1996 Taos Brewmaster's Festival

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The sun-drenched Sangre de Cristo Mountains at the southern tip of the Rockies offered the perfect setting for the Taos Brewmaster's Festival on Saturday, December 14, 1996. After a day on the slopes at the Taos Ski Valley it was hard to resist quenching the thirst worked up on the mountain at Tenderfoot Katies. For $10, the beer flowed unimpeded from 4 'til 7 pm via 4 ounce taster glasses. The turnout was excellent on both sides of the tasting tables and the organizers did a superb job facilitating easy access to the beer, providing snacks and softdrinks, keeping rinse buckets empty and water pitchers full, and offering an upstairs area for those looking for loud music with dancing and a downstairs area for unobstructed tasting.

Draft beers from New Mexico and Colorado brewers were joined by holiday beers from larger distributors. Some notables included the Bock Holiday from Rio Grande Brewing; dark, full-bodied, malty rich, and crisp finish. From Phantom Canyon came their Barley Wine; smooth, malty sweet, great dry finish, and only four months old! Brought in by Merchant du Vin, the Samuel Smiths Winter Warmer was aptly named; smooth, clean malty flavor, and subtle alcohol finish. Brewed a few miles away at Eske's Brewpub was the Holiday Cheer; a seasonal favorite, the dark amber liquid offered a complementary blend of spices matched to a medium-bodied brew that suggested nutmeg and orange zest. Redhook brought their Winterhook 97; a dark amber color, hops dominated the flavor balance but spices no doubt created the complex, dry finish. Other participants bringing multiple quality beers included Anchor Brewing, Assets, Cabezon, Celis, Crested Butte, Embudo Station, Full Sail, Great Divide, Il Vicino, Irons, Left Hand, Oasis, Red Hook, Rio Bravo, and Way 2 Cool sodas.

Combining the attractions of craft-brewed beer and skiing is becoming much more popular, and festivals such as this benefit both industries. Look for annual events of this type to become commonplace wherever good beer and good snow coexist. Next year expect more attention to be given to the ever-present problem of second-hand smoke destroying the tasting enjoyment of serious beer tasters.

Taos Brewmaster's Festival
J.P. Rael - Marketing Manager
P.O. Box 90
Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico, USA 87525
(505)776-2291

Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - December, 1996

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