Posts Tagged ‘Tractor Brewing’

Gazing down upon a Taos Brewmasters Festival from years past.

If there is such a thing as a white whale among New Mexico beer festivals, for me it is the Taos Brewmasters Festival. It has been around for 23 years counting this Saturday’s event, and yet I have never managed to time my own schedule to where I can thanks to either my day job or my other job as a freelance sportswriter.

Just because I cannot go, however, does not rule out the rest of you from visiting this classic beer festival nestled in the confines of the Taos Ski Valley. The fest runs from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, with $35 tickets available at the door. There will be 22 breweries present from around the country, including nine from New Mexico, plus one distillery and one place that focuses on kombucha.

The Blonde Bear Tavern, Bavarian, Common Fire, Rhoda’s, and more will provide the food to make sure no one is drinking on an empty stomach.

We asked all nine participating New Mexico breweries for their beer lists. Here are the ones who responded. If the others respond before the festival begins, we will update this list.

  • Bosque: IPA, Lager, Scotia Scotch Ale, Elephants on Parade, Pistol Pete’s 1888
  • La Cumbre: Big Door Prize, Project Dank, Ryeot IPA, Elevated IPA, A Slice of Hefen, Malpais Stout
  • Marble: Wildflower Wheat (in new cans), IPA, Desert Fog, Double White, Cholo Stout, Imperial Stout
  • Rio Bravo: TBA
  • Santa Fe: TBA
  • Sierra Blanca: Cherry Wheat, Vanilla Milk Stout, Alien Amber, Desert Pilsner, Bone Chiller Brown, Whiskey Stout
  • Steel Bender: Skull Bucket IPA, Raspberry Dynamite, Compa Los Ranchos Lager, Lloyd’s 3 O’Clock Kolsch, Gris-Gris, Ned’s Sour Pail (with and without boysenberry), Viejo Agrio
  • Taos Mesa: TBA
  • Tractor: Almanac IPA, Farmers Tan Red Ale, Delicious Red Hard Apple Cider, Milk Mustachio Stout

The other participating breweries from outside the state are 10 Barrel, Bell’s, Firestone Walker, Four Peaks, Full Sail, Heineken USA, Left Hand, New Belgium, Odell, Sierra Nevada, Steamworks, Stone, and Upslope.

Grab a brew and enjoy some time on the slopes! Just probably in the opposite order.

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

The beer fridge overflows with all the stout-y goodness.

Thanksgiving was kinda fuzzy, man. At least that seems to be the case for most of us, as the sheer number of holiday brews left the bulk of the Crew speechless (or, at least, unable to write). It was a tad overwhelming.

First up, Wednesday saw a quick trip to Tractor for a four-pack of Turkey Drool. Yeah, didn’t need the half-growler this year. It’s been my personal tradition to always make the TD the first beer of every Thanksgiving. It makes the bad Lions and Cowboys football go down so much easier.

After that little treat, Friday brought a shorter-than-usual line at Jubilation for the annual Black Friday cellar sale. The barrel-aged Expedition Stout from Bell’s topped my personal list, so I walked out with two of those, one 2016 Uncle Jacob’s from Avery, a 2015 Barrel-Aged Narwhal from Sierra Nevada, and, yeah, had to get one Bourbon County Brand Stout and see if it still holds up (Jubilation did not receive any variants, which was disappointing this year).

Since I still have a huge stout haul from a friend’s cellar sale a few months back, I limited myself to just those five bottles. Oh, but alas, the locals beckoned me back out in the afternoon.

I joined Franz Solo at Boxing Bear for the always excellent VantaBlack Russian Imperial Stout, with this year’s batch in bottles, and a 3-year-old barrel-aged version on tap only. I am sad to report that the BA is out, but you can still buy bottles at the brewery, as I made sure to do. Next time around, head brewer Justin Hamilton assured us, he will make sure to bottle some of the barrel-aged batch, too.

The good folks at Bosque were simultaneously spreading the word over social media that their Fresh Start Breakfast Stout was on tap, so I hit up the San Mateo location on my way back. It’s just as good as ever, a sweet treat that paired oh-so-well with leftover dessert. A four-pack of that accompanied me home.

It was back to work for me on Saturday, after which I really needed more beer. My original plan was to stay in, drink some of those stouts, and watch terrible movies, but friends dragged me out to Quarter Celtic. The Oat Face Killer (Oatmeal Stout) was delightful, tasting way heavier more than a 5.1-percent beer should.

As for the rest of the Crew, only AmyO was able to put her thoughts together in printed form, which is remarkable considering the Lobo-sized headache she dealt with after another dismal season of hand-egg just ended.

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Bow & Arrow stole all the flavor and put it in the Breakfast Bandit.

A pair of delicious seasonal stouts appeared on tap for International Stout Day last Thursday, and to the surprise of no one, of course I went and tried both of them.

First up was Breakfast Bandit, the latest in Bow & Arrow’s series of pastry stouts. Checking in at 9-percent ABV, it is the biggest to date. Made with 240 Krispy Kreme glazed donuts and a whole lot of local coffee, the flavor is stronger with the latter than the former. There is still a fair amount of sweetness on the back end, but it doesn’t leave you wanting to rush home and brush your teeth to avoid a cavity or anything. Mostly, it is a big blast of coffee roast, with an appropriate amount of thickness in terms of the mouthfeel. As the stout warms, it gets even more complex. This is one of those beers where you might end up drinking a couple before you even realize it, so make sure you can handle the higher ABV.

For the second stout, Mustaches and Cream, that came with a group visit to Canteen. Franz Solo, Brandon, and I were meeting to discuss our applicants for the open writing spots on the Crew. Naturally, we stuck with tradition and ordered the darkest seasonal on the menu. Made with chocolate and vanilla, M&C is a burly stout, one that does not hit you with too much sweetness. Brandon tasted a lot of coffee in this one, even though technically there was no coffee in it. The powerful roast of the stout balances out with the sweeter additives. Even better, a portion of the proceeds of this beer go to Movember.

A couple other beers worth checking out around town are the Citra SMASH at Red Door and the Wee Stache, the collaboration Scotch ale at both Steel Bender and High and Dry, with proceeds from that tasty brew also going to Movember.

The rest of the Crew were off and running around town, revisiting some old favorite haunts.

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Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s seven breweries, one in Los Alamos, one in Moriarty, one in Red River, and one in Las Cruces also joining the party.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Halloween falls in the middle of the week this year, so many breweries are choosing to celebrate this weekend. No brewery seems to be going as all-out as Tractor Wells Park, however. It starts Thursday night at 8 with the Rocky Horror Punk Show, as Adam Hooks and His Hangups are performing music from the cult classic. The cost is just $2 and you can also pick up discounted tickets to Saturday’s big event. Before that, stop by Friday night at 8 as Tom Foe performs a live score of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari on his upright bass. Then comes that aforementioned big Saturday event. Starting at 7 p.m., the Stranger Things Arcade Carnival returns, taking over the entire brewery and the front parking lot. There will be arcade games and pinball, food specials from We Love Waffles food truck, special vendor booths, live music from Flo Fader at 7, The Despots at 9, and Prism Bitch to close it out. Oh, and of course Tricklock will be there under the big tent for a special edition of the ultimate improv show, The Reptilian Lounge! That kicks off at 10 p.m. Tickets cost just $15 and can be purchased online or at the brewery.

Of course, Tractor is not alone when it comes to celebrating Halloween a few days early. Up in Santa Fe, Second Street Rufina will host Nightmare on Rufina Street at 8 p.m. There will be local bands performing covers of some of their favorites, along with a Halloween art market. That event costs just $5. Just up the road at Tumbleroot, the All Hallow’s Eve Barn Dance with The High Desert Playboys also kicks off at 8. Back down here in ABQ, just around the block from Tractor, Bow & Arrow is again hosting Gothtoberfest starting at 8. DJ Garronteed will be spinning, and there will be a costume contest for the ultimate goth(s). One night earlier on Friday, Kaktus has the Desert Darlings dancing up a storm with Monster Mash at 7 p.m. Marble will then close it out Sunday afternoon with the annual Mutt Masquerade, where patrons can bring their best friends dressed up for a canine costume contest from 1 to 3 p.m. After the weekend, Steel Bender is hosting All Hallow’s Eve Eve on Tuesday from 6 to 9. There will be costume contests every 30 minutes, picked by the staff, and anyone in costume gets 10 percent off appetizers, merchandise, and mug club memberships. J.J. Raschel and Mystic Roots will provide the proper music.

Oh, and there is also The 377 Brewery’s second anniversary party, which runs all day Saturday, with plenty of beer and food specials. There will be a limited number (18) of bottles of Barleywine.

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bosque once again fires the Moon Cannon, its out-of-this-world double IPA, before Neo Modern, a brut IPA, debuts in four-pack cans on Friday. Bow & Arrow puckers up with some Strawberry Amigo Sour on Friday. Boxing Bear is releasing bottles of Albu-Murky Hazy IPA on Saturday. Nexus gets in the season with Equinox Pumpkin Ale on Friday. Red Door has more Citra SMASH available this Friday. Steel Bender brings back Raspberry Dynamite after a short absence, while Perry Maison (Cider) is on tap. The 377 also has a new Sour Kolsch made with peaches. Tractor has a tripleheader of new releases with Prickly Pear Cider, Ebony & Ivory, and Milton’s Red Stapler.

Up in Santa Fe, Rowley Farmhouse Ales has new editions of Agent Scully IPA (Season Two, Episode Four) and Fields of Rye (Fall/Winter ’18). Further north in Red River, RRBC has brought back Amarillo SMASH.

Do not forget about the Great American Beer Festival medal winners. Currently on tap are Wooden Teeth (gold medal) at Turtle Mountain, Malpais Stout (silver) at La Cumbre, Germophile (silver) at Rowley Farmhouse Ales, Pistol Pete’s 1888 (bronze) at Bosque, Cherry Wheat (bronze) at Sierra Blanca, Lampshade Porter (bronze) at Starr Brothers, and the collaboration Mocha Hipster Bomb (bronze) at Palmer and Quarter Celtic.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of October 22.

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Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s seven breweries, one in Los Alamos, one in Moriarty, one in Red River, and one in Las Cruces also joining the party.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Hey, remember when we thought last weekend was busy? Ha! It has nothing on this weekend. No, seriously, you all need to start planning now, because there is a lot going on around town and beyond the ABQ city limits. First up, we have a double dose of brewery anniversary parties at Dialogue and Kaktus. For the former, Grasstoberfest is the name of Dialogue’s second anniversary bash, which will take place Saturday from 2 to 10 p.m. There will be live music all day, plus games, food, local art, axe throwing, and Roadrunner Food Bank will have a food drive going, so please bring a donation of a non-perishable food item in any contained except glass. Up in Bernalillo, Kaktus is spreading its five-year anniversary party over Saturday and Sunday. Tickets cost just $5 and get you a silver-plated anniversary pint glass. There will be live music on Saturday from noon to 9 p.m., plus food and beer specials. For Sunday, the Blues Jam takes over at 3 and the Desert Darlings take the stage for a special “Dripping in Gold” performance at 6. There will be special vendors on hand both days.

That, however, is not the entirety of the big events. Santa Fe Brewing is throwing its annual OktoberFiesta from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday at The Bridge, which is next to the brewery off I-25. There will be all sorts of outdoor fun and games from noon to 6, followed by live music inside from 6 to 10. There will be giant mugs of beer, all-you-can-eat sausages, and it all benefits several area charities. Of course, not to be left out, Second Street is throwing a three-day Oktoberfest food celebration at all three of its locations. Check the Rufina Facebook page for all of the delicious dining options to go along with copious amounts of beer. Of course, some would say it is a little late for an Oktoberfest, and that we should all be switching our focus to Halloween. Well, the Desert Darlings will also be at Tractor Wells Park this Friday night at 8 for Hops & Dreams: The Addams Family Edition, so you know that will be a blast. You can also trek out to Sierra Blanca for a Halloween Party on Saturday from 2 to 7 p.m., with a costume contest, games for kids and adults, food, live music, and more. All the staff asks is that you bring a non-perishable food item for donation to charity, and that will get you in the door.

Good luck getting through all of it! (And if we missed anything major, please let us know.)

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Boese Brothers brings back an old favorite in Double Dead Red. Bombs Away drops more Stockpile Milk Stout, plus A.S.B., an American twist on an English ESB. Boxing Bear goes double for its new Brut Strength DIPA. Canteen has a fresh batch of Irish Red ready to go. Kaktus turns over pretty much the entire lineup with Bourbon Ginger Beer, Pumpkin Schwarz, Innkeepers Nitro Ale, Helles Lager, and Oktoberfest now on tap. La Cumbre brings back a seasonal favorite in Witch’s Tit, while also adding Gracias Por Fumar, Honey Cream Ale, and Citra SMASH IPA on tap, and El Jugo cans are back on Friday. Marble brings back Cuvee Rouge today on tap and in bottles at all three locations, with a food pairing from Oni Noodles, plus it also has This is How We Brut It! available on tap. Red Door unveils Solo Saison, made with smoked pumpkin, on Friday. Sidetrack has more 3:10 to Belen Brown available. Starr Brothers visits Planet of the Ape-rricots, with Jack Tooth Grin on deck. The 377 rolls out Whiskey Strawberry Sour and Pumpkin Porter on Thursday. Toltec also gets in on the pumpkin theme with Basic Gourd on Thursday.

Up in Santa Fe, Blue Corn finally has its Brut IPA on tap. Second Street brings back one of our personal favorites, Preacher’s Share, an epic, barrel-aged imperial stout.

Do not forget about the Great American Beer Festival medal winners. Currently on tap are Wooden Teeth (gold medal) at Turtle Mountain, Malpais Stout (silver) at La Cumbre, Germophile (silver) at Rowley Farmhouse Ales, Pistol Pete’s 1888 (bronze) at Bosque, Cherry Wheat (bronze) at Sierra Blanca, Lampshade Porter (bronze) at Starr Brothers, and the collaboration Mocha Hipster Bomb (bronze) at Palmer and Quarter Celtic.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of October 15.

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You know it is truly autumn when the New Mexico Brew Fest returns to the State Fairgrounds.

One of our favorite annual beer festivals, the New Mexico Brew Fest, is back at the State Fairgrounds this Saturday afternoon. The ninth edition starts at 1 p.m. (noon for early entry ticket holders) and runs until 6. Tickets are available online here.

What makes this a favorite fest of ours? Well, to start with, it’s outdoors. Formerly in the Villa Hispana courtyard, it has now moved out onto Main Street, due to a combination of poor access for the breweries to bring in the kegs, and because it was getting a wee bit too crowded in Villa Hispana. The weather is usually beautiful, so cross your fingers that those projected morning rains are long gone by the time this year’s fest kicks off.

Another fun part is that this festival is made up of only New Mexico breweries. A total of 21 are listed as attending, ranging from stalwarts like Bosque, Boxing Bear, Canteen, La Cumbre, Marble, and Santa Fe, plus breweries from far corners of the state, including Lost Hiker (Ruidoso) and Taos Mesa.

There will be plenty of food trucks (Nomad’s BBQ, Street Food Institute, Soo Bak, and more), live music (Cali Shaw Band, The Big Spank, DJ Flo Fader), and some additional fun games and activities.

Of course, the most pertinent question always comes down to what beers are being poured. Well, we can confirm that three beers that recently won medals at the Great American Beer Festival will be available — Turtle Mountain’s Wooden Teeth (gold), Bosque’s Pistol Pete’s 1888 (bronze), Starr Brothers’ Lampshade Porter (bronze) — plus one medal winner from the Great British Beer Festival in The 377’s Schwartzbier (bronze).

These lists were provided by the breweries and are always subject to last-minute changes, depending on availability. For any breweries that have not reported their lists yet, we will add them as they come in right up until the start of the festival.

  • Abbey: TBA
  • Bosque: IPA, Brewer’s Boot, Pistol Pete’s 1888, Elephants on Parade, TBD seasonal
  • Bow & Arrow: TBA
  • Boxing Bear: Uppercut IPA, Black and Blue Tart, Coffee Chocolate Milk Stout, Das Bear German Pilsner, Apple Bear Cider
  • Broken Trail: Double Black, Trailworks IPA, Arroyo Blanco Wheat, Goathead Brown
  • Canteen: Oktoberfest, Exodus IPA, Pecos Trail Brown Ale, Laid Back Lager
  • Desert Valley: TBA
  • Dialogue: Oktoberfest, 3x Tripel
  • Kaktus: TBA
  • La Cumbre: Elevated IPA, A Slice of Hefen, BEER, Witch’s Tit, Project Dank
  • Lost Hiker: TBA
  • Marble: Double White, Passionate Gose, Pumpkin Ale, Westside IPA
  • Nexus: Scotch Ale, Bird of Prey IPA, Coffee & Cream Ale, Imperial “Tribble” Red Ale
  • Palmer: TBA
  • Santa Fe: 7K IPA, Oktoberfest, Freestyle Pilsner, Western Bloc IPA, Hefeweizen
  • Starr Brothers: Lampshade Porter, Rosé Gose, Hanky Spanky, Starrphire Pilsner
  • Steel Bender: Brickie American Stout, Lloyd’s 3 O’Clock Kolsch, Blackberry Dynamite, Skull Bucket IPA
  • Taos Mesa: TBA
  • The 377: Schwartzbier, 377 IPA, Plumberry Sour, Ginger Beer
  • Tractor: Pumpkin Cider, Traktoberfest, Double Plow Oatmeal Stout
  • Turtle Mountain: Wooden Teeth*, Vienna SMLSH, Tropical Menagerie, Turb Majeure (NEIPA), Yum Yum Noir

Also, take note that Left Turn Distilling will be on hand alongside its sibling brewery, Palmer.

Got any questions or comments? Drop us a line.

This is one of those fests where we highly recommend that everyone utilize a designated driver, Lyft, Uber, or other means of transportation than driving yourself if you plan to drink. Stay safe out there!

Cheers!

— Stoutmeister

There is no such thing as too much food at Steel Bender, apparently.

Of all the Crew, I (Stoutmeister) am the only one who does not get a true weekend. Well, sometimes Brandon works, too, but I am guaranteed to work every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday without a vacation-time request, which often limits my excursions to breweries and bars (heck, sometimes I get so tired I just open something at home and drift away, hopefully without spilling anything; being 40 does kinda suck sometimes).

Thus, when I chime in for the Weekend Beer-cap, my adventures date back to my actual days off, Wednesday and Thursday. I made sure to stay busy this past week, too. After a stop by Red Door for an interview, I hit up Tractor Wells Park for a delightful pour of Oktoberfest. It is just as smooth and lightly sweet as I remember. Later that day, I hit up High and Dry for the first time in a while, through no fault of theirs, but I wanted to make sure to stop by for the start of Second Street Brewery’s “residency” as the guest brewery of the month. It is quite the cool concept for High and Dry, and gives a brewery like Second Street a chance to show off its beers to the many folks who think Santa Fe is just too far away, even for beer. I enjoyed a tasty Vienna Lager, while my friend Kristen was quite into the Boneshaker Bitter.

The next day I did the impossible, which is to get my dear sainted mother out to a brewery not named Canteen (she has a serious love for the Irish Red, as I have mentioned before). Yes, dad and I got her to Steel Bender for some OktoberFiesta and a big old mountain of food. The pairings were delightful — she went with the grilled chicken, I stuck with the tried-and-true pulled pork, dad went more traditional with a bratwurst — and after my folks departed, I also made sure to snag some of the Black (Hole Sun) IPA. Big and burly, for sure, and one I would like to try again.

Oh, and I also had a couple beers at Chama River earlier that day. Wait, what?

Stay tuned for a (very) overdue update about what is going on with Chama and Kellys. We are also scheduled for a full sit-down interview with the owners and brewers of Cantero Brewing this week, and of course there is this little thing coming up next week called the Great American Beer Festival. Expect blowout coverage of that, too.

No rest for the wicked, right? Here are the rest of the Crew’s adventures over the actual weekend.

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Red Door abruptly closed its taproom on Wyoming last Friday, but patrons were able to enjoy one last pint or two.

The last month-plus has seen good and bad news coming out of several off-site taprooms around Albuquerque, ranging from two openings to two closings to other potential developments that have left folks wondering if the bubble is bursting. As a public service, we tried to sort through the rumors and figure out the solid facts.

On the good front, La Cumbre Westside and Tractor Westside are both humming along. Tractor opened first on McMahon, just east of Unser, and quickly captured the vibe of its other locations. La Cumbre opened to huge crowds with a touch of the original location blended with a more modern atmosphere. We also got good news that Quarter Celtic will open its first taproom in early 2019.

Then, there was everything else. First came the news at the end of July that Monks’ Corner was closing its doors. The location at Third and Silver was never able to draw in the crowds like Abbey Brewing had hoped, and in the end, the decision was made to shut down that taproom. Whether or not a replacement ever opens is something that will be decided at a later time.

Of course, since then, events might have given Abbey a reason to pause. All of us in the Crew were as surprised as anyone when Red Door abruptly announced the closure of its Northeast Heights taproom at Wyoming and Comanche. The taproom was packed with folks on Friday night, answering the call to help drink up as much of the beer on hand as possible. By the time I arrived around 9 p.m., there were only four house beers and the cider left on tap. All the seasonals were long gone.

I missed owner Matt Biggs by mere minutes, he later told me, but we will be meeting this week to discuss Red Door’s upcoming fourth anniversary. The reason given by Red Door in its social media posts was “a landlord dispute,” which sadly is not all that shocking around Albuquerque. Anyone remember when Pi Brewing had to shut down after its corporate landlord put off repairs to the damaged building for six months? (It had been hit by an out-of-control pickup truck that crashed off Coors.)

The specter of a bad landlord, or something similar, then seemed to crop up with the Soo-bak food truck posted that it was no longer going to park outside Tractor Nob Hill due to an unexplained dispute with the new property owner. That, in turn, led many to suspect Tractor would also shut down its original Albuquerque location, which has been serving folks since 2011. I contacted president/co-owner Skye Devore via email, and she said no one should panic, that Tractor is not closing the taproom.

“The building was purchased last year and we are working on adjusting to the new dynamic, which includes having a cafe next door, but we have no intention of shutting it down,” she wrote. “The food truck situation is delicate. In no way does Tractor want food trucks to cease service and their food will always be welcome in our Nob Hill location.”

So far, it seems this is an isolated incident rather than a radical change to the long symbiotic relationship between Tractor and the food trucks. Considering that the new landlord was also helping Tractor out by giving the brewery the space to expand its walk-in cooler and add more bathrooms, overall the relationship seems to be OK.

Now that everyone is breathing easy again, we feel that we can now report that the Duel taproom in downtown Albuquerque is closing some time in the near future. Real estate ads, like this one on Craigslist, have shown that the space is up for lease, though there has been no official announcement from the brewery in Santa Fe. Events are still listed through Saturday, September 15 on the taproom’s Facebook page, so it seems the closure is not necessarily imminent. We will keep an eye on the situation as it develops.

Before anyone starts screaming that the bubble is popping around here, most of these closures appear unconnected. It is possible to draw the line between Duel and Monks’ Corner, and the general difficulty of staying open downtown. People can point to the crime and other issues there, but we have long felt that downtown is simply a different animal as far as the crowd goes. It is not an area populated with craft beer lovers who want to kick back and relax, but is instead a more high-energy area of rising and falling trends. Basically, the downtown crowd is incredibly fickle, and with a few exceptions (Anodyne, looking at you), it can be very hard for any bar or taproom to gain a foothold there. Then throw in the issues with crime and the ongoing exodus of businesses from the area (which impacts lunchtime and happy hour crowds), and it pretty much conspired to kill Monks’ Corner and, apparently, Duel.

The boom times may be coming to a close, that is true, but it does not necessarily mean a massive contraction is at hand. Breweries and taprooms will not be shutting down en masse, but fewer and fewer are on the docket to open. At present, there are only three confirmed breweries pending for the ABQ metro area, plus three off-site taprooms.

In other words, yes, we have seemingly hit our saturation point. The remaining areas in town that lack craft beer are either too expensive in terms of rent, or too stricken by poverty. Darn, guess we will have to live with the award-winning breweries that are already here, instead of always looking to see who is coming next.

If anyone out there ever has any information for us on our local breweries, please, never hesitate to send it to us at nmdarksidebrewcrew@gmail.com, or contact us via our social media pages.

Until next time, stay positive, Burque.

— Stoutmeister

Greetings, New Mexico craft beer lovers. Stoutmeister here with The Week Ahead in Beer. This column covers all the breweries in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, with Santa Fe’s seven breweries, one in Los Alamos, one in Moriarty, one in Red River, and one in Las Cruces also joining the party.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Stoutmeister puts on his serious face to handle The Week Ahead in Beer.

Every autumn, one of our favorite local beer festivals has long been the New Mexico Brew Fest, otherwise known as “that one at the Fairgrounds.” The festival is back on October 13, but the organizers are teaming up with Marble to host an Early Bird Ticket Party at the downtown taproom this Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. General admission tickets will be available for $20 at this event only. You can also grab a limited edition T-shirt for $10. Throw in Marble beers and music from WhiteWater Ramble, and it should be a fun time in advance of another fun time. Trust us, this is the festival you can’t miss if you’re a lover of all of our local breweries.

There are two other events we wanted to pass along. The 377 Brewery continues its Basement Barrel Project today (Wednesday) with 10-ounce pours of a special aged Wee Heavy. This batch is six months old, and it had brettanomyces added at four months, and organic plums, apricots, and some tamarind added two months ago. If you enjoy your pour enough, you can put your name in for one of two available bottles. Meanwhile, over at Tractor Wells Park on Friday night at 8, the Desert Darlings are back for another Hops & Dreams. This will be the Superheroes & Villains Edition, so if you want to dress up alongside the bellydancers, go for it!

On the new beer front this week, there are a few options to check out. Bosque added EOP Noir to the on-tap lineup, but the bigger news is that cans of Scale Tipper are coming possibly as soon as this weekend. Bow & Arrow hits the target with Fancy Feathers Brut IPA on Saturday. Flix Brewhouse gets a little, um, risqué with Velvety Puppet Love Raspberry Witbier. La Cumbre brings back Snafued Hazy IPA and also adds A Session Divine, while the new Westside Taproom has additional styles including Carmen Hazy Session IPA, Dortmunder, and Thunderbolts and Lighting, a fantastic Bohemian (get it?) pilsner. Marble has a slew of new beers on tap including Session IPA, Jabroni Lime, Cot in the App (Witbier), Smoked Helles, and an old favorite, Thunder From Dortmunder. Quarter Celtic is clicking with Mocha Hipster Bomb, Clark Down Under, and Blood Orange Wheat. Rio Bravo just released a fresh batch of Blueberry Mint Gose. Steel Bender just added Saison de la Rose.

Up in Santa Fe, Blue Corn added Pomegranate Gose, plus the NM IPA Challenge winner, Gatekeeper, will be back on Friday.

Continue reading for all the news that is fit to blog for the week of August 20.

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The New Mexico Distillers Guild continues to grow alongside its brewing brethren.

Editor’s note: As we have documented many times before, real life often gets in the way of all of our stories being published in a timely manner, and sometimes breaking news like the La Cumbre taproom opening can further delay an article. That happened here (the event below was August 11), but we still felt like there was some important information to share, so away we go. — S

The weather was not looking particularly great, as Shawna and I set out for Downtown Albuquerque. What looked to be a storm front was pushing up from the south along the Rio Grande. We took a bit of solace in the idea that we were going to be inside for the second annual NM Distillers Guild Festival, but we were wrong, very wrong. As we reached the Banque Lofts along Central and Second Street, we were greeted at the door, collected our commemorative tasting glasses, and proceeded into an elevator, with the instructions simply to press the “R”. Up we went, nine floors and onto the landing for the massive rooftop patio which was to host the event.

The diffused and setting sun and the views overlooking Albuquerque quickly left a memorable impression, as by a stroke of luck the weather held off, despite some heavy gusts in the beginning. It was reminiscent in form to the beer-focused festivals, with each distillery setting up their unique tables and tents, eagerly waiting to educate and lend a sample.

With but a modest understanding of the styles and production methods at hand, this made for an exciting and eye-opening adventure in terms of flavors and possibilities with distilled spirits and liquors. Participants included Left Turn, Tractor, Broken Trail, Hollow Spirits, Little Toad Creek, Algodones Distillery, Santa Fe Spirits, and Still Spirits. There was certainly no bad, or even mediocre, cocktails or samples to be had. Each distillery had certainly brought out the big guns innovation-wise, and were ready to impress.

Hollow Spirits owner Frank Holloway, right, is a familiar face to folks in the beer scene.

Among all of this is where we met with Frank Holloway and chef Tristin Rogers with Hollow Spirits, which will soon be opening in the Wells Park neighborhood (1324 First Street NW). Frank’s name may sound familiar from his previous endeavors with Red Door Brewing. With a warm reception, and the crowd still building, we took the opportunity to talk about the festival and his current project.

“Luckily we are still small enough that we could pull off this venue, it’s a beautiful view,” Frank said. “Last year’s (Spirits Festival) was up here, too. There haven’t been too many changes. I would say we are getting better at the process. The setups are getting a little bit better, everyone is starting to bring out their tents; all the setups are a little bit better.”

The upturn in interest and founding of more distilleries definitely added to the overall participation this year, Frank said.

“There are more people than last year,” he said. “Tractor is here now, too. That has been huge to the scene, especially when you understand them from the beer side.”

The drinks were poured into the evening.

While still dwarfed by the beer community in terms of numbers, the Spirits Festival was a testament to the growing traction of the distilling side of beverage production here in New Mexico. (Stay tuned to the NMDSBC for a follow-up on the NM Distillers Guild itself.)

Taking the opportunity before the wind decided to almost take off with some tents again, we further discussed the progress of Hollow Spirits and what seems to be the light at the end of the tunnel in terms of projects.

“It seems like we’re about a month out,” Frank said. “We’re painting, about to do the floors, pretty much all the plumbing and electrical is done.”

Frank said he was cautiously optimistic, but determined to finish.

“I’ve been in the bar industry serving, distributing, opened Red Door, since I was 19,” he said. “No matter if your job is the coolest job in the world, you get tired of doing the same thing over and over and over again. So personally, I don’t want to do the same thing over for myself or my staff. So for the most part, we’re going to try and rotate (our selections) as much as possible and do seasonal drinks.”

Hollow Spirits will be working with local growers to acquire some fresh ingredients to help in bursting out of the norm.

Moving onto the topic of food, we were excited to hear there is a kitchen in the works.

“We’re not opening with food, (with the) reason being we were not sure we had the finances to initially start the kitchen, but wound up getting everything we needed for the kitchen,” Frank said. “Now we just don’t want to delay the City in terms of paperwork.”

A reasonable decision, especially when trying to keep the estimated one-month-until opening time frame.

Not all the food at Hollow Spirits will be solely for the purposes of garnishing the cocktails.

“We definitely want to do some pairing dinners, I want him (Tristin) to come to me and be like, ‘Hey, can you make this liquor, I want to do this food,’” Frank said.

While spirits are not as ‘famously’ paired with food as wine or even beer yet, they do have their place among some very satisfying dishes. Tristin added an interesting perspective to the situation.

“The idea is to kind of reprogram New Mexico diners’ minds … even if they’re not hungry, just stop by for some good drinks, enjoy, and treat it more like art,” he said. “So we want to educate you in good food.”

For those of you not as keen to spirits, Hollow Spirits will also be serving beer and wine from across the state.

As the wind finally settled down and no more human anchors were required to keep the tents from taking a 10-story plunge, it was time to try the wares. We met up with some familiar faces, downed a few excellent samples (in my humble opinion most notably Hollow Spirits’ Wheat Vodka, Little Toad Creek’s Te-Guy-La, and Algodones Distillery’s Gin). While this was certainly out of the usual for myself and Shawna, it proved to be a memorable and entertaining evening worth recommending next years Spirits Festival.

Cheers!

— Jerrad & Shawna