Posts Tagged ‘Red Door Brewing’

The sour power hour runs strong across Day Two!

Did you survive? Did you make it through all of it?

No, not Day One of ABQ Beer Week, but the Penguins’ double-overtime victory over Ottawa in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Just ask anyone at Quarter Celtic last night, half the Crew almost died several times over.

But, we digress, for it is time to get back to beer while taking a needed emotional break from hockey until Monday. Day Two features fewer events, but there are still some pretty awesome ones, especially if you love sour beers.

Read on, dear, um, readers!

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: Sour Hour with Rowley Farmhouse Ales and Hops & Dreams: Beer Week Edition. Where: Tractor Wells Park. When: 5 p.m. (beer), 8 p.m. (belly dancers). Cost: No cover charge.

Details: As we covered in our Tractor Beer Week preview, RFA is coming down from Santa Fe with some of their finest sours to pair up with some of Tractor’s best, including Flanders Red Ale, Berliner Weisse, and possibly a newcomer from the barrel room. It’s an awesome opportunity to taste these beers from two breweries, especially for all the folks down here who don’t make it up to Santa Fe often enough. Then, stick around as the spectacularly talented Desert Darlings shimmy up a storm.

Why you should go: Beer and belly dancers are a combination that simply cannot be defeated.

All the other great events

What: Blackberry Hefeweizen Release. Where: Red Door. When: All day. Cost: No cover charge. Details: The annual summer favorite is back at both locations. Why you should go: It’s the perfect lighter (ABV) beer with lots of flavor to start your weekend.

What: Beer and Tapas Pairing. Where: Ponderosa. When: 3-6 p.m. Cost: $7. Details: A different beer and tapas pairing will be available each day. Why you should go: You need some food in your belly to go with all this beer.

What: Mother Road Sampling and Special Keg Tapping. Where: Jubilation. When: 4-6 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: The latest epic tasting at Jubilation features the full lineup of excellent beers from Flagstaff, plus there will be a keg of the Altbier brewed in Arizona in collaboration with Tractor. You can fill your growlers with it, too. Why you should go: Good beer, new beer, take-home beer, all for the win.

What: La Cumbre Sampling. Where: Whole Foods Carlisle. When: 4-6 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Taste the entire current packaged lineup while getting your grocery shopping done. Why you should go: Free beer!

What: Santa Fe Sampling. Where: Kelly Liquors on Wyoming. When: 4:30-6:30 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Taste the entire current packaged lineup, buy your favorites, fill your fridge for the weekend. Why you should go: Free beer!

What: Upslope presents Loteria. Where: Monroe’s on Lomas. When: 5-7 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Play Loteria for prizes and indulge in some great New Mexican food paired with Craft Lager as the Upslope train rolls on. Why you should go: Feast and claim victory over all mortal men and women!

What: La Cumbre Tap Takeover. Where: Sister Bar. When: 5-8 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: There will be seven LC beers on tap including Gracias Por Fumar, Fievre d’Abricot, Ryeot on Bourbon (soooo good), Elevated IPA, Slice of Hefen, and the special Beer Week offering, Passionfruit Wit. Why you should go: Dear lord, that is an amazing lineup. Enough said.

What: Goose Island Bourbon County Stout and Cooper Project #1 Tapping. Where: Nob Hill Bar & Grill. When: 5-11 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: Enjoy pours of BCBS ’15 and ’16, plus a barrel-aged Scotch wee heavy. Why you should go: The power of the darkness compels you to ignore who owns this brewery!

What: New Belgium Rare Beer Alert. Where: Gecko’s (both locations). When: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Cost: No cover charge. Details: A special New Belgium offering will be tapped at both Gecko’s, but we don’t know what it is just yet. Why you should go: Solve the mystery and get something tasty to eat.

What: Sour Beer Flight. Where: Dialogue Brewing. When: 6-10 p.m. Cost: $8 per flight. Details: In a late addition to the events list, Dialogue is selling discounted flights of their entire lineup of sour beers. Why you should go: Pucker up, sour lovers, this is a good day for you.

What: ABQ Trolley The Hopper — Hop-on, Hop-off Brew Cruise. Where: 219 Central NW (starting point). When: 7-11 p.m. Cost: $20 in advance (buy tickets here), $25 day of. Details: The Hopper is back, visiting eight downtown-area breweries every 30 to 45 minutes. All you have to do is hop on, then hop off and enjoy a pint. The participating breweries/taprooms/beer bars are Duel, Red Door, Sidetrack, Back Alley Draft House, Boese Brothers, Marble, Rio Bravo, and Tractor Wells Park. Why you should go: If you want to visit multiple breweries, definitely let someone else do the driving, then just have Uber or Lyft pick you up at the end to take you home.

* * * * *

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

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

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Tractor is gonna be packed with events all throughout ABQ Beer Week, but then again, what else is new?

No local brewery dives into ABQ Beer Week quite like Tractor, which once again will load up on the fun throughout the 11-day series of events. To make sure I had all the necessary information, I was able to sit down with the incredibly busy dynamic duo of Jeremy Kinter and Carla Bryant to go over all 11 events at both Tractor locations.

Thursday at Wells Park

First up is the Big Sipper IPA can release. As I recently discussed with Tractor co-owner Skye Devore, this session IPA is the official beer of the upcoming Pork & Brew in Rio Rancho. The July event is a ways off, but Tractor is already releasing the new 16-ounce cans to the public. The event kicks off at 7 p.m., with the Silver String Band providing entertainment from 8 p.m. Onward. Nomad’s BBQ will be parked outside for all your culinary needs.

Friday at Wells Park

We have said before how much we love when our breweries join forces, but we have to admit, it has been a while (if ever) that we have seen one brewery host another. Rowley Farmhouse Ales will be bringing down some of its finest creations for Sour Hour starting at 5 p.m. There will be six featured beers from Santa Fe, plus Tractor will have some of their own.

“We’re going to be featuring our Flanders Red and Berliner Weisse and then we might have a special sour that we put on tap as well,” Jeremy said. “That will go until the kegs run out.”

After the sours have left everyone plenty puckered out, sit back and enjoy the rhythmic excellence of the Desert Darlings as they present Hops & Dreams: Beer Week Edition. If we haven’t sang their praises enough in the past, let us say again that these amazingly talented dancers put on one truly amazing show.

Saturday at Wells Park

Oh, collaboration beers, how much do we love thee? Tractor and Flagstaff’s Mother Road Brewing have joined forces to create two excellent new beers that will make their debut at 7 p.m. Look for an altbier and a unique take on a double IPA on tap throughout the night.

One of our longtime favorite local bands, Le Chat Lunatique (we first saw them at Septemberfest in Marble’s old back parking lot in 2010), will provide the tunes starting at 8 p.m.

Saturday at Nob Hill

In a late addition to the schedule, Tractor will be hosting another edition of Crafternoon starting at 3 p.m. Attendees will be making special beer cozies and coasters. The Yarn Store will provide the kits, or you can buy your own at their store across the street. This is a free event and open to crafty types of all skill levels.

Sunday at Sandia Resort & Casino

Tractor will join around 70 other breweries for the annual ABQ Blues & Brews Festival. We will have an in-depth preview of who’s taking what later this week.

Monday at Nob Hill

OK, it’s shameless self-promotion time again! The Dark Side Brew Crew is hosting Beer Geeks Trivia starting at 7 p.m. The event is free to all, and there will prizes provided by Tractor. There will be five rounds total, including a special tasting round in the middle where you get to try and correctly identify which Tractor beer you are drinking. Prior to that, Round One will focus on general New Mexico craft beer knowledge, Round Two will focus on national craft beer, and then after the tasting round, Round Four gets tough with New Mexico beer history, and Round Five caps it all with questions submitted by 10 different breweries around town.

Tuesday, May 30 at Wells Park

In what’s becoming an annual tradition, Tractor and Cheesy Street are teaming up for more beer-and-fried-cheese pairings. For $13 you get a tray of six different mini-fried cheese sandwiches, each paired with a different small pour of a Tractor beer. We promise, you will have a gouda time. (OK, wait, sorry, that was a terrible pun. Terrible.) It will start at 5 p.m.

Wednesday, May 31 at Wells Park

Tractor is teaming up with Gruet Winery and Cheese & Coffee for a special five-course dinner starting at 7 p.m. This is not a ticketed-in-advance event, so patrons can buy each pairing separately, meaning no one has to eat and drink more than they want.

“It’s no longer Beer vs. Wine, that was just a glitch,” Carla said of the renamed event, which is different than what is on the printed Beer Week fliers. “We’ll have for each course for sale individually the night of and we have them until they run out.”

Thursday, June 1 at Wells Park

The fourth annual Battle of the Beer Geeks takes center stage as the Crew (inaugural champs) tries to reclaim the title from two-time winner Babes in Brewland. Of course, you could all show up and end up voting for the Worthogs or Dukes of Ale or the other competitors, but hey, we’ll understand. (Maybe) This year we flipped it up a bit with a theme, as everyone had to brew to a style corresponding to a wheat beer. Don’t worry, the Crew still went ridiculously overboard, but I am happy to report that we did not clog the heat exchanger this year and cause head brewer Josh Campbell to lose any hair.

It costs $10 for a tray of the five beers, but you will not know who brewed what. You then get a pint of your favorite, which counts as your vote. The winner will be announced around 8 p.m.

Friday, June 2 at Wells Park

If you have never been to an Art Fight before, this is the one time to go check it out. It kicks off at 7 p.m. and admission is free.

Friday, June 2 at Nob Hill

Even we had to ask what the heck Night Out Cards was all about. Basically, as Jeremy explained it, it is a special deck of cards with “truth or dare” style questions. A deck and two wristbands costs $20, and you can add up to five additional players on your team for $5 apiece. Each wristband gets $1 off beers, and there will be special prizes and contests every 30 minutes. WhichCraft will also be on hand to help you choose which beers you want to drink.

“Basically they’re brewery truth or dare cards, you get a deck and you have to do things like fake a break-up in a bar and you get so many points,” Jeremy said. “The team with the most points at the end wins a big old prize.”

Saturday, June 3 at Nob Hill

The annual Cider Day Night Fever gets kicked up a notch this year, with Tractor bringing in guest ciders from Santa Fe Cider Works, New Mexico Cider Company, Palmer Brewery and Cider House, Skarsgard Farms, and Red Door. It all starts at 5 p.m., with DJ Wae Fonkey providing the dance tunes starting at 7 p.m.

“They’re bringing some cool stuff,” Jeremy said. “Red Door is going to have a blood orange cider and their Unhinged. There will be an Enchanted Cherry Cider from Santa Fe. We’re going to have a Cranberry Ginger Cider and our Golden Dry Cider. Those two will be very limited.”

Saturday, June 3 at Wells Park

Speaking of ciders, the Triple Berry Cider will make its debut in concert with the Jodie Herrera Art Opening and Glass Release. A touring band from California, The Blank Tapes, will perform starting at 8 p.m.

* * * * *

After all of that, we just hope Jeremy gets to go home and sleep. For a week. Thanks, dude, you earned it!

Carla will soon be moving on to the next chapter, and we thank her for all her time and patience with us over the past year. Her successor gets to start up just in time for all the fun!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Say hello to the future Red Door taproom at Comanche and Wyoming.

The news broke last week that Red Door Brewing was set to open a taproom in the Northeast Heights this summer. It will be the second off-site taproom for Red Door, quite a ways from both their main brewery on Candelaria west of Interstate 25 and their taproom downtown in the Simms Building.

To learn more about how they came to the decision to take up space in the renovated multi-use complex on the southwest corner of the Wyoming/Comanche intersection, I sat down with head brewer/co-owner Wayne Martinez.

“We had actually been talking to them (Coe & Peterson) for a while,” Wayne said. “When you did your Look Back/Look Ahead (article), we’d already been talking to them. We just weren’t at a point where we wanted to say anything.”

The first place Coe & Peterson had in mind for Red Door was on the opposite side of town.

“We had been looking at (the former) Stumbling Steer, or that’s what they approached us with,” Wayne said. “The West Side is nice, but that location wasn’t for us. I think it will work out pretty well for someone else. It didn’t fit for what we are going for. So we told them that and they said we have this Heights location. Do you like the Heights?”

While Desert Valley will take over the old Steer spot this year, the Red Door ownership jumped at the Heights spot once they saw the developer’s plans.

“I think we got there and saw the outside of the building,” Wayne said. “This was awful, it looks like a doctor’s office in a strip mall from the 90s or something. Then they showed us the whole facade that they were going to redo. At that point I was sold. They told us what else they had planned for it, the Poki (Poki Cevicheria) restaurant. It just seemed like a good fit for us right now.”

Work is now underway on both the exterior and interior of the space for Red Door, Poki Poki, and other potential future tenants.

The east-facing side of the building includes that loft window above the bar where patrons can view the mountains.

“The space will probably be 1,500 square feet, but we’re probably going to do only 95 (person) occupancy,” Wayne said. “We’re looking at doing the same theme we have here with the (video) games. We’ll have a retro system up there. We’ll probably also do one or two pool tables.”

There will also be a second floor loft above the bar, with a window facing the Sandias that will likely give patrons a wonderful view at sunset. It will not be the only place to catch all those amazing colors in the sky before dusk.

“There will be an exterior patio,” Wayne said. “We’re on the southernmost part of the building. They put in two huge garage doors. We’re not going to have that big of a patio, maybe 20 to 25 people. That will be facing south. The food trucks will pull up right next to the patio.”

Wayne said that for now he is not worried about the impact a new taproom will have on Red Door’s beer production.

“We’re still focused on distribution even though we’re doing another taproom,” he said. “We’re really trying to push the West Side and a little bit of Santa Fe, too. As far as production goes, we’ll see how this taproom plays out. We’re definitely going to need to get some more kegs. But as far as major equipment, we should be OK.”

Wayne said the taproom location, which is fairly removed from any nearby breweries or taprooms (Marble Heights and Lizard Tail are the closest), fits into Red Door’s belief that the scene will become dominated by “local pubs” in areas of town that are underserved. It also should not have a major impact on the crowd sizes at the main brewery or downtown.

“We’re hoping so,” Wayne said. “We have planned for a little bit of cannibalization from this location. We’re just trying to be precautious based on numbers that are realistic. We’re kind of planning on that, hoping we can appeal to the whole crowd up there all the way to Tramway that doesn’t come down here.”

A glance inside shows a lot of work remains to be completed.

A new taproom fits Red Door’s current business plan, while also helping to attract new customers and push for future growth.

“It seems to be working for us right now,” Wayne said. “We have no plans of canning anytime soon. As far as the distribution plan goes there, it kind of makes sense trying to expand, trying to stay competitive.”

In this day and age, a brewery cannot sit back and watch its local compatriots run past. We applaud Red Door, Tractor, and all the rest aiming to move forward and continue their growth, while expanding craft beer’s reach into all corners of the metro area and state. We will keep everyone updated on the progress of the new taproom.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Red Door will be looking to slow it down and refine things in 2017.

Red Door will be looking to slow it down and refine the taproom experience in 2017.

After taking a week off from our Look Back/Look Ahead Series to deal with SB314, the Stout Challenge, and a couple hangovers, we are back with our latest entry on Red Door Brewing. I sat down with brewmaster Wayne Martinez at the end of last week to recap 2016 and preview what is to come in 2017.

“2016 was opening the second taproom downtown and then just really trying to grow a little bit, grow our distribution a little bit,” Wayne said. “That was the majority of it. We’re constantly trying to increase our efficiency in the back, make a better product, but that’s kind of a never-ending thing for brewers no matter who you are. If you’re not trying to get better, there’s no point to doing it.”

The taproom has become a swanky spot for downtown drinkers. It tends to peak in during the traditional happy hour stretch (5 to 7 p.m.) as folks are getting off work. It also lends itself to events that are unlike those held at the main brewery taproom on Candelaria. Sometimes the results can be, well, unexpected.

“We started doing Geeks Who Drink downtown,” Wayne said. “We got lucky and got to do The Gilmore Girls special, that was only at one bar in this city, maybe in the state. That was really big for us. I knew Gilmore Girls was popular and when it came back it was popular, but people were sitting on the floor. We had our occupancy (posted), but we didn’t have as many seats as our occupancy allows, and people were still coming in. We told them we didn’t have any place for them to sit. They didn’t care.”

Take note, be very careful if you try to crack a derogatory joke about The Gilmore Girls in this town. You may not make it out alive.

All our photos of the taproom were from before it was finished. Here's a swanky one from afterwards. (Courtesy of Red Door)

All our photos of the taproom were from before it was finished. Here’s a swanky one from afterwards. (Courtesy of Red Door)

Anyway, the addition of the taproom also led to another long overdue improvement at the brewery.

“We expanded the cooler when we did the new taproom,” Wayne said, after noting a lack of cooler space was a problem during last year’s Look Back/Look Ahead interview. “We had to, it was already a little cramped for just here. We’ll be fine with that for a while.”

Speaking of the beer, 2016 was definitely a year for Red Door to figure out the wants and needs of its customers.

“The Vanilla Cream, when we took it off the demand was outrageous to bring it back,” Wayne said. “We’ve actually made that a year-round beer now. … We can turn it over quickly, which is nice. It’s a relatively simple beer to make. It’s easy to stay consistent. There’s not too many variables.”

Wayne would admit to having a particular favorite among the many seasonals he brewed up over the course of last year.

“My favorite beer that we made was probably the barrel-aged brown, which was based off the Nieuwe Bruin,” he said. “We partnered with (Broken Trail), got their very first whiskey barrel they used for their one-year whiskeys. We threw the brown in there for about three-and-a-half months. Just the flavors that came off of that, the smokiness, the bourbon flavor, the whiskey oak flavors, I think that was my favorite beer that we put out last year.”

Wayne did note that despite the quality, it was not the type of beer that would sell well during warmer months. The Red Door staff took careful note of which seasonals did well during the, well, seasons.

“I think there were a few seasonals that weren’t really within the season, and we learned that they did not really do well,” Wayne said. “They might have been reviewed positively and people might have said they liked them, but we could tell sales weren’t there. Whereas something like our Blackberry Hefeweizen, (we had the) perfect season for releasing it. It was the best beer release we’ve had to date, so much so that it’s been one of the few seasonals we’ve done three batches of during that span. People were flying through it.”

See? Just like Wayne said, Vanilla Cream Ale is now up top among the regular beers on tap.

See? Just like Wayne said, Vanilla Cream Ale is now up top among the regular beers on tap.

After all the hustle and bustle related to the addition of the off-site taproom in 2016, Red Door is planning to take things a little easier in 2017.

“This year is going to be more refinement of our locations,” Wayne said. “We don’t have any big plans as of now to expand or do anything crazy. The big thing here (at Candelaria) is we’re going to redo the draft system, have more taps. There’s 10 here and 12 downtown. What it is now is if we have a seasonal and the previous one isn’t out, we put it downtown (only) on tap there. We’re going to put more taps here. It’s going to allow us to do more seasonals as well. That’s the biggest thing we have planned.”

Getting Red Door beers on tap at more restaurants and bars is also a big priority for 2017.

“We’re really focused on distribution this year,” Wayne said. “We kind of redid how we were doing things, retooled it, got some new blood in there to kind of reorganize everything and take it in hopefully a positive direction. Already this year we’re seeing an increase in sales slowly. That’s the other big thing.”

Like any brewer, Wayne also has a list of things he would like to do, though none have been set in stone as yet.

“As far as like wishful stuff that I think probably will happen, but it’s just on the back burner, definitely we’re going to start looking into a barrel-aging program,” he said. “I definitely want to get more barrel-aged (beers) and sours as well. We’re getting ready to do a true sour. A gose, doing a kettle sour would be nice, and probably we’ll do one of those first. But I definitely want to get something aging that’s going to be in there for a year, at least, get that started this year so by 2018 we’ll have some of that stuff coming out.”

There are no major plans to get Red Door beers into package, but limited runs of certain beers may be coming.

“We’re hopefully going to be doing some sort of small-batch bomber program,” Wayne said. “That may not be pushed out to distribution, as far as like Jubilation or anything like that. It would just be in house. Doing something like for our seasonals, even our standards, if you’re looking for something smaller than a growler. Hopefully we can figure out how to put our stout in there, because we can’t put that in growlers right now.”

Wayne said there is no set schedule for exactly when they will re-release some of their more popular seasonals from the past, but fans can expect to see Stormtrooper Imperial IPA, and O.D.B. (Oaked Dark Belgian) back on tap in the future. He also said there are no plans to add more major pieces of equipment in the back, at least not right now.

“It’s small equipment stuff, I think, that we’re going to be focused on in the back,” he said. “We’re not going to be getting a new brewhouse or new fermenters. We’re buying another heat exchanger, buying more kegs, focusing on stuff for increased distribution.”

The ubiquitous TV and video game system at the main location. Tournaments may be coming back soon here and downtown!

The ubiquitous TV and video game system at the main location. Tournaments may be coming back soon here and downtown!

The Red Door staff is also working on some new and fun events for people in 2017. The brewery is already well known for having retro video game systems at both locations, so there could certainly be more tournament-style events in the near future, Wayne said.

“Definitely we’re trying to do events that aren’t the same old thing,” he said. “We had done it when we first opened, we did a video game competition. I think Call of Duty was the first one, then we did Mario Kart. Now we’re doing Smash Brothers downtown. I think we’re going to try do those a little more frequently. Initially it was hard having enough consoles and CDs to do it, but I think we’ve alleviated that concern.”

Rather than try to fill any specific niche, the goal for Red Door is to still be the type of brewery where everyone can find something they enjoy, from the beers to the events and more.

“I don’t know that we necessarily have (to fill a niche),” Wayne said. “We’re trying to do the gluten-removed beers. Going into 2017, we’re going to have another cider or two. I don’t know that we’re trying to appeal just to a gluten-removed crowd. I think right now we’re still trying to be as all-encompassing as we can. I’m not a big fan of the idea of just becoming an English-style brewery or a Belgian-style brewery. It works for other places, but I don’t know if it would work for us.”

Thank you to Wayne for taking the time to chat. We wish Red Door all the luck in 2017 and beyond. Just let us know when the Stormtrooper is ready!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Taos BMF 2014 Pic 6

We sent Luke up to the Brewmasters Festival in Taos a couple years ago. He had a whole lotta fun!

Happy cold, gray Thursday everyone. If you need some light back in your life, there is some good news for this weekend. The Taos Brewmasters Festival kicks off Saturday at the Ski Valley, marking its 21st annual running below the slopes.

Normally, the festival is held in December, but it was pushed back this year due to a lack of snow on the mountain above. Plus, the decision was made to no longer have the spring-time beer festival, but rather have just one fest. This one kicks off at 4:30 p.m. and runs until 7 at Tenderfoot Katie’s and the Martini Tree Bar, both of which are located at the base of Lift #1. It costs $30 at the door and you receive a complementary mug.

While plenty of you love to go skiing and snowboarding, we know ultimately that it is the pull of the beer that can be the deciding factor. Take note that this year’s fest is populated by a lot more out-of-state breweries brought in by their local distributors. There are not nearly as many breweries from Southern Colorado as in the past, as only Steamworks and Carver made the trip from Durango (neither is distributed here in NM, FYI).

The other out-of-state breweries are Alaskan, Boulder, Deschutes, Firestone Walker, Founders, Four Peaks, Full Sail, Left Hand, Mother Road, New Belgium, Odell, Oskar Blues, Sierra Nevada, Upslope, and the Craft Brew Alliance, which we think is that collection of breweries from the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii that is partially owned by the Evil Empire (InBev).

As for the locals, a total of 10 New Mexico breweries will be present. Here is what they are bringing, as reported to us by the breweries themselves:

  • Boxing Bear — Iron Lung Smoked Porter, Standing 8 Stout, Paw Swipe Pale Ale
  • Chama River — UPDATED: Class VI Golden Lager, Sleeping Dog Stout
  • La Cumbre — TBA
  • Marble — Double White, IPA, Priddy Bueno Porter, Spruce Moose
  • Red Door — Gateway Blonde, Calypso SMaSH, Strong Scotch Ale, Paint it Black Milk Stout
  • Santa Fe — UPDATED: Chicken Killer, Java Stout, Pale Ale, Happy Camper, State Pen Porter, SF Gold, Nut Brown, Black IPA, Adobe Igloo, plus two bottles to be released at different hours of Single Barrel Sour, and two bottles of Lemon Skynard also to be released at different hours
  • Sierra Blanca — TBA
  • Taos Mesa — Kolsch 45, 3 Peaks IPA, Tap Dance Barley Wine, BBA Black Diamond Export Stout
  • Three Rivers — TBA
  • Tractor — Farmer’s Almanac IPA, Farmer’s Tan Red, Mustachio Milk Stout, Delicious Red Apple Cider

Marble’s Tony Calder pointed out that this will mark the debut of Spruce Goose, a new stout made with (you guessed it) spruce tips. The Priddy Bueno just went on tap recently at the Marble taprooms here in Albuquerque as well. Iron Lung returned to Boxing Bear late Wednesday.

If any of us in the Crew were able to head up this weekend, we would also be making a beeline for that bourbon barrel-aged Black Diamond Export Stout and the Tap Dance Barley Wine at Taos Mesa’s booth. I suppose we will just have to hope they bring that down for WinterBrew in Santa Fe on Jan. 13. (Please? Pretty please?)

Of course, skiing/snowboarding and then drinking on an empty stomach would be a terrible idea. Five local restaurants — Bavarian, Blonde Bear Tavern, Medley, Rhoda’s, Sagebrush Inn — will be providing food during the festival.

Keep an eye on the weather, of course, but otherwise if your weekend is lacking in anything to do, we would definitely suggest a trip up north to try some quality brews in a beautiful setting.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Oh, yeah, there is another one coming.

Farewell to Firkin, we hardly knew ye.

In case anyone missed it on social media over the weekend, the long-rumored demise of The Firkin BrewHouse and Grill came to pass, as their own Facebook page communicated the following:

To all of our loyal and wonderful customers, unfortunately I must state that the Firkin BrewHouse and Grill is closed. More info will follow with an official announcement from the owners. Thank you all for your patronage.

The Crew reached out to the owners for comment, but four days later, we have not heard back, nor do we really expect anything. Hey, it’s human nature to try to move quickly past the bad and refocus on the good. We wish them all luck in their future endeavors, whatever those may be.

It is rare these days when breweries close, though it does happen from time to time. If one counts Marble’s opening in 2008 as the start of the current boom, in that span only four other breweries — Hallenbrick, Bad Ass, Stumbling Steer, Broken Bottle — have closed in the Albuquerque area. As per usual, though, any closing creates some sort of “Is the bubble finally bursting?” type of story or comment online.

No, the bubble is not bursting.

The majority of the breweries in the ABQ area are doing just fine, thank you. None of them have had the type of ugly ownership dispute like Firkin did. When four people open a brewery, and it becomes two versus two before even six months have passed, it is not a good sign, needless to say.

Of course, there are plenty who would argue that Firkin was doomed from the beginning. It seemed to have everything lined up against it.

For a new brewery to succeed, it usually needs to be A) in a heavily foot-trafficked area such as downtown or Nob Hill, B) on a major commuter thoroughfare, C) in a brewery-laden area, but offering up something different beer-wise (not just theme-wise) than the other breweries in this area, or D) in an area with no other competing breweries. Comparing it to other breweries that opened in early 2016, Sidetrack is succeeding because it is downtown. Bow & Arrow is succeeding because lots of folks drive up and down 6th Street. Dialogue is succeeding because of its unique beer lineup. Starr Brothers is succeeding quite a ways away from any other notable brewery.

Firkin, on the other hand, was on an isolated street that did not connect to either nearby Comanche or Candelaria, in an industrial area with two award-winning powerhouse breweries (Canteen and La Cumbre) while offering up nothing particularly different in terms of its beer. Conceptually, a Prohibition era-themed brewery was not a bad idea, it was just located in the wrong place. That led to money problems, which led to the ownership dispute, which ultimately led to its untimely demised.

Albuquerque is still a metro area of 900,000 people with some 30 breweries. No, it does not have a great business rating, or a high per capita income, but there are still room for more breweries, and there will be more growth from the existing breweries.

Craft beer in New Mexico is just fine. This is just another minor blip on the screen.

New breweries update

Hops Brewery now has signage up on the front of its Nob Hill location on Central just west of Carlisle. We will head over there to talk to the owner when someone (me) is done submitting the final images and pages for a certain book.

Beer and a movie, anyone? (Photo courtesy of Flix Brewhouse)

Beer and a movie, anyone? (Photo courtesy of Flix Brewhouse)

Flix Brewhouse is still under construction on the West Side, but they have begun brewing their first batches of beer. Brewer Will Moorman and I have been in touch and once other parts of the building are done in about two weeks, the Crew will take a tour of the forthcoming movie theater with its own brewery. As for the beers we could make out from the labels on the Facebook photo of the taps, Satellite Red IPA, Lupulus IPA, Luna Rosa Wit, Umbra Chocostout, 10 Day Scottish Ale, Golden Ale, and Beer of the Dead (Brown Ale) appear to be on deck.

Blue Grasshopper told us that they hope to have their new taproom, on Coors north of Montano, open before the end of the year. We will have more on this for their upcoming entry in our Look Back/Look Ahead Series, which should be kicking off soon.

Drylands Brewing is now officially under construction in Lovington. Southeast New Mexico is still devoid of craft beer outside the existing places in Artesia (Desert Water and The Wellhead), Carlsbad (Milton’s), and Portales (Roosevelt). It is a little bit surprising that Lovington, best known as the hometown of Brian Urlacher, is getting a brewery before the much larger Hobbs or Roswell, but maybe the small town realized the value of beating those bigger towns to the punch.

Quick beer reviews

Again, if you are not following us on social media, you might have missed all the new beers I was able to get to this weekend. More await, of course, but there were too many intriguing newbies, old favorites, and a special one-off to not get out on the town.

A barrel-aged Scotch ale was sighted amid the chaos at Palmer Brewery's grand opening.

A barrel-aged Scotch ale was sighted amid the chaos at Palmer Brewery’s grand opening.

As always, these are my opinions, I am fully aware others may think the exact opposite. Please share your own thoughts on these beers once you have tried them as well.

  • La Negra, La Cumbre: This is the best version of the barrel-aged imperial stout yet. Grab two bombers, one to drink, one to age. Creamy yet boozy yet smooth yet thick, it is a wonderful batch.
  • Cockness Monster, Palmer: The grand opening was a zoo on Saturday, but luckily just as I walked inside I ran into brewer Rob Palmer. He poured me a 13-ounce glass of the rum-barrel-aged version of his Scotch ale. The rum did not overpower the beer, nor the other way around. It just blended beautifully, a good sipping beer amid the chaos. Congrats to Palmer on the opening.
  • Nitro Chai Chocolate Porter, Nexus: Before dinner arrived, I made sure to sample this fresh batch. The good news is the chai does not drown out the beer. On nitro, though, the beer almost came off as a little too thin on the mouthfeel. I would love to try it on CO2 some day. (Hint!)
  • Turkey Drool, Tractor: This is an annual fall favorite, and oh lordy, it did not disappoint. It starts off subtle, then does a mini-circle pit of spices and flavors on your palate. Let it warm just a tad for full effect. As someone else said, it’s everything good about Thanksgiving dessert in a glass.
  • Vanilla Mocha Double Porter, Red Door: Coffee! So. Much. Coffee! At least at the outset, so this is another one to let warm up a bit. The vanilla and mocha flavors are there, too, but the coffee is strong as can be. If nothing else, the small pour had me wide awake in time for that freaky storm to finally reach the brewery from the Lobo football game.
  • Clark IPA, Quarter Celtic: Before venturing off to help Franz Solo brew a beer (and by help I mostly mean stand there and drink and comment on our football teams’ terrible outings), we both visited QC for their New England-style hazy IPA. Breweries like Trillium, The Alchemist, and more have made this juicier, less bitter style of IPA quite popular in the Northeast, and now QC has brought it to the Southwest. We adored this beer. If you have loved some of the sweeter, maltier IPAs that Bosque has been specializing in of late, you will love this, too.

Now, if the breweries would just slow down a bit on releasing these outstanding beers so I can catch up … they won’t, will they? A beer writer’s work is never done.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Hello again, Hopfest!

Hello again, Hopfest!

Newcomers and summery, fresh-tasting, hoppy beers helped to keep interest alive for the ninth annual Albuquerque Hopfest. Each year the crowds get larger, and each year I wonder how in the world Marne Gaston puts on such a large production. But, she does, flawlessly, and I am in complete awe of her. I would be a quivering puddle of goo. But, Marne is the calm in the eye of a hurricane (there is currently a Hurricane Gaston in the Atlantic that reformed on the day of Hopfest; I can’t even make this stuff up). Our heartfelt thanks, once again, to Marne and her staff and volunteers for another fantastic event.

As always, it was “so many beers, so little time,” so for me it was all about being selective. I focused on mostly local beers I have not tried and those that are not readily available at taprooms. A few of those beers stood out, and some were big surprises.

Enchanted Circle made a positive debut at Hopfest.

Enchanted Circle made a positive debut at Hopfest.

Even before the doors opened, a musician friend of mine who was setting up to play on one of the outdoor stages told me, “You have got to try the Enchanted Circle ESB if you like malty beers.” Well, yes, I do, and yes, I did! It really was very good. In fact, I thought in general the Enchanted Circle beers out of Angle Fire were one of the two biggest surprise hits of Hopfest. Even though IPAs are not my favorite, I was extremely impressed with their IPA (7.3% ABV). For such a new brewery, they have really done well with a solid beer to please the West Coast-style IPA lover. I also want to thank them for actually displaying the stats (O.G., IBU, and ABV) as well as the names. Not too many did, and I wish more of the breweries would have.

The Dukes of Ale booth was a big hit again.

The Dukes of Ale booth was a big hit again.

The second big surprise (based on consensus among my group of four attendees; one of whom is very much a hophead) was not an IPA. It didn’t come from a big name. Heck, it wasn’t even from a local brewery. It was the German Hefeweisen from the Dukes of Ale Homebrew Club.

Other favorites included Quarter Celtic’s McLomas Dry Stout and #GFF (Grapefruit Forever) IPA, Ponderosa’s Wry Ale, and Red Door’s Nieuwe Bruin. Albuquerque Brewing Company’s Dunkleweisen did not disappoint. It’s one of their semi-regular beers, but it seems it is always out when I stop by. It was wonderful to be able to finally taste it on Saturday. Surprisingly, I quite enjoyed the Green Chile Pilsner from Bathtub Row, because I don’t usually care much for pilsners or chile beers. This one was an outstanding version.

The Quarter Celtic staff left everyone else smiling, too, with their new stout.

The Quarter Celtic staff left everyone else smiling, too, with their new stout.

Notably missing from the vendors was B2B. They had a table set up, but there was no B2B beer and nobody from their brewery manning the spot. Also, I believe Firkin was in the program but I did not find them in the room or outside. If I missed them somehow, I apologize. (You did not miss them, they informed me that they were withdrawing late last week. — S)

Since I was unable to attend the New Mexico Brewers Guild Sensory Analysis Seminar presented by Craft King Consulting, LLC, the Crew would welcome and appreciate any feedback on that portion of the event from our readers.

The VIP beer list was quite impressive.

The VIP beer list was quite impressive.

I tried a few, but not all, of the beers in the VIP room. Mother Road’s Coffee Lost Highway, Founders’ Devil Dancer Triple IPA, and Sierra Nevada’s Narwahl Imperial Stout were my favorites. I didn’t attend the VIP pouring of Hop Pact from BJ’s Brewhouse because there was also a limited supply out in the main room, and I had it on Monday night at a Green Flash beer dinner at BJ’s. Hopefully many attendees were able to sample this fantastic collaboration beer between BJ’s Brewhouse and Green Flash. It is completely unique and refreshing, with more subtle hops, crazy amounts of floral notes, and the ability to cleanse your palate.

Speaking of palates, near the end I was suffering major palate fatigue. I started to slow down just as the rain chased the outdoor flock into the already crowded main room. At about 5:40 p.m., we gathered our swag (why do I keep collecting so many pint glasses? I could pretty much open a store at this point) and headed for the shuttle to the Railrunner, awash with post-festival beer glow.

Cheers!

— AmyO

Just embrace the beer and the metal and everything will be just fine during your stay in Albuquerque.

Due to work commitments, most of the Crew will not be at Hopfest this year. Raise a glass and the horns in our honor while you are there.

Ah, late August, when the hints of cooler weather arrive, the kids go back to school, football (both American and international) revs up, and Hopfest takes over Isleta Casino. Hey, at nine years old, we can pretty much declare Hopfest an annual tradition.

The largest beer festival in New Mexico returns this Saturday from 2 to 6 p.m. If you not bought your tickets yet, get them now, particularly if you want VIP or extra hoppy hour, which we highly recommend. For tickets and info, click on the event website.

There are 18 breweries from our state that will send beers to the event this year. We did our best to get you the beer lists, or at least confirm if the event program has the right beers listed. We will update this post if we get any late corrections/additions.

  • Albuquerque Brewing: Imperial Red Ale, Duke’s Pale Ale
  • B2B: Coconut Porter, Raspberry Wheat
  • Bathtub Row: Red Hammer Ale, Hoppenheimer IPA, Wit Rock, Green Chile Pilsner
  • Cazuela’s: Agave (American Wheat), Acapulco Gold, Panama Red, Papacabra DIPA
  • Duel: TBA
  • Enchanted Circle: Hells Bells Lager, ESB, Red River Red Ale, Session IPA, Glory Hole IPA
  • Eske’s: Rat Queen DIPA, Wheat IPA
  • Kellys: Amber, Session IPA, Apricot Ale
  • Marble: Double White, Imperial Red, Dang Pale Ale, Stout Americano
  • Oso Loco Brewery (Sandia Chile Grill): Irish Red, Chocolate Brown
  • Pi: Discordia IPA, Scotty Doesn’t Know, Pineapple Express, Cardinal Sin
  • Ponderosa: Berliner Weisse, Cascadian Pilsner, Wry Ale, Crosscut Kolsch
  • Quarter Celtic: Pedro O’Flangan, Dusk’s Early Night, MacLomas Stout, #GFF
  • Red Door: Trapdoor Belgian Wit, Roamer Red, Threshold IPA, Paint It Black Milk Stout, Unhinged Cider, Vanilla Cream Ale, Blackberry Hefeweizen, Nieuwe Bruin
  • Rio Bravo: Karl’s Krystal Weizen, Duke City Pilsner, Rio Bravo Amber, Dirty Rotten Bastard IPA, Snakebite IPA, RoadKill Red, Old Town Porter
  • Santa Fe: Oktoberfest, Autonomous Collective IPA, Imperial Java Stout
  • Sierra Blanca/Rio Grande: IPA, Pancho Verde Chile Cerveza, Sun Chaser Pale Ale, Bone Chiller Brown Ale
  • Tractor: Farmer’s Almanac IPA, Farmer’s Tan Red Ale, Milk Mustachio Stout, Delicious Red Hard Apple Cider, Dank Johnson DIPA, Hillario DIPA, Kolsch

Definitely take the time to try Enchanted Circle, they just opened in Angel Fire back in April. Eske’s has new ownership, so it might be interesting to see what that has done to their beers. Otherwise, among the beers worth trying are Hoppenheimer IPA (Bathtub Row), Stout Americano (Marble), Scotty Doesn’t Know (Pi), MacLomas Stout (Quarter Celtic), Nieuwe Bruin (Red Door), Old Town Porter (Rio Bravo), Autonomous Collective (Santa Fe), and Dank Johnson DIPA (Tractor). Or, try as many as you safely can, and let us know what were your favorites.

Also present, of course, will be the Dukes of Ale. You need to visit their booth to try all the excellent home brews and help vote for a winner.

Broken Trail will also be there, but they are only listed as bringing their rum and vodka, no beer. If you are into ciders, Sandia Hard Cider will be present.

As for the many, many national brands, a few have some beers worth checking out. BJ’s has Hop Pact IPA, a collaboration with Green Flash. Boston Beer (Samuel Adams) has the new (?) Toasted Caramel Bock. Firestone Walker, still fairly new to our state, has the wondrous Luponic Distortion. Mother Road usually brings something extra from Flagstaff beyond the usual beers, though Tower Station IPA and Lost Highway Black IPA are worth your time if you have not had them before. If you have been remiss in checking out the Imperial IPA from Upslope, here is your chance. Also, new to the state is The Dudes Brewing Co. No beers were listed for them in the program, but I tried a DIPA at the brewery in Torrance, Calif., two months ago and it would stand up to our local hop bombs. There are many other beers to try, as well, from old favorites to seasonals to new ones, so please, sample away and let us know which are your favorites.

Above all else, have fun, try not to go overboard, and celebrate craft beer this Saturday. Do it because I cannot, since the Isotopes suddenly decided they want to win their division and I have to be out here covering them.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

Amid a sea of people taking pics on their cell phones, the Boxing Bear brewing team holds their NMIPAC trophy aloft!

Amid a sea of people taking pics on their cell phones, the Boxing Bear brewing team holds their NMIPAC trophy aloft!

Another year, another IPA Challenge is in the books. Only for the first time in a while, there will be a new champion holding onto the trophy.

Boxing Bear held off Canteen and 3 Rivers in the closest vote in NMIPAC history. The final round was decided by hundreds of beer lovers/hopheads on a (very) toasty afternoon at Tractor Wells Park. When everything was counted, Boxing Bear had 81 votes, Canteen finished with 79, and 3 Rivers garnered 68. That ended the two-year reign of Bosque as champion, as well as the three-year reign of brewer John Bullard, who had previously won at Blue Corn in 2013.

The final totals, for those who are interested in such numbers.

The final totals, for those who are interested in such numbers.

A whole lotta folks asked us about which beer was which. Here is the list (we did not get a photo, sorry) of the beers by their number on the tray.

  1. Red Door
  2. Taos Mesa
  3. Quarter Celtic
  4. Starr Brothers
  5. Bosque
  6. Sidetrack
  7. Santa Fe
  8. Tractor
  9. Canteen
  10. Chili Line
  11. La Cumbre
  12. Boxing Bear
  13. Second Street
  14. Blue Corn
  15. 3 Rivers

As for the victorious head brewer, Justin Hamilton was all smiles after he got to hold the trophy aloft with assistant brewer Dylan Davis.

“I think it’s great, honestly,” Justin said. “The reaction to it is a little bit of stunned, but we’re also super happy to represent New Mexico. All of us have been locals for a long time. I grew up here, so did Dylan. For the fact that we’re local brewers, that we’ve been involved in the brewery scene for a long time, we were able to bring it home to our new place, that’s really awesome.

“Being that I was a part of the IPA Challenge for the last decade, and not being able to bring one home, this is hard. A lot of these guys it’s their first year, second or third year, I’ve been doing it for a long time. After years of contention it’s nice to have that boy sitting on our bar top.”

A big thank you to the tireless efforts of Tractor co-owner Skye Devore, left, and Brewers Guild director John Gozigian.

A big thank you to the tireless efforts of Tractor co-owner Skye Devore, left, and Brewers Guild director John Gozigian.

Starting last September, the accolades have been rolling in for Boxing Bear. First came the silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival for Chocolate Milk Stout. Then came a gold at the World Beer Cup for the same beer. Being able to hang their hat on a totally different style for Boxing Bear is huge, as it shows they are not just a one-trick pony of a sort.

“It’s great to bring it home,” Justin said. “It feels good that we have hopefully set our niche in the fact that New Mexico has good beer and that we’re one of the really good breweries here in New Mexico that’s up and coming and we put a lot of pride into our beer. I think people saw that.”

Do not expect Justin or Dylan or anyone else at Boxing Bear to kick back and rest on the laurels of their victories in the last 10 months.

“This is a thing you see with breweries — you win things in a row, then you won’t win (anything) for years,” Justin said. “It’s good we’re doing well, but at the same time all of us have a very similar viewpoint in our breweries that we want things to be good, and if they’re not good we want them to be better. We are constantly looking for a way to improve our product, even if people say it’s good. Even if people tell us our products are good, we can tell if they need to be done better. I think that’s one of the reasons we are having a really good year.”

Justin credited his small, tight-knit staff for the victory. In a way, he said, being a bit smaller in size has helped Boxing Bear establish themselves alongside the state heavyweights.

“I think the fact we’re all pointing in the same direction, everyone in our building is contending for (creating) the best product that we possibly can (and) great service from the pub viewpoint,” Justin said. “And also we really want to show Albuquerque, New Mexico, in general that we’re here for beer, we’re here to put out a great product, we’re here to put out what New Mexico expects as beer as far as what you’ve seen from Marble, what you’ve seen from La Cumbre, what you’ve seen from Bosque. We want to be on the same level of amazing beer that is known locally, nationally, and worldwide. That’s our goal.”

There were tough calls all around on this tray.

There were tough calls all around on this tray.

Justin has worked at a number of breweries over the years, so he has shared in past glories. This one, though, is his own.

“We’re having a great year,” he said. “For me, my thing is, I’ve been a part of a lot of great breweries. And it’s nice to kind of carve my own niche right now. It’s nice to get recognition for that. I’ve worked for lots of great breweries, but this is mine now, this is ours now.”

Now it is just a matter of getting everyone else out there to continue to recognize just how good we have it with our local breweries in New Mexico.

“I think that’s the thing about New Mexico and Albuquerque in general — we have literally some of the best beer in the world,” Justin said. “There’s not a lot of states that can say that. Our city alone, not only our city, but our state has literally some of the best beer in the world. People are drawn to that, no matter where (they) are. I think that things like this are great for locals, and for people that are involved with it, but when we win stuff on an international and national scale, and it brings it back home and then we win a local event, it makes it even better.

“It just really brings it full circle because we still get the question of where are you, who are you, which is fine. People still ask that question about Bosque. But it’s a lot less people. This is a great thing that will let people know we are a great force of good beer in New Mexico and we will continue to do that.”

We will raise a pint (or two) to that sentiment!

Another IPA Challenge is complete. We look forward to the 2017 version.

Before that happens, however, we have a few special thank yous to hand out for the finale: to Brewers Guild director John Gozigian; to his hard-working team of volunteers who poured the beer (including Angelo Orona); to Skye Devore, David Hargis, and every single staff member at Tractor (Lauren, Melissa, Nicole, and on and on); and finally, to all of you, our fellow beer drinkers! We (barely) beat the heat and had a great time, all while reminding people just how strong and vibrant our local beer scene really is.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The Brewers Guild posted this photo of the results from the 3 Rivers round of the IPA Challenge.

The Brewers Guild posted this photo of the results from the 3 Rivers round of the IPA Challenge.

The NM IPA Challenge continued Wednesday night at 3 Rivers Brewery in Farmington, with 80 people coming out to partake and vote for their favorite. The hometown brewery had a respectable showing with 11 votes to give it 22 through two rounds, but Quarter Celtic was the round winner with 18 votes (26 total).

Boxing Bear, though, maintained their lead with another 13 votes to raise their total to 32. The breweries are listed below their voting totals from the first round at Santa Fe Brewing on Saturday and the second round at 3 Rivers.

  1. Boxing Bear: 19 + 13 = 32
  2. Quarter Celtic: 8 + 18 = 26
  3. Blue Corn: 17 + 5 = 22
  4. Starr Brothers: 11 + 11 = 22
  5. 3 Rivers: 11 + 11 = 22
  6. Bosque: 17 + 1 = 18
  7. Canteen: 12 + 4 = 16
  8. La Cumbre: 12 + 1 = 13
  9. Santa Fe: 10 + 2 = 12
  10. Second Street: 9 + 3 = 12
  11. Tractor: 10 + 1 = 11
  12. Chili Line: 8 + 2 = 10
  13. Red Door: 7 + 3 = 10
  14. Sidetrack: 6 + 4 = 10
  15. Taos Mesa: 6 + 1 = 7

The most shocking results from the round were Bosque, the two-time defending champion, and La Cumbre and Tractor getting just one vote apiece after stronger showings at SFBC. Starr Brothers continued to shine among the newcomers, doubling their voting total. (Yes, Quarter Celtic is a new brewery, too, but they have one of the most experienced brewers in the state at the helm.)

Brandon and I will be at the final round Saturday, which starts at noon, to provide live updates and blurry photos and the like. Do remember, Tractor is closing off the front parking lot for the event in case the crowd spills over from inside the brewery. Take this into account if you’re driving over. As always, Uber, a designated driver, or at least a carpool is your best bet.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister