Posts Tagged ‘Duel Brewing’

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

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Well, we have a big chunk of good news this week, and one bit of bad news. First, the good, as High and Dry is throwing a two-day anniversary celebration this Saturday and Sunday. Two new beers will be released, one each day, in the Desert Mosaic Pale Ale and Desert Perle. There will be a Polaroid Selfie Station on Saturday, plus the Porter Draw will perform from 2 to 4 p.m. Shane Wallin will take the stage for the same times on Sunday. Market vendors participating from 2 to 5 on Sunday will include Kimshe Kimche, Blue Fly Farms, Thunderhead Farms, Farm Shark, and Eldora Cholcates. There will also be a birthday cake for everyone to share at 2:30. Make sure to join the fun whenever you can.

The sad news this week is that Duel Brewing has apparently closed for good in Santa Fe. We heard rumblings a while back that even closing the Albuquerque Taproom was not enough to save the brewery. Then on Monday, word spread quickly through the community of musicians and artists, as many were informed that their upcoming sessions at the brewery were canceled. All that, coupled with the disappearance of all of Duel’s social media pages, confirmed it as much as it can be confirmed. Farewell, Duel, and thank you for the memories of some brutally tough Belgian brews.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out of the non-stout/porter variety. Bombs Away lands with some fresh Dunkelweizen. Bosque managed to sneak in A Fistful of Churros. Bow & Arrow added some coffee to a saison and voila, Saison Buzz debuts Friday. Boxing Bear went hop crazy again with Citra Double-Dry-Hopped Albu-Murky Hazy IPA. Canteen rolls out Hop Baller IPA, North 14 Pale Ale, Dixie Dean ESB, and Barrel-Aged Wee Bit Loco, plus the charity beer Vienna de Valle debuts Saturday. Cantero strikes a tune with Kenny Weisse. Flix Brewhouse celebrates The LEGO Movie 2 with Pale Full of Brix. La Cumbre gets a wee bit English with Bitter Sons. Marble recently added Amber Lager and Berry White, which is Double White with a whole lotta berries added to the mix. Sidetrack keeps things fresh with Oldschool IPA and Ringwood English Ale. Starr Brothers reminds everyone Don’t Fear the RIPA. Steel Bender unveils two of its National IPA Challenge entrants, Mañana Tropical IPA and Hole in the Bucket IPA, on Thursday. Tractor introduces the first of its Beer for a Better Burque charity brews, Field Beer.

Up in Santa Fe, Blue Corn discovers Messages From Nowhere ESB.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of February 4.

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Duel ABQ taproom closes after all

Posted: October 8, 2018 by cjax33 in News
Tags:

Farewell, Duel taproom, we hardly knew ye.

The Duel Brewing taproom in downtown Albuquerque is no more.

After hearing rumors for a week, the Crew ventured downtown last Wednesday to see for ourselves if the taproom had indeed closed. By all appearances, it has been shut down, and with the deletion of the site’s Facebook page, we feel confident in writing that the taproom has closed.

We had been waiting for a response from Duel owner Trent Edwards, but he has not written us back. Our last communication with him came after this story, in which we noted that there was an advertisement online for the taproom space being up for lease. Edwards vehemently denied that his taproom was closing in a series of emails, culminating with an official statement that simply read “On the record: Duel Taproom ABQ is not closing.” We received that email on September 7, but nothing since.

This sign was posted adjacent to the Duel taproom.

Our quick visit to the taproom, after its posted time of opening (2 p.m.), found the entire building to be dark. A large for lease sign, by Coe & Peterson Properties, was on the outside. While the big logo was still up on the upper facade of the building, the front entrance had been scraped clean of the logo and hours of operation. There was no visible movement inside as all the lights were off, with the chairs still up on the tables.

People involved in the downtown music/arts scene informed us that all of the events scheduled at Duel had been relocated to other nearby breweries, including Sidetrack and Boese Brothers.

Right now, we can only speculate as to why the taproom closed. The likeliest cause is that it simply was not making enough money to cover the cost of the lease for such a large space. Duel had one of the largest, if not the largest, off-site taprooms in the state. Throw in the location on Central, where rent costs are higher than elsewhere in the city, and it was seemingly tough to make a profit. Again, though, this is only speculation until we have an official interview with Edwards.

The Duel signage had already been scraped off the main entrance.

Duel is the second downtown taproom to close in recent months, following Monk’s Corner, which shut down due to financial reasons at the end of July. That leaves only Boese Brothers, Sidetrack, and the Red Door taproom in downtown proper (we consider Marble to be a part of the Wells Park neighborhood since it is north of Lomas) in terms of craft-beer-specific establishments. Downtown breweries in the 1990s included the first Rio Bravo Restaurant and Brewery and San Ysidro Brewing, which closed in 1998 and 1997 respectively.

Our condolences to Duel’s fans in ABQ. We hope everyone in Santa Fe continues to support the brewery there.

— Stoutmeister

Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s seven breweries, one in Los Alamos, one in Moriarty, one in Red River, and one in Las Cruces also joining the party.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Man, there is so much to cover again this week, what shall be the lead? Well, if you have been following us for the past six-plus years … OF COURSE IT’S THE METAL SHOW. Yes, metal is back at a brewery, only this time it is up in Santa Fe at Tumbleroot’s location on Agua Fria. This special Black Metal Takeover on Monday opens at 7:30, with tickets costing a measly $10. That gets you in to see Santa Fe’s own malevolent masters of metal, Dysphotic, as well as the new local group, Heretical Sect, featuring members of Superstition and ex-Predatory Light. Two traveling bands will also be on hand, with both hailing from the frozen wasteland, er, picturesque Midwestern state of Minnesota. Ashbringer and Amiensus are coming a long way to melt some faces, so make sure to load up your crew and head to Santa Fe for this epic set. Plus, it is a perfectly good excuse to finally try Tumbleroot if you have not been there yet.

As we noted, that is hardly the only big event this weekend. High and Dry is hosting Second Street as its guest brewery of the month, and there will be a special launch party tonight. Today will also feature a special ticket party for Saturday’s Albuquerque Hopfest, hosted by Steel Bender. That fun kicks off at 4 p.m. Friday night will see the First Friday Artwalk in downtown ABQ, with Boese Brothers, Sidetrack, and the Duel taproom all participating with art shows and live music. Saturday will of course feature Hopfest taking over the Isleta Casino, and we will have a full preview of that later this week. Finally, Sunday will see the new Crafts, Crops & Hops Autumn Beer Market at Canteen from noon to 7, with live green chile roasting, live music, multiple vendors, and, of course, delicious beer. No rest for the wicked this week, people.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bow & Arrow is releasing Peach Cosmic Arrow on tap and in bottles on Saturday. Boxing Bear sticks with its haze phase with MurkQueño Hazy IPA going on tap this Friday. Canteen brings back Raspberry Wheat and Fill in the Blanco (White IPA). Dialogue has a trio of newbies in What’s Golden Ale, Strazberry Berliner, and Young Guns Dank Wet Hop IPA. Kilt Check resurrects two old favorites in Covfefe Hefe and McRojo or No?. La Cumbre rolls out Quick and Easy Pale Ale, plus that delicious Dortmunder is on at both taprooms now. Marble added more Desert Fog, plus the Eastside IPA is now on tap. Sidetrack has more CO-MO IPA to keep everyone happy. Steel Bender goes big with the double release of Black (Hole Sun) IPA and OktoberFiesta on Thursday. The 377 should have more Ginger Beer and its Oktoberfest on tap by Friday. Toltec added a Mojito Kettle Sour a little while ago, and Dr. Rudi Single Hop should be out today. Tractor tapped this year’s batch of Traktoberfest on Tuesday, so get it while it’s fresh. Turtle Mountain has Tropical Menagerie and Macaulay Kolschin ready to go as soon as a couple taps open up, which should be this week.

Up in Santa Fe, Blue Corn lightens up with some Covhefe.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of September 3.

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Red Door abruptly closed its taproom on Wyoming last Friday, but patrons were able to enjoy one last pint or two.

The last month-plus has seen good and bad news coming out of several off-site taprooms around Albuquerque, ranging from two openings to two closings to other potential developments that have left folks wondering if the bubble is bursting. As a public service, we tried to sort through the rumors and figure out the solid facts.

On the good front, La Cumbre Westside and Tractor Westside are both humming along. Tractor opened first on McMahon, just east of Unser, and quickly captured the vibe of its other locations. La Cumbre opened to huge crowds with a touch of the original location blended with a more modern atmosphere. We also got good news that Quarter Celtic will open its first taproom in early 2019.

Then, there was everything else. First came the news at the end of July that Monks’ Corner was closing its doors. The location at Third and Silver was never able to draw in the crowds like Abbey Brewing had hoped, and in the end, the decision was made to shut down that taproom. Whether or not a replacement ever opens is something that will be decided at a later time.

Of course, since then, events might have given Abbey a reason to pause. All of us in the Crew were as surprised as anyone when Red Door abruptly announced the closure of its Northeast Heights taproom at Wyoming and Comanche. The taproom was packed with folks on Friday night, answering the call to help drink up as much of the beer on hand as possible. By the time I arrived around 9 p.m., there were only four house beers and the cider left on tap. All the seasonals were long gone.

I missed owner Matt Biggs by mere minutes, he later told me, but we will be meeting this week to discuss Red Door’s upcoming fourth anniversary. The reason given by Red Door in its social media posts was “a landlord dispute,” which sadly is not all that shocking around Albuquerque. Anyone remember when Pi Brewing had to shut down after its corporate landlord put off repairs to the damaged building for six months? (It had been hit by an out-of-control pickup truck that crashed off Coors.)

The specter of a bad landlord, or something similar, then seemed to crop up with the Soo-bak food truck posted that it was no longer going to park outside Tractor Nob Hill due to an unexplained dispute with the new property owner. That, in turn, led many to suspect Tractor would also shut down its original Albuquerque location, which has been serving folks since 2011. I contacted president/co-owner Skye Devore via email, and she said no one should panic, that Tractor is not closing the taproom.

“The building was purchased last year and we are working on adjusting to the new dynamic, which includes having a cafe next door, but we have no intention of shutting it down,” she wrote. “The food truck situation is delicate. In no way does Tractor want food trucks to cease service and their food will always be welcome in our Nob Hill location.”

So far, it seems this is an isolated incident rather than a radical change to the long symbiotic relationship between Tractor and the food trucks. Considering that the new landlord was also helping Tractor out by giving the brewery the space to expand its walk-in cooler and add more bathrooms, overall the relationship seems to be OK.

Now that everyone is breathing easy again, we feel that we can now report that the Duel taproom in downtown Albuquerque is closing some time in the near future. Real estate ads, like this one on Craigslist, have shown that the space is up for lease, though there has been no official announcement from the brewery in Santa Fe. Events are still listed through Saturday, September 15 on the taproom’s Facebook page, so it seems the closure is not necessarily imminent. We will keep an eye on the situation as it develops.

Before anyone starts screaming that the bubble is popping around here, most of these closures appear unconnected. It is possible to draw the line between Duel and Monks’ Corner, and the general difficulty of staying open downtown. People can point to the crime and other issues there, but we have long felt that downtown is simply a different animal as far as the crowd goes. It is not an area populated with craft beer lovers who want to kick back and relax, but is instead a more high-energy area of rising and falling trends. Basically, the downtown crowd is incredibly fickle, and with a few exceptions (Anodyne, looking at you), it can be very hard for any bar or taproom to gain a foothold there. Then throw in the issues with crime and the ongoing exodus of businesses from the area (which impacts lunchtime and happy hour crowds), and it pretty much conspired to kill Monks’ Corner and, apparently, Duel.

The boom times may be coming to a close, that is true, but it does not necessarily mean a massive contraction is at hand. Breweries and taprooms will not be shutting down en masse, but fewer and fewer are on the docket to open. At present, there are only three confirmed breweries pending for the ABQ metro area, plus three off-site taprooms.

In other words, yes, we have seemingly hit our saturation point. The remaining areas in town that lack craft beer are either too expensive in terms of rent, or too stricken by poverty. Darn, guess we will have to live with the award-winning breweries that are already here, instead of always looking to see who is coming next.

If anyone out there ever has any information for us on our local breweries, please, never hesitate to send it to us at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com, or contact us via our social media pages.

Until next time, stay positive, Burque.

— Stoutmeister

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Shout out to my man Jason Soto, for the great picture and for keeping the lines of New Mexico clean with Prime Lines. A huge thank you from all of us! Cheers, brother.

The New Mexico IPA Challenge is well underway, and the question of fairness has come up a bit, to say the least. Well, at least from a technical standpoint, rest assured, our IPA Challenge is as fair as it can be because the Brewers Guild and its volunteers have taken steps to ensure that each beer gets the proper treatment, such as the proper cleaning of draft lines before and during the competition.

Draft beer line cleaning is a little known and often overlooked aspect of the craft brewing scene. But, it is much more important than we think. It’s far more important than the temperature of our beer and what sort of glassware it arrives in. (Although our friend Karim may argue with me on that.) Have you ever sat down at a new bar or establishment, and, having seen it on the list, ordered up your favorite IPA? And, upon first taste, you say to yourself, “Is this the same beer? I know this beer. This tastes weird. This isn’t my beer.” But, it is.

We all have, my friends. Aside from other small variables, like how old a keg is, when it comes to taste issues with a well-brewed beer at a bar, pub, or even (to a much lesser extent) brewery, the problem is usually dirty draft lines. Dirty draft lines cause all sorts of disgusting and unsanitary health issues, but often most noticeably to the public, the issue is taste. And, if we’re not in the tasting business, why are we even talking about beer? Without clean draft lines, the beer that your favorite brewers worked so hard to create won’t be the same beer you find in your glass. Can you see why this would be an issue in a competition based on taste?

So, I put it to the folks at Prime Lines, the company responsible for cleaning the lines prior to the preliminary round and then the first leg of the NMIPAC. I wanted to get down and dirty to clear up why it’s so important that someone properly maintains beer lines for this competition as well as for all beer drinking, ever. Amen. Enter Prime Lines co-founder Angelo Oroña.

DSBC: So, tell me a little bit about Prime Lines, who you are and what you do?

Oroña: Prime Lines Inc. is New Mexico’s first and only third-party draft beer system maintenance and installation company. We clean nearly 1,000 lines statewide for New Mexico’s breweries and wholesalers. We adhere to the Brewers Association guidelines for draft system maintenance, as set out in the Draught Beer Quality Manual. This means we clean all lines under contract on a bi-weekly basis to ensure the beer gets from keg to glass as the brewer intended.

Additionally, we design and install draft beer systems for bars, restaurants, breweries and taprooms, including the forthcoming LOBO Taproom on UNM’s Campus!

DSBC: For a new LOBO Taproom on campus? That’s some big news! We’ll be sure to cover that as more news is forthcoming.

Prime Lines has been an associate member of the New Mexico Brewer’s Guild since they founded the company in November 2016.

DSBC: How did you guys get involved with the New Mexico IPA Challenge (NMIPAC) this year? Was this Prime Lines first major involvement?

Oroña: For the last two years, Prime Lines has cleaned and serviced the lines for the elimination round of NMIPAC, held at Duel ABQ. All faucets, keg couplers, and lines were professionally cleaned by our team to ensure the integrity of the beer and the competition. John Gozigian (executive director of the NM Brewers Guild) asked that we clean all the lines prior to competition.

DSBC: So on a technical level, what does Prime Lines do to “level the playing field?”

Oroña: Prime Lines helps to level the playing field by giving each beer a chance to be presented the way the brewer intended. The lines are cleaned with a special caustic solution that is designed to eliminate any organic compounds that may have been left behind from a previous beer that was poured through the line. The beer faucets are scrubbed clean and the keg couplers are serviced to perform as intended.

DSBC: Are you folks cleaning ALL the lines for the duration of the competition?

Oroña: Prime Lines was asked by the NMBG to clean lines for the elimination round of the NMIPAC.  We routinely service and clean the Taos Mesa Taproom, so we made sure to service that account before the first round. I have no doubt the other host breweries will present the beer at top quality! For Bosque’s Bernalillo facility, these IPAs may be the first beers ever to flow through the lines!

For the Second Street Brewery Rufina second leg of the NMIPAC, brewers Tom and Kevin will be cleaning the lines late Friday night after the close of business.“That way they can make sure everything is clean, and flushed, and cold before (Saturday) morning,” front-of-house manager Mariah Scee informed me.

DSBC: What other variables is the Guild controlling to keep this a fair competition from a technical standpoint? Temp? Pressure? Etc.?

Oroña: Each of the beers for this competition is preserved in a chilled environment prior to competition. The beers are served under ideal conditions by volunteers that have experience in beer dispense. Many volunteers work very hard to ensure that the NMIPAC is a great event and fair competition.

In years past, the IPAs of the Challenge have been poured through jockey boxes — the cooler and hose set ups you often see at festivals — due to the sheer number of beers, and the inability of most taprooms to pour all of them (often alongside their own beers). Not every brewery has 24-plus taps.

DSBC: In your expert opinion, what are some of the drawbacks to pouring IPAs through various jockey boxes?

Oroña: Jockey boxes are never an ideal beer dispense option. Maintaining beer keg temperature in the middle of a New Mexican summer with bags of ice is challenging. Variations in jockey box design can also lead to technical issues arising during the competition. Variables such as consistent temperature, CO2 pressure and line restriction all play into pouring a proper beer.

Prime Lines was established to protect the integrity of beer. Our partnership with the New Mexico Brewers Guild on the NMIPAC was a natural fit. We deeply care about draft beer quality and hope to continue to support NM’s burgeoning craft beer scene. We are proud to be on the forefront of clean draft lines and draft beer dispense education in New Mexico.

* * * * *

With clean lines, we have beer as the brewers intended. Gone, hopefully, are the days of pouring issues mucking up a clear-cut victory. Of course, that leaves the rest of the competition in the hands of those who come out to these events. As with all democratic processes, you can’t complain if you don’t come out and vote. And no, it’s not a perfect system, but it is well run by people who really care about beer. Now it’s at least a fairer fight without pouring issues to worry about.

As for the rest of the competition, I’ll leave you with a quote from a friend of the Guild and the Crew, Boxing Bear co-owner Kevin Davis. Via Facebook, he commented, “This friendly competition is about raising money for the Guild, celebrating NM’s great breweries and having a few laughs along the way. Everyone works hard to put on this event… not the easiest job to organize. Kudos to Duel and Taos Mesa for hosting the first two rounds, and thanks to John G and the Guild volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes making it fun. Cheers!”

The IPA Challenge continues tomorrow from noon to 4 p.m. at Second Street Rufina, locatd at 2920 Rufina Street, Santa Fe, NM, 87507. Tickets available here!

— Luke

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This is Luke’s fifth time covering the Santa Fe NM IPA Challenge, and his fifth year with the Crew.

The Test Batch #3, left, and Gondola Party Starter XH are two excellent double IPAs now available at Quarter Celtic.

One of these weeks we will all get our acts together and have this feature ready for a Monday run, but alas, this is not one of those weeks. As we noted last time around, this is simply a series of short recaps of weekend beer adventures for different members of the Crew.

Hops were the order of the day for this past weekend, what with the preliminary round of the NM IPA Challenge going down and all. I was not able to attend due to work, but I still managed to set out in search of at least one of the entries that is on tap around town.

My Friday night sojourn led me to Quarter Celtic, where the Gondola Party Starter XH (Extra Hops) is now on tap alongside the Test Batch #3 DIPA. Talking to QC co-owner Ror McKeown, I found out that both had been released with the goal of asking loyal customers which one should be the NMIPAC entry. Gondola was ultimately the choice of the public, though the way he described it was interesting. Most customers actually preferred Test Batch #3, but none of them thought it could win a competition, and thus Gondola became QC’s entry.

Tasting them side-by-side, I found Test Batch #3 to be lighter and sweeter, while Gondola has a bitter back-end kick, with a little less sweetness around the mid-palate. Gondola is certainly more of a traditional West Coast hop bomb, and in the end, the customers were right, as it advanced to Wednesday’s first round of the NMIPAC alongside 15 other IPAs.

— Stoutmeister

Now for the rest of the Crew … (more…)

The final results from the preliminary round. The number on the left is what the brewery was on the tray. The circled number on the right is the voting total. Any brewery with a star advanced, plus Kaktus later got a star to also advance.

The results of the NM IPA Challenge preliminary round are in and the breweries which will continue on to the next round are as follows (votes in parentheses): Marble (29), Boxing Bear (26), Bow & Arrow (16), Blue Corn (15), La Cumbre (15), Quarter Celtic (15), Rio Bravo (14), Kellys (13), Santa Fe (12), Red River (11), Red Door (11), Kaktus (11).

They will join the host breweries — Duel, Taos Mesa, Second Street, Bosque — which all had byes.

UPDATE: Kaktus did advance, so there will be 16 total IPAs on the trays at the next three rounds. It would be bad journalism if we neglected to disclose that Kaktus also received 11 votes. We don’t know, at this juncture, how the tiebreaker was decided since this was a three-way tie with Red River and Red Door.

Some of the notable breweries to not advance included Bombs Away, Canteen, Nexus, Starr Brothers, Steel Bender, Three Rivers, Tractor, and Turtle Mountain.

Things ran relatively smoothly at this event hosted by Duel in downtown ABQ. The event ran from noon to 4 p.m. with a short line existing around 12:15 and results announced around 4:15. The flow of people/beer was slow, yet steady and efficient.

Because all beers were served from the same tap system, and all lines were cleaned in advance, we have no doubt this was another great NM IPA Challenge event from a quality standpoint. All 43 beers (down from 46) were poured with the same conditions with equal representation. Out of consideration for safety, the samplings were broken down onto three trays, with each individual selecting his/her favorite from his/her respective tray of beers.

The Crew had a nice showing with myself and Luke arriving around 12:15, and then running into Jerrad and Shawna inside. At that point, the inside of Duel was already packed with people. We were resourceful enough to move tables around on the roof deck in such a way that our beers were kept in the shade throughout tasting, while our bodies were burned to a crisp in the sun. Two pieces of constructive criticism: (1) offer additional tables indoors since there seemed to be enough extra space, and (2) set up some cover on the rooftop to keep the IPAs out of the sun.

The next leg of the NM IPA Challenge happens Wednesday at Taos Mesa Brewing Taproom (right off Main Street in Taos). We hope to see you out there to support the NM Brewers Guild. May the best IPA win!

Cheers!

— Andrew and Luke

The hounds are after the Bear this year.

Oh, it is that time of year again. The time of year the Crew likes to forget Twitter exists, because the ludicrous arguments, they will be upon us again. This time around, we are gonna ignore it all as best we can and focus on the beers and the fun. Yes, it is time for the annual New Mexico IPA Challenge.

The preliminary round returns to Duel Brewing’s taproom in downtown Albuquerque this Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. There will be three separate trays of 13 beers each (one tray per guest), with the top 11 vote getters from all the trays advancing to the final three rounds alongside the four host breweries (Duel, Taos Mesa, Second Street, Bosque).

To make sure we had all the facts lined up properly for this 17th NMIPAC, I sat down with NM Brewers Guild executive director John Gozigian last week.

“A couple things are different,” he said. “This will be the first one ever — I don’t know how interesting this is to the general public, but — where we’re pouring 100 percent through brewery tap systems, not using jockey boxes this time around.”

Santa Fe Brewing’s James Warren and others pour from jockey boxes at the NMIPAC in 2016.

Duel gets to host again due to the fact it has 40-plus taps available, more than any other brewery in Albuquerque. Why are taps better than the old jockey box format?

“Pouring through a draft system, there’s no substitute for that,” John said. “You have all beers pouring under the exact same conditions — same temperatures, same pressures, same length of runs, et cetera. It removes that one variable from the equation that has been an issue in the past. The last time we did the elimination round with jockey boxes (at Rio Bravo in 2016), I think we had seven different jockey boxes. Every jockey box pours differently.”

The sheer number of participating breweries continues to climb. John noted there were about 32 last year, and the 43 this year is actually down slightly from the original list of 46. Three breweries — Ale Republic, Eske’s, Little Toad Creek — have dropped out.

“I think what happens is when you start talking about the IPA Challenge in April everybody’s on board, but then you get to July and everybody’s capacity is pushed to their limit, especially for the smaller breweries,” John said. “In the case of Little Toad Creek, they have a big brewery, but they just opened a new taproom (in Las Cruces). They’re pretty busy, so they’re kind of stuck right now. When the rubber hits the road, they realize they’re not going to be able to knock out a beer in time, which is fine.”

Only a select few will advance from the preliminary round.

Here is the full list of participating breweries, including where some finished in the final round last year, and those who are new to the competition:

  • Bathtub Row
  • Blue Corn (15th, only brewery outside ABQ to win, back in 2013)
  • Bombs Away (new)
  • Bow & Arrow (9th)
  • Boxing Bear (1st, also won in 2016)
  • Broken Trail
  • Canteen (4th, won six total as Il Vicino Brewing from 2004-05, 2009-12)
  • Cazuela’s
  • Cloudcroft (new)
  • Flix Brewhouse
  • High Desert
  • Kaktus
  • Kellys
  • La Cumbre (10th-tied)
  • Lost Hiker (new)
  • Marble (6th)
  • Nexus
  • Palmer
  • Picacho Peak (14th)
  • Ponderosa (12th)
  • Quarter Celtic (3rd)
  • Red Door
  • Red River (new)
  • Rio Bravo
  • Roosevelt
  • Rowley Farmhouse Ales
  • Santa Fe
  • Sidetrack
  • Sierra Blanca
  • Spotted Dog
  • Starr Brothers (5th)
  • Steel Bender (10th-tied)
  • Three Rivers
  • The 377 (13th)
  • Toltec (new)
  • Tractor (8th)
  • Tumbleroot (new)
  • Turtle Mountain (won in 2007)
  • The Wellhead

Among the breweries with byes, which they get since they are surrendering four-plus hours of regular business hours and the profits that come with those, Bosque was second last year (and previously won in 2014-15), Second Street was seventh, Duel was ousted in the preliminary round, and Taos Mesa did not participate in 2017.

The first round, set for July 18 from 4-8 p.m., will actually be at the Taos Tap Room, located in downtown, rather than at the mothership brewery far outside of Taos.

“We’re going to Taos Mesa Brewing Company’s downtown taproom, so that’s the first time we’ve had it at that location, which will make for a nice trip to Taos for anyone that wants to go,” John said. “I actually got a really good deal on rooms. The Taos Inn, I got rooms for like $90 a night, which is unheard of.”

Having the round at a location where people can easily walk home or to their hotel makes a lot more sense than putting it in a more isolated location, which is part of the reason that the last time the NMIPAC was held in Taos, only about 20 people participated.

The second round is set for the new Second Street Rufina taproom on July 21.

“Then we go back to Second Street, Rufina, another great location for the IPA Challenge,” John said. “They have a lot of interior space. They have a draft system we can use for all 15 beers for round two there. We’ll have the patio open, too, but they do have a lot of interior space.”

The first chance for many beer lovers to see inside the now completed Bosque North will be at the final round of the NMIPAC on July 28.

Then comes the grand finale on July 28, which figures to draw even more interest than usual for the venue.

“The final round, this is the big one, it’s going to be in Bernalillo at Bosque North,” John said. “I just thought about it today, for the final round, you’ll be one of the first people (to visit) that location, because they won’t even open until two days later. It will be like a sneak peek for the Bernalillo location, for their draft system, their beautiful new facility.”

If you want to make sure you have a spot at the final round, get a ticket ASAP.

“The ticket sales are strong,” John said. “It will be a draw. I don’t think you just hold it anywhere in Bernalillo. This is Bosque, and it’s brand new. Our ticket sales are double what they were at this point last year, and last year we sold out every round. We’re doing the same number of tickets again this year; it’s just going to sell out faster.”

It should be a close competition again this year. The last two years saw the closest finishes in NMIPAC history, with Boxing Bear edging out Bosque by three votes (104-101) last year and nipping Canteen by two votes (81-79) the year before.

“We’ve got Boxing Bear defending their title, a two-time winner,” John said. “It’s going to be hosted by Bosque, which is also a two-time winner, three times if you count when John (Bullard) was at Blue Corn. I’ve been tasting a lot of beers. Everyone is going really heavy. Everyone is going after Boxing Bear with some really heavily hopped beers, up to 10 pounds per barrel of some expensive hops. Everyone is investing in this beer.

“This could be the year, who knows, where we have a New England-style IPA win it. There are some good ones out there, too. It’s typically been a West Coast-style IPA event. Depending on how forward-thinking people are on one hand, or how traditionalist they are on the other hand, or just how many new people we have coming into the IPA Challenge this year. You have a certain expectation of what an IPA Challenge beer tastes like. A juicy, hazy New England IPA would probably be an outlier. I think it will probably be a good bellwether as to which way the trend is going.”

Everyone is gunning for the Boxing Bear brewers this year.

This could bring out the usual “IPAs are passe” comments from folks, and maybe the style is not quite the king of craft like it once was, but this remains primarily an IPA town and an IPA state.

“The market is definitely moving away from IPAs to some extent,” John said, noting some non-IPA top sellers at local breweries. “You look at Bosque and their Elephants on Parade, Marble with Double White. La Cumbre is still the (Elevated) IPA, obviously. But, I think this is still an IPA town. When it comes to the IPA Challenge, it’s a big event and people care about it … too much, some might argue.”

As we noted above, the NMIPAC, and beer competitions in general, can sometimes bring out the worst in beer drinkers, especially online. John would just like to remind everyone, just as he did the breweries, that the point of the NMIPAC is two-fold, and neither should get anyone’s blood boiling.

“This has primarily been a fundraiser for the Guild so that we can continue our promotional and lobbying efforts,” he said. “It’s (also) a good-natured competition, it’s fun to win, we always rib each other over it, but we never took it that seriously.”

So yes, let us all go have fun, and support the Guild, which in turn supports its member breweries. The Crew (should) have at least one reporter at every round, so look for instant results on social media as soon as they are made available, and stories soon afterwards.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

It’s a fairly mellow Friday … oh, wait, no it’s not, mainly because of one bonkers tapping after another.

That was still a lot of beer on Thursday, but we gotta admit that we like limiting the number of events to 10 or less per day. It keeps us more focused, cuts down on our Lyft/Uber expenses, and so on.

There are only six events today. Each one is a little different, yet we cannot take our eyes off one particular downtown gathering.

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: 21 and Over. Where: Sister. When: 5-8 p.m. Cost: No cover charge.

Details: Eight breweries that have been around for 21 or more years are coming to Sister, each with a rare beer (or two) for this special event. Feeling light? There’s Four Peaks’ Green Tea Lager or Sierra Nevada’s Kolsch German-Style Ale. Feeling hoppy? Rogue’s Combat Wombat could be your ticket, or perhaps Bell’s Double Two Hearted. Feel like puckering up? Odell’s ’16 Meddler or New Belgium’s Clutch Sour Stout could whet your whistle. Feeling malty? There’s a choice between Left Hand’s Chai Milk Stout Nitro, Firestone Walker’s ’17 Helldorado, and Bell’s 30th Anniversary Cherry Stout Reserve.

Why you should go: There are not your regular beers on the shelves at liquor and grocery stores across town. There’s a little something for everyone here. We can’t think of a better way to kick off your weekend.

All the other great events

What: Beam Me Up Scotty Release. Where: Nexus Brewery. When: All day. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Just in time for the anniversary party, this Scottish Wee Heavy returns to taps with a burly, malty base and a slight peaty/smoky kick. Why you should go: Get some now before the place gets packed for the anniversary party, which you should still attend, but this will give you time to truly enjoy this beer slowly without anyone eyeing your table.

What: Bosque Tasting. Where: Jubilation. When: 4-6 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Rather than just bring beers to taste, Bosque is teaming up with Carnivore Popcorn. Try some Bosque Lager with Hollypeno popcorn, Elephants on Parade with Sour Apple popcorn, Bosque IPA with Garlic Rosemary popcorn, and Scotia Scotch Ale with Cinnamon Caramel Espresso popcorn. Why you should go: If you did not get simultaneously hungry and thirsty reading those details, go see a doctor, now.

What: Founders KBS ’17/18 Vertical. Where: Nob Hill Bar & Grill. When: 5-7 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Remember when the Crew did our latest ridiculous review of this classic barrel-aged stout? Well, now you can do your own version by trying the 2017 and 2018 versions side-by-side. Why you should go: You get to grab some delicious food while trying a couple of big beers. Hey, you gotta eat dinner at some point, right?

What: ABQ Trolley Company’s The Hopper—A hop-on, hop-off brew cruise. Where: Red Door Downtown, Duel Downtown, Marble Downtown, Rio Bravo. When: 6:30-11 p.m. Cost: $25. Details: Hop on the trolley, hop off at a brewery, enjoy a pint, and repeat. With trolleys running every 30 minutes or so, there will be stops at Red Door’s downtown taproom, Duel’s taproom, Marble, and Rio Bravo. Why you should go: Feel like a pub crawl? Worried about your car? Leave it at home and leave the driving to these good folks.

What: Beer Release & Folk Covers of Radiohead. Where: Tractor Wells Park. When: 8 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: A slew of local musicians will be covering the band, while Tractor releases its next entry in the Beer for a Better Burque (BBB) series, Peach Chinook Common with gold glitter, which will benefit Equality New Mexico. Why you should go: Radiohead might be not our thing, but maybe it’s yours. Also, you gotta admit to be curious about an actual glitter beer.

* * * * *

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

My Post-42

This Friday, Blue Corn is hosting their second annual Cask Festival at the southside location, bringing together at least half of the operational breweries north of La Bajada hill. OK, Burqueños, that’s that big hill between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Blue Corn organized this special event with seven excellent breweries on the roster, including one brand-new, not-yet-open (as of the writing of this article) place, Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery. Blue Corn has always been a great host for beer dinners. If you’ve read my articles, you’d already know it’s going to be an excellent way to spend your Friday night.

Why cask ales, you ask? Well, we all have mixed opinions about cask ales. Some of us enjoy them, some of us are indifferent. Some brewers don’t like to serve beer in them, but they’re a part of the industry, and some would argue it’s draught beer at its best. And, though the process has been around for ages, it’s not likely to go away any time soon, because it’s a part of beer history, and another interesting way to experience something we love.

With cask ales, something else is going on in the beer that makes it different and special, not just a foamy pour from a tap. You see, the active yeast used to carbonate the beer in these metal vessels continues to age the beer all the way until it has been tapped. As the beer ages and conditions, the CO2 created by the yeast will dissolve into the beer, smoothing out the flavors, blending as a painter does colors, and toning down the sharpness of the hops.

Oftentimes, and in a few of the cases below, brewers will add special ‘extras’ to these beers to give them a significant change in flavor profile, something they (as businesses) couldn’t do on a much larger scale, such as additions of fruit, extra dry-hops, honey, and so on. These flavors continue to condition with the beer, and give it more complexity than it had at the outset. Perhaps it loses something in the mouthfeel and in the warmer temperature, but it is still a fun way to test your palate with new flavors. Just imagine, for a minute, that if you could just cut straight through some of the high rocky peaks, you could discover the dense and beautiful vegetation at the bottom of the valley. And, there’s a history lesson in the process, if you really want to get into it. But, let that be your icebreaker at the event.

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Casks from the first Cask Festival at Blue Corn Brewery last year.

Blue Corn Brewery is no stranger to cask beers. As the title of the festival suggests, it’s not the first rodeo for the brewery. In fact, it’s not even the second. Blue Corn has held a few of these sorts of events in the past, and to great success. At one time, the brewery even used to release cask beers every Friday at the Draft Station in downtown Santa Fe. (Ah, the good ole’ days.) The best part of this event is that seven breweries are coming together on one night, to chill out, to laugh, to talk about everything from brewing process to mash paddle size … er, you know, brewer stuff. And, they’re totally accessible to you, the customers, if you’re not shy.

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Dave “Merkin,” head of R&D at Santa Fe Brewing Co., pours us a beer.

Go up to the guys with beards, glasses, or fruit-forward shirts. You’ll find them in the corners of the event — they’re the ones laughing the loudest, and having the most fun because they’re all buddies. They know how to enjoy these things, but, it’s not an exclusive club. These guys are friendly and will absolutely tell you about their favorite beer styles, favorite (other) breweries, favorite brewed beers, and so on. And, if you’re not feeling as chatty as I am after a couple beers, just ask them which brewery they brew for, and thank them for the hard work they do. Not all heroes wear capes, my friends.

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An appetizer from last year’s event.

Included in the price of these seven cask ales are seven appetizers of Blue Corn’s chef’s creation. In my experience, these bites have always been worth the price of admission, even without the beer.

Menu:

Blue Corn Brewery: Barrel Aged Imperial Stout with Cherries

            -Black Cherry Mousse with Chocolate Shavings

Santa Fe Brewing Co.: 7K All Day IPA

            -Marinated Pork Taco with Pickled Onions, Lime Cabbage and Cilantro

Duel Brewing: Fiction Belgian IPA with French Oak and Kaffir Lime Leaves

            -Salmon Ceviche with Habanero and Mango

Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery: Dry Irish Stout with Honey

            -Traditional Irish Stew

Second Street Brewery: XX ESB dry-hopped with Chinook and EKG

            -Beer Battered Alaskan Cod with Malt Vinegar Crisps

Bathtub Row Brewing Coop: Hoppenheimer IPA with Lemondrop Hops

            -Apple-Lemon Mini Cupcake with Mint

Rowley Farmhouse Ales: Biere de Garde with Brettanomyces

            -Gorgonzola Grilled Cheese with Herbed Portobello

Blue Corn was gracious enough to host this event, and we have a good number of participating breweries, but one is so new, that they haven’t sold a single beer in public, to my knowledge. Friday night at Blue Corn Brewery will be your first guaranteed chance to try a beer from Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery. I reached out to Jason Fitzpatrick, co-founder and manager of business operations, and asked him a few welcome-aboard questions.

DSBC: What does it mean to Tumbleroot to officially join the Santa Fe (as well as the whole New Mexico) beer scene?

Fitzpatrick: Joining the ranks of the talent brewers and operators in New Mexico is quite an honor. (Jason) Kirkman and I hatched the idea that was to become Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery two-and-a-half years ago, and the road was tough to get to this point. After many ups and downs throughout the process, we certainly have a greater appreciation for all of those who paved the way.

DSBC: What do you look forward to most about becoming part of this very vibrant scene? And, what are your hopes for your new establishment?

Fitzpatrick: We look forward to bringing something new and exciting to Santa Fe and New Mexico. We are inspired by bits and pieces of our experiences at taprooms, bars, restaurants, cocktail parties, family gatherings, concerts, and travels, and aim to bring all the best of those into one community-centric space. With a capacity for 400 people, our taproom can serve many different experiences at once. We hope that we have succeeded. We hope to become a second home for Santa Feans, and to inspire others to explore and connect with the community.

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Tumbleroot is here, as we saw with Jason Kirkman at Winterbrew 2018.

Why you should go?

For one thing, it’s always fun to taste a beer that’s exclusive to one event. It’s not something everyone can say they’ve had. And, it’s not something you’re likely to find again. The cask beers are usually very interesting, and certainly on the ‘extra’ end of the spectrum.

The food will be excellent and inspired, as it always is, because Blue Corn has a reputation to uphold for its beer dinners. I haven’t been let down yet.

Finally, this is a great opportunity to actually go up to and speak with brewers about what they do, how they make your beer, and what kind of beers they might be making next. Who knows? Your crazy suggestion might just end up in one of their fermenters and on the chalkboards. Or, as in my case, you might convince the brewer to brew something you once loved that’s no longer in the rotation.

The second annual Santa Fe Cask Fest is THIS Friday at 6:30 p.m. The cost of $30 per guest gets you a pour of each cask ale and seven appetizers, and a chance to shake the hand of most of the Santa Fe brewers. It’s a ticket with a built-in VIP pass, and you’re cordially invited. I look forward to seeing you there! To more beer beer events in Santa Fe, and a rapidly growing independent craft scene, we raise them up, cheers!

For reservations call 505-984-1800, or email manager@bluecornbrewery.com.
Address: 4056 Cerrillos Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87507

— Luke

2017NMIPACround2-3

If you see me at the event, say, “Hey!” I promise to be on my most reasonable behavior.