As restaurant critic Ari LeVaux explains in this week’s Food section, IVB Canteen isn’t situated in some cutesy walkable community. “The only reason you’d be in the neighborhood is if you were lost or perhaps having some custom plastics manufactured nearby.” But a glass of Slow Down Brown and a brie-filled Frenchy sandwich are enticing reasons to slip out of work a few minutes early and onto Il Vicino Brewery Canteen’s lively patio.
This coming and the following Saturdays (August 21 and 28), from 8:00am to noon, you can experience what it's like to be a manual laborer on a farm, except instead of getting paid to do the work, you then have to pay for the produce that you harvested by hand.
Huh? What do you mean by "that doesn't sound appealing?" Oh! I forgot to mention what you'll be picking and how much fun you'll have. This is about hops, grown right here in New Mexico in Bosque Farms. On top of that, they're even good hops and with some characteristics other than the usual fare normally available. I've used these hops before and they're delightfully aromatic. I'm not going to say "Forget the Northwest" but De Smet has definitely put New Mexico on the map. Sure, you might be able to find some beer made with these hops at High Desert (Las Cruces) or Blue Corn (Santa Fe) but there's just nothing like doing it yourself, with ingredients that you took right off the bine.
Michael De Smet (the farmer) says everyone and anyone who is interested in hops is invited. If you arrive after the crowd and there's no one to greet you at the gate, just walk through the farm (in the direction toward the river) and you'll find the hops at the back.
Bring insect repellent, sunscreen, and some cash (don't worry, the price is absurdly low, at least by homebrew supply standards, call it the "but I did some of the work!" discount). Meet a bunch of grinning brewers who are all ecstatically sniffing their hands for some reason, and the farmer who thinks it’s not quite as fun when you smell it day after day after day after day after day after day. Get your George Orwell on. Learn.
2405 McNew Rd, Bosque Farms, NM (From Albuquerque: South on I-25 to exit 215. Take highway 47 south, thru Isleta reservation into Bosque Farms. Turn right onto South Bosque Loop, then follow it feft onto McNew Rd. You will pass Bonita Dr. and then look for a farm on the right, with a De Smet Dairy sign on the gate.) This is a dog friendly outing (duh, it's a farm!).
New Mexico’s ninth annual cage fight de hops (¿cómo se dice “cage fight” en español?) started at High Desert Brewing in Las Cruces on Tuesday, traveled up to Santa Fe Brewing company Thursday, and settles in for the final stop in Albuquerque tomorrow. The gloves come off at Chama River Brewing (4939 Pan American W Fwy NE, 342-1800) from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
You, citizen drinker, just pay $20 for a tray of samples from all the participating local brewers—11 of em!—and vote on your favorite. The exciting twist is that the tasting and judging is done blind: You won’t know who’s who until all the votes are in and tallied. There are some extra niceties as well, but let’s get right to the breweries (copied and pasted from nmbeer.org, which flickered on again after an almost yearlong hiatus. Welcome back!):
Blue Corn Cafe & Brewery, Santa Fe
Chama River Brewing, Albuquerque
Hallenbrick Brewing, Albuquerque
High Desert Brewing, Las Cruces
Il Vicino Brewing, Albuquerque
Marble Brewery, Albuquerque
Santa Fe Brewing, Santa Fe
Second Street Brewery, Santa Fe
Rio Grande Brewing, Moriarity
Three Rivers Brewing, Farmington
Turtle Mountain Brewing, Rio Rancho
Even if you can’t make it, pick up next week’s Alibi for ABQ Beer Geek’s recap of the challenge and its bitter winners and losers (hops are bitter, you see, so the winners and the losers ... oh, never mind). And be sure to check www.ABQBeerGeek.com for even more constantly updated beer wisdom. On tap right now: The Beer Geek reports that it’s Il Vicino Tap Room’s last night at their current location. (Look for the new place at 2381 Aztec NE sometime in or after September.) He has pictures, too.