Posts Tagged ‘New Mexico Brewers Guild’

So much new beer goodness awaits!

The Beer Premiere, the final fundraising event of the year for the New Mexico Brewers Guild, returns this Saturday with a lineup of 18 never-before-released offerings from local breweries. The event will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. at Bow & Arrow, with tickets still for sale online for $25 apiece.

I sat down with Guild executive director John Gozigian to chat about just why this is an event people cannot miss.

“It’s only $25,” John said. “You sample from 1 to 4 (p.m.), in a 13-ounce goblet, then you get a fill of whatever one you want at the end. These are high gravity beers, aged beers, sours, really expensive beers to produce. You get to actually mingle with the brewers. I think we can sell about 200 tickets. Right now we’re about halfway there. It’s going to sell out. I hope people will buy their tickets early if they want to go.”

The Beer Premiere has had an up-and-down history as an event. The first edition was held at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in the summer back in 2013.

“It was a great festival if you went to it, but it wasn’t very well attended,” John said. “I think we scheduled it the same day as one of the Summerfests. I’m pretty sure it was the Nob Hill Summerfest.”

Year Two saw the move to The Yards, where blazing hot temperatures and a lack of clarity about sampling-versus-full pours led to confusion for attendees and breweries. After a one-year hiatus in 2015, the event returned to the NHCC last summer.

“It was a great venue, but this is a small festival, and we’d like to keep it small,” John said. “The purpose is to keep it from being a big festival with long lines and you get a sample but the brewer doesn’t have time to talk to you because they’re too busy. Our purpose last year and this year is to get the brewers out from behind the booth and have volunteers pour.”

Most festivals just turn into work for the brewers and their staff members who are pouring, with little time to get out from behind the taps and talk to their favorite customers.

“We want to make it more fun for the brewers, too,” John said. “Festivals are hard on breweries. They have to show up with a ton of equipment — a tent, jockeybox, beer. They don’t get to drink anything, then tear it down and go home. This one, they send the beer a couple days ahead of time, one six-barrel, and all they have to do is show up, get a glass and talk to their fellow brewers and a small group of attendees who are looking to try new beers. I like it like that.”

Bow & Arrow stepped up to volunteer its spacious beer hall for the event, and in the future the event could rotate between other local breweries. That will help the host brewery, of course, but it also keeps costs down for the Guild and allows more of the money to go future endeavors, most notably those involving the state government in Santa Fe.

“It lends itself to a smaller venue,” John said. “I like to have it, if possible, at a brewery. It exposes that brewery to more customers. Logistically it’s a lot easier. … You have inside and outside. In this type of weather it should be a nice environment. It’s good for the host brewery. It brings attention to them. They get some spillover business. We give a percentage to the host brewery to cover their expenses. Mostly, it provides the Guild a place to retain most of the total sales that goes toward our efforts at the (state) legislature. We’re going to run a bill and we may have to play defense again, and we’ll have to hire a lobbyist.”

The Guild is also pushing the Hollywood movie premier theme, with attendees encouraged to show up in costume (which further makes sense as to why it was moved to late in the fall near Halloween).

“It’s a Hollywood theme; it always has been, we just didn’t do a very good job of promoting that,” John said. “It’s called the Beer Premiere, so it’s like a movie premier. I can’t think of another festival in the country, let alone just New Mexico, where it’s all new releases. If there is one, I’m not aware of it.

“This is the one festival where you’re guaranteed you’re not going to drink a beer that you’ve had before. That’s kind of a cool thing. It would be almost impossible to put that together on your own. You’d have to visit 18 breweries on your own. We have breweries coming from around the state.”

Without further delay, here are the 18 brand-new beers that breweries will be pouring.

  • Bosque: Chocolate Mint Stout (5.1% ABV, 15 IBU), a creamy mix of mint and milk chocolate decadence
  • Bow & Arrow: Coyote Waits Imperial Mole Stout (10.5% ABV, 27 IBU), aged in Wyoming Whiskey Rye barrels, brewed with cocoa nibs, cinnamon, and Guajillo chiles
  • Boxing Bear: Bulldog English Style IPA (6.1% ABV, 50 IBU), made with 100-percent English malts and hops
  • Canteen: Panama Jose (8% ABV, 45 IBU), variant of the award-winning Panama Joe, brewed with chiles, cinnamon, cocoa, and vanilla
  • Duel: Lourd of Funk (stats TBA), imperial Scotch ale aged for six months in a rye whiskey cask
  • La Cumbre: Mochavation (7.3% ABV), a nitro oatmeal stout made with cocoa nibs, vanilla beans, and Trifecta espresso
  • Marble: Ol’ Maverick Barleywine (11.7% ABV), a dry-hopped American-style barleywine that has been aged for nine months
  • Ponderosa: Red Chile Chocolate Porter (5.8% ABV, 35 IBU), a robust porter with organic coca nibs and Chimayo red chile in the mix
  • Quarter Celtic: S’More Than Beer (5.75% ABV, 20 IBU), a London brown base brewed with actual graham crackers, lactose, vanilla, and chocolate
  • Red Door: WyPA (5.9% ABV, 75 IBU), a special hoppy brew made for the forthcoming Northeast Heights taproom
  • Rio Bravo: Barrel-aged Cherry Wheat (6% ABV, 15 IBU), the popular beer has been aging in oak barrels since July
  • Santa Fe: Sweet Dutch (8.7% ABV, 35 IBU), a tobacco-infused old ale does not require a smoking jacket for one to drink it, but one would not hurt
  • Sidetrack: Vagabond Brown (5.1% ABV, 28 IBU), a light-bodied brown ale that will be served from a cask
  • Steel Bender: Figgy Pudding (9.15% ABV, 20 IBU), a Belgian-style strong ale made with actual figs, perfect as a holiday winter warmer
  • Taos Mesa: Chocolate Berry Stout (6.5% ABV, 26 IBU), berry puree added to a chocolate stout base, a perfect dessert beer
  • Three Rivers: Chucker the Fook Out (8.1% ABV), a Scottish wee heavy aged for 18 months (!) in a fresh Malbec barrel
  • Tractor: Plum Spice Berliner Weisse (5.4% ABV, 5 IBU), sweet plums and spicy ginger combine with the tart flavors of a Berliner Weisse for a unique combination
  • Turtle Mountain: Prickly Parasol White IPA (6.3% ABV, 60 IBU), a local dessert beer for those who do not wish to spend all afternoon in the dark

If and when any of these beers go on tap in the future at their respective breweries, we will let everyone know. Just in case, though, you should probably buy a ticket and have fun Saturday! Just remember, parking is limited around Bow & Arrow, so please, take a cab/Uber/Lyft or cash in a favor for a designated driver. With some of these beers, you are gonna need someone else behind the wheel afterwards.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

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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

Here are your results from round two of the NM IPA Challenge!

The IPA Challenge continued today in Santa Fe at Second Street’s brand new third location on Rufina Street. That’s right, THIRD LOCATION! Second Street hasn’t quite opened fully to the public, but they are just about ready for business, and without spoiling anything (because we’ll have the whole full review after they open), it’s one fantastic space with a ton of potential. But, since this a post about the NM IPA Challenge, I’ll get straight to the results:

Brewery – Tray# — Total votes

Boxing Bear – #14 – 52 (1st)

Canteen – #15 – 42 (2nd-tie)

Quarter Celtic – #1 – 42 (2nd-tie)

Bosque – #3 – 39 (4th)

Starr Brothers – #6 – 34

Marble – #11 – 31

Tractor – #10 – 30

Second Street – #8 – 28

Bow & Arrow – #2 – 26

Steel Bender – #4 – 21

La Cumbre – #13 – 16

Ponderosa – #9 – 12

Picacho Peak – #12 – 7

The 377 – #5 – 7

Blue Corn – #7 – 5

Choices, choices, choices …

These are the aggregate totals, so the big winners of the round were defending champion Boxing Bear (37 votes), Quarter Celtic (33), Canteen (29), Starr Brothers (24), and Bosque and Tractor (23 apiece). Those who found Second Street to be a much tougher venue included Steel Bender (4, after 17 in the first round), as well as Blue Corn (4) and The 377 (4), which led in the elimination round, but has not made an impact so far with the voters in Las Cruces or the City Different.

It was a another well-run event by the NM Brewers Guild. Everyone in attendance had a great time. It was definitely tougher than usual to choose a winner. Of course, there were some outliers on both sides of the coin, but another great testament to how good and diverse our IPAs are in New Mexico.

Why yes, Second Street’s Rufina location is awesome!

Someone asked me during the event if we’ve reached a saturation point. I think that with more breweries, more people have a greater opportunity of trying good beers, and becoming more discerning. The more discerning we become, the harder our brewers have to work at keeping up the quality. Quality floats, in my opinion. But, with these results, we see some familiar names.

Plus, we all know the rules always change on the last leg in Albuquerque. See you at Steel Bender next Saturday!

To all of our great New Mexico IPAs and the fearless brewers who brew them, cheers!

— Luke

If the first-round results are any indication, this is gonna be a close battle to the end! (Photo courtesy of Skye Devore)

First off, pardon the fact I did not publish this last night. I actually received the photo above while driving on I-40 back home (pulled off at Clines Corners to do the social media post) from Tractor co-owner Skye Devore (thank you!). Anyway, let us delve into the first-round results of the NM IPA Challenge, held Wednesday night at Picacho Peak Brewing in Las Cruces.

There was quite a bit of social media commotion after the elimination round last weekend, when many folks seemed to object to the fact all three hosts of the main rounds get byes. As if the universe needed to slap them upside the head with irony, Steel Bender, which only got six votes in the preliminaries but still advanced, ended up leading everyone in Cruces. So, yeah, all that griping that the final-round host didn’t belong? Good job, universe!

It was not a runaway win, however, as Steel Bender nabbed only 17 votes. Lurking right behind were two heavyweights, with two-time champion Bosque (2014-15) picking up 16 votes and defending champion Boxing Bear snagging 15 votes.

Three breweries then tied for fourth place with 13 votes. It was a good showing from Marble, which surprisingly never won this event, while four-time champion Canteen was right there, as was relative newcomer Bow & Arrow. Another fairly young brewery took seventh place as Starr Brothers earned 10 votes.

Quarter Celtic and Second Street, the host of the second round, tied for eighth with nine votes apiece. Tractor was 10th with seven votes, while La Cumbre had six votes for 11th place. Ponderosa, which was Brandon’s pick off his tray in the elimination round, only got four votes for 12th place. The 377, which racked up the most votes in the elimination round, only earned three votes from the folks in Las Cruces. Tying for 14th place with just one vote apiece was Blue Corn, a past champion, and host Picacho Peak.

Overall, 137 votes were cast, which is a pretty good showing for Las Cruces, or anywhere outside of Albuquerque. The second round, set for Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. at Second Street’s new Rufina location, should get around the same, or hopefully even higher. It will be fascinating to see how the Santa Fe faithful vote in comparison to their southern brethren (which included a lot of folks making the drive up from El Paso). Rarely has the first-round leader held onto that distinction after round two.

The elimination round in Albuquerque had about 300 votes cast, so we fully expect a massive turnout on July 29 at Steel Bender, likely with well more than twice as many votes cast as the first two rounds. A lot will still be decided, but for now at least, some breweries have to be feeling good about their chances, while others figure to be heading back to the drawing boards for 2018.

As for the ongoing complaints on social media, we agree that the NMIPAC is not a perfect setup. It is designed first and foremost to be the single largest fundraiser for the NM Brewers Guild, not to be the perfect competition. That is the primary reason host breweries are willing to give up four hours-plus of business in the middle of their busiest season, all while offering up what is likely the single most expensive beer they brewed all year long for people to drink for free. They know that the Guild needs this money to fight the good fight against the anti-alcohol and tax-everything-to-death forces in the State Legislature. For a small but vocal minority of beer drinkers to spend all their time on social media trying to tear down this event, you are doing a disservice to the entire brewing community. It is one thing to offer up suggestions on future improvements (we, for one, believe that the other two host breweries should have followed Picacho Peak and not participated in the elimination round at all, thus freeing up those 18 votes that went to Second Street and Steel Bender to be distributed to the other 33 competing breweries), but it is another to rant about non-existent bias, to call this whole thing flawed. Is it perfect? Again, no, but it is the setup we have and what we must deal with until/if the Guild membership votes to make changes.

In other words, get out there and have some fun, damn it! Craft beer is all about that, right?

Thanks to everyone down south for heading out to vote and to Picacho Peak for hosting. Thanks to John Gozigian for his tireless work every round, and again, thanks to Skye for keeping us updated, even when on the (literal) road.

Luke will be covering the second round for us from Santa Fe, so look for his updates Saturday afternoon. A whole slew of us will then be at the finale.

Until then, I need a really, really long nap.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The voting totals on the right, the number on the trays on the left.

Another year has passed, so it is time for our New Mexico breweries to see who will claim the throne with the state’s best IPA, as the 2017 NM IPA Challenge kicked off today. With the prominence of our vast amount of great IPAs around these parts, this annual event has become a popular event for both craft beer fans and brewers alike.

Will this year see a repeat win from 2016 champs Justin Hamilton and Boxing Bear Brewing, or perhaps a third title in four years for John Bullard and Bosque Brewing, or will a new face claim top honors? Today gave some clarity to those answers as competition commenced.

This year’s event begins, as last year’s did, with an elimination round hosted by Duel Brewing at their downtown Albuquerque taproom. With a reported 39 entries this year, last year’s elimination format was expanded a bit, as patrons were given a flight of approximately 13 beers to sample and vote on. Since this was an elimination round, that means there was bound to be surprises … and, lo and behold, there were. 

Check out the results:

1. The 377 27 votes
2. Bosque 21
TIE 3. Boxing Bear 17, Starr Bros. 17
5. Blue Corn 16
6. Tractor 15
7. La Cumbre 14
TIE 8. Marble 12, Bow & Arrow 12, Second St. 12
11. Quarter Celtic 11
TIE 12. Canteen 10, Ponderosa 10
14. Sierra Blanca 9
TIE 15. Bathtub Row 7, Rowley 7, The Wellhead 7
TIE 18. Dialogue 6, Duel 6, Santa Fe 6, Palmer 6, Rio Bravo 6, Steel Bender 6 (AUTO BYE TO NEXT ROUND)
TIE 24. Chama River 5, Drafty Kilt 5, Kellys 5, Spotted Dog 5
TIE 28. Desert Valley 3, Nexus 3, Sidetrack 3, Turtle Mountain 3
TIE 32. Cazuela’s 2, Red Door 2
TIE 34. Enchanted Circle 1, Three Rivers 1

UPDATE: There will be 15 breweries advancing, as Picacho Peak will automatically advance as a host of a future round. The folks from the Las Cruces brewery elected not to enter their IPA into the preliminary round, since it did not matter how they finished. Second Street and Steel Bender also advanced under this rule, though Second Street would have advanced no matter what due to its vote total above.

This seemed to be a year of cross style IPAs, at least in this writer’s opinion. I personally was given a flight of beers 14-26, in which I noticed the following:

  • The “juicy” IPA trend is in full effect: a handful of entries on my flight were of the hazy, Northeastern-style that is becoming more popular these days. I had one of said beers as a top notch brew.
  • Belgian style: Another noticeable trend was the Belgian style popping up in a few samples on mine and other patrons trays. A yeasty base could be found in several competition beers. Yeasty notes, with clove, banana, and spices were paired with lots of hops splashed in.

All in all, it was a successful event, with the up and coming The 377 Brewery taking the bulk of the votes, but NM IPA Challenge vets such as Bosque, Boxing Bear, and La Cumbre still moved on to the next rounds of the challenge. With a good cross section of sub-styles represented, the next few rounds will be quite interesting!

— Brandon Daniel

Yes, we know this is an awesome poster, but we’re not sure if Bullard and Hamilton actually know how to use pistols of that sort.

In case you have somehow missed it, the preliminary round of the NM IPA Challenge is this Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. at the Duel Taproom in downtown Albuquerque. The purpose of this round is to narrow down the ever-growing field of breweries who make great IPAs in order to have a more manageable number to taste at the final three rounds.

To make sure we had all the details lined up, I fired off an email to NM Brewers Guild director John Gozigian. He was quick to respond, so thank you, John!

In a change from last year, there will be three trays of beers for people to sample. There were 39 (!) entries this year, so trays A, B, and C will have 13 different samples, each numbered. The goal is to have an equal number of each tray handed out for sampling, thus giving every participating brewery an equal chance to advance. You can only vote off one tray per person, but if you want to try more, then make sure you have two friends/relatives come with you and stand in line together. Then each of you will get a different tray, and once you’re done with making your selection off your own tray, pass the favorites around amongst each other. If you don’t have two people to bring along, find a table with good folks with different trays and see if they will share upon voting completion.

We are sending just Brandon to cover this event, so he may need some company. We promise, he won’t bite. (Unless you mention something about how the Stanley Cup Finals have gone the last two years, then you’re taking a big risk.)

Once the final votes have been tallied, the top 15 will advance to the final three rounds, which will take place at Picacho Peak Brewing (July 19) in Las Cruces, the new Second Street Rufina location (July 22) in Santa Fe, and the grande finale at Steel Bender Brewyard (July 29).

John said that the early demand is high for tickets, so to make sure you have a spot Saturday (and in the following rounds), your best bet is to visit Duel and buy a ticket, or head to the Guild website and buy it online.

Beyond that, our advice for NMIPAC remains the same as always:

  • If you can, don’t drive, instead use Uber/Lyft/a taxi/bike/bribe someone to be your DD. Remember, especially for downtown, parking can often be a hassle (though Saturday afternoon should be OK, just be prepared to walk a couple blocks in the heat).
  • You can bring pretzels to help your palate reset itself from hop bomb to hop bomb. There will be water provided as well.
  • Take your time. There is no rush unless you arrive at 3:30 or something. Enjoy the aroma of every beer (in fact, do this immediately upon getting your tray). Take time to sip, analyze, and then revisit your beers. You do not have to go in order of numbers, either. Do it however you want.
  • The last few champions, in case anyone forgot: Boxing Bear (2016), Bosque (2014-15), Blue Corn (2013), Canteen/Il Vicino (2009-12)

If anyone has any questions, don’t hesitate to email us at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com, or contact us via social media.

Good luck to all the attendees and breweries!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Day Eleven is here, putting a bow on another successful Beer Week!

That’s a wrap, folks!

ABQ Beer Week 2017 ends with a small handful of events, including the annual Guild golf tournament, plus a few brunches and food-and-beer pairings.

We wanted to thank everyone who made it out to one or more events this year. It all came together fairly smoothly, at least from our perspective. We enjoyed some amazing beer and food and, most importantly, had fun.

Until 2018, the Crew will be winding back down to normal.

Featured Event

Every day we will pick what we consider the biggest, most interesting, most unique event. This does not mean you should go to only this event and ignore the rest. All of them deserve your attention, but realistically, you can probably only attend a few. So we will make our daily pick, and you can either jump on it, or declare the Crew is foolish (we kinda are) and pick your own.

What: Joe S. Sausage Super Sunday Sampler. Where: Marble Downtown. When: 2-6 p.m. Cost: $25.

Details: The annual closing event of Beer Week at Marble features Joe and his amazing sausages, each of which will be paired with different beers. There will also be live music from the Naughty Sweethearts at 2 and Dusty Green Bones at 3:30.

Why you should go: Go ahead, be a glutton one last time and stuff your face, all while listening to local music.

 

All the other great events

 

 

What: 9th Annual NM Brewers Guild Golf Tournament. Where: Santa Ana Golf Club. When: 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Cost: $110 per person. Details: Support the Guild and head out to the course! Your fee gets you free range balls, a golf cart, a breakfast burrito, a full round with beer on the course, lunch, and a chance to win swag from the Guild for the first-, second-, and third-place finishers. Warm ups start at 7, shotgun start at 8. Why you should go: By the time you’re reading this, you either went or are at home reading this.

What: NM True Fest. Where: Rio Bravo. When: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: The spacious outdoor patio at Rio Bravo will be home to NM True-certified local vendors. There will be live music and food trucks parked outside as well. Why you should go: Support local crafts, local beer, local food, and local music all in one place!

What: Goose Island Sisters Brunch. Where: Nob Hill Bar & Grill. When: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Cost: TBA. Details: Enjoy another great brunch at NHBG, again featuring the Sisters Series beers, Lolita, Sofie, and Matilda. Why you should go: Beer and food and bid this week farewell.

What: End of Beer Week Brunch with Upslope. Where: M’tucci’s Italian. When: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Cost: TBA. Details: There weren’t any details available, but if we get them, we’ll update this entry. Why you should go: It’s M’tucci’s and Upslope, it’s not like you can really go wrong.

What: Beer and Tapas Pairing. Where: Ponderosa. When: 4-7 p.m. Cost: $7 per pairing. Details: A different beer and tapas pairing will be available each day. Why you should go: You need some food in your belly to go with all this beer, and this is the last time you can get it.

* * * * *

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Good news from the state legislature? What sorcery is this?!

Glorious news from Santa Fe, as House Bill 398, the last remaining piece of legislation aimed at increasing the excise tax on local breweries, wineries, cideries and distilleries, has been tabled in committee. HB398 was squashed by a 5-2 vote in the House Health & Human Services Committee this morning.

The bill seemed to stand little chance of passing after its companion piece, Senate Bill 314, was tabled in committee weeks ago. With the legislature’s website currently offline, further details were not available, but in the end the bill was tabled, and that is all that matters.

A huge thanks to NM Brewers Guild director John Gozigian for sending us the good news.

Hopefully in the waning days of this session, the governor and legislature can agree upon a budget that helps fund New Mexico schools, creates jobs, and protects local business. For now, though, the breweries that are already taxed at twice the national average will not be taxed any further. They will still be able to grow, create jobs, and help our state’s economy beyond simply paying more taxes.

Now we can just get back to enjoying beer and writing about it. That, more than anything, is the best possible way to start our weekend.

Well, that and attending the Steel Bender Brewyard event tonight. Look for our full preview on the newest brewery in the metro area early next week!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The bills have passed! Thank you, Governor Martinez and everyone who works in this building!

The folks in the Senate have done good, but the situation is far from over.

Pardon the delay, computers/wireless were down at work for most of the morning. Here is the official statement from the New Mexico Brewers Guild on last night’s committee hearing regarding SB314:

SB 314 was finally debated yesterday evening, beginning at 8 p.m., in a hearing that resulted in the bill being tabled by a majority vote of senators on the committee. This is good news; this means that the committee members agreed that the proposed tax rate was thoroughly unreasonable and made the bill unviable as written.

Another point that came up in the hearing was the tone and tenor of rhetoric coming from some opponents of SB 314. To be clear, the Guild, and the brewers of New Mexico we represent, are committed to a policy of civil discourse in all of our interactions with those on either side of issues that impact our industry. Passion is a useful tool; passion tempered with civility and reason is even more powerful.

Looking ahead to HB 398, the House bill that mirrors SB 314, we’ll continue to work with our many supporters on both sides of the aisle in the New Mexico Legislature. A hearing on HB 398 has not yet been scheduled, but we will keep you up to date on developments as they occur.

All right, so the good news is SB314 is basically dead, and it seems reasonable to hope that the members of the House committee will vote the same way on HB398.

The Guild has a point, though, in that second graph, to please keep things civil when contacting your representatives to voice your opposition to these bills. The supporters of the bill have claimed the moral high ground, so logical discourse, not passion, is the true key to defeating them.

We will have more info as events continue in Santa Fe.

Until then, well, by golly …

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Spread the word!

Today is the day SB314 goes before a committee, which could vote to keep it from ever reaching the Senate floor.

The seemingly glacial pace of the state legislature is thawing, with the now-infamous Senate Bill 314 finally getting its hearing today (Monday) before the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee. The bill is listed second on the docket, though it does not necessarily mean it will be heard in that order. There are eight bills in total scheduled to be heard today.

Based on our communication with the New Mexico Brewers Guild, this could be the end of the line for the bill that seeks to substantially raise the excise tax on beer and other forms of alcohol. Of course, it does not mean the fight is over, as House Bill 398 has also been introduced, offering up almost the exact same wording.

The sponsors of the two bills, Albuquerque-based Senator Cisco McSorley (D) and Las Cruces-based Representative Joanne Ferrary, will be hosting a press conference in Santa Fe around the same time SB314 will be learning its fate. In a surprise to no one, this presser was announced by Peter DeBenedittis, the leader of the group Alcohol Taxes Save Lives & Money. It has always been his group, which seeks to eventually ban alcohol in New Mexico, that has been behind these bills.

Here is the full text of the email that DeBenedittis sent to the media (we were not included, but another reporter was kind enough to send it to us). It lays out his reasoning, though it does not include just where he gets all of his statistics from, but basically, if you like to go out and drink beer, you are painted as his enemy.

Please join Senator Cisco McSorley (D-Bernalillo) & Rep. Joanne Farrary (D-Dona Ana) for a Press Conference on their bills to address the deaths, health problems being subsided by New Mexico’s low alcohol taxes.

The Press Conference will be held at 10:30 AM in Room 318 of the Capitol on Monday, Feb.20.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, New Mexico leads the nation in people drinking themselves to death. 1 in 6 working age New Mexicans die from excessive drinking.  SB 314 and HB 398 would raise alcohol taxes 25¢ per drink, leading to a 10% reduction in alcohol consumption. The immediate health benefits for New Mexicans will be:

52 Lives Saved the first year
More than 300 acts of violence prevented
Over 12,000 cases of alcohol abuse and dependence prevented annually
Over 7,000 fewer underage drinkers a year.

Data from Research and Polling shows 76% of New Mexicans support these bills.

Right now state taxpayers foot an $800 Million a year bill for the extra police, court cases, detention, ambulances and medical care caused by excessive drinking. These bills help correct the problem by raising $160 Million in revenue from those causing the problems. Half of New Mexicans haven’t had a drink in the last 30 days and won’t be affected by an alcohol tax increase. Responsible drinkers will pay an average of less then $10 a year more, while the 19% of New Mexicans who drink excessively will pay 3/4ths of the increased tax.

Please join Senator McSorley and Representative Farrary at 10:30 AM on Monday, February 20 in room 318 to hear their statements and answer your questions.

Blessings,
Peter D.

Peter DeBenedittis, Ph.D.
Director, Alcohol Taxes Save Lives & Money

We would love to see where he gets some of that data. The 76 percent support the bills part is bad enough. Honestly, though, half of the people in New Mexico have not had an alcoholic in the last 30 days? Is that just adults or is he including children in that?

Also, for those who have criticized our coverage of this issue by arguing that breweries and other entities must pay their share to help fund our schools, take note that nowhere above does it say these new taxes will go to education. Instead, they are aimed at covering one-fifth of the total cost of excessive drinking in New Mexico, or so DeBenedittis wrote.

Due to our day jobs and such, it is unlikely that any of the Crew will be in attendance. If anyone out there is able to go to the press conference, please, record the session and send us the audio. We will give you a Crew supporter T-shirt for free or buy you a couple pints. Other media entities may be present to take notes, and hopefully someone from the Guild will be there to represent the breweries, but the more sources we have, the better.

We will monitor how these events turn out today and report back to all of you as soon as we have the confirmed information.

Stay vigilant, craft beer lovers.

— Stoutmeister