Albuquerque Hopfest organizer Marne Gaston knows she has a good thing going and is sticking to the formula.
“This year I decided that when something works, don’t mess with it too much,” she said. “We just needed to stick with what works, which is great beer and great music. We are still tinkering with it a little, adding new beers, new music, new games, adjusting the layout, but overall we are going to keep what brings people back year after year, which is an organized, fun event that never disappoints.”
Hopfest, which is celebrating its 11th year, began as a small festival attended by about 250 people. It featured 12 breweries and one band. The event this year will showcase 60 breweries, including 24 from New Mexico. New to Hopfest are Albuquerque’s Hops Brewery and Toltec Brewing, Los Ranchos’ Steel Bender Brewyard, and Santa Fe’s Second Street Brewery. New to the New Mexico market and Hopfest is Bell’s Brewery of Michigan. It is this year’s sponsor for glassware. Austin Eastciders out of Texas, which is also new to Hopfest, will be bringing its ciders.
Craft beer enthusiasts seeking rare and specialty beers need to look no further. The Xtreme VIP Room has exactly what they are looking for.
“So VIP is going to be busy with beers,” Gaston said. “We’ve got all kinds of great beers. We have 11 special beers. They’ll be poured about 15 minutes apart, and that brewery will have a representative on hand to talk about the beers, and we pair small foods with each of the beers.”
Some VIP offerings include Alaskan Brewing Co.’s Imperial Pumpkin Porter, Bell’s Brewery Third Coast Old Ale, and Firestone Walker Brewing Co.’s Bretta Rosé Wild Ale. New Mexico breweries also will be in on the mix. Local VIP offerings include Steel Bender Brewyard’s Tangerine Dynamite, Bosque Brewing Co.’s Pistol Pete’s 1888 Blonde Ale, Canteen Brewhouse’s High Plains Pilsner and Rio Bravo Brewing Co.’s Barrel Aged Grab ’em by the Putin Imperial Stout.
Marble Brewery will be serving its 10th anniversary beer, Ringleader, a version of its most popular beer, Double White.
“It’s aged for six months in stainless steel, but it’s with the Brettanomyces, sour funky,” Gaston said. “So it’s the bright, tart and funky version of everyone’s favorite classic.”
More music has been added to this year’s Hopfest.
“We’re going to have the two indoor stages,” Gaston said. “… We’re still going to have one outdoors, and we’re going to have live music in the VIP room for the first time ever. So we are going to have four stages this year, and lots of new music, local people, but really, really good. And we’ve got some good dancing music on the main stage, as usual, and some smaller duos and trios on the side stage.”