Posts Tagged ‘Boxing Bear Brewing Co.’

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

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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

Congrats to Tractor for winning gold for Farmers Tan Red!

The results of the 2017 North American Beer Awards arrived today and five New Mexico breweries have combined to win eight medals.

Tractor Brewing won two gold medals, with Berry Cider taking the top prize in the Fruit Flavored Cider category. Farmers Tan Red Ale earned top marks in the Scottish-Style Light, Heavy and Export category.

Santa Fe Brewing brought home a gold for Happy Camper in the English-Style IPA category. It also earned a bronze in the English-Style Old Ale category for Chicken Killer Barleywine.

Dialogue Brewing earned a silver for Biere De Mars Attacks in the Biere de Garde category. The Berliner Weisse snagged a bronze in the Continental-Style Wheat Ale category.

Boxing Bear nabbed a bronze in one of the toughest categories, American-Style IPA, for Uppercut IPA.

Flix Brewhouse also picked up a bronze in the Belgian-Style Wit category for Luna Rosa (misspelled Luna Mosa on the awards list).

Congratulations to all the breweries! We will follow up with them next week.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

These were some seriously happy brewery staffers after they brought home a fairly major award.

The Boxing Bear team came home from the 2016 Great American Beer Festival with two gold medals and one major award, Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year!

At long last, our Look Back/Look Ahead Series entry for Boxing Bear is complete. Stoutmeister and I sat down with head brewer Justin Hamilton a while back to discuss the Year of the Bear, when the beers and the medals and the awards flowed endlessly. We then looked forward to all that is to come in 2017.

Solo: We’re here again, how is this a year?

Justin: Oh, man, where do I start?

Solo: Well, I remember where we left off.

Justin: Well, it’s obviously been an absolutely insane year for us. Starting early in the year with the North American Beer Awards, moving into the National IPA challenge, then moving into World Beer Cup, then moving into (the New Mexico) IPA Challenge and to GABF. It’s been great. Obviously it’s been pretty crazy and we’ve just been happy with our ability to keep up, not only locally, but nationally with what’s been going on in the beer scene for a while. First of all, to do well, that’s what every brewery wants is to get some accolades, but the fact that we were able to do it in our second year of being open, I mean we just had our second anniversary in July and turned around and got Mid-Sized Brewers and Brewpub of the Year in October. We couldn’t be happier with our run over the last couple of years.

And, when we left off talking last year we were saying that we had that silver medal from GABF for the Chocolate Milk Stout and we wanted to continue progressing. Well, we turned around and won gold for that at World Beer Cup, and then turned around and won another gold for that at GABF. It’s pretty awesome, that beer alone has done us really well, but the fact that we were able to show people that we weren’t just this one-trick pony, that’s one of the best things that we gained out of 2016. That people know that you make a great sweet stout, but you also know we can make an awesome IPA and you also know that we can make a double red ale now, and that they are worth coming out to drink. I think that’s been something that has done wonders for our image and our business in general. It’s been awesome for us. So, we’ve had a pretty good time, it’s been good to show people what we’ve been amping up for and totally keeping our nose to the grind. Our staff is really committed to quality and I think we kind of showed Albuquerque and the world that. That is our goal.

Solo: Quality, responsible growth, and all of those things paying dividends on the groundwork that you laid. All of the equipment additions and all of the logistics.

Justin: Yeah, I think the thing that’s made 2016 interesting for Boxing Bear is that we’ve been growing accolades, but it’s interesting to (still) see us as a young brewery. We’re kind of doing this weird thing where we are growing as a pub and as a presence at the same time. We did a lot of improvements on our pub and our patio this year. Since we opened, gaining the money for five new TVs, gaining the money to work on our patio, it’s nice to get the pub and everything else up to par where we originally wanted it to be. Not to mention, we are still working on that stuff, we are constantly reinvesting all of our money into either pub or brewery equipment.

It’s interesting to see that varied on if you compare us to someone maybe like Marble, who (won) Small Brewery of the Year two years ago. They were pretty established by the time they got that. Maybe it is a pretty similar kind of thing, progress not only in the beer but offering something to the community. It would be different if we opened our doors and people knew we had good beer, but we really didn’t put much into the front of house or the experience we are offering our customers. It’s kind of been a weird thing to try and grow those at the same time. I think that’s something that’s always on everybody’s mind. For the fact that we were so successful as far as accolades go, it kind of increases the pressure on us needing to make sure that the pub is to par with what people expect out of a craft brewery and out of a brewpub. That’s been one of the hardest parts for us is finding the money to make the improvements that you would expect from someone who has the caliber of beer that we do. But, dealing with a large pub, dealing with the money issue, trying to get the money to make the pub look nice and all of that stuff, it’s like these little steps. So, a big part of 2016 has been that growth on both ends. It’s like burning a candle at both ends and trying to meet in the middle somewhere.

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

Boxing Bear claimed its first New Mexico IPA Challenge trophy back in July.

Stoutmeister: I know when you guys first opened you had some issues with the front of house staff, this year Albuquerque the Magazine gave you, sharing with Marble, staff of the year. That has to also be a bit gratifying.

Justin: It’s a big thing for us knowing that we are looking at issues between management, staff, and ownership. What can we do better? What are the parts that are going to make us (better)? We know we’ve got good beer, that’s for me and my brew staff to worry about continuing with and growing. But, we also know that we have had issues with serving like everybody has, or just education of staff or getting everyone on the same page. So, it’s definitely been good to reaffirm that our hard work that we’ve been doing, like we said, front and back of house has been paying off a little bit. People have been noticing that when we try to give excellent service that even our cooks are talking to the customers about beer and it’s stuff that we try to take pride in.

We try to make sure that everyone on staff is willing to go that extra mile, and that’s definitely something that is not easy. It’s hard finding competent staff, and also people that are willing to work very hard and have the same passions for beer that you do even when they’re not making the beer like you do, they are just serving it. But, I think that we’ve hopefully found that balance point and that’s what we want to continue to do is to be educating our staff who will educate the public that will come back to us. We want to continue having the best staff we possibly can.

That’s constantly on our mind, how the pub is doing, what’s going on in the pub, how are people seeing us. We take reviews on Facebook and Yelp and all of that stuff really seriously. Unfortunately, a lot of people that do reviews do it only if they have a bad experience, but when that happens we try to address it. We try to talk to people, we try to let them know, hey, give us another chance, what the issue was, we can fix that. That’s always an important part of any business is customer relations.

Solo: I’ve noticed a definite uptick in bicyclists coming here over the summer, myself included, and it’s nice to see that initial vision coming to fruition.

Justin: Yeah, and that goes back to making improvements, that’s something we’ve always wanted to do and you’ll probably see that in the spring or summer (this) year is working on increasing that local traffic. And, we get so much from bike traffic. Every day I see a team of bicyclists riding through our parking lot and half of the time they stop here. Those are all things that we are aware of. We need more bike racks, we need more of an ability to chain your bike up, because we do get a lot of lot of that traffic. We have a horse hitch back there, which is great for some people. We knew when we opened that we were going to have to appease the bike crowd and that is something that we are still working on, actually. Putting it all together, then finding the funds to do that when you’re trying to find the funds to grow your brewery.

It’s this wild game of chess; it’s like playing chess with 30-some odd people all involved. It’s like a weird, terrible game of Risk where you’re moving these pieces and looking at what everybody else is doing, where you make one wrong move and you could just get wiped off the board, regardless of product. We are constantly analyzing the market and trying to figure out what’s our niche, what’s our next move, and it gets a little tiring, honestly. It’s hard to stay relevant in a world of huge craft brewing dominance. We’ve had a great year, but we don’t want to sit back and be comfortable and relax at this point. We want to progress even farther, whatever that means. Whether it means not winning medals, but knowing that our quality products are out there and people are enjoying them, that means almost as much as any medal does. So, it’s trying to find that fine line, but we definitely are making those adjustments, I think.

The second annual BearFest was a big hit.

The second annual BearFest was a big hit.

Solo: So, this year’s BearFest versus last year’s BearFest.

Justin: We had similar issues with volume where we got a little bit better. We expanded it enough to where we were able to grow a bunch. We added more vendors, more food trucks, so it worked out really well. I think last year’s BearFest, being that it was our first year, we had little issues like bathrooms, where we didn’t know how many we should have. Going into this year we said let’s triple that amount and I never saw a line this year. I think we’re getting better at understanding the little things. I’ve been doing beer festivals for the last 10 years of my life and I have an idea of how they should go, but it’s the little things like that that you don’t really understand. Do we have enough food trucks? Do we have enough bathrooms? Do we have enough tent space or enough tables to sit at so that people can enjoy their food? That’s all stuff that we had a better idea of and it was a little bit more work, but I think it paid off.

It was again one of those events where we pulled (in) a lot of people here from all over the city, people that wouldn’t even necessarily come to the brewery if they had the time. So, it’s nice to swing that crowd over on this side of town. I saw a lot of people that I’d seen here maybe once before if that. So, it’s always a good opportunity to bring people over here. I think we did a pretty good job this year. It was bigger, and we’ll see what happens with next year and how we decide to proceed with that.

Stoutmeister: In terms of the back, how many pieces of equipment did you guys upgrade this year?

Justin: Oh, man, so we added this last 20-barrel fermenter and a 20-barrel server that we just got. For reference, we’ve never had equipment that we’ve put in right into use that quickly. I mean we literally turned around, we’re brewing right into that thing the very next week, which is fine, but it’s not a position we’ve been put into before. We’re already looking into where our next purchases will be because we know that we are in our slow season right now and come March, April, May of (this) year it’s going to be another game of where we are going to be placing those investments. More than likely you’re going to see more brewing equipment and front of house renovations, all stuff that hopefully we will have the cash for to procure.

Stoutmeister: Of course the other big development that’s still ongoing is back there (the space formerly occupied by Southwest Grape and Grain). So, what all is going on back there?

Justin: We are going to be doing a few things. Our front of house kitchen, which is pretty small, we are going to be moving a lot of that stuff to the back. This is going to allow us a little more room up front and we might be putting a small cooler for bomber sales (it is now in place) and things like that in there. One of the best things that’s going to happen back there is having more cold storage space. That’s what we are putting together now is that we will have an extra cold room back there, which is mainly going to be a wholesaling cold room so that we can start stocking regularly. Once that’s built, we will have the ability to do bombers on the regular.

Right now, the storage issue is the biggest thing for us because if we produce a pallet of bombers, that’s going in our cold room next to all of our beer, next to our servers and hops and stuff. It’ll be nice to be able to have a variety of bombers, maybe one or two different styles at any given point, and also have plenty of kegs for our wholesale guys to move and the extra storage for hops and everything else we need to store cold will be a huge step for us in 2017. So, the kitchen back there, some cold room space, we’ve already got some offices back there, so that’s pretty much what’s going to happen with that. That’s our goal for next year is to try to put out bombers on the regular at least once a month if we can, of a variety that people will hopefully like.

The triple punch of Chocolate Milk Stout, left, Bear Knuckle IPA, and The Red Glove.

The triple punch of Chocolate Milk Stout, left, Bear Knuckle IPA, and The Red Glove.

Stoutmeister: A major question I’m always getting for you guys, especially since GABF, is when are you going to open a taproom on the east side?

Justin: That’s something we’re definitely looking into. Like I said, it’s this game of chess. We want to open a taproom, but we want it to be a proper taproom. We don’t want to just settle for a space, we want to make sure that it’s got everything we need, that it’s got parking, seating, and a good location preferably on that side of town. That being said, where do we find this place, how do we find the money to capitalize on that? We also know that once that happens our production is going to go way up. So, it’s preparation for all of that stuff, going back to that cold room, that’s going to really help with that. I think it’s all stuff that our customers and patrons (and) fans will see.

I can’t necessarily say it’s going to be 2017, but it is definitely something that we are constantly looking at, when to make that move. It’s more of a matter of when, as opposed to if. We look to the other breweries that have been in similar positions to see what their moves are. I’m not necessarily saying that we will follow them, but it’s interesting to see Bosque’s taproom’s evolution to a production facility. Similar? That’s potential. Who knows? Maybe we open a production facility before a taproom, or it’s both, I don’t know. We want to be sure that we’re making the right move. I don’t want to be stuck in a building that won’t move traffic, or we can’t get parking. We got really lucky when we found this building and we really liked it and it’s an amazing spot, so we want to do the same thing with a taproom.

Stoutmeister: Anything else that’s coming up on the schedule for 2017?

Justin: There’s so much going on, honestly. We want to show people that, yeah, we had a great year in 2016, but we don’t want to just sit back and be complacent. We want to continue securing our spot locally, nationally, internationally as some of the best beer there is out there. That’s my goal, that’s the goal of the back of house and the front of house to educate and to really hone in on what Boxing Bear is. 2017 is going to bring some interesting changes. I think you’re going to see a lot of the newer breweries getting settled a little better. Places like Quarter Celtic are going to start shining and finding their spot. I think a lot of people that weren’t wholesaling are going to start wholesaling, so the fight for tap handles out on the market is going to be fierce.

So, that’s something we are going to be addressing in 2017 is how do we continue to gain tap handles in such a fierce market. It’s probably going to entail seeing a lot more of our award-winning beers on the regular. You’re probably going to see more Chocolate Milk Stout, more Red Glove in production. That’s something we want to gear towards is that we’ve got these great award winners, and now we have just got to keep them out on the market as much as possible. Normally we would try to fit Chocolate Milk Stout or Red Glove in where we could, but we are going to start scheduling it (and) saying we need to have a batch a month or every other month at the least. Those beers that people really want, that we’ve done well with, will be more readily available. The people that are coming in from out of town looking for our taproom or our handles will be able to try the beers that we’ve done well with.

Stoutmeister: So, if you like this, well, try this kind of mentality.

Justin: It’s been one of those plays with supply and demand that we’ve been working on and we want to stay relevant, but we also need to give people what they want. Trying to play the market man, it’s a wild game out there. Our ability to put out the beers that we are known for and keep us relevant in people’s eyes and keep accounts active and happy too, that’s a lot of it, is making people happy.

Solo: Feed them beer, they will be relatively happy.

You had one job for this photo, Jeff. One job! At least it was safe at the brewery.

Boxing Bear’s Justin Hamilton, center, shows off his gold medal from the World Beer Cup with Nexus’ Kaylynn McKnight, while poor Jeff Erway left his back at La Cumbre.

Justin: We’re not going to have World Beer Cup again this year because it’s every two years. We’ll be back entering North American Beer Awards and the IPA Challenges again and the local IPA Challenge and GABF again. We’ll be keeping our hands full. Sometimes when I look into the future I can see January and then February kind of fades off, so we will figure out February in January. Then again, when I see people like La Cumbre and Marble who are like, 2017? Here’s our lineup of our beers and what we’re going to have. But, then again, we don’t have that solid of a reputation to put out a rotation beers like that. Those guys have their repertoire and their ability to put out specials and know that people are waiting to buy those specials as well.

That’s something that I myself want to work on in the coming years, is having that ability to look (ahead) six months, almost a year ahead of yourself. What styles are people looking for? What do they want to see as far as a packaged product? What do they want to see as far as specials that we have on tap or what your pub’s doing, what events are going on? I can do beer every day of my life, and I can get better at it, and I can hone in on that stuff. But, the front of house stuff, and the marketing and the ability to pull (in) a customer on the regular and make them happy regardless of quality of product, that’s really hard.

I give props to Marble, Bosque, La Cumbre, and those other guys that are able to kind of handle that, and it seems seamless with them. That’s all stuff that we look towards and are wanting to hone in on that, the ability to get that. It’s really hard, the marketing aspect of it, the advertising aspect of it. That’s stuff that people dedicate their lives to. And I just make beer. We are really happy with where we are now. It’s a matter of keeping that relevance and keeping our nose to the grindstone.

* * * * *

‘Twas indeed an excellent Year of the Bear all around, and we certainly look forward to increased availability of bombers, and the prospect of constant innovation of what wonders might appear on the Bear’s taps this coming year. Another BearFest on the horizon certainly whets my appetite on my birthday weekend, and the prospect of a taproom whenever that happens will certainly be a boon to the growing rumblings of the Bear. We hope for an equally productive year ahead as behind, and I would say this to those who may not have tried the brews at Boxing Bear: You simply don’t know what you’re missing!

Skål!

— Franz Solo

Our sixth annual Stout Challenge brought about a sixth different winner.

Our sixth annual Stout Challenge brought about a sixth different winner.

Amid all the seriousness of the weekend, the Brew Crew was still able to gather to hold our annual Stout Challenge before the start of the Super Bowl. While the game featured an improbable rally by the favorite, our blind taste test featured an upset by one of the newer breweries in town.

For the sixth time, we have a new winner. A past winner came oh-so-close to becoming our first two-time champion. We structure the event similar to the IPA Challenge, but with variations. We go around the day of the event, fill our half-growlers (or full growlers for last year’s top finishers), and then bring them to Franz Solo’s house. Our friend Margaret then pours them into numbered glasses out of sight, and we try them one by one, rather than put all on a tray. We take notes and score them from zero to five points in the categories of aroma, flavor, mouthfeel, and finish, and add them up.

We were short quite a few Crew members this year. Illness knocked out Brandon, Luke, and Shawna. E-Rock was unable to make it back from his musical adventures in Texas in time. Shilling was studying. Porter Pounder was on the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise again. Thus, only myself, Franz, Mrs. Solo, Kristin, and guest judge Tim (Margaret’s husband) were available.

Also, after reporting 16 stouts Friday, we ended up two shy, as Bow & Arrow did not open until it was too late for us to pick up their Storm & Hearth, and Twisted Chile was unable to deliver their Irish stout from Socorro.

As always, these are our opinions. We could be wrong.

14. Cazuela’s Beer for my Horses (19.5 points): This was the only truly disappointing stout among the batch. The flavor was almost sour (my opinion) or salty (Franz’s opinion). It was too thin in the mouthfeel. We have no idea what happened with this batch.

13. Santa Fe Dysphotic Stout (45.5): None of us disliked this robust, almost hop-forward stout, it was just that when stacked up against a field of mostly oatmeal variants, it stood out almost as more of a black IPA than anything. Basically, it is a stout that stands alone in the current available field in the ABQ metro area.

12. Rio Bravo Oatmeal Stout (46): While it did not move up in the standings that much, Rio Bravo’s entry scored much better this time around. The aroma scored the highest, with some mixed feelings on the flavor and mouthfeel. Overall it just came off as a bit light for what we look for in a stout.

11. Boxing Bear Standing 8 Stout (47.5): Every year there seems to be one of the top stouts from the previous year that falls way down the ladder. The main complaint here was in the bitter, overly smoky flavor, aroma, and mouthfeel. It was similar to Dysphotic, but with more malt and less hops.

10. Bosque Driftwood Oatmeal Stout (48): We found this batch to be a little on the thin side, with the most negative marks coming in terms of its mouthfeel, or lack thereof. The flavor was good, quite a bit sweet up front, but it faded pretty quickly.

9. Turtle Mountain Stauffenberg Stout (52.5): This was the first stout we sampled, so in many ways, it served as the base line for all that followed. In general everyone liked it, though it was noted as being just a tad short in all four categories. Still, we would call it perfectly drinkable.

8. Sidetrack Stoker Stout (53): A significant improvement on their stout from last year, this batch was quite a bit smokier and more roasted. Those were probably the biggest attributes, good or bad, with our voters.

7. The 377 Full Booty Stout (56): The top word used to describe our newest brewery’s oatmeal stout was “dry,” which accounted for much of the flavor and mouthfeel for folks. Some scored that well, others did not. The thickness of the mouthfeel scored the highest with most of us.

6. Chama River Sleeping Dog Stout (58): The 2016 champion could not pull off the repeat. The flavor and aroma this time around was sweet, with a pronounced vanilla element, but otherwise it lacked enough mouthfeel and overall complexity. It remains quite good, but not quite on par with last year.

5. Marble Oatmeal Stout (59): If there is a stout deserving of the title of “old reliable,” it is our 2012 champion, which still ranks among the best in town. There was a sweet, almost vanilla flavor and aroma at the front. The mouthfeel and finish saw some contrasting opinions with the five of us.

4. La Cumbre Malpais Stout (61): Unlike most La Cumbre beers, this did not have much of an aroma to draw you in. It did have a smokier, heavier flavor, scoring highest in mouthfeel and finish. The 2013 champion remains one of the best in town, though it is definitely not for those who like their stouts sweeter.

3. Canteen Dark n’ Lusty Stout (62.5): No stout has yo-yoed up and down more in our Stout Challenge the last six years than Canteen’s staple. It has finished seventh (out of eight), fifth (out of 10), 10th (out of 10), second (out of 14), 11th (out of 14), and now it’s third. This batch had a lot of chocolate flavor. It was sweet and solid, but just lacked the flavor complexity to claim its first title.

2. Tractor Double Plow Oatmeal Stout (70): My personal favorite in the bunch, it came up just short of being our first two-time winner (2014 was its previous victory). That cookie dough-like flavor was back at the front, with lots of chocolate up front and hints of smoke on the back end. The mouthfeel was solid throughout.

1. Starr Brothers Foggy Monocle (71.5): First Stout Challenge, first victory! Brewer Rob Whitlock said he actually prefers his Roisin Dubh, an Irish dry stout, to this. Guess he will have to change his mind now. The flavor (roasty coffee) and mouthfeel (thick and creamy smooth) scored especially high with our group.

We will have our Stout Challenge helmet trophy ready soon to be presented to Starr Brothers. Congrats to Rob and their entire staff!

As always, here are our individual point totals for each beer, to see where we agreed and disagreed on each.

  • Stoutmeister: 1) Tractor 13.5, 2) Chama River 11, 3) Canteen 10.5, 4) La Cumbre and Marble 9.5, 6) Boxing Bear and The 377 and Starr Brothers 9, 9) Bosque 8.5, 10) Sidetrack and Turtle Mountain 8, 12) Santa Fe and Rio Bravo 7, 14) Cazuela’s 3
  • Franz Solo: 1) Tractor 16.5, 2) Starr Brothers 16, 3) Canteen 15.5, 4) La Cumber 15, 5) Boxing Bear and Sidetrack 13.5, 7) The 377 12.5, 8) Chama River and Turtle Mountain 12, 10) Marble and Santa Fe 11, 12) Bosque and Rio Bravo 7, 14) Cazuela’s 3
  • Mrs. Solo: 1) Starr Brothers 16.5, 2) Tractor 15.5, 3) Canteen and Sidetrack 12, 5) La Cumbre and Marble and The 377 and Rio Bravo 11, 9) Bosque 10.5, 10) Chama River and Turtle Mountain 10, 12) Santa Fe 7, 13) Boxing Bear 6, 14) Cazuela’s 4
  • Kristin: 1) La Cumbre 16.5, 2) Starr Brothers 16, 3) Marble 15, 4) Chama River 13, 5) Rio Bravo and Turtle Mountain 12.5, 7) Bosque 12, 8) Boxing Bear and Canteen 11.5, 10) The 377 and Tractor 11, 12) Sidetrack 10.5, 13) Santa Fe 10, 14) Cazuela’s 5
  • Tim: 1) Starr Brothers 14, 2) Tractor 13.5, 3) Canteen 13, 4) The 377 and Marble 12.5, 6) Chama River 12, 7) Santa Fe 10.5, 8) Bosque and Turtle Mountain 10, 10) La Cumbre and Sidetrack 9, 12) Rio Bravo 8.5, 13) Boxing Bear 7.5, 14) Cazuela’s 4.5

Once again, these are just our opinions. We invite everyone to go out and try all these stouts, whether it’s for the 100th time or the first time. Our local breweries are doing a great job with the darker side of beer, and we couldn’t be happier on the whole.

We will have more on the weekend’s serious news about Senate Bill 314 and the contentious town hall meeting on Tuesday, once we put everything together.

Until then, keep supporting local breweries!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Taos BMF 2014 Pic 6

We sent Luke up to the Brewmasters Festival in Taos a couple years ago. He had a whole lotta fun!

Happy cold, gray Thursday everyone. If you need some light back in your life, there is some good news for this weekend. The Taos Brewmasters Festival kicks off Saturday at the Ski Valley, marking its 21st annual running below the slopes.

Normally, the festival is held in December, but it was pushed back this year due to a lack of snow on the mountain above. Plus, the decision was made to no longer have the spring-time beer festival, but rather have just one fest. This one kicks off at 4:30 p.m. and runs until 7 at Tenderfoot Katie’s and the Martini Tree Bar, both of which are located at the base of Lift #1. It costs $30 at the door and you receive a complementary mug.

While plenty of you love to go skiing and snowboarding, we know ultimately that it is the pull of the beer that can be the deciding factor. Take note that this year’s fest is populated by a lot more out-of-state breweries brought in by their local distributors. There are not nearly as many breweries from Southern Colorado as in the past, as only Steamworks and Carver made the trip from Durango (neither is distributed here in NM, FYI).

The other out-of-state breweries are Alaskan, Boulder, Deschutes, Firestone Walker, Founders, Four Peaks, Full Sail, Left Hand, Mother Road, New Belgium, Odell, Oskar Blues, Sierra Nevada, Upslope, and the Craft Brew Alliance, which we think is that collection of breweries from the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii that is partially owned by the Evil Empire (InBev).

As for the locals, a total of 10 New Mexico breweries will be present. Here is what they are bringing, as reported to us by the breweries themselves:

  • Boxing Bear — Iron Lung Smoked Porter, Standing 8 Stout, Paw Swipe Pale Ale
  • Chama River — UPDATED: Class VI Golden Lager, Sleeping Dog Stout
  • La Cumbre — TBA
  • Marble — Double White, IPA, Priddy Bueno Porter, Spruce Moose
  • Red Door — Gateway Blonde, Calypso SMaSH, Strong Scotch Ale, Paint it Black Milk Stout
  • Santa Fe — UPDATED: Chicken Killer, Java Stout, Pale Ale, Happy Camper, State Pen Porter, SF Gold, Nut Brown, Black IPA, Adobe Igloo, plus two bottles to be released at different hours of Single Barrel Sour, and two bottles of Lemon Skynard also to be released at different hours
  • Sierra Blanca — TBA
  • Taos Mesa — Kolsch 45, 3 Peaks IPA, Tap Dance Barley Wine, BBA Black Diamond Export Stout
  • Three Rivers — TBA
  • Tractor — Farmer’s Almanac IPA, Farmer’s Tan Red, Mustachio Milk Stout, Delicious Red Apple Cider

Marble’s Tony Calder pointed out that this will mark the debut of Spruce Goose, a new stout made with (you guessed it) spruce tips. The Priddy Bueno just went on tap recently at the Marble taprooms here in Albuquerque as well. Iron Lung returned to Boxing Bear late Wednesday.

If any of us in the Crew were able to head up this weekend, we would also be making a beeline for that bourbon barrel-aged Black Diamond Export Stout and the Tap Dance Barley Wine at Taos Mesa’s booth. I suppose we will just have to hope they bring that down for WinterBrew in Santa Fe on Jan. 13. (Please? Pretty please?)

Of course, skiing/snowboarding and then drinking on an empty stomach would be a terrible idea. Five local restaurants — Bavarian, Blonde Bear Tavern, Medley, Rhoda’s, Sagebrush Inn — will be providing food during the festival.

Keep an eye on the weather, of course, but otherwise if your weekend is lacking in anything to do, we would definitely suggest a trip up north to try some quality brews in a beautiful setting.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister