Posts Tagged ‘Nexus Brewery’

The Crew ventured far and wide for beer over the weekend, but at least two of our members found themselves at the new Tractor Westside Taproom.

For the first time in a while, the Crew is trying out a new weekly feature. We may, or may not, keep the name Weekend Beer-cap, but the idea is that each of us in the Crew will relate a quick tale of our favorite beer-related experience from the prior weekend. In the future, this will usually run on Mondays, at least in those weeks where enough of us have something to write about.

On with the show.

West Side is the best side?

This past week was filled with hot dogs, fireworks, and a slew of interesting occurrences. Some of the more delightful of those included making it over to Tractor Brewing’s new Westside Taproom. The entire venue is open to natural light, with massive vaulted ceilings and windows to match. We were able to stop by Toltec Brewing as well this week, enjoying their Altbier for the first time, with impressive and complex malt character as ABQ endured the heavy rain.

— Jerrad

Holiday bonus

Check out the new pilsner at Rio Bravo if you get the chance.

This was an unusual week with a holiday right in the middle. It was like having half a weekend extra, which did not suck. It was not enough time to go away somewhere, but we did spend the night of July 3 at Route 66 Casino, just for something silly to do. I can happily report that Thunder Road Steakhouse & Cantina inside off the casino floor has multiple (it looked like around 10) local beer taps. So we enjoyed some of those as well as nachos.

When we checked out of the hotel the next morning, we continued our mini-staycation with a road trip up Unser to the new Tractor on the west side. That is one great space! All three of us road trippers chose the Imma Pale Ale. Then we trekked over to Nexus on Pan American to get a snack to hold us over until a 6 p.m. holiday barbecue. At Nexus we filled up growlers of Red and IPA for the night’s festivities. All in all, a very nice holiday.

On Friday evening, we went to Rio Bravo to see a friend play music. The brewery was more crowded than I have seen it on previous visits. We sampled some of the newer beers, and they were pretty good. The pilsner, in particular, was super clean. But, me being me and all, I still ordered a barrel-aged stout.

Saturday night we went to Dukes retro night at Isotopes Park and sadly watched the “Dukes” lose a nail biter to the Tacoma Rainiers. I drank Odell, sorry!

— AmyO

Don’t waffle on visiting Bow & Arrow

The picture may be slightly out of focus, but the Waffle Bandit Stout was on point.

This is not a time of year for many special releases on the darker side of the beer spectrum, so it was quite nice to see Bow & Arrow recently release its new Waffle Bandit Stout. With a spot of free time available, I finally headed over to the brewery to check it out. At only 5.7-percent ABV, one can enjoy more than a single pour, but man oh man, I do hope they craft an imperial version and barrel age that sucker. For now, the current iteration will do just fine. The nose is all maple and waffle dough, and the initial flavor is almost overpowering in the sweetness. As the beer warms, though, it creates a three-layered approach. The maple holds up front, though it is not cloying or overpowering. In the middle is the big stout roast, chewier than the ABV would indicate. On the back end, the Belgian yeast esters pop to the surface. There is a lot going on in this beer, and I will certainly head back to Bow & Arrow for a second tasting just to make sure my palate did not play any tricks on me.

— Stoutmeister

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That’s all from us for this week. Expect lots of tales of hops, or possibly of getting away from hops, next week!

Cheers!

— The NMDSBC

There are still plenty of places to enjoy a beer today before you gear up for Blues & Brews.

Just in case anyone missed it Friday, we already previewed today’s biggest event, ABQ Blues & Brews. Therefore, it’s not actually listed here, as these are just the smaller events happening around town (mostly before the festival). We just didn’t want to confuse anyone or make ourselves seem strangely forgetful.

Anyway, as one might expect, it’s a pretty light day for events considering most of the brewery folks will be pouring at Sandia Casino. Still, there are some nice options to get the day started.

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: La Cumbre Tap Takeover and Beer Brunch. Where: Sister. When: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Cost: No cover charge.

Details: Enjoy the delicious brunch menu at Sister with beers from La Cumbre. There will be five or more LC beers on tap (if we ever get word what those are, we will update this post). Brunch items range from breakfast burritos to huevos rancheros to brunch burger to brisket bowl and so on.

Why you should go: If you’re reading this story, we pretty much know that you are a La Cumbre fan, and by the accounts of many of our trusted friends, Sister makes a legit brunch. Go enjoy both together!

All the other great events

What: Seventh Anniversary Party. Where: Nexus Brewery. When: All day. Cost: No cover charge. Details: The fun continues at Nexus with the Fried Pork Chop being served alongside all the other great dishes, plus Raven & Her Sweet Potato Pie Band will perform from 2 to 5 p.m. Why you should go: If you did not feast Saturday, feast today.

What: Goose Island Brunch. Where: Nob Hill Bar & Grill. When: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: There are none online, but presumably there will be GI beers and beermosas and you can have them with your brunch. Why you should go: If you’re hungry and don’t want to go downtown, here’s another option.

What: Odell Tap Takeover. Where: Gecko’s Nob Hill. When: All day. Cost: No cover charge. Details: There will be Odell beers on tap, and per the poster those will be 90 Shilling, Rupture, IPA, and St. Lupulin Extra Pale Ale. Why you should go: Odell makes good beer and Gecko’s has good food.

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Set yourself free on Day Three as Nexus turns 7, Marble brunches with the brewers, and more!

Anyone else get wiped out by the 21 and Over event at Sister last night? There were so many good beers, it took a big bite out of us. Nevertheless, we push forward for more!
Nexus’ anniversary may loom as the dominant even today, but there are 10 total events, the most of any day this Beer Week, so take your pick and properly pace yourselves.

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: Nexus’ Seventh Anniversary Party. Where: Nexus Brewery. When: 11 a.m. to close. Cost: No cover charge.

Details: Ken’s red chile ribs will be available, along with music from Racine Creole. Enjoy some pints of the Notorious BUN (Big Ugly Nasty) IPA and Beam Me Up Scotty and celebrate seven years of one of our all-time favorite brewpubs!

Why you should go: Really? You need a reason? Besides the delicious, delicious food? And the amazing beers? There is no hope for you if you say no. Not enough parking? Uber/Lyft. Too long for a table? Snack before you get there (the smell of the food will instantly make you hungry again). Anything else? We will smack you upside the head. Seriously, we will. NOW FEAST.

All the other great events

What: Brewer’s Brunch. Where: Marble Westside. When: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Cost: $25. Details: Join brewmasters Ted Rice and Josh Trujillo for this edition of the brunch, where patrons get to enjoy a full meal from Ohana Hut paired with Marble beers, and learn all about Marble beers and the process by which they’re created from the brewers themselves. Why you should go: For once, let someone else besides me (Stoutmeister) tell you about a key chapter in the beer history of New Mexico, plus beer and food come with it.

What: Pedals and Pints with Oompa Lupulin DIPA Release. Where: Canteen Brewhouse. When: Noon-11 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Ride your bike to the brewery and get discounts on the beer, including the new Oompa Lupulin. Why you should go: With all the beer dinners and food pairings fattening you up, take a day to get some exercise while still trying some delicious beers.

What: Double Beer Release and Food Pairing with Malaguena’s. Where: High and Dry Brewing. When: Noon. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Enjoy two new beers, The Sun Never Sweats (Thai Wheat Ale) and Smell the Glove (Rye Ale), paired with shrimp skewers with curry cocktail sauce and BBQ brisket burnt ends, respectively, until the supply runs out. Why you should go: That does sound like a darn tasty way to enjoy the afternoon on High and Dry’s wonderful patio.

What: Cider-day Night Fever. Where: Tractor Nob Hill. When: 1-11 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Enjoy some of the finest ciders from Tractor plus guests Boxing Bear, Black Mesa Winery, Palmer, and Red Door, plus DJ Dave 12 will be spinning classic disco hits starting at 8 p.m. Why you should go: Drink lots of cider, then dance off the added pounds at the end of the night.

What: Pig Roast and Marble Special Keg Tapping. Where: Freight House (Bernalillo). When: 1 p.m. Cost: $15.99. Details: Feast upon some fresh roasted pig from the matanza pit while enjoying some delicious Marble IPA-X. Why you should go: Meat. Hops. It’s all a growing boy (or girl) needs.

What: Bell’s Brewery Tasting. Where: Albertsons Enchanted Hills (Rio Rancho). When: 3-5 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Try some of Bell’s finest packaged beers for free, then buy your favorites and take them home. Why you should go: It always seems like the beer tastings are in Albuquerque, so go get ‘em Rio Rancho residents.

What: Beer Dinner with Bosque and Upslope. Where: M’tucci’s Italian Market and Pizzeria. When: 6:30-9:30 p.m. Cost: $75 ($55 for brewery industry employees). Details: A five-course meal, with each dish paired with one beer apiece from Bosque and Upslope. Call (505) 639-4819 for reservations. Why you should go: Yeah, it is expensive, but the menu sure looks delicious. Click on the M’tucci’s Facebook page to see what’s being served.

What: Beer-rita Release and Selena Covers. Where: Tractor Wells Park. When: 8-10 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Casey Mraz and Amanda Machon (Red Light Cameras) will be singing the late pop singer’s biggest hits, plus Tractor releases its first Beer-rita. Why you should go: Two talented musicians plus a new beer? What more do you want?

What: DJ Graemater with Afro Beats. Where: Nexus Silver Taproom. When: 8:30 p.m.-Midnight. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Get your dancing shoes on and enjoy the anniversary beers, Beam Me Up Scotty and Notorious BUN IPA, all while staying close to home on the west side (should you live that way). Why you should go: The west side is lacking in places to enjoy music and beer, so live it up.

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

It’s a fairly mellow Friday … oh, wait, no it’s not, mainly because of one bonkers tapping after another.

That was still a lot of beer on Thursday, but we gotta admit that we like limiting the number of events to 10 or less per day. It keeps us more focused, cuts down on our Lyft/Uber expenses, and so on.

There are only six events today. Each one is a little different, yet we cannot take our eyes off one particular downtown gathering.

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: 21 and Over. Where: Sister. When: 5-8 p.m. Cost: No cover charge.

Details: Eight breweries that have been around for 21 or more years are coming to Sister, each with a rare beer (or two) for this special event. Feeling light? There’s Four Peaks’ Green Tea Lager or Sierra Nevada’s Kolsch German-Style Ale. Feeling hoppy? Rogue’s Combat Wombat could be your ticket, or perhaps Bell’s Double Two Hearted. Feel like puckering up? Odell’s ’16 Meddler or New Belgium’s Clutch Sour Stout could whet your whistle. Feeling malty? There’s a choice between Left Hand’s Chai Milk Stout Nitro, Firestone Walker’s ’17 Helldorado, and Bell’s 30th Anniversary Cherry Stout Reserve.

Why you should go: There are not your regular beers on the shelves at liquor and grocery stores across town. There’s a little something for everyone here. We can’t think of a better way to kick off your weekend.

All the other great events

What: Beam Me Up Scotty Release. Where: Nexus Brewery. When: All day. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Just in time for the anniversary party, this Scottish Wee Heavy returns to taps with a burly, malty base and a slight peaty/smoky kick. Why you should go: Get some now before the place gets packed for the anniversary party, which you should still attend, but this will give you time to truly enjoy this beer slowly without anyone eyeing your table.

What: Bosque Tasting. Where: Jubilation. When: 4-6 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Rather than just bring beers to taste, Bosque is teaming up with Carnivore Popcorn. Try some Bosque Lager with Hollypeno popcorn, Elephants on Parade with Sour Apple popcorn, Bosque IPA with Garlic Rosemary popcorn, and Scotia Scotch Ale with Cinnamon Caramel Espresso popcorn. Why you should go: If you did not get simultaneously hungry and thirsty reading those details, go see a doctor, now.

What: Founders KBS ’17/18 Vertical. Where: Nob Hill Bar & Grill. When: 5-7 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Remember when the Crew did our latest ridiculous review of this classic barrel-aged stout? Well, now you can do your own version by trying the 2017 and 2018 versions side-by-side. Why you should go: You get to grab some delicious food while trying a couple of big beers. Hey, you gotta eat dinner at some point, right?

What: ABQ Trolley Company’s The Hopper—A hop-on, hop-off brew cruise. Where: Red Door Downtown, Duel Downtown, Marble Downtown, Rio Bravo. When: 6:30-11 p.m. Cost: $25. Details: Hop on the trolley, hop off at a brewery, enjoy a pint, and repeat. With trolleys running every 30 minutes or so, there will be stops at Red Door’s downtown taproom, Duel’s taproom, Marble, and Rio Bravo. Why you should go: Feel like a pub crawl? Worried about your car? Leave it at home and leave the driving to these good folks.

What: Beer Release & Folk Covers of Radiohead. Where: Tractor Wells Park. When: 8 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: A slew of local musicians will be covering the band, while Tractor releases its next entry in the Beer for a Better Burque (BBB) series, Peach Chinook Common with gold glitter, which will benefit Equality New Mexico. Why you should go: Radiohead might be not our thing, but maybe it’s yours. Also, you gotta admit to be curious about an actual glitter beer.

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

We think the late, great Leonard Nimoy would approve of Nexus’ slogan.

Nexus Brewery’s seventh anniversary is closing fast, just two weeks away during Memorial Day weekend. Events will span from Thursday, May 24, through Sunday, May 27, with everything from beer releases to food specials, live music and so on. But, I’ll let owner Ken Carson do the talking here.

“I cannot believe it’s been seven years,” Ken said. “I will never forget the effort it took to go from banking, and hanging out in the four or five breweries in town, and beginning work on our Nexus Brewery.”

As a former banker, Ken said he knew that he needed a business plan and capital. He put the plan and capital together, hired consultants for the kitchen and a master brewer to help with the brewery. However, the plan did not work as intended.

Ken said he noticed about three months in that the ratio of food-to-beer sales was moving against his plan. The projection said 80-percent beer sales and 20-percent food, but it was spinning in the opposite direction. Ken said he was surprised that people really liked the food more than the beer. At nine months, the ratio was 50/50.

“Oh, my goodness, we have become a brewery and restaurant,” Ken said.

The trend continued, and after a visit by celebrity chef Guy Fieri and his program Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives stopped at Nexus, it was all over. The ratio today is 65-percent food to 35-percent beer.

“I think it is our attention to detail, and of course taste,” Ken said. “Nothing can be on our menu unless it tastes exceptional. We are almost 100 percent from scratch, and we work on each recipe every year trying to improve it.”

A tradition like no other, Nexus’ chicken and waffles.

Nexus is not only a company that is about the beer and food. It has a social plan, too. The name Nexus was not arbitrarily created. Although there is an underlying Star Trek theme from the 1994 Star Trek: Generations movie, the word Nexus also mean connection, Ken said.

“Our intent was to build and organization that would connect the community and do good in our community,” he said. “Our membership program provides for members to contribute to our community fund. We also contribute twice as much as our new members provide with their membership. But, we are happy to be an organization that donates to numerous charitable programs thorough out Albuquerque.

“Additionally we wanted to provide good and respectable jobs for our employees, and we have been on the forefront providing a living wage for all employees, along with full health insurance and dental. In addition, all employees revive personal time off, even our servers.”

There is also a third Nexus location coming, just a block south of Avenida Cesar Chavez, with easy access from Interstate 25, and not far from the University of New Mexico sports facilities and Isotopes Park.

“Under construction on 1511 Broadway SE, you will find a new Nexus,” Ken said. “It will be called Nexus Blue Smokehouse. We will create New Mexican barbecue. A touch of red chile and garlic are just a start. But, do not expect Texas, Kansas City or Memphis from us. Our food will always be a blend of indigenous New Mexican flavors with whatever style of food we prepare.

“It’s just like our New Mexico Hot Chicken. We use some cayenne like they do in Nashville, but we know our palates are used to red chile, so we added that and took out the sugar, cause that make no sense. Same will go for the barbecue. I think we did a good job on New Mexican Soul food, and we are not done, so barbecue can be a great addition to our arsenal.”

This place will be packed for the upcoming seventh anniversary.

To get a good idea of what this barbecue will taste like, Nexus will have some prime examples at its anniversary party, which is officially now an ABQ Beer Week event.

“We will provide a preview into our new style of New Mexican barbecue,” Ken said. “I have always personally cooked the barbecue at our anniversary. I will do it again this year. My dream to have a barbecue restaurant is only a few months away. On Saturday, we will have baby back ribs, available until they are gone.

“And on Sunday, we will bring our fried pork chop back. People really loved our pork chops when we were much smaller, but it was difficult to get the meat the way we wanted and we were struggling with room in our fryers. With some of those issues solved we will bring it back.”

Ken said he has enjoyed seeing the growth of Nexus over the past seven years just as much as his customers.

“I am very proud of what we have accomplished,” he said. “I have a great team of people that work very hard every day to bring the Nexus Exbeerience to Albuquerque. I have to give credit to all those employees who have been with us since the beginning or almost, and the new ones that work so hard. A great shout out to the Nexus crew. And also, a great shout out to our customers and Nexus Neighbors and even to our vendors. The support from this community has been tremendous.

“We look forward to seeing all of our friends and neighbors out at month end from Thursday through Sunday!”

There will be two big beer releases for the anniversary weekend.

Here is the lineup of food, beer specials, and bands for both the main Nexus Brewery and the Nexus Silver Taproom on the west side.

  • Thursday, May 24—Release party for Big Ugly Nasty IPA, a.k.a. the BUN
  • Friday, May 25—Release party for the return of Beam Me Up Scotty
  • Saturday, May 26—Day one of the anniversary party, featuring Ken’s famous ribs, with the Racine Creole band performing from 2-5 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 26—At Silver, DJ Graematter will be spinning the best in Afro beat and Afro fusion sounds from 8:30 p.m. to midnight
  • Sunday, May 27—Day two of the anniversary party, featuring a Southern-Fried Pork Chop plate, with Raven Rutherford & Her Sweet Potato Pie Band perform from 2-5 p.m.

In particular, I, Franz Solo, for one look forward to Big Ugly Nasty, being the main hop aficionado of the Brew Crew; and for that matter I do love some ribs, as the rest of the Crew will certainly attest (Yes, yes we do. — S). Beam Me Up Scotty has been a longtime Brew Crew favorite as well and we look forward to trying brewer Randy King’s take on the beloved Scotch ale. So head out and help celebrate seven years of heavenly food and brews from Nexus during the fast approaching ABQ Beer Week!

Skål!

Live Long, and Prosper!

— Franz Solo

In a little more than two weeks, the madness returns!

After a rather epic 40th birthday party for yours truly on Friday night, the rest of the weekend was spent in reflection of times gone by, and what is still to come. Namely, what have we already written on and what do we still need to put here on the site. It occurred to me that we have not done our annual early preview of ABQ Beer Week, where the Crew tries to pick out one top event per day of the upcoming craft beer extravaganza.

Well, with ABQ Beer Week kicking off two weeks from this Thursday on May 24 (running until June 3), we are not as early as usual. Of course, this does mean a lot of the schedule is more set in stone, so that should keep us from looking back on this later and going “whoops, that was the wrong day/that event did not happen.”

Thursday, May 24

There are a whole lot of tastings on this day, plus one event to get you off the barstool and on your feet, but in the end we still have to go with tradition. Marble is bringing back its Beer, Cheese & More at the downtown brewery. Head over to get some of the best Marble beers paired up with all sorts of delectable finger foods. When tickets go on sale at the taproom, we will let everyone know, since it sells out every year.

Friday, May 25

At first glance, the 21 and Over Tap Takeover at Sister did not seem to make much sense. After all, to drink beer, you gotta be 21 and over, right? Well, it actually refers to the participating breweries, all of whom are 21 and over in terms of their years of operation. Old-school favorites like Bell’s, Firestone Walker, Four Peaks, Left Hand, New Belgium, Odell, Rogue, and Sierra Nevada will each be bringing a unique one-off beer. When we get closer to the event, we will reveal said list.

Saturday, May 26

There are 10 listed events, so this is one of the busiest days. We gotta go with Nexus’ anniversary party, which runs all day. There will be the infamous red chile ribs, plus the previous two days saw the release of a new IPA and Beam Me Up Scotty, so those will both be available as well. There will also be live music. As always, Uber/Lyft are your best options because that parking lot fills up fast.

Sunday, May 27

Of course we have to pick ABQ Blues & Brews at Sandia Casino, one of the biggest beer festivals in our state. Tickets are on sale now. The long preliminary list includes New Mexico breweries like Bathtub Row, Bosque, Broken Trail, Canteen, Duel, Enchanted Circle, Eske’s, Flix Brewhouse, Hops Brewery, Kellys, Kilt Check, Lava Rock, Marble, Nexus, Ponderosa, Quarter Celtic, Rio Bravo, Santa Fe, Sierra Blanca, Steel Bender, Tractor, and Tumbleroot, plus of course the Dukes of Ale will be on hand.

Monday, May 28

If you do not feel like firing up the grill, but would still like some charred meats, then head over to Steel Bender for the smoke-out. There will be mucho meats, plus sides, and beers, and live music, too.

Tuesday, May 29

Remember when the Crew helped make Obey the Darkside, our beastly stout, over at Canteen? Well, it turns out it is not all gone. No, some was put into a Two Fools Whiskey Barrel, and now it will be transferred to a cask and served all day at Canteen’s main location. See you all when the doors open at noon!

Wednesday, May 30

A chunk of the Crew will be making one of our crazy there-and-back trips to Denver to catch one of our favorite Nordic melodic death metal bands, Insomnium, so you will not see us on this day. For the rest of you staying here, might we suggest a saunter over to Quarter Celtic? The mini-cask fest, a huge hit last year, will be back with a selection of delightful special beers. It’s also Wing Wednesday, if you actually needed any additional incentive.

Thursday, May 31

This day is a killer, because not only we will be racing back from Denver, but we have to choose between two events that look epic. Of course, we have to be at Battle of the Beer Geeks at Tractor Wells Park to see if we can finally reclaim the title from the Babes in Brewland. For those looking for something different this year, head over to Flix Brewhouse for a special showing of the cinematic classic Beerfest (which was filmed here in ABQ). There will be a special collaboration beer release with Steel Bender, plus other fun activities for fans of the movie.

Friday, June 1

Nob Hill Bar & Grill is hosting a Firestone Walker Barrelworks tap takeover. Um, if you insist. I mean, that was just one of the holy beer pilgrimages of a lifetime and all. FW just won four medals (three gold, one silver) at the World Beer Cup, too. When we have the tap list, we will share it. Then we will drink them all.

Saturday, June 2

The second-to-last day is packed, as one would expect, so there are a lot of options. After some hemming and hawing, we will head for the Mini Lager Fest at Ponderosa. The hosts are bringing together multiple breweries to offer up their best lagers. A slew of sessionable beers on what will probably be a scorcher of a day? Sign us up!

Sunday, June 3

Ready for another cask festival? Head to Steel Bender for Le Cask Lunatique, which brings together a flock of firkins with local jazz icons Le Chat Lunatique. Once again, when we know the identities of the cask beers, we will share them.

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Those are our early picks, but we reserve the right to change our minds, or of course to attend multiple events. As we do every year, please remember not to overdo it out there. Lyft and Uber are your friends, as are your actual friends who are willing to be designated drivers.

We will have a lot more on ABQ Beer Week in the days ahead, from focusing on specific events to running down everything at the breweries participating for multiple days. Until then, head to the official website to see some of the other events that are listed so far, and see if there are any that pique your interest more than what we listed above.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

New head brewer Randy King is happy to be home and at the helm of Nexus.

Over the span of the past few months, Nexus Brewery has experienced the transition from head brewer Kaylynn McKnight, who is now with the forthcoming Toltec Brewing, to new head brewer Randy King. I sat down with Randy on a lovely spring evening over a few samples of what he had on tap, including our stalwart favorites and a few new recipes to boot. Irish Red was up first. We also talked about the transition and what else is to come for Nexus in 2018 and beyond in one of our final installments of the Look Back/Look Ahead Series for 2017-18.

Solo: Yeah, this is nice, crisp with just a hint of sweetness.

Randy: The idea here was to be as traditional as possible, nice and crisp and dry. I think it has turned out pretty well, nice and bright.

Solo: But, you do get that little bit of sweetness there, which is kind of that balancing act of lagers in general is finding that spot between too sweet and too bready or too dry. I think you did quite well with this.

Randy: The second one is New Mexico Snow (IPA), which is supposed to be a more aromatic beer with a good bit of citrus, some melon, and with a really light malt presence and color. On this one I’m really happy with how bright it came out.

Solo: That is super bright, very crisp, and easy drinking.

Randy: This one is the anti-kick-you-in-the-mouth IPA, the smooth IPA where you get all of the florals from the hops.

Solo: It has that resinous character to it rather than the bitter kick.

Randy: Those hop oils are really shining through. That was really the goal, to let the hops shine in this beer instead of having more malt presence, have the malts just in the background.

Solo: Doing later hop additions mostly? (Later additions tend to add less bitterness and more aroma and tropical flavors from hops as the oils are not all boiled out as you would get from a longer boil time.)

Randy: Yeah, a lot of late additions, a lot of Citra in this beer with a significant dry hopping as well. That one was inspired by 3 Floyds’ Arctic Panzer Wolf. (A ludicrous double IPA from the creators of Zombie Dust and Crew favorite Dark Lord.)

Solo: You kind of have to in order to get the aroma you are going for. That’s kind of the name of the game for a lot of these up-and-coming IPAs these days with super-late additions for hops, almost no bitterness. That stylistic shift is somewhat of a precursor you could say to the NEIPA style. This actually kind of reminds me of a beer that Stoutmeister and I had up at Comrade Brewing on the south side of Denver where they had a golden ale hopped with Citra, which gave this same sort of delightful crispness.

Randy: Nice, I know those guys are well known for their IPAs. You ready to try this next one? All right, so this is our Hot Chocolate Porter.

Solo: There is a helluva lot of chocolate in there, nice little kick in the back, too. You were going for something with a little bit of spice in it?

Randy: It’s got 20 pounds of cocoa and 30 pounds of lactose in there, and some cayenne to finish.

Solo: Cayenne does pretty well with spicing. I just did an imperial stout myself with a little cayenne and red chile, and the same thing with this porter, it gets that nice, warming tickle in the back of your throat, but it’s not overpowering in terms of flavor. This tastes just like Mexican hot chocolate, very good.

Randy: It is interesting to find the balance with the cayenne, because you can get too much in there pretty easily. I love New Mexico green chile, but I’ve had a hard time finding a green chile beer that I like.

Solo: It’s kind of funny because every time I meet a new brewer in town I say please give me a good green chile beer.

Randy: So have you found any yet?

Solo: Not anything that is regularly available, unfortunately.

Randy: So I’m actually really pleased with how all three of these seasonal beers turned out; of course the consumer is going to decide ultimately, but I’m really happy with them.

Solo: I can definitely sort of see your take on things in these, your own style coming through with your own nuances that differ a bit from Kaylynn before you. I think you are stamping out on your own pretty quickly which is excellent.

Randy: Kaylynn is awesome, she’s a super cool person. She did a lot of great things here and she’s been really nice to help me with questions and any problems I’ve had over here and really set a good base for me step into. I’m looking forward to trying her stuff out at Toltec Brewing.

The Hot Chocolate Porter is pretty much as advertised, and delicious, too.

We then turned somewhat to Randy’s background as a brewer and a bit about his take on everything from different styles to the Great American Beer Festival.

Randy: I was a hophead for a really long time, and I do love my IPAs, but the longer I’ve been a brewer, I’ve really started to appreciate lagers and pilsners more and more.

Solo: Yep, right there with you. I started off drinking Stone back in the early 2000s, but these days well, the last couple I brewed are a Schwarzbier and a Pilsner.

Randy: Something you can cruise with, rather than the hard and quick end-your-night beer, with those you can just cruise for awhile.

Solo: Yardwork beer is what I call it a lot of the time.

Randy: Like a lawnmower beer. You mentioned Stone. I used to live out there in San Diego, so we would visit Stone and Green Flash back in the day.

Solo: So where are you from originally?

Randy: I grew up in Belen and went to Belen High School, and then went off to college. I’ve been gone for about 20 years and moved back in January. My mom is here and I’ve got a brother and a sister, nieces and nephews that live here.

Solo: You’ve come full circle in a sense, returned to your original home. What brought you to Nexus specifically?

Randy: It was a great opportunity where I would get some creative license. Interviewing with Ken (Carson), he seemed to be a very reasonable person to work with and he’s turned out to be a really fun person to work with. And then, to be blunt, my mom’s health isn’t great, so it was really nice to be able to get back and help her and help the family. I was brewing at Angry Inch Brewing in Lakeville, Minnesota, that is part of the Minneapolis metro area. That was a lot of fun, I love those guys, they are super cool, it’s a little 7-barrel place. I was at a production facility before that at 612 Brewing right by US Bank Stadium (home of the Minnesota Vikings), which was a good experience as well.

I started my commercial brewing in Boise, Idaho, so I’ve really kind of gone around the states a little bit. I’ve got some Pacific Northwest training. Ron Thomas, my head brewer in Boise, was amazing, and then I got some really good experience in Minneapolis, so I have those influences from there. I actually took Tom Hennessy’s course years ago, so I do have some Albuquerque training as well because he was one of the original partners in Il Vicino. That’s my brewing history in a nutshell.

We discussed a bit on the topic of Nexus’s GABF medal-winning Honey Chamomile Wheat and Imperial Cream Ale (not to fear, these recipes will assuredly remain the same great beers you know and love) alongside our Brew Crew experience this past year, and Randy had this to say about GABF.

Randy: Speaking of GABF, I’ve got to say that I’m a veteran of GABF. Last year was my 20th year at GABF.

Solo: That is, well, impressive.

Randy: I know my way around there pretty well, it has been a lot of fun. I’ve got a group of friends that all go up together and we do all of the sessions and I plan on doing it again this year.

Solo: That’s quite the commitment.

Randy: Yeah, I missed one year out of 21 years. I figure I’ve got to be up there as far as attending since it is 36 years old now, so I’ve got to be in the top 10 percent of most attended at this point. I don’t know what that gets me, but hey.

Solo: You’ve gotten to see firsthand the changes over time of this whole industry, community, all of the different trends, coming and going.

As far as the look ahead and what we can expect from Nexus in the coming year, Randy and I covered everything from the upcoming anniversary, anticipated upcoming seasonal beer styles, and expansion.

Randy: So I do have some ideas for beers in the future, (including) a New England IPA. Ken really wants to do a big, nasty IPA, so a big, bitter, kick-you-in-the-mouth kind of IPA.

Solo: Kind of our state standard at this point.

Randy: Our anniversary party is coming up (in May), so we are talking about doing a smoked stout for that.

Solo: We haven’t had a good smoked stout in a while here. We’ve had porters that were good, but a stout would be nice as well.

Randy: The idea of it is kind of for our new location, which is Nexus Blue Smokehouse, which will be a barbecue smokehouse (that) I’m excited about. It is going to make my job harder keeping up with production, but I live down that way so I can eat more barbecue. That’s one of the best perks about working here is that the food is fantastic, so that’s a pretty good deal.

Solo: Yeah, we’ve been coming here for years and enjoyed the chicken and waffles and pretty much everything else that we’ve tried. (We are) definitely excited for the new location as well.

Randy: So those are on the radar, and then I want to do a gose, a lemon wheat beer, and a barleywine. Gose is a style that I have a real personal interest in making because I think it is a really fun style. It’s delicious and on a hot day there’s not much that is better. Your lawnmower beer is great, too, but to have a nice, tart beer on a warm day is fantastic. Those are kind of the ones on my radar right now. The new smokehouse is going to be great as well.

Solo: Is there an official date for the opening?

Randy: It is supposed to be around three months out.

Summertime BBQ and Smokehouse, you say? Count us in! If the standard offerings at both Nexus locations are any indication, we are in for a real treat with the prospects of brisket and ribs from the forthcoming Nexus Blue Smokehouse.

We then tackled the topic of the brewhouse, which Stoutmeister noted in his book, Albuquerque Beer: Duke City History on Tap, has had a long run since its first use at Assets Grille in the 1990s.

Randy: Me stepping here and learning this brewhouse, I’ve been here two months and I’m starting to get in a much better groove now to understand this brewhouse.

Solo: There is always going to be that learning curve. Every system has its own little tweaks, its own little changes, and you ever have to change a piece of equipment you are going to have to go through that same learning process again. You really get to know the ins and outs, the nuance.

Randy: Yeah, for sure, we’ve been talking about upgrading a lot of this (brewhouse equipment) and that could happen in the next year. We might go to 15 barrels instead of all of those 7-barrel fermenters we’ve got back there. Of course if we go to 15s then all of the 7-barrel brite tanks would be outta here, and we’d do 15-barrel brite tanks all around the brewhouse. The brewhouse itself could get upgraded to a 15-barrel as well. That might actually be the first piece, (but) we will see. There’s talk of those upgrades so it will be fun.

* * * * *

It all sounds like fun indeed, from some tasty sounding seasonal brews, a possible brewhouse upgrade, and the upcoming opening of Nexus Blue Smokehouse. We are excited for the delicious offerings that will assuredly be coming our way in all forms of delectable smoked meats and the requisite accoutrements to boot. Rest assured, Nexus is in great hands with Randy and we in the Crew cannot wait to see what he’s got coming our way in the remainder of this year. So dear reader, when the need for soul food and some fine beverages strikes your fancy, you simply cannot go wrong with a day spent in the Nexus.

Live long, and prosper.

— Franz Solo

The ups and downs of having a full kitchen, or not, continue to vex many local breweries.

A small news item crossed our desk today (Monday) when we found out that Turtle Mountain is adding new items to its food menu. This is something that happens all the time in the restaurant business, where the palates of diners and their interests ebb and flow, often unpredictably. While several of the dishes look like things we have to try (hello, Ruidoso Ribs), it got us thinking again about the ongoing issue of breweries and food.

A few years back, the success of Marble and La Cumbre seemingly heralded the new model would be kitchen-free, relying instead on food trucks and neighboring restaurants. The brewpub was a dying breed, but a funny thing happened on the way to all of this happening. The brewpub did not die, it just had to be revamped and reborn, much like the restaurant industry as a whole (though that whole is far slower to adapt to change, as we see in the current decline in the national chains as more and more close here in ABQ and other parts of the country).

The most recent trend has seen breweries that previously had little or no food expanding to full kitchens. Bosque just had a few appetizers and panini-press sandwiches, until the decision was made to go the full kitchen route. The opening of the second, larger Las Cruces taproom saw the arrival of a full kitchen down south, while Nob Hill has recently expanded into the old Wise Pies space so it can also have a full kitchen, much like the original San Mateo location (and that full kitchen will head to the new mothership location being built along the Interstate 25 frontage road).

Boxing Bear expanded its kitchen and menu, while Tractor added a small food menu to its new Four Hills taproom. Now comes the word that Tractor will turn the old merchandise nook at Wells Park into a small food area as well (if you went to the Stranger Things Arcade Carnival before Halloween, you saw a preview of this).

Rio Bravo had long ago kept a space for a future kitchen, located just on the south side of the main bar area. After struggling with food trucks (more on that below) for a while, the decision was finally made to essentially outsource the in-house food production to The Burger Stand, which already had locations in Taos and Santa Fe.

As more new breweries seek to open, most, if not all, are advertising that they will indeed have in-house food. The most recent new brewery to open, Bombs Away Beer Company, did not open with any food, but its owner already mentioned that he has a space set aside for what seems like an inevitable addition of a small food prep area.

The need for in-house food is seemingly being driven by two things. First, the consumer demand is there. Second, the food truck situation in town has been slipping, from what a number of brewery owners have told us. Many of the best food trucks have either shut down or been so successful that they have been able to open brick-and-mortar restaurants. The best of what remain are now stretched thin across the metro area due to the proliferation of so many taprooms and breweries. While established, large breweries like La Cumbre, Marble, and Tractor are still able to keep the best of the best food trucks parked outside, other breweries have struggled immensely to fill out their schedules with reliable trucks.

Food is still a tricky thing for breweries. A kitchen, whether limited or full, adds another layer of inspections and regulations, many of them even tighter than what exists for beer production. Having food on site is no guarantee of increased business. It certainly did not save the Firkin Brewhouse or Albuquerque Brewing, or perhaps most prominently, Chama River. Even places with well-established reputations for having top-notch kitchens, like Nexus and Turtle Mountain, are constantly having to adjust and adapt to the changing tastes of consumers. One could debate whether or not people are even pickier about food than beer, but it often seems that way around Albuquerque.

It can also be debated as to where the food-versus-no-food debate falls geographically. Desert Valley opened its West Side taproom with a full kitchen and has gone to great lengths to promote it as a food-first establishment. After initially opening the Nexus Silver taproom sans food, the decision was recently made to begin serving food there. It can be argued that food is almost necessary in areas with a denser neighborhood population, like Nob Hill or the Northeast Heights, as opposed to the more nightlife-oriented aspects of downtown, the Brewery District, and Wells Park (though things are changing at some of the breweries located in that district).

The issue can then become how customers view and treat brewpubs versus breweries. Reading the less-than-kind comments online for many brewpubs, they often seem to focus mainly on the food itself and the service, rather than the beer. Food seems to be more polarizing than beer, while the expectation of service is often higher in what many regard as more of a restaurant than bar setting. It often seems that for every benefit about having a kitchen, there is a significant drawback as well. Finding the balance in between is an ongoing challenge, with no easy answers.

What is the future of the brewpub model? Cantero Brewing is gambling that it will be of the popular farm-to-table variety, as the forthcoming brewery fights to overcome the fact it took over the old Firkin space, one of the least desirable physical locations for any brewery. The other newcomers will have to make up their own minds.

As always, we want to know what all of you think, so we designed a rather simple poll below. Add your comments here or on social media. The more the breweries know about what we want from them in terms of food is better for everyone involved.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Marble’s Josh Trujillo is all good after bringing home two medals.

It was another successful Great American Beer Festival for our local breweries, as five different places brought home a total of six medals on Saturday morning at the annual awards ceremony in Denver.

Marble Brewery won yet another medal for its Pilsner, taking home a bronze in the Kellerbier or Zwickelbier category. It is the fourth time since 2011 that Pilsner has won a medal. The big win came later, when Cholo Stout took gold in the American-Style Stout category.

“The Pilsner has definitely had a lot of success,” Marble brewmaster Josh Trujillo said. “We put a lot of love into that one. I have a lot of influence on it, but John Heine is the one who is running that beer, making sure it’s consistent. It’s what everybody drinks. We know people drink it all the time. It’s nice to see that one really stay consistent and stay well.”

The Cholo Stout, now on its second iteration, was born out of the Heights taproom experimental brewing system.

“I’m excited, it’s a very challenging style,” Josh said. “To medal the first time … it’s the second time it’s been brewed, but it’s a beautiful style. I finally got to make it good. I feel really privileged that they trust me enough to make these beers. It’s all teamwork. It’s awesome to get it done.”

Nexus Brewery claimed a gold as well with Imperial Cream Ale topping the Other Strong Beer category.

“I don’t even know what to say,” said Nexus head brewer Kaylynn McKnight. “I’m just very honored. I thought all of New Mexico did a great job. I’m just proud. I’m proud of all of New Mexico.”

Nexus’ Kaylynn McKnight and her fiancee Andrew Krosche are all smiles after she brought home a gold medal.

Sierra Blanca actually got the medal run started way back in the fourth category, Fruit Wheat Beer, snagging a gold medal with its Cherry Wheat. It marks Sierra Blanca’s first gold since winning for Bone Chiller Brown back in 2012.

The other bronze medals went to Boxing Bear with Featherweight Session IPA in the Session IPA category and to Second Street for Rod’s Steam Bitter in the American Amber Lager category. That marks the second medal for the Steam Bitter, which won gold back in 2013.

“Obviously we’re thrilled about the medal,” Second Street brewmaster Rod Tweet wrote in an email to the Crew. “It’s been a really hectic year this year with getting the third location open and the brewhouse up and running and winning the bronze medal really tops it off for us. Really happy, thanks!”

Overall, the total of six medals matches the 2016 haul and is tied for the second most medals for New Mexico breweries in a single year.

We will be adding plenty more to this story as we track down the other award winners throughout the course of this final day of GABF. Congratulations to all the winners!

Now get out there today and enjoy some national champions!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The variety in beers is impressive this year!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister