Piñon Coffee Porter

Written By Barney Gumbel

With the Albuquerque winter here without much notice, stronger and darker ales are popping up at all the breweries around town. I found myself wandering into Rio Bravo Brewing located in Albuquerque’s increasingly popular “brewery district” just North of downtown. I was pleasantly surprised by their enormous selection with a brew for everyone (lagers, hefes, stouts, IPAs, and many more.) But there were 3 new ales that caught my attention.

rio-bravo

First off was the Piñon Coffee Porter. A harmonious blend of velvety maltiness  and bold, roasty coffee flavors. This beer is a collaboration with the New Mexico Piñon Coffee Co. using their cold brew coffee and roasted beans.  Rocking a 5.4% ABV, this ale is sessionable and almost feels like drinking a carbonated cold brew that provides a warm buzz.

rio-bravo2The Oatmeal Stout was a perfect follow up. (5.9%). A robust ale with cacao and mild coffee notes that perfectly compliment the frigid weather.

I wanted to end my time at Rio Bravo on a strong note. The Belgian Ale was my answer. It yields a hefty 10.5%. It had all the desirable traits of a Belgian-style ale. Prominent and complimentary flavors of coriander, honey, and citrus hide the bold ABV brilliantly. It is a beautiful ale to drink on a cold Albuquerque night.

Rio Bravo not only offers fantastic beers, but exciting events. This Friday, December 9 Rio Bravo Brewing Company will be celebrating the release of these beers as well as the can release of the Piñon Coffee Porter. The facility is enormous with a huge outdoor area equipped with a gorgeous outdoor stage that are available for private events. The Noms will be playing music in the actual brewery, a unique and exciting way to see music and enjoy local beer.

CHEERS!

Dialogue Started

Written By Barney Gumbel

dialogue1Dialogue Brewing is the newest addition to Albuquerque’s impressive arsenal of breweries, but it aims for something new. It offers beers not as frequently created in New Mexico. Only two weeks into the game, Dialogue is offering an impressive and unique selection: a Berliner Weisse, Dark Belgian Strong, Lychee-Mandarin Wheat, Citrus IPA, and a German Lager.

Located at First and Kinley, Dialogue makes a fine addition to the downtown brewery district. The atmosphere is cool and calm with plenty of space; putting forward a minimalist vibe. It is the kind of place you don’t mind spending a couple of hours in. They have a sculpture garden with massive tree-like structures equipped with speakers to create 4D sound.

dialogue3I walked in there last week. The taproom was illuminated with golden New Mexico sunlight thanks to a large west-facing door. I ordered the Berliner Weisse, a rarely-offered beer in the New Mexico brewery scene.

It is gorgeous. A vibrant pale yellow illuminated by the sun it was brewed under. The first sip rushes your palette with a welcoming tartness; but it does not obliterate your tongue or linger with acidity. It is followed with a balanced breadiness. Much like the environment of Dialogue, the Weisse is both bold and refreshing. With an ABV of 4% and a remarkably lively taste, it is a beer that is easy to sip on all day.

Thinking about stopping by? Introduce yourself this Saturday for their block party supporting the 9th Annual Hops + Harvest Festival. Enjoy live music and their new Saison and Sour Brown Ale.

1501 1st St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102

White Out Returns

Written By Barney Gumbel

Marble White Out With the arrival of the summer solstice Albuquerque is blessed once again with the return of Marble’s White Out. White Out is a Witbier that uses the popular ‘Double White’s” blend with the addition of coriander and curacao orange peel. It’s 9% as opposed to it’s 7% sister beer ‘Double White’. The White Out release party was paired with musical accompaniment by The Daily Grind, an alternative rock band from Pittsburgh that brought in the summer vibes all afternoon.

Pale and hazy in a 16oz glass I thought it’d be a waste not to pair it with food by local food truck My Sweet Basil. The pint of White Out and a mint caprese burger paired beautiful combining savory bites with spicy, citrusy sips.

Marble (111 Marble Ave NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102) is consistently releasing quality seasonal and one-off brews and is a place all local beer drinkers should visit. This Thursday they will have a soft-opening of their rooftop for member’s of the brew club. On Friday July 1st, the public can enjoy a beautiful 360 view of downtown Albuquerque and the Sandia Mountains.

 

New seasons, new beers

Written By Barney Gumbel

Out of work early on one the most beautiful day of last week, I drive towards downtown. I make my way into the frequently-crowded Downtown Marble Taproom. I pass the countless happy dogs with their happy beer-drinking owners when I notice an under-construction rooftop area. An exciting edition to one of downtown’s entertainment gems.

 

On the board I notice three new beers since the last time I visited: Pilsner Añejo, Rita!, and an Apricot Sour. I order the Añejo first since Marble has always made my favorite pilsner.

 

Pilsner Añejo is their regular pilsner with the added Brett Yeast and aged in tequila barrels for over a year. It has a lot of the same characteristics as the pilsner but with an acidic finish and a pinch of tequila flavoring as well. An interesting take on the pilsner and a must try for anyone who appreciates anything barrel aged or with sour characteristics. A lovely fit for the warm weather.

 

Next was a pale glass of Rita. The Rita is a kettle-soured ale brewed with salt and limes. With the first sip it almost reminded me of a combination of a gose style ale and a margarita. I was informed Rita goes well combined with the Añejo as a sort of beer margarita with salty-lime base.

 

Last up was “Abricot” a sour wheat ale aged in French oak. It was absolutely lovely with the warm weather. Tart, dry and very easy to drink for having a 7.4% abv. I feel it is often hard to nail fruit based wheat ales. Often the fruit comes forward too much or tastes artificial. Abricot had everything I find perfect about fruit beers: strong, tart, and well-balanced.

 

A couple days prior to my visit they released Red Ale and Double White in cans. These two along with the pilsner are my absolute favorite flagship beers from Marble. My first experience having a Belgian white in a can was in Amsterdam. It was a Hoegaarden, and for some reason tasted far better in the can than in the bottle. The double white is not so different. Of course there is no better place to get beer than from the keg, but when on the go the can is the way to go. The red ale had the same effect, I enjoyed it far better in the can than the bottle.

 

CHEERS!

Duel Brewing in ABQ

by Dillon Cullinan

duel3On a Monday evening I feel the weather warming as I make my way past Sister Bar on  7th and central. I walk inside Duel Brewing where I am greeted by an array of colorful windows that cast vibrantly on to the taproom floor. I am taken back by the enormously long room and zig-zag bar. The downtown taproom is the second location for Duel company.

I am greeted by the bartender and asked what I would lie to drink. I wanted to start light and ordered the “Marcel”, a Belgian-style Witbier. It is crisp, vibrant, and has a touch of tartness, all the great qualities of a Wit. It felt fitting with the order but I wanted to try something different. I found what I was looking for in the “Bad Amber” which contrary to it’s name is absolutely lovely. Malty with a touch of sweet, not too heavy but packs a punch. I found it perfect for the transition from cold to warm weather.

duel2To continue my tour of Duel’s brews I order a 5 oz pour of the “Cupiditas” a barrel-aged sour amber.  If a bar offers a sour option I can never resist. I was not disappointed. It had a touch of funkiness and had a sour-forward taste.

Trent Edwards is the owner of Duel Brewing and is also a painter. He says that the making of beer not too different from making a painting. Art in liquid form. He wanted to create a space to hideout and feel at home. A place that offered high quality beers brewed locally and a nice environment to enjoy them in, while also preserving a European feel.

There was an impressive amount of Duel brews I didn’t get to try while I was there. Next time I’m in I have the “Goya” at the top of my list, an imperial stout with an impressive abv of 14.9%

With the approaching warm weather this will surely be a popular place to grab a pint after work, or before a night out, or to spend your night at. They have live music here most Thursdays and other weekend events that can be found on their websites.

Bow and Arrow Brewing Draws Us In For Their Release

bow-arrow1
By Dillon Cullinan

Deep into the pink hue of another New Mexico sunset I walked past the old warehouses of northern downtown. I soon happened upon the vast and impressive entrance to Bow and Arrow Brewing Company (602 McKnight Ave NW Albuquerque, New Mexico) which is outfitted with bright red lights and a welcoming patio area.

I walked past the packed patio into what I’d never seen in an Albuqerque Brewery: a line. While in line I could see what the wait was for. A massive taproom complete with long communal tables, warm lighting, and a hospitable and exciting atmosphere.

bow-arrow2

This place immediately reminded me of breweries in San Diego, a bit reminiscent of a smaller version of Ballast Point or Stone Brewing. To me Bow and Arrow nails what a lot of local breweries aim for is a hospitable and fun environment.

I found myself a beer menu that had beautiful descriptiions of their selection. My first instinct at a new brewery is to go for the least common beer. In this case it was their Sun Dagger, a Belgian-Style Saison.

As promised it was both tart, complex, and nothing short of refreshing. It made me look forward to the warmer weather. I will certainly be back on a warm spring night sipping on one of these soon.

CHEERS!

 

Get Your Green Jeans On

By Dillon Cullinangreen-jeans2

Green Jeans Farmery is the breath of fresh air that Albuquerque needs. Made from a handful of shipping containers, Green Jeans offers a location for many of Albuquerque’s finest eateries. It is a welcoming setting with a sense of community solidified by the shared eating areas.

The Santa Fe Brewing Company Taproom certainly seems to be the focal point at the center. The taproom is two levels which includes a lengthy bar, a patio, a second floor with a shuffleboard, as well as a large terrace. Outside food is not only allowed, it is encouraged. Menus from the surrounding eateries are found throughout the bar.

green-jeans1The businesses are built around a common area complete with a large fire pit. Music plays from various speakers throughout the complex. Opposite of Santa Fe’s taproom, you’ll find an indoor cafeteria-like area and plenty of food choices: Rustic Burger, SoupDog, Zeus’ Juice, and Chill’N Ice Cream. The cafeteria area is complete with hanging plants and a table of toys for children.

Without any surprise, all of Santa Fe’s flagship beers are available on tap and in six packs. They also have many other seasonal and limited offers. They also have the option to combine their ‘Chicken-Killer’ barley-wine with a beer of your choice.

One ale that stuck out to me is their “Adobe Igloo” which is described as a “winter warmer”. It’s sweet, malty, with a touch of spice. These were recently available in can form.

After a couple of the Adobe Igloos I ordered some tacos next door at Rockin’ Tacos. One being grilled tequila shrimp the other a baja-style fish taco. Both delicious and both washed down with Santa Fe’s Golden Ale in their lovely sun-drenched patio area.

With each day that passes it seems Green brings in more and more crowds of food and beer-loving locals. This place without a doubt will be an even bigger hit when the weather warms up.

 

CHEERS!

Boese Brothers Brewery: Grand Opening Doesn’t Disappoint

By Laura Kyler

Craft-beer enthusiasts, in jeans and sun-dresses, were ready to start the weekend early when they shoehorned into Albuquerque’s newest brewery Friday afternoon ( 601 Gold Ave SW, Albuquerque, NM ).

boese2The standing-room only-crowd delighted in Boese Bros’ selection of extra pale ales, brown porters and, for those preferring lighter, less-hoppy beers, the white and Scottish ales.

Patrons grouped together in clusters, conversing, amid the blonde colored brick walls and leaded glass windows, giving it a community pub feel. The historic space inspired local pride and transported those inside back to a time when aesthetics were paramount and architecture and design were seen as worth the investment.

Perhaps it was their first day best behavior, or perhaps the brothers brought some of that small town Roswell charm with them, but Boese Bros’ server team was one of the best the city has to offer. They understood their beer and were able to explain the boese1characteristics without being patronizing. George Boese, one of the brewery’s owners, set an amiable tone by bussing tables, talking with patrons, and answering questions. They were all quick to flash a smile and remained efficient despite the crowds.

There were a few small kinks. The acoustics need tinkering as the sound bounced off the brick walls and concrete floors at a deafening level. And, as with all downtown venues, parking and transportation must be planned out in advance if you want to avoid long walks.

The grand opening of Boese Brothers Brewery marked the start of another well-run local, Albuquerque business. Founded by brothers and fueled by community support, Boese Brothers embodies the spirit of New Mexico and more importantly, gives yet another admirable tweak to the cultural landscape of Albuquerque.

Nexus Brewery & Restaurant Melds Cultures and Hits High Marks

By Laura Kyler

nexus-ren

Nexus Hostess – Chantel Moril

Boasting one of the best gumbos in the Southwest with more than 10 brews to boot, Nexus Brewery is one of the nation’s handful of black-owned breweries, which comprise fewer than 1 percent of all breweries in the U.S. If that wasn’t elite company enough, its cultural mashups, such as the red chile collard greens, have drawn praise from Food Network personality Guy Fieri, who dubbed its offerings “New Mexican soul food.”

As the craft beer movement grows, people of color continue to be the untapped market. Open 11-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11-8:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nexus’ recently renovated restaurant and brewpub should be added to your short list.

In a recent interview, owner Ken Carson and brewmaster Kaylynn McKnight discussed what makes their brewpub stand out.

Q. What sets Nexus apart from other breweries across the state?

Ken: The food, the clientele, and the beer. Our food has been featured on national shows such as Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives, as well as a number of local publications and outlets. Our original draw was our chicken and waffles. Our gumbo is truly one of the best in the Southwest. Guy Fieri’s team called our cuisine “New Mexican soul food” because our recipes are creative and include ingredients like red chile collard greens. I also think we have, hands down, some of the most diverse clientele of all the restaurants in Albuquerque. The black community generously supports us and makes up some of our loyal customer base, but we also appeal to the typical white male 20-40-year-old craft beer drinker. I think we may be one of three black-owned breweries in the nation. There’s one in Boston and one in Colorado that I know of. [Editor’s note: ABQBeer.com found a couple black-owned breweries in New York City (Brooklyn and Harlem) and one in New Orleans.] We have a wide age range that comes in too. The seniors are drawn to the mashed potatoes and comfort foods; the younger crowd are more likely to try something new like the honey fried chicken.

nexus-warp-10-golden

Warp 10 Golden

Q. Have you settled into a flagship or some year-round brews, or will things rotate in the future?

Kaylynn: We have a pretty stable year round set of beers. When I came on board, I changed the red ale recipe to improve it a bit and we used to have a wit bier that evolved into our honey chamomile wheat. Our flagship beer is our malt forward Scottish Ale – which is unique for a town full of hop heads (smiles wryly). We also have one we call SMASH (Single Malt And Single Hop) and a Czech Saaz – noble hops – mild earthy – unique for a pale ale. Our Imperial Cream Ale won the silver medal at the World Beer Cup in 2012 in Category 13: ‘Other Strong Beer’.

Q. Do you have any plans for wild/sour beers?

Kaylynn: I trained under Jeff [Erway] at La Cumbre and both of us are a bit bug phobic. No bugs on site. Maybe a kettle sour or maybe a gose as a seasonal but nothing really in the plans right now. Marble and some of the others have been making kettle sours and adding yogurt to keep the lactobacillus contained. It’s sort of a cheat but smart if you are concerned about contaminating your entire operation.

Q. As one of the only female brewers in the state, how have you been treated, and what advice do you have for women who are interested in learning more about craft beer?

Kaylynn: I notice it the most when I do festivals and people come up to the male server who is with me and direct all of their brewing questions at him. My advice is that anyone who can lift 50-pound bags of ingredients, and who has the dedication and persistence, can be a brewer. When I first started working for Jeff, I’m sure he had his doubts. But I proved myself, and here I am today. I am a member of Pink Boots Society, but I don’t really focus on my being a female brewer.

Nexus’ unique cultural influences are welcome respite in a predominantly white craft-beer industry.

Cheers!

Are Craft Beer Taxes Going Down?

By Laura Kyler

A Bill to Reduce Craft Brew Industry Taxes Has Been Introduced In Congress

Capitol-Dome

The US Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (S.1562), a congressional bill introduced just a few weeks ago, will cut taxes and modernize regulations for craft brewers, cider makers, vintners, and distillers.

In New Mexico, we currently have 47 breweries with about a dozen scheduled to open in the near future. NM breweries, in 2014, collectively produced a total of 65,000 barrels, and are expected to produce 80,000 in 2015 and 120,000 in 2016.

In 2014, the three NM breweries with the largest production were Santa Fe Brewing Co. at 17,500 barrels, Marble Brewing with 13,000 barrels and La Cumbre Brewing at about 7,500 barrels.  If the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2015 passes, our breweries’ excise taxes would be reduced from $7 to $3.50/barrel, which is a 50% reduction per barrel (or about $300K statewide).

NM brewers guild logo

The Brewers Association is opposed to the current level of excise taxes and stated, “The BA opposes excise taxes on beer as a matter of public policy. The taxes are paid by small brewers whether or not they are profitable. They are also paid by consumers regardless of income level and are historically very regressive taxes. The total amount of excise taxes paid on beer exceeds the total amount of profit in the brewing industry.”

The Beer Institute, established in 1986, is the national trade association primarily for the macro brewing industry, however they do represent both large and small brewers, as well as importers and industry suppliers. The Institute’s website states that they are committed to the development of sound public policy and to the values of civic duty and personal responsibility.

BA_BICurrently the different associations are working together to grow broad bipartisan support for the bills in the House and the Senate. However, this hasn’t always been the case. The Brewers Association spent years promoting the Small BREW Act against the Macro Brew Industry’s Fair BEER Act.Previously the Brewer’s Association was against giving importers and larger brewers a tax break of any sort.

While the Macro Brew Industry, concerned that they would continue to lose market share to the craft breweries, felt any tax breaks should be as broad-based as possible. S.1562 is compromise legislation, introduced by Senator Wydon (a Democrat from Oregon), and it is supported by both the Brewers Association and the Beer Institute.

According to the Brewers Association the bill in its current form would do the following:

  • Reduce the federal excise tax to $3.50 per barrel on the first 60,000 barrels for domestic brewers producing fewer than 2 million barrels annually, and reduce the amount mid sized breweries pay from 60,001 to 2 million barrels to $16 per barrel.
  • Reduce the federal excise tax to $16 per barrel on the first 6 million barrels for all other brewers and all beer importers.
  • Keep the excise tax at the current $18 per barrel rate for barrelage over 6 million. (Initially the macro breweries opposed an earlier version of this bill, in part because they were going to continue to be penalized, while the craft breweries were going to be allowed a lighter tax burden)
  • Reduce the bonding and filing requirements for any American craft brewery that pays less than $50,000 per year in federal excise taxes.
  • Allow for consolidated bookkeeping for brew pubs.
  • Expand the list of ingredients that could be automatically included in a beer without approval from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).
  • Allowsmall, unaffiliated brewers to collaborate on new beers by giving them the flexibility to transfer beer between breweries without tax liability.

Jeff ErwayIMG_7568, President and Master Brewer at La CumbreBrewing Co, said “the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (S. 1562) represents reform that would allow small brewers to level the playing field in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Breweries around the state would save more than $300,000 in 2016 collectively. That’s money that will go to purchasing new and better equipment, larger fermenters, and hiring more skilled brewery staff, delivery drivers and sales staff. I, my co-workers, and my friends around the NM craft brewing community look forward to growing our independent breweries in a legislative environment that bolsters local,small, artisanal businesses.”

The number of breweries in the U.S. has grown steadily from 1,447 in 2005 to more than 3,400 today. And that trend isn’t any different in Albuquerque. Craft beer is now claiming an 11% share of the beer market by volume and a more than 19% share of that same market in dollars. With Marble Brewery starting a $1.5 M expansion and more than a dozen new breweries getting ready to open their doors across New Mexico.

A case has been made that craft breweries aren’t hurting for money. However, in a state with little economic growth and with Anheuser-Busch InBev buying up small breweries across the nation, many argue that NM not only would benefit from a lower tax burden for our breweries as a way to distinguish itself from our rapidly improving out of state competitors and from the injection of much needed resources into our economy.

Where do NM legislators stand?

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Last Tuesday Congresswoman Lujan Grisham, Albuquerque’s Representative in the US House, hosted a fundraiser at La Cumbre Brewing Co.

Jeff Erway, in his opening remarks, mentioned his appreciation of her becoming a member of the Congressional Craft Brew Caucus and signing on as a co-sponsor or the previous version of the bill, the 2014 Small Brew Act.

When asked about the congresswoman’s support for reducing the excise tax for smallbreweries her Communications Director provided this quote, “The Congresswoman signed on [to the 2014 Small Brew Act] because small breweries have been a positive force for economic development, particularly downtown. The bill would have decreased costs for small brewers and made it easier for them to enter an industry that can have high start-up costs. It could encourage further entrepreneurship and the growth of businesses that are good community partners.” Gilbert Gallegos, Communications Director & Deputy District Director, Office of U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

According to Andrew Stoddard, Deputy Chief of Staff/Communications Director for Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, “Congressman Luján had a productive meeting with a representative of New Mexico’s craft brewing industry [in early June] and is reviewing all aspects of the legislation and the impact it would have on the state.  As New Mexico’s craft brewing industry continues to grow, it is playing an important role in our economy and showcases the talent and entrepreneurial spirit of our local brewers, which are being recognized not only in New Mexico, but across the region and the country for the quality of their work.”

Neither Senator Udall nor Senator Heinrich were available for comment on the new bill. Erway encourages “every beer lover in Albuquerque, and the state of NM to contact Senator Heinrich and Senator Udall and ask them to support their state’s small breweries by sponsoring The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act.”

 

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