Posts Tagged ‘Hops Brewery’

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Victory is theirs!

When a new brewery opens up in Albuquerque, it’s only a matter of time before the Dark Side is there on the scene to report our findings back to you good folks. Well, as it turned out, this particular brewery opened up a couple weeks ago, while our editor was on the road for a wedding. Franz Solo and I were more than happy to step in and get the story on the brand new space to open up in Nob Hill, Hops Brewery.

While I waited for Franz to finish up his own brew day, I took the opportunity to chat with head brewer Ken Wimmer about himself, his beers, and the direction in which he hopes to help Hops along. But, before I get to my brief interview, I’ll start with a dad joke. “Mayan: Hey, wanna beer? Other Mayan: I’m working on this calendar, but I guess if I don’t finish it won’t be the end of the world.”

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It’s a darned comfy space inside.

DSBC: How long have you been brewing?

Wimmer: I’ve been brewing off and on since the mid-80s. And, until I took this position, like most of us, I started out as a homebrewer. I brewed in my kitchen and in my garage.

DSBC: How’d you get the gig?

Wimmer: Actually, it’s funny, someone told me this place was opening, and said, “Ken, it’s right up your alley.” I said, “Who wants to hire me?” A couple weeks later he said, “Ken, I’m not kidding. Get in there and talk to these people.” And, I said, “OK, what’s the worst that could happen? I make some good friends, and find a new place to drink some beer.” And, I brought in a bunch of my homebrews. We talked beer. I said, “This is an audition. Try my beers.”

DSBC: Before Hops, where did you work?

Wimmer: I’m a retired school teacher.

DSBC: So, you wouldn’t have a problem teaching your ways to an assistant brewer, if need be?

Wimmer: Not at all. In fact, I’ve taught several folks, here in Albuquerque, how to brew.

DSBC: Homebrewers are no strangers to inspiration. What inspired the beer list?

Wimmer: It started with the honey wheat. The owner’s wife asked for something light, easy drinking. They’re light lager drinkers. So, I developed that recipe strictly for them. And, they loved it. And, it turned out that a lot of others loved it, as well.

The Warm Scottish Nights, my Scotch Ale (was second), because I work on a pilot system. (So) before we go to a big system, I wanted to see how it would handle a big beer.

As mentioned in our preview article, Hops crafts their recipes on their pilot system, and they contract brew through Rio Bravo Brewing. Also, please take note that after Summerfest, Hops was reduced to just two of the six beers we talk about below, Honey Wheat and Chica.

DSBC: You have six of your beers on tap. What inspired the others?

Wimmer: My Chica (Pale Ale), I enjoy the aroma of hops, but I’m not big on the real high bitterness. So, I wanted to make a pale ale that had a great aroma, but wasn’t over the top on the bitterness. So, I developed Chica. And, the two main hops in that (are) Chinook and Cascade, so Chi-Ca.

“Dad Joke” is actually from a buddy of mine who brews with me quite often. He wanted to try a beer from pre-Prohibition era, and so the Dad Joke is a Kentucky Rye Common. And, so we tweaked that until we got it where we wanted it. I changed it again. I need to change it back. It’s still a good beer. It’s just not where I want it, just yet.

DSBC: Why “Dad Joke?”

Wimmer: Because it’s rye and corny of course. (Laughs)

DSBC: Ha. And what about your milk stout, The Tipsy Cow?

Wimmer: A buddy of mine was having a party. He’s a big stout fan. And, we thought, well, what can we come up with here? So, I thought, you know, I’ve been wanting to do a real milk stout, something similar to Mackeson’s. So, I really overloaded it with the lactose, and realized, you know what? That kind of worked. I thought I could always tone that back in future generations of it, but it was one of those beers that just worked on the first round.

DSBC: Let’s see, we (also) have the English bitter, The Irish Tan.

Wimmer: I’m a big British beer fan. I like the ordinary bitters. And, basically here, the closest you can get is the ESBs. A lot of the ordinary bitters that you find in this part of the world, they’re still closer to an IPA than an English bitter. So, I specifically wanted something a little more malty. Still had a nice little hop balance to it, was easy drinking, light in color, so I came up with this. I was looking at it, and said, you know, this has a nice little orange color to it … and, oooh! It’s not an Irish red, but maybe it’s a nice Irish tan.

DSBC: Which is your favorite house beer?

Wimmer: The one I just ordered.

DSBC: My favorite is the first one after a long shift. That and the next one. So, Ken, what do you have planned for Hops as you go forward?

Wimmer: Seeing what the customers want. Number one is customer service.

DSBC: Now, I know people are going to start coming in and asking for an IPA. This is Albuquerque, and this brewery is called “Hops.”

Wimmer: Oh yeah, and I will develop one, but I’m not going to compete with the big beers that you see at La Cumbre and Bosque. If I do an IPA, it’s going to be more of an East Coast style, or even a British style.

As for seasonals, we’ll have three or four standard beers, and everything else will be rotating. And, you know, some people are going to love one beer, and if it’s a great beer, it’ll stay. If it’s not, maybe it’ll disappear forever, or maybe it’ll be a seasonal that comes back only once a season.

DSBC: What did you think sets Hops apart from other ABQ breweries? Or, what niche does Hops fill?

Wimmer: I think the niche we fill is that we’re in Nob Hill, and we’ve got the whole Nob Hill vibe going. And, the bar is gorgeous.

DSBC: Not to mention a 40-tap list.

 

Wimmer: Exactly.

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Head brewer Ken Wimmer is off and running.

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Franz joined just as I was wrapping up the interview, and both of us were ready to try the beer. Franz, having the better palate than I, will walk you through the experience.

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A solid start of a flight.

So, this past Monday, after a lovely brew day making an oatmeal stout in honor of my wife’s upcoming graduation, the chance came that Luke and I were both free of commitments, and we took advantage of such a rarity and headed over to the newly opened Hops Brewery. Our luck was even better than expected as we ran into Hops Brewery’s brewer, Ken Wimmer who joined us as we enjoyed a flight of his creations. We began with their Honey Wheat, which had a light, crisp mouthfee,l and to my estimation a good gateway brew with a tasty malt base.

We ventured onward to the Chica (pale ale), which has quite nicely balanced malts, but does need a bit more whirlpool and more aroma from the hops to up the ante to the next level. In the current form it is more akin to a British pale than to an American pale ale, in my opinion. That may well change with further iterations.

Dad Joke (the name is part of a penchant for humor in this abode, which I found to be quite catching and excellent) begins sweet with rye and corn making for a solid California common, though it needs a tad more work on the finish, but a good solid start. We tend to see far too few of the California common beer style in Albuquerque, so I was pleased to find it on the initial rotation at Hops.

Next up we had the Irish Tan, an English bitter. This was spot on style, with a nice light bitter helping of hops with a sweet middle and a warm, bready finish. I’d certainly enjoy a few of these watching EPL or Bundesliga on the numerous large televisions throughout the establishment.

My personal favorite was Tipsy Cow milk stout. A blast of lactose with good, toasty aroma and flavor fills the mouth with dark goodness. Good dark roasted malts pervade and this is damn tasty all around. For 4.5-percent (ABV), this tastes closer to a 6-percent stout.

This town needs more milk stouts of this caliber, and that is a great start for Hops Brewing. Our final beer of the flight was Warm Scottish Nights Scottish ale. It begins with a sweet aroma and peated malt in the back. The flavor is sweet, then bready, then lingering notes of the crust of a Creme brûlée and smoked dark fruits. I wholeheartedly recommend a pint if this one, as well, and let it warm up a hair to release a plethora of different and distinct malty notes.

The guiding principle for the beers at Hops is British bases, and then mixing malts to achieve certain types of flavor combinations. I love that the name of the brewery is Hops and yet it’s a malt-forward brewery at least from these initial house beers. This is to Burque what Second Street is to Santa Fe, a true bit of English malty brews swimming in a sea of hop havens. This is not to say that there are no hoppy beers on tap here; quite the opposite with many local taps of quite a few of our favorite year-round hop bombs.

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Where do we recognize those chairs from? Oh, Hello Deli!

Two plus years of construction were needed to completely redo the space. This was two years very well spent, as there is a modern, yet cozy vibe to the joint. I bid you all to head over and enjoy a pint or two, and maybe catch a game or hang out on the front patio.

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Plenty of TVs for watching EPL, Bundesliga, World Cup, etc.

Well, Albuquerque, Hops Brewery has opened at long last, a true labor of love for owner Jim Shull, general manager Lauren Shull, head brewer Ken Wimmer, and manager Mario Ruiz. Ruiz, having spoken to us during the visit, told us exactly how much work went in before the brewery and bar space were up and running. It took two-plus years of construction, from ceiling to floor and wall-to-wall, as Franz mentioned above. These folks worked around the clock and built the place by hand and hard labor. Keep that in mind as you admire the well-thought-out atmosphere, which perfectly fits within the Nob Hill area. Think of the consideration that went into each detail as you enjoy one of the frothy house brews. With 40 taps, 12 or so food items planned, 10 TVs, and plenty of seating, Hops is well-equipped to become a favorite hang, a great go-to to just grab a beer. And, parking was not a problem at all, despite A.R.T. It may be a place named “Hops,” currently without an IPA, but it certainly fills a niche too often overlooked, and serves as proof that we are more than a hop across the pond away from an oversaturation point. Welcome to ABQ, Hops. To your continued success, we raise our glasses.

Cheers!

— Luke and Franz

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Luke is from Santa Fe, NM, currently living in Albuquerque. If it’s about beer in New Mexico, he, along with the rest of the Dark Side Brew Crew, will get the story.

The “coming soon” part of the sign will be removed July 1!

I’m happy to say that I have an update on what may be one of the longest anticipated brewery openings in the Albuquerque area for some time. Hops Brewery has been a project in the making for years, with a prominent location on Central Ave. in Nob Hill.

I’ll confess that I have been regularly driving by, hoping to see a sign with an opening date. This past Saturday, I was heading to lunch in Nob Hill and noticed that the front overhead door on Hops Brewery was open and there appeared to be some activity inside. After further investigation I met Austin Shull, son of Hops Brewery owner Jim Shull. Austin was kind enough to allow me to take a look around the inside of the nearly finished brewpub. I walked back past Hops again after I finished lunch down the street, and this time father and son were both at work inside. I interrupted what they were doing just long enough to get the inside scoop. I started by asking Jim to share the story of Hops Brewery to this point.   

The work is ongoing, but the finish line is in sight.

“It’s been an idea we have had for a while since the last 5 or 6 years and I had been in the restaurant business before and got out of that about a little over 15 years ago but decided that a brewery-slash-brewpub, looked like a pretty good idea,” Jim said. “So, we actually started with a location and got our brewers permit down in the village of Los Ranchos, and got through zoning and got to the point of the village trustees (telling me that) I was 285 feet away from Taft Middle School, but they had done variances before in the past. One of the trustees had a problem with it and so that ended that, which put us, of course, back to square one. You have to amend all your plans and find another place. And, at about that time this building came on the market, so we bought this building and went through the whole permitting process and planning process.”

Jim was quick to acknowledge that he can’t complain about the Central location that he ended up with, but his challenges were not yet over.

“And then we had some opposition from the neighbors, mostly the neighbors across the street,” Jim said. “That appealed our zoning decision way back when, so that stalled us for a while. We had to go through a few appeal processes and legal costs and stuff like that. And, then we finally got over that hump and then just standard building codes and that kind of stuff. So, it’s been a long haul but we are getting close. We can see daylight at the end of the tunnel for sure.”

All the equipment will be out of the way for the grand opening.

Aside from all of the legal/zoning/code challenges, the father-son team has also taken on a very labor-intensive, hands-on involvement in the building of their business.

“We’ve had some trades like dry wall guys and an electrician and that kind of stuff, but as far as we helped them do everything and then of course we would dig the trenches for the plumbing and took the plaster off the ceiling,” Jim said.

Austin interrupted, “How many tons?”  

“Ten tons, (that’s) 20,000 pounds,” Jim quickly responded.

“20,000 pounds of plaster, insulation, wiring … from the ceilings,” Austin clarified.  

OK, so then let’s get to it — what about the beer?

“We hired Ken Wimmer,” Jim said. “He’s a retired school teacher who has been brewing beer for over 25 years and really, really knowledgeable. In fact, he just got back from Scotland for three weeks, and so he’s made us six real good beers, four of which we made in-house, and then two where he went down and actually used Rio Bravo’s system along with their brewers John (Seabrooks) and Ty (Levis), and came up with something we could make a little bit bigger volume and a little bit more economical then a barrel at a time.”

Will there be food?

“We are going to have a limited food menu, 10-12 items, some appetizers, a few sandwiches,” Jim said. “I think we’re going to try opening for lunch.”

The bar will have 40 taps, 32 of which will be guest beers from other New Mexico breweries.

Drum roll please — is there an expected opening date?

“July 1 to the public, and hopefully soft openings a week to 10 days before that,” Jim said. “And, I know Ken wanted to invite you guys like before we open, just without the public here, just you guys so he can talk beer to you guys. That was one of his deals right from the get-go that we gotta do that before we open, and he’s just waiting for me to pull the trigger on when it’s time.”

Well, you don’t need to ask me twice. I didn’t think I could be any more eager to see Hops Brewing open, but after seeing the inside and talking to Jim and Austin Shull, my anticipation has only grown. Even though work inside is ongoing, the place already looks beautiful. I would describe it as being sleek, modern, and clean enough to be a trendy new bar in Nob Hill, but at the same time having the warm and inviting environment that one would expect in a neighborhood pub. The bar itself is very impressive, so impressive that it’s almost the only thing I remembered to get pictures of while I was there, with an eye-popping 40 taps.

“So, we will have 32 guest beers,” Jim said. “Of course, we will have a few New Mexico wines as well.”

I asked Jim if there was anything else he wanted to make sure he said before I let him and his son get back to work, and I think he very effectively summarized what he had spent the previous 10 minutes explaining.

“I want to apologize for the long delay,” Jim said. “It’s just it’s probably more work than anybody can imagine, and when you are trying to do 90 percent of it yourself, it even becomes longer than that. But, we haven’t skimped on anything, and we had to kind of rebuild a building even before we started.”

Thank you to Jim and Austin Shull for taking the time to talk to me, and for all of the effort they have put into Hops Brewery. The Crew wishes them the best of luck on finishing up the final touches this month. Can’t wait for more updates and, as always, we will keep you in the loop.

Cheers!

— deezbeers

It is curtains for Draft Station’s Albuquerque location. (Photo courtesy of Draft Station)

Well, it’s Friday, and the little bits of news are starting to bunch up. Here we go …

R.I.P. Draft Station, and Sandia Chile Grill, too?

It appears that two more local beer spots have closed their doors. One is now confirmed, the other seems likely but is not official.

First up, Draft Station ABQ posted on Facebook that they were closing again due to problems caused by the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project on May 5. Since then, there were no posts, and multiple people told us that the taproom appeared to be permanently closed. We were then told by another brewery that their orders for future beers have been canceled. A final confirmation then came in when we contacted an executive with parent company Santa Fe Dining, and he emailed us back to confirm that yes, Draft Station ABQ is now permanently closed.

It was always a tough sell for the local version of the big hit up in Santa Fe. While that location is in prime real estate overlooking the Plaza, the ABQ location was stuck too far from the other downtown breweries/taprooms and then just a bit too far from Old Town. Throw in the impact of A.R.T. on business (you could not turn into the parking lot from westbound Central), and it proved to be the final coup de grace. There is always the chance that Draft Station could live again (scroll down), but for now, may it rest in peace.

Meanwhile, as I posted in The Week Ahead in Beer (no worries if you missed it), by all accounts Sandia Chile Grill is closed as well. Efforts to reach them by phone have failed as the number listed has been disconnected. They have not made a social media update in some time, but then again they never were very active online. A quick drive past the location found the doors closed, but the signs were still up, including their new T-shirts in the window. The tables and chairs were still inside as well.

However, we checked the State of New Mexico website and found that their small brewer license is listed as expired. There are no applications pending for a new or renewed license under either Sandia Chile Grill or Oso Loco Brewery.

If anyone out there knows the full story with SCG, please contact us.

More new places? More new places

Meanwhile, there are three new small brewer licenses pending. The Sandbar Brewery and Grill will indeed be making its own beer in the location at 4100 San Mateo. For those thinking, “hey, that location is familiar,” it was formerly home to Sneakerz, a sports bar probably best known for having (you guessed it) sand volleyball courts on the premises.

UPDATE: We previously wrote — The prior location of the Sandbar was up near Journal Center. Many, many moons ago we reported on how they were teaming up with the long-since-defunct New Mexico Craft Brewing out of Las Vegas to serve their beer at the indoor sand volleyball facility. That partnership did not last, but we are glad to see the Sandbar owner(s) sticking with craft beer. — But, as it turns out, this Sandbar has no relationship to the previous Sandbar. Our apologies for the mistake.

The stated goal of Sandbar is to open this summer. We will keep everyone updated as to their progress.

Another new name on the list is Toltec Brewing, which has a zip code listing of 87114. That is the West Side, running from the river to Albuquerque’s western city limits. The northern boundary is Rio Rancho, the southern boundary is roughly Paseo del Norte. Currently, Marble Westside and Boxing Bear are in this zip code, so clearly Toltec could be just about anywhere out there that commercial properties exist. There is no additional information online that we could find, social media or otherwise. If anyone out there knows more about Toltec, please drop us a line.

The final newcomer is another place we knew about in advance. Guadalupe Mountain Brewing is set to become the second operational brewery in Carlsbad. We have already been in touch with their owner/brewer, so expect a story from us in the coming months. You can already follow them on Facebook.

The great mystery taproom speculation begins

A reader alerted us to the fact that the developers of the Snow Heights Promenade are planning on adding a 2,800-square-foot taproom to the complex located on the southwest corner of Eubank and Menaul.

Our friends at the Albuquerque Journal followed up on the Snow Heights Facebook post with this tasty morsel about a “soon-to-be announced ‘award-winning local brewery’ that’s looking to open a 2,800-square-foot taproom at the site.”

All right, let us play the guessing game. We can rule out just about any brewery that has opened since the start of 2016, since none of them are really in position financially to open a taproom yet. We can then throw out any brewery that has maxed out its number of taprooms (Bosque), has a taproom somewhat nearby (Marble, Canteen), or a forthcoming taproom nearby (Red Door, Tractor). Taking the award-winning comment above, we gotta figure it is a brewery that has won multiple major medals/awards, which to the general public usually starts with the Great American Beer Festival. So who does that leave?

  1. Boxing Bear: The reigning GABF Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year is a logical candidate. The taproom would certainly bring their beers to a new audience. This one almost makes too much sense, doesn’t it? Still, nothing official yet from the BBB staff.
  2. Chama River: If the Draft Station is truly closed, maybe it is due to moving here. Technically, it was always under Chama’s license, so that could work. But, then again, it would not come with the name of the award-winning brewery attached.
  3. La Cumbre: Well, now, wouldn’t that be interesting? It’s pretty far from the main brewery, though certainly not as far as Boxing Bear. Owner Jeff Erway has talked in the past about the reasons he has not opened a taproom, ranging from not wanting a location too close to a bar or restaurant that has carried LC beers since the beginning, to wanting a good landlord tenant relationship (if not outright ownership of the taproom building). We will call LC the dark horse candidate.

Could it be another brewery besides these? Sure, anything is possible, but these are the most logical candidates. Good ahead and speculate away in the comments or on social media. We will see what the final is when the developers and brewery in question are ready to announce it to the public.

More new brewery tidbits

These are all the other breweries or off-site taprooms with pending licenses with the state.

  • Bare Bones Brewing is closing in on a new location after their original space fell through in Cedar Crest. It will still be somewhere along Highway 14 in the East Mountains.
  • Bombs Away Beer Company is busy with the buildout of their space near Central and Moon. We await a chance to visit when they are ready, so yes, we are in contact with head brewer David Kimbell.
  • Drylands Brewing continues with its buildout in Lovington. Search for their Instagram page and you can keep track of their progress. It is looking good.
  • Hops Brewery in Nob Hill remains in limbo. We have no idea what the current delay is about.
  • Lava Rock Brewing continues with its buildout on Unser north of Ladera, as does Truth or Consequences Brewing down south. The latter now has an active license, but is not yet open.
  • We have nothing new to add on Glencoe Distillery and Brewery in Ruidoso (license active, but no other info), Switchback Brewery in Cloudcroft, or Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery in Santa Fe. If anyone out there has info, as always, please contact us.

That is all from us for now. Got a tip? Want to share something without announcing it to the world? Direct message us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or via email at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

It sure looks like Hops Brewery is getting close to opening in Nob Hill.

Goodness gracious, beer notes on a Friday. Whatever has come over me?

Brewers Association takes a stand against offensive labels

An emerging point of contention for craft beer has been the use of blatantly sexist or offensive labels and imagery by certain breweries. Luckily, New Mexico breweries have largely managed to avoid these sorts of things, but it has become a battleground issue in other states.

Well, the Brewers Association weighed in on all of it at the just-wrapped Craft Brewers Conference in Washington D.C. To say that the BA brought the hammer down might be a bit of an over-simplification, as it remains to be seen how it will all play out in terms of penalties and the like, but it is a big step forward to getting craft beer away from a juvenile mindset. Craft beer is still an industry dominated by white males working on the production side. That does not mean it should act like a stereotypical bad college fraternity.

Here is the exact wording the BA sent out in a press release Thursday:

“The BA updated its Marketing and Advertising Code to help brewers maintain high standards and act as responsible corporate citizens. New language has been included to address that beer advertising and marketing materials should not use sexually explicit, lewd, or demeaning brand names, language, text, graphics, photos, video, or other images that reasonable adult consumers would find inappropriate for consumer products offered to the public. Any name that does not meet the Marketing and Advertising Code that wins a BA produced competition including the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) or World Beer Cup will not be read on stage or promoted in BA materials, and will not be permitted to use the GABF or World Beer Cup intellectual properties in their marketing. Additionally, the BA has convened an Advertising Complaint Review Board should an issue arise that warrants further review and action.”

This should make for a fascinating GABF in October, especially if multiple medal winners are not read aloud during the awards ceremony. More information can be found on the official BA website.

If you want to share your thoughts or ask questions about all of this, please do so via any of our social media outlets. Or, if you would prefer to contact us directly, use nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Southwest Bacon Fest returns

We almost completely forgot about the Bacon Fest until Marble shared the fact it is taking the aptly named Bacon’s Best Friend to the event, which runs this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Balloon Fiesta Park.

Unlike the Food Truck Festival organizers, we were never contacted by the Bacon Fest P.R. people, so it slipped through the cracks. In a late scramble, we sent out an email to 11 of the 14 attending breweries for whom we have current contact information. Unfortunately, many key brewery staffers are still en route back from the aforementioned CBC, so we only heard back from three (so far). If any others update us with their lists, we will add them here.

  • Marble: Bacon’s Best Friend (Rauchbier), Double White, IPA, Red Ale, Pilsner, DANG Pale Ale
  • Quarter Celtic: Pedro O’Flanigan, Crimson Lass, Quarter Porter, Clark IPA
  • Rio Bravo: La Luz Lager, Snakebite IPA, Lemongrass Wit, Cherry Sour, Pinon Coffee Porter

We still hope to hear back from Bosque, Boxing Bear, Canteen, Chama River, Kaktus, Palmer, Starr Brothers, and Tractor. We do not currently have contact info for Abbey, Cottonwood (Desert Water), or Santa Fe.

Hops Brewery looks like its almost ready

Based on that photo way up at the top, it sure looks like Hops Brewery is getting ready to open soon in Nob Hill. The current Albuquerque Rapid Transit construction should not get in the way too badly, so the Crew will be keeping an eye out if an official announcement appears. It has been a long, long road for Hops, which we first heard about as far back as early 2013. Let us hope only a few final touches need to be applied before they can start serving beer.

Otherwise there is nothing new to report on the new brewery front. We have not heard that Bare Bones Brewing has found a new home in the Cedar Crest area after their initial space fell through over issues with a new landlord. Bombs Away Beer Company has joined the NM Brewers Guild, but beyond that and a physical address near Moon and Central, there is nothing new there, either.

Oh, and Desert Valley Brewing officially has an active small brewer license. The main operation is still located next to the Craftroom near Menaul and the I-25 frontage road. The old Stumbling Steer space they are taking over will be an off-site taproom. They have a pending license for that with the state now.

If anyone out there hears about news involving new or forthcoming breweries, please send it to us using the usual ways (email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

See some of you downtown Saturday for the Easter Beer Hunt and/or Tart at Heart 3.

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

Now that looks like a relaxing place to enjoy a pint outdoors.

The Sierra Blanca Beer Garden will be packed this Saturday for their 20th anniversary party.

Sierra Blanca Brewing is celebrating their 20th anniversary this Saturday with a big party at the brewery in Moriarty. From 2 to 9 p.m., the beer garden will be hopping (pun intended) with live music, food trucks, a kids zone, and more.

There is a $5 cover, but kids 12 and under get in for free. Dirty Modine and Stanley Cattle Guards will provide the musical entertainment. All of the Sierra Blanca, Rio Grande, and Alien beers will be available, plus a few special surprises, including the Whiskey Barrel Aged Stout.

Head on out there Saturday and wish the entire staff a happy anniversary!

New taprooms update

Good news on the taproom front, Red Door will be opening their downtown location next week. Yours truly will have an advance look at the place, so look for some pics and more info on Monday.

For those who may have forgotten, the taproom will be located in the lobby of the Simms Building at 4th and Gold. The grand opening will be Thursday starting at 11 a.m.

As for the other taprooms, there is nothing official on opening dates yet, but both Canteen (I-40 and Tramway) and Marble (Montgomery east of Eubank) have said they hope to open by the end of July.

New breweries update

Construction continues at Dialogue Brewing near downtown. (Photo courtesy of Dialogue Brewing)

Construction continues at Dialogue Brewing near downtown. (Photo courtesy of Dialogue Brewing)

There are still 12 breweries on the way with the small brewer licenses pending with the state. First, for the ABQ-area breweries, here are the latest tidbits we know.

  • We shared the link from ABQ Business First last week about Flix Brewhouse, which is making progress on the West Side. They are still a long ways from opening, but certainly there is already a lot of excitement, judging by everyone’s reactions to the post. When we know more about the specific brewing aspects, we will share them.
  • Drafty Kilt, formerly OffKilter, is getting close to opening. Mike Campbell, formerly of Tractor and Cazuela’s, will be ready to brew as soon as all the permits come through. We hope to get a tour soon.
  • There is nothing new on the Nob Hill-based Hops Brewery, nor the Steel Bender Brewyard in the North Valley. Neither has any significant online presence yet, so we have to guess they are further away. Ditto The 377 Brewery near the Sunport.
  • Progress continues on Dialogue Brewing on 1st Ave. north of Marble. They have had a lot of pictures of their progress in construction, but it does show they are still a ways from being open.
  • New to the listings for pending licenses is the Bombs Away Beer Company. We have searched for more info, but come up empty. All that is known is that it is somewhere in the 87123, which could put it up near the Foothills and the Canteen taproom, or it could be the fabled Four Hills brewery that folks have been whispering about for a while. If anyone out there has contact info for this new endeavor, please send it our way.
  • Palmer Brewery and Cider House has an active license now. We were told they are not at fully brewing capacity yet, but some of their beers are being tapped at Left Turn Distilling.

As for the breweries outside the ABQ metro area …

  • Construction progress continues at a good pace for Ale Republic in Cedar Crest. We figure a fall opening is likely, though they could surprise us.
  • Sleeping Dog Tavern in Santa Fe has now applied for a small brewer license. We will try to find out more on their plans, see if they are going small like Chili Line or aiming for something bigger.
  • Route 66 Junkyard Brewery in Grants is still aiming for a July 1 grand opening. There is a story in the Gallup Independent, but it is subscriber-only, so we can’t share the link.
  • Milton’s Brewing in Carlsbad is inching closer to opening. Their small brewer license is active, so now it is just a matter of finishing the buildout and getting the beer flowing.

That is all from us for this week. Check back next week when we should have some more substantial info on the new brewer at Blue Corn, updates on the progress of Second Street’s new brewing facility, and more.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Distillery 365 changed their name, but kept their same delicious beers and spirits.

Distillery 365 changed their name, but kept their same delicious beers and spirits.

There was some beer news that popped up last week while yours truly was out of town. Throw in the fact that I am greatly limited by Isotopes coverage this week, and well, this is our news article for the week. We will follow up on some of these articles as warranted in the weeks ahead.

New name, same place

Broken Trail Spirits + Brew is the new name for Distillery 365. Nothing has changed but the name. They are still making the same beer, the same spirits, and are keeping a lot of their same fun events.

365 was originally named after a hiking trail, but it seemed like few people (us included) never really got that. The new name keeps the same hiking theme, plus now it highlights the fact they are both a distillery and a brewery.

In other news, they have added more tap capacity. They now have five of their own beers, plus one guest tap (SFBC Happy Camper) right now. Also, while their Green Jeans Farmery location does not carry any of their beers, their non-alcoholic ginger beer is on tap at the SFBC taproom. Co-owner Matt Simonds highly recommends folks try the Ginger Chick, which is half ginger, half Chicken Killer.

The main location on Stanford will have the UFC fights on this Saturday, which includes Jon Jones. We’re safe, Burquenos, Jones is not on our streets this weekend! Instead he can go beat up someone in an octagon.

Yup, another brewery on the way

A long, long time ago, on a nearby street, we heard about Hops Brewery coming to Nob Hill. Then came a series of delays to the point where we all figured it was a dead project. Oh, but it was far from dead; Hops’ small brewer license with the state suddenly went active back in January. Following that, another reporter asked us if we knew what was going on with the spot in Nob Hill, where the windows had become boarded up.

Friend of the Crew and intrepid reporter Jessica Dyer finally got the scoop on Hops, which is much closer to opening than we thought. Owner Jim Shull is aiming for a summer opening, though he was smart enough not to name a specific date (anyone who has ever dealt with the City of Albuquerque is nodding at this). The location is 3507 Central NE, putting it just a little east of Tractor’s taproom on the north side of the street.

In addition to the Nob Hill location, Shull has also applied for a small brewer offsite location for Los Ranchos. That taproom would go in at 7222 4th Street NW.

Other new brewery rumors

We still have not found any new info on Lone Sun Brewing, which has a “coming soon” sign up along the Paseo del Norte frontage road about halfway between Jefferson and 2nd Street. If anyone knows more about that operation, drop us a line.

One of our staff met the owners of another forthcoming place, Dialogue Brewing. We didn’t get much beyond the name, but when they are ready to talk, they promised to contact us.

Friend of the Crew, Phil K., then contacted us about Bare Bones Brewing. Apparently it’s a resurrected project, now set for Edgewood after a first attempt to open closer to Cedar Crest fell through, or so says an old Facebook page.

On the licensing front, we can confirm that Flix Brewhouse, the movie theater/brewpub chain, has applied for their small brewer license with the state. Elsewhere, despite the presence of brewing equipment at Sugar House Brewing, the former Stumbling Steer space now owned by the same folks behind Wise Pies and Vernon’s, there is still not listing for a pending license. Until that happens, we can assume they are still a ways away from opening.

Sampler tray

  • Before anyone asks, no, we do not know what the mystery anniversary beer (or beers) for Marble is/are this year. We know one (or both) was aged in tequila barrels. Tequila is my alcohol kryptonite, so I will let the rest of you try whatever they release first. That release comes on Wednesday at both taprooms.
  • We will have more info in The Week Ahead in Beer, but there are three other beer releases this week. Spanglish, a Mexican-style lager, is back on tap with a release party at Ponderosa on Thursday. Before that, Wednesday will see the return of Father Nelson on tap and in bombers at La Cumbre. Finally, Friday’s release party is for the new 1912 Porter at Rio Bravo.
  • The Ale Trail: Burque Brewpub Tour is back on Saturday, courtesy of ABQ Trolley Co. You can visit the Facebook event page for more info, but it runs from noon to 3 p.m. You get behind-the-scenes tours of three breweries (none are named, though since Rio Bravo is sponsoring the ride, we have to guess that is one stop), plus free souvenirs, and a complimentary pint at each location. You buy tickets online.

That is all for this week. If you know if any news related to our craft beer scene anywhere in New Mexico, contact us via social media, a comment below this story, or you can email us at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com. The rest of the Crew will (hopefully) have some stories for you later this week while I am stuck at Isotopes Park. But, hey, I get free food, and they pay me to watch baseball. Could be worse, right?

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

Bosque's bid for back-to-back NIPAC banners is still going strong, but other NM breweries are in the hunt as well! (Photo courtesy of Bosque)

Bosque’s bid for back-to-back NIPAC banners is still going strong, but other NM breweries are in the hunt as well! (Photo courtesy of Bosque)

Lots of little news tidbits demand a roundup, thus, Beer Notes is back!

Locals keep rolling at NIPAC

Five of the six remaining New Mexico entries advanced to the fourth round of the Brewing News National IPA Challenge. Of course, only five could advance since Bosque’s Scale Tipper and Boxing Bear’s Uppercut were going head to head. Scale Tipper moved on to continue to defend its championship.

The four other victors in the main bracket were Turtle Mountain’s Adrift, Boxing Bear’s Bear Knuckle, and Second Street’s 4 Hour Lunch and Fulcrum. Adrift defeated Flying Bison’s Buffalo IPA; Bear Knuckle knocked out Reuben’s Brewing’s Cirkey IPA; 4 Hour Lunch ousted one of the big boys, Firestone Walker’s Union Jack; Fulcrum struck out Half Moon Bay’s Full Swing.

The fourth-round matchups will be Adrift vs. Karl Strauss’ Aurora Hoppyalis, Bear Knuckle vs. Barley Brown’s WFO, Scale Tipper vs. Fat Heads’ Head Hunter, 4 Hour Lunch vs. Lawson’s Finest’s Triple Play, and Fulcrum vs. Odd13’s Codename: Superfan.

As for the other two brackets, the Session and Imperial, one New Mexico entry remains in each. Bosque’s Southwest Session defeated Fremont Brewing’s Session Pale Ale to reach the quarterfinals. Southwest Session will take on a heavyweight next in Stone’s Go To IPA.

Over in the Imperial bracket, Boxing Bear’s Sucker Punch was KO’d by Comrade’s Hop Chops, while Old Schoolhouse’s Plutopia Triple IPA was too much for Bosque’s Just For Fun. The lone survivor of the third round was Second Street’s Trebuchet, which eliminated Tricksters’ Hops on Parade. Next up for Trebuchet in the fourth round will be Melvin Jackson’s Drunken Master.

Congrats to those that advanced and good luck in the next round!

Java vs. Java

The original Capo's Java Stout, left, and the newer, more coffee-centric version.

The original Capo’s Java Stout, left, and the newer, more coffee-centric version.

One of the perks of being in the Crew is that sometimes you get to try a new beer before the general public. Brewer Aaron Walters invited me over to Firkin Brewhouse last week to try a sort of Version 2.0 of the Capo’s Java Stout. It was pretty different than the first batch they rolled out (as an aside, yes, Firkin’s beers are now properly carbonated, so for those who tried them early on, head back over to see how much better they all taste). Since my visit they posted on Facebook a “name the beer” contest as they seek to give this new Java Stout a proper branding.

The original Capo’s used Kahlua Coffee, which gave it that overly sweet, almost chocolate flavor that left little room for any stout/coffee roasted malts. I got to compare the two side by side, and I can assure everyone, the new version is much more in line with what you might think of as a true coffee stout.

Prosim Coffee Roasters, a local company, provided the five-bean blend of Brazilian, Costa Rican, Ethiopian, Mexican, and Sumatran. Together they create a smooth, yet still coffee-crisp flavor, sharp but not bitter. There is minimal sweetness this time around; you’ll have to bring your own cream. It’s not as thick as Santa Fe’s Java Stout (which is an imperial, after all), so you can drink a few of these and not have to summon an Uber to get home.

Just for fun, I even combined a small amount of the two versions to see what it would taste like together (Firkin still has some Kahlua left). Basically it’s like a mild shot of chocolate cream, but the old version does not overpower the roastiness of the new. Overall, kudos to Firkin for being willing to keep experimenting with their beers to make them better.

New breweries update

This was the original location in Nob Hill that was supposed to be the home of Hops Brewery.

This was the original location in Nob Hill that was supposed to be the home of Hops Brewery.

Even with four breweries opening since the start of this year, folks keep asking us who’s next down the pipeline. Well, the long-rumored Hops Brewery is now listed as having an active small brewers license by the State of New Mexico. Hops was originally going to be in Nob Hill, but had run into issues over the lack of a dedicated parking lot. If anyone out there has info on where Hops might be opening, or at least who to contact, please send it to us at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com.

Among those breweries with listed pending state licenses, progress continues at Palmer Brewery and Ciderhouse (which is owned by the same folks as Left Turn Distilling and will share part of that building). The new Monk’s Lab is moving along on 1st Street north of Marble; they will be the second New Mexico brewery to focus on Belgian-style beers. We have heard that OffKilter, the brewery from former Cazuela’s/Tractor brewer Mike Campbell, has to undergo a name change. Drafty Kilt is the rumored new moniker after they found out someone else had beaten them to registering the name OffKilter.

There are still no pending licenses for the other rumored new places around, including Sugar House in the old Stumbling Steer building, Steel Bender Brewyard on 2nd Street near Paseo del Norte, and The 377 Brewery near Gibson and Yale. We still cannot confirm rumors of a brewery somewhere on Paseo between San Pedro and Wyoming. There are also rumors of a brewery looking to open on the corner of San Pedro and Marble.

Outside of the Albuquerque metro area, things are progressing for Rowley Farmhouse Ales (formerly Sub Rosa) to open in Santa Fe later this year. Ale Republic, in Cedar Crest, continues construction on their brewery. Enchanted Circle Brewing in Angel Fire is now listed as having an active small brewers license. Milton’s Brewing in Carlsbad has found their location and has begun the buildout. Colfax Ale Cellar in Raton is moving forward. The Farmington HUB Brewery and Grill is now open. There are also unconfirmed rumors of a new brewery looking to open in Portales, giving Roosevelt Brewing some local competition.

Sampler tray

  • Cazuela’s now has 10 taps, thanks to brewer Brandon Venaglia. That means more beers will be available, including some old favorites that he has brought out of the cellar. Look for the full list on Wednesday in The Week Ahead in Beer.
  • The kombucha craze continues, with Kaktus joining Bow & Arrow and Bathtub Row. Guess I might have to send one of the Crew out to do a story on this new trend.
  • We’ve heard a rumor that we will have to follow up on that Back Alley Draft House has a new brewer. Hopefully they will get some stability over there.
  • Bosque is inching ever closer to completing the expansion of the San Mateo taproom. We’ll share some pictures when it’s done.
  • Boxing Bear is trying to claim the title of “King of Dark Beers” with another awesome release. Baltic Bear Porter is now for sale in bombers and on tap at the brewery.
  • Rio Bravo looks to share a little love, er, grain with their fellow breweries. Once their silo is filled in a couple weeks, they will be offering grain sales and custom milling with their four-roller mill. This should help those breweries without their own mills who don’t want to pay high prices for pre-milled malt. Thanks to brewer Ty Levis for the heads up.
  • There are some breweries in a hiring mode right now. Turtle Mountain is looking for a new floor manager, they said on Facebook. Head over to the brewery to apply if you think you have the experience and desire to take on one of the busiest jobs in Rio Rancho (or anywhere, really). La Cumbre posted on their website openings for multiple positions, including a new marketing guru, delivery driver, brand representative, and beer tender. Marble is looking to fill two part-time cleaning positions at their taprooms. Email Barbie Gonzalez at barbie@marblebrewery.com if you are interested.

That’s all for now. If anyone has any beer news or notes to share with us, please, never hesitate. Big or small, we’ll get it out there.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister