Monday, October 10, 2011

It's Always Sunny at NM Brew Fest

I was prepared to skip this fest.
Not because of any ill will towards the NM Brew Fest, but rather the weather the previous night, when it was cold and rainy, had me ready to see if I could make a day of shopping the sunglasses, cell phones, and brass knuckle belt buckle kiosks in Coronado Mall. Luckily, the weather cleared up to bring a sunny and just a little cool day.

Upon entering the fest, we headed for the VIP area, where we were greeted with dishes from Chef Shawn Weed, who had prepared a number of courses incorporating different Odell beers. Chocolate cupcakes made with Odell Cutthroat Porter and topped with a peanut butter frosting, anyone? No? Shoulda shelled out the extra bucks for the VIP tickets then. The VIP tickets also got you a Whole Foods bag filled with...not much, really. I appreciated the free beer token for Turtle Mountain along with a temporary tattoo with the brewery's logo, but the menu for Bailey's on the Beach and various flyers for other businesses didn't do much for me. The VIPs were treated to an Odell booth pouring their solid regular lineup along with an Oktoberfest beer available only at the Fest and at Odell's tap room in Ft. Collins, CO.

There was another area partitioned off (not to be confused with the VIP area, please) where Whole Foods had a tent that housed pours of Smoked Porter and IPA from Stone Brewing Co. More Odell beers were poured in the same area: Myrcenary DIPA and the expensive ($25 a bottle) Woodcut #5. Nice touch by the Odell rep to break out the really good stuff for the fest.

The popularity of the fest equated to longish lines but they moved quickly. I think people here are finally catching on to the idea that you don't get to the front of the line and set up camp while trying everything. And there was plenty to try, from Blue Corn's Pumpkin Ale to Chama's Amarillo Pale Ale to Il Vicino's 2007 St. Bob's Imperial Stout to La Cumbre's GABF multi-medal winning beers (more on that when I finally update the GABF trip). The worst lines of the day were in for the one men's and one women's bathroom on the event grounds. There were other bathrooms outside the fest grounds but it didn't seem like anyone wanted to get too far away from all the beers. A special thanks to the workers at Expo NM for making sure the bathrooms stayed clean and stocked- at one point, a worker stood handing out paper towels to patrons but he wasn't expecting tips. Here's a tip for you: if you skipped out on this year's NM Brew Fest, please put it on your calendar for next year. It is a fun, well-organized fest in a great location.

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