Posts Tagged ‘Boxing Bear Brewing Co.’

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

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Hello, NMBF, you were wonderful again!

While I was at work Saturday afternoon, a trio of Crew members joined a gaggle of our friends and other beer lovers at the eighth annual New Mexico Brew Fest. Held at Expo New Mexico, it moved back out to Main Street instead of being in the more cramped Villa Hispana. Here are their thoughts and a few photos from the fest I missed (at least agreeing to work Saturdays came with a raise).

AmyO: I really like this particular brew fest, and I am always sad when I can’t go because it often conflicts with a Lobo game or a trip out of town. Happily, I was able to attend this year. I love the super local feel of this one. It reminds me of some of the smaller brew fests in Portland back in the day before they began to get out-of-control crowded. Some people even wore costumes, and many of the attendees seemed pretty beer savvy.

The weather sure cooperated; although it was starting to get pretty warm in the late afternoon, there is always some shade at this venue. I appreciated the food selection this year. I ate the “special” at the barbecue food truck (Nomad’s BBQ). This was a hot link in a bun covered with a TON of pulled pork. It’s exactly the kind of food you need to soak up so much beer. And, it went really well with some of the spicier/fall-style beers. I also saw someone with a really great looking poke bowl. Very different, and a healthier option!

Raise the horns!

My overall favorite beer was probably the Raspberry Nitro Stout from Marble. First of all, having nitro at a festival always rates high for me. The beer was heavy on the raspberry, but not at all sweet. There was a cocoa powder flavor and mouthfeel that also added to the uniqueness. The Tripel Reserve from Monks’ did not disappoint, either.

The best name has to go to Canteen’s Oompa Lupulin DIPA, but it’s even harder to say after you have had some!

Surprises for me as far as beers I did not expect to enjoy as much as I did were the Das Roggen Weiner from Marble, and Palmer’s Double IPA (because there was much less sweetness to it than I thought there would be). A really great palate cleanser after multiple heavy beers was Ponderosa’s Ecliptic Wet Hop Ale.

My big disappointment was that I never got to try Blue Corn’s Imperial Stout. Blue Corn was late to arrive because sadly they had a tire blowout on the way down to Albuquerque. When they finally did get set up, they held the stout to a 4 p.m. tapping. Everyone was ready to leave by that time, so I never got to try it. I did have their oak-aged Scotch and that was lovely.

Franz Solo found his fellow vikings.

Franz Solo: What I loved best about this particular festival was just how local and friendly the whole thing was. Drinking beer under cottonwoods on the old fairgrounds with a great crowd of people and some fantastic local offerings, both beer-wise and food-wise, was simply magical. Highlights for me were Turtle Mountain’s Depravity barleywine which has aged extremely well since last winter; Canteen’s Oompa Lupulin DIPA, which was simply a hop screamer straight out of the gates of hop heaven; Monks’ Tripel Reserve, which is incredibly smooth and clear for a monster of a beer; and the pair of ludicrous offerings from Blue Corn, which brought its ’16 Scotch and ’15 Russian Imperial Stout, which were both stupendous. Having so many Oktoberfest Marzens as well was a real treat to cleanse the palate between some of the bigger brews, and on the whole they were all quite tasty. A grand event for the NM Brewers Guild and for local breweries and local food offerings alike. I look forward to returning to this wonderful NM Brew Fest.

The Crew and friends did a good job of wiping out that ’15 Imperial Stout from Blue Corn.

Brandon: The brewery list seemed smaller this year, but I can’t blame more places for not participating in this event, with just having wrapped up GABF and all. That being said, the breweries in attendance made sure to bring some standout brews, so here’s what popped for me:

  • Featherweight Session IPA, Boxing Bear: Fresh off a bronze medal at GABF. Lighter but crisp malt backing, with grassy, floral, and citrus zest notes. The low ABV made this one a good choice for the warm weather of the day. Who says session beers can’t pack a flavor punch?
  • Depravity Barleywine 2016, Turtle Mountain: Not a palate-crushing, hop-forward incarnation, like some versions of the style. Tons of caramel, burnt caramel, and toffee.  Chewy as all hell, but not a lot of alcohol warmth. A deceptively dangerous barleywine, loved it.
  • 2015 Imperial Stout, Blue Corn: “Oh what a surprise, the DSBC liked a dark beer”… if you expected less, you don’t know our lives. This beer is a beast, it has about four different types of chocolate notes present — dried fruit, oak and vanilla, and warms you to the core. We want more of this black fire in a glass!
  • V.M.O.M.G., Steel Bender: This one was released a few days prior to NM Brew Fest, but this was my first chance to taste it.  Was quite surprised.  Not that I thought it would be a bad beer, but I didn’t expect this to be THAT good. A damn fine take on a traditional seasonal style. Crisp, sweet malt, good spice from hops. Very solid.
  • Oktoberfest, La Cumbre: I’m going to be blunt here … if you missed this one, you’re f****d.  Cans are gone or close to gone, and all kegs are already gone in distribution. If you find any of this lovely beer, drink it while you can.

That is all from us. Thank you to Kevin Hopper for the tickets, and thank you to all the breweries for bringing some of their finest offerings!

Cheers!

— The Crew

Marble’s Josh Trujillo is all good after bringing home two medals.

It was another successful Great American Beer Festival for our local breweries, as five different places brought home a total of six medals on Saturday morning at the annual awards ceremony in Denver.

Marble Brewery won yet another medal for its Pilsner, taking home a bronze in the Kellerbier or Zwickelbier category. It is the fourth time since 2011 that Pilsner has won a medal. The big win came later, when Cholo Stout took gold in the American-Style Stout category.

“The Pilsner has definitely had a lot of success,” Marble brewmaster Josh Trujillo said. “We put a lot of love into that one. I have a lot of influence on it, but John Heine is the one who is running that beer, making sure it’s consistent. It’s what everybody drinks. We know people drink it all the time. It’s nice to see that one really stay consistent and stay well.”

The Cholo Stout, now on its second iteration, was born out of the Heights taproom experimental brewing system.

“I’m excited, it’s a very challenging style,” Josh said. “To medal the first time … it’s the second time it’s been brewed, but it’s a beautiful style. I finally got to make it good. I feel really privileged that they trust me enough to make these beers. It’s all teamwork. It’s awesome to get it done.”

Nexus Brewery claimed a gold as well with Imperial Cream Ale topping the Other Strong Beer category.

“I don’t even know what to say,” said Nexus head brewer Kaylynn McKnight. “I’m just very honored. I thought all of New Mexico did a great job. I’m just proud. I’m proud of all of New Mexico.”

Nexus’ Kaylynn McKnight and her fiancee Andrew Krosche are all smiles after she brought home a gold medal.

Sierra Blanca actually got the medal run started way back in the fourth category, Fruit Wheat Beer, snagging a gold medal with its Cherry Wheat. It marks Sierra Blanca’s first gold since winning for Bone Chiller Brown back in 2012.

The other bronze medals went to Boxing Bear with Featherweight Session IPA in the Session IPA category and to Second Street for Rod’s Steam Bitter in the American Amber Lager category. That marks the second medal for the Steam Bitter, which won gold back in 2013.

“Obviously we’re thrilled about the medal,” Second Street brewmaster Rod Tweet wrote in an email to the Crew. “It’s been a really hectic year this year with getting the third location open and the brewhouse up and running and winning the bronze medal really tops it off for us. Really happy, thanks!”

Overall, the total of six medals matches the 2016 haul and is tied for the second most medals for New Mexico breweries in a single year.

We will be adding plenty more to this story as we track down the other award winners throughout the course of this final day of GABF. Congratulations to all the winners!

Now get out there today and enjoy some national champions!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

It’s go-time for New Mexico breweries at the Great American Beer Festival this week!

The Great American Beer Festival returns this Thursday through Saturday at the Denver Convention Center, and once again New Mexico breweries will be well represented. This year the Crew is dispatching yours truly, plus Franz Solo, via the magic of press passes (Luke will also be there, but as a civilian, and we just want him to focus on having fun and not worry about work). We will be on hand for the sessions on Thursday and Friday nights, plus Saturday afternoon, and the awards ceremony before that.

For those who have never been, GABF is a massive event. It takes over a convention center several times the size of ours here in Albuquerque. In fact, the total space for the festival is equivalent to seven football fields. Breweries from around the United States will be on hand, some represented at hundreds of booths, others are just on hand for the competition.

There will be 12 New Mexico breweries represented, plus Marble gets a second booth this year (ah, the benefits of having two small brewer licenses between downtown and the Heights location). The majority (Bathtub Row, Bosque, Boxing Bear, La Cumbre, both Marble, Santa Fe, Sierra Blanca, Starr Brothers) are in the Southwest region, grouped with breweries from Arizona, Texas, and Louisiana. Dialogue Brewing will be in the Meet the Brewer area, while Blue Corn, Canteen, and Quarter Celtic will be in the Brewpub Pavilion. The New Mexico Brewers Guild will also have a booth along with the other state guilds, pouring beers from breweries without their own booths.

A lot of this probably does not mean much to many of you, who did not get (or even try to get) tickets to the event. For most folks back home, us going up and talking about what a great time we are having is almost a little callous. Our main goal with this event is to provide coverage of the awards ceremony, while also letting everyone in Denver know about the greatness of our breweries (more tourists can be a good thing), and of course trying lots of new beers that you can either seek out on your next vacation or via distribution.

Speaking of the awards ceremony, this year we have been privy to the competition beer lists for most of our local breweries. The awards ceremony happens Saturday at 10 a.m., and will be broadcast live over the internet. You can go to the GABF website that morning and find the link, but be forewarned, it is a notoriously fickle broadcast. We will have live updates via all three of our main social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). We also hope to have some live FB videos from the event. Since there are two of us, it should go a little smoother than last year. (Sorry again about the shaky cam motion sickness, Lonnie.)

Here are the competition lists we were sent from the Guild or directly from some breweries. Some may be incomplete, or are missing a key bit of info (name of beer, or which category that beer is being judged in). We are listing them by awards category, so you know which ones to pay attention to and which ones to run over and refill your coffee mug.

  • 4 Fruit Wheat Beer: Bosque Elephants on Parade, Sierra Blanca Cherry Wheat
  • 8 Chili Beer: Sierra Blanca Green Chile Cerveza
  • 9 Herb and Spice Beer: Blue Corn Ginger Braggot, Chama River Haru, Red Door Vanilla Cream Ale
  • 11 Coffee Beer: Blue Corn Apparition Pale Coffee Ale, Rio Bravo Pinon Coffee Porter
  • 15 Honey Beer: Nexus Honey Chamomile Wheat, Turtle Mountain Pour les Abeilles
  • 17 Session IPA: Boxing Bear Featherweight
  • 18a Other Strong Beer: Marble Double White, Nexus Imperial Cream Ale
  • 19a Experimental Beer: La Cumbre Hibiscus Quercus
  • 20 Fresh or Wet Hop Ale: Bosque Acequia IPA, Quarter Celtic Clark
  • 23 Belgo American Pale Ale: Second Street Diablo Canyon
  • 24 American-Style Sour Ale: Ponderosa Sour Belgian Brown
  • 26 Brett Beer: Flix Brewhouse Eater of Worlds
  • 28b Wood and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer: La Cumbre Ryeot on Bourbon,
  • 29 Wood Aged Strong Beer: Bow & Arrow Cosmic Arrow Brett Saison, Chama River Natalia Polnoch’
  • 34b Zwicklebier: Marble Pilsner, Rio Bravo La Luz Light Lager
  • 36a American-Style Pilsner: Canteen Laid Back Lager
  • 36b International-Style Pilsner: La Cumbre BEER, Quarter Celtic Pedro O’Flannigan’s
  • 40b American Amber Lager – California Common: Second Street Rod’s Steam Bitter,
  • 41 German-Style Pilsner: Bow & Arrow Jemez Field Notes, Santa Fe Freestyle Pilsner, Sierra Blanca Desert Pilsner
  • 42 Bohemian Pilsner: Boxing Bear Body Czech Bo Pils, Canteen High Plains Pils, Dialogue Bo Pils, Sidetrack Pilsner
  • 47a Munich-Style Dunkel: Marble Dupy’s Dunkel
  • 49b German-Style Bock: Marble Maibock
  • 50a Doppelbock: Flix Brewhouse Now and Later, Nexus Doppelspock, Turtle Mountain SCH
  • 52 Blonde Ale: Starr Brothers L.A. Woman
  • 53 German-Style Kolsch: Canteen Kolsch, Chama River Kolsch, Steel Bender Lloyd’s 3 O’Clock Kolsch
  • 56 English-Style IPA: Santa Fe Happy Camper IPA
  • 58 American-Style Pale Ale: Marble Pale Ale
  • 59 American Strong Pale Ale: Second Street 2920 IPA, Santa Fe 7K IPA
  • 60 American-Style IPA: Starr Brothers Starrstruck, La Cumbre Project Dank
  • 61 Imperial IPA: Second Street Imperial IPA, Canteen Astro Hound
  • 62 American-Style Amber/Red Ale: Red Door Roamer Red
  • 63 Double Red Ale: Steel Bender Red Iron Red, Boxing Bear The Red Glove, Bosque IRA, Starr Brothers Red Zepplin
  • 64 Imperial Red: Marble Imperial Red
  • 66b Special Bitter: Sidetrack Pub Ale
  • 67a American-Style Extra Special Bitter: Rio Bravo Amber
  • 67b Extra Special Bitter: Steel Bender Sparkfitter Amber
  • 69 Irish-Style Red Ale: Sidetrack Railhead Red, Quarter Celtic Crimson Lass
  • 70 English-Style Brown Ale: Sierra Blanca Bone Chiller, Santa Fe Nut Brown
  • 71 American-Style Brown Ale: Blue Corn End of the Trail Brown Ale, Ponderosa Bellamah Brown
  • 72 American-Style Black Ale: Bosque Fifth Value, Quarter Celtic Bruce
  • 73 Berliner Weisse: Bow & Arrow Way Out West Sour, Dialogue Berliner Weisse
  • 74b Contemporary Gose: Marble Passionate Gose, Rio Bravo Peach Gose
  • 79 Witbier: Flix Brewhouse Luna Rosa, Red Door Trapdoor White Ale
  • 80 Classic Saison: Bow & Arrow Sun Dagger
  • 85 Belgian Tripel: Flix Brewhouse Tripel Whammy
  • 86a Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale: Ponderosa Preacher’s Daughter
  • 89 Robust Porter: Starr Brothers Lampshade Porter
  • 90 Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout: Steel Bender Blue Bullet Stout
  • 92 American-Style Stout: Marble Cholo Stout
  • 93 Sweet or Cream Stout: Boxing Bear Chocolate Milk Stout, Red Door Paint it Black Milk Stout
  • 94 Oatmeal Stout: Blue Corn Gold Medal Oatmeal Stout, Chama River Sleeping Dog Stout, Sidetrack Dark Engine Stout
  • 96a Scottish Ale: Nexus Scotch Ale

The American-Style IPA category is always announced last, due to the fact it is the biggest (270-plus entries last year). And, yes, Chama River was still able to enter beers even though it technically no longer exists. Not sure how that works, but it does.

Among the beers with mystery categories, there is Dialogue’s Biere de Mars and Sour Raz, Rowley Farmhouse Ales’ Saison du Sarlacc, and Turtle Mountain’s Hard Bock Life. We can probably guess the categories, but for now we will just list them as unknown. We also know that Spotted Dog has beers in categories 57a (Australian or International-Style Pale Ale), 80 (Classic Saison), and 93 (Sweet Stout or Cream Stout), just not the name of any of those beers.

If any other New Mexico breweries have beers entered, we will find out one way or the other.

How well have our breweries done in the past? Well, Boxing Bear was the Mid-Size Brew Pub of the Year in 2016 and Marble Brewery was the Small Brewery of the Year in 2014. Canteen/Il Vicino has won 12 medals since 1995, Marble has won nine medals since 2011, and Chama River will try to add one or more to its total of eight since 2002. New Mexico has routinely ranked in the top percentage of medals in relation to state population and number of breweries.

If any of you are headed up and spot us amid the crowd (it can happen, just ask Michael Waddy from Kaktus), come over and say hello. We will always be more than willing to share what great beers we have found in our wanderings.

Some final tips if you are going.

  • Download the GABF app for your phone if you have not already. Tag the breweries you want to visit, and they will show up on your map. This is invaluable.
  • Keep an eye out for timed releases. Many of your favorite breweries will have small runs of some of their most exclusive beers. They will likely be announced on social media, so make sure you follow your favorites.
  • Hydrate! There are water stations everywhere. They are not just for washing out your glasses. Yes, it might send you to the bathroom faster than you want, but unless you are a human camel, you will have to go sooner or later.
  • Do not drive downtown. This is not just a safety issue, it is to spare you from the chaos of thousands of pedestrians in different states of inebriation, Uber/Lyft drivers, hundreds of taxis, one-way streets, and a whole lotta police. Leave the car at your hotel/friend’s house/Air BnB, wherever you are staying. Oh, and the cost of parking in downtown Denver goes through the roof during GABF, if you can even find a spot.
  • Check the main website for all the off-site events, and do a quick Google search for others. This could be especially relevant if you are not attending all the sessions, or you need something to do during the day besides wander aimlessly around downtown. Some of these are as fun as GABF itself, some might be even more fun if you are into certain beer styles that are represented at their own events.
  • There are too many good food options to possibly list here in Denver, but a few of our favorites include Jelly for brunch/breakfast, and then Rhein Haus, Freshcraft, Wynkoop, Rock Bottom (for a chain, they’re quality), and Breck on Blake (great guest beer menu) for lunch/dinner. There are plenty of food options within the convention center as well, so please do not attempt to get through a session on little or nothing but beer in your belly. It will not end well.
  • Breweries within spitting distance of downtown include some of our favorites, like Prost, TRVE, Great Divide, Our Mutual Friend, Ratio, and Spangalang, plus Crooked Stave if you love sours. Also, Bierstadt Lagerhaus, which is up by Crooked Stave, comes with the seal of approval of La Cumbre’s Jeff Erway. In fact, we fear that if we did not recommend you go there, Jeff would probably disown us and abandon us somewhere in the wilderness.

OK, that is all from us for now. If you have any questions at any point this weekend, whether you are going to be in Denver or are staying home, do not hesitate to contact us via the usual ways.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Get your hands on TKO Triple IPA before it disappears from Boxing Bear!

Editor’s note: In honor of National IPA Day, we present a two-for-one IPA review from our resident chief hophead. Both beers are still on tap at the Bear, along with Tropic Thunder IPA, Eastern Standard IPA, and of course Uppercut IPA. — Stoutmeister

On a couple of recent forays to Boxing Bear, I had the pleasure of indulging in two of the full five IPAs they currently have on tap. TKO Triple IPA is their third-anniversary ale available on draft and in bombers, and this version of Bear Knuckle IPA is the 2017 IPA Challenge winner and has previously made the final four of the National IPA Challenge. What follows is my own take on both of these lovely offerings in the prime season of the great hop in our fair land.

TKO Triple IPA

A pure and solid knockout whether by hop blast, or by the subtle and somewhat insidious assault of strong malts of this 11’er most certainly live up to its name. We begin with an aroma of sweet orange, kush, pine, tropical fruits, and a hint of oak on the nose of this one with a small wash of warm honey malt alcohol. Sweet, slightly overripe mango, lemon, kush, and berry notes punctuate the flavor, with dry, semi-bitter grapefruit at the ultimate threshold between sips.

This is a summer sipper which to my palate will go down as one of the more memorable anniversary brews to grace my lips in some time. One could argue that we haven’t had a true triple IPA burst onto the scene in our town since the advent of the Nelsons at La Cumbre several years back.

This is a wholly different spectrum from your typical New Mexican-style IPA. Far more malt presence is here to balance with and accentuate the wonderful hops it possesses. Primarily, this is encompassed by American pale malts and some of the mid-range caramel malts which lend some sweet honey character, as though taken fresh from the hive and added to this creation. Citra, Ekuanot, and Mosaic, among others (just a wee few hop additions into well nigh bat country levels), provide quite the melange of delightful flavors and bitters as the case may be.

A deep golden ale which hearkens to the golden roof of the golden hall of Odin, and to the great golden horde of Smaug the Terrible, stolen from the people of Thorin Oakenshield, our senses are transported to the realm of imagination nigh paradise. Whether by fire pit or by hearth, TKO would well deserve a place in a good drinking horn, shared among the best of company with the metal turned as high as the sparks of the stars in the heavens above. Procure this gem of a beer as quick as you can, as it will probably not last long (at least if I have any say in the matter).

While I was enjoying TKO, I also happened to try a pint of this year’s Bear Knuckle IPA, which deserved some words of writ on its own merit.

Bear Knuckle IPA

Your two-time NM IPA Challenge winner.

This version begins with an absolute killer aroma, akin to cannabis, loads of golden resin, and skunk will clear your sinuses on the scent alone. There are hints of mango and a strong presence of orange in there as well, but mostly just the dankest, stickiest … er, beer! Right! On only a few occasions has a beer lived up to such a grandiose aroma (I could smell my pint at home, which was in the living room while I was across the room in the kitchen), and this is absolutely bonafide.

The recent NABA bronze-medal-winning batch of Uppercut IPA, to my mind, was part of the inspiration for this iteration of Bear Knuckle, namely loads and loads of Simcoe among other hops giving that skunk as none other. But, that is where Uppercut and Bear Knuckle diverge, as there are many folds of blanketed orange, tropical fruits, and blueberry hints enveloped in this light amber-colored ale. Quite a measure of sweet mango and caracara orange comes out as this hop lover’s delight warms, so do give it some chance to sit while you imbibe. Part of the surprise of this beer (how well the aroma and flavor match is one surprise) is just how well the malts hold up after such an assault from damn well plaid (faster than ludicrous speed) hopping. The finish tastes like grapefruit and golden resin, fit for a golden hall that leaves you like a good firery salsa, demanding more and more.

Procure these quickly my friends, ere the hops fade and the season of the malt draws nigh!

Skål!

— Franz Solo

The Boxing Bear team, triumphant again!

In another close vote, Boxing Bear claimed its second straight NM IPA Challenge championship on Saturday afternoon at Steel Bender Brewyard.

Justin Hamilton and his staff claimed 104 votes, with Bosque running a very close second at 101. Quarter Celtic (82), Canteen (76), Starr Brothers (59), Marble (49), Tractor (43) and Bow & Arrow (40) were closed behind.

“It means a whole lot for us, honestly,” Justin said. “With each competition with put forth we support the (New Mexico Brewers) Guild. But the fact that it’s blind and that people are really judging as to what they like the best means a lot. It means a whole lot. We honestly had some of the best beers in the world as far as New Mexico goes.”

Yes, Justin, you get to keep it another year!

Bear Knuckle became just the latest repeat champion. Exodus won three years in a row for Canteen from 2010-12 (a different IPA had started it off in 2009), followed by repeat wins for Scale Tipper from Bosque in 2014 and 2015.

“It’s obviously a super competition,” Justin said. “We have the National IPA Challenge winners from the last four years (here). It means so much. It’s really cool to be a part of it. Obviously the last two years the competition has been the closest it’s ever been. We have so many amazing breweries coming up, Starr Brothers, Quarter Celtic. They obviously put up some amazing entries.”

For the record, La Cumbre won the Brewing News IPA Challenge in 2014 and 2017, sandwiched around Bosque winning in 2015 and 2016.

“Bear Knuckle is one of those things where we try to keep improving it,” Justin said. “Hop varieties change a little bit. The recipe is pretty solid. We’ve got a good base for it, it’s doing well for us.”

Another super-close vote this year.

Ultimately, Steel Bender was able to run a smooth ship Saturday afternoon. The weather cooperated (hooray!) and overall it was a well-run event. So far, at least, the complaints have not piled up about the final round, as they did with the preliminary rounds.

For Boxing Bear, the staff never lost sight of the ultimate goal of the NMIPAC.

“The main thing is it’s a big supporter for the Guild, for the community,” Justin said. “IPA is the most popular style in the country right now. It’s cool to see on a national level New Mexico doing well. Locally, it’s good to support the Guild with some awesome IPAs.”

Justin said he does not expect the reign to last much longer for Boxing Bear.

“There were a lot of beers that were out there that I could recognize,” he said. “That’s amazing, that you have things that are just really good beers in this city. It seems to be about another year, maybe two … people get the idea of what you’re doing as far as local IPAs go. Then three or four years, everything flip flops. They’re not catching up yet, but they will.”

Congrats to Boxing Bear on its back-to-back victories! We look forward to the next NM IPA Challenge next year.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Party time with Great Divide in a couple weeks!

Lots of stuff can fall through the cracks as far as beer news goes, especially when an editor goes on a road trip, so here is pretty much everything I know we missed over the last couple weeks.

Anniversaries and grand openings and soft openings

Today (Friday) is going to be a busy one. First up, Chile Line Brewing is celebrating the official grand opening of its new taproom, which is right next to Pizzeria Da Lino, at 204 N. Guadalupe St. in Santa Fe. There will be live music, special food samples, and of course plenty of beer starting at 4 p.m.

Duel Brewing has been celebrating its fourth anniversary all week long in Santa Fe. The party comes to Albuquerque tonight at 8 p.m. James Whiton will bring his solo loop bass, with a number of burlesque dancers performing. All sours will be $1 off all night.

Also, a reader has informed us that Colfax Ale Cellars in Raton will be quietly having a soft opening. New Mexico’s northernmost brewery had hoped to open last fall, but hit a few more bumps in the road. At last, they will open today at 3 p.m. The Run to Raton Bike Rally & Car Show is also in town, so a lot of the motels are already booked. Take note if you plan to drive up, you will have to designate a driver. The grand opening date will be announced soon.

Exclusive beers en route

Our buddy Thomas DeCaro, now representing Great Divide, is bringing some special new IPAs to town for a two-night tapping at two locations. They will happen at Sister Bar on August 4 at 5 p.m., and then at Nob Hill Bar & Grill the following night. The beers en route are Hazy, a New England-style IPA, Tea Ski IPA, brewed with black tea, and All the Buzz Words, a special collaboration with Weldworks. ABW is described as a “kettle sour session New England-style IPA.” It debuted back at the brewery in Denver on July 1.

Boxing Bear to the Heights

We are working on a time to go more in-depth on this, but yes, it appears that Boxing Bear is the brewery targeted to move into the forthcoming taproom space being built at the new Snow Heights Promenade at Eubank and Menaul. Head brewer Justin Hamilton pretty much confirmed it to the Albuquerque Journal. That’s official enough for us.

More taprooms and breweries?

That mystery taproom coming to Menaul just east of Louisiana has now been confirmed as Broken Trail, which will have beer and spirits available (unlike just spirits at Green Jeans). Owner Matt Simonds asked us to keep quiet until it was more official, but the word got out and now we can say, yeah, that’s Broken Trail.

Elsewhere, Hollow Spirits, the new venture from former Red Door co-owner Frank Holloway, has a pending small brewer license as well. Taking a similar path to Broken Trail is not a bad idea.

Down south, Lost Hiker Brewing has a pending license as well. It will be located in Ruidoso Downs. That mountainous region also has the Glencoe Distillery and Brewery coming east of Ruidoso, and Switchback Brewery in Cloudcroft. Unlike the others, Lost Hiker does have a Facebook page so everyone can keep track of the progress.

* * * * *

That is all the news we missed (that we know of). As always, if you know anything you feel we and the craft beer community should know, drop us a line via social media or at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

 

Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s six breweries, one in Los Alamos, and one in Moriarty 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.

I am still on the road, so this will not be a long intro, but already looking ahead to this Saturday has me feeling more than a bit overwhelmed. First up, Boxing Bear is throwing its third anniversary party all day and night. Head brewer Justin Hamilton is out to destroy all palates with TKO Triple IPA, plus he has a bunch of barrel-aged beauties rolling out from the archives. Yours truly has yet another book signing from 2 to 4 p.m., this time at the Barnes & Noble at Coronado Mall. Route 66 Summerfest runs from 3 to 11 p.m., featuring a beer garden with multiple locals attending. This is a huge event that can really help the many businesses in Nob Hill who have struggled because of A.R.T. Oh, and then it is time for some serious metal with Hails and Ales IV at Tractor Wells Park. Local favorites Jagged Mouth team up with four other head-banging bands starting at 8 p.m. As the event page puts it best, “Beer and Metal. Deal with it.”

Oh, and at least Friday will be an easier choice, as the Desert Darlings are back at Tractor Wells Park with Hops & Dreams: Halloween in Summer Edition, starting at 8 p.m.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Ale Republic flies in with Parasol, a new lightly hopped ale. Boxing Bear is also socking your palate with Bear Knuckle DIPA, last year’s NM IPA Challenge winner, back on tap. Canteen goes big as well with Hop Baller IPA, plus Blood Orange Wheat returns. Flix Brewhouse sweetens it up with Tripel Whammy. Kellys embraces the hops as well with Mars DIPA. La Cumbre, on the other hand, goes sessionable with All That I Need Kellerbier. Marble now has Mango Gose on tap as it appears they will never run out of different fruits for their goses. Nexus has a nice, comforting Kolsch, plus big boys Double Bird of Prey IPA and Imperial Pilsner. Ponderosa’s Hoppy Pilsner hopped on tap at last. The Hibiscus Mojito and Belgian Blonde are already on tap at Rio Bravo, plus Cherry Wheat arrives on Friday. Starr Brothers has a fresh batch of Brown Chicken Brown Cow, plus Starrgazm 1.0 and Starrgazm 2.0 are available, giving you a flavorful look at the evolution of their big IPA. Steel Bender also has its NMIPAC entry on tap, Skull Crusher DIPA, in advance of hosting the final round on July 29. Tractor summons up a fresh batch of Ghost Ranch IPA. Turtle Mountain finally found room for Yum Yum OG on its tap line.

Up in Santa Fe, Duel has yet another new sour, Sans Titre, now available in advance of this Friday’s first anniversary party for the ABQ taproom. Second Street has the aptly named IPA Challenge IPA on tap.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of July 17.

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

Albuquerque metro area breweries

Ale Republic — (505) 281-2828

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

Beers: Golden Child, Brune, Citrus Pale Ale, Blonde, Strong Dark and Handsome, Red Mountain, Cafe Con Beer, Diablo del Oro, Parasol. The most recent additions were the Parasol (4.5% ABV, 20 IBU), Red Mountain (7% ABV, 100+ IBU), Cafe Con Beer (6.8% ABV, 12 IBU), and Diablo (9.7% ABV, 20 IBU), which is a hefty Belgian golden strong.

Alien Brew Pub — (505) 884-1116

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

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

Bistronomy B2B — (505) 262-2222

(Mon–Tues 4-9 p.m., Weds noon-9 p.m., Thurs–Sat noon-9:30 p.m., Sun noon-9 p.m.)

Beers: Contact the brewery for an updated list.

The Blue Grasshopper — (505) 896-8579

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

Beers: Hefeweizen. Rejoice, for Blue Grasshopper is brewing again! The Hefe is their first, with two more on the way in the near future.

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

Boese Brothers Brewery — (505) 382-7060

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

Beers: La Onza White Ale, Dr. Strangehop XPA, Duke City Lager, Washington’s Hatchet, Zeus Juice White IPA, Betchin Little Pale Ale, Cherry Bomb, Sour Relationship, Sour Strangehop. The Zeus Juice can also be purchased in bombers. Sour Relationship, a special collaboration with Milton’s, NM Cider Co., and Sidetrack, is now available.

Live Music: Friday—DJ Vettaluv, 9 p.m.; Saturday—Nathan Fox, 9 p.m.

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

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

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

Beers: Summer in Hallertau, Grasping at Straws, Bosque Hefe, Bosque Blonde, Mammoths on Parade, Challenge IPA No. 3, Don’t Call it a Comeback IPA. The Mammoths is the final entry in the Exotic Elephants series. The Comeback is Bosque’s NMIPAC entry.

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

Bow & Arrow Brewing — (505) 247-9800

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

Beers: Flint & Grit (British Mild), Sun Dagger (Saison), Crossed Arrows (Scotch Ale), Hoka Hey (IPA), Jemez Field Notes Lager, Wayward Arrow Hefeweizen, Radical Aim IPA, Sun-Bleached Berliner Weisse, El Breakfast Stout, Biere de Garde, Desert Dynamo IPL, Way Out West Farmhouse Sour. The newest additions to the lineup are Way Out West, Biere de Garde, Sun-Bleached, Desert Dynamo, and El Breakfast Stout. The latter is a spicy chocolate coffee stout, in case you could not guess by the name.

Happy Hour/Discounts: Bow & Arrow has happy hour every Monday through Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. Get $1 off pints. A new late happy hour starts Thursday at 9:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday at 10 p.m.

Boxing Bear Brewing Company — (505) 897-2327

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

Beers: Chocolate Milk Stout (also on nitro), Tropic Thunder IPA, Eastern Standard IPA, Bear Knuckle DIPA. The most recent additions are the Bear Knuckle, Tropic Thunder, and Eastern Standard (7% ABV, 40 IBU), a hazy New England-style IPA. Look for many more beers on tap for the third-year anniversary party on Saturday (see our intro).

Events: Saturday—3rd Anniversary Party, all day

Weekly Events: Today (Wednesday)—Geeks Who Drink, 8-10 p.m.

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

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

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

Beers: Otero ESB, Lone Pine Pilsner, Sancho Saison, Double Black IPA, Sancho de la Sierra, Pepe the Mule, Trailworks IPA. OK, fine, Pepe the Mule counts as a beer, even though it is basically a Moscow Mule, but it was made with beer. The Sancho de la Sierra is a rye version of the saison made in collaboration with Jubilation. The Trailworks was made in collaboration with Bikeworks, a neighboring business, with a portion of the proceeds going to trail maintenance in the metro area.

Weekly Events (main location): Today (Wednesday)—Cards Against Humanity hosted by 10 Drink Minimum, 7 p.m.; Sunday—Build-your-own Mule bar, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Tuesday—All house beers are $2 a pint

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

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

Beers: Exodus IPA, Grapefruit IPA, Tuttle IPA, Laid Back Lager, Hop Baller IPA, Social Capital, Blood Orange Wheat. The most recent additions are the Hop Baller and Blood Orange.

Live Music: Thursday—Julian Dossett Trio, 6-9 p.m.; Sunday—Roger Jameson & the Jaded Heart Band, 4-7 p.m.

Events: Monday—Brain Gang Trivia, 6 p.m.

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

(Open daily 8 a.m.–10 p.m.)

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

Chama River Brewing Company — (505) 342-1800

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

Beers: Deuces IPA, Ginger Braggot, Kolsch, Gose. The Deuces is a two-hop IPA, the first in a series, made with Amarillo and Simcoe. It tasted great at BearFest. The Ginger Braggot is a collaboration made with Blue Corn.

Dialogue Brewing — (505) 585-1501

(Open daily noon-midnight)

Beers: Belgian Citrus IPA, Berliner Weisse, Dark Helmet (Swartzbier), American Dark Sour, F yo Couch (Oatmeal Stout), Biere de Mars, Sour Raspberry, ODB Sour Brown Ale, Common Irish Conversation, Cordial (Tart Cherry Gose), Boyz N Berry N the Hood. The most recent additions are the Boyz, Cordial, Amber Lager, and F yo Couch. Yup, Dialogue is still winning on the creative beer name front. The CIC is a rye steam beer brewed in collaboration with Quarter Celtic.

Weekly Events: Monday—Service Industry Night, 6 p.m.

Drafty Kilt Brewing — (505) 881-0234

(Sun 11 a.m–10 p.m., Mon 11 a.m.–8 p.m., Tues–Thu 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–midnight)

Beers: Groundskeeper Willie Cream Ale, Wee Beastie Scottish Ale, McWabbit Pale Ale, Campbell Toe IPA, Obliviscaris Oatmeal Stout, McRojo or No (Irish Red). Brewer/owner Mike Campbell has five of his own creations on tap at 4814 Hardware Dr. NE, including the Campbell Toe (no snickering). The Obliviscaris is a burly throwback to the stouts of old. This weekend will mark the debut of Covfefe Hefe.

Live Music: Friday—Ryan Pemble, 6 p.m.

Weekly Events: Tuesday—Geeks Who Drink, 7 p.m.; Thursday—Blues, Brews & BBQ, 5 p.m.

Happy Hour/Discounts: $1 off pints and 20-ounce pours, Mon-Fri, 3-6 p.m.; “Just Because We Love You Club,” happy hour prices at all times for teachers, first responders, law enforcement, and military with ID; Growler Fill Days on Thu and Sun, $2 off new growlers, $1 off refills

Flix Brewhouse — (505) 445-8500

(Open daily 11 a.m.-midnight)

Beers: Baby You’re Much Too Fast (Irish Red), Gettin’ Caught in the Rain, Brewhouse Shandy, Tart and Soul (Guava Berliner Weisse), Killer Bee Honey Wheat, Tripel Whammy. Gettin’ Caught in the Rain is a pina colada wheat brewed in collaboration with Bosque. The most recent addition is the Tripel Whammy.

Kaktus Brewing — (505) 379-5072

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

Beers: German Porter, Lil Red, Cori and Her Wheat, German Pilsner, Helles Lager, Maibock, Honk Ale, Oaxford IPA, Walnut Cider, DjinnJar Kombucha. The most recent additions are the German Porter and Pilsner. Sounds like a hearty “Prost!” is in order.

Weekly Events (Nob Hill): Thursday—The Desert Darlings, 7-9 p.m.

Weekly Events (Bernalillo): Sunday—Brunch, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m., The Desert Darlings, 6-8 p.m.

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

Kellys Brew Pub — (505) 262-2739

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

Beers: (house) Apricot Ale, Blonde, Farm House Ale, IPA, Red, Scotch Ale, Session IPA; (seasonal) Hefeweizen, Farmhouse Apricot, Mars DIPA. The recent change in ownership at Kellys has led to some seriously improved beers and food, so we decided it was high time to add it to the listings. The summer seasonals are the Hefeweizen and Farmhouse Apricot, replacing the Rye Pale Ale and Dry Stout, plus now the Mars DIPA.

Live Music: Every Wednesday 6-9 p.m. and Sunday 3-6 p.m.

Happy Hour/Discounts: Thursday Pint night $1 off pints.

La Cumbre Brewing — (505) 872-0225

(Open every day at noon)

Beers: El Jugo, VMO #2, Hibiscus Quercus, All That I Need Kellerbier. The VMO #2 is a lovely Marzen. The Hibiscus Quercus and Persica Quercus are still available in bottles as long as supplies last.

Live Music: Saturday—Rudy Boy Experiment, 6-9 p.m.

Weekly Events: Tuesday—Trivia or Loteria (alternates by week), 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Lizard Tail Brewing — (505) 717-1301

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

Beers: Contact the brewery for an updated list.

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

Weekly Events: Tuesday—Geeks Who Drink, 8 p.m.; Thursday—Karaoke, 8-11 p.m.

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

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

Beers: DANG Pale Ale, Passionate Gose, Plum Gose, Cherry Gose, Wheels of Soul Pale Ale, Peach Gose, Mango Gose (Heights and Westside), Double IPA (Downtown only), White Out (Downtown only), Imperial Red (Downtown only), Grungeist Pilsner (Downtown only), Safe Word IPA (Heights only), Indiana Bone’s Raider of the Lost Ale (Westside only), Pilsner Anejo (Westside only). There are so, so many beers between the three locations. Don’t feel bad if you can’t get to them all. The newest additions are the Mango Gose and Safe Word IPA. For the Wheels of Soul Pale Ale, a portion of the proceeds will go to charity.

Live Music (Downtown): Today (Wednesday)—Groove Orient, 6-9 p.m.; Thursday—Uncle Lucius, 7-10 p.m.; Friday—The Jir Project, 8-11 p.m.; Saturday—The Dregz, 8-11 p.m.; Sunday—Picoso, 3-6 p.m.

Live Music (Heights): Friday—Todd Tijerina, 7-10 p.m.; Saturday—R.J. Perez, 7-10 p.m.

Live Music (Westside): Friday—Cali Shaw, 8-11 p.m.; Saturday—Julian Dossett Trio, 8-11 p.m.

Weekly Events (Downtown): Saturday—Brewery tours, 2 p.m.

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

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

Beers: Milk Stout, Beam Me Up Scotty, Kolsch, Double Bird of Prey, Imperial Pilsner. The most recent additions are the Kolsch, Double Bird, and Imperial Pilsner. So, basically, malty, hoppy, and big malty. We approve.

Happy Hour/Discounts (Brewery): Monday–Friday, $5 appetizers, 3-5 p.m.

Weekly Events (Silver Taproom): Saturday—a live DJ will perform; Sunday—a live band will perform at 2 p.m.

Palmer Brewery and Cider House — (505) 508-0508

(Tues–Sat 3–9 p.m.)

Beers: MWA (Malt With Attitude), Guero (Belgian Wit), Pale Ale, Cockness Monster (Scotch Ale), Palmergranite Wit, Cafe Pale Ale, Switch Stance Stout. Palmer shares a building with Left Turn Distilling on Girard south of Candelaria.

Ponderosa Brewing Co. — (505) 639-5941

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

Beers: Vic’s Secret Pale Ale, Hoppy Pilsner, Hop Burst Ale, Saison, Spanglish. Vic’s Secret was the most recent addition until Hoppy Pilsner finally hit the tap.

Live Music: Today (Wednesday)—The Draft Sessions, 7-9 p.m.; Saturday—Dos Gatos, 7 p.m.

Quarter Celtic Brewpub — (505) 503-1387

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

Beers: Denali SMASH Pale Ale, Mangose, Saoirse Hefe, Common Irish Conversation, Gondola Party Starter IPA, Blood Orange Hefeweizen. The CIC was made in collaboration with Dialogue. The GPS is a hazy New England-style IPA and back for another run.

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

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

Beers: Blackberry Hefeweizen, Dog Days Kolsch, White AF IPA, Rye Steam (downtown only), Open Saison (downtown only). The Dog Days Kolsch and White AF IPA are the most recent additions. The latter was brewed for NMIPAC.

Weekly Events (Brewery): Monday—The Draft Sessions, 7-9 p.m.

Weekly Events (Taproom): Tuesday—Geeks Who Drink, 7-9 p.m.

Rio Bravo Brewing Company — (505) 900-3909

(Mon noon–10 p.m., Tues–Thu noon–11 p.m., Fri–Sat noon–1 a.m., Sun 11 a.m.–10 p.m.)

Beers: Rio Bravo Amber, Weizen, Randy’s Shandy, Dirty Rotten Bastard IPA, Snakebite IPA, Roadkill Red Ale, La Luz Lager, Old Town Porter (regular and barrel-aged), Vanilla Porter, NM Pinon Coffee Porter, Oatmeal Stout, Barrel-aged Belgian Strong Golden, Level 3 IPA, Imperial Russian Stout (regular and barrel-aged), Lemongrass Wit, Peach Gose, Cherry Sour Kolsch, Hibiscus Mojito, Penguin Lager, Belgian Blonde. A portion of the Penguin Lager proceeds are going to the new exhibit at the ABQ Bio Park. There are now three barrel-aged beers on tap in the Porter, RIS, and Belgian Strong. Cherry Wheat goes on tap this Friday.

Live Music: Thursday—Melissa Rios, 8-10 p.m.; Friday—The Joseph General Band, 7:30-10:30 p.m.; Saturday—Horses for Heroes, 7-9 p.m.

Other Events: Thursday—Bike Night Fundraiser, 6-9 p.m.; Friday—Water Balloon Fight with 104.1 The Edge, 6 p.m., Headliners Comedy presents Friday Night Fools, 9:30 p.m.; Saturday—Poker Run for New Mexico Suicide Prevention, 3 p.m.

Weekly Events: Today (Wednesday)—Movie Night with Night of the Living Dead, 7 p.m.; Thursday—Girls Pint Out, all day; Sunday—Pints & Planks with Yoga Zo

Sidetrack Brewing — (505) 832-7183

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

Beers: Sidetrack Pilsner, Downshift Pale Ale, Switchgear IPA, Farmhouse Ale, Golden WHEELS Ale, Pub Ale, Railhead Red. The most recent addition is the Downshift Pale Ale. A portion of the proceeds from the Golden WHEELS Ale will go to helping the WHEELS Museum open its doors soon.

Cask: The Pub Ale and Downshift are in the firkins.

Live Music: Saturday—Sloan Armitage, 7 p.m.

Weekly Events: Tuesday—Taco Tuesday, all day

Starr Brothers Brewing — (505) 492-2752

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

Beers: Starrstruck IPA, L.A. Woman (Blonde), Red Zepplin, Lampshade Porter, Phantom Limb Black Rye IPA, Electric Sun American Wheat, C10H15N (Crystal Pale Ale), Starrphire Pilsner, Starrgazm IPA 1.0, Starrgazm IPA 2.0, A Roll in Ze Hay (Hefeweizen), Brown Chicken Brown Cow. A Roll in Ze Hay channels the best from Young Frankenstein. Try the two versions of Starrgazm side-by-side and see which you prefer.

Steel Bender Brewyard — (505) 433-3537

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

Beers: (house) Skull Bucket IPA, Red Iron Red, Sparkfitter Amber, Lloyd’s 3 O’Clock Kolsch, Blue Bullet Stout, The Village Wit; (seasonals/specialties) Misfitter Altbier, Goose is Loose Berliner Weisse, 505 Collaboration, Wheels of Soul Black (Hole Sun) IPA, Skull Crusher DIPA. Say hello to the Skull Crusher, SBB’s NMIPAC entry. The Misfitter returned by popular demand.

The 377 Brewery — (505) 934-0795

(Open noon-11 p.m. most days)

Beers: (house) 377 IPA, Dieterhosen Hefe, Project El CuCuy (DIPA), English Best Bitter, Fat Brown Guy (Porter), Red Horse NM Lager, Swartzbier, Red Rocket (Double Red); (seasonals) Black Ops Hops, Kolsch, Full Booty Stout (on nitro), Peach Wheat, Scottish Ale, Summer Saison, Plum Sour. Thanks to the magic of Untappd, we now have a breakdown of The 377’s beers. The Plum Sour and Summer Saison are the most recent additions.

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

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

Beers: Barnstorm Ale, Holstein & Hops, Minute-4, Cascara Cider, Apricot Wheat, Half Acre Hefe, Tupac Cali Red, Thai Basil Mint Cider, Berry Cider, Big Sipper IPA, Scout Golden Ale, Delicious Golden Dry Cider, Ghost Ranch IPA (Nob Hill only), Flanders Red Ale (Wells Park only), Milk Stout on nitro (Wells Park only). The Thai Basil Mint Cider was the most recent addition until Scout Golden Ale debuted and a fresh batch of Big Sipper IPA joined the list. Now Ghost Ranch IPA returns as well.

Live Music (Wells Park): Thursday—Live Country Karaoke, 7 p.m.; Saturday—Hails and Ales IV, 8 p.m.

Live Music (Nob Hill): Today (Wednesday)—Melissa Rios, 8:30 p.m.; Saturday—Russell James Pyle, 5 p.m.

Other Events (Nob Hill): Saturday—Craft + Beer: Tractor Crafternoon, 3 p.m.

Weekly Events (Wells Park): Tuesday—Kamikaze Karaoke, 7 p.m.

Weekly Events (Nob Hill): Today (Wednesday)—Writing Wednesdays, 5 p.m.; Monday—Tractor Tune Up, 7:30 p.m.

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

Happy Hour/Discounts: Tractor now has a late happy hour from 9 p.m. to midnight on Mondays with $2.25 classic beers and $3.25 seasonals.

Turtle Mountain Brewing Company — (505) 994-9497

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

Beers: Stuccon Saison, Lil’ Shelly (Pale Ale), Keller Collab, Yum Yum Colada, Yum Yum OG, My Kolsche. The Yum Yum Colada is a pina colada kettle sour. The My Kolsche and Yum Yum OG are the most recent additions.

Cask: Tuesday—HIPA Violation

Santa Fe breweries

Blue Corn Brewery — (505) 438-1800

(Open daily 11 a.m.–10 p.m.)

Beers: Hella Humulus Collaboration IPA, Ginger Braggott, Hefeweizen, Gatekeeper IPA. The Gatekeeper is Blue Corn’s entry in NMIPAC. The Ginger Braggott is a collaboration with Chama River.

Chili Line Brewing — (505) 500-7903

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

Beers: El Jefe (Rauchweizen), sIPApu (India Pale Lager), Antonio Bandito (Dunkelweizen), Llorona Lager, Pineapple IPA, Porter, Vienna Lager, La Bamba (Rauchbier), Stada Baba (Oak Smoked Polish Gratzer). The last five beers there are the most recent additions to the lineup, but more beers are on the way.

Live Music: Every night at 7 p.m.

Happy Hour/Discounts: Reverse happy hour after 9 p.m. includes $1 off pints, $6 appetizers, $10 entrees and pizzas.

Duel Brewing Company — (505) 474-5301

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

Beers: Bad Amber, Fiction (IPA), Oui Lourd, WWWMD (Barrel-Aged Whistler), Manikin (Scottish), Cezanne Origine, Ensor (Sour), Turncoat, Monomyth, Marcel, Sans Titre (Amber Sour). The Origine is the current spring saison from Duel. The Sans Titre, Turncoat (Sour Scotch), Monomyth (DIPA), and Marcel (Wit) are the most recent additions. The WWWMD acronym stands for What Would Whistler’s Mother Do.

Events (ABQ taproom): Friday—Anniversary Party with James Whiton, burlesque dancers, and $1 off sours, 9 p.m.-12 a.m.

Live Music (ABQ taproom): Saturday—J.J. Otero, 8-11 p.m.

Weekly Events (ABQ taproom): Tuesday—Bike-In Brew, 7 p.m.

Happy Hour/Discounts (Brewery): Happy hour Mon–Fri, 4-6 p.m. (discounts for all draft beer), Growler Saturdays ($3 off growler fills).

Happy Hour/Discounts (ABQ taproom): Happy hour Mon–Fri, 5-7 p.m.

Rowley Farmhouse Ales — (505) 428-0719

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

Beers: Fields of Rye, Saison du Sarlacc, Agent Scully – Season One, Episode Three (IPA),  Germophile (Berliner Weisse), Ab Initio with Apricot, Ab Initio with Boysenberry, Meier (Meyer Lemon Gose), No BU For You (Zero IBU IPA). The Agent Scully is a new series of IPAs which will vary by hop combinations. This is a new batch of Fields of Rye dry-hopped with Citra.

Santa Fe Brewing Company — (505) 424-3333

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

Beers: Freestyle Pilsner, Autonomous Collective IPA. We haven’t gotten an update from SFBC in so long we really have no idea what’s on tap at this point. We’re sure it’s good, but beyond that, it’s all a mystery.

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

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

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

Beers: Kolsch, IPA, Cream Stout, 2920 Pale Ale, IPA Challenge IPA, Boneshaker Special Bitter, Rail Runner Pale Ale, Rod’s Best Bitter. The most recent additions is the IPA Challenge IPA, which, let’s face it, is the most accurate name ever.

Live Music (Original location): Thursday—Eric & Lori, 6-9 p.m.; Friday—Alto Street, 6-9 p.m.; Saturday—Mystic Lizard, 6-9 p.m.; Sunday—Bluegrass Brunch with Kitty Jo Creek, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Live Music (Railyard): Friday—Jaka, 6-9 p.m.

Weekly Events (Railyard): Today (Wednesday)—Geeks Who Drink, 8 p.m.

Other breweries you need to visit

Bathtub Row Brewing — (505) 500-8381

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

Beers: The Tripel Lindy, Wit Rock, Crazy Mother IPA, Betty on Brett, Spearmint Stout, Jarrylo Pale Ale, Beedle’s Apple Ale, Catcher ‘n the Rye, Double Barrel Bourbon Brown. The most recent tap turnover went down in Los Alamos with Crazy Mother, Betty, Spearmint, Jarrylo, Beedle’s, and Catcher making their debuts. The Bourbon Brown (8.7% ABV) has now joined them.

Sierra Blanca Brewing — (505) 832-2337

(Mon–Thurs 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Fri –Sat 11 a.m.–9 p.m.)

Beers: Barrel-aged Whiskey Stout, Cherry Sour, Interstella Vanilla, Cherry Wheat, Single Hop IPA. The Whiskey Stout is back for a short time. The Cherry Sour is back for another run. Cherry Wheat is also now available in six packs.

* * * *

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The variety in beers is impressive this year!

As most of you should know by now, BearFest returns this Saturday, now at the Albuquerque Convention Center downtown. VIP entry is at 12:30 p.m., general admission is at 2 p.m., and it all runs until 6 p.m. General admission tickets are still available online and VIP tickets are still available at Boxing Bear.

Much like any other beer festival, the biggest question of all remains what brews will be available. Well, 15 of the 20 participating breweries sent us their lists, and if the other six get theirs to us, we will add them here right up until the doors open.

  • Ale Republic: TBA
  • Bathtub Row: TBA
  • Blue Corn: Ginger Braggot, Back to Cali Common, Hella Humulus Collaboration IPA, Imperial Chocolate Porter
  • Bosque: Lager, IPA, Hefe, Driftwood Oatmeal Stout, Blonde Ale, EOP Fruited Wheat Ale, Grasping at Straws Extra Pale Ale, All the Rage IPA
  • Boxing Bear: Body Czech Pilsner, HairyMit Hefe, Ambear Ale, Paw Swipe Pale Ale, Uppercut IPA, Standing 8 Stout, Apple Bear Cider, Chocolate Milk Stout, Blood Orange Pale Ale, Barn Burner Wheat IPA, Guava Gose, New England IPA, plus maybe one more
  • Canteen: High Plains Pils, Exodus IPA, Tuttle IPA, Strawberry Basil Gose
  • Chama River: Kolsch, Maibock, Gose, IPA special
  • Dialogue: Biere de Mars, Berliner Weisse, BC IPA, Sour Rapsberry
  • Flix Brewhouse: TBA
  • La Cumbre: Project Dank IPA, Strwaberry Gose, Elevated IPA, Slice of Hefen, BEER
  • Marble: Double White, Pilsner, Cranberry Gose, Flower Digger Pale Ale
  • Nexus: TBA
  • Quarter Celtic: Pedro O’Flanagan’s Mexican Lager, Mangose, Blood Orange Hefe, Crimson Lass, Gondola Party Starter NE-style IPA
  • Santa Fe: Long Game IPA, Hefe’d Up, Nut Brown, Pale Ale, Freestyle Pilsner (cans), Happy Camper (cans)
  • Second Street: 2920 IPA, Eldorado IPA, Red and Yellow Armadillo, Summer Rain Raspberry Sour, 2920 Pils, Civil Rye
  • Starr Brothers: Starrgazm IPA, Brown Chicken Brown Cow, Starrphire Pilsner, Bloodshot
  • Steel Bender: Skull Bucket IPA, Red Iron Red, The Village Wit, Lloyd’s 3 O’Clock Kolsch
  • Taos Mesa: TBA
  • Turtle Mountain: Yum Yum Colada, Can’t Catch Me, Lil’ Shelly, Hopshell IPA, My Kolsche

That is a lot of beer to try. If you like the hazy, New England-style IPAs, you are in luck as Bosque, Boxing Bear, Canteen, and Quarter Celtic are all bring their editions. Fans of sours and goses are clearly in luck as well. We are quite excited to try some of the new beers from Blue Corn (Hella Humulus and Imperial Chocolate Porter) and Second Street (Red and Yellow Armadillo is delicious), plus we await whatever Bathtub Row and Taos Mesa will be bringing.

Now, if you are wondering where Rowley Farmhouse Ales went off to, do not fret. The difference between them and the rest is their jockey box only has two handles, so they will be rotating beers on the second handle every hour or so. The Citra dry-hopped Fields of Rye will occupy the first handle. Here is the second handle pouring schedule.

12:30-2 p.m.: Meier (Meyer Lemon Gose)
2-3 p.m.: Germophile (Berliner Weisse)
3-4 p.m.: Reinheitsgenot (Lime Kolsch)
4-5 p.m.: Ab Initio dry-hopped with Citra/Mosaic
5-6 p.m.: Ab Initio with apricot

So, yeah, pucker up, people! It is gonna be a heck of a day.

And, remember, yours truly will be signing copies of Albuquerque Beer: Duke City History on Tap, over at the NM Brewers Guild booth. It is only $20, cash preferred.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

It’s time for the third edition of BearFest, only this time no one will get sunburned!

BearFest, the annual local-only craft beer festival hosted by Boxing Bear, returns for a third go-around this Saturday. The big change this year, besides pushing it back and away from ABQ Beer Week and Blues & Brews, is moving the fest out of the brewery parking lot to the Albuquerque Convention Center. Unless you are going to walk or bike to the event, leave the sunscreen at home!

The event will run from 2 to 6 p.m. for general admission, with a special 90-minute VIP period before that starting at 12:30 p.m. General admission tickets cost $25 in advance and can be purchased online here. They will be $30 at the door. VIP tickets can only be purchased in advance for $40 at Boxing Bear, going up to $45 the day of at the Convention Center.

To get the full story behind the change, I sat down with Boxing Bear head brewer/co-owner Justin Hamilton and general manager John Campi on Monday afternoon.

“A good thing for us will be that this has been a rain-or-shine event the previous two years and it almost got rained out the first year, we’re going to have a good attendance and a good time, either way,” Justin said. “That’s going to be one of the first things that’s a plus for us. But, I think that as far as what we’ve done in the past that we’re going to continue, and we’re going to expand on a few different things. We have 20 breweries, we have three wineries and two distilleries.”

The breweries, in alphabetical order, are Ale Republic, Bathtub Row, Blue Corn, Bosque, Boxing Bear, Canteen, Chama River, Dialogue, Flix Brewhouse, La Cumbre, Marble, Nexus, Quarter Celtic, Rowley Farmhouse Ales, Santa Fe, Second Street, Starr Brothers, Steel Bender, Taos Mesa, and Turtle Mountain. The wineries are Black Mesa, New Mexico Hard Cider, and St. Clair, while Left Turn and Santa Fe Spirits are the distilleries on hand.

As John noted, the entire event is “100 percent local to New Mexico.”

“Yes, that’s another thing we really want to push here is that this is an absolute local event,” Justin added. “There’s no outside distributors. There’s no random (anything). This will all be from New Mexico, beers and vendors. It will be nice to share some of the other breweries that a lot of folks haven’t been up to see, (like) Bathtub Row and Rowley Farmhouse Ales, a lot of these guys are definitely part of that brewing community that a lot of the Albuquerque scene doesn’t get out to get and see.”

The vendors on hand will all be local as well, ranging from New Mexico Flameworks to Metal The Brand to YogaZo to Mother Road Mobile Canning. The New Mexico Brewers Guild will have a booth, of course, and a certain local author will also be on hand to sign and sell copies of his book, Albuquerque Beer: Duke City History on Tap, for $20 apiece (no, I will never stop with the shameless self promotion at this point).

Gamers Anonymous will have a booth as well, with video games for patrons to play, ranging from Street Fighter to GoldenEye to Mario Kart and more. Unlike last year, when it seemed like the chairs were half in the sun all day, it will all be inside and air conditioned. There will also be a cornhole tournament thanks to the owner of The Local Brewhouse, who donated his boards for the day.

There will be a charity that will benefit from the event as well.

“This is a benefit for the Animal Humane Society,” John said. “Animal Humane will be split into two sections. They’ll have a little adoption booth, if possible with actual, live puppies there. Then we’re going to have a booth set up with a little game (washer toss) and people will pay a dollar or so. That money will go directly to Animal Humane. They can win a prize, and I think every brewery is going to pitch in a shirt or a hat or something.”

Local bands will include Isaac Aragon during the VIP-only time (12:30-2 p.m.) and Pawn Shop Poster Boys after that. Another band is also expected to be announced soon.

“That and it will be nice that our music will have an actual audio guy this year,” Justin said. “Last year we were leaving it up to the bands, which isn’t a problem as far as the audio itself goes, but as far as the setup of the audio we hope to have seamless music throughout the event. Last year we had these breaks between our VIP and our start. We want people to be able to hear music (as they come in).”

The beer, though, is the biggest draw. The Crew should have full lists for all attending breweries no later than Thursday, but a few special beers of note have already been listed by Boxing Bear on Facebook.

  • Blue Corn, thankfully, goes to the dark side with Imperial Chocolate Porter.
  • Bosque is expected to bring a new variant in their Elephants on Parade specialty series.
  • Canteen will debut their Strawberry Basil Gose and bring back Tuttle IPA, a hazy New England-style hop bomb.
  • La Cumbre is bring Strawberry Gose and the latest batch of Project Dank.
  • Marble counters with a Cranberry Gose. Yes, there is a gose theme here.
  • Quarter Celtic has Mangose (yup, theme) and a new Blood Orange Hefeweizen.
  • Rowley Farmhouse Ales is bringing six beers, each of which will be served at special times (see our next story Thursday for that serving schedule).
  • Second Street will tap Summer Rain Raspberry Sour.
  • Starr Brothers is brewing a special batch of Starrgasm IPA just for the festival.
  • Turtle Mountain will have Yum Yum Colada and Lil Shelly Pale Ale.

Unlike other festivals, this is not an unlimited sampling event. VIP and general admission both get four 4-ounce samples and one full pint for free. Additional samples and/or pints can be purchased from the breweries.

“Most breweries, we kind of leave it up to them if they want people to purchase a sample or not,” Justin said. “Last year, just about every brewery was up for it, so my guess that will probably be the thing. Every now and then you’ll see a beer where if it’s a high-end beer or if it’s in a bottle, it’s just not going to be available for sample, which is understandable. I would say almost everything is going to be available for sample and purchase. We definitely don’t want to limit on what people are able to try, but what we want to do is not just turn it into a free-for-all.”

While bigger packaging breweries can often write off free samples as a marketing expense, that is almost impossible for the smaller brewpubs. This helps the breweries not feel as if they are giving away nothing but free beer.

“It’s one of those things where if we put multiple good breweries into a caravan (and) not only show them a good time, but if they get a little something back, they’re going to consistently show up every year for us,” Justin said. “That way we always get the best local breweries showing up consistently every year, which is great for the consumers. That was the original BearFest idea was going for, it’s for the patrons, it’s for the breweries, and it’s for everyone in between.”

Putting BearFest in a more convenient location is another way for Boxing Bear to give back to the patrons and attending businesses.

“It will also be in a nice central location, which is another good part about the Convention Center,” Justin said. “Other than competing with other festivals that were going on, it’s hard getting people to come across the river for anything. It will be right in downtown where people know, with quick access to (two freeways). Uber and Lyft, no matter where you are in the city, it will be probably be pretty affordable, and we always encourage that.”

For those looking to bike over, take note of your options in the area.

“Last year we did a bike valet,” John said. “We were unable to get that this year. The valet company had a prior event. However, there is still ample bike parking. Right now the Plaza is under construction and they have Third (Street) blocked off on both ends, but the Plaza is actually gated off because they’re doing the Shakespeare events with bike racks. There’s hundreds of spots over there.”

The Crew always encourages everyone to travel safely and responsibly to and from beer festivals.

We will have those full beer lists on Thursday. After that, we will see you at BearFest!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister