Posts Tagged ‘Chama River’

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

If they can stuff that many bicycles under the grain silo, surely they can find more room inside for barrels. (Photo courtesy of Chama River)

It was another solid year for one of the oldest breweries in town. (Photo courtesy of Chama River)

Editor’s note: Franz Solo did a slew of interviews in recent weeks for our Look Back/Look Ahead Series. Then it was just a matter of finding the time to transcribe and type them up. With the briefest of openings in his schedule, he was able to complete Chama River’s entry. Look for his stories on Boxing Bear, Quarter Celtic, and Turtle Mountain in January. — S

A simply delectable Monday afternoon brought me back to old haunts just east of the northern Rio Grande valley, which nurtured and crystallized this entity which am I here and now. Chama River was, in fact, the first craft brewery I ever ordered a flight from back in the day when Chama was under the Blue Corn label and I was a student up in Santa Fe. How much has changed in what seems like a heartbeat? I was privileged to enjoy a pint of dunkelweisen in the company of head brewer Andrew Krosche.

Andrew: So, to look back, I’d say we had a really awesome year. We updated and changed our facility to try and bring our beers up to a modern market. Most of my time has been spent in rebuilding the facility one piece at a time, upgrading parts. So, that’s been really fun. It is nice to see where we were and compare it to now. We have gone leaps and bounds. I’m at just a few really large purchase items, all the little upkeep and the parts and the upgrades are there. I’ve pretty much handled all of them. It will just take a few months to get the few big-ticket items, which will be great.

Solo: What are you looking to get as far as big-ticket items?

Andrew: I’d like to upgrade our chiller (wort chiller for the uninitiated – Solo) and I want to redo our draft system.

Solo: All of the above would definitely help. How long has the draft system been in?

Andrew: Honestly, I don’t know. So, we are waiting for the funds and the proper timing and I’m hoping we can do it. It’s getting very positive feedback from corporate, so I feel that it is something in the immediate future.

Solo: It is nice to see a bit of a turnaround from the past, having these same beers (with only minor discernible changes) on tap, when now you have a bit more freedom.

Andrew: It’s awesome, it is almost 100-percent mine. Unless I want to literally take a beer off of the house menu, I really don’t need approval for the changes. Which (the house beers) I don’t mind, I like the group of six. So, all I really did was, on the other side of looking back, I kind of re-formatted the recipes to bring them to a more competitive modern market. So, I kept the styles, kept the names, I just made them a lot more aggressive and with bigger flavors.

Solo: Which is exactly what a lot of us are wanting these days.

Andrew: So, it’s especially one of those things looking back when people say, ‘Well, you only have two specials on? No! Try the house beers! Those are my specials!’ You know, that’s a year’s worth of a project. And, I’m really happy with them. There’s one or two that I’m still tweaking here and there, but there’s four for sure that are locked down and I love the way they are coming along.

Solo: That’s good to hear, it’s been a while coming for sure.

Andrew: Yeah, and like I said, corporate has been very happy, likes the results that I’ve been pulling. The relationship is awesome. I know there has been some history (with other brewers), but I have nothing but good things to say about the relationship I’m having with them.

Brewer Andrew Krosche has taken the reins at Chama River.

Andrew has spent much of this year upgrading the equipment around the brewery.

Solo: Plans for the coming year?

Andrew: The coming year there are two immediate ones, something I did work on some months back but, they’re aging. In January, I will be releasing our big winter release, it’s going to be an imperial Baltic porter on oak. It’s been probably aged on oak spirals for four months now.

Solo: That should impart some good flavor, for sure.

Andrew: Yeah, 10-percent (ABV), solid, it’s really good and I’m loving it. It has already happened.

Solo: Nice and smooth?

Andrew: It is incredibly creamy, black as night. It is very fudge-y, and then it’s got this nice, sharp, black cherry to it on the back. And, obviously you are going to have that warming feeling from the alcohol, and then the oak is going to bring in some vanilla. It’s actually kind of funny, you know, I wanted to do an imperial stout and I said, ‘You know what? Everyone has got a winter imperial stout, so maybe I’ll do an imperial porter.’ And then, everyone is doing a porter this year, so it’s like, ah, you know, whatever. It is my first Baltic porter as well, so it was very exciting to see it come to fruition in a very positive way.

Solo: Yeah, it’s the Russian imperial of lagers. So, what else did you have in barrels?

Andrew: So, in February, which is the other project, that one will have been eight months in the barrels. I will have the heavy cream ale in tequila barrels. I tasted them a few months behind and I said I want to put this out, but you know what, let’s give this that extra four, that’s going to be twice as good. So, that’s turning out really nice too.

Solo: Any other major plans for the year?

Andrew: For the year brew-wise, mainly working towards improving some of the house beers. I’m looking to definitely improve my results from the IPA Challenge, which was not the best (Chama did not qualify for the final rounds). I wasn’t really happy what had come out, but you know, hey, I thought the beer was solid, but I obviously wasn’t aggressive enough. So, I’ve taken that and I’ve put a lot of effort into creating a really big, competitive, double IPA. I will probably be brewing my next version since the IPA Challenge maybe the end of this month. So, it should be something to come out maybe in February, end of (January), we will see. I’m looking forward to that. I’ve learned a lot since then from changing the Jackalope, so I’m feeling very confident about this new whack at the double IPA.

Solo: Always improving, that’s all you can do.

Andrew: I was really happy with some of our lager specials this past year, so once we get further into the year, your traditional maibocks and your Oktoberfests, that kind of stuff, I’m really enjoying those, so I will absolutely continue with those.

Solo: I for one love having these craft lagers everywhere, it’s amazing.

Andrew: I’m one of the few who has the facility to do it, so I’m going to do a lot of them. That’s one of my focuses, actually. I love lagers and they are fun, and so we will absolutely do it. We will also bring back a winter kettle sour. I’ve heard a lot of people asking and we just haven’t had time, because we were like mad men trying to keep up with the demand of our Draft Stations. And, with Kellys also pulling, it’s also another big account, so I want to take care of us before I start trying to push the envelope. But, after this week we are going to be so incredibly caught up and routine is solid that I’ll be able to do a kettle sour and sacrifice the two days to make sure that it is done right. I think there will definitely be a winter style göse, and then maybe some sort of winter warmer kind of thing.

Solo: Anything else for this year?

Andrew: You know, I’m not sure. We’ve done so much this past year, so I don’t know what we have planned for the future.

Solo: Kind of keeping on keeping on?

Andrew: I’d like to expand distribution. I’ve got new tap handles, not the old ones, brand new with a totally new design, (which is) something else I’ve been working on. So, when those come in is when I’ll start hitting more of the market, hoping to have Chama as a competitor, something people can see in bars, and I’d like that. So, I’ll definitely be focusing there. I think that’s really my big one for the future is increase in market, increase in distribution, and, uh, grab that double IPA.

The stouts at Chama were top-notch in 2015.

The more dark, heavy, winter beers, the merrier the Crew will be!

Solo: And then, we have our Stout Challenge again this year. (Chama River won the last one.)

Andrew: I love brewing stouts and it’s one of my favorites. And, the stout that’s on right now is just ridiculous. (Agreed, get Sleeping Dog either on nitro or standard, it is excellent all around. – Solo) So, that’s one of our dialed in recipes that I hit just after we came back from GABF. So, this is the brew right after I submitted and I went ah, I wish.

Solo: So, try it again next time.

Andrew: Yeah, no big deal.

Solo: Throw in some lagers that you have and ah.

Andrew: I did compete with a rye maibock, I sent that one in aged six months, went on to the final round, but there were better examples. Honestly, after drinking it because I kept a whole bunch of spares to taste it, I looked at the notes and across the board I know exactly where we fell short. So, I feel incredibly positive and confident about it for next year.

Solo: That’s awesome. If you can’t learn something from your batches, then you’re doing something wrong.

* * * * *

For Chama this was a year of overall improvement of house beers across the board, married to upgrades and improvements aimed at thrusting Chama River back into the current fray, so to speak. I urge you, my beer-drinking, blog-reading aficionados, to head out and give these brews a fresh tasting, which I hope will be as worth your while as it has been mine. I for one look forward to the coming year for Chama, from the forthcoming Baltic porter to the double IPA to the tequila cream ale, something surely for each and every discerning palate. I’m definitely a lover of all things lager when done right, and so far Andrew has hit the mark far more often than not. So, when you chance to head out to see the latest glorious entry into the Star Wars saga or by whatever winter wind may draw you Chama’s way, enjoy the fruits of a long and hard year’s work, for the proof is in the pint.

Prost!

— Franz Solo

From left, Stoutmeister, Shilling, Franz Solo, and E-Rock gathered for the first Beer Battle back in February on Super Bowl Sunday.

We have come a long way, added more members, and more facial hair, since we started writing about beer in 2012.

A little while back, well, five stories ago, we hit our 1,000th post here on this site. There was no celebration or anything, but it was a bit of a milestone. We have written a lot about beer the last four-plus years, and we plan to keep this thing going as long as we are able to devote the necessary time and energy, and as long as all of you keep drinking and reading. Thanks, everyone, from the brewery staffs to their customers, for making it all possible.

Now, all that being said, we have a whole lotta news items to get to, much of which pertains to this weekend.

Get your collaboration on

Quarter Celtic brewer Brady McKeown told us that he had a collaboration beer on deck a little while ago. Then, long after The Week Ahead in Beer was published, he remembered to let us know that today (Friday) will mark the debut of this new creation. Quarter Celtic and Chama River brewed up a Belgian Strong Ale that checks in at 11-percent ABV and 30 IBU. It will be available on tap at both locations all day today and then until the supply runs out.

Make sure to head over to either place and order a pint. It is always a good thing to see our breweries collaborate. We need more collaborations, but they will only happen if the sales justify making them.

Also, don’t forget that today features $3 pints of Oktoberfest over at the Santa Fe Brewing taproom at Green Jeans. And conveniently, SFBC is located in between Chama and QC!

Toast of ABQ beer lists

Five local breweries are participating in the Taste & Toast of ABQ at Uptown on Saturday. The event costs $20 per person and gets you 10 samples from participating restaurants, vendors, and breweries. Ultimately they want you to buy pints, so make sure to support the breweries this way. It’s OK, because the food lineup is potentially tremendous. Local favorites like Artichoke Cafe and Cocina Azul will be there, along with Chocolate Cartel, Villa Myriam Coffee Roasters, and Uptown-based restaurants like Elephant Bar and Marcello’s. The whole thing is a fundraiser for charity, too.

Over on the Toast side, there will also be a couple wineries and Broken Trail will have their spirits available. Here are the brewery beer lists, or at least those who provided theirs (if the others send us their lists, we will update).

  • Kaktus: Helles Lager, Scotch Ale, Honk Ale, and one more TBD
  • La Cumbre: TBA
  • Marble: Double White, IPA, Pilsner, Red Light Lager, Galaxy Pale Ale
  • Quarter Celtic: Pedro O’Flanigan’s Mexican Lager, Rye’t Side of Dublin, Crimson Lass Irish Red, Quarter Porter
  • Tractor: TBA

The event runs from noon to 5 p.m. You can purchase tickets online in advance.

Brewery space available

Speaking of Villa Myriam, they recently outgrew their original business space at 2420 Midtown Place. Thus, the real estate agent looking for a new tenant sent us an email asking if we knew of any new breweries looking for a location. (Yes, we were surprised at this, but why not share it?)

It is about 4,800 square feet, occupying Suites F and G. There are already floor drains, cold storage, a drive-in bay, and more. Anyone interested can contact Riley McKee at Maestas & Ward at (505) 878-0001.

And another anniversary

Lizard Tail turns two this weekend, an anniversary we almost missed. They will be celebrating all day Saturday. The Black House Angels will provide the music at 8 p.m. Beyond that, we would suggest anyone interested contact the brewery for more details.

Beer festival news

There are two major upcoming beer festivals with Hopfest set for Isleta Casino on Aug. 27 and then the Mountain West Brewfest returning to Bernalillo on Sept. 3-4.

For the latter, they released their list of attending breweries. MWBF is no longer associated with the NM Brewers Guild, and thus, the lineup is missing some major names. Who is scheduled to be there? Albuquerque Brewing, Bosque, Canteen, Enchanted Circle, Firkin, Kaktus, Palmer, Ponderosa, Rio Bravo, Sandia Chile Grill, Santa Fe, Starr Brothers, and The 377 Brewery are planning on attending.

So who is not there? Well, the big ones are obviously Boxing Bear, Chama River, La Cumbre, Marble, Nexus, Quarter Celtic, Red Door, Tractor, and Turtle Mountain from the ABQ metro area, plus Bathtub Row, Blue Corn, Duel, Second Street, and Taos Mesa from outside the metro area (as breweries that frequently attend fests). This will give some of the less-well-known breweries a chance to strut their stuff, plus newcomers like Enchanted Circle (which opened in Angel Fire in April) and the forthcoming 377 figure to draw long lines of curious folks.

Still, it is a bit of a disappointment in how many breweries bailed out on what was once promised as the largest beer festival in NM history.

Meanwhile, the actual largest, Hopfest, is adding a new feature this year. The Brewers Guild Sensory Analysis Seminar will be hosted by our friend Angelo Orona of Craft King Consulting. This half-hour course will take place at Hopfest at 3:30 p.m. (the whole event is 2-6) It will cost an extra $10, and tickets are limited, but they will benefit the Guild and our breweries. You will get a thorough overview of beer styles and flavors, plus you will get to see what an off-flavor kit can do to beers so you can better understand what you should and should not be tasting. You will get a special sample of Sierra Blanca Whiskey Barrel-Aged Stout and a commemorative 13-ounce glass.

New breweries update

Here is the latest news on the breweries that are coming to New Mexico in the next few months. Those without a city/town listed are in ABQ. We only included breweries that have officially applied for a small brewer license.

  • Ale Republic (Cedar Crest): They reported on Facebook that they have all five Bernalillo County permits. Now they just await their small brewer license and a health permit. They are also hiring servers, so contact zach@alerepublic.com.
  • Bombs Away Beer Co.: We still know nothing about this brewery beyond the name on the application. Anyone out there got info?
  • Colfax Ale Cellar (Raton): Here is a link to our recent update on Raton’s first brewery.
  • Dialogue Brewing: They have a ton of construction photos on Facebook right now, so progress is continuing. There is no set opening date yet (probably a smart thing).
  • Drafty Kilt Brewing: They officially changed the name (it was OffKilter, but that was already taken). By the pictures on Facebook, it looks like their final construction is near completion. We project a fall opening.
  • Flix Brewhouse: Construction continues on the West Side movie theater with a brewery. They said on social media the plan is to be open in December. Looks like we know where we will be watching Rogue One.
  • Hops Brewery: They have one license active and another pending. We are not sure what any of that means. We are also totally unsure of their progress. Anyone out there hear about them?
  • Rowley Farmhouse Ales (Santa Fe): Construction is all but over, just a few little aesthetic touches remain. They hope to be open later this month. Once he gets back from his vacation in San Diego, Luke will be on the case. (And yes, SFBC does allow Luke to go on vacation; of course he picked a beer town to visit, thus reinforcing the fact that his girlfriend is a wonderful human being.)
  • Sleeping Dog Tavern (Santa Fe): We still do not know much about this plan for the tavern to start brewing its own beer.
  • Steel Bender Brewyard: Contact has been made with the owners, who have hired a notable local brewer to run the show. We should have more news on this North Valley project in the next couple of weeks.
  • The 377 Brewery: Their brewer told us that the build out is nearly complete, now they just await all the permits and licenses. It will still be a while before they are open.

Know of any other breweries in the works? Contact us at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Sample tray

  • There will be a special Stone tasting at Jubilation today (Friday) from 4 to 6 p.m. Rather than more of the usual offerings, they will be featuring Mocha IPA, Citrusy Wit, Wussie Pils, Enjoy After 7/4 Brett IPA, and the 20th Anniversary Citracado IPA, which was made with Citra hops and avocado honey. That looks … different.
  • John Bullard has brewed up a new batch of his award-winning IPA, Scale Tipper. Look for it on tap and in 22-ounce bombers in a few weeks at all Bosque locations.
  • The 2016 Doggie Dash and Dawdle Kickoff Party will be at Boxing Bear on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can register for the Dash, enjoy some live music, and $1 from every pint sold goes to Animal Humane. If you lack a furry friend for the Dash, fear not, they will have mobile adoptions there as well!
  • Fill in the Blanco IPA, a white wheat hoppy beast, was added to the seasonal lineup at Canteen on Thursday. Meanwhile, over at La Cumbre today (Friday), they have Red Ryeot dry-hopped with Comet in the cask.
  • Speaking of La Cumbre, they will have another Lego Build-Off at the brewery on Tuesday. Sign up starting at 6:15 p.m. and it all gets underway at 7. The winners get $10 gift certificates.
  • Ponderosa has their fourth head brewer in place. Antonio Fernandez has taken over the operation from Bob Haggerty. We will try to set up an interview with Antonio in the near future and we will also update you on where Bob is headed. (Fear not, he is not going far.)
  • Starr Brothers will open at 8 a.m. this Saturday to show all the opening matches of the Premier League season. You might just see some Crew members and our friends over there. I’ll be the guy bitterly ruing Newcastle’s relegation all season.

* * * * *

That is all for now. Remember, if you have any tips about beer news in New Mexico, contact us via social media or at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

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!

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

Time for some epic new beers to roll out!

Time for some epic new beers to roll out!

The time has come to get out there and support the NM Brewers Guild. The fun part is supporting means drinking new and unique beers.

The Beer Premier is back for a third time, kicking off Friday at 5 p.m. at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Tickets cost $35, for which you get unlimited samples from 16 breweries, plus the good folks at M’Tucci’s Cocina Grill will be cooking up pork shoulders in the matanza pits.

For more details on all of it, I sat down with Brewers Guild director John Gozigian before my trip to California.

“This will be third time we’ve done it,” John said. “The first one (in 2013) was at the National Hispanic Cultural Center at the Salon Ortega patio, which is where we’re doing it (again) this year. Unfortunately, I though the concept was great, we brought in all these breweries for a mass release of new styles and it was a great setting, but we did it the same day at the Nob Hill Summerfest and of course everybody was there. It wasn’t well attended.”

Round two was in 2014 at the Rail Yards Market, but that one had a whole heck of a lot of problems for attendees. Thus, back to the NHCC.

“That setting is just so nice,” John said. “We want it to be a little more exclusive and small. It’s going to max out at, let’s say 200 people. But, literally, it’s going to be capped at 300 glasses. That’s the maximum number of people that can go.”

John was working on getting some VIPs to be present for patrons to interact with over the course of the night.

“I’ve invited brewmasters and brewery owners to attend, too, because I really want this to be a really special event,” John said. “If you go, you get unlimited sampling in this really cool glass of 16 breweries’ beers that nobody’s ever tried before. It’s including a matanza. M’Tucci’s has the concession there and they have matanza pits outside. They’re going to be slow roasting pork shoulder in these matanza pits all day long. Then, just in time for the festival, there’s going to be super tender pork shoulder that’s going to be served with tortillas, pico de gallo, to go along with all of these exceptional beers.”

Speaking of the exceptional beers, a lot of the breweries want to keep them a secret and surprise everyone at the event. Still, nine of the 16 participants were willing to give us at least the names of their creations.

  • Boxing Bear: Session IPA
  • Chama River: Heavy Cream (Cream Ale Export)
  • La Cumbre: Rum Barrel-Aged Malpais Stout on nitro
  • Ponderosa: Manzano Double Chocolate Stout
  • Quarter Celtic: Dusk’s Early Night (Dark American Lager)
  • Rio Bravo: Barrel-aged Belgian Dark Strong
  • Sierra Blanca: Whiskey Barrel-Aged Stout
  • Tractor: Summer en Blanc Witbier
  • Turtle Mountain: Pollywog’s Pride IPL

That still leaves Blue Corn, Bosque, Bow & Arrow, Canteen, Marble, Santa Fe, and Second Street to surprise you. Though to be honest, I am really, really jealous of everyone that gets to attend this event. (I will have to make do with Firestone Walker Barrelworks being up the street.) Those beers look rather amazing.

“I’m really excited about it,” John said. “It’s going to be a unique opportunity for people to have a different kind of festival — I almost wouldn’t even call it a festival. It’s more of an intimate tasting event. It’s small. There’s not going to be distributors pouring beers. There’s going to be the actual people.”

Tickets can be purchased online at nmbeer.org or they can be picked up at La Cumbre, the Santa Fe ABQ Taproom, both Tractor locations, and Turtle Mountain.

Remember, this is a Guild event, so get out there and support our entire craft beer scene with your purchase!

“I just want to sell it out, everybody go, and have a great time,” John said. “It’s a super value.”

Cheers to that!

— Stoutmeister

The first BearFest was a hit, now it is time to raise a glass for round two! (Photo courtesy of Boxing Bear)

The first BearFest was a hit, now it is time to raise a glass for round two! (Photo courtesy of Boxing Bear)

If last year proved anything, it is that Albuquerque has reached the point where it can support two beer festivals at the same time. There was much rejoicing about this, as the two events — BearFest at Boxing Bear and Blues & Brews at Sandia Casino — ended up attracting different crowds, thus not truly competing with one another, but in a way complementing one another and giving people options.

Of course, competition was never the intent for the Boxing Bear staff.

“There was a lot of confusion out there as to why we’re doing it at the same time as Marne (Gaston) is having her festival,” said Boxing Bear co-owner Kevin Davis. “It has absolutely nothing to do with competition. With us, it’s all about logistics. If we tried to do our festival on a Saturday, I’d have about 14 tenants in this shopping center coming after me. I’d have to wear Kevlar armor. It would be very, very bad.

“Everybody is closed on Sunday; the only other person open is Little Anita’s and they close at like 10. We invited them to come in, but they declined, they said, ‘Nah, we want to go home.’ So, that’s kind of why we have that (scheduled as is). Everybody is saying, ‘Why are we trying to hurt Marne?’ We’re not, this is why we have to do it.”

“It’s literally the one day out of the year we have to do it,” said head brewer and co-owner Justin Hamilton. “It’s coincidence the last two years. We’re not checking their schedules. It just came out on the same day twice.”

This year, BearFest will be back at Boxing Bear on Sunday, starting at 1 p.m. for VIP ticket holders and 2 p.m. for general admission, running until 6. GA tickets currently cost $25 while VIP are $35; they can be purchased at the brewery or online. The price of each will rise to $30 and $40 on the day of the event.

“Your entry is going to get you a commemorative pint glass,” Justin said. “You’re going to get five tickets, four of those tickets are for 4-ounce samples, one of those tickets is for a pint of your choice. From there you can purchase pints or purchase samples, depending on the brewery. We kind of leave it up to them if they want to sell samples.”

“We want to avoid the unlimited word,” Kevin added. “Because to get your permitting done, it’s getting more and more difficult with all of these festivals, they’re really cracking down on them.”

Kevin told us just to get permitted for a festival, even before adding the alcohol-related requests, it can come out to a half-inch of paperwork.

Luckily, all that paperwork is done and everything is ready to go.

“As far as what’s new to Bearfest this year, we’ve expanded everything,” Justin said. “We’ve expanded the amount of breweries we’re going to have (to 12), the amount of space we’re going to have, the amount of food trucks and vendors we’re going to have. We’re just really trying to kind of push the limits of the festival we did last year, which was kind of testing the waters. It did really well. We’re making improvements and hopefully changing it to incorporate more people in general.”

Another big hit was the band, but that should not be a surprise since it was Red Light Cameras. The good news is they will be back, only Amanda won’t have to jump around on stage while singing her heart out for hours upon hours. Burque Sol will also be performing, so the more local music, the merrier.

Two issues that arose last year have been dealt with in advance. Since Boxing Bear is right along the Bosque river trails, lots of folks biked over, but parking was at a premium. This year Justin said they will have a bike valet. Considering how popular that was at the Arizona Strong Beer Festival, it should be a hit here, too.

Kevin added that he got some bad advice on the number of porta-potties to have outside, leading to some long lines as the beer hit many bladders. This year they will have four times the number, ensuring more time for folks to have fun drinking, eating, and listening to music.

Speaking of food …

“We’ll have about seven total,” Justin said. “I think there’s going to be about five trucks and two carts. We’ll have a lot more food options this year, also different options than we had last year. It’s going to be a good spread. We tried not to get any two trucks that have the same type of food.”

The list to date: Macs Steak-In-The-Rough, Smoke Outs Top BBQ, Nosh Wagon, Phat’s Beats and Eats, Joe S. Sausage, Italian Ice Truck, CCR Roasted Corn

In addition, local vendors Urban Hats and Boots, High Desert Flame Works, and Tapped Life will be there.

Another cool feature will be a solar-powered retro video game tournament. No, seriously, that will be happening.

“Right around the corner we’ve got Gamers Anonymous,” Justin said. “They’re going to partner up with Positive Energy Solar. They’ve got a solar-powered like, almost like a U-Haul truck with panels on it. They’re going to pull right up to a tent and Gamers Anonymous is going to plug into that. We’re going to have a retro gaming tournament while you drink beer.”

Among the games Justin heard could be in the mix are Street Fighter, GoldenEye, and a whole lot more.

“There will be a lot of good stuff,” he said. “The lines will probably be high, (but) hopefully a lot of fun. I don’t know if anyone’s done anything like that before.”

As for the breweries, among those returning alongside the hosts are Bosque, Canteen, Chama River, La Cumbre, Santa Fe, and Turtle Mountain. Bathtub Row, Blue Corn, and Second Street will be coming down for the first time.

“That’s another reason, we wanted it to be local, but we wanted to showcase (all of) New Mexico,” Justin said. “Those guys are nice up there, they do a great job with their pub, so we thought we’d bring them down here. They had a lot of interest in it really early, so they were lucky to get in and we’re happy to have them.”

Justin said he also hopes some of the beer lovers who live up north will follow their favorite breweries to the festival. Folks can always grab a hotel for the night and drive up Monday since it is a holiday.

Also new to the fest are two places that opened this year — Quarter Celtic and Starr Brothers. The latter was a late addition after what Kevin said was a “late, unexpected vacancy.”

“Justin was instrumental in the training of Starr’s head brewer (Rob Whitlock), so we kind of feel a little kinship with those guys,” Kevin said. “We wish we could get guys like Red Door and Rio Bravo and some of the newer breweries out there, but we don’t have the room. We’re packed in there. We have to wait till somebody wants to leave.”

If you have been reading up to this point you are probably champing at the bit for the most important bit of info, namely who is bring which of their beers. As of press time, we had heard back from 10 of the 12 participants. If others send us theirs later, we will update this list. (Note: Beers with a * won a medal the World Beer Cup.)

  • Bathtub Row: Gose, Orange Blossom Belgo Pale, Hoppenheimer IPA, Organic Farmhouse
  • Blue Corn: NM Red, Two Lanterns ESB, Quad, 40K Honey Wheat
  • Bosque: TBA
  • Boxing Bear: Chocolate Milk Stout* on nitro, Black and Blue Sour, Bear Knuckle IPA, Blood Orange Pale Ale, Body Czech Bohemian Pilsner, Hairy Mit Hefe, Ambear, Uppercut IPA
  • Canteen: The Hop Baller IPA, That’s How It Gose, High Plains Pilsner*, Pecos Trail Brown
  • Chama River: Class VI, Jackalope IPA, Sturer Bock, River Gose
  • La Cumbre: BEER*, Elevated IPA, Strawberry Gose, A Slice of Hefen, VMO #2, Red Ryeot, No, You’re a Dort
  • Quarter Celtic: Sangria Wheat, Saoirse Hefeweizen, Mo’r Buck IPA, Irish Extra Stout
  • Santa Fe: TBA
  • Second Street: Trebuchet*, Rod’s Steam Bitter, 2920 Pilzner, Agua Fria Apricot, Railyard Red, Cream Stout
  • Starr Brothers: Problem Child Porter, Thunderr Ale (West Coast Transplant IPA), Red Zepplin, LA Woman California Blonde Ale
  • Turtle Mountain: Bien Tu Helles Bock, Hopshell IPA, Heidelberg Helles

All in all, it should be a blast once again. Look for some of the Crew in the crowd and be sure to say hello. Just remember, no one finishes the elusive Trebuchet without us.

Thanks to Justin and Kevin for taking the time to chat.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Get off the couch and head southwest this weekend.

Get off the couch and head southwest this weekend.

Toad Fest, the street festival hosted by Little Toad Creek in Silver City, will not only feature live music and other fun this Saturday, but it will have 12 other New Mexico breweries serving up 20 different, unique beers.

The list, as provided to us by the NM Brewers Guild.

  • Abbey: Monks’ Tripel
  • Blue Corn: Fuzzy Snuggler
  • Bosque: Riverwalker IPA, Tu-Bock Shakur
  • Canteen: Marzen
  • Chama River: Class VI Golden Lager, Broken Spoke Wheat Ale
  • La Cumbre: BEER, Red Ryeot
  • Marble: Imperial Red, Double White
  • Red Door: Roamer Red, Bad Moon Ryesing
  • Santa Fe: Happy Camper, Santa Fe Gold
  • Second Street: Pivotal IPA, Schwarzbier
  • Sidetrack: Crossbuck Pale Ale, 3:10 to Belen Brown
  • Spotted Dog: Spring Thing (Belgian-style saison)

It’s a great opportunity for folks in Southern New Mexico, as well as those who wish to trek up from El Paso or from Arizona, to enjoy a lot of beers you can only get up north. Spotted Dog will represent the Las Cruces area, too. Plus, of course Little Toad Creek’s own beers will be available, and their spirits.

Admission is free to the event, which starts at 2 p.m. and runs until midnight. The music will be provided by Wylie Crazyhorse Jones at 2, Compas at 4, and JB & the Jackrabbits at 8. There will be games for kids and adults, too. Food-wise, look for a special menu featuring lots of grilled meats (ribs, brisket, etc.) and the like.

Remember, this is a Guild event, so a portion of the proceeds of beer sales will go to helping the Guild help breweries across our state.

Considering the weather right now in ABQ, it might not be a bad idea to trek south to Silver City for a day. Let us hope the sun stays out down there.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister