Posts Tagged ‘Flix Brewhouse’

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

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The variety in beers is impressive this year!

As most of you should know by now, BearFest returns this Saturday, now at the Albuquerque Convention Center downtown. VIP entry is at 12:30 p.m., general admission is at 2 p.m., and it all runs until 6 p.m. General admission tickets are still available online and VIP tickets are still available at Boxing Bear.

Much like any other beer festival, the biggest question of all remains what brews will be available. Well, 15 of the 20 participating breweries sent us their lists, and if the other six get theirs to us, we will add them here right up until the doors open.

  • Ale Republic: TBA
  • Bathtub Row: TBA
  • Blue Corn: Ginger Braggot, Back to Cali Common, Hella Humulus Collaboration IPA, Imperial Chocolate Porter
  • Bosque: Lager, IPA, Hefe, Driftwood Oatmeal Stout, Blonde Ale, EOP Fruited Wheat Ale, Grasping at Straws Extra Pale Ale, All the Rage IPA
  • Boxing Bear: Body Czech Pilsner, HairyMit Hefe, Ambear Ale, Paw Swipe Pale Ale, Uppercut IPA, Standing 8 Stout, Apple Bear Cider, Chocolate Milk Stout, Blood Orange Pale Ale, Barn Burner Wheat IPA, Guava Gose, New England IPA, plus maybe one more
  • Canteen: High Plains Pils, Exodus IPA, Tuttle IPA, Strawberry Basil Gose
  • Chama River: Kolsch, Maibock, Gose, IPA special
  • Dialogue: Biere de Mars, Berliner Weisse, BC IPA, Sour Rapsberry
  • Flix Brewhouse: TBA
  • La Cumbre: Project Dank IPA, Strwaberry Gose, Elevated IPA, Slice of Hefen, BEER
  • Marble: Double White, Pilsner, Cranberry Gose, Flower Digger Pale Ale
  • Nexus: TBA
  • Quarter Celtic: Pedro O’Flanagan’s Mexican Lager, Mangose, Blood Orange Hefe, Crimson Lass, Gondola Party Starter NE-style IPA
  • Santa Fe: Long Game IPA, Hefe’d Up, Nut Brown, Pale Ale, Freestyle Pilsner (cans), Happy Camper (cans)
  • Second Street: 2920 IPA, Eldorado IPA, Red and Yellow Armadillo, Summer Rain Raspberry Sour, 2920 Pils, Civil Rye
  • Starr Brothers: Starrgazm IPA, Brown Chicken Brown Cow, Starrphire Pilsner, Bloodshot
  • Steel Bender: Skull Bucket IPA, Red Iron Red, The Village Wit, Lloyd’s 3 O’Clock Kolsch
  • Taos Mesa: TBA
  • Turtle Mountain: Yum Yum Colada, Can’t Catch Me, Lil’ Shelly, Hopshell IPA, My Kolsche

That is a lot of beer to try. If you like the hazy, New England-style IPAs, you are in luck as Bosque, Boxing Bear, Canteen, and Quarter Celtic are all bring their editions. Fans of sours and goses are clearly in luck as well. We are quite excited to try some of the new beers from Blue Corn (Hella Humulus and Imperial Chocolate Porter) and Second Street (Red and Yellow Armadillo is delicious), plus we await whatever Bathtub Row and Taos Mesa will be bringing.

Now, if you are wondering where Rowley Farmhouse Ales went off to, do not fret. The difference between them and the rest is their jockey box only has two handles, so they will be rotating beers on the second handle every hour or so. The Citra dry-hopped Fields of Rye will occupy the first handle. Here is the second handle pouring schedule.

12:30-2 p.m.: Meier (Meyer Lemon Gose)
2-3 p.m.: Germophile (Berliner Weisse)
3-4 p.m.: Reinheitsgenot (Lime Kolsch)
4-5 p.m.: Ab Initio dry-hopped with Citra/Mosaic
5-6 p.m.: Ab Initio with apricot

So, yeah, pucker up, people! It is gonna be a heck of a day.

And, remember, yours truly will be signing copies of Albuquerque Beer: Duke City History on Tap, over at the NM Brewers Guild booth. It is only $20, cash preferred.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

It’s time for the third edition of BearFest, only this time no one will get sunburned!

BearFest, the annual local-only craft beer festival hosted by Boxing Bear, returns for a third go-around this Saturday. The big change this year, besides pushing it back and away from ABQ Beer Week and Blues & Brews, is moving the fest out of the brewery parking lot to the Albuquerque Convention Center. Unless you are going to walk or bike to the event, leave the sunscreen at home!

The event will run from 2 to 6 p.m. for general admission, with a special 90-minute VIP period before that starting at 12:30 p.m. General admission tickets cost $25 in advance and can be purchased online here. They will be $30 at the door. VIP tickets can only be purchased in advance for $40 at Boxing Bear, going up to $45 the day of at the Convention Center.

To get the full story behind the change, I sat down with Boxing Bear head brewer/co-owner Justin Hamilton and general manager John Campi on Monday afternoon.

“A good thing for us will be that this has been a rain-or-shine event the previous two years and it almost got rained out the first year, we’re going to have a good attendance and a good time, either way,” Justin said. “That’s going to be one of the first things that’s a plus for us. But, I think that as far as what we’ve done in the past that we’re going to continue, and we’re going to expand on a few different things. We have 20 breweries, we have three wineries and two distilleries.”

The breweries, in alphabetical order, are Ale Republic, Bathtub Row, Blue Corn, Bosque, Boxing Bear, Canteen, Chama River, Dialogue, Flix Brewhouse, La Cumbre, Marble, Nexus, Quarter Celtic, Rowley Farmhouse Ales, Santa Fe, Second Street, Starr Brothers, Steel Bender, Taos Mesa, and Turtle Mountain. The wineries are Black Mesa, New Mexico Hard Cider, and St. Clair, while Left Turn and Santa Fe Spirits are the distilleries on hand.

As John noted, the entire event is “100 percent local to New Mexico.”

“Yes, that’s another thing we really want to push here is that this is an absolute local event,” Justin added. “There’s no outside distributors. There’s no random (anything). This will all be from New Mexico, beers and vendors. It will be nice to share some of the other breweries that a lot of folks haven’t been up to see, (like) Bathtub Row and Rowley Farmhouse Ales, a lot of these guys are definitely part of that brewing community that a lot of the Albuquerque scene doesn’t get out to get and see.”

The vendors on hand will all be local as well, ranging from New Mexico Flameworks to Metal The Brand to YogaZo to Mother Road Mobile Canning. The New Mexico Brewers Guild will have a booth, of course, and a certain local author will also be on hand to sign and sell copies of his book, Albuquerque Beer: Duke City History on Tap, for $20 apiece (no, I will never stop with the shameless self promotion at this point).

Gamers Anonymous will have a booth as well, with video games for patrons to play, ranging from Street Fighter to GoldenEye to Mario Kart and more. Unlike last year, when it seemed like the chairs were half in the sun all day, it will all be inside and air conditioned. There will also be a cornhole tournament thanks to the owner of The Local Brewhouse, who donated his boards for the day.

There will be a charity that will benefit from the event as well.

“This is a benefit for the Animal Humane Society,” John said. “Animal Humane will be split into two sections. They’ll have a little adoption booth, if possible with actual, live puppies there. Then we’re going to have a booth set up with a little game (washer toss) and people will pay a dollar or so. That money will go directly to Animal Humane. They can win a prize, and I think every brewery is going to pitch in a shirt or a hat or something.”

Local bands will include Isaac Aragon during the VIP-only time (12:30-2 p.m.) and Pawn Shop Poster Boys after that. Another band is also expected to be announced soon.

“That and it will be nice that our music will have an actual audio guy this year,” Justin said. “Last year we were leaving it up to the bands, which isn’t a problem as far as the audio itself goes, but as far as the setup of the audio we hope to have seamless music throughout the event. Last year we had these breaks between our VIP and our start. We want people to be able to hear music (as they come in).”

The beer, though, is the biggest draw. The Crew should have full lists for all attending breweries no later than Thursday, but a few special beers of note have already been listed by Boxing Bear on Facebook.

  • Blue Corn, thankfully, goes to the dark side with Imperial Chocolate Porter.
  • Bosque is expected to bring a new variant in their Elephants on Parade specialty series.
  • Canteen will debut their Strawberry Basil Gose and bring back Tuttle IPA, a hazy New England-style hop bomb.
  • La Cumbre is bring Strawberry Gose and the latest batch of Project Dank.
  • Marble counters with a Cranberry Gose. Yes, there is a gose theme here.
  • Quarter Celtic has Mangose (yup, theme) and a new Blood Orange Hefeweizen.
  • Rowley Farmhouse Ales is bringing six beers, each of which will be served at special times (see our next story Thursday for that serving schedule).
  • Second Street will tap Summer Rain Raspberry Sour.
  • Starr Brothers is brewing a special batch of Starrgasm IPA just for the festival.
  • Turtle Mountain will have Yum Yum Colada and Lil Shelly Pale Ale.

Unlike other festivals, this is not an unlimited sampling event. VIP and general admission both get four 4-ounce samples and one full pint for free. Additional samples and/or pints can be purchased from the breweries.

“Most breweries, we kind of leave it up to them if they want people to purchase a sample or not,” Justin said. “Last year, just about every brewery was up for it, so my guess that will probably be the thing. Every now and then you’ll see a beer where if it’s a high-end beer or if it’s in a bottle, it’s just not going to be available for sample, which is understandable. I would say almost everything is going to be available for sample and purchase. We definitely don’t want to limit on what people are able to try, but what we want to do is not just turn it into a free-for-all.”

While bigger packaging breweries can often write off free samples as a marketing expense, that is almost impossible for the smaller brewpubs. This helps the breweries not feel as if they are giving away nothing but free beer.

“It’s one of those things where if we put multiple good breweries into a caravan (and) not only show them a good time, but if they get a little something back, they’re going to consistently show up every year for us,” Justin said. “That way we always get the best local breweries showing up consistently every year, which is great for the consumers. That was the original BearFest idea was going for, it’s for the patrons, it’s for the breweries, and it’s for everyone in between.”

Putting BearFest in a more convenient location is another way for Boxing Bear to give back to the patrons and attending businesses.

“It will also be in a nice central location, which is another good part about the Convention Center,” Justin said. “Other than competing with other festivals that were going on, it’s hard getting people to come across the river for anything. It will be right in downtown where people know, with quick access to (two freeways). Uber and Lyft, no matter where you are in the city, it will be probably be pretty affordable, and we always encourage that.”

For those looking to bike over, take note of your options in the area.

“Last year we did a bike valet,” John said. “We were unable to get that this year. The valet company had a prior event. However, there is still ample bike parking. Right now the Plaza is under construction and they have Third (Street) blocked off on both ends, but the Plaza is actually gated off because they’re doing the Shakespeare events with bike racks. There’s hundreds of spots over there.”

The Crew always encourages everyone to travel safely and responsibly to and from beer festivals.

We will have those full beer lists on Thursday. After that, we will see you at BearFest!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Congrats to Tractor for winning gold for Farmers Tan Red!

The results of the 2017 North American Beer Awards arrived today and five New Mexico breweries have combined to win eight medals.

Tractor Brewing won two gold medals, with Berry Cider taking the top prize in the Fruit Flavored Cider category. Farmers Tan Red Ale earned top marks in the Scottish-Style Light, Heavy and Export category.

Santa Fe Brewing brought home a gold for Happy Camper in the English-Style IPA category. It also earned a bronze in the English-Style Old Ale category for Chicken Killer Barleywine.

Dialogue Brewing earned a silver for Biere De Mars Attacks in the Biere de Garde category. The Berliner Weisse snagged a bronze in the Continental-Style Wheat Ale category.

Boxing Bear nabbed a bronze in one of the toughest categories, American-Style IPA, for Uppercut IPA.

Flix Brewhouse also picked up a bronze in the Belgian-Style Wit category for Luna Rosa (misspelled Luna Mosa on the awards list).

Congratulations to all the breweries! We will follow up with them next week.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Flix Brewhouse bartender Misha Lockamy has stepped in a big way.

Editor’s note: The Crew is kicking off the new Unsung Heroes Series, an ongoing catalogue of articles that will focus on the folks who work extra hard to make our local breweries great, but maybe don’t get the recognition of the owners and head brewers/brewmasters we all know and love. We asked all the breweries to nominate one or two members of their staffs. To start us off, AmyO went to the west side to meet with the unsung hero(ine) of Flix Brewhouse. — Stoutmeister

I had no idea what to expect as I arrived at Flix Brewhouse early one Sunday morning in order to interview Misha Lockamy, the day shift bartender. I know I did not expect to be interviewing someone who grew up in Seoul, South Korea, who has a degree in astrophysics, and was a mechanic in the Air Force. Oh, and she’s also the proud mother of two children.

Misha’s heroism might be “unsung” outside the walls of Flix, but internally the staff is quick to sing her praises. Her diverse background and knowledge, and her willingness to jump in and do whatever needs to be done, is what makes her such a valuable employee. And, it is why Will Moorman, Flix Brewhouse’s head brewer, nominated Misha to be profiled for this series.

“Misha’s passion for Flix Brewhouse’s beers is second to none, and shows our new employees what being a team member at Flix is all about,” Will said.

Flix Brewhouse also has locations in Texas, Iowa, and Indiana. It is the first theater in the country to brew beer on site. The Albuquerque location is unique in several ways. One is that it does not have a full bar due to state regulations. This has its drawbacks, but also aids in keeping the focus more on the beer. Because Albuquerque is quite the beer town, another unique aspect is that sometimes people come just to sit at the bar and have a beer, rather than go see a movie. Misha said that really does not happen at the other locations.

Misha said Flix has the most rigorous training she has been through other than the military. She had nine days of training on every aspect of the operation (short of the actual brewing), starting as a runner. On her days off, Misha sometimes helps out in the brewery, and having been a mechanic in the Air Force lends itself well to being around the brewhouse.

The day was just starting for the staff at Flix.

This is a new series for the DSBC, so I pondered where to start the conversation about being an unsung hero. I decided to ask Misha if she might know why she was nominated. She said that was a good question, because she feels like everybody works really hard at Flix. There are about 200 employees, which she thinks makes it even more flattering that Will nominated her.

“Maybe because I’m a little universal here?” Misha said. “I teach the brew class (to other employees) … I guess they got good feedback. They did an anonymous survey and more than half of new employees said that the brew class was the most useful and enjoyable aspect of training.”

That was it — she got it on the first try. In fact, her training has been so successful, they want to roll it out to all of the Flix locations. I asked her how the class originally came to be. She replied that her general manager came to her one day to ask a favor. He said every time he overheard her speaking to a guest, he learned something. He wanted to know if she could please share that knowledge with all the other bartenders. So, Misha designed an agenda for the class — which he was not expecting — and the manager was very impressed, she said. Although Misha had not written the agenda with the intention of anyone else seeing it, this information was ultimately shared with the other locations.

In the brew class, Misha said she talks about the brewing process, the ingredients in beer, and the difference between lagers and ales. She gives a brewery tour and lectures attendees on the enemies of beer, and how to avoid introduction of off-flavors. She describes the history of each of the core Flix beers and what they should taste like. She has the employees taste the beers, and asks them to branch off from saying “like” and “dislike” to include the use of more descriptive adjectives. It varies, but a class is usually about an hour and a half long, and has three or four people. A recent class, however, lasted two and a half hours and had 12 people, Misha said. Some employees have asked to come back multiple times.

Misha knows all about the beers in the bright tanks above the bar.

Prior to joining the Flix staff full time, Misha worked at Ponderosa. She said she started there when it first opened. In fact, Misha credited her beer history fascination and quest for knowledge to Bob Haggerty, Ponderosa’s previous head brewer who is now at Steel Bender Brewyard. He would tell her facts about the beer and her eyes would light up, she said. She soaked up all the information like a sponge.

Misha was recently was a guest judge at a Dukes of Ale local home brewing competition. She is a Cicerone certified beer server and said she is nearly ready to take the test for level two. Because of her vast knowledge, her science background, and her mechanical skills, I asked Misha if she would like to be a brewer herself one day. Misha said that she would love to, but also cannot see herself giving up bartending. She has a real desire to work with the public and is hesitant to switch fully out of customer service, because she learns something every day from interacting with other people.

When I inquired as to what she feels is the best thing about this particular job, Misha said it is the people she works with. While this may seem like some sort of typical or canned response, Misha said that in any competitive environment there is actually healthy, productive competition. The staff is very much there for each other, inside and outside of work. She called them genuinely positive people, who are not, “fake happy.” Misha said she makes a conscious effort to know and address each employee (remember, there are a lot of them) by name.

Using that information, and in order to come full circle with the interview, I turned the tables and asked Misha who would she nominate for this title of unsung hero if she were asked to make the decision. She was slightly hesitant to commit to an answer at first, but relented and said it would be twin sisters Marin and Jena. They mainly work in the box office, but jump in to help wherever needed. They come in on days off and after school. Marin and Jena call themselves “mirror twins,” because one is left handed and the other right. But, Misha said they are very much alike in that they are super smart, kind, and intuitive people who are willing to work any shift, any time.

Thank you to Misha for taking time out of her Sunday to chat with us.

Following the interview, I got a behind the scenes tour, some of which I cannot share in photos. I will say, though, that it’s quite interesting. Unfortunately, no one there on Sunday morning had the key to enter the brewing area. I stood there peering through the glass at all the equipment and thinking how it would be nice if I could take Misha’s class. But, I had already taken up more than enough of her valuable time. She was heading off to go pull apart the front end of her car to replace her own cracked radiator. Yes, by herself. That, friends, is pretty damn heroic.

Cheers!

— AmyO

Flix Brewhouse has become a popular destination for beer lovers and movie fans alike.

Before I disappeared down the rabbit hole of covering the high school basketball state tournament, I went back over to Flix Brewhouse to chat with head brewer Will Moorman and assistant brewer Marisa Bernal for their entry in our Look Back/Look Ahead Series. Flix has only been open since November, but it has already made its mark on the local scene.

“It has become a major place to go on the West Side,” said Marisa, an Albuquerque native. “There didn’t use to be anything out here.”

Flix is, first and foremost, a movie theater, but unlike all the rest on either side of the river, it is the only one that brews and serves its own beer. Will, who hails from Indiana, has quickly learned just what that means to the residents of ABQ.

“This town likes to drink, this town likes to drink,” he said twice for emphasis. “It seems that everyone is very hop-forward (too).”

Even in a slow season for movies, the crowds have kept Will and Marisa busy brewing almost every day. Flix offers up six house beers and a rotating series of five seasonals, plus it has many more guest taps, featuring a mix of local and national craft beers.

It is with those seasonals, though, where the brewers get to have the most fun.

“I’ve been learning a lot about our brewery, just getting our system dialed in, figuring out what we can do,” Will said. “We’ve had a couple of rather big brews that we did, a Belgian quad and an American barleywine. Just figuring out how much we could actually put our system through. That was kind of fun.”

As for Marisa, who started out in the wine industry out in California, moving to brewing has already taught her “a lot.”

“I’ve done my first solo brews,” she said. “I’m just learning the whole system. I love barrels, I love barrel aging.”

There be barrels up there alongside the serving tanks!

The barrel-aging program at Flix is already underway. Patrons can see the barrels upstairs above the bar, in the same room as the serving tanks.

“We’ve got three Chardonnay barrels, two 30-year-old Mexican port barrels, a couple Breckenridge bourbon barrels, and a rye barrel,” Will said. “So we’re tinkering around with that. We’ve got some funky stuff happening upstairs.”

The Rebel Yell Porter, brewed back in December for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, is in one barrel. The January Embers Barleywine, a personal favorite among the seasonals to date, occupies another. There are also some kettle sours aging away.

In the case of the barrels, Marisa has taken charge.

“I’ve been learning a lot, barrel-wise, from Marisa,” Will said. “She got to play with a lot more barrels than I’ve seen.”

“I got to rebuild an entire barrel,” she added. “Three years in the wine industry paid off. It was a good time.”

While the barrels are doing their thing, Flix has already picked up its first medal at a beer competition, with the seasonal Brown Basilisk earning the honor.

The brewhouse has been getting a workout since Flix opened.

“We picked up a (bronze) medal at the Best of Craft Beer Awards for our brown ale, which is amazing,” Will said. “I’m super ecstatic about that.”

Will said they will be sending off beers to be judged at the North American Beer Awards next, with an eye on the Great American Beer Festival in the fall.

In the meantime, more unique seasonals are either on tap or on the way. Mr. Cutty Fingers, a Loganberry IPA, debuted over the weekend with the movie Logan. It will be joined by another newcomer this weekend, though this will not have a movie tie-in.

“We have a saison coming out, Saison DeWalt, which is in honor of the original GM at the first Flix Brewhouse, who tragically passed away of a heart attack at a very young age,” Will said. “So every year every Flix does a saison that’s in his honor. That will be out on the 11th (of March).”

Will also brewed a beer he affectionately named Bug Base with an old friend from Indiana. That beer will be entered in the pro-am competition at the upcoming Santa Fe Open. Bug Base is basically a base beer that the brewers can infuse with different strains of brettanomyces and such inside barrels.

“I’m excited to see what our bugs do,” Will said. “They’ve been bubbling away nicely. They smell great.”

Yup, more barrels are upstairs!

In addition to continually working to improve the beer, Will and Marisa are also doing their homework for some additional certification.

“Our main focus right now, apart from brewing beer and producing beer, is getting BJCP certified,” he said. “We’ve been talking to a couple judges, a couple home brew groups out here, and a then some of the brewers that I really admire. … I’m super young at this, I’ve got a lot to learn. We both do, really. I figure that’s a great way to improve the quality of our product.”

This is the time of year to do it, since Logan is just the start of the major movies coming out in the next few months.

“We’re in our slow season right now and it’s still pretty heavy,” Will said. “From what I understand, things should slow down again in August, just based on new movie releases. But then we’ve got the summertime with kids who have nothing to do, and parents who just need to drink as a result.”

Those parents have offered up mostly positive reviews of the beer so far, which Will said he appreciated, but at the same time the best feedback comes from his peers in the business.

“Feedback is hard to get objectively from people,” Will said. “Which is fine, it’s nice to hear, but as far as super objective (feedback), I’ve been talking to a couple other brewers around here, taking my beer around. I’ve gotten some good feedback. There’s a couple things I’ve been tinkering with that will obviously help the quality of the beer. We’re still young. I’m happy with the way our beer has turned out thus far, but I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, totally satisfied.”

That is all one can ask for from any brewer, so it would seem that residents from across Albuquerque, not just the West Side, are in good hands at Flix.

Beer gifts are the best gifts, aren’t they?

Thank you to Will and Marisa for taking time out of their day to chat, and for the crowler (yes, they have those) of the barleywine.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

There are so many damn beers at the new Blue Grasshopper Taproom on Coors.

There are so many damn beers at the new Blue Grasshopper Taproom on Coors.

A recent date-day Saturday found us embracing the old cliché of dinner and a movie. Except we did it backwards and watched a movie first, then had dinner. When the movie is a great one (Hidden Figures, I highly recommend it) at the superb theater brewery that is Flix Brewhouse and then dinner is at the brand new Blue Grasshopper taproom practically across the street on Coors, the experience is elevated beyond any formula.

During the movie, I had a solid Holy Mother of Quad and a Rebel Yell Porter, along with my buttery popcorn. It still amazes me how they manage to pick up empty glasses and bring orders without me even noticing the servers. My boyfriend and I probably saw only two or three movies total in theaters in 2016 (prior to the Flix opening), but since they opened, we have already been to Flix four times.

Blue Grasshopper was packed. Despite little advertising, this new location is booming. There are some of the usual hiccups, but they did not diminish our date experience. There are about 80 local beers currently on tap; however, Blue Grasshopper does not have any of theirs on tap at this location right now. The food menu is larger than I remember it being at the original taproom in Rio Rancho.

The number of taps is a good thing, and it is also overwhelming. You have to order by number, because that’s the only way the beertender can find it. If you forget what number your beer is while you wait to have your order taken, it’s pretty difficult to locate it again under pressure. Alas, the beer is not quite cold enough in my opinion. This is an issue I have seen before at other places with that many lines. Also, the patron sitting next to me at the bar complained his food order of a Reuben sandwich and fries was too cold. Our order of nachos came out quickly despite the crowd, but although the cheese (sauce) was warm, the shredded meat was not. Despite that, they were a unique interpretation of a pub staple and quite filling.

We left before the music started, so I do not know if the acoustics in the new, larger space are as good as the original location. I know at the Rio Rancho Blue Grasshopper they take acoustics very seriously. As we walked out just after 7:30, there was a line of people waiting for seating. All tables were occupied and our seats at the bar immediately filled as soon as we stood up. It appears this location is certainly filling a requirement in that part of town.

Hint, hint, all you craft beer fans looking for date ideas!

Love to all,

— AmyO

The wait is over, Flix Brewhouse officially opens today!

The wait is over, Flix Brewhouse officially opens today!

Just like everyone else, the Crew has been patiently waiting for the opening of Flix Brewhouse on the west side of town. A movie theater with its own brewery? What’s not to love about that? While they talked about being open hopefully by the time Rogue One: A Star Wars Story debuts in December, it turned out that things were revving up even faster at Flix. They will officially be open today (Thursday), just in time for the first screenings of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the sorta prequel series to Harry Potter.

Being good beer writers and all, new Bullpen member Shawna and I trekked over to Flix to meet with head brewer Will Moorman and assistant brewer Marisa Bernal for a quick tour of the space and a taste of the first two house beers that will be on tap. Eventually there will be six house beers, plus a series of rotating seasonals. Fear not, though, there are also 29 (!) guest taps, including lots of local favorites from Bosque, Boxing Bear, Canteen, La Cumbre, Marble, Santa Fe, and Sandia Hard Cider.

Head brewer Will Moorman and assistant brewer Marisa Bernal seem to be enjoying their jobs.

Head brewer Will Moorman and assistant brewer Marisa Bernal seem to be enjoying their jobs.

“We’ve got six house beers that we do year-round at every Flix location,” Will said. “On top of that, I have a grand total of 11 serving tanks. So, I’ve got five other beers that I’ll be doing throughout the year, as often as those tanks empty. I’m projecting doing 25 different seasonal beers. Hopefully I’ll have to do more than that.”

The six house beers at Flix are Flix Golden Ale, Lupulus IPA (both of which are already on tap), 10 Day Scottish Ale, Luna Rosa Wit, Satellite Red IPA, and Umbra Chocostout. Will said his first specialty beer will be an English brown ale. There are also plans to have beers made especially for big film releases. Look for Rebel Yell, a special porter, when Rogue One debuts in December.

Will said he knows Albuquerque beer drinkers have high standards that he expects to meet.

“As far as the beer scene goes, there’s a lot of really good beer here,” Will said. “I’m thoroughly impressed. I didn’t know what to expect, really. I come from Indianapolis. Indy is currently undergoing its own major craft beer boom. When I left there were 150 breweries in the state, somewhere around there. There was a new one opening every day.

“I think Albuquerque is of a similar population size. I think that this city could support a lot more. I don’t think it’s going to be a lot more giants. People are going to see a lot more smaller ones. I think the neighborhood brewpub is going to become a lot more popular here. I think it’s a good thing. … I’ve only been here for two months, but I think there’s a lot of room for growth.”

A whole lotta beer is available at Flix. There is another set of taps to the right of these.

A whole lotta beer is available at Flix. There is another set of taps to the right of these.

Like many other people in the business, Will got his start in craft brewing almost by chance.

“I think Albuquerque is exactly where the rest of the country is as far as stylistic drinking.”
“I was in my senior year of business school in Indiana,” he said. “I was looking for a part-time job. I was really not sure what I wanted to do. A buddy of mine started working at a brewery up in Lafayette, Indiana, called People’s. He was cleaning kegs and (telling me) it’s awesome. It’s great, everybody’s fantastic, and there’s beer everywhere. I thought maybe that will be interesting.

“So, I spent an afternoon hitting up every brewery in downtown Indianapolis. I ended up a Sun King getting a job filling growlers. I looked around and every single person I saw was laughing and having a good time. I wanted a job that’s physically engaging and fun, that I look forward to going to every day. When I graduated, do I take the salaried job offer in marketing that I’m probably not going to be ecstatic about, or do I make eight dollars an hour filling growlers and see if I can go from there, and see if this is something I’m truly interested in? And, it was. I’ve never looked back.”

Grab your pints and head on in!

Grab your pints and head on in!

Will eventually left Sun King to work at Great Fermentations, a home brew shop. From there he met the owner of Tow Yard Brewing, which was just starting up in downtown Indianapolis. After a few months of pestering, Will was offered a job as an assistant brewer.

“I worked there for about two-and-a-half years as the assistant brewer,” Will said. “We were running a 20-barrel system. Our head brewer left after a couple months, so it was me and another assistant who had not brewed on a system that size before. We turned out a lot of not-so-great beer, but we learned a lot because of that, a baptism by fire. After a couple years we started pulling some medals at the Indiana State Fair, which is one of the bigger national professional competitions. It was good to see that our beer was going in the right direction.”

So, how did a brewer from Indiana end up all the way out here in New Mexico? Chalk it up to a vacation and a little bit of luck.

“I was out here a year ago just to visit a buddy and do some hiking,” Will said. “I’d never been to New Mexico before. I just fell in love with the place. It was great, the food was awesome, the hiking was great. I casually made it a goal to start looking for a brewing job in New Mexico, about six months ago. I got a text message one day from the Flix brewer in Carmel, Indiana, who said — without knowing that I’d been here and that I was looking — ‘Hey, do you know anybody who’d be interested in being the head brewer at Flix Brewhouse in Albuquerque, New Mexico?’ Yeah, that kind of just jumped out at me.”

The serving tanks at Flix are above the bar area.

The serving tanks at Flix are above the bar area.

Now, Will gets to run his own brewery. The setup at Flix is somewhat unique. The brewhouse occupies the narrow, northeast corner of the lobby. There are fermenters alongside it, plus more on a second floor above. It is all rather vertical. The serving tanks are on the opposite side of the lobby, on a mezzanine level above the long bar area that runs from east to west on the south side.

The brewhouse occupies the northeast corner of the lobby.

The brewhouse occupies the northeast corner of the lobby.

Patrons can hang out in the bar area, ordering beer and food. No one says you have to go see a movie if you are visiting Flix. Or, say you are waiting a while for your screening, then you can eat and/or drink in advance. You can also order a beer and/or food at the bar and then take it inside the theater.

There are eight theaters, all ranging in different sizes. The smallest theaters will show art films and the like. The biggest, Theater 4, seats 218 people in front of a 55-foot-wide screen. Each row of chairs has a long table in front of them. You can pull out a tray toward you if you have food or a beer inside. There are little rows in between for people to walk through. Take one of the order forms, fill it out, and press a button, and one of the in-theater servers will see it (it is not visible to patrons unless they turn around, away from the screen) and come to you, pick up your order, and then deliver the food/beer to you. They are trained to stay low, as to not get in the way of patrons viewing the screen.

Your in-theater ordering forms.

Your in-theater ordering forms.

The food menu is extensive with a lot of pub-grub favorites. Flix Favorites include fish and chips, Bavarian pretzel, chicken tenders, chicken wings, carne asada street tacos, quesadillas, and, of course, hot buttered popcorn. Prices range from $5.50 to $11.95. There are also salads and wraps for your health conscious friends, ranging from $8.95 to $10.95. Flix has 10-inch personal pizzas with a variety of toppings, topping out at $12.50. There are also 10 different burgers and sandwiches, including a hot dog, thus proving once and for all that, yes, a hot dog is a sandwich. Those range from $9.95 to $11.50. You can also order some special desserts, including milkshakes and warm, fresh-baked cookies.

So, yeah, you might want to bike or run over, rather than drive. You will need to burn the calories.

Like we said, it is a vertical setup at Flix.

Like we said, it is a vertical setup at Flix.

Flix officially opens today (Thursday) with special screenings of Fantastic Beasts at 6, 7, and 8 p.m. Go to the official website now to make your reservations, which are highly recommended.

The Crew will see you all out there shortly. We will make sure to add Flix to The Week Ahead in Beer starting next week, to make sure to stay on top of what Will has available. We would like to thank him, and Marisa (an ABQ native, it should be pointed out) for their time and the tour. The samples of the Golden Ale and IPA were tasty, with the latter having a definite Northwest flavor theme. We look forward to going back and trying all the rest.

See you at the movies!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Oh, yeah, there is another one coming.

Farewell to Firkin, we hardly knew ye.

In case anyone missed it on social media over the weekend, the long-rumored demise of The Firkin BrewHouse and Grill came to pass, as their own Facebook page communicated the following:

To all of our loyal and wonderful customers, unfortunately I must state that the Firkin BrewHouse and Grill is closed. More info will follow with an official announcement from the owners. Thank you all for your patronage.

The Crew reached out to the owners for comment, but four days later, we have not heard back, nor do we really expect anything. Hey, it’s human nature to try to move quickly past the bad and refocus on the good. We wish them all luck in their future endeavors, whatever those may be.

It is rare these days when breweries close, though it does happen from time to time. If one counts Marble’s opening in 2008 as the start of the current boom, in that span only four other breweries — Hallenbrick, Bad Ass, Stumbling Steer, Broken Bottle — have closed in the Albuquerque area. As per usual, though, any closing creates some sort of “Is the bubble finally bursting?” type of story or comment online.

No, the bubble is not bursting.

The majority of the breweries in the ABQ area are doing just fine, thank you. None of them have had the type of ugly ownership dispute like Firkin did. When four people open a brewery, and it becomes two versus two before even six months have passed, it is not a good sign, needless to say.

Of course, there are plenty who would argue that Firkin was doomed from the beginning. It seemed to have everything lined up against it.

For a new brewery to succeed, it usually needs to be A) in a heavily foot-trafficked area such as downtown or Nob Hill, B) on a major commuter thoroughfare, C) in a brewery-laden area, but offering up something different beer-wise (not just theme-wise) than the other breweries in this area, or D) in an area with no other competing breweries. Comparing it to other breweries that opened in early 2016, Sidetrack is succeeding because it is downtown. Bow & Arrow is succeeding because lots of folks drive up and down 6th Street. Dialogue is succeeding because of its unique beer lineup. Starr Brothers is succeeding quite a ways away from any other notable brewery.

Firkin, on the other hand, was on an isolated street that did not connect to either nearby Comanche or Candelaria, in an industrial area with two award-winning powerhouse breweries (Canteen and La Cumbre) while offering up nothing particularly different in terms of its beer. Conceptually, a Prohibition era-themed brewery was not a bad idea, it was just located in the wrong place. That led to money problems, which led to the ownership dispute, which ultimately led to its untimely demised.

Albuquerque is still a metro area of 900,000 people with some 30 breweries. No, it does not have a great business rating, or a high per capita income, but there are still room for more breweries, and there will be more growth from the existing breweries.

Craft beer in New Mexico is just fine. This is just another minor blip on the screen.

New breweries update

Hops Brewery now has signage up on the front of its Nob Hill location on Central just west of Carlisle. We will head over there to talk to the owner when someone (me) is done submitting the final images and pages for a certain book.

Beer and a movie, anyone? (Photo courtesy of Flix Brewhouse)

Beer and a movie, anyone? (Photo courtesy of Flix Brewhouse)

Flix Brewhouse is still under construction on the West Side, but they have begun brewing their first batches of beer. Brewer Will Moorman and I have been in touch and once other parts of the building are done in about two weeks, the Crew will take a tour of the forthcoming movie theater with its own brewery. As for the beers we could make out from the labels on the Facebook photo of the taps, Satellite Red IPA, Lupulus IPA, Luna Rosa Wit, Umbra Chocostout, 10 Day Scottish Ale, Golden Ale, and Beer of the Dead (Brown Ale) appear to be on deck.

Blue Grasshopper told us that they hope to have their new taproom, on Coors north of Montano, open before the end of the year. We will have more on this for their upcoming entry in our Look Back/Look Ahead Series, which should be kicking off soon.

Drylands Brewing is now officially under construction in Lovington. Southeast New Mexico is still devoid of craft beer outside the existing places in Artesia (Desert Water and The Wellhead), Carlsbad (Milton’s), and Portales (Roosevelt). It is a little bit surprising that Lovington, best known as the hometown of Brian Urlacher, is getting a brewery before the much larger Hobbs or Roswell, but maybe the small town realized the value of beating those bigger towns to the punch.

Quick beer reviews

Again, if you are not following us on social media, you might have missed all the new beers I was able to get to this weekend. More await, of course, but there were too many intriguing newbies, old favorites, and a special one-off to not get out on the town.

A barrel-aged Scotch ale was sighted amid the chaos at Palmer Brewery's grand opening.

A barrel-aged Scotch ale was sighted amid the chaos at Palmer Brewery’s grand opening.

As always, these are my opinions, I am fully aware others may think the exact opposite. Please share your own thoughts on these beers once you have tried them as well.

  • La Negra, La Cumbre: This is the best version of the barrel-aged imperial stout yet. Grab two bombers, one to drink, one to age. Creamy yet boozy yet smooth yet thick, it is a wonderful batch.
  • Cockness Monster, Palmer: The grand opening was a zoo on Saturday, but luckily just as I walked inside I ran into brewer Rob Palmer. He poured me a 13-ounce glass of the rum-barrel-aged version of his Scotch ale. The rum did not overpower the beer, nor the other way around. It just blended beautifully, a good sipping beer amid the chaos. Congrats to Palmer on the opening.
  • Nitro Chai Chocolate Porter, Nexus: Before dinner arrived, I made sure to sample this fresh batch. The good news is the chai does not drown out the beer. On nitro, though, the beer almost came off as a little too thin on the mouthfeel. I would love to try it on CO2 some day. (Hint!)
  • Turkey Drool, Tractor: This is an annual fall favorite, and oh lordy, it did not disappoint. It starts off subtle, then does a mini-circle pit of spices and flavors on your palate. Let it warm just a tad for full effect. As someone else said, it’s everything good about Thanksgiving dessert in a glass.
  • Vanilla Mocha Double Porter, Red Door: Coffee! So. Much. Coffee! At least at the outset, so this is another one to let warm up a bit. The vanilla and mocha flavors are there, too, but the coffee is strong as can be. If nothing else, the small pour had me wide awake in time for that freaky storm to finally reach the brewery from the Lobo football game.
  • Clark IPA, Quarter Celtic: Before venturing off to help Franz Solo brew a beer (and by help I mostly mean stand there and drink and comment on our football teams’ terrible outings), we both visited QC for their New England-style hazy IPA. Breweries like Trillium, The Alchemist, and more have made this juicier, less bitter style of IPA quite popular in the Northeast, and now QC has brought it to the Southwest. We adored this beer. If you have loved some of the sweeter, maltier IPAs that Bosque has been specializing in of late, you will love this, too.

Now, if the breweries would just slow down a bit on releasing these outstanding beers so I can catch up … they won’t, will they? A beer writer’s work is never done.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

We gotta admit, Dialogue Brewing just looks like it will be another cool place to hang out. (Photo courtesy of Dialogue Brewing)

We gotta admit, Dialogue Brewing just looks like it will be another cool place to hang out. (Photo courtesy of Dialogue Brewing)

We have been doing our best to keep track of all the forthcoming breweries around town. Recently, we have been lucky to get first-hand updates on the progress of Steel Bender Brewyard and Colfax Ale Cellar in Raton. In addition, Ale Republic has opened in Cedar Crest and Rowley Farmhouse Ales is now open in Santa Fe. There are still a few that remain, which we have divided into three categories as per the status of their application for a small brewer license from the State of New Mexico.

Approved licenses

In addition to the aforementioned Colfax Ale Cellar, the following breweries are good to go as far as the State is concerned, all located in Albuquerque — Dialogue Brewing, Flix Brewhouse, and Hops Brewery.

Dialogue, located on 1st Street and Kinley (just five blocks north of Marble), is the furthest along of the group. Their Facebook page is a great way to keep up to date on their progress. They appear to have finished the buildout and have begun brewing their first beer(s). We hope to get over there, possibly next week at the earliest, and get you all the final scoop.

Come on, Flix construction crew, get it ready for Rogue One! (Photo courtesy of Flix Brewhouse)

Come on, Flix construction crew, get it ready for Rogue One! (Photo courtesy of Flix Brewhouse)

Construction is continuing at Flix, the movie theater with its own brewery, located on the West Side at Coors and La Orilla (two lights north of Montano). They are still projecting to open by the end of the year, with the aim of being ready in time for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in December. We do not know who the brewer will be, or what beers they will serve (word is they serve house beers and other local brews at their other locations around the country). Hopefully they reach out to us in the near future so we can fill in the blanks.

As for Hops Brewery, well, the last we heard in an Albuquerque Journal article back in April was that it was planning to open in Nob Hill over the summer. Well, we are past Labor Day and there is still no sign they are opening. Hops still has zero online presence — no website, no social media of any kind — so it has been tough to learn much more about them.

Colfax said they were hoping to be open by the time the Crew is driving to and from the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Oct. 6-8. The last set of pictures posted at the end of August on their Facebook page showed the brewing area is nearly complete as far as construction goes, but they still have to start making beer. We will try to stop by regardless, probably on the way back if Brandon goes through with his insane “let’s leave at 4 a.m.” plan for the 6th.

Pending licenses

These breweries are at different stages in the process, but all still await their licenses. They are Bombs Away Beer Co., Drafty Kilt, The 377 Brewery, Truth or Consequences Brewing, and the aforementioned Steel Bender Brewyard. All but TorC are located in Albuquerque.

We will be visiting next week! (Image courtesy Drafty Kilt Brewing)

We will be visiting next week! (Image courtesy Drafty Kilt Brewing)

Drafty Kilt is the furthest along of that group. How far? Brewer/owner Mike Campbell, formerly of Cazuela’s and Tractor, called me Thursday and said they are brewing their first beer next week. I will of course be heading over there to check out the place, while also getting some info on the old days from Mike for that ABQ beer history book I am writing. Drafty Kilt is located at 4814 Hardware Dr. NE. Hardware runs north-south between McLeod and Lumber, just west of San Mateo. Lumber is the street you would turn down to go to the Movies 8 for $1 flicks on the weekend.

At last check with brewer Lyna Waggoner, The 377 is still a ways away. The brewery, located near Yale and Gibson, is still in the process of buildout while awaiting all the necessary licenses and permits. They did have some beers ready for the Mountain West Brew Fest last weekend. Alas, none of the Crew was able to make it up to Bernalillo to sample those.

Now that is a distinctive logo. (Image courtesy of Truth or Consequences Brewing)

Now that is a distinctive logo. (Image courtesy of Truth or Consequences Brewing)

TorC Brewing is a long ways off, but the owners remain hopeful it will not take too long to get things ready once the various state, federal, and local permits come through. We are in contact with them on Facebook, so we should be receiving updates when they have something to share.

As for Bombs Away, well, we still have nothing but a name and a vague idea of where they might be located in zip code 87123. That area is bordered to the west by Wyoming, north by Lomas, east by the Sandia Mountains, and south by Kirtland Air Force Base. Considering the name, we expect it may be located either close to the base or near the Four Hills community. If anyone out there knows anything about Bombs Away, please contact us.

Still just rumors

Things are fairly quiet out there as far as breweries that are pure rumors go. Among the ones we have heard of lately, there is another looking to open in Cedar Crest, just down Highway 14 from Ale Republic. At least a couple people spotted a mention in a local newsletter about a brewery opening somewhere near the Greenside Cafe and Triangle Grocery, which would actually put it within walking distance of Ale Republic. This could be the rumored Bare Bones Brewery, which was said to be opening down in Edgewood before it allegedly eyed a new spot north of I-40.

Another still on the watch list is Lone Sun Brewing, which has a sign up along the Paseo del Norte frontage road, about halfway between Jefferson and Edith. So far, though, it is just a coming soon sign, nothing more.

There are no other projects that we have heard of, but of course, we are always looking for any information. If you know about any of the breweries listed above or about some others in the works that we do not know about, please get in touch with us at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com or you can contact us via direct message on Facebook or Twitter.

Until then, we will just have to be content with all of our existing, award-winning breweries.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister