Posts Tagged ‘Southwest Grape and Grain’

The taps are flowing and the packaged beers are available as well now at Southwest Grape and Grain.

Our friends at Southwest Grape and Grain recently completed their growler-filling/pint-pouring (beer, while you shop for making more beer) station, with package sales as well so bombers and cans aplenty. I, Franz Solo, headed over and talked to owner Donavan Lane about what we can expect from this lovely development going forward and about the looming holiday season — it is an annual Crew favorite owing to the plethora of barrel-aged, barrel-aged, barrel-aged … yes … but that’s a dark tale for another ramble — and what that means for his fair establishment. 

Solo: Here we are, you’ve got all of your taps in place and pouring and beer for sale in the store. How cool is it seeing your vision for this space beginning to come to fruition?

Donavan: It is definitely satisfying, a long time coming with the moving process earlier this year and the remodel, and the licensing, and then getting all of the taps set up has definitely taken a while and a lot of effort, but it is finally getting there. We’ve been selling beer for about a month and a half now. More people know that they can get a beer while they are shopping, so (it is) definitely nice to see it going. 

Taps as far as the eye can see!

Solo: Any interesting future plans for what you might do with all of these taps?

Donavan: Well, we have a few things to finish up in our brewing room. The goal is to try to get all of that done by the end of December, or the first part of January. We’ve been brewing a few little 5-gallon batches that we’ve put on tap, where we are having some fun playing around with recipes. Once we get the bigger system set up, we will be able to do bigger 1-to-2-barrel batches and put those on tap. And, then we will start looking at figuring out the logistics and price points to be able to start offering brew on premises, where customers can come in and brew a batch here and then split it up amongst friends, or take it all home for themselves. So during the first part of next year we will look into getting that going and then working with the various beer clubs in Albuquerque, whether it is Dark Side Brew Crew, the Worthogs, or the Dukes of Ale, or any of the other ones that are out there about doing collaboration beers, having them come in a brew a beer that we put on tap, doing some competitions with the clubs, as well. Definitely a lot of fun stuff there. 

As far as the growler fill goes, we are continuing to reach out to more and more of the local breweries to get more of their packaged beer in. Our taps are basically full, but those will continue to rotate. Whenever one goes out we will bring in something new. (Between procuring grains and such for my own batches and trying all of the many special/seasonal offerings on tap, I may never leave, well, unless it involves other actual beer-related work.) We are also going to look into bringing in some local wine as well.

* * * * *

You can take home packaged beer in addition to supplies to make your own beer now.

So all told, this is pretty great out the gate in concept and execution, with a lovely swath of unique offerings from our favorite local haunts on tap, ready to fill your growlers or slake your thirst while you browse the many fermentation-related necessities on site. Grape and Grain has a patio available for beverage consumption as well, but as it is nearing full winter this will not be open until spring, when the brewing room will hopefully be in full swing. Also of note are a few holiday sales going on this month and throughout the holidays, so here are the details on those for all of your fermentation/homebrewing needs, or gifts for your friends or loved ones who have fallen for the craft.

From now through December 14 there is a raffle going on with an entry for each pint purchased and some very cool prizes being offered to boot. 

Black Friday sale: 10 percent off Friday and Saturday, and a coupon for 20 percent off one item on Sunday with coupon from Facebook or store email list (I definitely recommend getting on this list for other perks, which I have most certainly taken advantage of in my three-plus years of homebrewing).

Coming in December, an all-grain sale on the first 25-percent all-grain by the pound or 10 percent off bulk bags.

There will also be some sales going on closer to Christmas and New Years as well, but those are still TBA.

So it’s a grand time to stock up on supplies for those lovely imperial stouts or hefty lagers and such as the season demands. For any additional information on events, classes, sales, and so forth do check out or find them on Facebook. Better yet, give the store a visit or three, or just keep going back for more batches, which is what homebrewing tends to do to you once you start down the path to darkness, oh delicious …

On that note, I bid you all happy brewing, happy shopping, happy drinking, happy festivities, and so on an so forth!


— Franz Solo

There are a whole lot of Oktoberfest-style beers on tap around the metro area right now.

A whopping five more Oktoberfest-style beers went on tap in the Albuquerque metro area last week, joining multiple marzens that have already been on tap for a while. With so many wonderful lagers available, I just had to get out there and try as many as possible. My plan totally worked for two days, until a combination of sports (NHL openers and MLB playoffs mostly) and the need to watch season three of The Expanse caused me to fall behind. One of these years I will get to them all.

Anyway, my first three stops were Sidetrack, Boese Brothers, and Marble. I rather enjoyed Sidetrack’s offering, which did not overdo the sweetness. It was a solid, crushable beer, befitting the laid-back atmosphere of the pub. The Boese Brothers offering had been on tap for a while now. It did not quite have the flavor impact I had hoped for, but age may have been a factor. As for Marble, it was less of a marzen and more of a straight German lager. It is still a quality beer, as one would expect from brewmaster Josh Trujillo. I also got to try the Kottbusser collaboration beer, which was sweet yet bready, and the Jimmy Bock, a chewy little tribute to Shiner Bock.

Day two of the Oktober-quest took me to Toltec for lunch a pint of another tasty offering. I would like to try it side-by-side with Sidetrack, as both had many of the same tasty qualities. My final stop was at Bosque on the way home. Again, it was a bit lighter lager than the more copper-colored marzens of yore, but it was again a clean, balanced beer. A few years ago, the Oktoberfests had almost disappeared from taps in favor of the pumpkin beer fad, but thankfully that passed and now we are blessed with multiple marzens and lagers.

What is your favorite Oktoberfest on tap this fall? Yes, you can still include some from a few weeks back, like Santa Fe and La Cumbre.

Now for the rest of the Crew’s adventures from the past weekend.


Somebody has a new home on Candelaria, not far from La Cumbre!

For anyone that was still unaware, Southwest Grape and Grain has moved to a new home at 3401 Candelaria Blvd NE on the north side of the street just west of Carlisle. As the Crew’s main home brewer at this point, I, Franz Solo, headed over to meet with owner Donavan Lane to get a tour of the new space, and gain some sense of what he has planned going forward. We first took a look at the main sales floor.

Donavan: Kind of the same setup as before, a little bit more space up here. It is amazing how much of a difference a few hundred square feet makes. I mean, we had maybe only 400 square feet of additional space in the showroom area compared to the old location, but it makes a huge difference. 

Solo: That it does, because you actually have space around the counter. You’ve got easy access to all of the different sections which are all easier to see. A definite improvement to the shopping experience, in my opinion. 

Space, glorious space!

Donavan: Yeah, this will allow us to look at maybe some other products to bring in, and we have more than enough floor space where if we need to add in another shelf or two we can definitely do that. So we will be looking at that in the next couple of months, some other possible products to carry. 

The grain room is pretty much the same setup we had at the other shop.

Solo: But it’s just so nice and open and …

Donavan: Visible?

Solo: Yeah, visible, it’s not tucked around the corner in the back.

Donavan: Especially for our existing customer base who have been brewing for a long time and coming to us, they knew to go down the hall at the old shop and the grain room is right there. But, for new customers they would walk in and they would never even know this was part of the store, and just having the display bins with all of the different malts it’s just cool looking. So when we designed the space I knew I wanted windows, I wanted this to be visible. The nice thing is that this is kind of a focal point of the store now which is great. 

Southwest Grape and Grain now has a dedicated classroom space.

As some of you may remember from brewing classes offered at the old location, they were held kind of in the middle of everything. I’m glad to say that Grape and Grain now has a dedicated classroom area off of the main floor. We talked a little bit about plans for this space now and in the future.

Donavan: So since we have this space designated as a classroom, I mean we are looking to expand our offering of classes, try to team up with more people on that. I’ve been talking to Brian (Langwell, of Left Turn Distillery) for probably an entire year that we ought to set up a distilling class and things like that. I have a friend who does one of those paint and wine class things, so we will probably look at setting up and doing those here. 

Solo: I mean it is a great space for it.

Donavan: Any other classes we can offer to utilize this space will be something we have in mind. 

The future brewing room and growler fill stations are in the back corner.

New and forthcoming additions to the shop will include a growler-filling station and dedicated brewing area for brewing on site, which is awesome all around.

Donavan: We have our walk-in cooler and our growler-fill station, the intent of it kind of is to brew a few of our own beers, which we will put on tap more as demonstrations than anything. The idea being that if you want to make an IPA or something, here’s one on tap and here are all of the ingredients in a box kind of a thing.

Solo: Yeah, make it and see how yours turns out and then you can learn something and have fun doing it.

Donavan: We eventually plan on putting 20 taps of all of the different local breweries. If a customer wants a pint while they are shopping, that’s great. Overall, however, the focus will be on growler fills, get your homebrew ingredients, get your local beer, and take it home to enjoy while you are brewing. 

This will eventually be our brewing room once we get it finished out the rest of the way. I still have a little 2-barrel system that I had at Broken Bottle, so we are going to set it up and then bring in a few small 1-barrel fermenters and start offering brew on premises. We are looking to do collaborations with Worthogs, Dukes of Ale, with you guys, and so on. Ariel (Figueroa, of Worthogs and a good friend of ours) and I have talked about maybe doing another Battle of the Beer Geeks type of thing, doing another little kind of twist on that with all of the different beer-related clubs in town. 

Make sure to get some reading materials.

Solo: Sounds great to me, the more brewing the better. 

Donavan: We are still waiting, though. We haven’t yet officially submitted our (small brewer) license yet. I’ve got it almost completely done, but the last couple of months with trying to finish up the remodel here and plan the move and everything. 

Solo: Yeah, you’ve had enough on your plate. 

Donavan: It finally just got to the point where I was trying to get it done in the evenings and stuff. Eventually, I had to just put it on the back burner for the time being, get the move done and then finalize it when everything else was all done. Hopefully sooner rather than later we will get it all taken care of and be able to start utilizing this brewing space and get the growler station going.

Solo: It’ll be fun for sure. It’s cool seeing this coming to reality having talked to you, what was it, over a year ago?

Donavan: Yeah, when I bought the shop from Kevin (Davis). It took a lot of planning and between finding the right building and getting a landlord that was willing to work with you and all of the different stuff involved there. But yeah, it’s finally done. Well, mostly done. 

The hops and yeast fridges made their way to the new location.

Solo: You have all of the main stuff tackled.

Donavan: The rest of the stuff is pretty much kind of the same. We tried to keep the same sort of layout and flow of it as close as we could to the other shop. You’ve got your hop fridge, your yeast fridge, your DME and LME, and all of that stuff together, your equipment and kits and stuff all together. So that it is the best possible flow we could create for the layout at this point. Of course, as time goes on we will refine placement of items and such, but the basic idea is already in place. 

The other longer-term thing is that when we get our brewer’s license, we had it put in the lease (that) this outdoor space is ours to utilize. So we are going to put a few chairs and tables out here in this little patio space where you will be able to sit out(side) and have a beer if you want to. Saturday at the grand opening for national homebrew day we had everyone out here where it was the perfect space for everyone to set up and do their brewing demos. Our focus isn’t to try to be a brewery or a taproom or a bar, but to try to bring a little bit of that into the shop is what we had in mind, something of the whole beer experience in one place. If La Cumbre is packed on a weekend and you were on your bike, you can just come over and have a beer here, or once people know that we are doing this you can come down and get three different growlers from three different breweries all in one place. 

Solo: Don’t have to drive all around town to get multiple fills which is quite convenient. Awesome. 

Donavan: It’s been a long couple of months, but it’s mostly all done.

Solo: Hey, you’ve got it man, you’re here.

The grain room is so much more open now.

So for all of you homebrewers out there, head over to the relocated Southwest Grape and Grain and check it out for all of your brewing needs. We will keep you posted as well with any updates to the brewer license/growler station as they come our way.

Until next time, I bid you happy brewing and Skål!

— Franz Solo

Expand your knowledge!

Take the biggest brewery in town, add in some homebrew clubs and a shop, a couple food vendors, and then toss in the most interactive museum in town, and voila, the Science of Beer is back!

Explora Science Center will be hosting this annual event in partnership with Marble Brewery on Friday from 7 to 11 p.m. The Dukes of Ale, Worthogs, and Southwest Grape & Grain will also be on hand to help educate everyone, from the novice to the expert, on all things beer.

Ticktest cost $12 for Explora members and $15 for everyone else. There may still be some available online, with the last 100 going on sale at Explora on Friday morning. The event sold out last year, so get them now if you want to go.

To get a little more detail, I caught up with Marble’s (very busy) off-site events and festival coordinator, Tammy Lovato, on Wednesday night after the Bites & Brews Challenge wrapped up at the Heights taproom.

“We did it for the first time last year, and it was so successful that we decided to do it again this year and do it even bigger and better,” she said. “That’s what Marble does.”

Marble staffers will host a series of special presentations throughout the night. Head brewer John Heine, brewer Jeff Priddy, lab director Stephanie Crownover, and packaging manager Nate Jackson will be among those on hand.

“The talks start at 7:40 and run till 10:20 with small intermissions in between,” Tammy said. “We’re going to list what each brewer is talking about, but it will start with Beer 101. Nate Jackson is going to talk about packaging and how important it is to properly package beer, because people often forget that’s an incredibly important step in people enjoying beer. We’ll have Stephanie talking about yeast, water management, and managing the lab. Then John Heine is going to talk about brettanomyces in the (brewery).”

In addition to Marble, the Dukes of Ale, Worthogs, and Southwest Grape & Grain will be doing live presentations on different aspects in the art and science of homebrewing. Those will include some live experiments and hands-on fun for the crowd.

Marble also will be providing the beer that will be poured at the event, lest anyone go thirsty. After an outcry last year for more beer, the brewery staff will step up.

“This year we have five beer stations instead of three,” Tammy said. “We sell 900 tickets, so we’ve doing five different stations so we can service more people, get people in and out quicker. We’ll have two that are cash-in-hand only. That will hopefully get people through the lines pretty quickly.

“We’ll have three stations that have draft beer. We’re bringing some cool beers like the Caffe Roggenbier that you’re drinking, we’ll be bringing the Doppelator, our cool new hazy, Southwest-style IPA (Desert Fog), we’ll have the Grapefruit Tangerine Gose, so lots of fun specials for people, and then of course our classic styles.”

Bringing cash instead of relying on credit cards is recommended for all stations to keep things flowing. There will also be food on hand courtesy of M’Tucci’s Italian and Malaguena’s Latin Tapas.

The best part of this entire event is how it all helps the museum.

“All of the money from the ticket sales go back to Explora,” Tammy said. “This is their biggest fundraiser for this time of year.”

Go get your beer education this Friday. And for the record, yes, that Caffe Roggenbier that I was drinking was quite good.


— Stoutmeister

Southwest Grape and Grain has been reorganized by its new owner.

As the member of the Crew who does quite a lot of consistent home brewing, I was intrigued when I heard that ownership of Southwest Grape and Grain, my main local source for brewing supplies and ingredients, had changed hands. It turns out I already knew the gentleman who took over for the previous owner, Kevin Davis of Boxing Bear.

Donavan Lane may be known to some of you as the former co-owner/brewer at the since-closed Broken Bottle Brewing. As he told me when we met, he had an interest from the beginning in opening a home-brewing supply store, but at the time Grape and Grain had just opened and there was also Victor’s Grape Arbor in the metro area as well, making a third shop likely unsustainable.

Fast forward to the early stages of this year and Kevin approached Donavan about taking over Grape and Grain, due to the increasing demands on his time due to the success of Boxing Bear. Kevin said he knew that Donavan had the interest and knowledge to continue the success he had started. From my initial and subsequent visits to Grape and Grain, this has been a productive transition. On to our conversation.

Donavan: So, initially we were going through the product mix of what we had and we’ve got our clearance rack. We’ve been trying to go through and clear out stuff that doesn’t sell or that we had for awhile, or that we had multiple similar items of. We’ve been slowly pulling items that we know we don’t want to keep anymore, or maybe we can get a better quality item from a different vendor. Prior to Broken Bottle, I spent nine years in retail management, so stepping into here the scale of things is different, but a lot of the things you learn in corporate retail management apply here. Simple things like consistent signage where we went through the whole store and replaced every sign so it has the same font and the same style, little things like that.

Solo: The devil’s in the details.

Getting everything organized was a major goal inside the store.

Donavan: It’s kind of been a process of shifting things around where before you move one thing, you’ve got to move something else. Over the years, as different products came in and different vendors, well it got to the point that everything in the store was fairly disorganized.

Solo: It was a bit of clutter somewhat and kind of an adventure walking around trying to pick out this or that.

Donavan: Yeah, you had this piece for kegging over here, this piece over there, so we wanted to get draft equipment in one area, beer-brewing equipment in one area, wine-making equipment in one area, beer ingredients in one area, so that you’re not having to go back and forth all over the store. That’s been a little bit of a process to get it all moved around, but we’re finally pretty much there where we’re not going to be shifting much more.

Solo: At least for awhile.

Donavan: The other things were getting displays out, trying to have every single item have a display model where people can actually see it. And, it’s a simple thing, like put up a bottle tree and put some bottles on it so people can see what its actually used for. It makes a big difference, especially for beginning home brewers who don’t necessarily know what all of the equipment is.

Solo: Yeah, if you can actually see it out you get sort of a sense in your head of, oh, this might be what I need to do this, and you can start to build a picture of how the whole process goes and that’s, well, what a good store should be.

Donavan: We are starting to get there with moving everything around, and we’ve already been bringing in quite a few new products, but there’s more and more that we’re looking to bring in. We just recently got in kombucha-making kits.

Solo: I saw your Facebook post about that. I’ve seen a lot more of a media presence as well.

Donavan: Well, exactly. Kevin, what with time constraints, just got to point where he wasn’t able to dedicate the time here that he was in the first couple years that it was open. So, a lot of that stuff went to the wayside. We’re working on using Facebook, social media, getting our email list back up and running, where we’ll start sending out monthly newsletters. The basic stuff that Kevin did initially, but then kind of got away from with time constraints on him.

Solo: Definitely, well with Boxing Bear doing so well that they had to expand over that whole building.

That grain is just waiting to become beer.

Donavan: We’re also looking at things like kegerators and things like that, so we started looking at actually making them and selling them to customers where previously we would have the parts and Kevin would show how to do it, but we didn’t sell the units put together.

Solo: Yeah, they’re not too bad to build.

Donavan: A lot of home brewers want to build things themselves. That’s part of the hobby, but there are quite a few home brewers, too, that either don’t have the tools or don’t have the mechanical ability to build something like that. In the latter case, they’d rather just say can I simply buy it?

Solo: There’s an extent to which people want to go this far, some people want to go that far, it just really depends person to person. Do I want to build a kegerator or do I want to just buy this thing outright? Do I want to make a wort chiller or is this something I’d rather procure pre-made so that it’s streamlined instead of my own crazy wire contraption? (Which works quite well I might add, though she many not be the prettiest.)

Donavan: On that account, we are starting to make some of our own products here in the store. That’s part of my long-term goal is to start manufacturing some different home-brewing equipment ourselves, like for example wort chillers. We are buying wort chillers pre-made and these ones here (available in store) we made. We designed a jig and comparing these to the ones we were buying, they look identical, and we just made a jig to be able to wrap it really tightly and neatly and do all of the bends properly and such. Little things like that, where we want to start getting our own line of some different equipment, which allows us to offer some of our different ideas on design and on a basic thing like this (wort chiller), save cost and offer it for a little bit less cheaper than what we had.

The other thing we just started doing and we are still in the process, we haven’t gotten it completely stocked yet, but we are starting to do our own ingredients kits.

Solo: Nice, that’s awesome.

Donavan: The brewer’s best ones, they have quite a bit of variety, but we’ve been trying to pick different styles that they don’t necessarily have available.

Solo: So you’ll get to throw in some more creativity into the recipes.

Add a few barrel chips to give your home brew a new dimension of flavor.

Donavan: Yeah, so we’re just starting to put those together we got them out on the shelf in this last week. I’ve started reaching out to all of the breweries, because with doing our own kits I want to do a line of clone kits of New Mexico breweries. So, I’ve started talking to several of the breweries and there are several that are on board already. They’re going to give us one or two of their recipes where we’ll do a clone kit there and it will be branded with XYZ brewery. So, it gives them a little promotion and we are looking to get that going in the next few weeks.

Solo: That’s a great idea.

Donavan: You know that the brewery industry, the people outside of it think they’re all in competition, and to people who work in it realize that they all work together, they all help each other out.

Solo: Yeah, there is competition, but there is also a desire to build something better in this community and in our state. Every time I interview someone from a different place they will tell me, ‘Yeah I lent a bag of grain over here, they lent us a keg washer while we were doing this.’ Everyone helps everyone else out and the industry as grown because of it and is better for it.

Donavan: We really want to work on building relationships, too, with the breweries. I mean, we’re not necessarily in the same industry, but a lot of their customers are our customers and our customers are their customers. A lot of the brewers started out as home brewers, built their knowledge, and worked their way up to that. We’ve been doing classes and for every class I’ve tried to get a brewery to sponsor it, so they will bring some beer in for people to sample and send one of their brewers to hang out during the class, and give themselves a little plug and chime in on a question or two. The customers like it because it’s not just me giving a class, it’s a professional brewer doing it and reiterating what I’m saying. So, we’ve been trying to build those relationships and do those as well.

Solo: Yeah, I always thought it would be fun to have more variety, because it’s fine, I started off on kits as most of us do, but having more variety there, that gives you more ideas and starts your creative juices flowing and leads to better things.

Donavan: That’s our goal to maybe fill in some of these spots and try different stuff. All of these are extract kits. We are also going to start to do all-grain kits, too. Customers make that jump from extract to an all grain, and sometimes some of that hesitation is well, OK, now I understand the all-grain process and I’ve created my equipment and have what I need, but finding the recipe of what they want to do is a little daunting.

Solo: Getting a good recipe and then getting to know the actual grains well enough to where you feel comfortable enough to say, oh, I’m going to take this grain that grain and this other grain in roughly these quantities and come up with something on my own. Having an all-grain kit and recipe definitely helps to bridge that gap.

Everything a home brewer needs to make his or her own kit.

Donavan: So yeah, those all-grain kits we will be putting together will make it easy for those customers that are just now making that jump to all grain, and so for their first few all-grain batches they can do just like I did with extract brewing, and just buy a kit for a certain recipe.

Long term, ideally we want to find a more centralized locationm since at present we’re in one corner of the city here, so when our lease is up here we will look at the possibility of finding something more centralized. We are looking to get out to events as well, we did the Science of Beer event at Explora, and we’ve definitely gotten a lot of good feedback on events like that. (Editor’s note: SWGG was at BearFest this past weekend.) Customers who don’t even necessarily know that we are here might go to an event like that and over the summer we are looking at maybe trying to get out to farmer’s markets.

Solo: You are (part of our) local community, so you should be a part of something like that.

Donavan: A lot of the people who are going to farmer’s markets are the same type of people who make their own beer or kombucha or wine, et cetera.

Solo: Yeah, you get a person who wants to have more control over their food, their drink, and own that whole process as much as they can.

Donavan: We do have some other long-term goals as well. At some point, we might look at getting a (small) brewer’s license here in the store, not to necessarily try to be a brewery, but if someone walks in and they want to have a beer, then you could have a beer while you are shopping. Bring in local beer on tap, and if we have a clone from a certain brewery we can say hey, we have that on tap here if you’d like to try it. (Then) here’s the recipe right here, you can try to make that beer at home. Things like that are kind of long-term goals, a few years down the road, probably. Here, obviously, space-wise we don’t have room to add something like that. But, it’s something we will definitely be looking at in the future when we look at new locations.

Solo: That would be awesome, to be able to have a pint while you are thinking up a recipe would be just amazing.

Donavan: Just a matter of taking all of the steps to actually get there.

Solo: Yeah, organization being first and expanding your base, (then) looking for a place that’s going to accommodate that and grow those ideas and so forth.

Donavan: The other things we’ve talked about doing is having a corner that’s just all schwag from all of the local breweries, where if we end up doing the brewer’s license and have a bunch of local beer on tap, that would just localize it to where you can just buy it all in one place, rather than going from brewery to brewery. That’s something we might look at talking to the breweries about as well. We might look at doing a section of the store that’s just man-cave stuff as well.

Solo: Totally, the two things absolutely go together. I mean, I have a room that’s just all my stuff, and then the closet’s just filled with my home brewery (equipment).

Donavan: Whether it’s brewery signs or bottle openers or different things like that.

Solo: Cool stuff that all ties in together. These are good ideas, I like all of them.

Donavan: It’s a matter of just taking the steps and slowly working our way from one step to another and getting it all in place. Other than that, it’s just the day-to-day running the store and helping people make beer and wine and enjoying it.

* * * * *

The results speak for themselves, as Donavan has the time to dedicate and the knowledge needed to make Grape and Grain successful now and in the years to come.

“It wasn’t like we had to come in and reinvent the wheel or anything,” he added. “I came in and said let’s tweak this and put my own touch on that and refine that and take it to the next level.”

There are frequent events on brewing and such for all different levels which are offered at the store typically on weekends so check out their website or check them out on Facebook for details. Above all, if you have an interest in beginning to brew or learn more about your craft, I heartily recommend heading down to Grape and Grain. Happy brewing!


— Franz Solo


From Big Brew 2015 at Santa Fe Brewing

Greetings, craft beer fans! This one’s for all the homebrewers out there, and, of course, any and all folks interested in learning more about beer. If you haven’t already heard, National Homebrew Day is fast approaching, and we don’t want you to miss out on any events here in New Mexico.

In 1988, it was announced before Congress that May 7 would forever be known as National Homebrew Day, and since then, the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) has held events the first Saturday of May to celebrate the huge community of homebrewers, who, in large part, helped bring craft beer back to America after the that dark period when we felt prohibited to speakeasy about it. (Ahem.)

This year, on Saturday, May 6, large homebrew events will be held across the nation, and you can find them all on the AHA Website. And, because we’re just as serious about beer here in our state, we have a few events planned for you, New Mexican Brewquenos, as well.

The following lists all the AHA-registered events for our state:

Milton’s Cavern City Big Brew Day (brewery) – “Come hang out with the local homebrew club, Cavern City Brewers at Milton’s Brewing. A number of homebrewers will have their personal brewing systems in the outdoor area of the brewery demonstrating a homebrewer’s brew session.” Contact Brad Carlsen at to RSVP. Location: 108 E. Mermod, Carlsbad, NM.

Santa Fe Brewing Company (brewery) – “We will be hosting 2017 Big Brew in the brewery. Please come out to join us. RSVP to the email address so we can buy enough food for people.” Contact Ted Bolleter at to RSVP. Location: 35 Fire Place, Santa Fe, NM.

Southwest Grape & Grain and Worthogs Homebrew Club (homebrew supply shop) – “Homebrewers from the Worthogs Homebrew Club of NM will be brewing some All- Grain, Extract and BIAB recipes at Southwest Grape & Grain homebrew shop. They will be ready and eager to talk to anyone interested in learning how to brew, answer questions, and share their experiences. This event will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 505-332-2739 (SWGG) or 505-289-0123 (Worthogs).” Contact Donavan Lane/Ariel Figueroa at to RSVP. Location: 2801-N Eubank Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM.

Victors Home Brew (homebrew supply shop) – “We will have home brewers out on the porch brewing with their different types of equipment and eager to talk to anyone interested in learning to brew, answer questions, and share stories. Dukes of Ale brew club members will be participating and offering presentations on making mead, cider, and different kinds of brewing equipment. The event will run from 10 (a.m.) to 4 (p.m.). Come have samples, pizza, and refreshments. Call 505-883-0000 for more information.” Contact Jens Deichmann at to RSVP. Location: 2436 San Mateo Pl. NE, Albuquerque, NM.

To RSVP directly and for additional details for these events, just click this LINK! Do it!

MIlton's Brewery Logo

Feature: Milton’s and Cavern City Brewers Big Brew Day

From co-owner/head brewer Lucas Middleton: “This Saturday, Cavern City Brewers will be participating in the American Homebrewers Big Brew 2017 at Milton’s brewing on the patio (out back). We will be opening at 2 p.m. for locals to come and check out the brewing process and get the word out about the Homebrew club.

“The Friday before (May 5), Tractor is coming down to supply us with a new beer called Minute-4, a smoked lager they brewed for the firefighters in Carlsbad. We will be donating proceeds from this beer to help the team out.

“Carlsbad’s team, with Fire Chief Rick Lopez, won the world championship, the national championship, and set the world tandem record during 2016’s Scott Firefighter Challenge. The team members include Brad Carlsen (of the Cavern City Brewers), Jay Carter, Todd Vannatter, Geronimo Ontiveros and Casey Collins.”


Big Brew with the Babes in Brewland, SFBC 2015

Feature: Big Brew at Santa Fe Brewing Company

This year, on Saturday, May 6, beginning at 9:30 a.m., Santa Fe Brewing Company will once again host Big Brew with, well, a big brew session in their big brewery. Santa Fe’s fine homebrew club, the Sangre De Cristo Craft Brewers homebrew club, will be there to talk beer, brewing, and the craft of craft-beermanship. Food will be provided to those who RSVP, and SFBC R&D manager, David Ahern-Seronde (of current Santa Fe Reporter cover page fame) will be offering tours of the entire grounds, including the new packaging hall, barrel cave, and The Bridge. It’s sure to be a rockin’ good time, so RSVP now.

Before SFBC had nixed the event in 2016, I had been to a couple Big Brews in the past before writing for the NMDSBC. It is actually at one of these, where I met with the Sangres, learned a thing or two about how to brew, and got started homebrewing, which expanded on my passion for craft beer as well as brewing industry network, which eventually landed me this sweet writing gig. So, folks, homebrewing, not fear, was the path to the Dark Side for me.

What to know: Santa Fe Brewing will provide hot and cold liquor for brewing. Food will be handled by the Sangre De Cristo Craft Brewers, that is, if you RSVP.

What to bring: Bring all your equipment! If you’re not feeling like bringing out the whole rig for an all-grain brew, then that’s fine, too. Feel free to do an extract brew, and just come out and have a good time. If you’re not sure what all-grain or extract brews are, then you could definitely benefit from coming out to Big Brew!


Peaches for the brew, SFBC 2015.

Homebrewing is a great gateway into the craft beer industry. Homebrewing channels passion, fosters creativity, and maybe above all, teaches technique. At the top level, homebrewing has even led many folks in the state to open up their own facilities, where you currently enjoy a hand-crafted experience, and at its lowest level of achievement, homebrewing teaches a much better understanding and appreciation for that carbonated beverage we love so much.

I highly recommend going to any of these special events, even if you don’t plan to brew, or to take up homebrewing. You’ll get to talk homebrewers about DIY projects of the beer-related kind, and also you’ll get to speak with pro brewers about their favorite thing to chat about, and I’ll give you a hint — it’s not distribution and licensing. You can ask them all you want about making the good stuff.

So, I hope you go out, and maybe one of you will decide to learn to homebrew after this weekend, and maybe one of you will achieve greatness and open up the brewery that turns the New Mexico brewing industry upside down, all because you stopped in to check things out on a Saturday. Who knows? Hope you can make it out to one of the events! And, remember folks, fear might lead to anger. Anger might lead to hate. Hate usually leads to suffering. But, the Dark Side Brew Crew will always lead you to beer.


— Luke

Luke123 Steel Bender

For more #CraftBeer news, @nmdarksidebc info, and Untappd Badge-whoring, follow me on Twitter @santafecraftbro!


Yup, we have another home brewer in the Crew.

Yup, we have another home brewer in the Crew.

From a wish to an idea to the bottled goodness we call beer, this is my tale concerning how I became a home brewer and the adventures I’ve had along the way. Twenty years ago I was in my parents’ home wondering what in the blazes was this odd aroma coming from the kitchen. My father, who has quite the penchant for making things, fixing things, cooking things, growing things all himself, was brewing beer. I recall bottling with him on a fair number of occasions around this time and perhaps a taste or two for my own curiosity.

Fast forward to the beginning of 2015. My wonderful wife had procured a three-gallon stainless steel stock pot for me some months back and I had made quite a few different turkey and chicken broths therein. It dawned on me that I ought to try brewing my own beer since I have a natural proclivity for cooking and enjoy doing so. With advice from the rest of the Brew Crew and a few other brewers I know, I went with Porter Pounder to Southwest Grape and Grain and procured the necessary equipment for brewing. As it turns out, for the basics of doing extract brewing you can purchase all of the necessary items for around $200, including your first batch.

The dunkelweizen in its infancy.

The dunkelweizen in its infancy.

In honor of my German heritage (among many others), I chose to do a dunkelweizen for my first batch. The excitement of brewing my first batch was just outstanding, and the resulting beer, which turned out better than I imagined, is a testament to what I learned from Porter Pounder and others alike.

Just a wee bit of grain for the oatmeal stout.

Just a wee bit of grain for the oatmeal stout.

The second batch was an oatmeal stout into which I added cold-brewed coffee. This one taught me a few lessons about stouts and yeast strains. Mrs. Solo and I followed the kit instructions to the letter and were surprised at the light color of the beer. This was compounded when the brew crashed early and needed a second yeast pitch and a heater (this was in March) to get to the target gravity. One suggestion I received was to steep my grains for longer than the suggested time by about two fold for dark brews and by about half for lighter brews to get maximum flavor and proper color when using extract primarily and only a portion of grain. Having tried this out, it is definitely helpful if one is brewing extract as my later brews have turned out better and better.

All the equipment one needs for brewing and bottling.

All the equipment one needs for brewing and bottling.

On the topic of yeasts, be sure to check what temperature range your yeast likes before pitching as that will help to avoid early crashes such as I experienced. The most important things I learned from these first two batches were cleanliness is godliness (so far I haven’t had a single contaminated batch), knowing the sweet spot on your stove or burner is paramount, knowing which styles demand racking for clarity, and being open to experimentation since that’s where you make a beer your own.

Upon victory, drink thine own beer, listen to metal, celebrate.

Upon victory, drink thine own beer, listen to metal, celebrate.

That’s all for this time, back in a week with more tales of brewing so y’all just chill, until the next episode. (I can neither confirm nor deny that Dre and Snoop have wormed their way back into the typical metal mayhem of my usual playlists.)

Brew on and Prost!

— Franz Solo