Posts Tagged ‘Bombs Away Beer Co.’

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

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

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

The weather has turned dark and gloomy for Halloween, which is either a good thing (if you are like us) or a bad thing (if you have small children trick-or-treating). Since this is a blog for (alleged) grown-ups, we will focus on the good, because the day after Halloween just happens to be our favorite beer holiday, International Stout Day. The good news is our brewers have some awesome new stouts to go along with their award-winning regular darkest ales. Bow & Arrow is releasing Breakfast Bandit, an imperial stout (9% ABV) brewed with Cutbow Coffee Roastology’s Stone Lake Blend and more than 240 Krispy Kreme glazed donuts. Oh, the decadence, it calls to us. Bow & Arrow has been knocking it out of the park with these pastry stouts, and we expect that trend to continue Thursday. Up at Canteen, Thursday marks the release of Mustaches and Cream, a chocolate and vanilla stout brewed up for the Movember charity drive. Dialogue has also added a fresh batch of Dry Stout to its taps for the week. In addition to those specialties, there are of course the many, many great stouts on tap around town year-round. There is Boxing Bear’s award-winning Chocolate Milk Stout (World Beer Cup and Great American Beer Festival gold, 2016), La Cumbre’s Malpais Stout (GABF silver, 2011 and 2018), Marble’s Cholo Stout (GABF gold, 2017). There are also all the stouts that have won the Brew Crew’s annual Stout Challenge, including Canteen’s Dark n Lusty (2018), Chama River’s (now Kellys’) Sleeping Dog Stout (2016), Boxing Bear’s Standing 8 Stout (2015), Tractor’s Double Plow Oatmeal Stout (2014), La Cumbre’s Malpais (2013), and Marble’s Oatmeal Stout (2012). That enough dark beer for ya, New Mexico? Raise a pint or two to the style Thursday!

We would be remiss if we did not point out a couple additional charity beers going on tap this week. Steel Bender and High and Dry are tapping their collaboration, Wee Stache, a Scotch ale, for Movember on Thursday at the Brewyard. Portions of the sales will go to the charity all month long, plus the Thursday release will be accompanied with a food pairing featuring braised short ribs served with creamy polenta, wilted greets, roasted root vegetables, and a cranberry demi-glace. That special will be on all day until it runs out. Over at Bombs Away, the new Fusion Fuel will make its debut this week. A pale ale with white wine grape juice and peaches, it will see $1 from every pint sold donated to the EOD Warrior Foundation, which helps our nation’s wounded veterans. Up in Santa Fe, Rowley Farmhouse Ales will be honoring a close friend who lost her battle to cancer. Paul and Chantal McQuad were instrumental in helping the brewery during the buildout, but during that time she was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. The RFA brew team and Paul have now created a French saison called Chantal (10% ABV), hopped with Sorachi Ace and finished with whole red raspberries. For every pint sold, $1 will be donated to the Cancer Foundation for New Mexico. Props to all three of these breweries, Canteen, and all our other breweries who frequently step up for charities across the state.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bombs Away also hits the target with Light the Fuse! Lager and a new batch of Incendiary IPA. Canteen brings back Buffomundo, an amber lager. Dialogue gets a little feisty with Flipping Pigeons American Lager. Marble has more Pumpkin Noir available. Nexus puts its Beer Premiere entry, Strawberry Milk Shake IPA, on tap. Ponderosa does the same with Golden Graham Amber Lager, made with actual Golden Graham cereal from the General Mills plant here in town, plus Schwartzbier returns this weekend. Sidetrack defies the season with Forever Summer British Golden Ale. Starr Brothers hops on the Bandwagon Hazy IPA. Tractor adds its Beer Premiere entry, Apple Ale, while also brewing up some Cascade SMASH and Pumpkin Cider. Turtle Mountain unveils a trio of newcomers in Turbidity Majeure (New England-style IPA), Rise of Fall (Harvest Cold Brew Brown Ale), and Tomb of the Mutilated (Blood Orange Black IPA).

Up in Santa Fe, Blue Corn has more of its delicious Scotch Ale.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of October 29.

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Raise ’em high to celebrate the season!

In mid-October, in the mountains of northern New Mexico, a certain familiar sound can be heard through the little valley of Red River. It’s not the rustling of the wind through glimmering gold, fresh-changed aspens, nor the honking of the horns of people-packed caravans. It’s the chorus of clinking glasses and the raising of toasts. It’s the deep brass bellowing of an Oom-pah band that lets us know that Oktoberfest has once again returned, and has completely transformed this sleepy Alps-esque village into a one-of-a-kind experience that will keep you coming back for more, time and time again.

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The weather was decidedly warm for this year’s event.

Though it is worth the travel for the changing leaves alone, just a brief but beautiful stop along the Enchanted Circle, Red River is much more than that. And, beyond the picturesque views, the many outdoor activities, and the deer that will walk right up to you without batting an eye or flicking an ear, there’s beer, and plenty of it here.

In the past few years I’ve been attending the festival, there were only about five breweries and about the same count for wineries. This year, however, there were far more breweries than I’ve ever seen at this event, making it more of a brewfest than I was expecting. I don’t even believe that I got a final count.

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The sun did not deter the crowd.

Set in Brandonburg Park, as well as the Red River Conference Center just behind, there was much ground to cover, and I’m sure we didn’t make it to every brewery in attendance, so I apologize if a brewery was there and didn’t get a mention. There’s only so much time and so many sampler tickets, and so much room after a delicious brat with sauerkraut.

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A man cannot live off beer alone.

The Red River Oktoberfest veteran breweries included neighbors Comanche Creek and Enchanted Circle, plus Santa Fe Brewing. I didn’t see Taos Mesa, Eske’s, or Abbey Brewing, but I’m sure they were representing somewhere.

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One of the great partnerships of our state.

New to Red River’s Oktoberfest this year (to my knowledge) were The 377, Bombs Away Beer Co., Lost Hiker from Ruidoso, Palmer Brewery & Left Turn Distillery, Rio Bravo Brewing, Starr Brothers Brewing, and the new hometown heroes, Red River Brewing Company, plus my dark horse of the festival, Colfax Ale Cellar.

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Rio Bravo brought the beer and the merch.

While I had some great beers from many of the breweries (very few bad ones), my favorites were fun, exciting, in some cases surprising, and in some cases not surprising at all. My picks are as follows:

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What else can I say? “Dammit, Dave.” Ha!

Santa Fe Brewing’s Pepe Loco: To me, it’s a perfect recipe for a Mexican Lager. While it may seem somewhat out of season, it was perfectly refreshing in the unusually warm weather. I wouldn’t be surprised if that limited beer finds its way into cans some time soon.

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Comanche Creek served up a winner!

Comanche Creek brewed up an Oktoberfest that stood out for all the right reasons.

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Ginger Beer from The 377 FTW!

The 377 made the first Ginger Beer that I’ve ever really enjoyed. It reminded me of a Ginger Ale, and then I thought, wait … is the beer made after the soda, or is the soda made after the beer? Either way, wow! Excellent stuff! Cheers!

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Enchanted Circle closes out the festival with smiles.

Enchanted Circle is doing some great things with their beers these days, but they get my Gold Medal for best name: Glory Hole IPA. That’s all I’ll say about that.

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That’s one hefty pour of bronze medal-winning Lampshade Porter!

Starr Brothers brought their GABF bronze medal-winning, heavy-hitting Lampshade Porter, which was just a joy to drink. Luckily that’s on tap at their brewery, year-round, so head in anytime and rent that blockbuster hit.

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Red River Brewing head brewer Chris Calhoun raises a toast.

Special mentions go to Lost Hiker and Red River Brewing Company. I don’t think they make a bad beer between them, and certainly deserve a special trip to see them in their beautiful towns.

My “Best of the Fest” award goes to Colfax Ale Cellar, up in Raton. They had so many wonderful, interesting, and creative (yet perfectly executed) beers, on draft and in bottles.

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Brewmaster Jim Stearns stands beside his wife Karen Stearns and brewdog Pippen, as well as their excellent beer selection.

“The Red River Oktoberfest was our first time at that event,” said head brewer and owner Jim Stearns in a follow-up email. “We brewed three lagers specifically for that event. We sold very little. Unfortunately, we probably sold less than 10 percent of what breweries who were located outside sold, but we weren’t alone in that position along with Starr Bros, 377 and Rio Bravo Brewing Co.”

In my opinion, I think that’s because no one knew there was beer in the conference center. That kind of thing is tough to deal with as a former brewery event coordinator. The struggle is real. At least Colfax brought enough interesting beers to gain some new fans.

Maxwell Pils (5% ABV) — an international pilsner style, very mildly hopped

Fest Lager (4.6% ABV) — a Vienna-style amber lager, also very mildly hopped

Yülbock (5.25% ABV) — a rauchbier made with 20-percent beech-smoked malt, also mildly hopped

Karaiba (3.3% ABV) — a Berliner White ale, lightly sour, with essence of passion fruit and mango, no hops

In 22-ounce bottles:

Double Tipple (8.7% ABV) a blended double stout with a portion aged in rye whiskey barrels

Chicorica (8.3% ABV) — a strong golden ale brewed with trappist ale yeast

La Belle Otéro (6.5% ABV) — classic Wallonian saison ale, dry and peppery

Banks of Orkney (8.2% ABV) — a strong Scotch ale, light toffee and bread pudding

I have no hesitation in saying that they are a must visit on the road to or from Denver. Forget Colorado Springs or Pueblo and stop there instead for lunch and enjoy something that will surprise you. Colfax Ale Cellar should be on everyone’s radar this year and in the years to come.

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And one Double Tipple for the Dark Side, please!

The Colfax Ale Cellar taproom was recently closed due to inclement weather, as apparently winter has come early. For that, I blame the Starks, Target, and Kohls.

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Blue Corn head brewer Paul Mallory “Captains” to another great festival.

It was another great festival of beer and food in the mountains. I only wish folks had known there was a brew fest attached to the usual festivities. I believe it’s now my job to reach out to the organizers to get the word out. I was certainly surprised to find a whole group of new vendors/breweries in the conference center, in which there had never been before. But, if you missed them this time, or missed the festival this time around, there’s always next year and next time.

Until we meet again, Red River! For now, I will be counting the days until one of my favorite festivals rolls back through town. I should probably book my cabin now to be safe. To another unforgettable Oktoberfest in the mountains!

Prost!

— Luke

 

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For more #CraftBeer info, and @nmdarksidebc news, follow me on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro. Untappd: SantaFeLuke. My birthday is today (Thursday). You know what to do! I’m kidding.

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

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

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

Back when Marble Brewery opened in 2008, it was unheard of in New Mexico to have a taproom that did not provide a full kitchen menu of food. Ultimately, food trucks would fill that role, but the times are changing. The success of Marble was emulated by many others to go sans kitchen, but in more recent years, as the sheer number of new breweries outpaced the number of food trucks available, many taprooms have had to go back and add at least a full or partial in-house food menu (see Tractor, Rio Bravo, and many more). Bombs Away Beer Company is just the latest, then, to expand its food offerings so customers aren’t drinking beer on an empty stomach. Being in an industrial area, far from nearby restaurants, did not help matters, and with most of the reliable food trucks sticking with places like Marble and La Cumbre, it had left Bombs Away in a lurch. Now, however, they will have a full slate of panini-press sandwiches with awesome names like Atomic Turkey, Cuban Missile Sandwich, Patriot Sandwich, Rendered Safe Panini (it’s the vegetarian one, of course), and the General Purpose (grilled cheese). They range from $5 to $10 and are available now.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bombs Away also has some new beers this week in the Composition “C” IPL and Primer Pub Ale, which is gluten removed, plus the popular MK Deuce Pale Ale is back. Bosque finally went and made an Irish-style red ale, The Irish Goodbye. Dialogue, High and Dry, and Ponderosa made a collaboration called Brut IPA, plus Dialogue also brings back the P-funk Porter. La Cumbre unleashes Better Than Super, a spiced ale. Red Door will tap El Dorado SMASH on Friday. Rio Bravo has new batches of Cherry Wheat and Blurred Lines Hazy IPA. Starr Brothers has more Starrphire Pilsner, plus this weekend look for There Gose Them Boyz. Steel Bender has replenished its supply of Compa Los Ranchos Lager and Out to Pasture Brett Saison, plus Tangerine Dynamite debuts Thursday.

Up in Santa Fe, things are quiet, but further north in Red River, RRBC has the new Back Forty Farmhouse Ale.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of July 23.

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Bombs Away’s Cathy Racow is not your typical brewing intern.

Retirement is one of those concepts that does not appeal to everyone that reaches that point in life. Sure, some folks are happy to kick back and relax, or travel, or engage in small hobbies to stay busy.

Others, like Cathy Racow, would simply go mad if she were to idle away in retirement. That is the basis of how a nearly 60-year-old former nurse and paramedic ended up interning for the summer at Bombs Away Beer Company.

“I truly believe she will be a future star in the industry,” wrote Bombs Away head brewer David Kimbell when he pitched the idea of a story on Cathy.

Meeting Cathy in person one morning at the brewery, it was quickly apparent that she has more energy and enthusiasm than most brewers half her age.

“Number one, I love beer, like all my life since I was 14,” she said with a laugh. “Number two, I’m retired from public service and it’s absolutely time for me to have a beer. I’m not a stay-at-home kind of person. I enjoy work and I’m not afraid of hard work, which brewing is hard work. If you like to be cold, wet, and smell, this is the perfect career.”

Cathy was a firefighter paramedic and emergency room nurse, and she retired from her career in medicine after many years of selfless service.

“I’ve never had an easy job,” she said. “I’ve always been active.”

With that in mind, Cathy said she started looking for something else to do to remain active. She found out about the brewing program at Central New Mexico Community College and signed up, much to the surprise of her husband and grown children.

“I really love the brewing side,” Cathy said. “I really enjoy the icky part, the science. There is enough science and technology to keep me interested for the rest of my life. It’s also an interactive job, it’s not on a computer. I do better with my hands than with my brain. I don’t like sitting still so much.”

Cathy now has one year of studying and hands-on work under her belt.

“I already have a degree so I’m really more interested in the brewing certificate than an actual AA,” she said. “The CNM program is fantastic, it really is. It’s pretty intense. So what I did, I only have my draft line classes left, but I knew I wasn’t busy this summer, so I wanted to do this internship when I didn’t have classes.”

A previous internship up in Santa Fe helped Cathy land a spot at Bombs Away for the summer.

“I did a short-term internship during school with John Rowley and Rowley Farmhouse (Ales),” she said. “I wanted to work pretty much all summer. I asked my instructor, drafted some ideas, and sort of begged here. David has a really squared away approach to brewing. He’s a real professional brewer. He knows pretty much everyone in town. And he was willing. He’s also going to be an adjunct instructor at CNM in the fall, he’s going to teach the technology class.”

Oh, in case anyone has not been by in a while, Bombs Away is also getting a patio!

Bombs Away was also the perfect setup for a good learning environment, Cathy said.

“I didn’t want to intern at a production brewery right off,” she said. “I’m interested in learning all the aspects. This pub, it’s like my dream size production. It’s a community pub, not (Marble). But that’s cool, they’ve hired five graduates. Marble has been very supportive.”

Cathy noted that CNM graduates are also employed at Bow & Arrow, La Cumbre, Rio Bravo, and Turtle Mountain.

“We’re trying to give people the idea that yeah, you can adopt a CNM student, they’ll try really hard for you, and we are available for adoption,” she said. “I was kind of hoping, too, that after an internship, I would be more helpful as a rookie at a brewery than not.”

The biggest challenge Cathy has faced working at a brewery has been the same she faced in the classroom.

“The more challenging thing is getting definitive answers on some of the mathematical problems, because everybody has a different way to approach it, or a different system,” she said. “Some are more empirical, especially with yeast production. Calculating out gravities and malt bills and stuff, that’s not easy, but people pretty much agree on that. But, as far as yeast propagation (that) is probably my biggest thing. I was really interested in quality assurance, microbes, because of my (medical) background. I went to a seminar at (Colorado State) this summer. That really cleared up a lot of my questions.”

At an age when most people are looking forward to the end of their careers, Cathy said she is happy to be back at the bottom of the ladder.

“I’m a complete rookie (and) I’m OK with being a rookie,” she said. “I’ve been a rookie at everything all my life. That’s part of life, you always progress. I’ve never had a problem being back in that role. I really want to keep going to CNM. They’re a legit little college. Complete, complete support.”

Working at Bombs Away has also been a positive.

“That’s why I love this, this is about bringing community (together) and enjoying yourself,” Cathy said. “Especially pubs like this, they’re not shady. It really is a community pub. People come from Sandia Labs and Kirtland, they enjoy themselves, have a couple beers, and head home.”

New Mexico has truly become home for Cathy and her family, she said.

“This is the second time I’ve lived in New Mexico,” Cathy said. “I fell in love with it the first time. Finally my husband retired and we came back. I love this area, I know it sounds crazy, this is a crazy place, but I enjoy it a lot. Albuquerque is for real, people here are real.”

We wish Cathy, and all of the talented CNM brewing students, the best of luck now and in the future. And, let this be a lesson, that age means nothing when it comes to having a passion to brew.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Bombs Away has attracted a diverse crowd to the Southeast Heights.

Bombs Away Beer Company was the last new brewery to open in 2017, but it has quickly made an impact on the local craft scene.

I recently visited the brewery in the Southeast Heights to add it to our Look Back/Look Ahead Series. I was lucky enough to sit down with all three owners, John and Hilary Degnaro, and David Kimbell, who is also the head brewer. John jumped right into reflecting on the work of the past year, which saw Bombs Away go from a concept to a fully functional brewery.

“A year ago we were working on this tap room portion of the building. That’s where we spent the majority of our focus when it came to renovations here,” he said. “On the brewery side of the building, we basically did whatever we had to over there, mainly mechanical. But, over here we made it look like it is. It wasn’t anything like this. Literally the three of us built all of the stuff in here — we painted the tables, we did the framing, all the floors. This was a shell of a room. If you look at the ceilings you can see that metal frame of the building. That’s what the whole thing was taken back to, all four walls and the ceiling.”

The look and feel of Bombs Away is a direct result of the vision and work of the ownership team. It has a trendy, modern industrial feel that is warm and comfortable. Hilary explained some of the thought behind the design.

“We’ve frequented a lot of breweries around the country, and I think that you get kind of a lot of ideas of what you like and what you don’t like,” she said. “So there were some things that we specifically wanted to stick with, as far as materials. We really wanted concrete tables and we really wanted wood somewhere, but we really wanted to also put metal in places to keep it industrial. But, what was really important to us was that all of the materials we were going to use were not reflective of sound, so that we could try and keep this place as quiet as possible so that conversations could be easily carried on.”

Keeping the brewery cozy, and dampening the noise, was the most important part of its design.

John added that creating the right vibe was of key importance.

“As far as the design, the building, and the atmosphere, that was the number one,” he said. “And, it will always be my number one (priority), is making sure that the place sounds right, because that sets the stage for people to have a good time and enjoy themselves.”

Aside from the areas that are visible to the public in the taproom, assembling the brewery also was a very hands-on affair, with many brewing elements being collected over the years, including the bad-ass horizontal mash tun that was featured in Stoutmeister’s pre-opening story.

Of course, the owners still had to procure some of their equipment, which became a grim situation when their original supplier didn’t deliver. Fortunately, there was somebody else out there to fill in.

“That was and still is a nightmare, but we found a different supplier for the equipment we did need and they were awesome to work with,” John said. “They had the stuff on a truck and coming to us before we even paid for it. They were on the ball.”

Head brewer David Kimbell has kept plenty busy in churning out many, many beers.

David was not about to be slowed down by an equipment delay.

“We were pilot brewing the whole time, once every week to two weeks, I’d say. I had a pretty good idea on how to dial everything in,” he said.

It helped that the Degnaros already had that system.

“We have a 1-barrel pilot system that used to be John’s homebrew setup, and so when we couldn’t use the big setup, a lot of recipes were being made on their so that we could prepare,” Hilary said. “We could split the batch and then share it with people for tasting and giving us feedback on it. David could take half and we could take half to our house so that we could kinda critique it ourselves as well.”

In spite of the challenges, and as a result of the effort and determination for quality brews, Bombs Away opened with one of the more impressive beer showings in recent memory, as AmyO noted when she visited during the soft opening phase.

“We put so much work into the place,” John said. “Why rush to open the doors when in another three or four weeks of brewing would give us the comfort to brew and have the beers the way we want them, and have a good variety to put out? Honestly, if it was not up to our standards, it wouldn’t have come out of the tap.”

It’s hard to pick among all the beers just for a flight of six.

Bombs Away’s beer selection has brought in a diverse group of customers, including people from the southeast neighborhoods, active-duty military, veterans, and beer geeks alike.

“I feel like our clientele is pretty well versed on the craft beer scene,” David said. “I would say we have a pretty good two or three different drinkable beers that a person who is maybe not well versed on craft beer can drink. That’s important to us, to have drinkable beer.”

One clear indication of the beer quality is that restaurants are already trying to setup pairings.

“We have had two restaurants basically say to us, ‘Hey, your beer is great, if you ever want to do something let us know,’” John said. “Honestly, for us, we’re still figuring out how to make the taproom work. With time we can get into (keg distribution). We’re definitely making sure that we take things at a pace where we can do it right, hopefully as close to the first time as possible.”

The owners seemed a bit hesitant to share too much and/or over-commit for what will be coming down the pipe in the first full year of operation; however, they said they definitely have their minds in the right place.

Could some of those kegs be headed off-site in 2018? It’s possible.

“We may do some barrel aging,” David said. “I’m probably going to do IPA Challenge … we’ll do IPA Challenge, I don’t see why not.”

There could be some limited bottle releases in the future as well.

“We are just starting to lay down the plans for what we want to do for bottling,” John said. “We would like to do very special releases, things that will only be available here for purchase, things that will be very limited. We gotta look at that and establish a budget for it.”

The upcoming project that the team is most enthusiastic about is the patio.

“I mean, really, the big plans for the winter are really the patio, (and) like everything else we will build that ourselves,” John said. “It’s not going to be too complicated, but it will still take a lot of time.”

By all accounts, Bombs Away Beer Company has had a stellar debut and laid a foundation for high expectations as we look ahead into 2018.

The Crew wishes Bombs Away the best of luck going forward, and I thank John, Hilary, and David for taking the time to chat with me.

Cheers!

— Deezbeers

The Crew had just a wee bit of fun at WinterBrew.

After taking Monday off due to the holiday, we are back today with a look at what were the best beers that we tried up at WinterBrew back on Friday. It was another outstanding event, one that every craft beer lover in New Mexico should attend at least once. The sell-out crowd of 700 was a jovial bunch, enjoying the many unique beers being poured from 18 New Mexico breweries.

As for the Crew, well, we all had our favorites. If the others want to chime in here at some point, I will add them to the story. In the interest of not going two weekdays in a row without content, here are a few of my picks for the best of the fest. (Note: Due in part to the Rail Runner arriving in Santa Fe about 10 minutes late and then the decision by security to close all booths 30 minutes before the event was supposed to end, I did not get to all 18 breweries.)

A crowd of 700-plus enjoyed beers from 18 breweries.

La Santa Oscura, Blue Corn: This is a delightful spiced holiday black lager that is still on tap at the brewery in Santa Fe. Flavors of chocolate and cherry mix in with the Chimayo red chile for a nice, warm kick at the end.

Coyote Waits, Bow & Arrow: At last, I got my hands on the barrel-aged version of this imperial mole stout. It is a big, thick beast of a beer, and the barrel effects bring out more and more of the spice, yet it never overwhelms the palate. It is still available at the brewery.

Galactica DIPA, Marble: Apparently this single-hop, double IPA thing is becoming a trend. Even with just Galaxy, this is a complex, wonderfully big beer. It is not yet on tap at any Marble location, so drink up the rest so a handle becomes available.

Sin Barreras, Rowley Farmhouse Ales: Alas, this specialty imperial stout does not appear to be available at the brewery, but everyone can hope for its eventual appearance. Big flavors of coconut and maple left us all wondering, is it a breakfast beer or a dessert beer?

14K IPA, Santa Fe: This one was a bit of a one-off joke, but it still leaves us hopeful for a future edition of an imperial-strength version of the hugely popular 7K. We would also like to thank the SFBC staff for donating a couple of sixers of 7K to our beer fridges.

XX ESB and Breaking Plaid Scotch Ale, Second Street: A pair of big, malty brews from the new Rufina brewhouse caught our eye. The latter is more sweet than peaty, akin to a heftier version of the Scottish at Nexus. The best news, besides being on tap, is that some of the Plaid is being saved for barrel aging.

Dark Engine Stout on cask, Sidetrack: If you have never had any of the cask beers at Sidetrack, now is the time. There is a batch currently available with dark chocolate added to the beer for an even more decadent flavor.

The Judy, Steel Bender: At some point a break was needed from the big malts and hops, so this seemed like a perfect time to try this sweet saison made with peaches and brett, then aged in Chardonnay barrels. There are still a few bottles left for sale at the brewery, so get them fast, as they are quite worth it. Drink this and dream of spring.

2017 Barleywine, Taos Mesa: Our friends from the north came down not with White Walkers, but instead a different beast. It is big, boozy, and not for the faint of heart. On your next ski trip (assuming we ever get snow), make sure to check this one out.

Infinitesimus Imperial Stout, Turtle Mountain: One of the first big beers we tried was this heavy, chocolate-y behemoth. This is more than worth the trip out to Rio Rancho for anyone living on the East Side of Albuquerque. Or the West Side. Or the South Valley. Or, really, anywhere in the state.

We’re pretty sure Karim liked most of the beers he tried.

As for the rest of the Crew, as their thoughts trickle in, I will share them here:

Jerrad: WinterBrew 2018 was certainly a memorable night, perhaps a bit fuzzy after tasting a few of the killer imperial/double styles available. The libations that stood out for me at this event would have to be Bow & Arrow’s Coyote Waits BA Stout, with its smooth touch of spicy heat on oak and dark/roasty malts. On the other end of the spectrum, Bombs Away Brewing Company’s B.A.B.C. IPA was wonderful with its hazy, softer NE-style IPA approach. A few other notable mentions would go to Rowley Farmhouse Ale’s Aromatherapy IPA, Steel Bender Brewing’s The Judy saison, and Rio Bravo Brewing’s Grab ‘Em by the Putin Imperial Russian stout.

Kristin: While I couldn’t try that many beers since I was working the event, I loved Second Street’s Breaking Plaid Scottish. The smooth malty flavor masked its 9.1-percent ABV. This is both a good and bad thing.

* * * * *

That is all from us. Hope those of you that went enjoyed it as much as we did, while for the rest of you, make sure to get those tickets for 2019!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

To everyone that got tickets in time, we will see you Friday night!

The good news is that the beer lineup at WinterBrew looks excellent. The bad news is that the event is sold out. For those who got tickets, well, here ya go, the full slate of beers that have been reported to the Crew.

There are 18 local breweries attending from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Santa Fe Farmers Market. Most of the Crew will be taking the Rail Runner north, which departs the Los Ranchos station at approximately 4:41 p.m., dropping us off around 6. If you are going, and want to hang on the train, we will be in the last car.

Anyway, what you really want is a list of the beers being poured. We have 17 of the 18 breweries so far, and will continue to update this as more lists appear in our email inbox. To help everyone out, we are picking the top beer on our list for each brewery, either one we have had before or one we are dying to try. Remember, that’s just our opinion, you are totally free to disagree and drink something else instead.

Blue Corn

Top pick: La Santa Oscura. Luke swears by this holiday-themed dark lager. Cocoa nibs, lactose, cinnamon, and Chimayo red chile add to the fun.

The rest: Blue Corn Mexican Lager, Roadrunner IPA, Oatmeal Stout

Bombs Away

Top pick: Coffee Stout. This one is so new it doesn’t even have an official name, but it could wind up being called Shockwave. Or, we’ll just probably go with delicious.

The rest: Willie Pete Wit, BABC IPA, Bombshell IPL

Bosque

Top pick: Fresh Start Breakfast Ale. We have sung the praises of this maple-and-coffee delight of a stout many times. This is the last of it, so be prepared to fight us for the last pour.

The rest: (deep breath) Lager, 1888 Blonde Ale, Elephants on Parade, Scotia, IPA, Down in the Hollow Brown, Open Space Haze 120 West and 41 South, Honey Porter, Nathan Ginger Red Ale, Galaxy Far Far Away

Bow & Arrow

Top pick: Coyote Waits. The barrel-aged imperial mole stout is back, with that wonderful kick of spice mixed in.

The rest: Savage Times Sour IPA, Thirsty Land Foraged Series (Grisette with Navajo Tea), Nomadico IPA

Boxing Bear

Top pick: Low Rye-der IPA. Hey, it’s new for us, so we will jump on a new dose of hops with copious amounts of rye mixed in, at least as a break from the big and malty.

The rest: Featherweight Session IPA, Iron Lung Smoked Porter, Uppercut IPA, Chocolate Milk Stout

Duel

Top pick: Grunewald Imperial Porter. It has been a while since we have had this behemoth of a beer. The best part is if we like it as much as the last batch, we can always head to the brewery (or taproom) to pick up a bomber to take home. Take note, this and the Titian will not be tapped until after 6:30 p.m.

The rest: Bad Amber, Duchamp, Fiction, Cezanne Magnifique, Dark Ryder, Titian

La Cumbre

Top pick: Business Hammock. Yet another tasty, hazy IPA, this one will make its debut mere hours after another, In the Money, goes on tap and for sale in bombers down at the brewery. Double up on the juice!

The rest: A Slice of Hefen, Malpais Stout, Project Dank, Mind Phoq

Marble

Top pick: Galactica DIPA. OK, so apparently the big, hoppy beers are not as rare as we anticipated. That being said, of course we will snag some of this out-of-this-world hop bomb.

The rest: Double White, Pilsner, Imperial Red, Cholo Smooth

Rio Bravo

Top pick: Level 3 IPA. The brewery just redid the recipe for this one, so we are intrigued to see what the staff has created.

The rest: Snakebite IPA, Roadkill Red, La Luz Lager, Pinon Coffee Porter, Grab ‘Em By the Putin, BA Cherry Wheat Cuvee, Lemongrass Wit, plus possibly Cascade Pale Ale and either Blueberry Gose or Ruby’s Ruckus

Roosevelt

Top pick: Green Chile Beer. Hmm, bringing the spice from the plains? That’s a bold thing to do in Santa Fe.

The rest: Portales Pale Ale, Clovis Point IPA, Happy Heifer Hefeweizen

Rowley Farmhouse Ales

Top pick: Sin Barreras. The imperial stout is back, this batch made with coconut and maple. It is always a delight.

The rest: Aromatherapy (IPA), Ab Initio Festivus, Cote-d’Or Cerise Redux

Santa Fe

Top pick: 14K IPA. Wait, what is this? A single keg of 7K that has been amped up so much that the brewery staff dubbed it 14K? Sold!

The rest: 7K IPA, Lustgarten, Imperial Pastry-Free Porter, Black IPA 2.0, Freestyle Pilsner

Second Street

Top pick: Breaking Plaid Scotch Ale. The first beer made at Rufina is a malty beast. We look forward to finally getting some in our glasses.

The rest: Cereza Negra, Agua Fria Pils, 2920 IPA, Civil Rye, Low Winter Sun Sour, XX ESB

Sidetrack

Top pick: Dark Engine Stout. Yes, there will be a cask of this wonderful elixir. They added dark chocolate and coconut. Hey, ever festival needs a proper dessert beer.

The rest: 3:10 to Belen Brown, Buzz Bomb, Pub Ale, Turntable IPA

Steel Bender

Top pick: The Judy. Snag a bottle pour of this saison, aged in chardonnay barrels with brett and peaches. There are not many bottles left at SBB.

The rest: Red Iron Red, Skull Bucket IPA, Brickie American Stout, Die Dunkel Seite

Taos Mesa

All beers TBA

Tractor

Top pick: Russian Imperial Stout. Oh, hello there Luna de los Muertos. We have missed you!

The rest: Mustachio Milk Stout, Spiced Cider, Turkey Drool, Delicious Red Apple Cider

Turtle Mountain

Top pick: Infinitesimus Imperial Stout. A big beast of darkness to finish things off (alphabetically speaking).

The rest: Arsenal Porter, SCH, Depravity Barleywine, Count Hellesarius

* * * * *

A big thanks to the breweries who responded promptly when we asked for their lists. It is always appreciated.

Enjoy the festival!

— Stoutmeister

Bombs Away Beer Company has brewed a new red IPA in honor of Air Force Tech Sergeant Phillip A. Myers, who died in Afghanistan in 2009.

In the short time it has been open, Bombs Away Beer Company has become a frequent hangout for many active-duty service members from Kirtland Air Force Base, as well as the many retired military who live in Albuquerque. This Veterans Day, BABC is giving back with a special beer brewed in honor of an Air Force sergeant who lost his life serving his country.

Phil’s Incendiary IPA is the creation of not just head brewer David Kimbell, but also Casey Pascoe, who served in the Air Force with BABC owner John Degnaro. The beer was made to honor Tech Sergeant Phillip A. Myers, who died in Afghanistan on April 4, 2009, when he was just 30 years old, leaving behind a wife and two children. Proceeds from the sale will go to the EOD Warrior Foundation, a charity that supports veterans from Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal and their families.

“We were approached by the Explosive Ordnance Disposal shop on base that they were putting together a charity fundraiser and they wanted to know if we wanted to be a part of it,” John said. “We said yes. It was actually a golf tournament, so we sponsored a hole. After that they said do you want to put up an item for a silent auction as part of the charity. I said yeah, but I don’t really know what to auction.

“I kind of kicked it around a little bit, so we came up to auction off basically a brew day. The winner of the auction would come in, they would brew the beer, and then we would eventually release the beer and proceeds would go back to the charity.”

Then it was just the matter of the right person winning that prize in the silent auction.

“Highest bidder, that was me,” Casey said. “I’d been here (to BABC) before. I’d seen the progress they had done on making the brewery. When I saw that at the auction, I was like I had to get that.”

Of course, winning the prize was one thing, making the beer was another.

“I’d never brewed before, so I think after the golf tournament we all ended up here,” Casey said. “The soft opening we all ended up back here. I let them know that I had won the auction and was looking forward to brewing some beer with them.”

Casey had a good idea of what kind of beer to make.

“It was between Casey and David to come up with how the beer is going to look, as far as what style,” John said. “Casey said, ‘I want to do a red and I want to name it after a fallen EOD tech named Phil Myers,’ who was a friend of both of ours.”

The incendiary part of the beer name holds double meaning.

“It’s in the EOD or ordinance world, it’s the color of the bombs, they have a red stripe on them,” Casey said. “And, Phil was a red-headed dude with a big ginger beard because when he was deployed he was out of regs, like most of us were, because we were out in the middle of nowhere. We didn’t have all the stuff to shave every day. I think that would be the best (name).

“I think that that also falls in line with the names of the beers they already have up on the board. Phil was a bit of an incendiary fella himself, I guess you could say. Everything he touched kind of caught fire, whether it was being a mentor to me as a young airman, or just everything he did he excelled at.”

Air Force veteran Casey Myers, up bright and early, brewing beer for the first time in his life.

Phil would probably have been amused to know just how much hard work Casey put into the beer.

“Learning to brew with David in the back, I didn’t realize how much work that was,” Casey said. “It’s a lot of work. I think I went home that day and I put the kids to bed at 7 and I hit the pillow at 7:30. I learned a lot.”

As for the beer itself, it should satisfy the hop-loving palates of Burquenos.

“I guess you could say what Casey wanted was something with a lot of citrus aroma, so I used a lot of citrus-forward hops (like) Citra, Centennial,” David said. “There are some dark fruit notes in there (too). It makes for a very malty IPA.”

Phil’s Incendiary IPA will go on tap this Saturday for Veterans Day. Also, BABC will be launching its brewery membership, with special discounts for active-duty service members and retired military.

Raise those pints high this weekend.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The ups and downs of having a full kitchen, or not, continue to vex many local breweries.

A small news item crossed our desk today (Monday) when we found out that Turtle Mountain is adding new items to its food menu. This is something that happens all the time in the restaurant business, where the palates of diners and their interests ebb and flow, often unpredictably. While several of the dishes look like things we have to try (hello, Ruidoso Ribs), it got us thinking again about the ongoing issue of breweries and food.

A few years back, the success of Marble and La Cumbre seemingly heralded the new model would be kitchen-free, relying instead on food trucks and neighboring restaurants. The brewpub was a dying breed, but a funny thing happened on the way to all of this happening. The brewpub did not die, it just had to be revamped and reborn, much like the restaurant industry as a whole (though that whole is far slower to adapt to change, as we see in the current decline in the national chains as more and more close here in ABQ and other parts of the country).

The most recent trend has seen breweries that previously had little or no food expanding to full kitchens. Bosque just had a few appetizers and panini-press sandwiches, until the decision was made to go the full kitchen route. The opening of the second, larger Las Cruces taproom saw the arrival of a full kitchen down south, while Nob Hill has recently expanded into the old Wise Pies space so it can also have a full kitchen, much like the original San Mateo location (and that full kitchen will head to the new mothership location being built along the Interstate 25 frontage road).

Boxing Bear expanded its kitchen and menu, while Tractor added a small food menu to its new Four Hills taproom. Now comes the word that Tractor will turn the old merchandise nook at Wells Park into a small food area as well (if you went to the Stranger Things Arcade Carnival before Halloween, you saw a preview of this).

Rio Bravo had long ago kept a space for a future kitchen, located just on the south side of the main bar area. After struggling with food trucks (more on that below) for a while, the decision was finally made to essentially outsource the in-house food production to The Burger Stand, which already had locations in Taos and Santa Fe.

As more new breweries seek to open, most, if not all, are advertising that they will indeed have in-house food. The most recent new brewery to open, Bombs Away Beer Company, did not open with any food, but its owner already mentioned that he has a space set aside for what seems like an inevitable addition of a small food prep area.

The need for in-house food is seemingly being driven by two things. First, the consumer demand is there. Second, the food truck situation in town has been slipping, from what a number of brewery owners have told us. Many of the best food trucks have either shut down or been so successful that they have been able to open brick-and-mortar restaurants. The best of what remain are now stretched thin across the metro area due to the proliferation of so many taprooms and breweries. While established, large breweries like La Cumbre, Marble, and Tractor are still able to keep the best of the best food trucks parked outside, other breweries have struggled immensely to fill out their schedules with reliable trucks.

Food is still a tricky thing for breweries. A kitchen, whether limited or full, adds another layer of inspections and regulations, many of them even tighter than what exists for beer production. Having food on site is no guarantee of increased business. It certainly did not save the Firkin Brewhouse or Albuquerque Brewing, or perhaps most prominently, Chama River. Even places with well-established reputations for having top-notch kitchens, like Nexus and Turtle Mountain, are constantly having to adjust and adapt to the changing tastes of consumers. One could debate whether or not people are even pickier about food than beer, but it often seems that way around Albuquerque.

It can also be debated as to where the food-versus-no-food debate falls geographically. Desert Valley opened its West Side taproom with a full kitchen and has gone to great lengths to promote it as a food-first establishment. After initially opening the Nexus Silver taproom sans food, the decision was recently made to begin serving food there. It can be argued that food is almost necessary in areas with a denser neighborhood population, like Nob Hill or the Northeast Heights, as opposed to the more nightlife-oriented aspects of downtown, the Brewery District, and Wells Park (though things are changing at some of the breweries located in that district).

The issue can then become how customers view and treat brewpubs versus breweries. Reading the less-than-kind comments online for many brewpubs, they often seem to focus mainly on the food itself and the service, rather than the beer. Food seems to be more polarizing than beer, while the expectation of service is often higher in what many regard as more of a restaurant than bar setting. It often seems that for every benefit about having a kitchen, there is a significant drawback as well. Finding the balance in between is an ongoing challenge, with no easy answers.

What is the future of the brewpub model? Cantero Brewing is gambling that it will be of the popular farm-to-table variety, as the forthcoming brewery fights to overcome the fact it took over the old Firkin space, one of the least desirable physical locations for any brewery. The other newcomers will have to make up their own minds.

As always, we want to know what all of you think, so we designed a rather simple poll below. Add your comments here or on social media. The more the breweries know about what we want from them in terms of food is better for everyone involved.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The finished interior of Bombs Away Beer Company looks great.

I recently took a peek at the website for Bombs Away Beer Company for clues as to when they would open. I was shocked to find out they already had. Apparently, they just had a soft opening a few days prior. Although I already had plans right after work that day, curiosity and impatience got the best of me. I decided I had to stop by there, even if it was just for a few minutes, and at least try a couple of beers. It turns out they don’t sell the sampler pours individually, and I didn’t want to ask for a few free samples and leave without buying any beer, so I took on the challenge of consuming a full sampler of six beers in just over 10 minutes. (I was not driving, FYI.)

I am very glad I did. Unlike with many new breweries, the beer did not suffer from a lack of carbonation. This was not “thin” beer. There are also an impressive number of house-brewed beer styles on tap for a new operation.

I briefly spoke with brewer David Kimbell and told him that I was impressed by the quantity of beer out of the gate, as well as the carbonation levels. Kimbell, who is a first-time head brewer (although he has brewing experience at La Cumbre, Santa Fe, and Kellys), said he did go through multiple batches before he decided the beers were ready for public consumption. I guess I chose my samples well, despite being pressed on time, because Kimbell said that their amber is a little under-carbonated, but that it works fine for the style. I didn’t try the amber, so I cannot compare it to the others. He also said he is still trying to dial in the lager. I did not choose the lager, either.

The beers I did sample were: Willie Pete Wit, Short Fuse Blonde, Wild Card Spiced Ale, Brisance Bitter, B.A.B.C. IPA, and Low Order Porter. Descriptions of their current beers can be found on their website. My favorites were the Bitter and the Porter. The Bitter was very true to style and very easy-drinking. It’s not overly complex, but highly satisfying. The Porter was all roasty goodness with coffee and tobacco notes (in my opinion).

A delightful first flight of six of the eight available beers.

It was hard to choose favorites because all six were beers I could see myself ordering again. Perhaps the only minor letdown for me was I would have liked more spice on the Spiced Ale. It’s a good beer, I just expected more of a fall seasonal taste. The IPA is a New England-style, hazy IPA. For those looking for over-the-top hops, this is not that kind of IPA. It worked for me because I like a lighter IPA style.

The space is inspiring and they did a wonderful job with the décor. Kimbell said they built everything themselves (tables, bar, etc.). The location, at 9801 Acoma near Moon and Central, is very convenient for beer lovers who work at Kirtland Air Force Base and Sandia National Labs. Until I looked at their website, I had no idea there was a Skyline Heights neighborhood of Albuquerque.

Despite the lack of formal announcements that they are open, there were about 15 to 20 patrons in there when I stopped by early on a Tuesday evening. I have a feeling that those people looking for a Southeast Heights brewery hangout have fully acquired their target.

Cheers!

— AmyO