Posts Tagged ‘Canteen Brewhouse’

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

It was a big year for Albuquerque's oldest brewery.

It was a big year for Albuquerque’s oldest brewery.

Canteen Brewhouse has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the back room of the Il Vicino in Nob Hill in 1994. This year marked some big changes for the oldest brewery in Albuquerque, ranging from the opening of its first taproom to canning its beers and earning another major medal to add to its long list of awards. To recap it all, and to look ahead to what is in store for 2017, I sat down with head brewer Zach Guilmette at the end of last week.

“It’s tough to put it into a little nutshell, but it was a pretty exciting year for us,” Zach said. “Starting right off the bat for me, I arrived (back) here January 4. World Beer Cup (entries) were due one-and-a-half months later, or two months later. We sent the High Plains Pils, which is a Bohemian-style Czech pilsner. Just winning that silver at the World Beer Cup this year was just an amazing way to start the year off.”

That WBC medal was a great start to things for Zach, who had previously worked as an assistant brewer at Canteen before leaving to take over at Chama River. After Brady McKeown departed to open Quarter Celtic last fall, Zach returned to run the show.

“There was a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of motivation here,” Zach said. “For me, it was just fun to be back, because the culture, the people here were still the same. It’s just a really nice place to brew, a nice place to have a beer, the customers are just really fun to hang out with.”

Brewers Doug Cochran, left, and Zach Guilmette react at Canteen after learning their High Plains Pils won a silver medal at the World Beer Cup.

Brewers Doug Cochran, left, and Zach Guilmette react at Canteen after learning their High Plains Pils won a silver medal at the World Beer Cup. (Courtesy of Brad Weddell)

Even as the dust settled from the WBC, there was more to do for the Canteen staff.

“After the World Beer Cup, of course, the next focus, the next major event is the New Mexico IPA Challenge,” Zach said. “Actually, before that, in April we started our canning run then. We were in cans with Exodus IPA and Dougie Style Amber. That was a big change for us to see our beers in cans around town, and up at the Triangle Grocery in Cedar Crest for me, which is fun to drive down the street and buy a six-pack of the beer I made.”

Canteen in cans proved to be a hit, bringing their beer to new customers around the city and state. It also helped further spur the decision to add a second Canteen location on Tramway.

“Following the canning run, opening a taproom in August,” Zach said. “The taproom opened and that’s just been a huge push for us. That part of town with Four Hills and off Tramway, being on the east side has been good for us. That whole market … for me, I almost recognize everybody who drinks here. It’s fun to say hi and talk to them. When I went up there, I didn’t recognize many people. That was nice. It’s a whole new group of people trying out Canteen beers and getting to know us.”

The Canteen taproom on Tramway has brought in many new customers.

The Canteen taproom on Tramway has brought in many new customers.

In between the canning launch and the taproom opening, there was that matter of the NMIPAC. The final round was held at Tractor Wells Park in July and featured the closest finish in the history of the event. Boxing Bear won with 81 votes, followed by Canteen with 79 and 3 Rivers with 68.

“That was a big one, I enjoyed that,” Zach said. “We all had fun. We finished second by just a handful of votes. This year I thought it was the best lineup of IPAs from the brewers that we have ever seen. So, much like the competition is getting tougher across the nation, right here at home the competition is getting tougher. It’s just fun to see that all unfold.

“Hopefully we’ll win in 2017. It’s always tough. Finishing second is nice, but nobody remembers who finished second. I really can’t tell you who finished second the previous four years.”

As for the brewery itself, there were no major changes or additions of equipment in the back. Out front, though, two new beer programs started.

“We started a nitro program here in the last year as well,” Zach said. “I’ve been happy with that. That’s been fun trying different beers. People are willing to try anything on nitro. IPAs on nitro are a big hit. It’s been fun to see that. I think a few years ago people didn’t drink anything on nitro besides dark beers. People are trying saisons and all sorts of stuff on nitro.”

The crowds are still buzzing around the original taproom.

The crowds are still buzzing around the original taproom.

December saw the introduction of a new style at Canteen, one that Zach hopes will catch on in popularity.

“The other thing for me is bringing sours here,” Zach said. “We’ve got Social Capital sour, which for me is going to be a revolving sour. The malt bill won’t change. We brought that on at the end of this year. We’ll bring it back every few months, and bring it back with a different version. The beer itself will maintain a similar characteristic. The first one was dry hopped. The one we’re releasing (Friday) will be Social Capital with dark sweet cherries aged on French oak. The third one coming out in the spring, early spring will be orange peel and coriander, brewed with a Belgian yeast strain. For the next year, it will be fun to play around with that one, keep reinventing it.”

That figures to be a major theme in 2017, experimenting with different beer styles and having fun. There are no major construction projects in the works. Zach noted that there has been talk in the past of adding a full kitchen to the original location, but nothing recently, so if it ever happens it will not be for some time. There will be one new piece of equipment coming to the brewery.

“We’re bringing that 30-barrel fermenter in, just to help expand our canning,” Zach said. “I hope that next year we continue to see more IPA and amber in cans selling around the state. Right now we’re talking about introducing a third and maybe a fourth canned beer. Really, that’s just beginning. That conversation is just starting. Some of the ideas we have are spring and summer seasonal cans, then bring out another canned beer for the fall and winter season, or having a third that sells year round. All of us, our owners and managers will get together and decide what works best.”

Exodus making its, um, exodus from Canteen in can format! (Photo courtesy of Canteen Brewhouse)

More canned Canteen beers should be coming in 2017. (Photo courtesy of Canteen Brewhouse)

Let it be known that the Crew will vote for Panama Joe in cans. Or, just having that on tap more regularly. Speaking of regular beers, there are no plans to change anything in the core lineup right now, but Canteen will be adding another semi-regular beer soon.

“We’ll release Canteen Lager in a couple months,” Zach said. “That will be a German pilsner. It will be kind of a pseudo house beer like the Irish Red. It will come out every few months. If we had the fermentation capacity I’d love to have both all the time. Whenever we can fit it in, it will definitely be on.”

Zach noted that “2016 was the big year where everyone decided to push and grow,” but that 2017 looms more as a year to get back to basics and have a little fun. All of us in the Crew have been having fun at Canteen for many years now, and we look forward to a lot more in the coming year.

Oh, and before I forget, today (Monday) marks the arrival of Solstice Blackout, the annual awesomeness of five selected dark beers for just $5. This year the lineup will consist of Dark & Lusty, Smoked Oat Porter, Operation Black Hops IPA, Panama Joe, and the special Mexican Chocolate Panama Joe on nitro. See you all there later today!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There were tough calls all around on this tray.

There were tough calls all around on this tray.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Let's get this thing started!

Let’s get this thing started!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hello, happy beer lovers!

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

DSC_0098

So many hops, so little time.

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Always good to see a familiar face.

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

DSC_0115

Cheers to that!

DSC_0124

It’s a meeting of directors past and present.

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Ride on, beer lovers!

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Now that's a party!

Now that’s a party!

Oh, Nob Hill. You wonderful little place, except for your lack of parking. Home to three taprooms, several beer bars, and that place with the nice patio. This Saturday, it will also be home to one small-but-awesome event, and one very large event. Then comes Tuesday, with another small-but-awesome.

First up, Ballast Point will be celebrating their 20th anniversary locally at Nob Hill Bar & Grill. As the beer list above shows, they are bringing out all the big guns available this time of year. The real highlight is the collection of five beers from their R&D team. The Schwarzbier and DIPA caught our eye, while the Tripel could be a beast. All of that taps starting flowing at 1 p.m., so stop in, grab lunch, and then consume. Just do so quickly, because Saturday is also …

Route 66 Summerfest

The biggest of all the Summerfests is the one in Nob Hill, and it begins at 2 p.m. There will be three stages for music (find the full list here on Facebook), including one in the Cork & Tap area, where local breweries and wineries will be pouring their finest. Cork & Tap will be located at Central and Montclair, which is two blocks west of O’Niell’s.

This is not a sampling event. You get a wristband with the ID check, head in, and pay for your beers. Please drink responsibly. Traffic getting in and out of Nob Hill will be about 10 times as bad as normal, and expect a heavy police presence for your safety.

Nine breweries were listed by the City of ABQ as attending, but Abbey Brewing will not be there. Of the remaining eight, seven got us their lists. If the other one happens to share between the time you read this and Saturday, we will update their list.

  • Boxing Bear: Uppercut IPA, Hairy Mit Hefe, Ambear, Cider, Bearzen, New Mexikolsch, Chocolate Milk Stout
  • Broken Trail: Lone Pine Pils, Otero ESB, Sancho Saison, Pepe the Mule (not a beer, but we will list it anyway for them)
  • Canteen: TBA
  • Kaktus: GuyPA (IPA), Redcard, Dunkelweizen
  • La Cumbre: Slice of Hefen, Elevated IPA, Malpais Stout, Fievre d’Abricot, ‘Merica, Red Ryeot
  • Marble: Double White, Pilsner, IPA, Red Ale
  • Red Door: Roamer Red, Threshold IPA, Vanilla Cream, Unhinged Cider
  • Santa Fe: Autonomous Collective DIPA, Pale Ale, Java Stout, Freestyle Pilsner, Nut Brown, Hefeweizen

The nice thing here is that some of the breweries are not just bringing their usual house beers. Boxing Bear is bringing their award-winning Chocolate Milk Stout, plus the new New Mexikolsch. Broken Trail has their new Sancho Saison (we approve of the name, Matt). Kaktus plucked three current favorites from their constantly rotating taps. La Cumbre has current seasonals ‘Merica, a pale ale, and Fievre d’Abricot. Red Door has their summer-friendly Vanilla Cream. Santa Fe rolls out a hop bomb in the Autonomous Collective. Cheers to all of those!

And, of course, you can always duck into Bosque, Kaktus, or Tractor for fresh beers on tap. With air conditioning. Yeah, they will all be pretty crowded until the sun goes down.

But wait, there is more …

Welcome to New Mexico, Firestone Walker!

We will drink them all. ALL.

We will drink them all. ALL.

At long last, FW arrives in our fair state. This Tuesday, Nob Hill Bar & Grill will once again host a potentially epic launch party starting at 5 p.m. If you fall in love with some of those beers, go load up the trunk the following day when they go on sale at Jubilation.

First, though, that list … Parabola. PARABOLA. PARABOLA ON TAP. PARABOLA ON TAP IN ALBUQUERQUE!!!!

Ahem, yes, well, one of my all-time favorite barrel-aged imperial stouts is worth celebrating. Yet there are also the Double Jack, Wookey Jack, Nitro Merlin Milk Stout, and that 19th Anniversary behemoth. Bring lots of friends with you so that you can all try as many as possible. Then get an Uber.

UPDATE: As for the Jubilation list, we just got it from our own Adam Auden, the wonderful beer manager — Union Jack, Easy Jack, Wookey Jack, Luponic Distortion, DBA, Pivo Pils, Opal, and the variety 12-pack. There might be an extra special or two that made it on the truck, but we will have to wait and see.

So, yeah, parking be damned, scorching weather be damned, it is gonna be a fun stretch in Nob Hill. See you all out there.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

This year's many, many IPA entries.

This year’s many, many IPA entries.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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

Now that looks like a relaxing place to enjoy a pint outdoors.

The Sierra Blanca Beer Garden will be packed this Saturday for their 20th anniversary party.

Sierra Blanca Brewing is celebrating their 20th anniversary this Saturday with a big party at the brewery in Moriarty. From 2 to 9 p.m., the beer garden will be hopping (pun intended) with live music, food trucks, a kids zone, and more.

There is a $5 cover, but kids 12 and under get in for free. Dirty Modine and Stanley Cattle Guards will provide the musical entertainment. All of the Sierra Blanca, Rio Grande, and Alien beers will be available, plus a few special surprises, including the Whiskey Barrel Aged Stout.

Head on out there Saturday and wish the entire staff a happy anniversary!

New taprooms update

Good news on the taproom front, Red Door will be opening their downtown location next week. Yours truly will have an advance look at the place, so look for some pics and more info on Monday.

For those who may have forgotten, the taproom will be located in the lobby of the Simms Building at 4th and Gold. The grand opening will be Thursday starting at 11 a.m.

As for the other taprooms, there is nothing official on opening dates yet, but both Canteen (I-40 and Tramway) and Marble (Montgomery east of Eubank) have said they hope to open by the end of July.

New breweries update

Construction continues at Dialogue Brewing near downtown. (Photo courtesy of Dialogue Brewing)

Construction continues at Dialogue Brewing near downtown. (Photo courtesy of Dialogue Brewing)

There are still 12 breweries on the way with the small brewer licenses pending with the state. First, for the ABQ-area breweries, here are the latest tidbits we know.

  • We shared the link from ABQ Business First last week about Flix Brewhouse, which is making progress on the West Side. They are still a long ways from opening, but certainly there is already a lot of excitement, judging by everyone’s reactions to the post. When we know more about the specific brewing aspects, we will share them.
  • Drafty Kilt, formerly OffKilter, is getting close to opening. Mike Campbell, formerly of Tractor and Cazuela’s, will be ready to brew as soon as all the permits come through. We hope to get a tour soon.
  • There is nothing new on the Nob Hill-based Hops Brewery, nor the Steel Bender Brewyard in the North Valley. Neither has any significant online presence yet, so we have to guess they are further away. Ditto The 377 Brewery near the Sunport.
  • Progress continues on Dialogue Brewing on 1st Ave. north of Marble. They have had a lot of pictures of their progress in construction, but it does show they are still a ways from being open.
  • New to the listings for pending licenses is the Bombs Away Beer Company. We have searched for more info, but come up empty. All that is known is that it is somewhere in the 87123, which could put it up near the Foothills and the Canteen taproom, or it could be the fabled Four Hills brewery that folks have been whispering about for a while. If anyone out there has contact info for this new endeavor, please send it our way.
  • Palmer Brewery and Cider House has an active license now. We were told they are not at fully brewing capacity yet, but some of their beers are being tapped at Left Turn Distilling.

As for the breweries outside the ABQ metro area …

  • Construction progress continues at a good pace for Ale Republic in Cedar Crest. We figure a fall opening is likely, though they could surprise us.
  • Sleeping Dog Tavern in Santa Fe has now applied for a small brewer license. We will try to find out more on their plans, see if they are going small like Chili Line or aiming for something bigger.
  • Route 66 Junkyard Brewery in Grants is still aiming for a July 1 grand opening. There is a story in the Gallup Independent, but it is subscriber-only, so we can’t share the link.
  • Milton’s Brewing in Carlsbad is inching closer to opening. Their small brewer license is active, so now it is just a matter of finishing the buildout and getting the beer flowing.

That is all from us for this week. Check back next week when we should have some more substantial info on the new brewer at Blue Corn, updates on the progress of Second Street’s new brewing facility, and more.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

One IPA to rule them all!

One IPA to rule them all!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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

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

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

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

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

Good beer to your right!

Good beer to your right!

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

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

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

Happy beer drinkers as far as the eye could see!

Happy beer drinkers as far as the eye could see!

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

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

Higher Scores

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

Lower Scores

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

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

The food lines got a bit long.

The food lines got a bit long.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

— AmyO