Posts Tagged ‘Picacho Peak Brewing’

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

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And festival season is a go!

And festival season is a go!

The unofficial kickoff to festival season is upon us once again as Blazin’ Brewfest returns to downtown Las Cruces on Saturday. This annual event, put on by the NM Brewers Guild, is definitely the biggest and most important festival for craft beer lovers in Southern New Mexico and surrounding areas.

The festival runs from 5 to 9 p.m. at 211 Main Street. There will be 15 breweries present, plus food trucks, and live music. The cost is $15 in advance or $20 at the gate. You can still buy tickets at High Desert, Spotted Dog, the Bosque taproom, Main Street Bistro, and of course online.

While the Crew will be otherwise occupied Saturday up here in ABQ, we will have correspondents writing about the fest and the best beers to seek out after it’s over. That, of course, leads to the question of what will be served at the festival. We only heard back from eight nine of the participating breweries, but if anyone else sends us a late list, we will update this story.

Abbey: TBA

Bosque: Riverwalker IPA, Driftwood Oatmeal Stout, Brewer’s Boot Amber Ale, Scotia Scotch Ale, Bosque Lager, Elephants on Parade, Amber Rye, Beermosa

High Desert: TBA

La Cumbre: BEER, Elevated, Red Ryeot, Malpais, Slice of Hefen, plus there will be a special tapping of Project Dank at 7 p.m.

Little Toad Creek: TBA

Marble: Double White, Pilsner, Red, IPA

Pecan Grill: TBA

Picacho Peak: Javelina Black IPA, La Bruja Porter, High Noon Hefeweizen, Sunset Summer Saison, Smooth ‘n’ Stout

Ponderosa: Ghost Train IPA, Spanglish New Mexican Lager, Manzanita Milk Stout, Saison Chat Sauvage

Red Door: Unhinged Cider, Roamer Red, Shift Ender Golden Lager, Bad Moon Ryesing

Santa Fe: Gold, Black IPA, Nut Brown, Happy Camper, Western Bloc IPA

Sierra Blanca/Rio Grande: Pancho Verde Chile Cerveza, Red Beer, Bone Chiller Brown, Rio Grande IPA, Rio Grande Desert Pilsner, Alien Stout, plus a limited pour of Cranberry Sour

Spotted Dog: Milk Stout, Hop Dog, Prickly Beaver Wheat, Angry Beaver Wheat, Shep Farmhouse Ale

Taos Mesa: TBA

Tractor: TBA

Remember, this is a Brewers Guild event, so it needs all the support our community of beer lovers can provide!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The last and arguably best NM beer festival of the year is this weekend!

The last and arguably best NM beer festival of the year is this weekend!

If your favorite brewery’s staff has a little extra kick in their step these days, it is probably because they all know that the final festival of the season is almost upon us. NM Brew Fest 6 is set for this Saturday at the State Fairgrounds from 1 to 6 p.m. (or 11:30 a.m. if you get a VIP ticket).

To get the lowdown on what is new and/or different this year from years past, I talked to NM Brewers Guild director Chris Goblet a while back.

“New Mexico Brew Fest 6, we got through five years, which is a great milestone for the Guild,” Goblet said. “This year the Guild has partnered with Hoppervision, who created New Mexico Brew Fest back in 2009. I kind of took the reins this year again and decided to follow the trail of legislation that we passed and focus on the reciprocity bill. So we’ve got four distilleries, a cider maker and a winery, and we’ll have 25 breweries. It kind of plays off this whole idea of drink local, which is our theme this year.”

A huge question with any VIP/early entry type of ticket is always what does someone get as a bonus with the extra money paid. Last year it was access to some rare, barrel-aged beers, that left a few of us (myself included) feeling a little overwhelmed later on.

“So for your early-bird entry, in addition to a number of specialty beers, you’re also going have your choice of a Blood Mary or a Beermosa to start the day,” Goblet said. “A beer festival that starts you off with a cocktail or champagne-beer concoction, not a bad way to begin the day.  Instead of being limited to a single beer station, Early Birds will have access to all of the breweries, wineries, and distilleries for that first hour.

“I really wanted to hype up the fact that we’re all manufacturing centers working together, playing together. We want this to become the largest local libations festival in New Mexico, so that every year we can grow and feature the new start-up producers. Our festival is a showcase of New Mexico-made alcohol.”

Another past problem with NMBF has been alleviated in terms of the space allotted.

“The big other change this year is we’re no longer in Villa Hispana,” Goblet said. “We’re going to move the festival to main street. It’s going to give us more square footage to accommodate up to 10,000 people. And we can have all the brewery trucks drive right into the festival to park.”

Of course, we know a major part of any event preview is to track down who is pouring what beers. The good news is that three of the four NM beers that won medals at the Great American Beer Festival will be available, as well as beers from BJ’s that won medals. These are all the lineups we received from attending breweries:

  • Abbey: Monks’ Ale, Wit, Dark, Dubbel, Tripel
  • Back Alley: Landon’s Lager (malt liquor), California Common, Hefen or Hell, Octoberfest
  • Blue Corn: Brown Paper Bag, Oktoberfest, Gold Medal Oatmeal Stout, Roadrunner IPA
  • Boese Brothers: La Onza White Ale, Steampunk Lager
  • Bosque: Riverwalker IPA, Brewer’s Boot Amber, Pale Ryder, Driftwood Oatmeal Stout, Scotia Scotch Ale, Bosque Lager, Oktoberfest, Humo Rojo
  • Boxing Bear: Body Czech Pilsner, Hairy Mit Hefe, Uppercut IPA, Standing 8 Stout, Oktobearfest, Noble Pale Ale, Body Slam Imperial Pilsner, Not Your Mom’s Cream Soda, and a special 1 p.m. tapping of the GABF silver-medal-winning Chocolate Milk Stout
  • Canteen: Dark and Lusty Stout, Dougie Style Amber, IPA, Pilsner
  • Cazuela’s: Acapulco Gold, Kilt Kicker, Calabaza, Papacabra
  • Chama River: Jackalope IPA, Pumpkin Ale, Sleeping Dog Stout, Rio Amber
  • Distillery 365: ESB, 4th of July Ale (plus Holy Ghost Vodka, Horsethief Rum)
  • Duel: Titian, Dark Ryder, Grunewald, Ara Pacis, Fiction, Bad Amber, Cezanne Denoument, plus a sneak peek beer
  • La Cumbre (which will be split between two tents): State Fair Cream Ale, A Slice of Hefen, Elevated IPA, Red Ryeot, Malpais Stout, Project Dank, Full Nelson, Witch’s Lit, VMO #3, Summer Strong
  • Lizard Tail: Belgian Abbey, ESB, Strawberry IPA, Biscochito Brown, India Black Ale
  • Marble: Wildflower Wheat, Farmhand Pale Ale, Red Ale, Imperial Red (2015 GABF bronze medal winner), Oatmeal Stout, Double White, Get Stoked, Mick’s Mac
  • Nexus: Honey Chamomile Wheat (2015 GABF silver medal winner), Cream Ale, Scottish Ale, Equinox
  • Picacho Peak: TBA, but we know they are bringing four kegs
  • Ponderosa: Rip Saw Red, Ghost Train IPA, Jubilee, Zatfig (Oatmeal Stout)
  • Red Door: Ryeson Sun Saison, Broken Arrow Pale Ale, Anniversary Double Red, Vanilla Cream Ale
  • Rio Bravo: Oktoberfest, Karl’s Hefeweizen, Rio Bravo Amber, Level 1 DRB IPA
  • Rio Nuevo: TBA
  • Santa Fe: Booth #1 — Happy Camper, Oktoberfest, Duke’s Anniversary Lager; Booth #2 — Nut Brown, Java Stout, Chicken Killer, and R2Beer2 will Randall the Nut Brown through roasted pinon (SFBC will also have one brewer at each booth to talk to customers about the beers being poured)
  • Second Street: Pivotal IPA, Fulcrum IPA, Trebuchet DIPA, Kolsch, Brown Ale or Red Comet, Boneshaker Special Bitter, The Preachers Share
  • Sierra Blanca/Rio Grande: TBA
  • Taos Ale House: TBA
  • Taos Mesa: 3 Peaks IPA, Cross Eye Rye, Great Scot Scottish, Wheeler Peak Wheat
  • Tractor: Almanac IPA, Farmer’s Tan Red Ale, Mustachio Milk Stout, Delicious Red Hard Apple Cider, The Ruggles, Traktoberfest
  • Turtle Mountain: Kosmonaut Kolsch, Altbier, Hopshell IPA, After Midnight Schwarzbier, Gourd Dammit

If I absolutely had to pick one beer that is not to be missed, it would be The Preachers Share, a barrel-aged imperial stout, at Second Street. Of course, that is probably the beer that did in the Crew in years past, so be careful.

All TBA lists above will be updated as soon as we get them, even the morning of the event, so if we are missing your favorite place, keep checking back. We will try to announce updates via Twitter and/or Facebook.

The Crew will be out for the VIP session, so if you see us, stop by and say hello.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Editor’s note: The Crew cannot be everywhere in New Mexico, so from time to time we have to call upon a new contributor to help us out when news is breaking in the outlying parts of the state. When we got word a new brewery was opening in Las Cruces, we put the call out for a correspondent to do a write-up. Phil Stofanak answered the call and sent us this write-up on the newest addition to the craft beer scene in Southern New Mexico.  — Stoutmeister

The outdoor stage is one of the most unique features of Picacho Peak. (Courtesy of their Facebook page)

The outdoor stage is one of the most unique features of Picacho Peak. (Courtesy of their Facebook page)

Picacho Peak Brewing is one of the newest breweries to hit the Borderlands, specifically Las Cruces. It’s tough to find as the area sits back off the road, but you will be looking for Grapevine Plaza and the gate will be on your right. Walking up to the place you notice that there is a lot of room to grow with numerous building on the property. They even have a large stage and chairs set up outside that you can move together or into the shade if needed. Dogs are welcome to Picahco and the grassy area was a welcome feeling to our pooch after a day at the lake. They were very accommodating and even brought out some water for him.

Another view of the space for beer drinkers to relax and have a good time. The stage is off to the left outside the picture.

The amount of space is great for hanging out with a bunch of people.

Once outside and after moving the table to the shade, we were met by our waitress, the daughter of the owner. It truly is a family affair. His son, Derrick, poured the beers behind the bar and took the check when we left. Even the grandparents had stopped in for a drink. They do have food on the menu and they were very open to making just about anything you could ask for if they had the ingredients. We had the chips and queso dip just to hold us over until dinner. The queso dip had just enough kick for us to know it was there. It was most likely not enough for people who enjoy hot stuff, but for us it was enough. It looked to be homemade and the price wasn’t bad, either. The queso paired well with most of the beers. I don’t really recommend queso dip and the smooth and stout though, I think that threw some taste buds off.

Just some queso and chips for a late lunch.

Just some queso and chips for a late lunch.

Picacho Peak serves five beers right now. None of the beers are particularly summery, but the IPA was light enough that it was decently refreshing for the 100-degree heat Las Cruces had when we visited. The Road Runner IPA comes in at 7.8-percent ABV and was not very hoppy for an IPA, so even a non-hophead would enjoy it.

Four of the five beers were on the list along with wine by the glass for those non-beer drinkers who still want to have some fun.

Four of the five beers were on the list along with wine by the glass for those non-beer drinkers who still want to have some fun.

The Javelina Black IPA has more of a malty base and is just as dark as the Smooth and Stout. My wife had to help out and tell me which was which, because they looked so similar. It was smooth to drink and overall not a bad black IPA. There was not much hop bite, but it does shine through just enough to know it’s an IPA.

Rojo Grande has a great reddish hue and is a very drinkable lager type of beer. Angelic Amber lives up to the name of Angelic, as it truly is heavenly. Overall, it has great body and the drinkability is high. The amber coloring and good taste would make this a great fall beer for sitting out and listening to some music at Picacho Peak.

The Smooth and Stout is just how it sounds. This type of beer is not my go-to choice on a 100-degree day, however it is still a solid choice for maybe when it gets to 40 or 50 degrees.

Picahco Peak Brewing would be a great place to hang out and catch some live music, which seems to be an ongoing theme judging by their Facebook page and the amount of events they are planning. They have plenty of seats and they also have sand bags, so you can play a game while drinking one of your favorite brews. Picacho has plenty of room to grow on their property and I wish them all the luck in their newest endeavor.

Another view of the space for beer drinkers to relax and have a good time. The stage is off to the left outside the picture.

Another view of the space for beer drinkers to relax and have a good time. The stage is off to the left outside the picture.

So if you are hanging out in the Las Cruces area and just want a chill place to have a beer and hang out with friends, then try out the newest brewery in the Borderlands.

Cheers!

— Phil