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Virtual craft: Net Sesh Fest aims to provide online camaraderie for brewers, fans

The New Mexico Brewers Guild will host Net Sesh Fest 2020 on Saturday, May 9. (Courtesy of The New Mexico Brewers Guild)

Keeping spirits up in a time of uncertainty is what motivated the New Mexico Brewers Guild to create Net Sesh Fest 2020.

The idea sprouted from weekly virtual happy hours the guild has been hosting on Zoom.

“We’re trying to do just solidarity things to keep everybody’s spirits up as much as we can,” said Leah Black, executive director of the New Mexico Brewers Guild. “I know it’s, like, a lot of people are putting on a brave face, but really they’re like crying through the pain. It’s heavy times. This is just a way to get people together and have some fun and remind them that breweries are still existing.”

The virtual beer festival will be held online from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 9.

“It’s going to be love from all over the state, and just to see our brewers’ smiling faces and all of the fans’ faces, too, because we’re going to be all in the same virtual room online,” Black said of the event. “And then, hopefully, they’ll make the mad dash to go out and get their local craft beer. What we’re requesting is, it is obviously BYOB to our virtual event, but we are requesting that they don’t show up unless it’s with a New Mexico craft beer.”

Out-of-state residents who love New Mexico beers but are unable to get their hands on one are still welcome to participate.

“Maybe they grew up in New Mexico or they’re really fond of New Mexico beers but they can’t be here to purchase them,” Black said. “These people have been very generous, and so they’re going to be able to check in from out of state and donate some money. We had someone from South Carolina donate. They sent a little note, which was really cool. They said that they haven’t been able to find a beer that they love as much as New Mexico beer. And I’m sure they have great breweries there, but I know when you get used to a certain style or you get loyal to one, it’s hard to compare.”

The event will feature brewery tours, food pairing suggestions and a behind-the-scenes look at things taking place at various New Mexico breweries.

“Red River (Brewing Co.), they’re going to give us a tour of their brewery up there, and they’ve got some new stuff,” Black said. “… They’re going to show us their whole brewery and restaurant. It’s huge. It’s gorgeous. So they’re going to show us that and make us feel like we’re in Red River.”

Because large gatherings are not currently possible, the hope is to create a sense of online camaraderie among New Mexico breweries and their customers.

“I know everybody’s got their lives and they’re doing their own thing, but a lot of these breweries are still brewing,” Black said. “… The brewing community is so big, so passionate, and really strong here, so we just wanted to get everybody together, and not just the brewing community, but the fans of the beer.”

Net Sesh Fest 2020 tickets range from $6 to $25. All ticketholders get the same access to the event, and proceeds benefit the New Mexico Brewers Guild.

“We pay for lobbyists,” Black said. “We have a lot of stuff coming up. We hope, our fingers are crossed, that in this upcoming special session that the governor is going to hold that we might be able to amend or make some temporary amendments for things that will help our industry. We don’t know. Of course, no one knows until we get there. So we’re paying for lobbyists, and we’re paying for promotion for all of our breweries, but that’s where the money is going to with the New Mexico Brewers Guild.”

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