Posts Tagged ‘Deschutes’

And so it begins!

Get your geek-on with the Crew!

Well, everyone out there seemed to survive the two big festivals on Sunday. The crowd was big at Blues & Brews but not overwhelming. The local breweries held their own in the face of the national and international brands. And the big surprise? The soon-to-open Firkin Brewhouse, which debuted with a flourish. The Capo’s Java Stout was a creamy delight, very much its own beer and not a copy of Santa Fe’s Java Stout. Kudos to the newcomers. We will be in touch with them in the coming weeks and do a formal preview of the next to join the ABQ brewing community.

Today is both a somber day and a day of celebration. Memorial Day is a day of mixed feelings, where we honor those who sacrificed for our country, but also celebrate their legacy and the freedom they defended. Today will feature a music festival at Marble, special tappings at Gecko’s, Rock & Brews, and Two Fools, a food truck battle at Red Door, and something about the Brew Crew defending our title at Tractor Wells Park.

Featured event

Every day we will pick what we consider the biggest, most interesting, most unique event. This does not mean you should go to only this event and ignore the rest. All of them deserve your attention, but realistically, you can probably only attend a few. So we will make our daily pick, and you can either jump on it, or declare the Crew is foolish (we kinda are) and pick your own.

What: Battle of the Beer Geeks II. Where: Tractor Wells Park. When: 3 to 7 p.m. Cost: $10 for a tray of five beers to sample and a pint of your favorite.

Details: Last year, the Brew Crew’s Hammer Smashed Stout reigned supreme over the other beer groups’ entries. This year we doubled down with Darkside Donutbrau, a massive breakfast stout loaded with creamy malts, dark chocolate, and of course a copious amount of cold-brewed coffee. Three groups are back for a rematch with a new group in tow. All seem to have chosen the light to battle our dark. The Babes in Brewland unleash Her Sage Advice, an imperial white with sage and lemon. The Dukes of Ale have Wit Dream, a hoppy saison. The ABQ Craft Beer Drinkers went wild with Sigil Saison, a Citra dry-hopped Brett Saison aged on Chilean White Wine Soaked Oak Chips. And new to the battle are the Cerveceros de Burque, armed with a Ginger Pale Ale. Carlos the Tall will provide the music from 5 to 7, after which your votes will be tallied and a winner will be announced.

Why you should go: We know how much you all love us and what we do for you as a brewing community, providing you with all the news and insight on our amazing craft scene. So you totally want to help us keep the Rock Em Sock Em Robots trophy, don’t you? Of course you do. We will see you at Tractor. And yeah, there might be a special moment where we show off the trophy to the sounds of a certain classic rock band.

All the other great events

What: Marble Special Release. Where: Gecko’s (both locations). When: 11 a.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: The rather delicious Weizenbock will be released on tap outside the brewery and festivals for the first time. Why you should go: Rather enjoyed this one at Blues & Brews, plus you can get it with some delicious tapas food.

What: Brews and Food Truck Battle. Where: Red Door. When: 2 to 6 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Five food trucks will compete for a “totally arbitrary title,” according to the Red Door Facebook site. OK, funny. So what does it all mean? Switch It Up, The Toasted Bean, Nosh Wagon, The LUNCH BOX, and Soo Bak Foods will each have a scaled down menu, in many cases paired with one of Red Door’s beers, often priced for multiple samplings. Why you should go: Chow down on some amazing food, drink some great beer, and yeah, you get to pick your favorite at the end.

What: Memorial Day Festival. Where: Marble Downtown. When: 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Five bands will provide the entertainment, two food trucks will provide the sustenance, and Marble will provide the brews. Bellemah, The Chemical West, Sad Baby Wolf, Lilah Rose, and Cactus Tractor will perform beginning at 3 p.m. Adoughbe Pizza will be outside from noon to 11, while Street Food Institute will be there from 4 to 9. Why you should go: It’s a holiday, kick back and relax.

What: Alaskan Sampling. Where: Total Wine Cottonwood. When: 3 to 5 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Free beer samples. Why you should go: Free beer samples.

What: Kona, Redhook, and Widmer Brothers Sampling. Where: Total Wine Cottonwood. When: 5 to 7 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Free beer samples. Why you should go: Free beer samples.

What: Deschutes Tap Takeover. Where: Rock & Brews. When: 5 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: The popular Oregon brewery’s beers will be on tap. Why you should go: Beer, food, sports on TV, classic rock over the sound system.

What: Mother Road Special Tapping. Where: Two Fools Tavern. When: 5 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: A sweet milk stout will be tapped in a firkin. Why you should go: Delicious beer, Two Fools awesome food, there are worse ways to spend your evening.

Special ongoing events

All throughout Beer Week, these two events will be running.

Brewery Scavenger Hunt at lululemon athletica at ABQ Uptown
Where: lululemon athletica ABQ Uptown and various other participating sites. When: Today through May 31. What: Pick up a scavenger pass at lululemon and head to six of nine participating locations. Take photos with your pass at the locations and then bring it all back to lululemon to be redeemed for a special pint glass. Participating sites: Routes Bicycle Rentals & Tours, Duke City Trolley, Tractor, La Cumbre, Red Door, Marble, Chama River, The Grain Station, Rock & Brews

Smoked Meats Week
Where: Sandia Chile Grill When: 3 to 8 p.m., from today through Saturday, May 30
What: Beer and smoked meat pairing; beers are $3.50 per pint, $6 per 10-ounce mead sample
Today — Smoked Sausage, Rattlesnake IPA
Tuesday — Potato Stuffer, Barb’s Barrel Hefeweizen
Wednesday — Stuffed Avocado Street Tacos, Gold Rush Pilsner
Thursday — Smoked Salmon Platter, Red Ranger Irish Red
Friday — Stuffed Avocado Street Tacos, Rattlesnake IPA
Saturday — Smoked Meat Sample Platter, Rattlesnake and Red Ranger and Milk Stout ($3 per 10-ounce)

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Got any questions, comments, complaints, send them to nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com, or leave them here on our site, on Facebook, or on Twitter (@nmdarksidebc).

Enjoy yourselves out there, but please, do it responsibly.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

And so it begins!

Release the beer hounds! The three-day weekend begins!

Welcome back to ABQ Beer Week, though technically it never left. After Thursday’s surge of events contrasted with the terrible weather, we expected more Friday, but the sun kept the rain at bay for a change. So we have that going for us, if nothing else.

Today’s lineup kicks off with a golf tournament and concludes with multiple tastings. In between, a major brewery celebrates their anniversary weekend.

Featured event

Every day we will pick what we consider the biggest, most interesting, most unique event. This does not mean you should go to only this event and ignore the rest. All of them deserve your attention, but realistically, you can probably only attend a few. So we will make our daily pick, and you can either jump on it, or declare the Crew is foolish (we kinda are) and pick your own.

What: Nexus 4th Anniversary Party. Where: Nexus Brewery. When: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Cost: No cover charge.

Details: Release the hounds as Nexus turns four years old today. To celebrate, they are grilling up some more red chile BBQ ribs, back by popular demand. You can also order a pint of Prosperity Works Belgian Scottish, which is the normal Beam Me Up Scottish this time with Belgian yeast. One dollar from each pint sold will go to the charity Prosperity Works. There will be live music from the Racine Kreyol Band from 1 to 4 p.m. The first 100 Nexus Members who walk in the door will get a special pint glass.

Why you should go: Even if the red chile BBQ ribs are too spicy, there will be plenty of other food, including the always awesome Chicken & Waffles. Throw in a new beer, live music, and more, and it has hard to see how you would sit this one out.

All the other great events

What: Seventh Annual NM Brewers Guild Golf Tournament. Where: Santa Ana Golf Club. When: 7 a.m. (registration), 8 a.m. (shotgun start). Cost: $100 per person. Details: From the Guild website, “Join New Mexico Brewers Guild for our 7th Annual Golf Tournament as we return to Santa Ana Golf Course for another round of beers and lost balls. Gather up a foursome of your best beer drinking buddies for this 4-Man or Woman scramble as we tee up some of the finest local beers to motivate the biggest hack to pick up some clubs.” The $100 covers your course fees, range balls, lunch, awards, and beer, of course. Why you should go: We know some of you love to play golf (looking at you, Karim), so why not throw in some beer and help the Guild at the same time?

What: Kiuchi Brewery Tapping. Where: Two Fools Tavern. When: 11 a.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Hitachino Nest White Ale is the selected beer from Japan that you will enjoy. Why you should go: For those who are into the burgeoning Japanese craft scene, Kiuchi is among the trailblazers with their Hitachino Nest series. Plus, stick around for a Kilarney Grilled Chicken for lunch.

What: Oskar Blues Sampling. Where: Whole Foods on Academy and Wyoming. When: 11 a.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Pinner Throwback IPA will be among the styles to sample. Why you should go: Free beer samples. Plus, pick up some healthy food for later when you have to cook dinner for your significant other and/or family to make up for all the time you’ve been spending at Beer Week events.

What: The Harwood’s Annual Fundraiser. Where: Marble Downtown. When: Noon. Cost: No cover charge. Details: The Harwood Art Institute is an amazing community resource, with their Summer Art Camp teaching children in-depth lessons in various mediums. Marble hosts their annual fundraiser to raise money for art scholarships to the camp. Street Food Institute will be on the curb from noon to late, while Conchitas Creations will join them from 1 to 7 p.m. Carlos the Tall will perform from 1 to 2:30, followed by Jasper from 3 to 4:30, and Joanie and Darin from 5 to 6:30 p.m. There will also be a merch table with a button-making machine from Harwood. You can purchase raffle tickets ($1 each) for prizes ranging from local bands’ CDs to a grand prize of a $175 gift basket from Harwood that will include a membership, gift certificate to an art class, and more. Why you should go: Support a good cause, help some kids have a great summer, eat awesome food, buy some merch, enter the raffle, listen to great music, and of course indulge in Marble’s many great beers.

What: Angry Orchard Honey Cider Tasting. Where: Total Wine (both locations). When: 1 to 3 p.m. (Cottonwood), 4 to 6 p.m. (Uptown). Cost: No cover charge. Details: Sample Angry Orchard’s newest cider. Why you should go: Free cider samples.

What: Woodchuck Sampling. Where: Total Wine (both locations). When: 1 to 3 p.m. (Uptown), 4 to 6 p.m. (Cottonwood). Cost: No cover charge. Details: Sample some Woodchuck ciders. Why you should go: More free cider samples.

What: Tommyknocker Event. Where: Twin Peaks. When: 1 p.m. Cost: No cover charge listed. Details: Tommyknocker will be promoting their beers for sale locally with Maple Nut Brown and Jack Whacker Wheat on tap. Why you should go: Beer, food, sports on TV. Almost everything you need in life.

What: Beer and Boards. Where: Tractor Wells Park. When: 1 p.m. (opening), 6 p.m. (music). Cost: No cover charge. Details: Tractor and Kamagraph are teaming up again for another art show, this one showcasing the art of skateboards. There will be live art being made, plus skateboarding demos in the parking lot, and live music will begin at 6 with Zack Freeman, Burque Sol, and The Riddims. Why you should go: Support the local art community, support some local musicians, and of course enjoy some beer while you are there.

What: April Showers Bring May Sours. Where: Jubilation. When: 2 to 4 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Unleash the power of sour beers. There will be eight (!) sours available for sampling and then package sales. The lineup — St. Louis Framboise Lambic, St. Louis Peche Lambic, Petrus Aged Red, Petrus Oud Bruin, Monk’s Cafe (Flemish Red), Silly Sour (brown ale), St. Louis Fond Tradition Kriek Lambic, Petrus Aged Pale. Why you should go: If you love sour beers, this is practically nirvana.

What: Colorado Brewing Tasting. Where: O’Niell’s Juan Tabo. When: 2 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Left Hand, New Belgium, and Oskar Blues will have samples for sampling. Why you should go: Three good Colorado breweries in one places.

What: Mother Road, Deschutes, and Ska Tapping. Where: Nob Hill Bar & Grill. When: 4 p.m. (Mother Road), 5 p.m. (Deschutes), 6 p.m. (Ska). Cost: No cover charge. Details: It’s a tripleheader of beer greatness. First up, Mother Road will have a special sour cask at 4 p.m. Then at 5, Deschutes will have some of their awesome Mirror Mirror barley wine from 2014. Then it’s Ska Keep the Pint Night, featuring Modus Hopperandi and True Blonde, with brewery swag and giveaways. Why you should go: One location, three epic breweries.

What: Sierra Nevada Special Tapping. Where: Sister Bar. When: 5 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: A quartet of SN beers will be available in the form of Summerfest Lager, Kellerweis, Harvest Idaho 7 Single IPA, and Ovila Quad with plums. Why you should go: The Harvest and Ovila are a couple of hard-to-get beers, so reward the folks at Sister for getting them by stopping by and paying for a pint or two.

What: Belgian Beer Dinner. Where: Heimat House. When: 5 p.m. Cost: $55 per person. Details: It’s a five-course meal pairing up different dishes with different Belgian beers. Among those poured will be the St. Bernardus Abt 12. There will be brewery reps on hand to help you get through it. Why you should go: Get an education in Belgian beer and indulge in some amazing European food. Sound like a win-win.

What: Bosque Tap Takeover. Where: Rock & Brews. When: 5 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: An unknown number of different Bosque beers will be on tap at the rock bar. Why you should go: Well, if you’re in the area, save some gas money and stop here.

What: Alaskan Special Tapping. Where: Gecko’s Nob Hill. When: 5 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: We have no idea what this beer will be, but it will be on tap at the NH location. Why you should go: Curiosity is not a bad thing. Neither is tapas food.

What: Oskar Blues Sampling. Where: Whole Foods on Carlisle. When: 5:50 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Pinner Throwback IPA will be among the beer styles sampled. Why you should go: Free beer samples!

Special ongoing events

All throughout Beer Week, these two events will be running.

Brewery Scavenger Hunt at lululemon athletica at ABQ Uptown
Where: lululemon athletica ABQ Uptown and various other participating sites. When: Today through May 31. What: Pick up a scavenger pass at lululemon and head to six of nine participating locations. Take photos with your pass at the locations and then bring it all back to lululemon to be redeemed for a special pint glass. Participating sites: Routes Bicycle Rentals & Tours, Duke City Trolley, Tractor, La Cumbre, Red Door, Marble, Chama River, The Grain Station, Rock & Brews

Smoked Meats Week
Where: Sandia Chile Grill When: 3 to 8 p.m., from today through Saturday, May 30
What: Beer and smoked meat pairing; beers are $3.50 per pint, $6 per 10-ounce mead sample
Today — Stuffed Avocado Street Tacos, Dirty Steve Mead (9.5% ABV)
Sunday — Baby Back Ribs, Legacy Mead (9.2% ABV)
Monday — Smoked Sausage, Rattlesnake IPA
Tuesday — Potato Stuffer, Barb’s Barrel Hefeweizen
Wednesday — Stuffed Avocado Street Tacos, Gold Rush Pilsner
Thursday — Smoked Salmon Platter, Red Ranger Irish Red
Friday — Stuffed Avocado Street Tacos, Rattlesnake IPA
May 30 — Smoked Meat Sample Platter, Rattlesnake and Red Ranger and Milk Stout ($3 per 10-ounce)

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Got any questions, comments, complaints, send them to nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com, or leave them here on our site, on Facebook, or on Twitter (@nmdarksidebc).

Enjoy yourselves out there, but please, do it responsibly.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Bike&BrewLogo1Right smack dab in the middle of American Craft Beer Week, Outside Magazine’s giant celebration of all things craft beer and cycling kicks off with a barrage of beer dinners, pairing culinary creations from some of Santa Fe’s finest chefs, with beers from New Mexico, California, and Colorado craft breweries. As the Crew now has me to cover the Santa Fe scene, I’ll be bringing you a taste of what’s in store for the beer dinners of the 2015 Outside Bike & Brew festival, which runs this Wednesday through Sunday.

* * * * *

Wednesday (2 events)

Fire and Hops

When: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. What: Fire and Hops will be partnering with Oskar Blues for a four-course dinner. Details: No reservations necessary, but this will be a first-come, first-served event. Cost: $50 per person. Why: Pairings will include a four courses with four 10-ounce beers including Pinner Throwback IPA, Blood Orange Triple Throwback IPA, Good Game Belgium Quad, and Ten Fidy Imperial Stout. Bonus: Price includes Oskar Blues Logo Pint. Where: 222 N. Guadalupe St.

Cowgirl Santa Fe

When: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. What: Cowgirl is pairing up with Sierra Nevada Brewing for this event. Details: Reservations are required. Call (505) 982-2565. Where: 319 S. Guadalupe St. Why: Sierra Nevada and Cowgirl barbecue. Mmm, barbecue.

Thursday (5 events)

Blue Corn Brewery

When: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. What: Blue Corn is pairing Chef David Sundberg’s own carefully chosen plates with head brewer James Warren’s latest brews. Details: For reservations, call (505) 438-1800. Cost: $35 per guest. Where: 4056 Cerrillos Rd. Why: New local beers! From the website: “Head Brewer James Warren and Chef David Sundberg collaborate closely to develop creative, extraordinary beer and food pairings. Guests are able to interact with both the brewer and chef at the Brewer’s Table to discover their methods and philosophies behind creating outstanding brews and meals.”

Menu:

Farmhouse Saison-Corned Pork Tacos
Kaiser Farms pork “brisket” house-cured on flour tortillas with Baja sauce and 40k Honey Wheat onions
Pairing: American IPA

Southwest Chop Salad
Pickled squash stuffed with nopales, bonita beans and farmer’s market veggies, herb vinaigrette, Tucumcari Mountain feta cheese
Pairing: Barrel-Aged Black Belgian Pale Ale

Lamb Duo
Talus Wind Ranch lamb jalapeño popper, yogurt & garlic marinated lamb kebab, sweet corn beggar’s purse and grilled spring onion
Pairing: Imperial Goze

Dessert
Russian Imperial Stout chocolate cake
Prickly pear custard & lemon-spice pate brisee

Dr. Field Goods Kitchen

When: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. What: Dr. Field Goods is pairing with New Belgium Brewing Company. Cost: $25 per person. Details: No reservations accepted. Get there early! Where: 2860 Cerrillos Rd., Suite A1. Why: Here you receive four 4-ounce pours of the following New Belgium beers, 2015 La Folie Sour Brown Ale, Lips of Faith Pear Ginger, Trippel Belgium Tripel, and 1554 Black Lager. From website: The menu will consist of a charcuterie plate highlighting Dr. Field Goods’ new butcher shop and bakery. There will be sausages and meats paired with sauces and different breads. Each item will have one of the above listed beers incorporated into it. Dr. Field Goods wants everyone to experience how a great beer pairing can bring out flavors in certain foods that one might otherwise miss. Bonus: Each beer dinner will include a commemorative New Belgium beer glass and tons of free stuff. Extra: Contact Anita Salazar (505) 670-4345 with any questions you may have on this event.

Joseph’s Culinary Pub

When: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. What: Chef Joseph Wrede is pairing his world-class cuisine with La Cumbre Brewing’s world-class beers. Details: Make reservations online. Where: 428 Agua Fria St.

Rio Chama Steakhouse

When: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. What: Executive Chef Tony Blankenship is pairing his bold and adventurous food with the beers of Stone Brewery and Marble Brewery.
Where: 414 Old Santa Fe Trail. Bonus: You’ll have the unique opportunity to taste beers that have been cellared for several years. Details: Reservations are required. Call (505) 955-0765. Cost: $50 per person.

Menu from website:

2015 BIKE AND BREW BEER DINNER

First Course
Passed Apps: Bacon wrapped shrimp with harissa aioli
Tempura asparagus, soy reduction
Goat cheese and tomato grilled cheese
Pairing: Stone Cali-Belgique India Pale Ale

Second Course
Cornmeal ale battered fried oysters, apple-jicama slaw, orange and grapefruit segments, remoulade, watercress salad
Pairing: Stone Vertical Epic 2012

Third Course
Braised beef short rib, fresh corn polenta, oven roasted baby carrots, pearl onions, fried onions, chive oil, short rib reduction
Pairing:Marble Reserve 2012

Fourth Course
Stout chocolate cake, white butter cream, macerated berries, dark beer sauce
Pairing: Marble Imperial Stout 2012

Loyal Hound

When: 6:30 p.m. What: Gastropub fare at its finest paired with some delicious choices from Bosque Brewing Company. Where: 730 St. Michaels Dr. Details: Community seating. Reservations required. Call (505) 471-0440. Cost: $45 per person plus tax and tip.

Menu from site:

First Course

Brew: Riverwalker IPA.
Pairing: Buffalo Chicken Salad, Organic Greens
Buffalo Sauced Braised Chicken, Bleu Crumbles

Second Course

Brew: Brewer’s Boot Amber Ale
Pairing: Battered House Cured Bacon BLT
Rye Bread, with Peppercorn Aioli

Third Course

Brew: Scotia Scotch Ale
Pairing: Akaushi Waygu Strip Steak
Sweet Potato Gruyere Gratin

Dessert

Brew: Wake up and Smell the Stout
Pairing: Chocolate Doughnut
Maple Bacon White Chocolate Ganache

Friday (1 event)

Anasazi Restaurant and Bar

When: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. What: A prix fixe dinner will be served where Anasazi is pairing their classic take on fine dining with carefully chosen beers. Where: 113 Washington Ave. Details: Reservations required. Call (505) 988-3030. Cost: $40 per person.

Menu from website:

Choice of Starter

Tuscan Green Leaf Salad Tango, Oak, Lolla Rosa Leaves, Sage Chama Bee Honey Vinaigrette
Duck Enchilada Mole Pico de Gallo, Sour Cream, Green Chile Pearls
Anasazi Crab Cake Avocado Mousse, Pepper Piperade, Frisée Leaves, Crudité Salad

Choice of Entree

Roasted Sea Bass Parsnip Purée, Wilted Lettuce, Barley-Malbec Broth
Pair with Inversion IPA

New Mexico Lamb Top Sirloin Aubergine Caviar, Parsley Purée, Artichokes, Jalapeño Croquettes, Olive Liquorice Crumbs
Pair with Left Hand Milk Stout

Chicken & Leek “Cock-a-Leekie” Pie Frisée and Watercress Salad
Pair with Santa Fe Nut Brown

Choice of Dessert

Lemon Tart Lemon Gel, Seasonal Berries, Raspberry Sorbet
Flan & Dulce de leche Vanilla Flan, Dulce de Leche Ice Cream, Vanilla Chantilly Cream, Chocolate Soil

Saturday (1 event)

Draft Station

When: Anytime! What: “The modern Italian cuisine including pizza and antipasti from neighboring Rooftop Pizzeria will accompany this New Mexico Brewer’s Guild Tap Takeover.” Details: No reservation required. Bike and Brew Special: two flights of beer and 12-inch pizza with choice of two great toppings, $25 for two people (available all day). Where: The Plaza!

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That’s all the info we have for the Bike & Brew beer dinners. If we’ve missed anything, please contact us directly at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com. Enjoy some great pairings here in Santa Fe, and I will have a preview of the other Bike & Brew events available later on in the week. Get those flats fixed, don’t forget to make those reservations, and always pair responsibly! See you around Santa Fe!

Cheers!

— Luke

Marchfest5

It might not have been advertised much outside of Santa Fe, but plenty of folks showed up at Buffalo Thunder.

Last Saturday was the second annual Marchfest put on by Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino. Previously, this was an event that many of the Crew had written off due, mostly in part to little to no advertising, except through commercials on the mainstream radio stations (I’d be pretty surprised if the Crew listened to the radio). (We don’t. — S) There was almost no cooperation from the people running the event back then, and from what I did hear from those who attended, most reviews were mixed.

This year, because I’m the new Santa Fe correspondent, I felt it necessary to head out to my “backyard casino” and investigate what could go so wrong with a brewfest. Painful memories of Lions, Tigers, and Beers still bring forth a full-body shudder. Thankfully, for this event, I wasn’t wandering through the woods alone. I had a trusty guide, and I also bumped into Dark Side Bullpen and Los Alamos correspondent, Reid Rivenburgh, at the event. He came with his lovely wife, and this was their second Marchfest. Here were his thoughts on the event:

“We attended the Buffalo Thunder 2014 Beerfest, and as usual, a year later I can really only recall that I was a little “ehhh” about the event. I remember it being quite crowded, for one thing, and it’s never fun to stand in line for five minutes to fill a barely 1-ounce cup. Some friends were planning to go to this year’s event, so we figured we’d give it another chance. We were glad we did! Perhaps the biggest difference was that there weren’t that many attendees, so lines at each table were at worst a few people. It was far from empty, but it still felt comfortable. (And I was also able to catch up with fellow Dark Sider Luke, who I don’t think I had seen since the IPA Challenge.)

“I’m a dedicated IPA fan and will appreciate just about any style of beer, but my wife steers towards the ciders and fruitier/wheatier beers. Well, this was her event. It felt like there were just as many alternative beers as real ones. The makers of her favorite beer, the Pecan from the Pecan Grill and Brewery in Las Cruces, were in attendance. She even found a new favorite, Whiskey Beer. (Too bad we didn’t note who made it despite going back 14 times.) It was a glorious day for her. I certainly had plenty of Real Beers (TM) to try, but it didn’t feel like there were all that many interesting, unusual ones. Still, it was fun, and they were kind enough to offer complimentary sliders and tamale bites, which were much appreciated. And as a final bonus, since the event was at Buffalo Thunder, we were able to go to their buffet after and, ahem, digest our food and drink before driving off. (Plenty of gambling, too, if you’re into that kind of thing.) Overall, two thumbs up!”

My experience was pretty similar, except I was sans significant other this time around. Upon arrival I was greeted by tables full of beer mugs, T-shirts, water bottles, snacks. It felt like somebody had made a brewfest checklist and followed it. Pretzel necklaces, check. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, until one of those items is left unchecked, right?

Inside the main ballroom, it was a very open space full of tents and booths — nothing new, but always a happy sight. The place felt full enough of people, but it certainly wasn’t overcrowded like some Albuquerque venues, cough, BioPark, cough. I never had to wait in line. Not once. The music was mainly bluesy rock, but solid for a fest. The band was called D.U.S.K. (Dirty Urban Sh*t Kickers) and they kept people in the right beer-drinking mood. I can’t taste beer to Death Metal just yet; after all, my Dark Side training is not fully complete. (We have much work to do, clearly. — S)

Marchfest2

D.U.S.K. takes the stage!

Of the breweries, there was a healthy handful. Even La Cumbre showed up, despite previous confusing reports. And only one Marble Brewery showed up, which, if you saw this year’s Marchfest flyer, you’d get the joke. Santa Fe Brewing Co. poured all they’d promised to pour. It was unfortunate not to see more local guys, especially from Santa Fe, but that’s another can of worms I ain’t touchin’. Still, Tractor, Kellys, and Abbey Brewing Co. came to hang out for the day.

It was nice to drink my way from Kannah Creek (Grand Junction, Colo.), to Mother Road Brewing Co. (Flagstaff, Ariz.) ever since our fearless editor came back from his trip out to Flagstaff in June of last year. I ended up with a pint of their Kolsch towards the end. And I’d do it again. Avery, Breckenridge, and Ska were also representing Colorado, so that was nice.

Marchfest4

Some of the sights and beers.

The high-er rollers came out to the casino from the West Coast — Lagunitas, Stone, Deschutes, Sierra Nevada, and Alaskan. They were all welcome sights, as well, and brought some nice offerings and some special stuff. Did I mention Heineken was there? I usually wouldn’t. But, they were touting this crazy new vacuum-suctioned keg contraption that keeps the sunlight and oxidation out of beer. The beer I tasted was nothing like my memories of those dank, smoke-filled pool halls from college. If it could do that for Heineken, imagine the possibilities. Have you ever known a guy who complained about the oxidation in craft brews? I may know a thousand of them. And then there were the weird guys like Montejo and the Traveler Beer Company, both using some curiously odd mixes and mustaches to hide their macro parentage (so that’s where the mustaches came from!). I may have missed some of the breweries, but it was a big room.

As for value, we received a small taster glass with our ticket. Can’t complain about unlimited tastes. But if you wanted the mug and ticket for a “full beer” you had to pay $10 extra. This is a little bit different from NM Brewers Guild events, which, I believe, traditionally comes with a pint glass and ticket for a full pour. I suppose the extra money went to paying all the hotel and casino staff that were working with the brewery staff as additional pourers. Too bad they couldn’t tell you what you were drinking. Not a huge deal. There was at least one person at each booth that could. The total costs came out to what you might expect from a brewfest when you factor in full beers, food, souvenirs, etc. So, no problem there. There was an even a place, off to the side, where you could buy a six packs of all the stuff you liked.

Marchfest1

Look, proof of all the happy people!

Overall, it was a great time. Generally, I go to fests to try new things I’ve never had before, but I was “working,” so I tried a few new things from Mother Road, Stone, Kannah, but I had no problem playing the hits. Happy that Red Ryeot and State Pen Sour Porter were there. But, you see, I suspect it was a different crowd there than we see at ABQ Brew Fest or even Winter Brew. This crowd was very happy to be trying these beers, many of them for the first time. If this was their introduction to non-light macro lagers or Mexican lagers popular around the area, then from the enthusiasm they showed me, it was a huge success. After all, Sierra Nevada doesn’t make for a bad first experience, does it now?

What makes this brewfest worth attending next year? Well, for one thing, it’s a great venue. Come for a brewfest, and stay for a fun night. Drink great beers with your friends, and have a good time. Does every brewfest need to be an Untappd badge raid? I don’t think so. I can’t always go to my favorite brewery and try something new. I go far too often for that. But I go to have fun. And have fun, I did. Everyone had fun. I’m giving the whole experience a B+. The atmosphere was good. The vibe was good. This good time was well worth the price of admission. Let’s see what they can do next year!

Marchfest3

A couple photo IDs amid more attendees: Bullpen writer Reid Rivenburgh and his wife (top right). Event coordinator Emily Brcic (bottom right) is in the red shirt.

After the event I asked Emily Brcic, the event coordinator, a few questions.

DSBC: Overall, how do you think it turned out?

Brcic: I believe that overall the event was a big success, especially for being our second annual Marchfest. We learned many things from the previous year’s event that we applied this year. One example, was that we doubled the size of the room. This allowed more flow through the event, and eliminated crowded walkways and groups of people not being able to go to the booths that they wished to. We ended up having around 2,000 to 2,500 people at the event, which was a great turnout for an event that is still in it’s growing stages!

DSBC: What was the biggest success of this year?

Brcic: I think that our biggest success was the number of vendors/distributors that we had turn out and how great their booths and products looked. They all took a lot of pride in showing their products off to the guests, and I think this translated into a great guest experience. We had over 100 different beers this year, which was an increase from about 60 (I believe) last year, and we hope to increase that by even more for next year!

DSBC: Anything you would do differently next year?

Brcic: If I would change anything for next year’s event, it would be to push the event back a few hours. We struggled both years now with the majority of people not showing up until 1:30 to 2 p.m., when the event starts at noon. If we were to push the start time back, I think this would be beneficial to everyone involved.

* * * * *

All in all, allow me to say, well done Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino. Well done, Emily Brcic, for taking the lessons you learned from the previous event and really putting together something worth coming out for. Everyone I spoke to, and the majority were from Albuquerque (that was surprising), had nothing but positive things to say. I’ll reiterate, everyone had a good time. We can’t always go to Disneyland expecting new rides. Sometimes you just get drunk and ride the teacups, but it’s all good fun in the right place. Stay festy my friends!

Cheers!

— Luke

If you were in attendance, tell us what you thought about Marchfest on our Facebook page.

For more #CraftBeer News and @NMDarkSideBC info, follow me on Twitter @SantaFeCraftBro

No one got sunburned!

St. Bob's Imperial Stout '07, the best of the Brew Fest 2014.

St. Bob’s Imperial Stout ’07, the best of the Brew Fest 2014.

Well, that’s how we all looked back on NM Brew Fest 5 after a long, rough Sunday (our football teams, real and fantasy, didn’t help our hangovers, either). OK, we also looked back at the many great beers we drank and how much fun we had. From the VIP barrel-aged beginning all the way through to the end, this was one of the best festivals of the year. The fact it was almost entirely local didn’t hurt. It was great to see all the familiar faces from the breweries together in one place.

Kudos to the Brew Fest organizers for combining the VIP early entry with the barrel-aged beers. It was a wonderful beginning, and that extra span of time gave us all a chance to actually enjoy the beers rather than feel like we were pressed for time to get from station to station. So if we absolutely positively had to rank the best of the fest (barrel-aged only) …

1. Canteen’s St. Bob’s Imperial Stout ’07

2. Marble’s Imperial Stout

3. Marble’s Barley Wine

4. Pi’s Bourbon Vanilla Porter

5. La Cumbre’s La Negra 2013

Brandon, far right, and Stoutmeister, in the back, found plenty of time for shenanigans with their friends.

Brandon, far right, and Stoutmeister, in the back, found plenty of time for shenanigans with their friends.

Mind you, the gap from one to five is about as small as can be. And others argued for a different order (Marble’s Imperial Stout seemed to produce the most varied opinions, from love to meh). Other special beers we got to try included Odell’s Jaunt and Trellis, two Rochefort Trappist ales (#8 and 10), and Deschutes’ Black Butte XXVI. Thanks to Christopher Goblet and the Brewers Guild for providing those for us to sample.

As for the “regular” part of the festival, things went well as the lines never got too long (after the zoo debacle, hallelujah), and as per usual the crowd was great. There was no Comanche Creek nor Taos Mesa, but otherwise all the other breweries showed up with most of the beers they had promised.

Among the favorites, having consulted with the crowd, were Blue Corn’s Gold Medal Oatmeal Stout, Bosque’s Pumpkin Spice Ale, Canteen’s Dougie Style Amber, Cazuela’s Beer for my Horses (oatmeal stout), Chama River’s Cosmic Dog (coffee stout), La Cumbre’s Full Nelson (DIPA), Marble’s Brett IPA, Ponderosa’s Chocolate Pumpkin Porter, Red Door’s Paint it Black Milk Stout, Second Street’s Rauchbier, Stumbling Steer’s Imperial Stout, and Turtle Mountain’s Oktoberfest.

Jeff Erway brought home another prestigious award. He's getting good at that.

Jeff Erway brought home another prestigious award. He’s getting good at that.

Just about all of those beers are on tap at breweries around the ABQ and Santa Fe areas. For all of you who could not make it out to Brew Fest, head to your closest brewery and see what everyone is buzzing about.

And a special congrats to La Cumbre’s Jeff Erway, who was presented with his award from the Great British Beer Festival for Best American Cask Ale. Project Dank claimed that honor earlier this year, but we guess it takes a while to ship the plaque from Britain to New Mexico.

As for the Crew, festival season may be at an end for 2014, but we’ve still got plenty of stories to work on. I have an interview with Marble’s Ted Rice coming up to talk about everything from their GABF haul to future expansion plans and more. There are still more breweries on the way, so we’ll keep tabs on how those are progressing around town. Adam is working on a series about just what are the best bars for craft beer around ABQ (Luke will mirror that for Santa Fe). We’ll also be heading back to Blue Grasshopper when their beers are ready and we still need to visit Twisted Chile down in Socorro. Oh, and a pumpkin beer challenge is coming up for the Crew as well. Don’t worry, the beer scene is going to keep us plenty busy.

Good to see so many of you out there this weekend. We’ll see you around the breweries.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Beer festivals are usually held at hotels, casinos, convention centers, parking lots, and a whole lot of other nondescript places. So whoever thought “we should have a festival at the ABQ BioPark Zoo” deserves a medal. One of the most unique settings we have ever heard of will host Lions, Tigers, & Beers this Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m.

Grab a brew at the zoo!

Grab a brew at the zoo!

Proceeds will benefit the ABQ BioPark Society, a non-profit group that supports the Zoo, Aquarium, Botanical Garden, and Tingley Beach. You can purchase your tickets online. For $25 you get a sampling glass, beer samples, and admission to the Zoo, plus there will be food available for separate purchase. For $45 you get Suds and Grub, which gets you both food and beer. Taking a big group? A six-pack of tickets can be had for a discounted $135. There is also a $10 designated driver ticket. This is a 21-and-over-only event, so sorry, you can’t let the kids wave at the lions while you sample IPAs.

As we do with any festival preview, we get a list of the participating breweries and a list of the beers they’re bringing. Only Ponderosa Brewing did not have a list for the event organizers, but they said on Facebook they are bringing four beers (hopefully one of those will be their new pumpkin beer).

Here’s who’s coming and what they are reportedly bringing.

Abbey Brewing: Monks’ Ale, Monks’ Tripel

Ace Ciders: Perry Cider, Joker Cider, Pumpkin Cider

Big Sky: Moose Drool Brown Ale, Slow Elk Oatmeal Stout, Scape Goat Pale Ale

Black Diamond: White Witch IPA, Mosaic IPA

Boulder: Shake Chocolate Porter, Hazed & Infused, Sweaty Betty

Breckenridge: Vanilla Porter, Lucky U IPA

Bridgeport: Kingpin Red, Trilogy #2 IPA

Deschutes: Fresh Squeezed IPA, Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Twilight Ale

Full Sail: Amber, Cascade Pils, Session Red

Lagunitas: Daytime IPA, Imperial Red

Leinenkugels: Orange Shandy, Sunshine Wheat

Magic Hat: IPL, Wilhelm Screamer

Marble: IPA, Red, Pilsner

New Belgium: beers will be from their current Folly Pack

Nuevo: Nuevo (whatever this is, we have no idea)

Oskar Blues: Dale’s Pale Ale, Mama’s Little Yellow Pils, Old Chub Scotch Ale

Pedernales: Lobo Lager, Lobo Lito, Lobo Negro, Lobo Hefe

Ponderosa: four beers TBA

Pyramid: IPA, Oktoberfest

Radeberger: Shoefferhofer, Pilsner

Samuel Adams: Oktoberfest, Harvest Pumpkin

Santa Fe: Happy Camper IPA, State Pen Porter

Shiner: Bohemian Black Lager, Oktoberfest

Sierra Blanca/Rio Grande: Bonechiller Brown, Sun Chaser Pale Ale

Sierra Nevada: Pale Ale, Torpedo IPA

Squatters/Wasatch: Wee Peat Scotch Ale, Bumper Crop

Stone: Coffee Milk Stout, Hibiscusicity (Belgian-style ale), IPA

Have fun out there. Just remember, tigers don’t drink beer. But they will eat people, so don’t go stumble into their enclosure.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Oh, Hopfest, you lovely giant beer festival, you have returned. It’s Lucky No. 7 for Hopfest, which returns to the Isleta Casino this Saturday. Tickets are still available online today (Friday). They go up in price at the door ($35 for general admission, $45 for Extra Hoppy Hour), so we highly recommend you get them online while you still can. And if any are left (it was 85-percent sold out Thursday morning), get those Extra Hoppy Hour tickets. It’s worth it to pay a little extra to have an hour (2-3 p.m.) of shorter lines. Pick out the beers or breweries you absolutely, positively have to try and hit those first.

So many beers, so little time. Again.

So many beers, so little time. Again.

Event organizer Marne Gaston had to put together a lot of this from afar — her family actually moved to Sarasota, Florida, earlier this year — but she said no one should worry, all is well.

“Well, we started a year ago, so the long-distance part just started happening,” she said. “I mean, it’s gone really well. It’s lucky number seven, we have 70 breweries, seven bands … actually, we have 74 breweries. That’s 12 more than last year.”

Ah, but what beers are out there? There’s over 70 breweries present at Hopfest this season, so it’s a lot to sort through. Being Hopfest veterans, the Crew is here to help, as always. Hopfest is divided into two rooms and an outdoor area. We prefer to hit the smaller room on the right side as you walk down the main hall. It gets really crowded once the GA folks are let inside, so hit those breweries first. From there, pick your favorites in the huge main room on the left side. As the GA folks pour in at 3 p.m., head to the outside and enjoy the fresh air and good beers out there.

So by room, here are the breweries to visit and the beers they’re expected to bring. We realize a lot of these beers lists may change by the time the kegs are tapped.

“Part of the problem is I’m bugging them to get their information way in advance so we can get it in the event program,” Marne said. “Whatever information we can get in advance, it helps people plan their day, makes it more fun.”

We did our best to make sure we had up-to-date lists for all the New Mexico breweries present, but a few of them did not have time to get back to us. Nonetheless, this is a listing of the beers we’re targeting. It does not include every brewery present, so there are some you may wish to seek out in addition to these.

UPDATED: As I was helping Marne set things up at Hopfest on Friday, we all found out that Cazuela’s is no longer attending, but Ponderosa is. So where it shows Cazuela’s on the map inside your program, that’s now Ponderosa. Also, we got an updated list from Pi Brewing.

Premier Stage/Side room breweries

Durango Brewing: They’re bringing Durango Dark Lager. That’s all I need.

Eel River: They’re that brewery that does all organic beers. Gotta admit, kinda curious what the heck an Organic Acai Berry Wheat tastes like.

These three lunkheads will be back at Hopfest. Will you?

These three lunkheads will be back at Hopfest. Will you?

Erdinger/Krombacher: These two classic German breweries are bringing some of their wares overseas. Erdinger specializes in weissbier. Krombacher has a weizen as well, plus a pilsner and a dark lager.

Grain Hopper: The Rio Rancho-based home brewing store has concocted a trio of beers. White Knight (Belgian Wit), Over the Pond (Pale Ale), and Hoptoberfest will be available. Looking forward to the last of those three.

Mad River: Never pass up Steelhead Extra Stout. Never.

Mother Road: The Lost Highway Black IPA is some epic stuff. I’m also quite intrigued to try the Red Rye IPA. Beyond those, a Mother Road rep contacted us to say they’re also bringing something special in a Randall, something else in a cask, and a third beer that’s been barrel aged. Oh, you are much to good to us, supreme lord of the Flagstaff brewing scene. WE’RE NOT WORTHY!

Ponderosa: They just signed up Friday. We don’t know what they’re bringing, but we’ll stop by and see what they’ve got.

Total Wine collective: The jumbo beer store is bringing three unique beers — Clown Shoes’ Crunkle Sam (barleywine), Pike’s Naughty Nelly (a gold artisinal ale, whatever that means), and Laughing Dog’s Sneaky Pete, which sounds like a DIPA and checks in at 10 percent ABV.

Cider-palooza: You know that Johnny Appleseed badge on Untappd? You can start leveling up on that there’s so many cideries here. There are going to be four alone in the side room, including Green Goblin and Thistly Cross.

Main room breweries

Alaskan: We’ve always enjoyed the Amber and Freeride APA. The seasonal they’re bringing is their Pumpkin Porter.

Back Alley: Addison actually ran out of beer downtown because he was saving up for Hopfest. He didn’t get us an updated list, but we have a feeling it will be more than just the Soroche IPA and Berliner Weisse.

Black Diamond: The NorCal brewery with a brewer from ABQ (he and Franz Solo actually went to high school together … this town is so small) is bringing four of its best. If you have never tried the Fracas Imperial Red or the Peak XV Imperial Porter, you’ve been missing out.

Bridgeport: The Oregon brewery has something called Trilogy #2 Aussie Salute, an IPA made with two American hops and two Australian hops. Fair enough, we’ll give it a try.

In 2012, the crazy lines were for Boar's Nest. We expect Pi and Red Door to get huge lines this time.

In 2012, the crazy lines were for Boar’s Nest. We expect Pi and Red Door to get huge lines this time.

Chama River: The Brew Crew’s hefeweizen challenge champion, Hefe Nice Day! will be available, along with the delicious Hardscrabble ESB.

Dukes of Ale: They usually bring several top-notch home brews for us all to try, with patrons getting to vote for the favorite as best of show.

Lagunitas: An Imperial Red, you say? Why yes, I’d love to see what this hop-centric California brewery does with one of those.

Magic Hat: These guys always get points for sheer naming creativity. The scored again with Wilhelm Screamer, their seasonal pumpkin release.

NM Craft Brewing: There’s no entry in the event program, but fear not, the NMCBC folks got back to us on the five beers they have coming down from Las Vegas. On the way are a Session IPA, Rye Pale Ale, Wet and Wild IPA (made with fresh-picked hops; last year’s batch was wholly unique and awesome), Porter, and Cream Ale. Guess we’ll have to try ’em all. Shucks.

Odell: Just when I thought I had all of their beers, they go and bust out Gramps Oatmeal Stout. That sounds surly and mean. Woots.

Pagosa: Mrs. Solo and her dear husband (who’s stuck at the Apple Store during iPhone release weekend; raise a pint in his honor wherever you are) have long sworn by this lovely brewery from southern Colorado. How much do they love it? They claim Pagosa has a better Chile Verde Cerveza than any NM brewery. The good news is you can see if they’re right, because it’s on the menu.

Pi: Hey, remember a couple years ago when the lines for Boar’s Nest were crazy as everyone eagerly anticipated it was opening soon? Well, sadly, it never did, but Pi is one of two new ABQ breweries at Hopfest this year that actually is open already. They’re bringing their West Coast Red, Unchallenged IPA, Apricot Wheat, and a special Bourbon Vanilla Porter.

Red Door: The other new brewery in town is already seeing huge crowds and positive buzz, even among the most discerning of beer drinkers. The Trapdoor Wheat was listed in the event program, but as it’s not ready at the brewery, it won’t be present at Hopfest, either. Don’t fret, the excellent Roamer Red, Threshold IPA, and Unhinged Cider will still be there for your tasting enjoyment.

Rio Grande/Sierra Blanca: The award-winning Nut Brown and the Alien Imperial Stout, their two best beers in our humble opinion, will be present.

Sandia Chile Grill: The Rattlesnake IPA will not be available, as listed in the program. Brew Crew Bullpen member Amy O had stopped by SCG to get a list (and a try a pint or two). They will be bringing their Smoked Stout and Barb’s Barrel Hefeweizen, plus two of Clint’s award-winning meads. Be forewarned, the melomel mead checks in at 14 percent ABV.

Santa Fe: It looks like they’re just bringing the usual suspects (Java Stout, Happy Camper IPA, Oktoberfest, Nut Brown), but it’s always worth stopping by to see if anything special is lurking.

Ska: It’s been a while since I had a Pinstripe Red Ale, so I suppose I can stop by. Would rather have a Steel Toe Stout, which isn’t listed.

Squatters/Wasatch: Been meaning to try the Squatters Wee Peat Scottish Ale, so here’s a good opportunity.

Stumbling Steer: Get your hop bomb on with the Hop Trough DIPA. Or remain standing and go with the Iron Horse IPA. Either way, you can’t lose.

Tractor: It’s a lot of the old favorites (all three canned varieties, plus Apple Cider and Berliner Weisse), but Tractor does list a “surprise beer,” so we’ll have to go by and be surprised and all.

Cider-palooza part two: There are another six cideries scattered around the main room, including Crispin, Strongbow, Johnny Appleseed, Woodchuck, and Angry Orchard. Seriously, if you don’t pick up at least two or three levels on that Untappd badge, you’re not even trying.

Outdoor area breweries

Big Sky: Well, hello there Slow Elk Oatmeal Stout. You sound like our kind of beer.

There will be plenty of beer goodness packed outside.

There will be plenty of beer goodness packed outside.

Boulder: When you need dessert, Shake Chocolate Porter should suffice.

Deschutes: Fresh Squeezed IPA will be available, but not Obsidian Stout. Boo (to the latter, not the former, which is pretty darned tasty for hop lovers).

Left Hand: Milk Stout, Oktoberfest, and Sawtooth (ESB) in one place. Thank you, Left Hand, thank you.

Marble: The list in program has changed considerably, or so Leah Black told us. The popular Double White will still be there, but it will now be joined by the Double IPA, Galaxy IPA, and Pilsner instead of the regular IPA, Red, and Barley Wine. She did not say whether those two “special brews” were still coming. Guess we’ll have to go find out. Oh, darn.

Oskar Blues: The Old Chub Scotch Ale is listed. Please be on nitro. Please, please, PLEASE.

Santa Sidra: Remember how a cider beat out all the beers at the State Fair Pro-Am? Here’s your chance to try this super cider. And further pad your Untappd stats.

Taos Mesa: They listed their tasty Kolsch 45 and Three Peaks IPA, plus the latest incarnation in their Sessions (IPA) series.

* * * * *

All right, that’s just about everything. Get those pretzel necklaces ready, don’t forget the RailRunner times if you’re taking that, and prep your palates. Come Saturday at 2 p.m., it’s go time!

And yes, you can say hello if you see us. We’ll be the bearded lunkheads in black. Plus Mrs. Solo. Hey, we gotta class up this trip at least somewhat, right?

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Owing to the fact that I (Franz Solo) had a birthday on Monday, my review of 2014’s ABQ Blues and Brews was a tad delayed (This is Brew Crew-speak for “I was really, really hungover” — Stoutmeister), so without further ado:

The crowd was huge at ABQ Blues & Brews.

The crowd was huge at ABQ Blues & Brews.

On a rainy Sunday (perfect beer weather, in my opinion), Mrs. Solo and I headed over to Sandia Casino and Resort for this year’s edition of ABQ Blues and Brews. We arrived a tad later than anticipated and were greeted with what looked to be a very long line waiting to get in. Fortunately, we had purchased VIP tickets and our line was essentially non-existent. We moved quickly inside to the galaxy of beer awaiting us.

The decision to switch from an outdoor back to an indoor venue for the event was quite welcome, given that last year we roasted in 90-degree heat in the sun (Don’t remind me. — S) and this year we would have been drenched from a day-long storm. An added bonus to the venue change was that our musical accompaniment for sampling all of these great brews was far easier to hear throughout the venue and certainly kept the overall vibe very relaxed and fun.

Always get VIP tickets to avoid the longer lines later.

Always get VIP tickets to avoid the longer lines later.

We were lucky enough to have made nearly halfway round the venue before general admission goers entered, so we had a good chance to try many, many new beers before the lines got too terribly long. Standouts from the local offerings were Chama River’s Pecan Porter, The Stumbling Steer’s Imperial Coffee Stout and Double IPA, NM Craft Brewing Co’s Sebastian Canyon Foreign Extra Stout, and Santa Fe Brewing’s Double Dry Hopped Bourbon Barrel Aged Chicken Killer Barleywine.

Chama River’s Pecan Porter was a beer I would pair with a pancake breakfast. There were loads of pecan and maple flavors and a wonderful, sweet profile that kept me coming back for more samples. The porter should be available at Chama in the coming weeks and we definitely look forward to enjoying a few pints and probably a growler or two as well.

NM Craft Brewing had a fine showing.

NM Craft Brewing had a fine showing.

The Steer’s Imperial Coffee Stout was bold and delicious all around with a great profile that had a good deal better balance than previous versions we had tried. We hope that this will continue once brew operations are fully running in-house at the Steer. The Steer’s Double IPA was extremely hoppy and drinkable for a beer pushing 10-percent ABV, definitely a beer for the IPA lovers in the Duke City.

Sebastian Canyon was a standout among the many good offerings from NM Craft Brewing, with a great malty profile and exceptional drinkability. Santa Fe Brewing really brought us something special and unique just for the tasting; we were assured that this particular version of Chicken Killer would quite likely never be made again and man alive, was it great. I had enjoyed an aged bomber of the bourbon barrel Chicken Killer previously, but the double dry hopping for this particular batch made for a real show-stopper of a beer. Sweet and strong layers of malts and bourbon were perfectly balanced from the dry hopping processes. We sincerely hope that this will not be just a one-time beer because it honestly blows the regular Killer out of the water.

A good time was had by all, including Dr. Brews Banner, left, Crew correspondent Adam Auden, center, and Franz Solo himself.

A good time was had by all, including Dr. Brews Banner, left, Crew correspondent Adam Auden, center, and Franz Solo himself.

As for the out-of-state beers that we particularly enjoyed, the best were Fresh Squeezed IPA from Deschutes, Lost Highway Black IPA from Mother Road brewing out of Flagstaff, Arizona, Jamaica Red Ale from Mad River Brewing, and West Coast IPA from Green Flash. Of these four, Fresh Squeezed IPA and West Coast IPA can be found here in town, while the other two are not yet available in the state at this point but we hope that that will change. (We’ve heard that Mother Road will soon be distributing here. In the meantime, we’re planning an excursion to Flagstaff in June to try all six of the breweries there, Mother Road included. — S)

As the crowd inside grew to full capacity, it did become a bit difficult to obtain samples at any reasonable rate as the lines just grew and grew. I would maybe suggest that for future Blues and Brews a second day be added to accommodate increasing demand. The venue itself was wonderful for the event, being that we were safely ensconced from the elements and able to fully enjoy some really great blues bands while we sampled away.

On the whole I would call this event a grand success, filled with happy beer and blues aficionados and a great time all around. A huge thank you as well to all of the volunteers and breweries who made this event possible. We are sincerely grateful for your efforts and the result!

So until next year, sayonara Blues and Brews, it was a damn fine day indeed!

Prost!

— Franz and Mrs. Solo

There was a bittersweet feeling as the Crew left Hopfest on Saturday afternoon. It stemmed not from any disappoint in the event — it was quite the opposite, in fact — but instead it came with the realization that beer festival season in 2013 was coming to a close. Even though the year itself is far from being over, in a way another chapter of our lives in beer has come to a close. In that respect, we all raise our sample glasses one more time in honor of a year that began with a fun experiment (New Mexico Cup), had a middle chock full of adventure (ABQ Beer Week), and ended with the biggest bang of all at Hopfest.

Stoutmeister, Brandon, and Porter Pounder all tackled Hopfest. Hey, half the Crew in one room is an accomplishment.

Stoutmeister, Brandon, and Porter Pounder all tackled Hopfest. Hey, half the Crew in one room is an accomplishment.

So enough sepia-tinted nostalgia of times past. Let us get to the important thing: How was all that beer, guys? There was much beer. And it was good. So good.

We begin with a careful analysis of … ah, to hell with it. LABYRINTH! LABYRINTH! LABYRINTH! LABYRINTH! LABYRINTH! LABYRINTH! The quadruple black ale of godliness stole the show. Only this time we weren’t the only ones to think so. Post-event buzz centered around this monster from Uinta, this wonderful beast that blasted our palates and made our tastebuds dance. Yes, Labyrinth, you were the best of show. Now please, somebody, help Uinta start putting that on the shelves of Jubilation and other fine New Mexico liquor stores. PLEASE!!!!

Ahem, anyway, amid the 62 breweries and thousands of beer lovers, we (this is Stoutmeister, and Porter Pounder and Brandon were along for the ride this time) found a few favorite beers, some off-beat beers, and overall enjoyed the heck out of our Saturday. This is our stab at a breakdown of what we had or remembered having (though there was no Nexus brewer around this time constantly refilling our sample glasses with two-year-old barley wine, so we were much more lucid than after Brew Fest).

Stoutmeister’s favorites (besides Labyrinth)

New Mexico beers: Well, first off, one of the major highlights were the home brews served up by the Dukes of Ale and Southwest Grape & Grain. Ben Miller’s Belgian Trippel and Mike Griesmeyer’s Milk Stout were quite wonderful at the Dukes booth. The former found a nice balance between sweetness and strength, while the latter was smooth as silk and not overly sweet. I also felt the Octoberfest at the SWG&G booth was comparable to any brewery’s Marzen.

Las Vegas’ New Mexico Craft Brewing brought a couple of top-notch beers to tap. The Wet-N-Wild Ale, made with wild hops picked in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, was a wholly unique beer with a strong vanilla flavor amid the hops, which had a Cascade-like aroma and feel. The uniquely named F Your Black IPA Dry-Hopped Porter tasted like a hybrid between a dry, bitter black IPA and a smooth, coffee-and-chocolate-heavy porter.

Back Alley Draft House also unveiled two big, tough beers in the hop-bomb Triple IPA and the burly Imperial Russian Stout. BADH doesn’t brew huge batches, so head down there ASAP before they disappear from the taps.

Marble’s Pumpkin Noire offered up a nice mix of a smoky porter base with some pumpkin spices. Also of note, Tractor’s more classic pumpkin ale, Jack the Sipper, and Sandia Chile Grill’s always excellent Rio Negro smoked milk stout.

In case we haven't said it enough already, Uinta's Labyrinth is one of the greatest beers ever brewed.

In case we haven’t said it enough already, Uinta’s Labyrinth is one of the greatest beers ever brewed.

Out-of-state beers besides Labyrinth: A lot of breweries busted out their big guns (by ABV and/or IBUs), but Clown Shoes’ Blaecorn Unidragon, a 12.5-percent Russian Imperial Stout that is every bit the behemoth it sounds like. Seriously, if Godzilla were real, he would drink this beer. And then smash Tokyo to bits looking for more of it. For us mere mortals, it’s often available at Total Wine; just drink with caution.

Keeping with the big beer theme, Anderson Valley’s Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Stout offered up a kung-fu kick to the face. Indian Wells’ Whiskey Barrel Amber took a style not usually associated with barrel-aging and made it into a rough-and-tumble beer in its own right. Sierra Nevada did not bring the excellent Narwhal Imperial Stout, but they made up for it with the Bigfoot barley wine, aged for over a year. I only had one this time, I swear.

For those who are looking for something a little lower on the ABV chart, you could go seasonal with Bridgeport’s Witch Hunt or Deschutes’ Jubelale. Durango’s Dark Lager is always a solid standby, while Eel River’s Certified Organic Amber packed a lot more flavor than most regular ambers. Kona’s Pipeline Porter exceeded my expectations (Franz Solo should enjoy it when he’s in Hawaii soon). Another staple of my autumn beer diet, Left Hand’s Oktoberfest, showed up in place of Fade to Black. Oh. Darn. And speaking of seasonals, Ska brought down its Vernal Minthe Stout, which is basically dessert in a glass. A chocolate mint made into a beer? Sure, why not?

And the award for the strangest beer went to Twisted Pine’s Roots Revival Carrot IPA. I’m not sure if I tasted the carrot in there. I’m not sure what I tasted period. It was a beer that cannot be categorized. It’s not bad, just … different.

Oh, and beers I wanted to try but ran out of time to get to included Pedernales’ Lobo Negro, Green Flash’s Green Bullet, and Odell’s Isolation Ale. Looks like a trip to Jubilation is in my near future.

Brandon’s favorite beers (besides Labyrinth)

New Mexico beers: A majority of our state’s breweries have been unleashing their latest offerings over the past few weeks, so there were only a few new things to check out. The majority of my praise has to go to the home brews from the Dukes of Ale. There were several pleasant surprises in the mix at their table, of which the public got to vote on their favorite beer. This truly was a tough choice, as all had qualities that I really appreciated. Here’s a quick breakdown.

Sandia Chile Grill definitely got into the season with their beer board.

Sandia Chile Grill definitely got into the season with their beer board.

Belgian Pale Ale: This hybrid-style gave a pale ale some refreshingly crisp character from the Belgian malts and enough yeasty character to please this guy’s palate. Add a hop profile that held a slight bit of citrus and pine without being overwhelming and you had a very delicious take on a unique style.

Milk Stout: Well, what can I say? You had me at milk stout. This was quite the creamy delight, actually, as I have high expectations of this style. Lots of chocolate and roasted malt, with a hefty dose of sweetness from the lactic sugars that was still somehow not overpowering. Wonderful job with this beer.

IPA: This was a really interesting beer for one big reason, which is that is was NOT a hop bomb … however, the nose on it said otherwise. Lots of grapefruit and pine, with a touch of citrus. The body? Light, almost floral throughout the front and middle, and slightly resiny in the back. It didn’t leave me with a lack of taste buds for the rest of the day, which is good. Unexpected but very tasty.

Belgian Trippel: A creation of noted homebrewer Ben Miller, the Belgian Trippel stood tall among the other entries. A rich and smooth malt bill was balanced out with a slight bitterness, and finished with a subtle sweetness. Subtle spice hints and complex yeast aromatics made this a great brew, though deceptively easy drinking (as most trippels are). One of my favorite beers of the day.

Green Chile Pumpkin: Yes, you read that right. Odd, huh? Well, I’m all for experimentation when it comes to beer. This was actually a very tasty brew, with fresh green chile prominent in the front and middle, along with a slightly sweet malt bill and spices. The pumpkin comes in mainly at the end, but does lend to the overall creamy mouthfeel of this beer. Judging from the patrons I spoke with this was a pretty polarizing beer, but most people enjoyed it. I will include myself in that group.

Now, on to the breweries! Marble brought two pumpkin beers, the Pumpkin Noire being my favorite of the two. A very natural pumpkin flavor is met with slightly burnt/toasted malts to give the flavor of a baked pumpkin pie. Wonderful stuff really, it was one of my favorites of the pumpkin season.

The good folks at NM Craft Brewing brought the hops to Hopfest. F Your Black IPA was a dry-hopped porter with a bit of smokiness and a dry finish. Plenty of dark and roasted malts gave it a rich body with a nice hop kick. For those of you not big on the dark malts, the Rye PA was plenty smooth with floral and pine hints, and a nice light/medium malt body, making this an easy drinking IPA variation.

Back Alley Draft House had their Russian Imperial Stout and Triple IPA flowing. The IPA was an expected onslaught on the senses with loads of floral, grapefruit, and pine, and a subtle fruity hint, and a strong nose to boot. I’m glad I only had a taste, but man was it good.

Sandia Chile Grill brought out their Rio Negro stout for the event. Strong and malty with a nice sweetness, there is lots of chocolate-y goodness to be found in this brew, so make sure to stop in for a pint.

We have no idea why some dude dressed as Batman and came to Hopfest. But he did, and we hope he enjoyed it more than Porter Pounder enjoyed The Dark Knight Rises.

We have no idea why some dude dressed as Batman at Hopfest. But he did, and we hope he enjoyed it more than Porter Pounder enjoyed The Dark Knight Rises.

Out-of-state beers: The breweries from around the region were in full effect at Hopfest. Clown Shoes brought the big guns out in the form of Blaecorn Unidragon. A huge amount of malt complexity, lots of chocolate and slightly burnt malt with coffee and mild hop kick. All the things one would expect from the style are here in droves in this Russian imperial stout, quite a wonderful brew.

Green Flash brought out their Green Bullet Triple IPA that I’ve heard so much about. As one who has grown to love a nice dank IPA, this one made me utter a brief string of obscenities … in a good way. Huge grapefruit and pine notes, with a punch of citrus and fruit around the middle, and slight resin and more citrus in the finish. Not for the faint of hops … er, heart.

Big Sky came from Montana with their limited release Heavy Horse Scotch Ale. More of a traditional “wee heavy” style, it had a wonderful malt body, with a dash of earthy hops and a slight smokey touch to it. This needs to be a year-round beer.

A pleasant find of the day was Indian Wells’ Whiskey Barrel Amber. One of the smoothest libations I had the pleasure of sampling, the whiskey character was prominent and smooth with oak and vanilla spread all through and slight caramel, almost butterscotch flavors. A delightful amber that just wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t aged. I’m glad it was, though.

We of course took time to get a taste of some of our old favorites from breweries like Left Hand (Oktoberfest), Ska (who brought their Mole and Vernal Minthe Stouts, two excellent seasonals), Oskar Blues (hello, G’Knight!), Deschutes (Jubelale, a tasty winter ale), Durango Brewing Company (Dark Lager), and Sierra Nevada (Bigfoot Aged Barley Wine). So many beers were tried that I know we will miss some, but all in all it was a great day filled with delicious beers.

Porter Pounder’s favorite beers (besides Labyrinth)

As this was my first Hopfest, I finally had the opportunity to try a staggering amount of beers that the rest of the Crew has enjoyed from GABF and other such festivals. Here’s some of my high points in no particular order.

Many of the best beers from outside NM were found on the patio outside the casino.

Many of the best beers from outside NM were found on the patio outside the casino.

Big Sky’s Heavy Horse Scotch Ale: Really full-bodied Scotch Ale, which I am a big fan of always; it was just nice and rich. I love root cellar temp-fermented beers. It gives styles like this that nice thick body and a creamy tone off the top.

BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse’s Pumpkin Ale: I was quite surprised I liked this one, to be honest. But in the end, out of all the Pumpkin Ales I tried at Hopfest, this one really had some of the best balance between pumpkin flavor and pie spice, blended to make it creamy with a smooth finish.

Clown Shoes’ Blaecorn Unidragon: One of the highest ABV beers at the show, and clearly an all-around winner for the NMDSBC alongside the Labyrinth that we call can’t stop raving about. This was also my first time experiencing Clown Shoes beer. It was also one of the first things I tried. I figured go big or go home and no regrets my friends, this beer was worth every sip. So thick you could cut it with a knife and fork and amazingly enough, it finished relatively clean, so despite how bold it was it didn’t ruin your palate for your next samples.

Ska’s Vernal Minthe Stout: I never thought about doing mint in a stout, and all you get is what it claims, a bold, rich, perfect stout with just the right amount of mint that adds this throat-and-palate-cleanse at the end. It’s like eating girl scout cookies, but even better, cause cookies don’t get you buzzed. I’m officially sold on Ska after this and their Mole Chile Stout.

Milk Stout, Dukes of Ale (Brewed by Mike Griesmeyer): Welcome to the Indie Awards! The fine folks with the Dukes of Ale had brewed five brews for their own mini-competition. This was my runner up. I drink a lot of stouts, and I’ve brewed at least one of my own, and they are trickier to get just right than a lot of other lighter beers. This was bold and rich, actually almost like a punch in your mouth, but it’s because you joined Fight Club on purpose, so it’s exactly what you came for. Full-bodied with a bold nose off the top with the added richness from the milk sugars. Definitely a highlight on independent brewing.
Green Chile Pumpkin Beer, Dukes of Ale (Brewed by Brian Ausderau): Exactly what it claims to be. Many chile beers have an inherently vinegary tone to them which isn’t that pleasant. This is all about natural roasted chile flavors. Keeping it to a crisp light ale is usually the best way to go with this category to balance it, but then this fine fellow decided to try something new — add pumpkin. Strangely it works really well. It makes this lighter beer almost creamy, which was wonderful to follow the hotness of the chile, and then all you’re left with in the end is a nice pumpkin flavor to finish it and remain. This is the one that got my vote.
Octoberfest, SW Grape & Grain: Second up on the indie beer brewing tastings for me was this wonderful local beer supplies store’s offering of an Octoberfest. They hosted five beers for this event, and this was my favorite. I tried quite a few Octoberfest beers during this event, and this one really stood out for me being particularly crisp. It had a little extra body which I find nice, and a clean finish without being overly bold or alcoholic so you could just eat and drink at an event all day long and never need to take a break, just enjoy!
New Mexico Craft Brewing's booth was full of unique beers and some unique characters serving those beers.

New Mexico Craft Brewing’s booth was full of unique beers and some unique characters serving those beers.

New Mexico Craft Brewing’s F Your Black IPA Dry-Hopped Porter: Our other indie brewing category friends brewed a really damn delicious beer. Honestly, the only way to write to you all how bad ass this beer was, is to steal directly from the write up they submitted for the Hopfest guide: “Oh what am I? Am I a roasty beer? Am I an IPA? I suck at being both. Nope. I am a fat-balled dry-hopped porter. So shut up.” Damn right!

And Finally probably my favorite of all of Hopfest goes to …
Indian Wells’ Whiskey Barrel Amber: This beer is exactly what I came to this festival for. I love whiskey or bourbon barrel-aged beers, but what sets this aside from the rest is one simple fact. It was a dried in the direct sun until the whiskey was sweated out. The difference in doing this from the others — and as good as the others are they are SO overly bold with the alcohol flavor — is that you have to sip your beer like it is a fine scotch, or brace yourself and take your beer in shots. This style Indian Wells tried gives it an edge, because you still taste some great whiskey, but it’s so mellow and well blended into an already excellent beer that you can enjoy it like you would any other smooth drink. It definitely has a decent alcohol content that will sneak up on you in the end, but I could drink this all day, winter or summer.

The beers that ran out before I got to try or somehow weren’t available to try for other reasons were Brigdeport’s Bear Hug (Cherry Chocolate Stout) and Clown Shoes’ Crunkle Sam (American Barlyewine).

* * * *

Well, as we said at the beginning, that’s it for beer festival season in the ABQ area (there is one more fest down in Las Cruces this coming Saturday, but we’ll be sitting that one out). A huge thanks to the always awesome Marne Gaston and her entire volunteer staff, everyone at Isleta Casino that helped out, and all the brewery staff members present. Everything went smoothly, just like many of the beers we had. And thank you to all of the other attendees; once again, you were a great crowd united in the pursuit of having a good time without anyone going overboard.

The big fests may be over, but there is still plenty of beer news out there for the Crew to cover. We will be back soon with our advance preview of The Stumbling Steer, including our samples of some of their forthcoming beers, plus a whole lot more as the rest of 2013 draws to a close.

Because after all, what else are we going to do? Sit around and watch our football teams? (They’re a combined 11-18 and probably only going to get worse.)

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Hopfest is big. There are 62 breweries serving up samples for thousands of beer lovers. In other words, it is not the place to just walk into and wander about. Nope, you need a plan, a battle plan. Luckily, the Dark Side Brew Crew is here to provide one. It’s what we do.

Hopfest is tougher than he looks. You need a battle plan before entering.

Hopfest is tougher than he looks. You need a battle plan before entering.

In terms of physical layout, Hopfest is divided in three. There is the side room, where the Premier Stage is located; the main room, where over half the breweries will be stationed; and the outdoor area, where the Project Acoustic Preview Stage is located. There is also a VIP area, but we don’t have VIP tickets and most of you probably do not, either, so we’ll skip that place.

The two smaller areas should be your first two targets. They can get crowded quickly. In fact, if you are a serious beer drinker, that additional $10 for Extra Hoppy Hour tickets is a must. That initial hour is an excellent time to not only try more beers with fewer people in line, but it is also a chance to actually converse with some of the brewery reps behind the counters.

Upon arrival we are heading for the side room first. It features three in-state breweries, eight from out-of-state, and two from outside the country. What order you go in is up to you, and in the end that is likely to be determined by the beers they have on hand and your personal preference by style. Luckily, we have the list that the breweries passed along to Hopfest, though as always things will be subject to change.

Abita: The Louisiana brewery is bringing two of its standard bearers, Turbo Dog and Purple Haze, so the one we’re interested in is Andygator (8% ABV), a high-gravity maibock-style beer.

Cazuela’s: The Rio Rancho brewery is bringing five beers to Hopfest. For hopheads, you have to go with the Papa Cabra DIPA (9.2% ABV, 100+ IBUs). If you fall on the maltier side of the spectrum, check out the Piedra Del Fuego (5% ABV), a stoned cream ale.

Clown Shoes: Make sure to thank Total Wine for bringing this Massachusetts-based brewery to town. And they’re not coming bearing anything wimpy. Both the Crunkle Sam (11% ABV), an American barleywine, and Blaecorn Unidragon (12.5% ABV), a monstrous Russian imperial stout, will be available. This is why you take the Rail Runner down to Isleta, so you can sample beers like this. Do not go all imperial-crazy and expect to drive afterward, OK?

Durango Dark Lager will be one of the featured beers at Hopfest. Huzzah!

Durango Dark Lager will be one of the featured beers at Hopfest. Huzzah!

Durango Brewing: Ska gets a lot of the attention out of Southwest Colorado, but this little gem of a brewery was a favorite of mine and E-Rock when we visited last year. They’re bringing one of our favorites, Durango Dark Lager (5.4% ABV) along for the ride. There will also be Hop Hugger (6.7% ABV) for you IPA lovers.

Eel River: Gotta admit, have not had too many certified organic beers over the years. This Fortuna, Calif.-based brewery will bring three of those, an IPA, amber, and a blonde, for us to sample.

Indian Wells: Another California brewery, you can find their Lobotomy Doppelbock (typically shortened to the NM-friendly Lobo Bock) around town. It’s not a personal favorite, but we do intend to give their Whiskey Barrel Amber a shot. For all the stouts/porters/browns/Belgians that get the whiskey barrel treatment, we gotta admit, we have not heard of anyone doing that with an amber.

Lost Coast: Not to be confused with Left Coast (see below), this Northern California institution is one of the only female-owned-and-operated breweries in the country. They are bringing three of their primary beers, Indica IPA, Great White, and Downtown Brown.

Mad River: It’s practically a California invasion in the side room. Mad River is bringing three of its standard beers as well in Steelhead DIPA, Steelhead Extra Pale Ale, and Jamaica Red Ale.

New Mexico Craft Brewing: The Las Vegas, NM, brewery is unleashing four hop-centric brews — Starvation Peak AIPA (6.3% ABV, 80 IBUs), Anti-Imperial AIPA (9% ABV, 100+ IBUs), RyePA (6.6% ABV, 85 IBUs), Wet-n-Wild Ale (7.3% ABV, 100+ IBUs) — with the last one made with wild hops picked here in NM. In addition, there’s the early candidate for “most unique beer name” at Hopfest in the F Your Black IPA Dry-Hopped Porter (5.8% ABV, 60 IBUs).

Petrus: The Belgian brewery is bringing its Aged Pale Ale and Aged Red Ale to tap. If you’re a Belgian beer fan, this place is one of the big guns in that country.

Rio Negro is big and burly, yet very smooth.

Rio Negro is big and burly, yet very smooth.

Sandia Chile Grill: Feeling dark? Yet smooth? Then a sample of Rio Negro smoked milk stout on nitro should fit you perfectly. If you want to stay on the light side, the award-winning Gold Rush Pilsen should more than suffice.

Twisted Pine: This will mark the first visit (we think) to a NM beer festival for the Boulder-based brewery. Twisted Pine is not coming light, either, bringing its wholly unique Roots Revival Carrot IPA (6.9% ABV, 51 IBUs), plus Bishop’s Elbow ESB (5.2% ABV).

Van Steenberge: This Belgian brewery is bringing Gulden Draak, which is not a character in the upcoming “Hobbit” film, but instead a Dark Triple Ale that checks in at 10.5-percent ABV.

All right, so that’s the side room. Now head to the small outside area on the south side of Isleta Casino, where 11 breweries, all from outside New Mexico.

Anderson Valley: Another of Northern California’s finest breweries will grace our presence with four beers. While the seasonal Winter Solstice (6.9% ABV) sounds nice and all (if a bit early), the one we have our eye on is the Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Stout (6.9% ABV).

Big Sky: Montana’s biggest brewery will bring three beers to sample, with the Heavy Horse Scotch Ale (6.7% ABV) as the highlight.

Boulder Beer: Colorado’s oldest microbrewery will feature four of its primary beers, including the popular Hazed & Infused and the Flashback India Brown Ale.

Deschutes isn't bringing Obsidian Stout (sniff), but you can still celebrate their beers the way I celebrated the Pirates' 82nd victory a few months ago.

Deschutes isn’t bringing Obsidian Stout (sniff), but you can still celebrate their beers the way I celebrated the Pirates clinching their first winning season in 20 years back in August.

Deschutes: Bend, Oregon’s most famous brewery will have four beers to try, including two regulars in River Ale (4% ABV) and Hop Trip (5.5% ABV) pale ale, plus the seasonal Jubelale (6.7% ABV) and Chasin’ Freshies IPA (7.2% ABV).

Left Coast: Poor Left Coast has probably been mixed up with Lost Coast (see above) and Left Hand (see right below) plenty of times. This Southern California brewery will try to set itself apart with four beers on hand in the Una Mas amber lager (6.4% ABV), Hop Juice DIPA (9.7% ABV), Voo Doo American Stout (8.5% ABV), and a fourth TBA beer. (We heard it was called Lucky Buddha, but the official Left Coast site has no info on such a beer.)

Left Hand: The Longmont, Colo., brewery racked up multiple medals at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival. They are best known for their Milk Stout, which will be among the regular beers they are scheduled to bring down. Sawtooth Ale, an ESB-style beer, will also be present, as will whichever current edition of Fade to Black they have available. That has been a porter, a black IPA, and various other dark genres in the past. Guess we’ll have to go and find out what this version is.

New Belgium: Another Colorado institution, they will have regular beers Fat Tire, Rampant Imperial IPA, Shift Pale Lager, and the seasonal Pumpkick.

Oskar Blues: It’s all about Colorado breweries on the patio. They will have five of their regular beers on hand, including two of our favorites in G’Knight, an imperial red, and Old Chub, a Scotch ale.

Pedernales: Another brewery making its ABQ debut is this Fredericksburg, Texas, outfit. They have a series of Lobo beers, so that should appease the local sports fans. Lobo Lager, Lobo Lito (a pilsner), and Lobo Negro (a black lager) will be on hand for many of us to try for the first time.

Tommyknocker: This Colorado brewery has made a recent push into NM and gotten some good reviews from folks around the state. They will have the dry-hopped IPA and a Half (7% ABV, 85 IBUs) for all you hopheads. Seasonal lovers can try the Pumpkin Harvest Ale or the Maple Nut Brown Ale.

Dear lord, thank you for Uinta's Labyrinth, a quadruple black ale.

Dear lord, thank you for Uinta’s Labyrinth, a quadruple black ale.

Uinta: Another brewery that has arrived in force in NM, this Utah-based group will have the wonderful, magnificent, still-not-available-for-sale-here (damn it) Labyrinth Quadruple Black Ale. If you did not have this wonder at Blues & Brews back in May, now you must try it. No, seriously, TRY LABYRINTH!

All right, now it’s time to tackle the main room. Odds are, you’ll be arriving just as the general admission crowd is walking in. So get strategic, target the places you absolutely want to try first; if a brewery only brought some classics, hold off and wait until you’ve cleared your must-haves, then pick the shortest lines and go wild.

Alaskan: Sadly, no seasonals are expected, just the four regular beers you can find in six-packs all around town. Still, if you have not tried the Amber or the Freeride APA, now is a good chance. They are both worth it for malt lovers and hopheads.

Angry Orchard/Crispin/Woodchuck: It’s all ciders. Have fun if you’re into that sort of thing any of these three booths.

Back Alley Draft House: Addison is bringing two monsters, his Imperial Russian Stout (9.6% ABV) and Triple IPA (10.5% ABV, 100+ IBUs), to clobber us all. We had the stout at Brew Fest and it was excellent. Just not for the faint of heart. If you can’t take those behemoths, go with the Pumpkin Ale. It’s only 8-percent ABV.

Batch 19/Blue Moon/Third Shift: Don’t let the cute names fool you, these are macrobrewery-owned places trying to masquerade as microbreweries.

BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse: It’s a beer chain. There’s one by Winrock. In a better world, we would have gotten the superior Rock Bottom first. Oh, well.

Boston Beer Co. (Samuel Adams): The biggest of all microbreweries in America, they have a bunch of their usual stuff. The only I (Stoutmeister) have not had before is the Hazel Brown (5.2% ABV). I’ll give it a shot if there’s time.

Breckenridge: A staple in Colorado, they are only bringing their two most popular regular beers, the Vanilla Porter and Lucky U IPA.

Bridgeport: The Oregon brewery got some pub when the final season of TNT’s “Leverage” was filmed there. While their IPA and Hop Czar have been here before, this may very well be the debut of Bear Hug, a cherry chocolate stout. Sample it and then head over to Il Vicino to see how things stack up.

Dukes of Ale: Definitely make time to stop by the home brewers’ booth, where they will have samples of some of the best locally made beers you will have Saturday. There should be a big variety.

Goose Island: The Chicago brewery is not, sadly, bringing us more of that Bourbon County Coffee Stout like they did back during ABQ Beer Week. Instead we just get three of their regulars, IPA, Honker’s Ale, and 312 Urban Wheat Ale.

Green Flash: San Diego’s up-and-coming brewery will have two blasts for hopheads. Their West Coast IPA is a good start. Then they will clobber you with the Green Bullet, a triple IPA. See how it compares to Back Alley’s Triple IPA.

Milk Chocolate Cherry Stout from Il Vicino goes perfectly with ... everything.

Milk Chocolate Cherry Stout from Il Vicino goes perfectly with … everything.

Il Vicino: Our favorite local mad scientists will have some more Milk Chocolate Cherry Stout for us all to enjoy. There will also be Hell(y)es, Dark American Lager, and Wet Mountain IPA, but you can still get those at the Canteen.

Isotopes Beer: It’s the two beers you can get during baseball games, the Slammin’ Amber and Triple-A Blonde. They are made by Rio Grande/Sierra Blanca (see below).

Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing: The popular Wisconsin brewery will have their Hoppin’ Helles. That’s all they’re listing, for now. At least they’re not bringing the Summer Shandy, which one Twitter feed considered a form of torture under the Geneva Convention.

Kellys Brewpub: The Nob Hill institution will have its Session IPA, Scottish Ale, Apricot Ale, and Pumpkin Ale. It’s been so long since we have been there we have no idea if three of those beers are new or if they have been on tap for a while (we know the Scottish is a regular).

Kona Brewing: Hawaii’s biggest brewery will bring three of its regulars to town in the Longboard Lager, Pipeline Porter, and Big Wave, a golden ale. I’ll give the porter a shot since it was never on tap at any of the bars I was at in Honolulu about eight years ago. We’ll have Franz Solo seek out Hawaii beers when he is out there for a cousin’s wedding next month.

Lagunitas: These hopheads from California are just bringing their IPA and Undercover Shutdown Ale. Not that there’s anything wrong with those, but we can go buy ’em at Jubilation. Bring us something new!

Magic Hat: The Vermont brewery has also made a fairly recent push into NM. It’s beers tend to be all over the place. Along for the ride at Hopfest are #9, a “not quite pale ale,” the HI.P.A., Seance (a Saison), and deVeiled Red Ale. These appear to be all the beers available in their current variety pack that you can pick up at Jubilation.

What mystery kegs will Marble bring to Hopfest? We will find out soon.

What mystery kegs will Marble bring to Hopfest? We will find out soon.

Marble: They’re bringing … no one knows! As per usual, Marble seems to be throwing together its beer list at the last second. We are sure there will be some good ones, some company standards, and hopefully a surprise or two.

Odell: There’s nothing too new from this Colorado brewery, just the debut of Isolation Ale, their annual winter seasonal.

Omission: Widmer owns this gluten-free line of beers. For that gluten-free friend of years who just can’t take another cider, their Pale Ale will be on tap.

Redhook: Three of their standards will be available from Seattle, the ESB, Longhammer IPA, and Audible Ale. Actually, that last one is new. They brewed it with former ESPN anchor Dan Patrick. Yeah, you read that right.

Sierra Blanca/Rio Grande: The Moriarty brewery will have all of its crowd favorites on hand, including the Sierra Blanca Nut Brown Ale, which has won silver and gold, respectively, at the last two Great American Beer Festivals.

Santa Fe: Three regulars and Octoberfest. About what we expected.

Sierra Nevada: If you haven’t tried the Narwhal Imperial Stout, this is your chance.

Ska: Decadent Imperial IPA beckons hopheads everywhere. But where are the excellent stouts? WHERE?!

Spoetzl Brewery (Shiner): They are only bringing their Ruby Redbird. Have at it, fruit beer lovers.

Squatters/Wasatch: For hopheads only. These two Utah breweries are bringing Squatters IPA, Hop Rising DIPA, and Ghostrider White IPA.

SW Grape & Grain: They will have some home-brewed beers to sample, just like Dukes of Ale. See whose collection is superior. Hey, there’s an Octoberfest on their list! See Monica, not everyone brewed pumpkin beers instead this fall!

It's always a party at the Tractor booth with Skye and Dave, or whoever they send.

It’s always a party at the Tractor booth with Skye and Dave, or whoever they send.

Tractor: It’s pretty much what you’d get over at the Nob Hill tap room (IPA, DIPA, Red, Cortijo, Stout are listed, though I thought the Cortijo, a farmhouse ale, ran out a while ago), but they’re always a fun bunch to stop by and say hello to. And if you are one of those weird people who still hasn’t been to tractor, grab yourself a sample of the Double Plow Oatmeal Stout and see what you have been missing.

Widmer Bros.: Hopfest’s sponsoring brewery, so at least stop by and say “thanks!” Their Hefeweizen (4.9% ABV) and Alchemy Ale (5.8%) will be on hand. The latter is a result of an ongoing experiment to create a “perfectly balanced, perfectly hopped ale.” We love when breweries go all mad scientist on us.

So that’s the entire lineup (Duel will only be pouring in the VIP room, darn it), but as we said, it’s all subject to change. You can go clockwise or counter-clockwise around the rooms, or just dart about, picking shorter lines as the event gets more crowded. Whatever approach works for you, go with it. Just pick the beers or breweries that sound like your kind of places, and hit ’em up first. Everyone at these events has traditionally been polite and courteous, but still, please be on your best behavior. I think we have all seen enough videos on Deadspin of drunk sports fans battering each other. That bad behavior has never spilled over into Hopfest or any other beer festival, so don’t let it start. Smile and remember, it’s all about having a good time and lots of good beer.

However you choose to go, just don’t overdo it, please. Getting a designated driver or taking the Rail Runner is a must for this event. We will be doing the latter, so we’ll see some of you on the train.

On behalf of myself, Brandon, Porter Pounder, and associate Brew Crew member Corporal Hicks, we hope you enjoy Hopfest tomorrow half as much as we do!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister