Santa Fe WinterBrew, a celebration featuring local breweries and restaurants, "hop"ped onto the scene a year ago. This year's WinterBrew sold out days before the event, a sign of the excitement surrounding it as well as the growth in popularity of the beer culture. None of this surprises me, though, since New Mexico is home to an array of stellar, high-quality microbreweries, most of them located right here in Santa Fe. On Jan. 25, these local vendors stimulated taste buds and quenched appetites inside the spacious Santa Fe Farmers' Market Pavilion. The rustic warehouse, filled to capacity with restaurateurs, brewers, and beer enthusiasts, vibrated with exuberance all night long.
The event kicked off at 4 pm and everyone was handed an empty beer glass and a $5 food/drink voucher upon entering. I immediately began salivating from the aroma of hops in the air, so with glass in hand, I took to the booths.
I first stopped at the ever-popular and always satisfying Santa Fe Brewing Company, where I purchased a glass of one of my favorites, the Happy Camper I.P.A. I then made my way to Marble Brewery and sampled their Red Ale. Everyone relished in the fun and the vendors exuded grandeur in showcasing their best beers. However, Duel Brewing, the newest brewery out of Santa Fe, generated the longest line and created the buzz of the night. Curious patrons were able to choose from two of their Belgian-style beers and they both exceeded expectations.
Other beers I sampled and loved were Second Street Brewery's Cream Stout, La Cumbre's Elevated IPA, Tractor Brewing Company's 2Pac Red Ale, and Rio Grande Brewing Company's Pancho Verde Chile Cerveza. But my favorite of the night was Blue Corn's Imperial Porter, which was aged in bourbon barrels and contained sweet hints of vanilla.
2013 WinterBrew was a spectacular night filled with fun, laughs, lively conversations, and great beer. With all the unique and quality local breweries, New Mexico, and Santa Fe in particular, is now on the lips of many travelers as a beer lover's destination.
For more information on Santa Fe breweries, restaurants, and upcoming events, visit www.santafe.org!
P.S. Event organizers are already planning next year’s WinterBrew and say they are certain of growing the event even larger, perhaps needing an even bigger pavilion to host the event!