Posts Tagged ‘Dukes of Ale’

Expand your knowledge!

Take the biggest brewery in town, add in some homebrew clubs and a shop, a couple food vendors, and then toss in the most interactive museum in town, and voila, the Science of Beer is back!

Explora Science Center will be hosting this annual event in partnership with Marble Brewery on Friday from 7 to 11 p.m. The Dukes of Ale, Worthogs, and Southwest Grape & Grain will also be on hand to help educate everyone, from the novice to the expert, on all things beer.

Ticktest cost $12 for Explora members and $15 for everyone else. There may still be some available online, with the last 100 going on sale at Explora on Friday morning. The event sold out last year, so get them now if you want to go.

To get a little more detail, I caught up with Marble’s (very busy) off-site events and festival coordinator, Tammy Lovato, on Wednesday night after the Bites & Brews Challenge wrapped up at the Heights taproom.

“We did it for the first time last year, and it was so successful that we decided to do it again this year and do it even bigger and better,” she said. “That’s what Marble does.”

Marble staffers will host a series of special presentations throughout the night. Head brewer John Heine, brewer Jeff Priddy, lab director Stephanie Crownover, and packaging manager Nate Jackson will be among those on hand.

“The talks start at 7:40 and run till 10:20 with small intermissions in between,” Tammy said. “We’re going to list what each brewer is talking about, but it will start with Beer 101. Nate Jackson is going to talk about packaging and how important it is to properly package beer, because people often forget that’s an incredibly important step in people enjoying beer. We’ll have Stephanie talking about yeast, water management, and managing the lab. Then John Heine is going to talk about brettanomyces in the (brewery).”

In addition to Marble, the Dukes of Ale, Worthogs, and Southwest Grape & Grain will be doing live presentations on different aspects in the art and science of homebrewing. Those will include some live experiments and hands-on fun for the crowd.

Marble also will be providing the beer that will be poured at the event, lest anyone go thirsty. After an outcry last year for more beer, the brewery staff will step up.

“This year we have five beer stations instead of three,” Tammy said. “We sell 900 tickets, so we’ve doing five different stations so we can service more people, get people in and out quicker. We’ll have two that are cash-in-hand only. That will hopefully get people through the lines pretty quickly.

“We’ll have three stations that have draft beer. We’re bringing some cool beers like the Caffe Roggenbier that you’re drinking, we’ll be bringing the Doppelator, our cool new hazy, Southwest-style IPA (Desert Fog), we’ll have the Grapefruit Tangerine Gose, so lots of fun specials for people, and then of course our classic styles.”

Bringing cash instead of relying on credit cards is recommended for all stations to keep things flowing. There will also be food on hand courtesy of M’Tucci’s Italian and Malaguena’s Latin Tapas.

The best part of this entire event is how it all helps the museum.

“All of the money from the ticket sales go back to Explora,” Tammy said. “This is their biggest fundraiser for this time of year.”

Go get your beer education this Friday. And for the record, yes, that Caffe Roggenbier that I was drinking was quite good.


— Stoutmeister

Another Hopfest is in the books.

Yeah, this story should have run Monday, but Sunday featured soccer in the morning, work in the afternoon, and Isotopes coverage in the evening. Anyway, just figured the Crew could share a few of our thoughts on the latest edition of Hopfest, which was held back on Saturday at Isleta Casino.

Wherefore art thou, 377?

One of the weird little moments was the fact that The 377 Brewery had a space reserved but never showed up. No word was ever given as to why. That, plus the sudden closing of Chama River, left one corner of the main room somewhat barren. They were supposed to be right next to each other. (Before anyone panics, The 377 is still open and doing fine, by all accounts.)

A little light on the crowd

One thing that was quickly apparent was a visible drop in attendance. Two mitigating factors could have been all the people who were elsewhere, preparing for the Mayweather-McGregor fight, or more likely all the folks on the West Side of ABQ preferred to attend Summerfest in their backyard. Of course, with fewer people, things seemed to go much smoother. Most importantly, the bathroom lines were short if not non-existent. That alone is a victory.

NM weather is not your friend

The side room that used to host a lot of breweries was instead reserved for the Dukes of Ale and the NM Brewers Guild Educational Pavilion, which meant a lot of breweries had to go outside beyond the patio. Many of these were local breweries, which meant they had to endure a fair amount of wind, plenty of heat, and even some rain. It would not be the late summer in New Mexico without some wacky weather (as I type this on Monday, the Isotopes are in a rain delay, which means I may be filing this from the ballpark at some point in the weird hours).

As Crew member Shawna put it best: “Hopfest was a lot of fun! (But) it was disappointing to see so many local breweries outside. The outdoor situation seemed like a hot mess (literally).”

Hail to the Dukes

Franz Solo’s next project is to assemble a kit like this one.

AmyO got to hang out over at the Dukes of Ale display, which included the ultimate homebrew setup (pictured). She added this: “Really liked getting in to that first room early just before extra hoppy (hour) and having the Dukes of Ale over there. I enjoyed that coconut, etc., vanilla, etc., etc. beer, but there was a little too much going on — so much so I can’t even remember the name(s) of what was in there.” She also enjoyed the doppelbock, but one of her friends liked the IPA better than she did.

Shawna chimed in: “I really loved the Dukes of Ale setup. My favorite was the dopplebock.”

Our picks for best beers of the fest

I will let the ladies go first.

AmyO: “You know my favorite beer was that imperial red (Ol’ Lassy) from Enchanted Circle. My second favorite was, strangely, Lava Rock’s Hefeweizen. Now, one reason might be just plain uniqueness when you kind of get fatigued from the same old beers sometimes. I thought the Blueberry Stout at Ponderosa was nice, and not too overpowering on the blueberry.”

Shawna: “Bow and Arrow had a very good IPA (Hazillionaire). I also enjoyed Ponderosa’s Blueberry Stout! I’m proud to see Antonio (Fernandez) making so much progress! Oddly enough, considering I lean towards darker beers, I kept going back to Flix Brewhouse’s So It Gose. That was a very well rounded gose, not too sour or too sweet.”

As for me, I kept the sampling to a minimum since I had to give a seminar on the history of brewing (yes, shameless book promotion moment). The top six that I tried were:

  • Bathtub Row Krosscut Kolsch: If there was a perfect beer for the scorching temps outside, it was this one. Wonderfully sweet and refreshing. If they canned or bottled this and shipped it down to ABQ, I would buy it every summer.
  • Bow & Arrow Hoodoo Monster Imperial Red: Fairly tasty red, without the hop kick of Marble’s Imperial Red. Both sweet and yet dry. Overall, solid.
  • Bow & Arrow Desert Dynamo IPL: Fresh batch was tapped later in the session. Sweet, floral, fairly juicy. I was impressed by the B&A offerings, definitely gotta revisit the brewery as soon as baseball season ends.
  • Duel Oui Lourd: I was initially skeptical, but curious, about a sour Scottish wee heavy. I don’t know if I would drink a full pour, but it was pretty good, and this is coming from a non-sour guy. If nothing else, it was different.
  • Quarter Celtic Bruce (Black IPA): This batch was done in a hazy New England style. Yes, a hazy black IPA. Lots of flavors at play here, with the roasted malts coming through even amid the hops. It was just tapped that morning, so it will be interesting to see how it settles in at the brewpub.
  • Rowley Farmhouse Ales Agent Scully – Season 1, Episode 3: The latest in a series of revolving IPAs from RFA, this one is a sweet, floral delight, with berry/melon flavors. I have no idea what the hop combo was, but man, I hope they use that again.

Apologies to those local breweries that I did not visit. I will make it up to you at your actual location or an off-site taproom.

A special thanks to Marne Gaston (and her mom), John Gozigian, Angelo Orona, and Carlos Contreras.

Even if I didn’t sell many books (people had beers to drink, I understand), it was still a good festival. I only rambled on at the seminar for about 20 minutes, too, which is remarkable considering how long-winded I can get. Anyway, until the next major festival (GABF!), it is back to the regular grind. Let us hope that there will be no additional brewery obits between now and then.


— Stoutmeister


From Big Brew 2015 at Santa Fe Brewing

Greetings, craft beer fans! This one’s for all the homebrewers out there, and, of course, any and all folks interested in learning more about beer. If you haven’t already heard, National Homebrew Day is fast approaching, and we don’t want you to miss out on any events here in New Mexico.

In 1988, it was announced before Congress that May 7 would forever be known as National Homebrew Day, and since then, the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) has held events the first Saturday of May to celebrate the huge community of homebrewers, who, in large part, helped bring craft beer back to America after the that dark period when we felt prohibited to speakeasy about it. (Ahem.)

This year, on Saturday, May 6, large homebrew events will be held across the nation, and you can find them all on the AHA Website. And, because we’re just as serious about beer here in our state, we have a few events planned for you, New Mexican Brewquenos, as well.

The following lists all the AHA-registered events for our state:

Milton’s Cavern City Big Brew Day (brewery) – “Come hang out with the local homebrew club, Cavern City Brewers at Milton’s Brewing. A number of homebrewers will have their personal brewing systems in the outdoor area of the brewery demonstrating a homebrewer’s brew session.” Contact Brad Carlsen at to RSVP. Location: 108 E. Mermod, Carlsbad, NM.

Santa Fe Brewing Company (brewery) – “We will be hosting 2017 Big Brew in the brewery. Please come out to join us. RSVP to the email address so we can buy enough food for people.” Contact Ted Bolleter at to RSVP. Location: 35 Fire Place, Santa Fe, NM.

Southwest Grape & Grain and Worthogs Homebrew Club (homebrew supply shop) – “Homebrewers from the Worthogs Homebrew Club of NM will be brewing some All- Grain, Extract and BIAB recipes at Southwest Grape & Grain homebrew shop. They will be ready and eager to talk to anyone interested in learning how to brew, answer questions, and share their experiences. This event will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 505-332-2739 (SWGG) or 505-289-0123 (Worthogs).” Contact Donavan Lane/Ariel Figueroa at to RSVP. Location: 2801-N Eubank Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM.

Victors Home Brew (homebrew supply shop) – “We will have home brewers out on the porch brewing with their different types of equipment and eager to talk to anyone interested in learning to brew, answer questions, and share stories. Dukes of Ale brew club members will be participating and offering presentations on making mead, cider, and different kinds of brewing equipment. The event will run from 10 (a.m.) to 4 (p.m.). Come have samples, pizza, and refreshments. Call 505-883-0000 for more information.” Contact Jens Deichmann at to RSVP. Location: 2436 San Mateo Pl. NE, Albuquerque, NM.

To RSVP directly and for additional details for these events, just click this LINK! Do it!

MIlton's Brewery Logo

Feature: Milton’s and Cavern City Brewers Big Brew Day

From co-owner/head brewer Lucas Middleton: “This Saturday, Cavern City Brewers will be participating in the American Homebrewers Big Brew 2017 at Milton’s brewing on the patio (out back). We will be opening at 2 p.m. for locals to come and check out the brewing process and get the word out about the Homebrew club.

“The Friday before (May 5), Tractor is coming down to supply us with a new beer called Minute-4, a smoked lager they brewed for the firefighters in Carlsbad. We will be donating proceeds from this beer to help the team out.

“Carlsbad’s team, with Fire Chief Rick Lopez, won the world championship, the national championship, and set the world tandem record during 2016’s Scott Firefighter Challenge. The team members include Brad Carlsen (of the Cavern City Brewers), Jay Carter, Todd Vannatter, Geronimo Ontiveros and Casey Collins.”


Big Brew with the Babes in Brewland, SFBC 2015

Feature: Big Brew at Santa Fe Brewing Company

This year, on Saturday, May 6, beginning at 9:30 a.m., Santa Fe Brewing Company will once again host Big Brew with, well, a big brew session in their big brewery. Santa Fe’s fine homebrew club, the Sangre De Cristo Craft Brewers homebrew club, will be there to talk beer, brewing, and the craft of craft-beermanship. Food will be provided to those who RSVP, and SFBC R&D manager, David Ahern-Seronde (of current Santa Fe Reporter cover page fame) will be offering tours of the entire grounds, including the new packaging hall, barrel cave, and The Bridge. It’s sure to be a rockin’ good time, so RSVP now.

Before SFBC had nixed the event in 2016, I had been to a couple Big Brews in the past before writing for the NMDSBC. It is actually at one of these, where I met with the Sangres, learned a thing or two about how to brew, and got started homebrewing, which expanded on my passion for craft beer as well as brewing industry network, which eventually landed me this sweet writing gig. So, folks, homebrewing, not fear, was the path to the Dark Side for me.

What to know: Santa Fe Brewing will provide hot and cold liquor for brewing. Food will be handled by the Sangre De Cristo Craft Brewers, that is, if you RSVP.

What to bring: Bring all your equipment! If you’re not feeling like bringing out the whole rig for an all-grain brew, then that’s fine, too. Feel free to do an extract brew, and just come out and have a good time. If you’re not sure what all-grain or extract brews are, then you could definitely benefit from coming out to Big Brew!


Peaches for the brew, SFBC 2015.

Homebrewing is a great gateway into the craft beer industry. Homebrewing channels passion, fosters creativity, and maybe above all, teaches technique. At the top level, homebrewing has even led many folks in the state to open up their own facilities, where you currently enjoy a hand-crafted experience, and at its lowest level of achievement, homebrewing teaches a much better understanding and appreciation for that carbonated beverage we love so much.

I highly recommend going to any of these special events, even if you don’t plan to brew, or to take up homebrewing. You’ll get to talk homebrewers about DIY projects of the beer-related kind, and also you’ll get to speak with pro brewers about their favorite thing to chat about, and I’ll give you a hint — it’s not distribution and licensing. You can ask them all you want about making the good stuff.

So, I hope you go out, and maybe one of you will decide to learn to homebrew after this weekend, and maybe one of you will achieve greatness and open up the brewery that turns the New Mexico brewing industry upside down, all because you stopped in to check things out on a Saturday. Who knows? Hope you can make it out to one of the events! And, remember folks, fear might lead to anger. Anger might lead to hate. Hate usually leads to suffering. But, the Dark Side Brew Crew will always lead you to beer.


— Luke

Luke123 Steel Bender

For more #CraftBeer news, @nmdarksidebc info, and Untappd Badge-whoring, follow me on Twitter @santafecraftbro!


Hello again, Hopfest!

Hello again, Hopfest!

Newcomers and summery, fresh-tasting, hoppy beers helped to keep interest alive for the ninth annual Albuquerque Hopfest. Each year the crowds get larger, and each year I wonder how in the world Marne Gaston puts on such a large production. But, she does, flawlessly, and I am in complete awe of her. I would be a quivering puddle of goo. But, Marne is the calm in the eye of a hurricane (there is currently a Hurricane Gaston in the Atlantic that reformed on the day of Hopfest; I can’t even make this stuff up). Our heartfelt thanks, once again, to Marne and her staff and volunteers for another fantastic event.

As always, it was “so many beers, so little time,” so for me it was all about being selective. I focused on mostly local beers I have not tried and those that are not readily available at taprooms. A few of those beers stood out, and some were big surprises.

Enchanted Circle made a positive debut at Hopfest.

Enchanted Circle made a positive debut at Hopfest.

Even before the doors opened, a musician friend of mine who was setting up to play on one of the outdoor stages told me, “You have got to try the Enchanted Circle ESB if you like malty beers.” Well, yes, I do, and yes, I did! It really was very good. In fact, I thought in general the Enchanted Circle beers out of Angle Fire were one of the two biggest surprise hits of Hopfest. Even though IPAs are not my favorite, I was extremely impressed with their IPA (7.3% ABV). For such a new brewery, they have really done well with a solid beer to please the West Coast-style IPA lover. I also want to thank them for actually displaying the stats (O.G., IBU, and ABV) as well as the names. Not too many did, and I wish more of the breweries would have.

The Dukes of Ale booth was a big hit again.

The Dukes of Ale booth was a big hit again.

The second big surprise (based on consensus among my group of four attendees; one of whom is very much a hophead) was not an IPA. It didn’t come from a big name. Heck, it wasn’t even from a local brewery. It was the German Hefeweisen from the Dukes of Ale Homebrew Club.

Other favorites included Quarter Celtic’s McLomas Dry Stout and #GFF (Grapefruit Forever) IPA, Ponderosa’s Wry Ale, and Red Door’s Nieuwe Bruin. Albuquerque Brewing Company’s Dunkleweisen did not disappoint. It’s one of their semi-regular beers, but it seems it is always out when I stop by. It was wonderful to be able to finally taste it on Saturday. Surprisingly, I quite enjoyed the Green Chile Pilsner from Bathtub Row, because I don’t usually care much for pilsners or chile beers. This one was an outstanding version.

The Quarter Celtic staff left everyone else smiling, too, with their new stout.

The Quarter Celtic staff left everyone else smiling, too, with their new stout.

Notably missing from the vendors was B2B. They had a table set up, but there was no B2B beer and nobody from their brewery manning the spot. Also, I believe Firkin was in the program but I did not find them in the room or outside. If I missed them somehow, I apologize. (You did not miss them, they informed me that they were withdrawing late last week. — S)

Since I was unable to attend the New Mexico Brewers Guild Sensory Analysis Seminar presented by Craft King Consulting, LLC, the Crew would welcome and appreciate any feedback on that portion of the event from our readers.

The VIP beer list was quite impressive.

The VIP beer list was quite impressive.

I tried a few, but not all, of the beers in the VIP room. Mother Road’s Coffee Lost Highway, Founders’ Devil Dancer Triple IPA, and Sierra Nevada’s Narwahl Imperial Stout were my favorites. I didn’t attend the VIP pouring of Hop Pact from BJ’s Brewhouse because there was also a limited supply out in the main room, and I had it on Monday night at a Green Flash beer dinner at BJ’s. Hopefully many attendees were able to sample this fantastic collaboration beer between BJ’s Brewhouse and Green Flash. It is completely unique and refreshing, with more subtle hops, crazy amounts of floral notes, and the ability to cleanse your palate.

Speaking of palates, near the end I was suffering major palate fatigue. I started to slow down just as the rain chased the outdoor flock into the already crowded main room. At about 5:40 p.m., we gathered our swag (why do I keep collecting so many pint glasses? I could pretty much open a store at this point) and headed for the shuttle to the Railrunner, awash with post-festival beer glow.


— AmyO

We cannot guarantee your level of Hopfest shenanigans will approach ours, but you can try.

We cannot guarantee your level of Hopfest shenanigans will approach ours, but you can try.

The Albuquerque Hopfest returns this weekend, featuring 70 breweries and a whole lotta beers down at the Isleta Casino. Once again, the Crew will be in attendance, as we are veterans of this annual event. So we present our picks for what beers to try and all the other advice we can think of sharing.

First up, if you do not have your tickets yet, click here and buy them. Pay extra for the Extra Hoppy Hour, which starts at 2 p.m. instead of 3. Trust us, it is worth it. You get those 60 bonus minutes to try your beers with short lines everywhere. So peg your favorites, see where they are on the map, and chart out a plan of attack. In general, we hit the side room first (west side of the main hallway), then the main ballroom, and finally outside.

While outdoor beer festivals are fun sometimes, the blazing heat plus dehydrating alcohol can be a bit much. Plan your time outside accordingly. It might be wise to go there earlier rather than later.

Take this note about the outside setup, it is a bit different this year. As event organizer Marne Gaston explained, they have moved out of that little courtyard area on the southwest corner of the building. That area will still have some tables and chairs in the shade for folks to enjoy, plus a grill serving up some tasty food, but the brewery tents are no out in the parking lot. As this is now the Xtreme Hopfest, that is also where the BMX stunt area will be, which is good because we were afraid they would be peeling riders off the walls if they set up the stage in the courtyard.

Backing up a little bit, we highly recommend folks take the Rail Runner down to Isleta (the train leaves downtown at 12:12 p.m.). There will be shuttles at the stop to take you up the hill to the casino/hotel complex. This is unless you have a designated driver, which can be good since the train out of Isleta leaves at 6:10 p.m., so you will have to clear out of the Hopfest area before the event officially ends at 6. Otherwise the next train leaves there at 8:15 p.m.

There is also the VIP area, which is in the room on the south end of the main hall. If you paid extra for that, you will be happy to know that Whole Foods will be providing food pairings to go with the available beers. We did not get a whole list of the pairings, but we do have the beer list and times they will be poured by the awesome Monica Mondragon and her staff of volunteers.

3 p.m. — Kiss Mix Cocktails

3:15 — Alaskan Imperial IPA

3:30 — Odell Trellis Garden Ale

3:45 — Widmer Bros. SXNW

4 — Santa Fe Highland Heath

4:15 — Marble Saison Brux

4:30 — Big Sky Ivan Imperial Stout

4:45 — Upslope Citra American Pale Ale

5 — Mother Road 3rd Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout

5:15 — Back Alley Ladron’s Peak

As for the beers for us non-VIPs, once again, we’ve broken it down so you don’t have to. Just remember that these picks are coming from a bunch of people who like dark beers and big-flavored hoppy beers. In the interest of time and space, we are skipping the cideries and hard liquor establishments. Please take note that will Distillery 365 does make their own beer, they are only bringing their vodka and rum to Hopfest. Also, Boese Brothers was a late scratch as they did not have enough people to staff Hopfest and their brewery. Just one of those weekends, we suppose.

We broke this down alphabetically by geography.

Side room (Premier Stage)

Adelbert’s: This Austin, Texas-based brewery specializes in Belgian-style ales, though they did not give us a list. We’ll have to see what they bring.

Big Bend: Another new brewery (to this event) from Texas (Alpine, to be specific), we’ll go with the Number 22 Porter, just to find out the significance of that number. (Also: Lager, Gold, Hefe, IPA)

BJ’s: We’ll go with the Whiskey Barrel Stout, though we are certainly not expecting anything on the level of, say, Marble Imperial Stout. (Also: Blonde, Red, IPA, Cider)

Bridgeport: Kingpin, a hoppy red ale, is our pick. (Also: Hop Czar IPA, Conviction Pale Ale)

Canteen: They brought Exodus. Enough said. (Also: Amber, Knights of the Canteen)

Cazuela’s: The Kilt Kicker, a smoked Scottish ale, is the current seasonal and our pick. (Also: Gold, Red, Stout, Piedra Del Fuego)

Santa Fe: We need more hops in our lives. Thankfully they brought Autonomous Collective IPA. (Also: Oktoberfest, Gold, Happy Camper, Nut Brown, Java Stout)

Sierra Nevada: The Harvest IPA is kinda funky this year, but worth sampling. (Also: Oktoberfest, Pilsner, Pale Ale)

Squatters/Wasatch: Polygamy Porter on nitro? Yes, please. (Also: Hop Rising, Doppelbock)

Other breweries in the room: Delirium Tremens, Guinness, Leinenkugels, Lucifer (Belgium)

Outdoor area

Big Sky: No list available, but they usually bring good stuff.

Durango: You cannot go wrong with the Dark Lager. (Also: Blueberry Wheat, IPA)

Left Hand: Good Juju wasn’t good enough, so they made Great Juju. Sounds funky. We’ll try it. (Also: Session IPA, Milk Stout, Oktoberfest)

Marble: In a shocker, we did not get a list from Marble. They like to surprise us. Yeah, that’s it.

Red Door: It’s the house beers, but we can never pass up Paint it Black Milk Stout. (Also: IPA, Red, Blonde, Cider)

Tommyknocker: We’re curious what the IPA & A Half actually is. (Others: Brown, IPA, Wheat, Amber)

Upslope: They’re only listed as bringing their IPA and Thai Style White IPA. We hope there’s more, but those are pretty decent.

Other breweries outside: Nuevo Cerveza, Pabst Blue Ribbon

Main ballroom

Abbey Brewing: You can never go wrong with the Tripel, but they have also promised a surprise beer. We love surprises, unless they are sours. Then we call them disappointments. (Also: Monks’ Ale, Dark Ale, Dubbel, Wit)

Alaskan: More hops, so we can catch Hopothermia. (Also: Pale Ale, Amber, Pumpkin)

Back Alley: Got an advance sample of the Pre-Prohibition Porter. I’ll go back for more, that’s for sure. (Also: Hefe, Red, Kentucky Common)

Ballast Point: Big Eye IPA gets lost in the shadow of Sculpin, but it is worth trying if you have not tried it. (Also: Pale Ale)

B2B: We are curious if their Oak-Aged IPA stacks up to Odell’s Barrel Thief. Option B is the always solid Coconut Porter. (Also: Red Rye, Cucumber Cream)

Dukes of Ale: The home brewers’ booth is always worth a visit. We have heard there will be a pilsner, wheat, hoppy red, and some ciders/meads available. Vote for your favorite.

Lagunitas: Pilsners are good. Imperial Pilsners are even better. (Also: IPA, Lil’ Sumpin)

Mother Road: The new Tower Station IPA will make its NM debut here. (Also: Roadside Grove)

New Mexico Craft Brewing: Sebastian Canyon Foreign Extra Stout was great at Blues & Brews, so odds are it will be great again. (Also: Session IPA, Steam, Porter, Cider)

Odell: Checked my Untappd listings, somehow I have never had their Okto. Gotta remedy that. (Also: IPA, Myrcenary)

Ponderosa: The name “Walther IPK” alone is worth trying. (Also: IPA, Wheat, Red)

Rio Grande/Sierra Blanca: It’s a toss-up between the Milk Stout and Black IPA. (Also: Chile Beer, Amber, Pale Ale, Brown)

Sandia Chile Grill: Clint makes good beers, but his meads win awards. Take your pick between the Dirty Steve and Legacy. (Also: IPA)

Ska: The Rudie Session IPA is new, so we’ll try that. (Also: Modus Hoperandi, Decadent)

Tractor: The new Big Sipper Session IPA is worth checking out, or you can go with The Ruggles, a steam beer. (Also: IPA, Stout, Red, Berliner Weisse)

Other breweries in the room: Boston Beer Co. (Samuel Adams), Goose Island, Kellys, Kona, Omission, Radeberger, Pyramid, Third Shift, Traveler, Widmer Bros.

Remember, all beer lists are subject to change, so we could all be in for some surprises.

See you all at Isleta.


— Stoutmeister

Editor’s note: For more on this story below, you can visit Paul at his own booth at Hopfest this afternoon. His booth is located on the south wall of the main ballroom, next to the Dukes of Ale and Pagosa Brewing. — Stoutmeister

In the craft beer industry, homebrewing, professional brewing, and competition are all part of the same universe. Many professional brewers started off as homebrewers, and many homebrewers aspire to become professionals, but regardless of official status or aspirations, it all boils down to one thing — brewing great beer. That’s why both the pro brewer and homebrewer regularly compete for ribbons, medals, and bragging rights. Competition is a friendly way of challenging each other to make better beer and keep the craft of beer fresh. And, I suppose it’s also nice to say, in a friendly way of course, “My IPA can beat up your IPA.”

Brewer vs. brewer on TV sounds a lot better than another show about cooking. Or pawn shops. Or rednecks.

Brewer vs. brewer on TV sounds a lot better than another show about cooking. Or pawn shops. Or rednecks.

One way of bringing the collective industry together, the homebrewers, the breweries, and the beer drinkers, is through the magic of television. We’ve all seen “Brew Dogs” and rejoiced at the idea of beer on TV. But where it shines brightly in some areas, it leaves others dim as the dark side of the moon. Specifically, the exciting competitive side of beer. (Except for that one episode about the homebrewers. That was great. But that’s my point.)

Cooking competition shows are already wildly popular. Everyone loves a good battle in the kitchen because that’s how you really see how something is made and all the blood, sweat, and tears unwritten into each recipe. Whether it’s over cupcakes, foie gras, or baby back ribs, it’s fun to watch real people compete with real passion and creative ideas, all the while producing something we’d actually consume. It sure beats watching people starve on an island. Ahem.

One man recognized a need to see the brewing side of beer paired with the competitive side of human nature. He wants to see real brewers throw down in a casual cage match, which will showcase, above all, the passion and creativity that unarguably drive the art of craft brewing. I had the opportunity to do an email interview with expert homebrewer and fellow Bullpen writer Paul Grunewald about his exciting new TV venture and how he plans to get his idea from grain to glass, so to speak. And I suppose I’ll say it first, as we’ll all be thinking it half-way through. “Man! Why didn’t I think of that first?”

DSBC: What can you tell me about the concept for the show “Head to Head?”

Paul: Head to Head is a (respectful) competition show that has home brewers and pro brewers making beer under the same set of constraints. The beers will be judged by trained judges and then sampled with a live audience.

DSBC: Who came up with the idea for Head to Head?

Paul: I had the original idea and brainstormed with other beer lovers. The team at New Mexico Film Resource (NMFR) then helped me refine it.

DSBC: How did you come up with the idea?

Paul: There were a couple of things. In addition to brewing , both my wife and I do a lot of cooking so we watch cooking shows including “Top Chef” and some of the other shows. I was disappointed in both “Brew Masters” and “Brew Dogs.” One night, I was channel surfing and saw a show called “Airplane Repo.” I figured if there was a market for a show about people getting their airplanes repossessed, there’s got to be a bigger market for craft beer!

DSBC: I have to agree with you on that one. What features will the shows include?

Paul: These constraints might be style, ingredients, or other challenges. It will be different every week. There will not be a lot of contrived drama. The tone of the show will be similar to “BBQ Pitmasters” combined with “Movable Feast.”

DSBC: What sets this show apart from other competition shows or beer shows?

Paul: One, the host will not be swearing and screaming at the brewers! Giving them the time needed to brew a beer. The way the show is shot will be unique, but I can’t say too much more than that just yet. “Brew Dogs” is about beer, but it’s not the same vibe we think is needed for “Head to Head.” Our hope is to have each season in a great beer town including Portland, San Diego, Raleigh, etc. (not just a new city each episode as in Brew Dogs).

DSBC: Who is your target audience?

Paul: The audience is anyone that loves craft beer, and there are a lot of them. The demographics are very wide. Craft Beer grew at 18 percent last year, and over 1,000,000 people brewed at least batch of beer last year!

Beer can be a competitive sport. Well, brewing can.

Brewing as a competition. How novel.

DSBC: That would definitely include the Brew Crew. Where will the show be shooting?

Paul: We want to shoot the pilot here in New Mexico. Where the episodes are shot depends on who picks up the show. My hope would be to do season one here.

DSBC: Who will be involved with filming/production?

Paul: Again, it depends on how the show is financed. The deal can go anywhere from the idea being purchased, to “here is a chunk of money, bring me 13 shows and everything in between.”

DSBC: That makes sense. So, to which channels do you plan to pitch the idea?

Paul: I would want to start with the usual suspects, Esquire, Spike, Food Network, Discovery, National Geographic, etc. But I’ll talk to anyone who will listen to me!

DSBC: I think there is definitely a market for this kind of show. So, Paul, how are you going about getting this ambitious project off the ground?

Paul: I contracted with NMFR to shoot the promo video with my own money. They have done a number of crowd-funded projects already.

DSBC: Why did you choose Indiegogo over say, Kickstarter?

Paul: Because I’m using NMFR and they are a non-profit. If we reach our goal, Indiegogo will not take as large a percentage leaving more money to get the pilot done. Kickstarter tends to be an all or nothing proposition, whereas even if we don’t hit our full goal, we might have enough to start.

DSBC: How can craft beer lovers help get this show on TV?

Paul: The Indiegogo page is here. We will also be at Hopfest on Saturday at Isleta. We have a number of contribution perks. If anyone wants something different, please contact me.

DSBC: When is the deadline to donate or sponsor?

Paul: The campaign runs through Oct. 16, 2014.

DSBC: Paul, is there anything else you’d like to add?

Paul: I want to thank the people who have contributed time and money to this already. New Mexico is a beer mecca as well as having the film and TV resources to make a professional show. We have some great brewers and breweries here and I would like to show them off to the world! Special thanks again to Ken and Kaylynn at Nexus for their help with the promo video.

DSBC: Thanks Paul! Looking forward to watching Head to Head soon, pint-in-hand.


— Luke

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?


— Stoutmeister

AHA AHA table

It all started here on Saturday at Santa Fe Brewing.

Hello, beer lovers!

Luke and I were able to attend the American Homebrewers Association Rally held this past Saturday. The event was hosted at Santa Fe Brewing by Alana and her crew as well as volunteers from the Atom Mashers, Dukes of Ale, Santa Fe Home Brew Club, and Sangre De Cristo Craft Brewers club. The event was open to members of AHA and renewals and signups were offered at a discount that included reduced dues, raffle tickets for books and swag, and two free beers.

Attendance for the event was quite good and I estimated about 50 people were there by mid-afternoon. On the SFBC pilot system they were brewing a small batch of Green Chile Blond that smelled amazing and later a Green Chile Hefeweizen. Multiple tours of the brewery were held, which is always a treat because every time I go there, they have added something new. There is much more in the works as Santa Fe Brewing continues to add capacity. (There’s quite a lot in the works, and just in case you missed it last week, here’s the lowdown on SFBC’s massive expansion plans. — Stoutmeister)

AHA Mother Road Canning Line 2

The Mother Road Mobile Canning line in action.

Also in attendance was Mother Road Mobile Canning, who gratefully offered free canning to home brewers who brought their finished beer to the event. After some excitement about finding a proper electrical source for the equipment, multiple brewers were able to get their creations inserted in to 12-ounce shiny cans. There were a lot of smiling faces carrying out cases of their fine beers.

This was a great event and a good chance to meet old friends and fellow brewers.  As always, Santa Fe Brewing were outstanding and gracious hosts providing space and hospitality for the event. Thanks to all the hosts and volunteers in putting on such a great event!

— Paul

* * * * *

What’s up guys? Luke here, with my bit on the American Homebrewers Association Rally. For my portion of the article, I had the great pleasure of talking with just about everyone that attended, from the always friendly Santa Fe Brewing Co. staff, and Mother Road Mobile Canning’s crack team, to other Santa Fe brewers who stopped by, incognito, whose cover I won’t now blow. There was a great turnout from all corners of the beer community, but most importantly that day, I got to chat with the heart and soul of the AHA organization, the homebrewers. A ton of you guys and gals came out, from all over the state and the surrounding areas including Arizona, Colorado, and Texas, but I figured I’d only pester a handful of you with some very brief interviews, to see what New Mexico was brewing at home.

Interview #1: Mike

DSBC: What’s your name and where are you from?

Mike: My name’s Mike and I’m from, Santa Fe, NM.

DSBC: How long have you been homebrewing?

Mike: Been brewing since 2001, so 13 years now.

DSBC: What got you started?

Mike: An infomercial on the TV Guide Channel. The Homebrew Store had a commercial and we thought, why aren’t we doing this? And we immediately went out to the homebrew store and bought supplies.

DSBC: What are your favorite styles to brew?

Mike: Anything hoppy. I like brewing hoppy beers, although lately I’ve been brewing less hoppy beers, just for the change, to try and diversify my brewing. But black IPAs are my favorite style to brew.

DSBC: We’ll have to talk about that black IPA later. For now, last question. What’s in the fermenter?

Mike: Right now I have a stout, an amber, a Belgian specialty ale, and a rye hybrid.

AHA Homebrewers 2

A meeting of the beer minds inside SFBC.

Interview #2: Blair

DSBC: Hi, what’s your name and where are you from?

Blair: My name’s Blair, and I’m from Taos.

DSBC: How long have you been homebrewing?

Blair: Three or four years.

DSBC: Cool, and what got you started?

Blair: It was kinda something I wanted to do for a long time. I’ve always been into fermentation in general.

DSBC: What are your favorite styles to brew? Not an easy question, I know.

Blair: I like to try new things, but I’m consistently drawn to brewing Belgian styles. I probably drink a lot of hoppier IPA-type things.

DSBC: Same here! And last one, what’s in the fermenter?

Blair: Well, a session IPA and a cider.

DSBC: A cider, interesting! We see a lot more people brewing ciders these days. How’s it going for you?

Blair: Well, I kinda feel like that was my first attempt, and I have a long way to go.

AHA Homebrewers

Move toward the light, beer lovers!

Interview #3: Eric

DSBC: OK, just a few simple questions. What’s your name and where ya from?

Eric: I’m Eric, from Santa Fe.

DSBC: Nice to meet you, Eric from Santa Fe. How long have you been homebrewing?

Eric: On and off for 20 years.

DSBC: What got you started?

Eric: I just like better beer.

DSBC: Great answer! What are your favorite styles to brew?

Eric: I like IPAs.

DSBC: And lastly, what’s in the fermenter right now?

Eric: Nothing right now! But there will be soon, an Oktoberfest.

DSBC: Tis the season, cheers Eric!

Interview #4: Edward

DSBC: Hi, what’s your name and where are you from?

Edward: Edward Otero. I’m originally from Los Lunas.

DSBC: How long have you been homebrewing?

Edward: 20 years.

DSBC: What got you started?

Edward: I got outta college, well when I was in college, I loved beer. When I got out, I could afford it, and I wanted to brew my own stuff.

DSBC: What are your favorite styles to brew?

Edward: Light lagers and stouts.

DSBC: So, both ends of the spectrum, nice! What’s in the fermenter at the moment?

Edward: I got an American Lager and a Bohemian Lager.

AHA turnout

Admiring the fermenters and bright tanks.

DSBC: Very cool! Appreciate your time, Edward.

Interview #5: Angie

DSBC: Hello, what’s your name and where are you from?

Angie: Angie, originally from Oregon, now Santa Fe.

DSBC: How long have you been homebrewing?

Angie: A year, this last weekend.

DSBC: So what got you started brewing, Angie?

Angie: My boyfriend introduced me to beer. You can take his taproom tour in Santa Fe!

DSBC: I will definitely be on that tour! What’s your favorite style to brew?

Angie: Made a chocolate porter, definitely my favorite.

DSBC: Last question, what’s in the fermenter?

Angie: A peach saison, for the wort challenge, but hoping to get another batch going soon!

DSBC: Great, thanks Angie, and good luck with the challenge!

AHA carboys

Carboys full of home-brewed beer.

Interview #6: Scott

DSBC: What’s your name, sir, and where are you from?

Scott: Scott Carpenter of the Dukes of Ale, from Albuquerque, NM.

DSBC: How long have you been homebrewing, Scott?

Scott: Five years.

DSBC: What got you started?

Scott: My wife bought me a session for Valentine’s Day, there at Kellys Brew Pub. A friend and I did a batch there, and we had all these empty bottles laying around, so she brought me a starter kit. So I started doing my own, and that’s what kicked it off. And now I’ve done 37 batches in the last five years.

DSBC: Wow! Excellent. What are your favorite styles to brew?

Scott: Anything experimental. I’ve done a sage gruit with bread yeast, instead of brewer’s yeast, and that actually won some medals. But other than that, I like a chicory stout. I used oak chips that I had soaked in Wild Turkey bourbon and chicory coffee and made an awesome stout. Right up your guys’ alley, the Dark Side Brew Crew.

DSBC: Oh yeah, we’d be all over that one. One more question. What’s in the fermenter?

Scott: Got a yeast starter goin’. I was supposed to get some of this (Santa Fe Pale ale wort), for the “Wort Challenge.”

DSBC: Oh yeah, how do you feel about that one?

Scott: Well, four gallons, I’m excited. But I’ve got a bunch of Maris Otter so I may do something else to it.

* * * * *

This was just a small sample of the many enthusiastic homebrewers that showed up on Saturday. From all that I spoke to, I gathered a few things: 5) New Mexico likes to brew hoppy beers as much as they like to drink them. 4) Homebrewers are not afraid of tackling the trends like ciders, sours, or sessions. 3) Experimentation is the rule, not the exception. 2) Even after a year or so brewing at home, I am still a complete novice next to these homebrew wizards. 1) Homebrewers will always stop and talk about their latest labbed libations, even when their wife is honking the horn out in the parking lot, shouting, “It’s time to go, Kevin! Get your butt out here this instant! You better have only had one!”

As always, I kid, but I’ve seen it before. Anyway, thank you to everyone who came out for the event, doing your part to make the beer community stronger, blurring those lines between pro and amateur, newbie and vet, certified judge and chug-a-lugger. And special thanks to those of you who spent a minute or two just talking beer with the new guy. Much appreciated!


— Luke

Over the last two weekends, judging has been going on for the State Fair Pro-Am Brewing competition. On Friday evening at Tractor Brewing Wells Park, the Best of Show was chosen. There we 180 professional entries and 269 amateur entries for ales, lagers, meads, and ciders.

state fair pro am

The State Fair Pro-Am judges were hard at work.

To avoid the longest caption in history with the photo, here are the IDs for those at the table, listed counter-clockwise: Patrick Johnson (light blue shirt) certified BJCP judge, Andrew (purple shirt) first-time judge, Jason Kirkman (green shirt) provisional BJCP judge, John Rowley (black shirt) accomplished home brewer, Kevin Fleming (grey shirt) accomplished home brewer, and Mike Hall (dark blue polo) national BJCP judge. Standing watching over table the are David Hargis (solid blue shirt) Tractor’s head brewer and Karl Gass (patterned blue shirt) experienced judge.

For the amateur bracket, the best ale was Ben Miller’s Robust Porter, “Robust Rubber Nipples.” John Smolley had the best lager with his “Yellow Jacket Schwarz” (Schwarzbier). Barney Brumley won the mead category with “Port of Fall.” Brent Newman had the best cider for “Baranca Mesa Cider.” The specialty category and Best of Show were won by John Rowley with “The Blueballer” (Belgian Specialty).

In the professional bracket, the best ale was from Bosque Brewing’s John Bullard for Scotia Scotch Ale. Mike Campbell from Cazuela’s Mexican Grill had the winning lager for his Inebriator Doppelbock. The B2B Brew Crew (Kyle Baxter, Gary Small, Callie Benjamin) from Bistronomy B2B had the winning specialty beer with their Coconut Porter. In the cider category and for Best of Show winner was Santa Sidra’s Tad Sweet.

The Dukes of Ale would like to thank Tractor for hosting and thank all the participants, stewards, and judges. It truly is a massive undertaking to collect, sort, and accurately judge hundreds of beers. Like so much in brewing, it is a labor of love — thank you!

Congratulations to all the winners! The complete list of winning beers will be posted on the Dukes of Ale website shortly.

— Paul

Happy Friday everyone. Stoutmeister here with a grab-bag of beer news and notes. I would ask if you all had a fun Halloween, but it seemed strangely quiet out there. Save for a show at Sister Bar and the kids trick-or-treating, putting the great holiday on a Thursday meant a lot of folks put it off till Saturday. Or at least it did for us in the Crew. We were not a festive bunch, but we will try to make up for it this weekend.

Anyway, there are some beer-related goings-on this weekend and a recap of stuff from last weekend.

Dia de la Cerveza

Las Cruces gets its own fall beer festival. Rejoice, southerners!

Las Cruces gets its own fall beer festival. Rejoice, southerners!

Las Cruces usually has little to celebrate on Saturdays, what with the New Mexico State football team being just about the worst program in America. So for a second time this year, the NM Brewers Guild is doing something about that with another beer festival.

The Dia de la Cerveza will take place in downtown Cruces on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. There are 11 breweries signed up and you can still get tickets online for just $15. There will also be food trucks and live music present.

So what breweries will be in attendance? Of course High Desert will be there, plus Deming’s Mimbres Valley, which has a taproom across the street from NMSU now. Others on hand will include Little Toad Creek, from the mountains near Silver City, and a full-on northern invasion featuring Abbey Brewing, Blue Corn, Bosque, La Cumbre, Marble, Santa Fe, Second Street, and Sierra Blanca/Rio Grande.

None of the Crew can make it down, but if anyone wants to share pictures or write a guest post review, contact us at, or via our Facebook page.

Beers for the Dead

The mad scientists at Il Vicino have created a beer called Day of the Dead. It’s a Belgian Dark Strong aged in bourbon barrels. This beer won’t just put hair on your chest, it will probably turn you into a Sasquatch. It debuts today at the Canteen, so keep an eye out for the Crew. We’ll almost certainly stop by to try some of this monstrosity, which should be well over 10-percent ABV.

Meanwhile, if you have a hops craving, head over to La Cumbre for some of their “Chinookered” IPA on cask. Head over quickly, since last week’s batch only lasted a few hours.

Up in Santa Fe, there will also be a firkin present at Second Street’s original location as their Cask and Curry series returns for 2013, starting today.

Hopfest favorites

The voting totals are in for the best of fest, plus the best of the home brews. For the latter, the Dukes of Ale were happy to pass along (via the always awesome Marne Gaston) that Brian Ausderau’s Green Chile Pumpkin Beer won the people’s vote as the best of the five home brews offered up at their booth in the southeast corner of Hopfest’s main room. Both Brandon and Derek greatly enjoyed this unique take on a pumpkin beer. Ben Miller’s IPA was a very close second, which should come as no surprise since A) this state loves IPAs, and B) Ben is a former winner of the Samuel Adams Longshot Competition. The man can brew, people.

Anyway, Hopfest also released the people’s choice for Best of Fest, which went to a full brewery rather than a specific beer (because we all know that was Uinta’s Labyrinth). The people’s choice for the fourth straight year was Marble. No wonder Ted was smiling all day.

Checking in at a very close second was New Mexico Craft Brewing, whose Wet-n-Wild IPA was one of the biggest hits at Hopfest. Il Vicino and Tractor came in third and fourth, so it was very nice to see that people continue to vote and support local breweries first and foremost.

Since I guess some folks needed a break from beer, Angry Orchard was fifth. There was a three-way tie for sixth between Alaskan, Dukes of Ale, and Woodchuck. This mad love for cider is … unexpected. Kona, Santa Fe, and Uinta tied for seventh. Eel River and Indian Wells tied for eighth. Ninth was a five-way tie between heavyweights Abita, Anderson Valley, Clown Shoes, Left Hand, and Odell. Kellys, Red Hook, and Widmer Bros. all tied for 10th place.

We can’t complain too much about those selections, as we enjoyed at least one beer from each of those breweries (leaving out the two cider joints, of course; it’s a beer festival, we drink beer).

* * * *

Anyway, that’s it from a surprisingly newsy Friday. If there is ever some breaking beer news that slips past us, please contact us at the email we listed above or Facebook or Twitter (@nmdarksidebc) or just leave a message here. And if you see us at a brewery, you can tell us there, too.

See some of you around the breweries this weekend. And a happy birthday on Saturday to Broken Bottle’s Chris Chavez!


— Stoutmeister