New Mexico has a beer culture. There’s no question about it. Within three minutes of driving in any direction, you’ll inevitably hit a craft brewery. There are a lot of factors that contributed to this, with number one being New Mexico’s liquor license laws being one of the strangest in the US, giving the state a flat number of available licenses, causing prices to skyrocket, sometimes upwards of $500,000 or more. Conversely, acquiring a license for a craft brewery, after all fees are handled, costs significantly less. All this (which is incredibly oversimplified, forgive me) is to say that when we told New Mexicans they can’t open a bar because there were too many bars already, we found a loophole and created an economic boom, becoming one of the biggest craft beer capitals in the US.
That brings us to ABQ Beer Week 2019. This weeklong celebration of drinking here in the 505 is seven straight days of drinking events to help you better acquaint yourself with the scene. By the time this article is on newstands, you’ll have missed two days, so we’re going to help you catch up with the last five. Beer Week is about getting you engaged with the local beer scene and showing off the magic of what New Mexican breweries have to offer, both behind the bar and on the food scene.
May 29 is where our journey begins, and we kick off with Steel Bender Brewyard Tap Takeover at M'Tucci's Market & Pizzeria. Steel Bender, known for some of the more adventurous beers made locally, will be on tap at M’Tucci’s (6001 Winter Haven Rd.), who have some amazing food. Finding a magic pairing shouldn’t be a problem with these two working in tandem. If that’s not your style, what about the Tractor Brewing Company Donut and Beer Pairing with Rebel Donut? Taking place at the Wells Park location (1800 Fourth Street NW), how can you say no to a beer and donut pairing, especially when it’s Rebel who’s involved? This starts at 4pm, so be sure to get there early before all the donuts are gone.
May 30 finds events really picking up speed, starting with La Cumbre Brewing Co. Beer Dinner at Nob Hill Bar & Grill, starting at 6pm. Nob Hill Bar & Grill (3128 Central Ave. SE) has always managed to find the balance between accessible and upscale, and pairing up with La Cumbre will give them the opportunity to flex that style a little easier. The Great Gatsby Edition of Gin & Jazz at Tractor Brewing Company - Wells Park is also going on, beginning at 5pm. Featuring the music of local legends Le Chat Lunatique and Eddie Brewer and the Manic Episodes along with prohibition-era inspired drinks, there’ll be enough drinking and dancing to keep you busy all night.
May 31 has only one event you need to see (kidding, they’re all amazing but this one is too cool not to highlight), which is the Ultimate Comedy Fight Club at Kilt Check Brewing Co. (4814 Hardware Dr. NE). When the doors open at 8pm, your $10 ticket gets you into an all-out comedic brawl with four local comedians fighting for your affection. You’ve never seen true comedy until someone has to come out swinging, so help support this unique event.
June 1 has Pop Fizz Paleta Pairing with Strawberry Pale Ale Collaboration from Rio Bravo Brewing Co. & High and Dry Brewing (1912 Second Street NW). Paletas, strawberry pale ale and Pop Fizz are all I need to hear to get excited about this. Starting at 2pm, you can be a part of this magical combo that will really only ever happen here in Albuquerque.
Finally, on June 2, you could check out Hoppy Birthday to Us! Casa Vieja's Brewing Anniversary (4541 Corrales Rd.) which begins at noon. Casa Vieja is worth checking out if you’ve never been, just to see something new and interesting. We get so used to our old favorites that we often forget to check out others, swing by and see what all is going on.
This is just a small sample of events going on this week for ABQ Beer Week, but we promise you, there are a ton more. If you want to investigate them for yourself and get in on the weeklong beer run, be sure to swing by their website for a full listing of all events and times over at abqbeerweek.com.