really well on that system, as opposed to the ones here.”

Certain styles of beer actually tend to turn out better on Kellys’ system, as opposed to the Chama brewhouse.

“The water in this city is great for stouts, and they’ve got minor filter system and no softener,” Andrew said. “Brewing over there for something like the stout or apricot (wheat) is fine with the city water. Whereas over here, I would never brew the lager there. Here I’ve got a water treatment facility to ensure it’s the best I can make it for the water.”

What was once a bar is now a brewer’s office.

Andrew has managed to turn the bar area into his own office. His laptop and a pile of paperwork sit atop the bar. He keeps a few clean glasses behind the bar as well, for quality control and that sort of thing. Those couches that were over by the entrance have been moved to where the tables used to sit by the bar. There is one TV still running, with the laptop hooked up to it. A pile of beer books sits on one of the remaining tables below it.

As for how long this setup will continue for Andrew, Chama River, Kellys, and all the rest, it is a bit of an ongoing mystery.

“Honestly, I don’t even know,” he said. “I know we own it and (Santa Fe Dining president) Gerald Peters likes that he owns it. As far as I know, selling is not something that is an option. I’ve definitely written game plans for any scenario, mainly because if and when something happens, I want to make sure that my crew is ready, that we can handle it. Just a little preemptive planning, but you never know. This isn’t like moving some kitchen equipment, this is going to require weeks of moving. ”

The craft beer world around the old-timers like Kellys and Blue Corn continues to evolve, but for the most part, the brewpubs have seen neither a sharp rise in business, nor a sudden decline.

“Looking at numbers, if we’re just going to go barrelage-wise, nothing has really changed, at least since I’ve been running things,” Andrew said. “Blue Corn’s barrelage has been the same for the last four years or so. Chama’s was for the two years I was here with it. Kellys is about the same. We’re not getting massive growth. I think a lot of reasons for that is there’s a lot more places to go. There’s a lot more neighborhood pubs. The traffic of going to the places nearest to you is not ours nowadays.

“But, being steady and consistent, that’s a plus. I’m confident that with Paul already (winning) the IPA Challenge, I’m sure that his numbers are growing right now, which is great. With the changes that Dan and myself have kind of put (into) Kellys, working on recipe development and really trying to show the public that it’s different, I feel that we can start seeing a rise soon. Maybe not through this winter, but by next spring I feel like things will change for the better.”

With so many other craft beer options out there, Andrew said it has been tough convincing folks to give Kellys another chance.

“Unfortunately, yes, (but) then our marketing team is doing their best to let the public know that things are different,” he said. “I think the challenges that we run into is a lot of times Kellys is obviously one of the oldest breweries in Albuquerque and they had gained a (bad) reputation over so many years, that a lot of times people I feel when they hear Kellys they just kind of zone out.

“They’re not even paying attention that it is a new ownership, a new brewing team, a lot of it is word of mouth. I’ve been pushing a lot of festivals for Kellys. If we can’t get the public to hear us, let’s get some samples in their hands so we can prove to them right there, real time, that this product is superior to what it used to be.”

One of the ways to do that was to move some of the Chama recipes to Kellys.

“We did cross a few beers over to Kellys,” Andrew said. “The Sleeping Dog Stout is now a Kellys beer. We didn’t change it at all, it’s a strong, solid stout that’s been around forever. The Kellys IPA, for lack of a better word, is practically the Jackalope.”

Even brewers need a comfy spot to take a break now and again.

After a brief chat about the many late summer/early fall festivals, Andrew explained one of his other strategies with Kellys that differs from many of the other breweries around town.

“The way I’ve focused Kellys right now is, cause you were asking about what we’re taking to festivals and if we’ve changed it or not, we have eight house beers as opposed to your typical six and four specials,” he said. “What brings in regulars is your house beers, not your specials. We wanted a good, broad menu that caters to everyone’s tastes and really focus on those to make sure those are the best that we can give, and not worry about specials as much.

“When we build a menu for a festival, we typically don’t change it and we are very rarely going to take a special, because we want the house beers to be the focus. We want people to know they can come into the restaurant at any time and that beer will be there just as the way that they remembered it.”

Of course, just like any mad scientist brewer, Andrew is still cooking up some innovative seasonal/specialty beers from time to time.

“Speaking of specials, it’s very rare that we do one so when we do one we get pretty pumped about it, not sure when this is going to be released because we have to taste it over the next few weeks, but I just transferred an American pale ale into the server onto cocoa nibs and coconut extract,” he said. “So we’re making like a chocolate coconut pale ale, and it’s very hop forward. It drinks almost like an IPA, but the alcohol is like a pale ale. We’re pretty excited about it. It smells great. We picked the hop bill to match the coconut.”

We definitely look forward to trying that rather offbeat-sounding beer whenever it is ready. I will highly recommend the American Pilsner, as well, and Canteen head brewer Zach Guilmette swung by later to hang out for a bit, whereupon he declared it to be one of his favorite lagers in town.

For the most part, it is just good to see a great brewer like Andrew still getting to showcase his talent, even if the current setup between Chama and Kellys is a bit unusual. We encourage everyone to head back to Kellys and give the beers there another shot. We will certainly be stopping by after we get back from the Great American Beer Festival later this week.

Thanks to Andrew for the interview, the beers, and the tour through the ghostly little building he still inhabits.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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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

The spoils of the best airport gift store in the world, which is naturally in Portland, Oregon.

What do you get when you mix a few procrastinators (AmyO excluded) and have them write a story together? Well, you get this weekly feature at night, that’s what you get.

Anyway, the Crew has been a bit scattered of late, with me (Stoutmeister) in Oregon and the others running amok all over New Mexico for various reasons. I have returned, and yes, I brought back a few goodies from Portland, though not quite in the normal way. Rather than borrow a hard-sided suitcase for my trip in which to store bottles/cans for the flight home, I took my old soft-sided bag. Even with copious amounts of bubble wrap, I wasn’t going to risk beer, or my clothes, for the trip home. So I forlornly traveled into the airport after checking my bag and … wait, what’s this? Beer bottles and cans for sale inside the airport?!

Bless you, Oregon liquor laws. Or just whatever genius moment occurred at a place called “Made in Oregon” that enabled someone to think, “Hey, would should sell some of our amazing craft beer at reasonable prices to travelers who still have room in the carry-ons!” And thus, I was able to stuff my backpack with four bombers — a barrel-aged barleywine from Buoy (Astoria), an imperial IPA from Gigantic (Portland), a pilsner from pFriem (Hood River), an export stout from Pelican (Pacific City) — and bring them home to New Mexico. There may not have been the biggest of the big beers there (sniff, no Great Notion), but it was a solid and varied selection (yes, there were Cascade sours) at about the same price one would pay at a brewery or liquor store.

Let us just imagine weary travelers being able to purchase some Elevated IPA to take back to New York, or Double White to Chicago, or Scotia to San Francisco, or Mustachio Milk Stout to Seattle, or … well, you get the point. Unless it is completely forbidden by state law, some enterprising soul should sell our best craft beers behind the TSA security check at the Sunport. Let’s start exporting New Mexico around the country and beyond!

After that, I wolfed down a Hopworks Pilsner and some chicken-infused mac-n-cheese at the Henry’s Tavern inside the airport, and I finally returned home. As for the rest of the Crew that was “stuck” here over the weekend, here are a couple of their reports.

Trekking to the City Different

After taking the Rail Runner to Santa Fe, if your first stop isn’t Second Street Railyards, you’re not doing it right.

This past Saturday afternoon we took the Railrunner from Los Ranchos to Santa Fe. The weather was perfect for strolling about town. It was mostly cloudy with a few light sprinkles, but not enough rain to interfere with any outdoor plans.

As per usual when we take the train up there, the first stop was Second Street at the Railyards. My pint of choice was a Rod’s Best Bitter.

We wandered around a bit and decided to call upon Desert Dogs Brewery and Cidery just off the plaza at 112 W. San Francisco. It was our first time there. It’s a nice, bright, and open space with a mini patio overlooking the street below. They have pool and shuffleboard as well as a good selection of beers and ciders. I had a mango cider that was quite tasty.

— AmyO

Someone let Luke name a real beer

Meet La Marcha Wedding Lager at Blue Corn. Yeah, Luke really got to name it.

This weekend my beer adventures took me to Second Street for their brand new can release. I won’t get into detail about them, as I have the full story for you coming today or tomorrow. On a separate beer adventure, one of the beers that happened to be on tap this past weekend at Blue Corn Brewery was La Marcha Wedding Lager. It’s an excellent crisp and refreshing lager, fish-bowl clear like an un-tinted vehicle driving through Espanola. This is an all-around solid lager that definitely makes for a great easy-drinking porch beer. And, as an added bonus, brewers Paul Mallory and Andy Lane were nice enough to let me name this one. To say that I have a large Hispanic family is an understatement, and I know that it’s pretty rare to have a Hispanic wedding without La Marcha. Hence, the name, and they did a great job. I’ll be back for a growler to satisfy my late-summer porch-drinking needs.

Cheers!

— Luke

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Recently I was attending a little meet-up of the Santa Fe brewers at Rowley Farmhouse Ales, and after many delicious beer samples from the local brewers, as well as some recent RFA collabs, RFA let me in on a little secret. Rowley Farmhouse Ales and recent IPA Challenge winner, Blue Corn Brewery, had a collaboration in the works. Seeing as there had never been a collaboration between these two breweries before, I wanted to get the story out to the public as soon as I could. During a very busy weekend, I caught up with both brewers to find out what exactly was going down in my town.

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RFA head brewer Wes Burbank at a recent collaboration with Pipeworks Brewing Company in Chicago.

First up, I met with Wes Burbank, the head brewer at Rowley Farmhouse Ales.

DSBC: I heard you guys are doing a collaboration with Blue Corn soon. Does Rowley Farmhouse Ales (RFA) have an official statement?

Burbank: Official Statement from RFA — Barleywine is dead, long live the new life, Pilsner! #PiL

DSBC: You guys are the kings of the collab over there at RFA. In one aspect or another RFA has been involved in at least six completed collaborations this year with many in the works. What do you feel collaborations bring to breweries and to the beer drinkers?

Burbank: Collabs are great because you get to see how other people brew on different systems. I’ve learned so much this way. It’s really great to be able to exchange little tips and tricks of the trade on brew days to make all our lives easier. There are lots of little things that pop up and you can say, “Oh, I have a clever trick for this!” I think specifically for us at RFA, we just think it’s fun, and we have the ability to do it. We don’t have a lot of core beers, and we love being able to brew new things when the (creative) spark hits. I think it’s great for the beer drinkers, because we’ll usually try stuff that we might not otherwise, either by combining things our breweries are known for, or just doing something crazy. I think it builds a sense of community, not just within the participating breweries, but sometimes with the consumers as well.

DSBC: Whose idea was the collaboration on this one? How’d it come about? Was it from the meeting?

Burbank: I’m not sure exactly where this originated, to be honest. We have been talking about doing one for a while, but usually it’s one of those several-beers-deep situations where it’s, “We should totally do a collab!” And, we finally found some time in our schedules to make it happen when we met for the first POETS (Piss Off Early Tomorrow’s Saturday) meeting. We are lucky at RFA to have a great Mayhem Coordinator (the fantastic Elissa Ritt), and she actually will follow up with this type of thing, which I think is a large part of why we do so many collabs.

DSBC: What are you looking forward to most about this collaboration?

Burbank: There are two things that really excite me about this. The first is we are going to do two versions of this beer — one traditionally at Blue Corn, then followed up by the same recipe at our place with our house culture, so with some added funk. It’ll be exciting to showcase both beers side-by-side!

The second thing I’m excited about is brewing with Paul (Mallory) and Andy (Lane). They both have been great to me since I moved here a couple months ago from Colorado, so I’m excited to work with them. I’ve recently been trying to get the Santa Fe brewing community together once a month to hang out and discuss beer. We just recently had our first get-together and I think it was a huge success. That actually started with Paul and I drinking on the patio at RFA, and we both thought it would be great for everyone to have a place each month where we can exchange ideas, talk shop, or just showcase our new beers. We brewers are a busy bunch, so having a planned time allows us the chance to schedule some time out to see what we’re all up to around town.

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I also was able to get a statement from 2018 IPA Challenge winner, head brewer of Blue Corn Brewery, and all around good guy, Paul Mallory.

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Paul Mallory hoisting up the hardware at the 2018 IPA Challenge!

“I feel excited to be doing a collaboration with another brewery in Santa Fe,” Paul said. “I also am eager to see how things turn out, considering we’re doing something a little different in regards to collaboration.

“What inspired the collaboration was just running into John (Rowley) at his spot. We have both always enjoyed doing collaborations with other breweries. We got to talking and came up with a game plan.

“We are doing two different brews, one at Blue Corn, the other at Rowley. It’ll be the same malt bill, but we’ll pitch different cultures in each one. At Blue Corn we’ll be pitching a traditional Hefeweizen yeast, while at Rowley, they’ll be pitching their mixed house culture. It should make for two very different beers.”

When asked if Blue Corn will consider doing more collaborations in the future, Paul had this to say: “We are always looking for ways to make things more interesting for us as brewers, and for our customers. We enjoy doing collaborations with other breweries and local suppliers.”

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Two Bavarian Hefeweizens from two different breweries — one thing’s for sure, whatever they do with them, whether it’s the more traditional handling or taking a bit of a more funkadelic approach, you can bet these beers will be well-brewed and delicious. These collaborations are good for our beer community, because we ARE a community. In times like these we have to remember that we’ve really got only one big enemy, and they have Super Bowl commercials and brewery-buying power. Through these collaborations we’re not so much worried about shelf space and sales figures. Instead, we declare that dilly dilly ain’t our dilly, yo. We’re one nation under a groove, gettin’ down just for the funk of it, and making good and interesting beer is all we need to focus on (from the beer-making side of things). To the independent craft beer community, we raise ‘em up!

Cheers!

— Luke

Also on tap for Rowley Farmhouse Ales:

Wednesday: In collaboration with metal band Veil of Maya, RFA is pouring their Ale of Maya at Anodyne.

“Ale of Maya is a double IPA brewed with Veil of Maya for the Summer Slaughter show on Weds 8/15 at the Sunshine Theater. Our friends at Anodyne are pouring the beer for us. It’ll be on tap Wednesday! Maybe you’ll see myself and some of the band there after the show having a couple. Ale of Maya is a West-Coast style DIPA, with lots of citrus notes. 9%ABV, and 66.6 IBU’s. \m/”  ~Wes Burbank

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Thursday: Join Rowley Farmhouse Ales at Tumbleroot Brewery & Distillery for American Funk. They’ll be pouring Greyscale and Kaffeeklatsch alongside Tumbleroot’s Gose and brand new Sour Red! Get four 5-ounce pours for $13 and enjoy live music from Earle Poole & the Girls, and Gary Farmer and the Troublemakers! I’ll be there for the whole funk and nothing but the funk!

American Funk

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I would like to thank my mother. And Oprah. And the Crew. And Chuck Norris. And Pete! No one like you, but you still fly! This one’s for the ladies! Fine… You can have it back, Paul.

Follow me on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro for Untappd Snaps and #DarkSideBrewCrew Shenanigans. Also, follow @lostgramsofluke on IG if you’re so inclined. Quality not assured.

Brewer Paul Mallory hoists the NM IPA Challenge trophy after pulling off the victory.

BERNALILLO — What has happened before will happen again.

It is not just a line from the last version of Battlestar Galactica, but it is a summation of the 2018 New Mexico IPA Challenge. Blue Corn, the 2013 winner, has recaptured the title in a stunning upset of the biggest breweries in the state. The little brewpub that could has done it again.

“I think it’s kind of cool to bring the trophy back to Santa Fe,” said BC head brewer Paul Mallory, who had trouble forming words after his brewery took its second-round lead and carried that over to a commanding victory.

Blue Corn racked up 83 total votes, including a round-best 45 on Saturday. The final round was a resounding success at Bosque North, with short lines, plenty of space, and a general sense of positive camaraderie in all corners of the new location.

Two-time defending champion Boxing Bear finished second with 69 votes for its AlbuMurky Hazy IPA, while Marble was third with 68 votes for Safeword IPA. Red River (57), La Cumbre (55), Kellys (39), Rio Bravo (39), Quarter Celtic (38), Second Street (38) and Kaktus (33) rounded out the top 10.

This is only the second time that a brewery outside of Albuquerque has won the NMIPAC. The last time? Well, it was Blue Corn in 2013, then featuring current Bosque director of brewing operations John Bullard in the command seat.

The final voting tally for the 2018 NMIPAC.

“I think that Blue Corn has been around for so long that everybody has made up their mind about it,” Paul said. “In a way, this will make people pay attention to Blue Corn (again).”

Paul said the key to victory was hitting all the right spots with hopheads in this state.

“I think it was nice and clean, it had that really nice bitterness,” Paul said.

Paul came to Blue Corn from a brewery, Black Diamond, in Northern California, but he was born and raised in New Mexico.

“New Mexico has taught me more about IPAs than California, they try to dry them out,” he said. “I think New Mexico taught me more about it than anyone else.”

Congratulations to Paul, Blue Corn, and everyone in New Mexico. This has been another great IPA Challenge, and we look forward to everyone raising their game for the 2019 edition.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Blue Corn’s Gatekeeper IPA is the overall leader at the NM IPA Challenge after two rounds.

OK, fine, I give up. Weekend Beer-cap will now be a Tuesday feature, not Monday. Turns out it can be hard for folks to get things together Sunday night, myself included.

It was quite the weekend. Franz Solo and I joined a group of beer-loving friends for another epic tasting and bottle share. We indulged in a seven-year vertical of Surly Darkness, a wonderful imperial stout from Minnesota. That was followed by many other beers. Many. So many. (Sunday at work was rough.)

Anyway, I could continue to brag about drinking a slew of beers not available in New Mexico, but instead I will let the rest of the Crew talk about their more local adventures.

Brunch brews at Devon’s Wood Fired Grill

Delicious food and a wide beer selection make Devon’s an eatery worth visiting.

Early Sunday afternoon, I satisfied my brunch needs at Devon’s Wood Fired Grill. We had a Crew dinner at Devon’s a few weeks back and I had an itch to return. Brunch was the perfect occasion. From Devon’s 32 New Mexico craft beer options, I selected La Cumbre’s fruit smoothie of an IPA, Guavarama. It’s subtle and refreshing fruitiness paired well with Pop’s Hash, a lighter breakfast dish consisting of veggies and potatoes topped with a poached egg (I managed to resist the red chile chorizo chilaquiles, but I’ll be back). Devon’s brunch runs from 10:30 a.m. To 2 p.m. on Sundays, and it’s worth checking out for dinner and/or drinks any night of the week.

— Andrew

Farewell to a friendly taproom

Some of the final pints at Monks’ Corner, which will close on July 31.

Four of us went to Monks’ Corner on Friday night to say goodbye to the taproom in the current space at Third and Silver. When we got there just before 6:30 p.m., there were a handful of customers. But, by the time the live music started just after 7, the place was completely full. It was a festive, if slightly woeful final visit for us. Two of us had the Dark Ale and two had the Dubbel Ale. I couldn’t help but feel a little nervous for the staff who may not have jobs for a while; but, they were still very professional, and service was good despite the size of the crowd. We will miss this taproom. Hopefully there are good things to come in the very near future for Monks’.

— AmyO

Hopping around Santa Fe

The haze craze has hit Santa Fe Brewing.

For my weekend recap, IPA was certainly the name of the game. It was the second leg of the IPA Challenge in Santa Fe, and I guess I just couldn’t get enough hops into my system. Thursday through Saturday, due to meetings, errands, and pal hangs, I put my taste buds through hop boot camp. Whether I was preparing them for Saturday’s competition or just pounding them into soapy submission, I got around to trying three of the IPA Challenge beers around town, very much on accident.

Santa Fe Brewing Company’s “Murky,” a bigger, likely more dry-hopped version of their Reluctant Hazy IPA, was an excellent beer. I’m not at all here to battle whether hazies are here to stay. As will all styles that took some time to accept, I say, “Just make them well.” And SFBC has done so once again.

Second Street’s Hoppy Balboa packs a punch.

Second Street’s Hoppy Balboa felt like it pulled a few punches this year. Perhaps that was my very foamy first pour — there were draft line issues, but not cleanliness issues, mind you. Perhaps it was just pressure, but I don’t think I really ever saw this beer’s Eye of the Tiger. I’ll get back in the ring with this one soon. Until then, thanks for the puns.

Blue Corn’s Gatekeeper, the current leader in the IPA Challenge, reminded me more of a finely honed, but certainly “upped” version of their house Road Runner IPA. It’s a well-brewed beer, and I know the Blue Corn boys really worked hard on this one. I think, perhaps, it stands out because it’s clean while keeping its powerful aroma and flavor even as it warms.

All in all, you should try them all in full pours. That’s the only way to really get to know a beer, in my opinion. To all the brewers, and what you do with those wonderful hops, cheers!

— Luke

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Marble won the round, but Blue Corn took the overall lead after two rounds of the NMIPAC.

SANTA FE — Many folks packed into Santa Fe’s Second Street – Rufina Taproom for the second round of the New Mexico IPA Challenge on Saturday afternoon. Sixteen IPAs were poured straight from the taps, cleaned by brewers Tom and Kevin the night before. The only major variable to note was the Santa Fe palate. As usual, Santa Fe has its own taste in beer, and as history has dictated, Santa Fe’s taste in IPAs is a beast of its own. But, all things considered, it was another well-run event, very smooth, and everyone left happy with their votes.

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Just a few people packed the Rufina taproom.

After the Second Leg, Blue Corn is in the lead with 38 votes, Red River is in second with 31 votes, Boxing Bear is in third with 29 votes, and Marble is in fourth with 28 votes after a round-leading 25 at Rufina. Fifth goes to La Cumbre, Stoutmeister’s pick in the first round, with 25 votes, and Quarter Celtic is sixth with 21 votes.

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That’s a lot of brewing talent in one photo!

With just a couple surprises, the NM IPA Challenge will be another competition decided in Bernalillo (though it’s town, not county this time). At this point, I’m really interested to see if the voters will choose a traditional New Mexico/West Coast-style IPA or a New England-style hazy IPA, because I think this is the year we make a statement to our brewers. Is the haze here to stay? Is it the direction we’re moving in? That’s up to you, voters. Tell the brewers what you think.

Red River Brewing Company’s head brewer, Chris Calhoun, said, “We’re a brand-new brewery, so we’re just excited to compete amongst the big boys of New Mexico. We’re really very proud and excited about our showing in the first rounds. And, we’re excited to see what happens in Bernalillo.”

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Hops from above!

The final leg of the New Mexico IPA Challenge will come to a thrilling conclusion at the brand-new Bosque North on Saturday, July 28. To all IPAs and the New Mexico brewers who painstakingly create them, cheers!

— Luke

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Luke with the brewers of Red River Brewing Company.

My Post-42

This Friday, Blue Corn is hosting their second annual Cask Festival at the southside location, bringing together at least half of the operational breweries north of La Bajada hill. OK, Burqueños, that’s that big hill between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Blue Corn organized this special event with seven excellent breweries on the roster, including one brand-new, not-yet-open (as of the writing of this article) place, Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery. Blue Corn has always been a great host for beer dinners. If you’ve read my articles, you’d already know it’s going to be an excellent way to spend your Friday night.

Why cask ales, you ask? Well, we all have mixed opinions about cask ales. Some of us enjoy them, some of us are indifferent. Some brewers don’t like to serve beer in them, but they’re a part of the industry, and some would argue it’s draught beer at its best. And, though the process has been around for ages, it’s not likely to go away any time soon, because it’s a part of beer history, and another interesting way to experience something we love.

With cask ales, something else is going on in the beer that makes it different and special, not just a foamy pour from a tap. You see, the active yeast used to carbonate the beer in these metal vessels continues to age the beer all the way until it has been tapped. As the beer ages and conditions, the CO2 created by the yeast will dissolve into the beer, smoothing out the flavors, blending as a painter does colors, and toning down the sharpness of the hops.

Oftentimes, and in a few of the cases below, brewers will add special ‘extras’ to these beers to give them a significant change in flavor profile, something they (as businesses) couldn’t do on a much larger scale, such as additions of fruit, extra dry-hops, honey, and so on. These flavors continue to condition with the beer, and give it more complexity than it had at the outset. Perhaps it loses something in the mouthfeel and in the warmer temperature, but it is still a fun way to test your palate with new flavors. Just imagine, for a minute, that if you could just cut straight through some of the high rocky peaks, you could discover the dense and beautiful vegetation at the bottom of the valley. And, there’s a history lesson in the process, if you really want to get into it. But, let that be your icebreaker at the event.

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Casks from the first Cask Festival at Blue Corn Brewery last year.

Blue Corn Brewery is no stranger to cask beers. As the title of the festival suggests, it’s not the first rodeo for the brewery. In fact, it’s not even the second. Blue Corn has held a few of these sorts of events in the past, and to great success. At one time, the brewery even used to release cask beers every Friday at the Draft Station in downtown Santa Fe. (Ah, the good ole’ days.) The best part of this event is that seven breweries are coming together on one night, to chill out, to laugh, to talk about everything from brewing process to mash paddle size … er, you know, brewer stuff. And, they’re totally accessible to you, the customers, if you’re not shy.

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Dave “Merkin,” head of R&D at Santa Fe Brewing Co., pours us a beer.

Go up to the guys with beards, glasses, or fruit-forward shirts. You’ll find them in the corners of the event — they’re the ones laughing the loudest, and having the most fun because they’re all buddies. They know how to enjoy these things, but, it’s not an exclusive club. These guys are friendly and will absolutely tell you about their favorite beer styles, favorite (other) breweries, favorite brewed beers, and so on. And, if you’re not feeling as chatty as I am after a couple beers, just ask them which brewery they brew for, and thank them for the hard work they do. Not all heroes wear capes, my friends.

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An appetizer from last year’s event.

Included in the price of these seven cask ales are seven appetizers of Blue Corn’s chef’s creation. In my experience, these bites have always been worth the price of admission, even without the beer.

Menu:

Blue Corn Brewery: Barrel Aged Imperial Stout with Cherries

            -Black Cherry Mousse with Chocolate Shavings

Santa Fe Brewing Co.: 7K All Day IPA

            -Marinated Pork Taco with Pickled Onions, Lime Cabbage and Cilantro

Duel Brewing: Fiction Belgian IPA with French Oak and Kaffir Lime Leaves

            -Salmon Ceviche with Habanero and Mango

Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery: Dry Irish Stout with Honey

            -Traditional Irish Stew

Second Street Brewery: XX ESB dry-hopped with Chinook and EKG

            -Beer Battered Alaskan Cod with Malt Vinegar Crisps

Bathtub Row Brewing Coop: Hoppenheimer IPA with Lemondrop Hops

            -Apple-Lemon Mini Cupcake with Mint

Rowley Farmhouse Ales: Biere de Garde with Brettanomyces

            -Gorgonzola Grilled Cheese with Herbed Portobello

Blue Corn was gracious enough to host this event, and we have a good number of participating breweries, but one is so new, that they haven’t sold a single beer in public, to my knowledge. Friday night at Blue Corn Brewery will be your first guaranteed chance to try a beer from Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery. I reached out to Jason Fitzpatrick, co-founder and manager of business operations, and asked him a few welcome-aboard questions.

DSBC: What does it mean to Tumbleroot to officially join the Santa Fe (as well as the whole New Mexico) beer scene?

Fitzpatrick: Joining the ranks of the talent brewers and operators in New Mexico is quite an honor. (Jason) Kirkman and I hatched the idea that was to become Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery two-and-a-half years ago, and the road was tough to get to this point. After many ups and downs throughout the process, we certainly have a greater appreciation for all of those who paved the way.

DSBC: What do you look forward to most about becoming part of this very vibrant scene? And, what are your hopes for your new establishment?

Fitzpatrick: We look forward to bringing something new and exciting to Santa Fe and New Mexico. We are inspired by bits and pieces of our experiences at taprooms, bars, restaurants, cocktail parties, family gatherings, concerts, and travels, and aim to bring all the best of those into one community-centric space. With a capacity for 400 people, our taproom can serve many different experiences at once. We hope that we have succeeded. We hope to become a second home for Santa Feans, and to inspire others to explore and connect with the community.

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Tumbleroot is here, as we saw with Jason Kirkman at Winterbrew 2018.

Why you should go?

For one thing, it’s always fun to taste a beer that’s exclusive to one event. It’s not something everyone can say they’ve had. And, it’s not something you’re likely to find again. The cask beers are usually very interesting, and certainly on the ‘extra’ end of the spectrum.

The food will be excellent and inspired, as it always is, because Blue Corn has a reputation to uphold for its beer dinners. I haven’t been let down yet.

Finally, this is a great opportunity to actually go up to and speak with brewers about what they do, how they make your beer, and what kind of beers they might be making next. Who knows? Your crazy suggestion might just end up in one of their fermenters and on the chalkboards. Or, as in my case, you might convince the brewer to brew something you once loved that’s no longer in the rotation.

The second annual Santa Fe Cask Fest is THIS Friday at 6:30 p.m. The cost of $30 per guest gets you a pour of each cask ale and seven appetizers, and a chance to shake the hand of most of the Santa Fe brewers. It’s a ticket with a built-in VIP pass, and you’re cordially invited. I look forward to seeing you there! To more beer beer events in Santa Fe, and a rapidly growing independent craft scene, we raise them up, cheers!

For reservations call 505-984-1800, or email manager@bluecornbrewery.com.
Address: 4056 Cerrillos Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87507

— Luke

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If you see me at the event, say, “Hey!” I promise to be on my most reasonable behavior.