Posts Tagged ‘Ponderosa Brewing’

The Test Batch #3, left, and Gondola Party Starter XH are two excellent double IPAs now available at Quarter Celtic.

One of these weeks we will all get our acts together and have this feature ready for a Monday run, but alas, this is not one of those weeks. As we noted last time around, this is simply a series of short recaps of weekend beer adventures for different members of the Crew.

Hops were the order of the day for this past weekend, what with the preliminary round of the NM IPA Challenge going down and all. I was not able to attend due to work, but I still managed to set out in search of at least one of the entries that is on tap around town.

My Friday night sojourn led me to Quarter Celtic, where the Gondola Party Starter XH (Extra Hops) is now on tap alongside the Test Batch #3 DIPA. Talking to QC co-owner Ror McKeown, I found out that both had been released with the goal of asking loyal customers which one should be the NMIPAC entry. Gondola was ultimately the choice of the public, though the way he described it was interesting. Most customers actually preferred Test Batch #3, but none of them thought it could win a competition, and thus Gondola became QC’s entry.

Tasting them side-by-side, I found Test Batch #3 to be lighter and sweeter, while Gondola has a bitter back-end kick, with a little less sweetness around the mid-palate. Gondola is certainly more of a traditional West Coast hop bomb, and in the end, the customers were right, as it advanced to Wednesday’s first round of the NMIPAC alongside 15 other IPAs.

— Stoutmeister

Now for the rest of the Crew … (more…)

Ponderosa’s taproom at the revamped El Vado Motel is now open.

Greetings fair readers, Franz Solo here, the other day upon learning that the El Vado taproom for Ponderosa Brewing had opened for business, I was tasked by Stoutmeister with checking it out. As it happens, the historic El Vado Motel, which first opened in 1937 and will reopen after some pretty awesome looking renovations this July, is just two minutes of a bike ride from my usual stopping point on the river by Tingley Beach.

The El Vado Motel sits just over the river on the south side of Central at New York (2500 Central Ave. is the precise address). So after a lovely late morning ride by the Rio Grande in the wonderful June heat (yes, I am a bit crazy to enjoy biking in the afternoons of June through August), I stopped in the just-opened taproom to have a look.

There are 10 Ponderosa beers on tap.

The space is wonderfully rustic, with all of the charm you’d expect for an 80-plus-year-old building, matched flawlessly with modern lighting, fixtures, and so forth. The El Vado taproom has 10 Ponderosa beers on tap at present, and is open daily from noon to close (around 8 p.m., but that is subject to change).

The patio off of the taproom itself is spacious and quite a lovely spot in which to have a pint and a bite to eat, especially once more food options arrive in the other available “pods” on site. When I rode up, several people were enjoying tacos from one of these such establishments which looked quite tempting indeed.

The patio area includes this awesome fountain.

At the back is the motel proper, which from the exterior looked like quite a nice place for both tourists and staycationers alike. The proximity to Tingley Beach, Rio Grande, and the ABQ Biopark makes this quite a nice addition to the area which, is already a lovely part of town in which to spend the day.

(You can also stop by to check out Metal the Store, an awesome clothing and merch space created by Brew Crew friend Michael Wieclaw, which is already open in the El Vado complex. — S)

Another shot of the cozy interior.

So head down and check it out for a pint or two, whether you bike (just head east on Central off the main Bosque bike trail for a couple of blocks) or perambulate down the freshly paved and finally completed Central. 

Until our next adventure, I bid you adieu!

Skål!

— Franz Solo

Gear up for one last big Saturday before it all ends for this year.

As we approach the end of Beer Week for 2018, the temperatures are a rising, so staying cool in the shade with a good pint or two is a must. Thankfully, there will be plenty to try today at events across town, from special releases to food pairings to even a mini lager festival.

Take note, however, the Crafts, Crops and Hops Beer Farmer’s Market scheduled for Canteen today has been postponed until later this summer. The special beer release set for today is still on, thankfully.

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: Mini Lager Fest. Where: Ponderosa Brewing. When: Noon-4 p.m. Cost: $15.

Details: Seven breweries are gathering at Ponderosa for this festival celebrating the (underrated?) style. Your ticket gets you a sample of all the lagers, plus a pint of your favorite and a commemorative pint glass. Choose between Bosque Lager, Bow & Arrow’s Denim Tux Lager, Dialogue’s Maibock, Kellys’ American Pilsner, Marble’s Dortmunder Export, the Steel Bender/Flix Brewhouse collaboration Schnitz N Giggle, and a TBA lager from the hosts. There may also be an eighth brewery on hand, though that was not yet confirmed.

Why you should go: Lagers are perfect in these hot, dry days. Now you can either confirm that your favorite is the best in town, or discover a new lager that demands to be kept in your fridge via bottle, can, crowler, or growler.

All the other great events

What: Steel Bender Tap Takeover and Wild & Sour Charcuterie Pairing. Where: M’tucci’s Market and Pizzeria. When: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: A slew of big, funky beers are heading to the restaurant, including Ingenio, The Judy, and Bullet’s Reserve. They will be paired up with charcuterie boards. Why you should go: Satisfy your craving for some perfectly paired beers and food items.

What: Lawn Ninja Collaboration Beer Release. Where: Quarter Celtic Brewpub/Palmer Brewery. When: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Lawn Ninja is a rice ale, an easy-drinking beer that’s perfect for summer. Why you should go: Keep encouraging more collaborations between breweries by drinking their combined offerings.

What: Zafado Groove Beer Release. Where: Canteen Brewhouse. When: Noon-3 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Enjoy this Belgian ale with passionfruit aged in chardonnay barrels with brettanomyces. Why you should go: It’s big, sweet, and funky. Perfect for the patio.

What: Third Annual Food Truck Battle. Where: Red Door Brewing (Candelaria). When: Noon-4 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Five food trucks will be going head to head for the title of the Best of Albuquerque. You try the food and decide the winner, all while washing it down with some delicious Red Door beers. Why you should go: Who doesn’t like a good competition where the audience is the biggest winner? Because that’s what this is.

What: “Breakfast with the Boiz” Beer Release and Bash. Where: Santa Fe ABQ Taproom. When: Noon-3 p.m. Cost: $12. Details: Come enjoy brunch with two of Santa Fe’s top brewers, Bert and Dave, as they present a new beer made in the style of a traditional brass monkey. There will also be a Bloody Mary beer bar. For the ticket, you get a pint glass, one beer, and either a breakfast burrito from Chumlys or a stuffed, beer-battered jalapeno from Rockin’ Taco. Why you should go: Beer, bloody beer, food, and a chance to talk with the brewers. Sounds like a good start to the day.

What: 90s Beer Prom. Where: Tractor Wells Park. When: 8 p.m.-midnight. Cost: $25. Details: The theme is Under the Sea, dressing up 90s style is highly encouraged, and dancing like a fool is pretty much a requirement. It all supports TEDxABQ. Why you should go: Oh, just get goofy and let loose. Though the first of you to say “how old were people who went to prom in the 90s” gets dragged out and shot in the parking lot. (Kidding, just kidding. … Maybe.)

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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

Beer dinners, special tappings, archived beers, a movie event, and a brewing grudge match highlight this busy day!

If you are reading this, it means we survived the Insomnium show in Denver last night. As you read this, we will be flying back down Interstate 25, because there is beer business to take care of in ABQ.

After all, we’ve got Battle of the Beer Geeks to attend, but it’s not the only option today. If we weren’t at Tractor, we might be at one of two beer dinners, or perhaps the screening of Beerfest at Flix, or diving into that archive tapping at Marble Westside, or … well, you get the point, it’s gonna be a fun day.

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: Battle of the Beer Geeks V. Where: Tractor Wells Park. When: 5-8 p.m. Cost: $10 for tray and pint.

Details: Once again, five local beer enthusiast groups (us included) went and each brewed up a beer at Tractor. Now you get a tray filled with all five beers to try, with a pint of your favorite awaiting you at the end. It’s a blind taste test, and in the end all the public votes will count for 50 percent of the vote, with the other half coming from a judging panel. The winner gets an awesome Rock Em Sock Em Robots trophy, plus bragging rights. This year’s beer theme is single hop.

Why you should go: The Babes in Brewland have won enough times in a row. Come help us or one of the other groups dethrone them at last!

All the other great events

What: Sierra Nevada Special Sampling. Where: Jubilation. When: 4-6 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Brewery representative Keith Hymes is bringing Pale Ale, Sidecar Orange IPA, Otra Vez with lime and agave, Sierraveza Lager, German-Style Kolsch Ale, and Hoptimum DIPA. Why you should go: There’s hoppy, malty, and a bit of tart to perk up your afternoon, and the best part is, the samples are free.

What: Exodus IPA on Nitro Release. Where: Canteen Taproom. When: 5-10 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Enjoy one of the classic IPAs in a different format. Why you should go: Hey, if you’re already up in the foothills and have no desire to drive back down anywhere, then this is just the beer for you.

What: Marble Archive Tapping. Where: Marble Westside. When: 5-11 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Enjoy any of a quartet of archived beers that the Marble staff have pulled out of storage — Cherry Brune, From the Wood Saison, Quad, 2017 Reserve Ale. Why you should go: Quad and Reserve? First you had our curiosity, now you have our attention.

What: Odell Double Sour Tapping. Where: Nob Hill Bar & Grill. When: 5-7 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Pucker up for a double blast of Sunny Rain Golden Tart and Green Coyote Tomatillo Sour. Why you should go: If you love sours, you gotta try these two, plus you can grab dinner.

What: Canteen Beer Dinner. Where: Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. When: 6-8 p.m. Cost: $80. Details: This elegant five-course meal will be paired with some of Canteen’s finest beers, including High Plains Pilsner, Dougie Style Amber, and more. Call (505) 884-3350 to make your reservation. Why you should go: If you’ve been saving up for an ultimate feast, this is the time you cash in.

What: Beer Pairing Dinner. Where: Ponderosa Brewing. When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Cost: $40 ($35 for mug club members). Details: A four-course meal will feature some of Ponderosa’s finest beers. A sweet pepper salad is paired with Big Belgian, French onion soup is paired with Rip Saw Red, roasted orange marmalade pork loin is paired with Blood Orange Wit, and a finishing course of fine cheeses and truffles are paired with Tart Cherry Chocolate Porter. Why you should go: If you haven’t been saving up for an ultimate feast, then this is a more affordable beer dinner option.

What: Beerfest Movie Party and Collaboration Beer Release. Where: Flix Brewhouse. When: 7-10 p.m. Cost: $7 for movie ticket. Details: Come celebrate a special screening of the cult comedy classic Beerfest, which was filmed here in Albuquerque. Flix is throwing a party starting at 7, with screenings at 8 and 8:30. Expect games, trivia, and more, plus the release of Schnitz ’N Giggle, a Dortmunder lager brewed in collaboration with Steel Bender. Why you should go: A hilarious movie, a new beer, and all sorts of shenanigans that we’ll miss while at Battle of the Beer Geeks. Honor us with your best efforts.

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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

Beer pairs so well with tacos, grilled cheese, and just about everything else today.

It’s back to a full slate of events today, with food pairings being the biggest theme.

There’s beer and tacos, beer and grilled cheese, beer and whiskey and food, and so on. Basically, fill your belly, fill your soul, and have some fun.

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: Two Fools and Canteen Whiskey and Beer Pairing. Where: Two Fools Tavern. When: 6-8 p.m. Cost: $25.

Details: Get three Canteen beers paired with three whiskies and three food items. Irish Red is paired with Tamdhu 10-year and whisky BBQ shredded duck. Exodus IPA is paired with Teeling and pork belly jicama taco. Dark ‘n Lusty Stout is paired with Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban and sea salt caramel truffle.

Why you should go: Well, um, gosh, that just looks ridiculous. If you love beer, whiskey, and food, then this might be pretty close to your idea of heaven.

All the other great events

What: Cask Release of Two Fools Whiskey Barrel-Aged Obey the Darkside. Where: Canteen Brewhouse. When: Noon until it runs out. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Yes, Canteen saved some of the Obey that we helped brew and put it in a barrel. Some of that barrel-aged beauty will be in a cask for us all to enjoy. Why you should go: If you don’t go early, the Crew will drink it all. We’re not kidding about this.

What: Special Tapping of Boxing Bear Sucker Punch. Where: High and Dry Brewing. When: 2-10 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: It can be hard to find the Bear’s big IPAs east of the Rio Grande, so take advantage of it being on tap at High and Dry. Why you should go: If you still haven’t been to High and Dry, this is as good a time as any to visit.

What: Ultimate Taco Tuesday. Where: Ponderosa Brewing. When: 3-9 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: For $15 plus tax, get four special tacos (fish, beef & green chile, carne adovada, twice-burnt stuffed) paired with four beers (Crosscut Kolsch, Ghost Train IPA, Brewers Beard Bock, Hop-Mosa 2.0). Why you should go: Tacos!

What: Beer & Grilled Cheese Pairing. Where: Tractor Nob Hill. When: 5-10 p.m. Cost: $13. Details: Once again, Tractor teams up with Cheesy Street for this delicious event. Get four mini-grilled cheeses — Yo Mama’s (classic cheddar), The Dubliner (aged Irish Dubliner cheese with Granny Smith apple slices), Uber Cheesy (German-style with grilled onions and brown mustard), New Mexico’s Favorite (cheese, green chile, bacon) — and a dessert (Raspberry Cinnamon Cheesecake), each paired with a different beer (Almanac IPA, Double Plow Oatmeal Stout, Apricot Wheat, New Mexican Lager, Berry Cider). Why you should go: It’s like the other beer and cheese events, only the cheese is all melty and gooey and wonderful.

What: Tri Tuesday Beer and Taco Pairing. Where: Canteen Taproom. When: 6-10 p.m. Cost: $13. Details: Three tacos are paired up with three 5-ounce beer pours to bring you total happiness. Why you should go: They’re leaving the identities of the beers and the style of tacos a mystery. We like mysteries.

What: Collaboration Beer Dinner with Bell’s Brewery and Steel Bender Brewyard. Where: TFK Smokehouse. When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Cost: $55. Details: Indulge in a five-course meal with six beers, three from each brewery. Bell’s Oberon opens it up, followed by Steel Bender’s Raspberry Dynamite with a Brazilian salad. Then it’s Bell’s Lager of the Lakes with smoked pork firecrackers and Steel Bender’s Ingenio with margarita shrimp tacos. Finish it off with Steel Bender’s Red Iron Red with smoked beef short ribs and Bell’s 30th Anniversary Cherry Stout Reserve with Mayan chocolate mousse. Call TFK at (505) 639-5669 for reservations. Why you should go: If you’re not hungry and thirsty just reading that, we need to have a talk.

What: Hops and Beer Talk with Tom Brewer and Matt Meier. Where: Red Door Brewing (Candelaria). When: 7-8 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Our own AmyO will preview this event in full later today, but basically you get the chance to sit down and listen to Red Hat Hops owner Tom Brewer and Red Door head brewer Matt Meier discuss the fledgling hop farming industry in New Mexico and what it can mean to the future of craft beer in our state. Why you should go: It’s educational and it’s free, plus you can enjoy some of Matt’s new beers, including the ESB, English IPA, and New England IPA.

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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

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

Business was up at Ponderosa in 2017, with plenty more on deck for this year.

It was all about the little things at Ponderosa Brewing in 2017. Whether it was doing a bit of remodeling, experimenting with new beer styles, introducing a canned beer for the first time, or just focusing on making the brewery into a true neighborhood pub, it all seems to have paid off.

“2017 was really good, actually,” head brewer Antonio Fernandez said. “Everything was kind of on a pretty big uptick for us. Our customer base was bigger, our sales were bigger, I brewed more beer than we’d ever brewed before, we sold more beer than before. The business growth was really positive this past year. We’ve had a pretty steady curve of growth.”

Antonio and I sat down recently over a goblet of his Russian imperial stout, which he named Bernalillo County Stout, for Ponderosa’s turn in our Look Back/Look Ahead Series. It was a busy early afternoon on a weekday, which seemed to back up his point about business being up at the Sawmill District brewpub.

“One of the other big things that we’ve seen is that while we’ve sold a lot of food … at this point we’re selling as much beer as food,” Antonio said with a smile. “It’s 50-50 now, which is cool. That makes me happy.”

Ponderosa also continued to branch out beyond the confines of its four walls in 2017.

“We increased our distribution quite a bit,” Antonio said. “Last year at this time we were having our beer distributed through Bosque. They sold their distribution (to Admiral Beverage) and we got out of that deal. We had to get a rezoning thing done with the City and get our wholesaler’s license. You probably saw it on the way in, we’ve got our little van.”

Antonio said Ponderosa now has beer on tap at around 20 other establishments, ranging from bars to restaurants, mostly in downtown and the North Valley.

“It’s been really nice (feedback),” he said. “What’s been good for us is a couple of our normal styles are ones that no one else makes regularly, our kolsch and our brown ale. I don’t think anyone makes a kolsch year round. Our brown ale is really popular for the same reason. It’s probably one of only three or four browns made year round.”

Ponderosa found success with its first canned beer in 2017, and more styles are on deck for this year.

This past year also saw the first canned beer from Ponderosa as its India Pale Lager was sold at liquor stores and retailers around town.

“It was basically kind of like a test run to see if there’s any interest out there in the market,” Antonio said. “I decided to go with something different. You see a lot of IPA out there in the market. We did a small test run on the cans with Mother Road (Mobile Canning). It’s been most popular here in the taproom, we sell a lot of six packs (here). It’s been successful enough for us that we’re counting on doing a couple more brands (in the future).”

Antonio said the Blood Orange Wit, a big hit in the taproom, is one under consideration. The other could be a German-style pilsner.

While more cans are on deck, the biggest project of 2018 remains the first off-site taproom. It is still under construction at the El Vado Motel redevelopment on Central near Tingley.

“It’s been delay after delay,” Antonio said. “That’s how it is with construction. It will probably be open later in the spring.”

The cold room was under construction, with the draft system to follow. Antonio said they were still waiting for some of the equipment to arrive.

“My ultimate goal is that it will be open by (ABQ) Beer Week,” Antonio said. “That would be perfect if we could make that happen. But, I’ve been in this town long enough to know that if you say you’re going to open by June, I’ll see you in December. That’s just the way it is with any place that serves beer in this town.”

Even with delays on the construction of Ponderosa’s first off-site taproom, head brewer Antonio Fernandez still has plenty to smile about of late.

The first retail outlet, Metal the Store by Metal the Brand artist Michael Wieclaw, opened this past Friday at El Vado. Even Mayor Tim Keller was in attendance, which shows how much support the project is receiving from the City of Albuquerque. Plenty of folks in attendance said they were looking forward to the Ponderosa taproom opening in the future.

“It’s going to be a small taproom,” Antonio said. “It will have 10 taps to mirror what we have here on tap at all times. We thought about doing some more taps and bringing in some guest taps as well. That could be nice, but I don’t know where we are on that.”

There will be up to six different eateries at El Vado, and Antonio said they are hoping to be certified to where customers can purchase beer and take it out to any part of the complex. That might be a tough sell with the State of New Mexico, which did not allow that at Green Jeans Farmery with Santa Fe Brewing.

While all of that is going on a few miles away, Antonio is staying focused on the beer.

“I’ve been experimenting with a lot more beer (styles),” he said. “I brewed a lot more lagers. I’ve been getting into that lately. We’ve got a few more coming out. There will be a lot more fruit beers, actually. They were really popular.”

Another new beer is the result of a conversation with a couple of Ponderosa customers.

“We’re going to have a cool project coming up in a couple weeks,” Antonio said. :We’re going to partner with General Mills. We have a couple guys that work there that are regulars here. We got to talking, so we’re going to brew up a Cinnamon Toast Crunch Stout. We’re going to get a big bag of that and throw it in the mash tun.”

If the beer is a hit, expect more cereal brews in the future, he added.

The first remodeling project opened up the south end of the taproom.

In addition to new beers, there have also been some physical changes at Ponderosa.

“There are some different innovations on the south side of the restaurant,” Antonio said. “We pulled out all the booths and put in the high-top tables. It really opened up the area. It’s a lot brighter and more inviting now. It’s turned from overflow seating to where people want to go sit down.”

With that area done, the next bit of remodeling will be behind the bar.

“We’re going to move the office back in (the southeast corner),” Antonio said. “I’ll be taking over this entire (central) space. We’re expanding some more stuff into my brewery. I can move all my grain into that area. I’ll be able to add another tank. We’ll get a little more capacity, take some pressure off when I’m doing lagers.”

Speaking of lagers, Antonio said he hopes to have more fun with those during ABQ Beer Week in late May/early June.

“We’re trying to organize a small beer festival that we’ll do here just for lagers,” he said. “There will probably be six to eight breweries, everyone brings over a keg of beer. Kind of your standard format, get a sample at each one, then a glass of your favorite.”

Overall, Ponderosa will be a more active participant in the annual 11-day series of beer-centric events.

“We’re planning on doing quite a bit more for Beer Week this year,” Antonio said. “Last year we did the beer and tapas pairing every day. We’re planning on doing that again this year because we had some pretty crowds every day. We’re also going to do a full beer pairing dinner in here one of the nights now that we’ve got a stable, veteran kitchen staff. We’re going to be on track to do that.”

All of that is part of the plan at Ponderosa as the beer scene evolves around the country.

“There are over 6,000 breweries nationwide now, but if you read all the statistics, the beer-drinking base is actually shrinking,” Antonio said. “It’s making it tougher and tougher. I’d really like to focus on being a neighborhood pub, being a regular place for people. We have a lot of regulars. That’s what I personally see as the future of craft breweries.”

Thanks to Antonio for taking the time out for an interview, and for being patient when it came to this story being published (it got bumped by breaking news more than once). Make sure to head over to try the Bernalillo County Stout before the supply runs out.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

That little construction project on McMahon near Unser is the forthcoming west side taproom for Tractor.

Time to clear out the old beer notebook once again …

Tap That offers up a different approach

For those who do not follow us on Facebook, you might have missed our discovery, per reader Matthew Abeyta, that there is a new taproom opening up this weekend. It is not, however, like most (or possibly) taprooms you have ever been to before.

Tap That, located on Montgomery just west of Louisiana (near the old Heimat House/Assets Grille), is hosting its grand opening starting at 5 p.m. today (Friday). The concept, as explained to us by our friend Angelo Orona, is where people come in, get a hi-tech bracelet, and use it to order the beers. There will also be a full food menu. It is not quite like one of those serve yourself taprooms that have popped up in other states (that is still against the law in this state, as far as we know), but it will be a different concept.

We would share more from the Albuquerque Business First story that ran a few weeks ago, but it is locked behind the subscriber-only paywall. Needless to say, if you can afford a subscription (we cannot), go get it, and help some fellow journalists stay employed.

Otherwise, head over to Tap That and let us know what you think. With luck, and a little free time, the Crew will head over there soon as well.

Tastings, tappings, and more

Outside the breweries, there is a fair amount going on this weekend that will keep us plenty busy. It starts today (Friday) at 4 p.m. as North Coast Brewing will be at Jubilation, presenting their most excellent Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout and other beers for tasting. Word is there will even be two bottles of the barrel-aged Rasputin, XVII and XX. It runs until 6 p.m. and is free, of course, but it is so hard to roll into Jubilation these days and not roll out with a box full of delicious beers from around the country and some delectable local offerings as well.

Once you are done there, head on down to Sister for a Bell’s tap takeover that starts at 5 p.m. In addition to the worth-the-hype Hopslam, an imperial IPA brewed with honey, there will be multiple other varieties available as well. The one we are excited about is the Whiskey Barrel-Aged Cherry Stout, which many folks have told us is a much more balanced version than the regular batch.

For events at breweries, might we suggest going to Marble Westside tonight at 8 to see our friend Kristen’s band, String Dinner. Hopefully her other band, Distances, which might be the best metal band in Albuquerque, will be performing again soon somewhere.

If anyone needs to get out of town this weekend, our friends at Truth or Consequences Brewing have suggested a trip south. Take a dip in the hot springs to relax, then head over to the brewery for some fun and new beers. Big River IBA (7.5% ABV, 69 IBU) went on tap Thursday. It is an India Brown Ale, a fun take on a slightly different IPA. The brewery has live music ever Friday and Saturday night, too. Special upcoming concerts include The Pine Hill Haints on Tuesday and The Booze Bombs on Thursday, both at 7 p.m. The latter band is described as German rockabilly, which has us imagining Rammstein crossed with Reverend Horton Heat, or something like that.

The TorC staff recommends The Firewater Lodge, The Blackstone, Riverbend, Las Palomas, The Charles, Indian Springs, and The Pelican as the best places to stay the night.

New brewery/taproom updates

  • High & Dry Brewing has quietly opened in the southeast. I took a tour the other day with brewer/owner Andrew Kalemba, so look for our full story early next week. For now, there are six guest taps available, but the house beers will not be on tap until the grand opening on February 10. It is a sweet little space that they have built on Adams just south of Lomas. It also might be one of the most deceptive taprooms in town. From the outside it looks quite small, but the inside can fit up to 88 people, with even more room in the back for brewing.
  • Tractor has a pending license for its forthcoming west side taproom, plus some pictures went up on social media this week (see above). Look for that space to open in the coming months.
  • It appears the mysterious 1933 Brewing Company announced for Rio Rancho will be moving into the old Fat Squirrel Pub and Grill on Southern Boulevard. Long ago, of course, that was the original location of Turtle Mountain. It will not be owned by the folks behind Pi Brewing, who also previously owned the Fat Squirrel, but by new owners.
  • Construction continues apace at Cantero and Lava Rock, but neither appears close to opening its doors. The Ponderosa taproom at the El Vado Motel redevelopment has been delayed (more on that with the Ponderosa Look Back/Look Ahead Series article coming next week) and will probably not open until later in the spring.
  • Another new addition to the list of pending small brewer licenses is Casa Vieja LLC in Corrales. We are pretty sure we know what this one is, too, but for now we are remaining mum at the request of the owner.

That is all from us today. As always, please let us know whenever you see anything out there that you think is beer news: nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Cheers to the BA for all it does.

Yeah, it is definitely that time of year. The recaps and top 10 lists are being posted, the year-in-review stories are rolling along (like, uh, our Look Back/Look Ahead Series). When it comes to recapping the year in craft beer for the entire country, no one sums it up best quite like the Brewers Association.

It was another big year for craft beer, to say the least.

“Craft brewers continue to thrive, if at a slower pace, fueled by a passionate community dedicated to bringing innovation, jobs and beer across America—on Main Street and beyond,” said Bart Watson, the chief economist of the Brewers Association, in a press release. “Today, 83 percent of the population lives within 10 miles of a local brewery, meaning that the positive impact of breweries is being felt in communities all over the country.”

OK, that is pretty cool. What other stats does the BA have for us?

  • The number of breweries nationwide has now surpassed 6,000, with 98 percent of those falling under the craft banner. By the Crew’s count, 68 of those are in New Mexico, with at least six more active licenses for places that have yet to open their doors, but should in the next couple months (more on that down below).
  • All those breweries have created 456,373 jobs, a 7.5-percent increase from 2014. In turn, that has generated $67.8 billion for the U.S. economy, a 21.7-percent increase. Craft breweries in turn donated $73.4 million to charities.
  • The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act has support from both parties and will potentially pass through both houses of Congress and become law during this current session. So, yeah, I guess we will have to say that Congress will do one good thing.
  • It appears the term “beercation” is becoming more and more of a reality. The average craft beer drinker visits 3.5 breweries near home and 2.5 breweries within two hours driving distance (take note: the press release did not say whether this was 3.5 per week, per month, or per year; for the Crew, it would certainly be per week, sometimes even per day, when we are feeling frisky with our Lyft/Uber accounts). A survey by the BA found that 64 percent of craft drinkers like to visit breweries to try new beers on a regular basis. We will raise one to that.
  • The New Mexico stats on the BA website are for 2016, but they still tell a positive story. By the end of that year, there 57 breweries, ranking 26th in the country. More notably, the 3.9 breweries per capita (100,000 adults) ranks 11th nationwide. Breweries had an economic impact of $333 million (40th) or $226.26 per capita (35th). A total of 111,237 barrels (32nd) were produced, amounting to 2.3 gallons consumed per adult (21st).

Yeah, it is still a good era for craft beer. Here is hoping it continues into 2018 and beyond.

Embrace the darkness at beer bars, too

The quality of dark beers around town is straight fire.

Our friends over Rock & Brews wanted you all to know that the current dark beer lineup is fairly epic. As fun as it is to hit up the breweries first, don’t forget the beer bars, as they often pull in some exclusive styles from out of state that you can usually only get in bottles or cans.

Rock & Brews currently has Dogfish Head’s Vanilla Oak-Aged Worldwide Stout, which is otherwise a pricey purchase in four-pack bottles. The ubiquitous Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout lines up next to Worldwide. There is also the most recent iteration of the ultimate beer geek beer, Stone’s Imperial Farking Wootstout. The real surprise gem, though, is Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout. No, really, it is on tap. If that hefty price tag for a bomber is scaring you off, but you really want to know if it is worth it (we think so, but we’re biased), head over to Rock & Brews to try it first before you commit to a 22-ounce bottle or two.

Down at Sister Bar, at least as of the Gatecreeper show this past Monday (gotta say, impressive crowd showing, ABQ-area metalheads), there is still some of La Cumbre’s La Negra on tap. It has been out at the brewery for a while, so get some while it lasts (if it’s even still there, we apologize if it is gone by now).

Nob Hill Bar & Grill has a strong lineup, which you can find anytime via Untappd. The current black beasts of ahhh available are Bell’s Black Note and Kalamazoo Stout, plus 2016 and 2017 Bourbon County Brand Stout, and two old favorites in Oskar Blues Ten FIDY and Stone Xocoveza.

So much dark beer, so little time.

New breweries update

Hello to a new small town brewery!

Sticking with tradition in beer notes, here are the most recent updates on all the forthcoming breweries across New Mexico. As always, we only list breweries with pending or active small brewer licenses with the State.

  • BLUE (Albuquerque): Nothing new on this small brewery located somewhere near Broadway and Lead/Coal.
  • Bonito Valley Brewing (Lincoln): A newcomer to the list located in a small, historic town west of Roswell along Highway 380. There is a Facebook page that says the owners are aiming for a summer 2018 opening.
  • Brewstillery (Albuquerque): We still have no info on this combo operation in the Southeast.
  • Callahan West Brewery (Mosquero): The small town brewery has been in touch with the NM Brewers Guild about joining up in 2018, so it appears to be a go.
  • Cantero Brewing (Albuquerque): Now armed with an active license, the final parts of construction are underway.
  • Elkins Brewing (Grants): We have no new info on this business.
  • Glencoe Distillery and Brewery (Ruidoso): The license is active, but there is still no website that we can find, nor any social media. It remains a mystery.
  • Guadalupe Mountain Brewing (Carlsbad): The license is active here, too, and beer is now being brewed. We await the announcement of opening, which could come any week now.
  • High and Dry Brewing (Albuquerque): Construction appears to be mostly complete down near Adams and Lomas. The Crew is in touch with the ownership and we are working to set up an advance tour when they are ready.
  • Hollow Spirits (Albuquerque): Construction continues on this new combo spot in the Wells Park neighborhood. It is the brainchild of former Red Door co-owner Frank Holloway.
  • Lava Rock Brewing (Albuquerque): The West Side brewery is getting closer and closer to opening on Unser just north of Ladera.
  • Lost Hiker Brewing (Ruidoso): Yes, the license is active, now only a few final touches must be completed and there will be local beer in the mountains down south. Keep track of the progress on the Lost Hiker Facebook page.
  • 1933 Brewing (Rio Rancho): Another newcomer to the list, we have no info beyond a name and a zip code for RR. It is unknown if this brewery is related in any way to the former 1933 Brewing of Fort Collins, Colo., which closed at the end of 2016.
  • Red River Brewing: All this mild winter is not helping the ski industry up north, but it should enable RRB to finish construction and remain on track for an early 2018 opening.
  • Switchback Brewery (Cloudcroft): There is still no info online on this place. We would like to remind everyone, though, that there is a Switchback Brewing in Vermont, so a name change may ultimately be necessary.
  • Toltec Brewing (Albuquerque): The forthcoming West Side brewery took a big step by hiring a head brewer, but we have been asked not to reveal the identity of this individual just yet. Let us just say, however, that we are excited.
  • Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery (Santa Fe): There are lots of construction photos on Facebook, so it looks like a good bet to open sooner than later. The small brewer license is now active.
  • The pending licenses for off-site taprooms remains as follows — Little Toad Creek in Las Cruces (new!); Ponderosa at El Vado Motel redevelopment (getting close); Santa Fe Downtown Taproom; Starr Brothers Alehouse (location TBA); Tumbleroot in Santa Fe (they will not sell beer out of the production facility down the street). Also, the Milton’s taproom in Roswell has an active license, but it is not yet open as far as we know.

That is all for now. As always, if you know anything about anything, please drop us a line at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com or contact us via direct message on Facebook or Twitter.

Have a great weekend, and good luck with any last-minute Christmas shopping!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Hello, NMBF, you were wonderful again!

While I was at work Saturday afternoon, a trio of Crew members joined a gaggle of our friends and other beer lovers at the eighth annual New Mexico Brew Fest. Held at Expo New Mexico, it moved back out to Main Street instead of being in the more cramped Villa Hispana. Here are their thoughts and a few photos from the fest I missed (at least agreeing to work Saturdays came with a raise).

AmyO: I really like this particular brew fest, and I am always sad when I can’t go because it often conflicts with a Lobo game or a trip out of town. Happily, I was able to attend this year. I love the super local feel of this one. It reminds me of some of the smaller brew fests in Portland back in the day before they began to get out-of-control crowded. Some people even wore costumes, and many of the attendees seemed pretty beer savvy.

The weather sure cooperated; although it was starting to get pretty warm in the late afternoon, there is always some shade at this venue. I appreciated the food selection this year. I ate the “special” at the barbecue food truck (Nomad’s BBQ). This was a hot link in a bun covered with a TON of pulled pork. It’s exactly the kind of food you need to soak up so much beer. And, it went really well with some of the spicier/fall-style beers. I also saw someone with a really great looking poke bowl. Very different, and a healthier option!

Raise the horns!

My overall favorite beer was probably the Raspberry Nitro Stout from Marble. First of all, having nitro at a festival always rates high for me. The beer was heavy on the raspberry, but not at all sweet. There was a cocoa powder flavor and mouthfeel that also added to the uniqueness. The Tripel Reserve from Monks’ did not disappoint, either.

The best name has to go to Canteen’s Oompa Lupulin DIPA, but it’s even harder to say after you have had some!

Surprises for me as far as beers I did not expect to enjoy as much as I did were the Das Roggen Weiner from Marble, and Palmer’s Double IPA (because there was much less sweetness to it than I thought there would be). A really great palate cleanser after multiple heavy beers was Ponderosa’s Ecliptic Wet Hop Ale.

My big disappointment was that I never got to try Blue Corn’s Imperial Stout. Blue Corn was late to arrive because sadly they had a tire blowout on the way down to Albuquerque. When they finally did get set up, they held the stout to a 4 p.m. tapping. Everyone was ready to leave by that time, so I never got to try it. I did have their oak-aged Scotch and that was lovely.

Franz Solo found his fellow vikings.

Franz Solo: What I loved best about this particular festival was just how local and friendly the whole thing was. Drinking beer under cottonwoods on the old fairgrounds with a great crowd of people and some fantastic local offerings, both beer-wise and food-wise, was simply magical. Highlights for me were Turtle Mountain’s Depravity barleywine which has aged extremely well since last winter; Canteen’s Oompa Lupulin DIPA, which was simply a hop screamer straight out of the gates of hop heaven; Monks’ Tripel Reserve, which is incredibly smooth and clear for a monster of a beer; and the pair of ludicrous offerings from Blue Corn, which brought its ’16 Scotch and ’15 Russian Imperial Stout, which were both stupendous. Having so many Oktoberfest Marzens as well was a real treat to cleanse the palate between some of the bigger brews, and on the whole they were all quite tasty. A grand event for the NM Brewers Guild and for local breweries and local food offerings alike. I look forward to returning to this wonderful NM Brew Fest.

The Crew and friends did a good job of wiping out that ’15 Imperial Stout from Blue Corn.

Brandon: The brewery list seemed smaller this year, but I can’t blame more places for not participating in this event, with just having wrapped up GABF and all. That being said, the breweries in attendance made sure to bring some standout brews, so here’s what popped for me:

  • Featherweight Session IPA, Boxing Bear: Fresh off a bronze medal at GABF. Lighter but crisp malt backing, with grassy, floral, and citrus zest notes. The low ABV made this one a good choice for the warm weather of the day. Who says session beers can’t pack a flavor punch?
  • Depravity Barleywine 2016, Turtle Mountain: Not a palate-crushing, hop-forward incarnation, like some versions of the style. Tons of caramel, burnt caramel, and toffee.  Chewy as all hell, but not a lot of alcohol warmth. A deceptively dangerous barleywine, loved it.
  • 2015 Imperial Stout, Blue Corn: “Oh what a surprise, the DSBC liked a dark beer”… if you expected less, you don’t know our lives. This beer is a beast, it has about four different types of chocolate notes present — dried fruit, oak and vanilla, and warms you to the core. We want more of this black fire in a glass!
  • V.M.O.M.G., Steel Bender: This one was released a few days prior to NM Brew Fest, but this was my first chance to taste it.  Was quite surprised.  Not that I thought it would be a bad beer, but I didn’t expect this to be THAT good. A damn fine take on a traditional seasonal style. Crisp, sweet malt, good spice from hops. Very solid.
  • Oktoberfest, La Cumbre: I’m going to be blunt here … if you missed this one, you’re f****d.  Cans are gone or close to gone, and all kegs are already gone in distribution. If you find any of this lovely beer, drink it while you can.

That is all from us. Thank you to Kevin Hopper for the tickets, and thank you to all the breweries for bringing some of their finest offerings!

Cheers!

— The Crew