Friday, July 25, 2014

Pajarito Hosts ANOTHER Fest

For a little place that I've never been, Pajarito Mtn. sure does host a lot of beer events. And people keep showing up and loving them, thanks to the hard work that people like Thad Hahn and friends put into them. Must be that Los Alamos water. Tomorrow will be another such event, the 2nd annual Beer Fiesta, brought to you by the soon-to-exist Los Alamos Beer Coop. Santa Fe, La Cumbre, Marble, Taos Mesa, and Bosque will be pouring brews while you listen to the musical stylings of Felix e Los Gatos. The event only costs $10 to get in and that includes your first pint. It runs from 12-6, though the ski lift will be running from 9-3 for those of you who want to mix beer and mountain biking down steep hills. That should make for a bedridden Sunday.

The Coachella of 12-Packs...on Tap!

I was going to title this piece as "the Lollapalooza of 12-packs on tap" but that would have been dating myself. Seems there are festivals that have bigger draws than Lollapalooza these days. Maybe even bigger than Edgefest. And you don't have to bake in the sun or slop around like a pig in mud (or try to hook up with a girl at Lilith Fair...trust me guys, the girls there are not interested in you) to drink the Beer Camp mixed 12-pack that sees Sierra Nevada collaborate with the most sought after breweries to create some delicious beers. 12-packs hit Albuquerque earlier than many areas and are still available in stores, with the 12-pack retailing at around $25. And you can try all of these beers ON TAP at O'Niell's Nob Hill location today. And what a wide variety of styles of beers they are: Russian River (heard of 'em? Me neither) contributes Ivan the Great, a Belgian style Blonde reminiscent of their popular Damnation. Cigar City is in with Tropical Maibock, mixing the German style with mango and guava whatever else grows down in Florida (minus the white trash flavor). Ballast Point brings an IPL (India Pale Lager), of course contributing some San Diego hoppiness. You trade and travel-challenged folk will be happy to sample Chico King, getting to try a Three Floyds Pale Ale that tastes like what you'd expect when Three Floyds and Sierra come together to make a beer in that style. If you're looking for a less traditional beer, try the Asheville Brewers Collaborative Scottish Sweet Potato Ale. For some reason, people go nuts for Ninkasi beers, and you Ninkasi groupies will probably go cuckoo for the Double Latte coffee Milk Stout. Victory Brewing stays true to their German roots (via Pennsylvania) with an Altbier style ale. And Allagash doesn't even leave the house by producing a Belgian style Pale Ale. Oskar Blues brings a can, naturally, of Rye Bock. Wisconsin reps with New Glarus taking on something a bit out of the ordinary for them with an ESB. Bell's is in with what they call an Imperial Dark Ale. Is it a Porter? A Stout? Who cares; It's Bell's, we don't get their beers here, therefore they must be good. Finally, Firestone Walker, the darling of the craft beer world, gives us a hoppy Pilsner. Firestone Walker had plans to enter the Albuquerque market but is pushing that back. Maybe we have to buy up all the out of date Green Flash on the shelves first to prove we are worthy of them.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Odell Tasting at Kelly's Brewpub

Just a quick note to let you know that there is a free Odell IPA tasting going on tonight at 8 at Kelly's Brewpub- the only local brewery that invites you to come in and drink other breweries' beers! (To be fair, Stumbling Steer does this as well). The free tasting consists solely of Odell IPA, and rep Ryan Bogart is once again back in town to meet with you and answer all your Odell questions.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I Choo-Choo-Choose You for the Yards Premier

Come out for a beer event in a location that has been used lately as a place where tattooed couples push their kids around in strollers while buying local, organic, kitschy, etc. type goods while I am still in bed. The Albuquerque Railyards will be hosting the NM Brewers Guild's latest beer event, The Yards Premier. For $15, you get access to beers from Second Street, Kaktus, Abbey, Tractor, Sierra Blanca, Nexus, La Cumbre, Back Alley Drafthouse, Chama River, Blue Corn, Taos Mesa, Turtle Mountain, Rio Grande, Cazuelas, Marble, Santa Fe, Kelly's, Stumbling Steer, Bosque and BJ's Brewhouse out of California.
Now listen: this is not constructed like a normal "You pay an entry fee, you get unlimited/ X amount of samples" fest. What you get here for your $15 is: entry to the fest. A commemorative glass, filled with one free beer. Live music by Anthony Leon and the Chain and Man No Sober. Food trucks will be on hand- Supper Truck, Irrational Pie, Sebastiano's and Joe S. Sausage, but of course you don't get free food. Joe Sausage is pretty generous, though, and if you give him a sip of beer, he may throw you a sausage. After your first free beer, your wristband will allow you to purchase three pints after that. So you see, this is NOT a sampling event. And that's ok, but you all need to know that when deciding whether to purchase a ticket. It's fine to ask to try something before you buy, but it's not the type of event where you get a 3 oz. pour of the Brown Ale and get back in line for Hefeweizen sample. This event is designed for you to buy a few beers and relax with your friends in a spookily fun setting. The lines should be noticeably shorter than those at sampling fests, so you'll have time to walk around and take your Instagram photos of the Railyards and whatnot. The event runs from 4-10. Get your tickets here.

Friday, May 30, 2014

ABQ Beer Week: Friday, 5.30


What could be more authentically Italian than pasta sauce from a bag a la Olive Garden? How about the Birra del Borgo #25 Dodici Zymatore special tapping happening at Imbibe, where patrons may also be sporting real Italian Cavaricci pants. A barrel-aged version of their 9.5% ABV Winter Warmer beer, this will give off even warmer notes with the whiskey/pinot noir barrel treatment. The event runs from 4-7, so you may get in there with relaxed dress, but Imbibe does have a stricter dress code that starts at some point in the evening. But the time where people who get dressed up to drink show up is probably the time you want to get the hell out of there. And that is why I like you.

Goose Island will be sampling some of their off the regular lineup beers: Illinois DIPA, Ogden Tripel, Class of 88 Belgian Strong Pale Ale, and Lolita Wild Ale. Lolita is that one that comes in the real pretty bottles but you pass up because of the price. Come get a free sample of this cabernet barrel/raspberry beer for free beginning at 4 at Jubilation.

More freebies at both Total Wine locations, these of the canned variety. Cottonwood will be pouring the Kelly's Brewpub beers, while Uptown has the new Tractor cans for sampling. Both locations start the pouring at 4. Get there earlier and try some of that purple drank.

It wouldn't be a Beer Week without a Left Hand special tapping at Two Fools. Friday's feature is Left Hand's Ambidextrous Step 2, a Smoked Double Bock. And it is indeed smoky, like it was cooked low and slow at Franklin's. Yesterday's New Belgium keg was kicked by 6:30 yesterday (warned you!), so you might want to call it an early day at work and show up at Two Fools around 4, when the beer will be tapped.

Marble will have three cask-conditioned beers for sampling and purchase: the 505 2014 Collaboration, World Beer Cup Gold winning Pilsner, and the never-before revealed Rye Bretta. The casks will be pouring all day.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

ABQ Beer Week Thursday, 5.29

Deep in the heart of Beer Week 2014, and I'm deep in the heat of internet service woes. Woes be gone, hopefully. It's working now.

There are, surprisingly, still tickets available for Marble's Beer and Cheese pairing event. I got to sample some of the cheeses today and the taste just like the cheeses I could never afford to purchase from Whole Foods. And one the beers in the event is Sansa, Marble's latest Wild Ale release. I'm not sure what "Sansa" means. I was thinking, "Sansa time", or "Sansa anarchy", or maybe even "Sansa bitches". But those of you who tried it at Blues and Brews know it is a solid beer, and just one of the many you get for $20. The event takes place at Marble Brewery from 4-7.

Tractor will be hosting Casks and Cupcakes from 4-6 at their Nob Hill location, with help from bakers from Bittersweets Bakery. That's a pairing usually reserved for "just got home from the bar at 2 a.m. and am starving" eating, but I'm sure this will be no less satisfying.
I Believe I Wood! New Belgium Loves Blackberry Whiskey Barrel Beer Tapping at Two Fools Tavern. That's quite the long name for an event. They had me at wood. A blackberry whiskey barrel beer sounds strange, but Lauren Salazar and the blenders at New Belgium know what they are doing with fruit blends. Starts at 4 pm. I imagine this will be a popular event, so get there quick.

Another New Belgium event is a tap takeover/Rolle Bolle event at Adieux Café. Quietly amassing a thoughtful draft lineup and serving good food (it's possible to do downtown, believe it or not), Adieux is located next door to Effex. It's cool to go in there, guys. Nobody cares. They play football now too. Event starts at 8...go to find out what the hell Rolle Bolle actually is. Is it like Parcheesi, or however it's spelled?


Tastings at O'Niell's Juan Tabo and Nob Hill, with Boulder Beer sampling at Juan Tabo. Shake Chocolate Porter has to be the smartest beer they've done to date. People be buying that stuff. Nob Hill location has a mini Sierra Nevada tap takeover, with the highlight being this year's Hoptimum. Both events begin at 5.

Is this really happening? Stumbling Steer is hosting a stellar tap takeover with Lagunitas. Check out this list:

Undercover Shutdown

Nighttime Cascade IPA

IPA Maximus Ale

Hop Stupid Ale

Lil Summpin Summpin

Day Time: A Fractional IPA

How many of those have you ever seen on tap in Albuquerque??? Undercover Shutdown, where it has been languishing at Sister Bar, waiting to be poured? Starts at 5.

Nexus gets all fancy with a beer dinner at Prairie Star at 6 pm. Come see what new Head Brewer Kaylynn McKnight has done to Nexus' Cream, IPA, and Porter, served along with the "Beam Me Up Scotty" Anniversary Ale. Eat some Prairie Star food as well. It's good stuff, or so I'm told. Only $39 for a beer dinner there? That's a jaw dropping price for a beer dinner these days, sadly.

There will be beer tastings at both Total Wine stores and at Jubilation as well tomorrow.

Thanks to all who have come out and supported Beer Week events thus far- I have talked to many of you at events and the support has been incredible!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Gladly Accept This Challenge

Decided to take a break from the busy world of blogging to prepare myself for the upcoming ABQ Beer Week, which will quietly kick off tomorrow with the Pint for Pint Blood Drive at Tractor's Wells Park location beginning at noon. Lots more Beer Week highlights to come.
The NM Brewers Guild has announced the dates for the 12th annual NM IPA Challenge, an event where the trophy is probably almost as coveted as a GABF or World Beer Cup award...or at least right up there with Honorable Mention for "Best Microbrewery" in the Albuquerque Tribune readers' poll. Congratulations, Assets Grille!
The first leg of the Challenge will take place at Second St. in Santa Fe on Sat, July 12 from noon-4. Hardcore Challenge fanatics will have to make the trip to Roosevelt Brewing Company in Portales (I-40 East, make a right at Santa Rosa, keep going. And going.). Portales: we make Artesia seem fun! But at least they have Roosevelt Brewing in Portales, which I hear good things about. If I could be assured that AAA would come that far to tow my car when it overheated out in that desert, I might be inclined to make the trip myself. The Portales event is Wednesday, July 15 from 4-9.
Finally, the Albuquerque section of the Challenge will be Saturday, July 19 from noon-4 at Tractor's Wells Park location (4th and Hannett). I applaud the Guild on this choice if only for the fact that I can ride my bike there easily. You know what would be even better? Breaking up the Albuquerque event, which is by far the most popular, into two sessions; say a 12-4 session and a 6-9 session. I am admittedly the world's biggest wuss when it comes to day drinking, but I'd have to think there are other people out there who'd like a later start on the drinking as well. Anybody with me on that?
The format remains the same as last year: $20 to get in, 16 breweries showcasing their best IPA (no other style; not, as one person so wrongly stated last year, "This beer is a Vanilla Porter disguised as an IPA!" No, it wasn't. It just sucked.) in 2-3 oz. pours. Vote for your favorite and receive a collectible glass that you will break before next year's challenge. Visit https://holdmyticket.com/checkout/event/170537 for tickets to the Albuquerque event.
Beer Week Cometh!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Widmer- a Great Value and Oh, The Beer's Good Too?

Let's face it: when you hear of a brewery such as, oh, let's say Widmer, releasing a new IPA, you probably don't get very excited about it. And I totally understand. Broken Halo IPA was a nice entry level IPA back in the day, but mostly because you could get a 12-pack of it for cheap. And their Rotator IPA series had so many variations coming out that you couldn't keep up with which was the newest/freshest one. But it may be time to give the Widmer IPA line another shot, now that they have released Upheaval IPA, their first true West Coast Style IPA. A promising hop lineup that includes Chinook, Simcoe, and Nelson, along with 85 IBUs, was enough to pique my interest. 7% ABV falls in line with popular versions of the style. And the price- $6.49 at Total Wine (possibly more at other stores, though I haven't found it at other stores) makes it one of the best IPA deals out there. Yeah, it's Widmer. Don't hold that against them. They've brewed an IPA that you may find comparable to ones that cost $3 more per six-pack, and that's admirable considering today's rising craft costs.

Friday, March 21, 2014

New Beer Friday

Well, Lobo fans. A sad day, to be sure. At the very least, you can drown your sorrows with one bracket winner, Brewing News National IPA Champion Project Dank. Anyone else notice how anytime there is any kind of IPA competition, whether it be GABF, World Beer Cup, or this latest IPA Championship, La Cumbre and Fat Heads are always competing at the end? It's high time these two breweries collaborated on a beer.

Look who's canning! Utilizing a mobile canning service, Kelly's Brewpub is now canning their Amber Ale (4.7%) and a new Session IPA, which is 4.8% ABV but purports to have 87 IBUs. Beginning March 31, you can try both of these styles, and you probably will be over that tough loss by then. Which is good, because it would probably take a lot more than a 4.7% beer to make you feel better about it. Expect to pay $7.50-$7.99 for the Kelly's cans, which will be available in stores around town.

What can you say about this DIPA that hasn't been said before? Stone graces us again with Enjoy by IPA, this one being Enjoy By 4.20.14. Perfect timing, as we all know what you'll be enjoying on that day. At over 9% ABV, this may be just the beer you need to drink today. And you can- it's in stores right now. Put down that noose/gun/can of gasoline and start enjoying life again with the pep that only alcohol can give you.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Pygmy Owl: Small Ones Are Sweeter?

It's official: craft beer is IN. God help us all. If you need evidence, just look to the latest statistics from the Brewers Association, which today announced that craft brewers saw an 18% increase in total volume and a 1.3% increase in craft's share of the total U.S. beer market (total $ share is up to 14.3%...does that mean we pay double for craft beer? I may have to start buying Hamm's). Statistics are great, unless you are talking about a college class you are taking. And I don't need statistics to tell me craft is hot; I can just look at the latest trend: breweries emulating each other to come out with their own version of the latest "hot trend"- yup, we have them in the craft industry now too- session IPAs. My last post focused on Stone's Go To IPA, and today's brings you the newest wildlife themed beer from Big Sky: Pygmy Owl. Joining Scape Goat, Powder Hound, Brush Tail, a bear, an elk, a trout, a horse, and some poor skinny doggy looking thing named Bobo on a Big Sky beer label, Pygmy Owl is a 4.2% ABV, 30 IBU Session IPA. 4.2%, the same as the Guinness Draught you might be drinking right now. Spotted at a surprisingly quiet Total Wine on the greatest of drinking days. And as far as Session IPAs go, small ones are not sweeter, as the alcohol content just doesn't allow for it. But I felt compelled to throw in a line from the Judy Blume classic Superfudge. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Go To Your Happy Place With Stone's Newest IPA

.
To keep myself in my perpetually positive state of mind, I like to find things to be thankful for on a daily basis. Today, for instance, I am thankful for the Session IPA style. While I'd love to just sit around and get wasted on 9% and up ABV DIPAs at night, it makes for a groggy and unpleasant experience having to deal with stupid idiots the day after. So enter Go To IPA, a real gem of a beer from Stone Brewing Co. Go To joins Founders All Day IPA and Lagunitas Daytime IPA at the very top of the Session IPAs (loosely defined by me as an IPA under 5% ABV). Go To is 4.5% ABV and 65 IBUs- but doesn't have the super bitter bite that brings down many Session IPAs. Go To captures the fruitiness of a good modern IPA, and somehow smells a lot like Stone's 9.4% Enjoy By while keeping the low alcohol. Low alcohol usually equates to an easier morning after, which allows you to keep thinking happy thoughts throughout the day, just like me. Go to Whole Foods on Carlisle, where stacks and stacks of Go To are on display

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Not So New But New Faces in Old Places

Not only does Albuquerque have an influx of new breweries opening in the coming months (or years, as dealing with the city when it comes to all things ALCOHOL has me thinking we are governed by Quakers), we also have former assistant brewers making the move to head brewers. Zach, the tireless toiler at Il Vicino, will be making the jump to head brewer at Chama River Brewing Company. Congratulations Zach, but please don't try to turn Jackalope IPA into a Wet Mountain clone. Something along the lines of Exodus would be swell.
Former assistant at Chama River, Tim Woodward, will be heading west- all the way to Turtle Mountain Brewing Company, where hopefully he can provide consistency to a product that can be very good at times. I'm sure he will make his mark over there. Good job, Tim. Make some beers that will get me to drive all the way out to that godforsaken part of the world, would you please?
Finally, she's not the first female head brewer ever to lead a New Mexico brewery (anyone remember who that was?), but she's the only one in Albuquerque: Kaylynn McKnight will soon be putting her own touch on Nexus beers, as former head brewer Manuel is heading back to California. Though her place may seemingly be more suited to the kitchen, Kaylynn promises to leave the chicken and waffles recipe alone. But seriously, she's worked hard under Jeff from the start at La Cumbre and brings quite a skill set with her to her new position. I'm excited to see what she will bring to Nexus.
It will take a little time for these brewers to make their mark as they get familiar with their new systems, but there's sure to be some good beers coming from all of them. Congratulations again to all of you!