Monday, August 14, 2017

It's Hopfest Time Again

Want 10% off Hopfest tickets? Sure you do! Go here and enter the code MONDAYS to save 10%. Only good till midnight tonight! General Admission tickets are only $30 as it is, but those three bucks could buy you a couple of Clif bars to sustain you for the millions of unlimited samples you're going to drink. Or it can be a tip for your Uber driver. Oh, what's that? You're still boycotting Uber? Well, keep banging those protest drums, and remember: righteous indignation is only cool if I'm the indignant one. And I usually am indignant about most things, but I'm excited for Hopfest. I've said before that Hopfest is my favorite beer fest in NM, though the one that was put on at the zoo a couple of years ago has to be a close second, right? Anyone still waiting in line for a beer there?

Hopfest is happening on August 26th from 2-6 at Isleta Casino and Resort, the hottest hangout between I-40 and the Los Lunas Chili's. Over 70 breweries will be pouring a multitude of styles. Betcha can't drink just one. There will also be three stages with seven bands playing throughout the fest. There are additional pay as you go events this year, such as a $10 beer and cheese pairing featuring Marble beers and Whole Foods cheeses. There's also a $10 sensory analysis class offered by Craft King Consulting's Angelo Orona. Learn why your beer tastes the way it does and why you like it. Angelo will tell you. He's not scared. A free event features Chris Jackson, author of Albuquerque Beer: Duke City History on Tap. He'll be signing copies of his book. The book is not free.

The ticket prices are as follows:
$60 for VIP, which gets you an hour of extra sampling plus VIP pours every hour, food pairings, and a souvenir. This is where my money would go.
$40 for Extra Hoppy Hour, which does not mean you have to drink hoppy beers for a whole hour, but rather you have an hour more of drinking than the other entrants.
$30 general admission gets you in the door for 3 hours of glorious beer sampling.

There is a ticket party happening Tuesday from 5-8 at Rio Bravo Brewing, and you can go to either Tractor location to buy tickets as well, just in case you aren't into that online buying stuff. And aren't a human.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

IPA Day

It's National IPA Day. I know for some that's every day. For others, it's all Gose, all the time. AB InBev seems to be pushing the Golden Road and 10 Barrel stuff hard- you can see the stack of 10 Barrel's Apocalypse IPA pictured at Whole Foods for the low price of $10.99. I broke down and bought a single bottle to test out. IF it was good, I would tell you, big bad corporate owners and all. But this beer blew. A few sips and down the drain it went. Happy IPA Day indeed. Know what else I did? I bought a mixed six-pack at Smiths. Really. But it was because they had the Sam Adams Brewing the Dream pack broken down into singles. And since Bosque was one of the featured breweries that took part in the Accion program and subsequently landed John Bullard's face on a Sam Adams bottle, I had to put a couple of those Bosque Desert Kaleidoscope IPAs in the mix, along with the new Stone Hop Revolver single hop (Mandarina Bavaria), two of the 2017 Sierra Oktoberfests, and...a Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA. Haven't rushed to open that one yet. The Sierra was fine. The Stone was fine. The Sam Adams/ Bosque beer was, well...leave it to Sam Adams to dull down a Bosque IPA. Tasted extremely old school, which isn't an indictment, but it certainly isn't a glowing endorsement especially when you taste it side by side with one of Bosque's taproom IPAs. Cool to see the Bosque guys on the bottle, at least: I'll put it next to my Ben Miller Sam Adams bottle. Anybody else still have an unopened one of those?

Saturday, July 29, 2017

2017 NM IPA Challenge

One brewer told me, while commenting on the 2017 NM IPA Challenge, "I thought there were a lot of solid beers this year, unlike last year." Funny, I thought the same thing, only I thought that last year. This year, I thought there were mostly middle of the road IPAs along with some roadkill IPAs. But first:

The location- Steelbender. Plenty of room to sit, at least at the late time I arrived. However, waited over 20 minutes for a tray when there were only 8 people ahead of me. The delay? Not enough plastic cups. They were waiting for servers to collect finished trays so they could wash the plastic cups and reuse them. Hey Brewers Guild, up everyone's dues by 5 cents and stockpile enough for the next 10 IPA Challenges, ok? Those things aren't going to go bad.

The pours: I was lucky(?) enough to get a generous tray but I saw another tray just before mine that had half of what I got. I would have been a little miffed had I been that customer if they had seen me with my Big Gulp tray.

The beers: Started out very promising. Number 1, which turned out to be Quarter Celtic's, was very solid. Then it went onto a bunch of meh: 2, Ponderosa was bitter, 3, Boxing Bear, was ok, 4, Second Street, was decent, 5, Starr Bros, sucked, 6, well, turned out I got 2 of number 5, so I got double suck. Tried someone else's number 6, Bow and Arrow, and got a Belgian beer instead of an IPA. Yeah, that'll win. 7, Marble, didn't stand out. 8, Steelbender, wasn't very good. 9, Blue Corn, and 10, Tractor, got a "Nah" and a "No" in my notes, respectively. 11, Picacho Peak, wasn't bad but I got butter out of it. 12, Canteen, was finally another good one. 13, La Cumbre, was my favorite but had a poor showing overall. 14, 377's first IPA Challenge beer, was surprisingly decent. It got an "Ok!" in my notes. You can see I take intricate notes in my judging process. I can now understand why 377 got a lot of votes at the first event at Duel. I initially figured it was ballot stuffing but no. 15, perennial favorite Bosque, had a good entry, but...

Boxing Bear repeats with a 104-101 victory over Bosque. I'll be honest, that Boxing Bear entry wouldn't have placed in my top 5. And I picked Boxing Bear last year, so it's not like I dislike their beer. Just not my choice this year. On my choice of La Cumbre as the winner, a prominent brewery owner said, "Finally, someone with half a brain!" There may have been only 30 of us half-brains who voted for them, but exceptional people are never part of the masses. That's why we're exceptional.

Friday, July 28, 2017

GABF Public Ticket Sale Looms

And here I thought tickets were impossible to come by back when you had to physically wait in line for them. I lined up overnight for tickets one time: waited all night in a sketchy city for the Ticketmaster location to open, only to find that this one wasn't open on Saturdays. Rushed down to another part of the city, where a department store had a Ticketmaster office hidden on a forgotten upper floor. Stayed up all night for mediocre seats. But all that has changed with the internet. Now you can (have to) be ready to click on tickets the second they go on sale, like I did for a beer release recently. One second, tickets not yet available. OK. Next second, tickets available: choose quantity. OK, I choose, click on NEXT. Sorry, this item is no longer available.
What.
The.
F.
It was available for all of five seconds, then gone. That's the reality of online ticket sales now. And it will be a struggle to get those GABF tickets in an age where everyone has discovered craft beer. They'll wait online so they can then wait in line to get into a place where they will line up over and over again to try beers. And you know what? IT'S SO WORTH IT. You know me. I don't get excited about much. But the feeling when you walk into the exhibit hall and hear the bagpipers and the buzz of all the other beer freaks there and there's all that wonderful beer waiting to be discovered...there's nothing like it!

So when the public sale begins on Wednesday, August 2nd at 12 EST (that's 10 am here in Albuquerque, you know), be on Ticketmaster and hope for the best. 3,800 beers are waiting to meet you.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

New Bears and Birthday Bears

If you were tired of only seeing April-dated cans from the Firestone Walker Leo Vs. Ursus series, well, aren't you the spoiled little thing? It's not THAT old, and still within the window that most breweries allow for an IPA/DIPA. Some breweries date their hoppy offerings as being good for 6 months, which I find absurd. And I'll admit to being one of the spoiled consumers who doesn't want to buy a 3 month old IPA, though I find the beers which use a light malt base (Like Firestone Walker's use of Pilsner malt in the Leo Vs. Ursus series) to hold up over time better than, say, a Great Divide Hercules. So now we have Adversus, the follow-up to the home run that was Fortem, the original in the lion vs. bear series. 8.2% ABV, only 55 IBUs (remember when people were crazy about IBUs!), and hopped with six varieties: Citra, Mandarina, Azacca, Cascade, Ekuanot, and Simcoe. Is it in the same class as that delicious Fortem? Well, it's worth trying. And Jubilation has single cans available so you don't have to commit to a whole 4-pack. If you don't like it, I bet you can find some fairly fresh Fortem out there. And speaking of Jubilation, it looks like they're almost down to the end of their stock of LAST YEAR'S Lagunitas Sucks. They're selling the December 1st, 2016 brewed beer in the singles section. Just so you know.

Happy 3rd to Boxing Bear! I stopped by there yesterday and found it to be as busy as it was when they hosted the IPA Challenge, which was plenty busy. Tried their long-awaited New England style Eastern Standard IPA. Found it to be very good as a beer, but didn't quite have the look of feel of standard bearers Other Half, Tired Hands, or Monkish. Also tried the 11.1% ABV TKO Triple IPA, the beer brewed specifically for their 3rd Anniversary. Kind of reminded me of the excellent Waldo's Special Ale, with a massive tropical hop presence and sweetness from the high ABV. This is one I plan on drinking fresh. Bottles are available for $15. Boxing Bear continues to crank out quality beers with an emphasis on IPAs. I like that.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Big Guns Are in Town for the Big Cans

Come one, come all to the 14th annual Brewery Collectibles Show and swap meet being held at Drafty Kilt Brewery from 10-1 tomorrow. This event is always a big deal, hosting all the locals who have been collecting beer memorabilia while you were still chugging 40s in the park. Cans, bottles, caps, tin signs, etc. will be available to view and to buy. Come bring that item you found in your grandparents' house and get it appraised: it's like Antiques Roadshow for beer.
This year's event is extra special: the national board of directors for the Brewery Collectibles Club of America will be attending and touring local breweries in preparation for Albuquerque hosting the BCCA's national CANvention in 2019. Come out tomorrow and show the bigwigs how much the craft beer scene impacts the city. Make friends with them. Buy them lapdances at Knockouts.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Beer Week: Saturday, June 3rd

Cazuela's is hosting Yappy Hour, an adoption/fundraiser event benefiting Watermelon Mountain Ranch. You could spend your money on worse things. Event goes till 3.

Quarter Celtic releases their first Gose style beer, Mangose. Gose is where the money is at these days. Anderson Valley isn't selling much Hop Ottin' here anymore, but the Blood Orange Gose is chugging along.

Upslope continues their close Beer Week friendship with M'tucci's Market and Deli as they host a beer dinner together. Din-din served at 7.

Some pretty special Great Divide beers at Nob Hill Bar and Grill: Barrel-Aged Yeti and She Said, I Brew: a barrel-aged Imperial Stout. Possibly wine-barrel aged?

The girl scout cookie/Sierra Nevada beer flight pairing returns to O'Niell's, this time at the Juan Tabo location. Shouldn't this be a milk stout pairing? Milk and cookies? No? Oh.

Tractor Nob Hill hosts Cider Day Night fever. Tractor cider and DJ Wae Fonkey spinning disco "hits". And you don't have to drink cider if you're there, so you've got that going for you. Which is nice.

Red Door hosts a Food Truck Battle at noon. Try treats from a number of local food trucks and drink some milk stout. Or cider. But you don't have to drink cider, which is nice.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Beer Week: Friday, June 2nd

Rock and Brews hosts a rock paper scissors event with Upslope beers featured throughout the night. Top 5 finishers get prizes. I'm the world's worst at this game so I don't approve. I suck at chess as well. F you Bobby Fischer. The cutting/covering/crushing starts at 5.

Oskar Blues breaks out the secret stash on Friday night at Nob Hill Bar and Grill. You already know NHBG gets the best taps. Come see what Oskar Blues has to offer for Beer Week.

Is this the most anticipated event of Beer Week? For Tums it is. Tower of Sour returns to Back Alley Draft House at 6 with over 20 sours, live music, and a New Belgium bike giveaway! $25 gets you 6 samples and a 10 oz. pour. $45 gets you unlimited sampling. $55 gets you an hour early admission, unlimited sampling, food, and superiority. $10 just gets you in the door. Because I like to watch.

Tastings and tappings: Sierra Nevada at both Gecko's locations at 4. Total Wine is serving up Goose Island Samples, and Whole Foods on Academy is sampling La Cumbre beers. La Cumbre Brewing Company is also serving La Cumbre samples.

Tractor Wells Park hosts Art Fight 32: Electric Boogaloo at 7. Or Beer Week edition. One of those. Come watch angst in the form of art being created live, soon to be available at your local thrift store.

Night Out Cards at Tractor Nob Hill, 7 pm. Apparently, this is the "traveling truth or dare game for adventurous people". Alcohol and a game of Truth or Dare, nothing bad could ever come of that, right?

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Beer Week: Thursday, June 1st

Whole Foods' Sandia Saloon hosts a tapping of Marble's new Guava Gose. Not into guava? Hit up the produce section and squeeze your own choice of fruit into your beer.

Beer dinners abound: Freight House hosts an Upslope dinner at 6:30. Bien Shur hosts a Marble dinner at 6. Decisions, decisions. Which dinner features pizza?

Nob Hill Bar and Grill does it again, this time with a keg of Cascade's Sang Royal, a cabernet/port barrel-aged sour.

Battle of the Beer Geeks once again at Tractor Brewing. The event features local beer groups (no solo acts welcome, apparently!) as they pit their Tractor-brewed creations against one another in a public vote. There is no partisanship to see here; move along! Dark Side Brew Crew vs. Babes in Brewland vs. Wort Hogs vs. Dukes of Ale vs. ABQ Craft Beer Drinkers. Tasting begins at 6, voting ends at 8.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Beer Week: Wednesday, May 31st

Rock & Brews, where've you been all Beer Week? At least they are hosting a tapping of Idaho 7, Marble's latest Pale Ale release. Idaho 7 is the type of hop used, for all you beer trivia rejects.

The Barley Room is like another state away from where I live. After a Founders Imperial Stout, my house may as well be another continent away. A rare sighting of that Imperial Stout as well as PC Pils and All Day IPA.

Odell takes some of the taps over at Freight House in Bernalillo. 90 Schilling, Drumroll APA, IPA, and Brazzle (raspberry sour) will be pouring.

Marble's Brett IPA is released today, with a 5 pm Brett IPA/food pairing at all locations.

A chance to win a Firestone Walker longboard and free FW samples, including Bretta Rose. Thanks, Jubilation! Sampling goes from 4-6.

Total Wine, Jubilation's good friend, is also hosting a tasting and giveaways, also at 4. This one from Odell Brewing.

Irish Cream Porter, a special IPA, and Kilt or be Kilt Scotch Ale are featured on cask at Quarter Celtic today starting at 5.

Wine tasting at a brewery during Beer Week? Hmmm. Ok, well, Gruet wine pouring at Tractor with Cheese and Coffee Downtown providing food pairings. Event starts at 7.


The Grain Station hosts an early 90's themed party from 5-9. Upslope will be featured on tap and there will be a DJ spinning 90's music. Also a costume contest for the best early 90's outfits. Ok, who's coming as Chris Cornell? Too soon???

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Beer Week: Tuesday, May 30th

Kettle Sours are quite popular now, and Canteen has a special release of Social Capital, a sour with basil, coconut, and lemongrass. Your choice of white or brown rice.

Still supporting businesses on Central Ave throughout this nightmare that is ART? Goo for your! Even better for you: Tractor Nob Hill is offering $1 off pints for those who bring in a receipt from a Central Corridor business. You must bring in a receipt for something bought within the last week, so don't bother with that receipt from Bailey's on the Beach.

Marble Brewery's Westside Taproom hosts a beer trivia night from 6-8 pm with questions from the brewers themselves. Prizes awarded to the top teams. Food truck cleanup assigned to the worst.

Luponic Distortion, Parabola, Leo vs. Ursus, Kreiky Bones. Those Firestone Walker beers sound incredible on their own, but pair them with a dinner at Nob Hill Bar and Grill? Well, now you have a Firestone Walker beer dinner! Event starts at 6:30. Call 266-4455 to see if there is still space for you.

Drafty Kilt, home of Mike Campbell's award-winning beer, is pairing beers with local food trucks. Event starts at 5.

Taco Tuesday at Sister just got better: Upslope will be bringing cans of Citra Pale Ale to go along with your tacos. Tacos and canned beer seem to go together best, right?

Tractor Wells Park is teaming with Cheesy Street to create a flight of 4 assorted mini grilled cheese sandwiches along with 4 Tractor beers for $13. If that's not enough, karaoke starts at 7. Sing Bobby McGee with a mouthful of grilled cheese, I dare ya. You'll still sound better than Janis Joplin ever did. Yeah, I said it. Pairings start at 5.

Four Peaks and Farina Alto are pairing up for a beers and bites event. If you tell the Four Peaks rep that you don't like their beer, he'll bite the f*** out of you. And Hop Knot is good, so just keep your mouth shut and behave, ok?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Beer Week: Memorial Day

A fairly light day of events on this Memorial Day. Enjoy your cookouts!

If you are going out, it's probably to Marble for their Memorial Day Festival, which starts at 3. Four bands, food trucks, Double White.

Firestone Walker sampling at both Total Wine locations. If you go to the westside location, you can buy the can of Avery Raja DIPA that was canned on 12.10.2015. A real collector's item.

Calling all know-it-alls: Tractor Brewing presents Beer Geek Trivia, hosted by the NM Dark Side Brew Crew. Think you've got enough beer knowledge to stand above the rest? Get out there and prove it! Questions start at 7.