Posts Tagged ‘Enchanted Circle Brewing’

Red River was just as glorious as the pictures make it look.

Fall was suddenly and dramatically in the air recently as Dave and I trekked up north to visit some breweries we have been trying to visit for some time. We welcomed the cooler air and monsoonal rains as we made our way around arguably the most beautiful area of the state. Our plan was overly ambitious, and we knew that we were not going to get to everything we wanted to see with just one overnight stay in Taos. Sadly, some of our curiosity stays with us as we wait for another time, another adventure.

We did have a main goal, a must-do if you will. Having seen the amazing pictures online of Red River Brewing Company, we decided that would be our primary destination. If nothing else, we were bound and determined to make it to the brewery that was able to win the first round with its maiden entry into the NM IPA Challenge. An overall fourth place finish was also quite impressive.

Red River has one of the best atmospheres for a brewery in the state.

We were blown away. It’s even much, much nicer in person. Dave declared it the nicest brewery atmosphere in all of New Mexico and Arizona. We tried the winning entry, Bad Medicine DIPA. While not our style, it was easy to see why it impressed. Our pick of the sampler we ordered was the Amarillo SMASH.

When I was researching what route we wanted to take, I was looking at Google Maps and found something very interesting. A roadhouse-y kind of dive bar/beer hall in the middle of the northeastern part of the state. I guess technically it’s in Maxwell, but there is not much near there, for sure. Due to its name, I was fixated on getting there. The online reviews are great and it’s a 15-minute drive from Cimarron. The place, my friends, is Colfax Tavern & Diner at Cold Beer New Mexico. Let that sink in. Cold Beer New Mexico. Who the hell knew?

One of the more unique beer bars in the state can be found near Maxwell.

I saw a beer koozie on their website that I knew I needed to have. I bought one, so I am now a very proud owner. Speaking of owners, the owners of this place are incredibly welcoming. I even heard them telling another customer they had someone in there from Australia recently. I would be remiss if I did not mention that they have their “own” beer on tap — “Cold Beer.” But, it’s brewed by Full Sail in Oregon. The owner said nobody in New Mexico wanted to brew it for them. I am putting out the call, some Northern New Mexico brewery should step up and brew them a beer. This place is awesome. In fact, my personal opinion is (of course I do not know the possible reasons why this has not happened) that Colfax Ale Cellar in Raton should get together with them on this. They are neighbors, and Colfax is in the name, after all. Although we didn’t make it as far as Raton, I had one of their beers in Cimarron, a golden ale, and it was outstanding.

The beer isn’t quite ready yet, but the guest taps and the barbecue are reason enough to visit Blu Dragonfly in Cimarron.

I had the Colfax Rabbit Chaser Golden while having lunch at Blu Dragonfly Brewing and Smokehouse in Cimarron. Blu Dragonfly does not have its own beer on tap yet, but should have it on by Oktoberfest. The barbecue was outstanding, and that golden ale had just enough kick and a clean finish to cut through the richness of all the meat. I must admit to basically inhaling the mac and cheese as well …

Owner Colin is very civic minded. That day, Blu Dragonfly was welcoming all the bicycle racers in the race they organized with Philmont Scout Ranch. It was fun to cheer each racer as they came to the finish line and grabbed a much deserved beer (the riders were over 21, of course). Colin then surprised me by giving me one of their awesome pint glasses I was coveting. Thanks, Colin!

Don’t forget about Enchanted Circle in Angel Fire.

We took a different route on our way back to Taos and finally stopped at Enchanted Circle Brewing Company in Angel Fire. I forgot how beautiful that town is because I haven’t been there in forever. The Nice Day IPA was aptly named. We watched a massive rainstorm sweep through (the third or fourth of our trip already) and toasted to Zeus for bringing the weather.

It was time to get back to Taos and get settled into our hotel. We made one final trek that night to the Taos Mesa Brewing Tap Room near the plaza. It was our first trip to this location, though we have been to the Mothership outside of town. It is fantastic and not to be missed when in in Taos.

The Taos (Mesa) Tap Room in the heart of town is definitely worth the visit.

The next day, we made a few stops in Santa Fe on our way home to visit places that we cannot easily get to when we take the train. That day probably deserves its own story so I will save that for some other time.

Suffice it to say, it’s not just the weather that is getting cooler up north. The brew scene is as well. We cannot wait to get back up there to revisit our new favorites and visit the ones we missed.

Cheers!

— AmyO

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.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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.

Cheers!

— AmyO

Just embrace the beer and the metal and everything will be just fine during your stay in Albuquerque.

Due to work commitments, most of the Crew will not be at Hopfest this year. Raise a glass and the horns in our honor while you are there.

Ah, late August, when the hints of cooler weather arrive, the kids go back to school, football (both American and international) revs up, and Hopfest takes over Isleta Casino. Hey, at nine years old, we can pretty much declare Hopfest an annual tradition.

The largest beer festival in New Mexico returns this Saturday from 2 to 6 p.m. If you not bought your tickets yet, get them now, particularly if you want VIP or extra hoppy hour, which we highly recommend. For tickets and info, click on the event website.

There are 18 breweries from our state that will send beers to the event this year. We did our best to get you the beer lists, or at least confirm if the event program has the right beers listed. We will update this post if we get any late corrections/additions.

  • Albuquerque Brewing: Imperial Red Ale, Duke’s Pale Ale
  • B2B: Coconut Porter, Raspberry Wheat
  • Bathtub Row: Red Hammer Ale, Hoppenheimer IPA, Wit Rock, Green Chile Pilsner
  • Cazuela’s: Agave (American Wheat), Acapulco Gold, Panama Red, Papacabra DIPA
  • Duel: TBA
  • Enchanted Circle: Hells Bells Lager, ESB, Red River Red Ale, Session IPA, Glory Hole IPA
  • Eske’s: Rat Queen DIPA, Wheat IPA
  • Kellys: Amber, Session IPA, Apricot Ale
  • Marble: Double White, Imperial Red, Dang Pale Ale, Stout Americano
  • Oso Loco Brewery (Sandia Chile Grill): Irish Red, Chocolate Brown
  • Pi: Discordia IPA, Scotty Doesn’t Know, Pineapple Express, Cardinal Sin
  • Ponderosa: Berliner Weisse, Cascadian Pilsner, Wry Ale, Crosscut Kolsch
  • Quarter Celtic: Pedro O’Flangan, Dusk’s Early Night, MacLomas Stout, #GFF
  • Red Door: Trapdoor Belgian Wit, Roamer Red, Threshold IPA, Paint It Black Milk Stout, Unhinged Cider, Vanilla Cream Ale, Blackberry Hefeweizen, Nieuwe Bruin
  • Rio Bravo: Karl’s Krystal Weizen, Duke City Pilsner, Rio Bravo Amber, Dirty Rotten Bastard IPA, Snakebite IPA, RoadKill Red, Old Town Porter
  • Santa Fe: Oktoberfest, Autonomous Collective IPA, Imperial Java Stout
  • Sierra Blanca/Rio Grande: IPA, Pancho Verde Chile Cerveza, Sun Chaser Pale Ale, Bone Chiller Brown Ale
  • Tractor: Farmer’s Almanac IPA, Farmer’s Tan Red Ale, Milk Mustachio Stout, Delicious Red Hard Apple Cider, Dank Johnson DIPA, Hillario DIPA, Kolsch

Definitely take the time to try Enchanted Circle, they just opened in Angel Fire back in April. Eske’s has new ownership, so it might be interesting to see what that has done to their beers. Otherwise, among the beers worth trying are Hoppenheimer IPA (Bathtub Row), Stout Americano (Marble), Scotty Doesn’t Know (Pi), MacLomas Stout (Quarter Celtic), Nieuwe Bruin (Red Door), Old Town Porter (Rio Bravo), Autonomous Collective (Santa Fe), and Dank Johnson DIPA (Tractor). Or, try as many as you safely can, and let us know what were your favorites.

Also present, of course, will be the Dukes of Ale. You need to visit their booth to try all the excellent home brews and help vote for a winner.

Broken Trail will also be there, but they are only listed as bringing their rum and vodka, no beer. If you are into ciders, Sandia Hard Cider will be present.

As for the many, many national brands, a few have some beers worth checking out. BJ’s has Hop Pact IPA, a collaboration with Green Flash. Boston Beer (Samuel Adams) has the new (?) Toasted Caramel Bock. Firestone Walker, still fairly new to our state, has the wondrous Luponic Distortion. Mother Road usually brings something extra from Flagstaff beyond the usual beers, though Tower Station IPA and Lost Highway Black IPA are worth your time if you have not had them before. If you have been remiss in checking out the Imperial IPA from Upslope, here is your chance. Also, new to the state is The Dudes Brewing Co. No beers were listed for them in the program, but I tried a DIPA at the brewery in Torrance, Calif., two months ago and it would stand up to our local hop bombs. There are many other beers to try, as well, from old favorites to seasonals to new ones, so please, sample away and let us know which are your favorites.

Above all else, have fun, try not to go overboard, and celebrate craft beer this Saturday. Do it because I cannot, since the Isotopes suddenly decided they want to win their division and I have to be out here covering them.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

This year's many, many IPA entries.

This year’s many, many IPA entries.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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

One IPA to rule them all!

One IPA to rule them all!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

They're getting ready for the grand opening April 16 for Enchanted Circle Brewing in Angel Fire.

They’re getting ready for the grand opening April 16 for Enchanted Circle Brewing in Angel Fire. (All photos courtesy of Kyle Yonan and Lyna Waggoner)

The best laid plans rarely go according to, um, plan. That can be true just about anywhere, but it can often happen to new breweries as they work toward opening. Thankfully for the folks up at Enchanted Circle Brewing in Angel Fire, they managed to overcome one major hurdle with the help of not one but two brewers.

Lyna Waggoner is an Albuquerque-based brewer whose own operation, The 377 Brewery, is moving closer to opening in the near future near Yale and Gibson. While she was waiting for things to get going here, she heard from Enchanted Circle owner Steve Larson. The two had met when they were both searching for brewing systems and had remained in contact since.

“They hired a brewer and when the brewer didn’t work out, they had to open, they had to make money,” Lyna explained over pints at the Bosque Public House in Nob Hill, where we met up earlier this week. “They asked me to come up (since) they had no brewer. I became a guest brewer right then and there and I said let’s get this place open.”

Lyna had no plans to move to Angel Fire full-time, but she did have a friend who was a fellow brewer looking for a new job. Kyle Yonan, the former head brewer at New Mexico Craft Brewing in Las Vegas, had parted ways with Blue Corn Brewery after a short stint there. He was in the market for a new opportunity.

“He came up and we brewed the last two beers together,” Lyna said. “Now he’s head brewer over there starting, well, now.”

“I’m a mountain guy, I was in Vegas for 12 years, even living in the sticks outside of there,” Kyle said. “I’ve always known Angel Fire as a very beautiful place. Now there’s finally an opportunity there. It’s a big growth opportunity from a professional standpoint.

“It’s really nice to work in a company where you work directly with the owners. Blue Corn’s pretty fantastic opportunity, great brewhouse, great history, and it was an incredible experience. But, it’s very nice to work in a private ownership kind of (setting).”

The beers that Lyna mentioned were the five she brewed up for the grand opening celebration at Enchanted Circle, which is set for Saturday, April 16. Those beers were the Red River Red, Palisades Pils (a Kolsch style), Glory Hole Black IPA (named after a nearby ski hill, get your minds out of the gutter), Wheeler Peak Pale Ale, and Maxwell’s Grant Porter.

The first beer kegged at Enchanted Circle is their black IPA.

The first beer kegged at Enchanted Circle is their black IPA.

Steve Larson and his wife Shelly went big with Enchanted Circle, purchasing a 20-barrel brewhouse for the 5,000 square-foot building.

“It’s the size of system they can grow into,” Kyle said. “They plan on making 1,500 barrels in the first year and growing into 5,000 barrels a year. Packaging and distribution is a big part of the idea there.”

“They do have to figure out how to do that, since that’s a lot of beer to have on tap and not a lot of people living in town,” Lyna added.

Kyle said the packaging plans will be can-centric, but without a canning/bottling line in place, they will have to rely on Mother Road Mobile Canning to start things up. Once things get going, beer lovers as far away as Albuquerque can expect to see Enchanted Circle cans on the shelves.

That all stems from what Lyna said about the lack of a permanent population in Angel Fire, which is a popular destination in the winter for skiing and then the summer for hiking, golfing, and the like. In between, well, she put it best: “They have the ski season, but as of March 24 it ended, and you should see, there’s nobody but a lazy dog on that street.”

Kyle is ready to embrace the challenge of brewing for such a season-oriented population.

“It’s a very seasonal place,” he said. “The boom times are really very big, during motorcycle rally time and of course ski season.”

It's an appropriately cozy place, be it summer or winter.

It’s an appropriately cozy place, be it summer or winter.

The Larsons’ goal is to make Angel Fire even more of a destination for folks from outside the area, even outside the state, to visit. Capitalizing on the popularity of craft beer is a good way to start that process.

“We want to get as many people up there as we can,” Lyna said. “I know it’s 2 hours, 15 minutes away, but it’s a destination.”

That will all start a week from Saturday when the doors swing open for the first time to the public.

“The grand opening is the 16th,” Lyna said. “The five beers that were brewed in their system will be served. Then I’m bringing two beers that we’ll call 377 guest taps, a hefeweizen and a saison.”

As for her own brewery, Lyna said the buildout is underway. She expects to start cleaning tanks and getting them ready for use around April 18. The 377 has not set a firm opening date yet, but she will keep the Crew posted as to when things are close to being ready.

Look for this logo on cans in the near future.

Look for this logo on cans in the near future.

In the meantime, folks can trek north and get a glimpse of what Kyle will be offering as he gets his own beers added to the menu.

“I like my stout stouts and my punchy IPAs,” Kyle said. “I like hop-forward beers. My pale ale reads more like a session IPA, that kind of stuff. A lot of crisp things.

“The hefeweizen is the first thing on the list. There’s a lot of nice grains sitting around there. I’m excited to root through it all.”

“The previous brewer had given Shelly a heck of a long list,” Lyna added. “There’s a heck of a lot of bags (of malt) in there.”

“There’s a lot of specialties; it’s hard to go through that many specialties, but I’ll try,” Kyle said with a laugh.

We wish Kyle and everyone at Enchanted Circle the best of luck as they open. Hopefully we can get someone from the Crew up there, if not for the grand opening then soon after (yours truly will be covering the Isotopes right after coming back from the great Denver/Iron Maiden adventure).

Thanks to Lyna and Kyle for being able to meet up and chat, plus all the pictures.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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

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

We are still alive, still chasing down beer news. Due to various factors in life, none of it was ready for publication today, but next week is gonna be busy.

Catching up on the canning lines

In case anyone missed their Facebook post, the gang over at Canteen has begun canning Dougie Style Amber and Exodus IPA. They will be selling it out of Whole Foods exclusively for the first two weeks, then it will expand to other locations. We will have to make time to stop in there and chat with the staff about this exciting development.

Meanwhile, yours truly sat down with brewers Ty Levis and John Seabrooks over at Rio Bravo this week. I still have to sort out the news from our rambling, 1-hour recorded conversation (apologies to Ty’s wife if I kept him in ABQ for too long), but suffice it to say they are excited about their canning line, which is now in place and ready to start soon. Throw in the recent addition of an outdoor stage, plus some more barrel-aging beers in the works, and things are looking up over on 2nd Street. I will have the full interview posted by Monday, barring anything unexpected sucking up my time this weekend.

Luke’s not dead, either

Our Santa Fe writer has a ton of content coming down the pipeline. Assuming he gets enough free time away from his duties at SFBC to type it all up, he will have stories coming along on the massive SFBC expansion project, new developments at Blue Corn and Duel, and a review of Santa Fe’s newest brewery.

Yes, that’s right, there is a new brewery in Santa Fe. Chili Line Brewing is operating out of Pizzeria Da Lino, with a handful of new creations available, including two IPAs, a stout, a Rauchbier, and more. I guess this gives the ABQ-based portion of the Crew another excuse to make an overdue visit to Santa Fe this spring.

New brewery updates

Palmer Brewery already has their first beer on tap at Left Turn Distilling, a pale ale. They should have everything up and running sooner than later.

Starr Brothers Brewing has been open for a while with guest taps, but at last, their own beer is coming on tap! Friday, April 8 will be the debut date for their first four house beers — Lampshade Porter, Red Zepplin, Starrstruck IPA, and Thunderr Ale. We will endeavor to get over there beforehand to sample those four and let everyone know what to expect.

Enchanted Circle Brewing in Angel Fire will have their grand opening on April 16. They have a head brewer in place and are working hard on having their beers ready from day one. We are hoping to set up an interview this weekend to preview ECB, while I have to see if anyone in the Crew could head up there that weekend (it’s Isotopes opening weekend, so I will be at The Lab).

Just in case you missed it

It’s not April Fools, Founders KBS is back in town! Jubilation has a limited supply of 2016 KBS four-packs (they had 2015 earlier today, but we have been told those are already gone). Also, tonight (Friday) at Nob Hill Bar & Grill, they will tap the only keg in the state at 6 p.m. See many of you over there!

Sampler tray

  • Yes, there are changes coming to the food truck schedule at Marble Westside. I am meeting with the command staff Monday to find out about that, plus all the big details on Marble’s upcoming eighth anniversary celebration.
  • We will also be checking in with Kaktus Brewing next week, assuming owner Dana Koller has kicked the flu/cold he has been battling. I feel his pain, considering I also had a bad cold recently and then my allergies returned with the wind, leaving me with a persistent cough.
  • Dust Up Pale Ale will debut at Bow & Arrow on Saturday. It will be the first in a rotating series of four different pale ales.
  • Franz Solo and I will be heading up to Denver to see Iron Maiden on April 13. We will of course be visiting favorites in the area like Avery, Great Divide, Prost, and TRVE, but if anyone out there knows of a smaller place we absolutely, positively have to visit, please let us know. Just remember, we like stouts and IPAs, so places with great sours (Crooked Stave) are not our thing.

That is all for now, but fear not, we should have the site chock-full of stories next week. As always, if you know of any beer news, drop us a line at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Once again, the little items added up, so for the second week in a row we have a notebook to empty.

NIPAC domination continues

Scale Tipper has yet to be dethroned as the champion of NIPAC.

Scale Tipper has yet to be dethroned as the champion of NIPAC.

The fourth round of the National IPA Challenge, hosted by The Brewing News, is complete with three of the five remaining New Mexico entries advancing to the quarterfinals. This marks the second year in a row that our state has three of the last eight.

Last year it was La Cumbre’s Project Dank and Canteen’s Exodus along with Bosque’s Scale Tipper. It ended up an all-New Mexico final, with Scale Tipper topping Exodus. This time around, Scale Tipper is still around, joined by Turtle Mountain’s Adrift IPA and Boxing Bear’s Bear Knuckle IPA.

Scale Tipper ousted a heavyweight again in the fourth round, defeating Fat Heads’ Head Hunter IPA. Adrift overwhelmed Karl Strauss’ Aurora Hoppyalis, while Bear Knuckle K.O.’d Barley Brown’s WFO IPA.

Second Street was the only New Mexico brewery not to advance. Both 4 Hour Lunch and Fulcrum were defeated in the main bracket, while Trebuchet went down in the fourth round of the Imperial IPA bracket, eliminating the last local entry in that field.

Bosque’s Southwest Session defeated Stone’s Go To IPA to reach the semifinals of the Session IPA bracket. Next up is another showdown with Fat Heads, in this case against Sunshine Daydream.

As for the main bracket semifinals, only two New Mexico entries can move on, as Adrift and Bear Knuckle will go head-to-head. Scale Tipper will try to avenge 4 Hour Lunch against Lawson’s Finest’s Triple Play IPA. Lawson’s Finest, which is in Vermont, is the only non-Western brewery still alive.

The other quarterfinal matchups are between Colorado and Oregon breweries. Breakside Brewery’s Wanderlust IPA will represent Oregon against Comrade’s Superpower IPA, out of Denver. Barley Brown’s Pallet Jack is the other Oregon entry, taking on Codename: Superfan, the entry from Lafayette, Colorado’s Odd13 Brewing that ousted Fulcrum.

Good luck to all the remaining New Mexico entries!

Tart at Heart tickets are now on sale

Thanks for the pic, Angelo!

Thanks for the pic, Angelo!

Only a few of us in the Crew are big fans of sours or wild ales, but we know a heck of a lot of you out there are huge fans of these unique beers. The good news for you is that last year’s popular sour-centric event, Tart at Heart, is coming back this year at Sister on April 16. It sold out last year, so now is the time to get your tickets in advance.

There are $35 general admission tickets and $45 VIP tickets, with the latter getting you into the event an hour early, plus you get a special T-shirt. There will be at least 20 rare sours and other unique beers from around the country and around the world, plus this year you get unlimited tastings. You can purchase tickets online or you can buy them over at Jubilation or Kelly Liquors on Juan Tabo.

New breweries update for the week

Now that's a pretty picture to put on Facebook.

Now that’s a pretty picture to put on Facebook.

Congrats to Palmer Brewery and Cider House, which now has an active small brewer license. They posted the photo on their Facebook page this week. There is still no official timetable for opening, but Palmer is clearly getting closer to joining the local scene sooner than later.

Working with our friends over at the Albuquerque Journal, we have learned a little more about the mystery of Hops Brewery. It does not look like they will be opening in Nob Hill, but instead down in Los Ranchos. We found an address on 4th Street, though the listed owners of Hops have yet to officially respond to requests for more information. When we hear more, we will let you all know.

The folks up at Enchanted Circle Brewing in Angel Fire also contacted us. They expect to be open by the end of the month. Looks like we’re going on a road trip in April!

On the lookout for more news

If you — yes, you, gentle reader — ever come across something that seems newsworthy about the New Mexico craft beer scene, please let us know. You can reach us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (yup, Brandon got that working again), and of course via email (nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com). Whether it’s a rumor or something you know to be fact, big or small, from new breweries to expansions to new taprooms or new beers or anything at all, please let us know.

Especially this week, since this here editor is going to be spending an unhealthy amount of time trying to cover the state high school basketball tournament for multiple newspapers.

Come Saturday evening, release the hounds will be uttered. Oh, yes, it will.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister