Friday, May 27, 2016

Beer Week Friday

Marble, 2nd Street, Santa Fe, Tractor, Turtle Mountain, Boxing Bear, Bosque, Red Door, and La Cumbre all came together to create the 505 Collaboration beer, a rye Kellerbier. This is the first time that I can remember the local breweries making a Beer Week beer that wasn't some form of a hoppy Red Ale. All the breweries involved will have the beer on tap. $1 from each pint sold goes to benefit the NM Brewers Guild, which eventually comes back to benefit you. Socialism.

It's perfect cookout weather, and Albuquerque Brewing Company is breaking out the brats for a day of beer and brats. The brats will all be cooked in ABC's beer, and cost five bucks a plate. They are then going to chill the beer the brats were boiled in and sell it for $10 a pint. Not really. I have to add that disclaimer because someone will read it and say, "Really??"

Another old favorite returns to Back Alley Draft Housse, on another Friday where I won't be able to make the event! Big list, with a mix of local and national breweries: Back Alley Berliner Weisse, Cazuelas/Bathtub Row collaboration Atom-Beer, SFBC's La Bete Noire, Ballast Point Sour Wench, Odell The Meddler Oud Bruin Ale, Rodenbach, Marble Brett IPA, Marble Saison Brux, Uinta Ready Set Gose, Uinta Birthday Suit, Anderson Valley Briney Melon Gose, New Belgium La Folie and Transatlantic Kriek, Goose Island Lolita, Sierra Blanca Crest Cranberry, and Stone Winter Harvest.

Former Left Hand Head Brewer Ro Guenzel wasn't a fan of the IPAs. He's at Great Divide now, and Left Hand is trying their hand at American IPAs. About time. Extrovert IPA tapped at Two Fools at 4.

$5 flights and BBQ at Rio Bravo on Friday from 4-9. Also, hand-rolled cigars made to order...that's unique. Not my thing, but I don't like collared shirts either.

New Belgium Lips of Faith Collaboration with Hof Ten Dormaal on tap at Gecko's in Nob Hill. A Belgian Golden Ale with Mosaic hops, sunflower seeds, and carrot herbs. A salad in a glass from 5-7.

Raja DIPA and Maharaja bigger DIPA on tap at Nob Hill Bar and Grill tonight...What's that stuff like fresh? I can't remember because we only have cans of 12/15 Raja and bottles of 8/15 Maharaja in stores. Come on, Avery. Make your distributor keep the same high standards that you do for your beer.

15 Ballast Point beers take over the taps at Stereo Bar. Go so you can say, "I drank allthe different fruity Ballast Point beers here before it became a tequila bar with collared shirt guys smoking cigars."Event begins at 6.

And speaking of cigars...Imbibe hosts a tapping of Boese Bros. Zeus Juice White IPA. Sorachi Ave, Chinook, and Citra hops along with Belgian yeast- sounds promising! From 4:30-8.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Beer Week Begins

Keeping the chatter short. You all know the deal: OVER a week of Beer Week events to keep you hitting that snooze button until you just can't hear the alarm anymore. That's right...just sleeeep it off...

Some of Thursday's highlights:

Nice to see Spinn's Burgers and Beer getting in on the Beer Week action. They were offering up a large selection of beer while this town was filling up on Coronas. Tapping a keg of Marble's Saison to kick off the week.

Best friends? Boese Brothers teams up with Santa Fe Brewing Co. to brew a Double Barrel Porter, which will be tapped at SFBC's Green Jeans location at 3. Sweet. Now if SFBC could collaborate with someone for a good parking situation, I'd be there more often. Yeah, I could ride my bike, but hills get in the way.

A firkin at Anodyne?? Times are a changing! I remember trying to get George on the Beer Week bandwagon years ago, and now he's allowing firkins...what's next, dogs running around the bar?? Abita melds their Turbodog Brown Ale with Horchata to create a rare paring (only firkin of it in NM).

Marble again welcomes one of the original Beer Week events, Beer, Cheese, and More! to their downtown location at 5. $25 gets you, well, beer, cheese, and more. They always break out some vintage kegs for this event. Some tickets still remain.

Jubilation also hosts a beer and cheese event today, this one featuring La Cumbre beers. Strawberry Gose, Elevated IPA, Red Ryeot, Malpais Stout, Slice of Hefen, and Project Dank all will be poured and paired with different cheeses. Free.

It's a beautiful thing when breweries send special kegs for Beer Week. Getting them to do it willingly isn't always easy. But Barrel-Aged Piper Down Scottish Ale from Ballast Point is heading to Nob Hill Bar and Grill. Event is slated to run from 6-8.

O'Niell's Juan Tabo location hosts a sausage and cheese tasting to go along with tappings of ALL of the Sierra Nevada 2016 Beer Camp Across America beers: Southern Table Beer, Imperial Session IPA (Imperial/Session cancel out to become IPA; leave the cute stuff to me, Sierra Nevada), Robust Stout, Rye with hibiscus, cocoa Brown Ale, and a Pale Ale based on an old, old recipe. These beers were brewed along with help from 31 different breweries, including beer geek darlings like Trillium.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

There's Waldos'

Waldos' Special Ale is so named for the Waldos, a group who would meet at 4:20 daily in search of a secret garden said to be near Point Reyes. As you can guess by the time, they may have been partaking in a semi-legal substance to enhance their mood during the quest. Waldos' Special Ale may not have the same medicinal properties as the unnamed other, but Lagunitas promises it to be the "dankest and hoppiest" beer they ever created. Over 5 lbs. of hops per barrel were used to make the beer, and it certainly comes through in the initial smell, something I have found to be lacking in many of the Lagunitas offerings. And the taste comes through just as strong, with tropical juice dominating the taste. The 100 IBUs, which barely meets the minimum standard for the average craft beer drinker nowadays, are hard to detect, showing once again why IBU count may be the most useless stat when it comes to tasting a beer (besides maybe SRM). The alcohol is present but nowhere near overpowering, especially considering the fact that the beer is 11.5% ABV. And that is my one complaint with Waldos'; I want to drink more than one of these delicious beers in a sitting but I know the next day I'll be paying for it. That fact notwithstanding, I think this is one of the best Double IPA releases this year and a steal at $11-$12 a six-pack! And while finding Waldo may be a craze that has passed, except in Halloween outfits, 3-D magic puzzles are making a comeback (as soon as we get tired of adult coloring books).
To paraphrase Jay in Mallrats, "What you need is a Waldos' Special Ale and I guarantee you'll be seeing a sailboat, an ocean, and maybe some-" know the rest of that line. Hopefully.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Let's Get 3 Tart-ed in Here

With many apologies to Angelo Orona, here finally is my short, swwweeettt write-up of Tart at Heart 2, or as Angelo originally told me, Tart at Heart 3...which led me to that headline. When Angelo later corrected himself, it was too late. The wheels had already been set in motion so the headline stays, and will be just perfect for next year's event! At one point, it felt like it was going to be next year before I got around to writing about Tart at Heart. I was planning on doing it, but went off to New York on a whim. After getting tired of paying $8 for an 8 oz. pour of beer, I came back, ready to write. So, hopefully there are still tickets available. And it's not like Angelo and Kevin McCallister (co-organizer) haven't been getting plenty of press on the event. I even saw a full-page writeup in the Venue section of the Journal about it. So I'll just give my quick rundown: $45 tickets may remain (VIP sold out early), admission at 2 at Sister. Event runs till 6, but feel free to stay until they start charging a cover for a band you don't care about. Fun fact: I once paid a $5 cover there because I was in the mood for the Project Dank they had on tap. It was world music night. Fastest I ever pounded a Dank. Unlimited tastings this year, folks, so be sure to Uber or ride that bike. 10-12 beers are exclusive to the fest or making their debut there- nice work procuring those rare kegs, guys. And portions of the proceeds benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, so it's not like these guys are out to make a killing off you- they're just two guys who are serious about good beer and want to share it with you. I'll gladly take some barrel-aged Narwahl from Sierra Nevada (seen that on tap in NM ever? Nope!), or some New Belgium Oscar Single Foeder Sour, from their Love series (first time a Love beer has made it to a NM bar). Laguntias makes a surprise visit to the sour side with a sour wheat ale, which, of course, they dry hopped. Local breweries are represented, with the last keg of Cumbre's Apricot Saison, Marble's Saison Brux, Boxing Bear's Black and Blue Tart, Ponderosa's Berlinerweisse, and Blue Corn's Braggot aged in Santa Fe Spirits apple brandy barrels w/ local apricots and brett all representing. Get your last minute tickets at Jubilation, Kelly Liquors on Juan Tabo, and Sister.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Albuquerque: Doing at Least One Thing Right

With Albuquerque's charming combination of poverty, drugs, crime, and some seriously fucked up people wandering the streets (anyone notice the guy who patrols Central between 1st and 5th with his pants around his knees? I mean, I know a little sag is kind of a fashion thing for some, but he puts SO much effort into holding his pants at that height, and he can barely shuffle from one empty store front to the next. You'd think he'd get tired of it and move on to some suspenders or something), it's nice to able to say we are the best at something. And no, I'm not talking about that recent report that named Albuquerque "one of America's greatest cities", thanks to the well-respected "real estate news" ( and it turned out we were in 41st place. Yay.); I'm talking about March Madness! Talking Lob..oh. March Madness, that is, in the form of the Brewing News and their annual National IPA Championships, where , for the second year IN A ROW, Bosque Brewing's Scale Tipper once again was named the best IPA in the country. Not only was this the second straight win for the Albuquerque brewery, it was the third straight year that an Albuquerque brewery won the competition (La Cumbre's Project Dank was the previous winner). No longer will these meaningless crappy internet sites be able to make us click through a painfully slow-loading slideshow so we can see Albuquerque listed as one of "America's Most Underrated Beer Cities"! Jokes aside for the moment, hiring John Bullard was the best decision the Bosque folks ever made. The entire brewing community respects the guy as he is as down to earth as they come and is a hell of a brewer. Congratulations to him and the Bosque team.

Buyer Beware: Jubilation had listed Deschutes Hop Henge as being a "new item" on their Facebook page, though what is in the cooler was released in 2015. Late 2015, mind you, but 2015 nonetheless. And here I looked at the hop bill and thought they decided to use the exact ones as last year (recipe changes year to year). Nope. Says clear as day "2015 Release", but I was too dense to notice. Not a bad tasting DIPA with some age on it but I thought other dense people might want to be warned.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Randumb Thoughts on the Beer World Today

I've been doing a lot of sitting back and watching the whole local/national craft beer phenomenon unfold lately. Here's a few thoughts:

Alcoholic sodas are a bigger threat to shelf space than 18-packs of Bud Light. The Coney Island and Not Your Father's line of sugar beers have a place, but I wish it could be at the supermarket only. And now you have Henry Weinhard getting on board, with national prime time commercials, so you can be sure that you'll have plenty of hard sodas in your face for some time. They may eventually take up more useful space than ciders currently do.

And those adult sodas have started to bleed into craft beers as well. Maybe the popularity of Grapefruit Sculpin is partially to blame, I don't know. But the way that beer exploded certainly influenced other brewers (Sam Adams Rebel Grapefruit, Ska Modus Mandarina), and now the Ballast Point lineup has more fruit than an Edible Arrangement: Mango Even Keel, Pineapple Scuplin, Coconut Victory at Sea, Watermelon Dorado...
And Green Flash just released a Tangerine version of Soul Style IPA, which to me tastes like someone added an Emergen-C to an IPA. How about we let the modern day fruity hops do their job and leave the additives to Monsanto?

"Have you checked out Starr Brothers yet???" NO. NO. Right now, in my mind, it's not a brewery. It's a restaurant. I don't rush out to try the latest green chile cheeseburger washed down with a beer from another local brewery. Wait, are we talking about Starr Brothers or Stumbling Steer? At least Starr Brothers actually has the equipment to brew with, so they aren't likely to meet the same demise that the Steer did. And their menu looks interesting, but I'll hold off until I can drink something they make. I look forward to it.

Let me ask you all a question: What new breweries are making beers that excite you/make you want to return? I'm withholding judgement on the new crop until they get a grasp on their systems and get things where they can say, "This is the beer I wanted to make." I love that there are breweries that took a chance on locating near or on Central Ave, "Where business go to die". Sidetrack feels like it could be nugded into a space in Greenwich Village in NYC. Until you walk out and realize that this area needs some love. But it's a start. I love the large windows in Boese Brothers and even the flashing countdown on the walk/don't walk signal. I feel like I'm in a live Edward Hopper painting. I like that they've added the option of ordering a beer flight to their menu. I don't like that they have 4 oz. glasses (for the flights), but don't allow you to order an individual 4 oz. beer. Why would you not?

Lastly, thumbs up to Canteen, who have brought back Zach Guilmette as Head Brewer. Canteen was going through a stagnant period, and Zach already has made some changes for the positive, such as brewing a DIPA as his first beer, with Citra, Simcoe, Mosaic, and Topaz. Canteen had been without a DIPA for how long? And Zach knows better then to throw a ton of Cascade in and call it a DIPA. Also: he eliminated the Bloody Beer from the Canteen. Yes! Get that shit outta here and focus on making great beer again!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Some New Beer Releases Worth Your Money

So many new beers to choose from at the local stores that I don't know where to begin. Not that it matters, as you're probably inundated with "Beers of the World" box sets that well-intentioned friends or family piled on you since you are known to love beer so much. Hope you enjoy those Tsingtaos and Negra Modelos!

Beers worth mentioning in the latest wave of releases include Santa Fe's Adobe Igloo. This Winter Warmer style takes the traditional malt-forward beer and New Mexicanizes it with the addition of local red chile. Cacao nibs are also added to round out the 6% ABV beer. It comes in their best designed can yet in 6-pack form and retails for around $8.99. If you're looking for a nice winter ale, I'd suggest picking this up. There is also Upslope Christmas Ale on shelves now, but that is more of a Belgian-style spiced dark that in goes for $13.99. You have extra cash? Get both. Singles kind of guy? Whole Foods on Carlisle puts pretty much every new beer they get in the singles cooler. A nice way to decide if I like Modus Mandarina enough to buy a sixer.

Founders Imperial Stout has been a go to for Michigan folk during the cold months, so basically from October-June. You can now get this here in Michigan-like Albuquerque. The 10.5% ABV Imperial Stout stands out as one of the more bitter Imperial Stouts on the market. No, it's not barrel-aged. No, it's not KBS. But hey, it's a quality Imperial Stout that you don't have to wait in a damn line for and it's reasonably priced at $11.50 a four-pack. It's on tap right now at Nob Hill Bar and Grill right now as well. More Founders goodness can be found at Anodyne, which is stocking All Day IPA cans. It's a great beer to drink while beating friends at pool. Did you win because you are drinking a 4.something % beer while your opponent is downing Jack and cokes? In my case, most likely.

I was so psyched to see Jubilation got in Avery's long-awaited Vanilla Bean Stout that I ran out (in driving form) the day after Christmas to buy it. Unfortunately, they were closed. I wasn't upset at the fact that they were closed, as I think having to work the day after a holiday flat out sucks. So good on them. Total Wine is hit or miss with new releases, and of course they didn't have any. So I had to continue east to where that Goliath storm was wreaking the most havoc. It was evident how much worse the roads were the further east I went, though I only drove to Kelly Liquors on Juan Tabo. Wasn't like I was going over the Donner Pass. Was the Vanilla Bean Stout, 10.8% ABV and aged in bourbon barrels beer worth my death-defying 8-mile drive? Well, it's hard to say. I think that their superb barrel-aged stouts that preceded this one may have had me expecting too much. It's got a lot of vanilla flavor, not artificial tasting like other vanilla beers out there (Hi Breckenridge. Enjoy your new masters). But the Vanilla Bean Stout could use a bigger body and more barrel to match the vanilla. I think Avery realizes this isn't up there with the small format stouts they released in the past, like Uncle Jacob's and Tweak, as this beer comes in a 22 oz. bottle yet is priced the same as those 12 oz. stouts, at $12.99 a bottle. It is also slated to be a year-round release. We are also seeing the second release of Pump[KY]n, their barrel-aged Imperial Porter with pumpkin spices. This year's is 15% ABV, as opposed to last year's 17.22%. I think you can still catch a buzz, though you may get a cavity or two as well. I find this to be much lighter bodied and overspiced compared to the previous version. I think it's still worth picking up, even at $12.99 per 12 oz. bottle. Oh, and Avery's best release of the year, Raja DIPA, is on tap at Nob Hill! Full of earthy southern hemisphere hops, this baby brother to Maharaja was one of my favorites of GABF 2015. Hopefully we'll see the cans here as well. They've only been available in Boulder for three months now, so have patience.

And those Beers of the World packs will make a great re-gift next year!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Shelf Space Gets Even Tighter...

...and that isn't because of the big bad InBev and their nefarious plots to keep all craft off the shelves. No, it's because after years of rumors, Firestone Walker will be making their way to New Mexico stores and bars in January. The makers of the popular Union Jack IPA, Parabola Imperial Stout, Double Jack, etc. are some of the most respected brewers in the world, so this is a welcome addition. The only thing that remains to be seen is how often we get fresh Firestone. Some cities that receive Firestone see the IPAs sit on shelves for months and months. With the great IPAs being brewed here, I could see Firestone being overlooked after the initial hype dies out, but I hope that isn't the case.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Stone Doesn't Care What You Think

Yes, I'm a cranky old curmudgeon. We all know that. But what do you expect when you have a social media world of whiny little pussies and their smarmy sayings like tl/dr? Your attention span is that short that a paragraph has become too much for you to deal with in your important life? And hashtags, while certainly useful for gathering data together, are also tainted by the equally smarmy hashtags such as sorrynotsorry. Hey, I said something shitty about you, but this hashtag makes it funny and therefore acceptable now. Unless you go to college in Missouri. Nothing is acceptable there right now.
So, the rant, of course, has to do with Stone Brewing's latest release, Sorry Not Sorry IPA. This irritatingly named beer no doubt is a reply to all the people who think Stone focuses too much on making IPAs. Personaly, I don't think Stone can make enough of them. Plus they colloborate with lesser known breweries that we may not ordinarily have the chance to try. This latest, a DIPA with peaches, is a collaboration with 4 Hands and Bale Breaker. 4 Hands is one of a number of quality St. Louis breweries on the scene right now, and is probably best known for its variety of stouts. Bale Breaker is a brewery having the luxury of being located in hop heaven: Yakima, Washington. They also have the luxury of coming from a family of hop farmers. It's been rumored that the 7-11 stores there dispense hop slurpees, and it's no surprise that Bale Breaker's best known beer is their Topcutter IPA. Sorry Not Sorry, though listing peaches as an ingredient, thankfully doesn't come off as a can of sweet peaches, which is what I got out of Tree Shaker from Odell. Sorry Not Sorry is more of a straight DIPA, with the wonderful Simcoe hop playing a prominent role, along with experimental hops HBC 342 and 344. Add in some Warrior (a brewery other than Left Hand still uses that hop?) and some Mosaic, and you've got yourself a 9.3% ABV, 70 IBU beer. Refreshing to see a DIPA that isn't trying to tout itself as having 150 IBUs. $8.99 per bomber at Jubilation and other fine stores. Also on tap at Sister right now, but save me some because I can't get there till tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Bastards of Young

Been buying up all the Founders beers since the New Mexico release? Me, not so much. Not a big fan of the Centennial IPA,or Red Rye, though I'd put the All Day IPA as probably second to Firestone Walker's Easy Jack in the Session IPA category. I get more excited for the Founders seasonal releases such as Double Trouble DIPA, KBS (naturally), and the most recent, Backwoods Bastard. Backwoods Bastard is a Scotch Ale aged in bourbon barrels, though I don't get much of the usual Scotch Ale notes, like the peatiness or unpleasant band aid that is especially prevalent in the Scotch Ale at a certain local brewery that is best known for its patio. It's somewhat reminiscent of Marble's Reserve Ale, with an amber hue and less viscosity than a barrel-aged stout or barleywine. Backwoods Bastard has been tweaked a bit for this year, with the ABV rising from 10.2 to 11.6%. A four-pack goes for around $13, and I first spotted it at the Whole Foods on Wyoming.

Anyone else been underwhelmed by Lagunitas lately? Forget that we couldn't get fresh Sucks! here when it was available, or that fresh Hop Stoopid doesn't seem to exist (and you can't decipher the bottled on date without one of those watchmaker's eye loupes), but their IPAs, from Sucks to Stoopid to Maximus to Sumpin' Extra, had a candy-like sweetness that seemed to appear in each of the different beers. But I'm happy to report that Born Yesterday, their Fresh Hop Pale Ale, is the best beer they have made this year. No candy in this one, just fresh Mosaic, Amarillo, Equinox, Simcoe, and Citra (which comes through heavily) that will have you welcoming Lagunitas back as one of the major players in the hop-forward beer category. Hop-forward, as in 11 lbs. per barrel in this beer! And they've switched to a regular old 10/26/15 bottled on dating, so you don't have to get your phone out and look up the Julian calendar to find out when your beer was made. $9 a six pack, bought repeatedly at Jubilation.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Test Your Stamina With the Most IBUs Under One Roof

Local craft beer consultant, brand rep, BJCP certified taste buds owner, and all-around good guy Angelo Orona is putting on another craft beer extravaganza at Sister on Saturday, Oct. 17. Sister will open at 2 to welcome Palate Fatigue: A Hop Forward event. Featuring a 20 tap takeover from local and national breweries, this event is sure to have you scraping the hop oils off your tongue by night's end...which may sound unappealing, but it sure beats the heartburn after that last sour beer event Angelo put on. Presale tickets for the event are $35, available at If you wait and buy at the door (IF there are any tickets left) you'll be paying $40. And that's quite the fair price, considering that you get unlimited samples of all the beers; 10-12 of which are either exclusive to the event or are being tapped for the very first time in New Mexico!
The lineup consists of:
Upslope Lychee IPA
Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin
Alpine Hoppy Birthday
Santan Moon Juice IPA
Marble Imperial Red
Stone Enjoy By 10.31.15
Santa Fe Black IPA through the Randall (think of your beer being French pressed with fresh hops...)
Blue Corn Triple IPA
Ponderosa India Pale Kolsch
Founders All Day IPA
Founders Breakfast Stout
Bosque Acequia Wet Hop IPA
Evil Twin Yin Imperial Stout
Evil Twin Yang Imperial IPA
Ska Modus Manadrina
Sierra Blanca small batch IPA
La Cumbre NZ Dank
Canteen Dutch Courage IPA
Gaverhopke/Tired Hands Bittersweet Symphony
And a couple of surprise kegs!
I'm looking forward to the entire list, but a couple of my non-local brewery picks: glad to see the Modus Manadrina since I missed trying it in Denver a few weeks ago. I'm a sucker for orange-y IPAs, especially since I have a cold right now and need my vitamin C. Also can't wait to try Evil Twin Yang on tap for the first time ever. And how about the collaboration Belgian IPA between Gaverhopke and Philly area's Tired Hands, who are making some of the most sought after IPAs in the country!
Portions of the proceeds go to Aljaba Casa Hogar Children's Home in Mexico, so you can feel even better about your drinking problem. There were only 150 tickets made available for this event, so get yours quick!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Cross San Diego Off the List

I used to love visiting San Diego. Great beaches, great weather, bars, food...but I realized the main reason I returned there again and again was for one thing: Alpine Nelson. But I don't need to wait for the Southwest Click N' Save alerts anymore: Nelson is here. Along with Hoppy Birthday and Duet, as evidenced by the horrible picture I took when seeing them at Jubilation. We can thank Green Flash for getting them here (about the only thing worth thanking Green Flash for lately) after their acquisition of Alpine. We've seen the random keg of Hoppy Birthday and Duet in town since the move, but none of those telltale Alpine labels. Walking into a store and seeing those babies on the shelf suddenly had me back in San Diego...until I walked outside and didn't see palm trees. Or an ocean. Just a Walgreens. So I may still venture back out to the coast, but for now, I'm happy to be able to drink their finest here in Albuquerque.