Thursday, October 13, 2016

GABF Wrap Up

From the Brewers Association:

"During competition registration, Karl Strauss Brewing Co. self-identified their San Diego location as a Mid-Size Brewpub. After the award ceremony, GABF competition staff realized that this was inaccurate: this location is, in fact, a Mid-Size Brewing Company. Karl Strauss, while it operates brewpubs, is classified as a production facility by GABF competition guidelines.

After reassigning Karl Strauss to the Mid-Size Brewing Company category, and recalculating the Brewery of the Year results, it resulted that Karl Strauss was the winner of the Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year category. In addition, Boxing Bear Brewing Co. is the resulting winner of the Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year category.

All of us with the Great American Beer Festival and the Brewers Association deeply regret this error. Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon, which had originally been identified as the Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year, had a very strong performance in the competition, winning a gold medal in the German-Style Wheat Ale category, a silver medal in Other Strong Beer, and a bronze medal in Fresh or Wet Hop Ale. They were among the top medal-winning breweries in the 2016 competition.

Congratulations to all of the winners in the most-entered Great American Beer Festival competition ever.”

Well, it sucks to be Fat Head's. How does the Brewers Association go about getting the award back? Is someone knocking on a Fat Head brewer's hotel room door Sunday morning and saying, "Heeyyy. So I know you're probably hung over after all that celebrating, but I wanted to catch you before your flight. Anyway, about that Mid-Size Brewing Company award...."

Great that Boxing Bear was able to scoop up that Mid-Size Brewpub award. Their golds for Double Red and Chocolate Milk Stout were the only gold medals awarded NM breweries. La Cumbre's Siberian Silk took a bronze in the Baltic-Style Porter category. Bosque scored big again with two silvers for Bosque Lager and the almost expected to win Acequia Wet Hop. I say "almost expected" because it seems routine now, though none of these medals should be expected. And I'm guilty of thinking this way too, expecting that Marble would win for their Pilsner, which they did take a bronze for. But the competition is so fierce anymore, with 7,227 entries in 2016 (up 9% just from last year!), that no brewery should expect anything, nor should they leave feeling like they failed in some way.

Some other stuff from the week:

If you can get tickets to GABF, you should also treat yourself to the Paired event that coincides with GABF. 21 chefs paired with 21 breweries this year, with two dishes served with two beers at each booth. Mostly high-end stuff, which you'd expect when you have celebrity chefs like Marc Vetri participating. Dishes such as "wild salmon tataki, chimichurri, blistered shishito pepper, lavosh cracker" or "svizzerana beef brisket tartare, dandelion marmalade, cured egg yolk". And then you had Chicago's Haymarket Brewery along with Russell's Smokehouse, pairing beer with hot dogs and sloppy joes. Guess which table I went back to for seconds?

Star Bar held "The Curiosity Ball" in their adjacent parking lot Friday night. The curiosity was whether they were actually going to get the damn thing started, as they didn't let people in until nearly an hour after the scheduled start time (well, there was the NM contingent of BrewsBanner and friends who were even more eager than me and were in the lot waiting before someone who worked there stopped letting people wait there). Even when it got going, they were having trouble with the jockey boxes and some of the beers weren't pouring. But what they did have was great, including what may have been the best beer of the week: Other Half's Double Dry Hopped Double Mosaic Dreams.

I liked that Avery was pouring beer straight from barrels at GABF on Saturday. Their booth is always amazing, even if they are one of the breweries that staggers their pouring times. I feel like a shout out is necessary for the breweries that were pouring their rarer beers all the time at the four sessions (at least until they ran out): Dark Horse Barrel Aged Plead the Fifth, Bell's Black Note, Lost Abbey Cable Car, Goose Island BCBS and Regal Rye.
The highlight of the Saturday session was probably the Coastal Evacuation DIPA from Cape May Brewing Company. I wish I had the luxury of hitting all four sessions just so I could try the breweries without hype behind them. Let's be honest- as much as New Mexicans know the worth of the breweries here, how many of those breweries are getting national recognition to where people are lining up for them at GABF? Taos Mesa made a great IPA for the NM Challenge this year, and they were on my list of breweries to try, but in the rush to get all the big names, I passed them by. I don't expect to be able to get to all 3,800 beers on the festival floor, but I know there has to be be good beer waiting to be discovered if I went to the little known guys. Stephen Hawking did some kind of equation to prove it.

Yes, Melvin Brewing guys. You make excellent DIPAs. But it doesn't help much when I'm trying to discern the differences between Couchlock, Asterisk, and 2x4 when you say, "Yup. Hops. Lots of hops." Somehow, your beer isn't as appealing anymore.

Freshcraft has to be a claustrophobic's nightmare during GABF. During the Surly tap event especially. Can't they take over the ever-changing business next door?

I-25 from Denver where it goes down to two lanes until Colorado Springs has to be some of the most treacherous highway driving there is. I feel like I can be on autopilot most of the way home after that, but there is always some RV that everyone has to pass that all of a sudden slows down the left lane almost to a stop. It's rough enough driving home after a week of GABF without having to test my weakened reflexes.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Four Peaks Hits the Rio Grande Valley

Shelf space just got a little tighter in NM markets with the addition of beers from Four Peaks Brewing out of Tempe, AZ. Considering they are our neighbor to the west, Arizona beers are not very well represented in NM. Far less than beers from our neighbors to the south, and that's with that giant wall to get over.
Four Peaks has been a mainstay in Arizona stores and beer bars for years. You may have downed their flagship Kilt Lifter Scottish Style Ale while enjoying a night among the crazy partiers on Mill Ave. near ASU. I always thought it was weird that a Scottish Ale would sell so well in a city that sits above the 100 degree mark so many days of the year, but it works. I've long been a fan of their 8th St. Pale Ale, but we won't be getting that one, at least not right away. Instead. look for Kilt Lifter, Peach Ale (yes, peaches actually do grow in AZ), and their solid Hop Knot IPA. Also, there will be a limited run of their popular seasonal Pumpkin Porter in stores and on tap, though only 8 kegs made it to the entire state.

Friday, October 7, 2016

GABF Thursday Session

Usually, when you're in bed by 11 pm after a GABF session, it's because you passed out. But I promised to take it easy, and, thanks to the breweries on the floor, it wasn't so hard to do.

You see, many of the breweries have adopted a practice that (I think) originated with Firestone Walker a few years ago, where they hold off on pouring their rarer beers until a certain time of evening. When Firestone Walker began doing it, it was with Parabola. I then noticed it at The Bruery, who had a certain time for Chocolate Rain. Avery also, pouring Tweak a one time, Rumpkin at another, and so on. It's become common practice, and I can understand the reasoning. Thousands of pours add up, even at one ounce at a time. But it's easy to lose track of the time when you're sampling, then you realize, "Oh shit! They're pouring XXX beer at such-and-such brewery at 7!" And it's in section O, and you're in section E now, and you have to trudge through the crowd, and you get there with ten minutes to spare, and there's already 100 people in line ahead of you. For a one ounce pour. Such is the modern craft beer world, right? But wait: now breweries are taking it to a new level by pouring rare beers on certain DAYS of the fest. Case in point Bottle Logic. This Anaheim, CA brewery makes one of the most sought after barrel aged Imperial Stouts in Fundamental Observation. And, tho their credit, they brought it to GABF. However, they are only pouring it on FRIDAY NIGHT at 7. That's it. Lucky enough to get tickets to the Thursday session? Sorry, pal!

Bashing the Bottle Logic pouring practices aside, they did bring (and pour!) one of the highlights of the fest for me, Stronger Than Fiction. A 14.3% barrel aged Strong Ale with coconut and coffee that had me going back for seconds and second seconds. Another highlight was Greeley, Colorado's Weldwerks and their Juicy Bits IPA. I was hoping for a showing from the hot New England breweries like Treehouse, Trillium, Hill Farmstead, or PA's Tired Hands, but none of them were at the fest. I guess when you're selling out of beer, there isn't a need to promote it more, but it would be nice to share with the rest of the country. I felt bad for the guy at the Cigar City booth, who didn't realize that the GABF app had Double Barrel Hunahpu listed as one of the beers they were pouring. I guess I was the first to ask when they would be pouring it, as it wasn't listed at their booth. He was dismayed when I showed him the listing, and walked off saying, "I need a captain here now to fix this!" Still isn't fixed in the app though. Poor guy must have been asked about that beer all night!
I love Columbus Brewing out of Ohio, but they didn't have any info about the beer they brought, and the volunteers were not any help. "And what is this beer?" "Oh this one? Uh, it's more pineapple than this other one." Well, thanks for that!

The NM breweries all seemed to draw a nice crowd, though it's a shame that we didn't have a brewers guild booth this year. I saw Taos Mesa with a decent line. Marble and Bosque also. La Cumbre represented well with an endcap booth, complete with La Cumbre label artist Chris McAfee there doing a live painting that would go to a lucky festival participant. An unlucky festival participant would have to let Chris crash in their room for the night.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

GABF 2016

8 years of covering GABF. That's a lot of hangovers. A lot of Pedialyte. But so I persevere, trying to keep up with all the hot new breweries to visit and all the Albuquerque locals pouring their wares to the world. It's gotten harder to try all the beers I want to try now that there are so many more breweries on the floor, thanks to an astounding 100,000 sq. ft. added to the event last year.

And since you can't just go into GABF without having some major warm up work, we arrived on Wednesday afternoon after a hassle-free drive up from Albuquerque. Hit up a couple of beer shops, where plenty of beers not normally distributed to CO were available on the shelves. Saw Half Acre, Westbrook, lots of Wicked Weed...picked up some Surly Todd the Axe Man and Lawson's Sip of Sunshine. Checked into the hotel along the 16th St. Mall, a.k.a. 10+ blocks of chain restaurants and people trying to get you to donate to Greenpeace. Fidgeted in the hotel until 8:30 and finally walked over to the old standby, Falling Rock Taphouse. Falling Rock is the unofficial home to everyone visiting GABF, and they were all there on Wednesday, to the point where I didn't even try to get a beer at the bar. I was there for the East Coast vs. West Coast IPA event anyway, so I fidgeted in the Falling Rock parking lot instead. Staked out what I thought was a strategically superior spot for when they started pouring, but it still took 10 minutes to get my order in, and I was at the front!
There were 20 taps of great IPAs/DIPAs, so it was hard to choose from this list:
Fort George 3 Way IPA, Beachwood Amalgamator, Societe the Pupil, Faction Hop Soup, Breakside Back to the Future, Crux Gimme Mo, Boneyard Notorious, La Cumbre Project Dank (never heard of it), Cannonball Creek Project Alpha 10, Comrade Superdamp, Lawson's Sip of Sunshine, Maine Lunch, Two Roads Two Juicy, Kane Head High, Carton 077XX, New England Beer Co G-Bot, Singlecut Bon Bon 2x TNT, Three Floyds Dreadnaught, Wicked Weed Juiceless, and Creature Comforts Tropicalia. Whew. Ended up hanging out with some cool locals and we all shared our beers, to were I tried way too many good beers the first night. Lawson's Sip of Sunshine kicked first, to nobody's surprise. What was a surprise was that they then tapped the rare Double Sunshine, so I had to order one of those as well. As far as what was best? Hard to say. I really like the Singlecut and Two Roads hazy East Coast thing they have going on. Dreadnaught still hung in there as an old timer DIPA. I feel like a winner for waking up today. Now on to GABF session 1 in a few hours. Gonna pace myself. Gonna pace myself.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Vegas Spot Worth the Trip

Hey! Who's up for a trip to Vegas? Me neither. The city didn't click for me in the whole two times I visited, for a number of reasons: gambling, while thrilling when you are winning, becomes a math-to-life equation as soon as I start losing. "Well, I lost at that hand of 21, so that's X amount of hours I'll have to work to make up for it..." Algebra comes in handy after all! And you try to get away from the gambling and look for a good beer on the strip, but no dice. Yeah, there's the place in the Monte Carlo with a ton of taps, but the best thing you're going to find is Union Jack or Sculpin that has been sitting in kegs forever. And pools are fun for awhile, but laying out at one all day? You ever see that video of the people at the resort at like 6 in the morning, waiting for the lounge chairs to be put out so they can stake their spot near the pool? It looks like the Cabbage Patch Doll rampages from the 80's. Just to lay by chlorinated water. There is, however, something rational-minded people like you will should find appealing if stuck in Vegas: CraftHaus, an up and coming brewery that you should visit instead of the "beer bars" with a chef's name attached. CraftHaus recently celebrated their 2nd anniversary, and with it came a 13% Triple IPA named Hop Bomb, a Mosaic heavy beer that somehow managed to feature the hops prominently without being overly sweet (hear that, Devil Dancer? What have the stores reduced the price on that one to, like $10 a four-pack now?). CraftHaus has a couple of canned offerings, with Resinate IPA and Evocation Saison available in stores around the city and state. Seek this brewery out instead of that four-foot tall bong of Jack and Coke!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Stone's Enjoy by 14 Years Ago

Once upon a time, Stone Brewing Co. released a Belgian Wit style beer. On February 2nd, 2002, to be exact. Brad Meltzer can have a field day looking into the significance of that date, but it did start a yearly event for Stone: releasing a Belgian-inspired beer each year through 12.12.12 (03.03.03, 04.04.04, and so on), known as the Vertical Epic series of beers. Some old-timers in the beer world even had the foresight to save that 02.02.02 and on to drink in a vertical tasting at the end of the series. The bottles were few and far between by the time 12.12.12 rolled around. I knew a couple who had a bottle that got stolen when their house was robbed. I came across a few bottles of the 03.03.03 Vertical Epic in a liquor store in San Diego just last year. But that 02.02.02 was elusive with only 300 cases produced, and though novel in its appeal to acquire to drink each year in order, it was not exactly a beer I was going to give up a lot for by the time 2012 arrived. A 7.5% Belgian Wit with ten years on it is really only worth drinking in a situation like the Vertical Epic tasting. It's not going to win prize pig at the state fair...aannndd I tried but couldn't get a damn bottle, ok?
But Stone has rolled back the clock to let you see what the 02.02.02 was like if you had been old enough to drink at the time(though you probably would have been drinking Icehouse) as part of their 20th Anniversary Encore Series. At 7.5%, the 02.02.02 encore is higher in ABV than a typical Wit, and Stone puts their signature hoppiness into the beer with the addition of Centennial hops, along with the requisite orange peel and coriander. And a 22 oz. is $7.99, not far off what you would have paid back in 2002. I think. What were we even doing back then? Watching Malcolm in the Middle? Driving with both hands on the wheel and our eyes on the road?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Hopfest Ticket Party Tonight

From its humble beginnings in the parking lot next to NYPD Pizza, to a parking lot behind O'Niell's, to Isleta/Hard Rock/Isleta again, Hopfest has become arguably the best beer fest in New Mexico. But what about the one at the zoo that time, you might say. But most likely not. Some fests are better (much, much, better) than others, and Hopfest has stood out to me for a number of reasons: The number of breweries represented is unmatched, with breweries I forgot still distribute here. For instance, Durango Brewing. How often do you see their stuff in stores? Also, thanks to Pueblo laws, the pours are more generous. No complaints here!
I will miss the "Extreme" part that was introduced last year, with the BMX freestyle show, but I won't miss the massive dust storm that kicked up in that area.
The VIP area is sweet, like you're hanging out in a fancy spa (because that's my kind of place) with hard to find beers.
You can get a discounted room and drink/gamble the night away at the Isleta hotel casino.
At 9 years old, this is a fest that has all the kinks of a brewfest ironed out.

There is a ticket party tonight at Quarter Celtic Brewpub. And here is the info on it, directly copied and pasted from the email. Hey, I'm going away tomorrow. Lots of laundry to do.
1. Join Coren at Quarter Celtic Brewpub on Monday and get 10% off GA & EH tickets, no online fees, & a FREE Hopfest Pint Glass - Monday Aug 22nd 5-8pm. Quarter Celtic has a Hopfest Special - 1/2 order of Fish & Chips and a pint of beer for $9. Also, it is Mor Buck Monday - $4 pint of Rye IPA or 13 oz Imperial GFE. Look for Coren with the Hopfest Tee.

2. Not available at that time? Head over to Tractor Brewing Co. to purchase your tickets, and skip the online fees. Bring cash = no fees, pay with a card = $1 fee.

3. Buy your tickets online from the comfort of your own couch (beer of choice in hand). Save 5% on GA or Extra Hoppy tickets with the code COUCH valid through 8/26.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Best Beer Value Out There?

"Best beer value" is a subjective term. You could argue that something like Bigfoot Barleywine is the best value, considering the high ABV and Sierra Nevada's pricing. Or the New Belgium 12-packs. The freshness of a local six-pack could factor into what you consider beer value, sure. The macro 30-packs have a place in the argument, but I'm looking for something with more body. There's an argument to be made for Who You Callin' Wussie, Stone, errr. Arrogant Brewing's rare attempt at a lager. I think "Wussie" is spelled "wussy", but since the beer is in 16 oz. cans, they went for the longer version of the word. I thank Fast Times at Ridgemont High's Damone for introducing the word to me in the first place. And for selling me those Earth, Wind, and Fire tickets.

Anyway, Arrogant Brewing does a fine job of the German Pilsner style, albeit with a few Stone-like touches, such as a higher than usual Pilsner ABV of 5.8%, and 47 IBUs to boot. That's Pale Ale ABV, but the taste is decidedly Pilsner. The best part of Wussie may be the value. A six-pack of 16 oz. cans is selling for as low as $9.99! 16 oz. cans! That's 96 oz. of beer at Natty Light prices. Who needs a job when you have Wussie available?? And I was this close to working at 7-11.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Post IPA Challenge Rambling

A few thoughts on recent beer events:

So, Boxing Bear won the IPA Challenge. And they deserved it. Not sure if Justin Hamilton replicated the 5,000 hop IPA from the previous challenge, but whatever he did, it worked. I blindly chose it at both the Rio Bravo event and the final at Tractor. There were some contenders, to be sure, but Boxing Bear's was above the rest. Good for them- partner Kevin Davis was always happy to help with homebrew problems while running Southwest Grape and Grain, and Brewmaster/co-owner Justin Hamilton is well-liked by the other brewers.
I don't get some of the internet chatter of a few saying this year was an overall sub-par collection of IPAs. I think it was a solid field and three or more could have won- though I was surprised to see Three Rivers near the top. I don't recall their IPA standing out, but I'm glad they placed near the top. Parity.
Tractor needs to turn up the AC when hosting that many people. I felt like I was in a Baptist church in the old south. And the sweaty look doesn't go well with being on TV. Yeah, there was indeed local news coverage of the challenge. Looks like we made it, as Barry would sing. And "being on TV" for me means seeing the back of my head, so only the gang over at the truck stop would have recognized me.
A well-run event overall, even if Castro did call during President Gozigian's speech, asking him to wrap it up already.

Heimat House has closed. German food is a tough sell in this town, even if you have the best German beer menu in the state. If it's not sushi, Vietnamese, or a chain restaurant, it's going to be quite the battle to get customers- unless, maybe, you take that schnitzel, smother it in red and green chile and a ton of cheese and serve it with dried up rice and bland refried beans. That seems to work everywhere. And on the chain restaurant note, anyone catch the piece in the Sunday Journal about things Albuquerque needs? Apparently, Ruby Tuesday is one of them. Yes, the lackluster chain that stands out from other chains because it has a salad bar. Hopefully you're reading this on your phone and shaking your head...while waiting for a table at the Cheesecake Factory.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Firestone Walker is Here. Oh Good.

Everyone excited for Firestone Walker's release in New Mexico today? I bet. Someone asked me the other day if I was excited about FW moving into town. Well, as you can imagine, Mr. Excitement has mixed feelings about the whole thing...
For starters, yeah, FW does have a great portfolio of beers. Union Jack, a multiple GABF Gold winner, is a classic IPA. Easy Jack Session IPA is the best of the style. Their barrel-aged beers are legendary (Parabola, Sucaba, etc.). So without trying to piss on everything (since it comes naturally), here are my concerns:

I'll miss the chase.
Traveling for beer has been one of the things that actually does excite me, and FW was always one of the brands I looked forward to drinking while on out of state excursions. So being able to walk into Jubilation for a sixer or Nob Hill for a pint does take away some of the fun of drinking Firestone Walker beer. Same thing happened with Founders, same thing happened with Ballast Point (I like the way all those colorful can boxes look together on store shelves, but I'm not spending $14 on a six-pack of it. Not with FW in town). And I know I'm not the only one who feels that way- show up at the next bottle share with an out-of-town IPA and you will feel appreciated. Show up with an Anderson Valley Hop Ottin or other locally-available shelf IPA, and I'll personally escort you to the door.

Also, there is the freshness issue to consider. Will we, as a still small craft community with a slew of great local beers, be able to support the buying of one brand enough to ensure a flow of the freshest of that national brand, such as FW? I've had a hard time finding fresh FW in Chicago, which can be understood considering that even though the beer geeks make up a higher percentage of the population than your average city, there are many more brands available than here. More great choices, more likely you'll find some beers sitting around longer. Plus, the distance from the brewery has to be considered. However, I have also had trouble finding fresh FW while in L.A., and that's not so far from Paso Robles. So, let's hope the local distributor has a plan to keep the freshest hoppy offerings from FW in stock. That 9.5% Double Jack DIPA can fall off quickly.

I doubt we're going to have a chance to find fresher Firestone Walker than tonight, at the release party at Nob Hill Bar and Grill. Starting at 6, you can try 15 or so of the finest FW offerings, including Stivo Pils (collaboration with Russian River), 19th Anniversary, Bretta Weisse, Parabola Wookey Jack, all the other Jacks, Pivo, DBA, and so on. Tomorrow, Jubilation will be hosting a tasting event for the packaged beers, and will pour DBA, PAle 31, Easy Jack, Union Jack, Pivo Pils, and Luponic Distortion #2 from 4-6.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

NM IPA Challenge: Only the Strong and Smoked Survive

With the first round of the NM IPA Challenge being an elimination round, one thing was certain: there were sure to be a number of bad beers. In the past, this was certainly true, even when there were only 14 breweries total to judge, let alone 28. But many NM breweries stepped up to the point that there weren't any "immediately spit the beer onto the floor" IPAs. So there's that.
Rio Bravo welcomed a full house of lupulin-crazed drinkers, including a man donning a pretzel necklace to help fuel him through the 28 oz. of beers he was served. The Rio Bravo space proved to have the perfect combination of factors to make for a successful event: plenty of seating and five minutes or less from my house. And the NM Brewers Guild people have been doing this for so long, there were no hitches when it came to getting the beers, aside from a lot of foam. Someday, someone will perfect the jockey box. Maybe Tesla. Or Kia.
The beers were divided into two trays of 14 beers apiece, so if you came with a friend, you might have gotten a taste of all 28. I talked to a few people who had tried both, and the consensus was that the tray with 1-14 had the better IPAs. I felt that way as well- in fact, I believe that directly contributed to Quarter Celtic's 24 votes. They were the standout beer from that group, but I don't know that they would have fared as well in tray 1. Newbie Starr Bros. was second in tray 2 with 17 votes, as they showed up with a respectable offering. Local favorite and reigning champ Bosque Brewing was third with 13, but I can't say their beer stood out at the time. Same with Marble, who only ended up with 6 votes. Santa Fe's newest IPA was entered but only got 3 votes. Should have saved some of that Western Bloc for the challenge! The real surprise in tray 2 was Chili Line out of Santa Fe, who brought a smoked IPA. Flavored or gimmick IPAs usually don't fare well in the Challenge (Eske's, anyone?), but Chili Line's smoked IPA got 10 votes and will go on to the finals. I could get all BJCP about the style guidelines for IPAs and how dare they enter this but who really cares? People liked it enough to vote for it.
Tray 1 started strong from the beginning, with La Cumbre in slot 1, and they gained 13 votes. That tied with tray 1 surprise Taos Mesa, who I had as a close second in my final decision. I ended up going with top vote getter Boxing Bear, who came away with 33 votes. They may be hard to beat this year. Stalwart Canteen (albeit with Zach in charge of brewing for the first time) tied for the lead with 33. A disappointment this year was Chama River. The beer tasted a little off, something I haven't encountered when trying beers at the brewpub.
A good experience overall, and a great job by the Rio Bravo staff checking on everyone and clearing tables. The two rounds outside of Albuquerque always bring out surprise votes (are Farmington palates that much different? Yes.), so you never know who will be near the top come July 23. See you then at Tractor for the finals!

Friday, July 1, 2016

A Guy Walks Into a Liquor Store...

And walks out with a growler! In other areas, this may not warrant the excitement that goes along with a !, but here in New Mexico, we haven't had that luxury like they have in other states. But new legislation passed allows New Mexico liquor stores to set up growler fill stations, much like ones you may have seen in other states. And it's about time, considering that four years ago I was choosing which beer to fill up a growler with at a damn Piggly Wiggly in a podunk town in South Carolina. And the time I was driving through Alabama 15 years ago and found a convenience store where people were filling up empty gallon milk containers at a set of taps. To be fair, the first time I ever encountered a self-checkout at a supermarket was at a Winn Dixie in Alabama, so maybe they're more ahead of the curve than I'd expect to give them credit for. And the place in the photo is the Charleston Beer Exchange, which has also offered growler fills for years in a state with a more religious anti-drink slant than NM. But let's be happy we've finally got the legislation passed through, and will have many more choices when it comes to take-home draft beer in this town. Expect to see rapid changes at your local retailer- Jubilation's Adam Auden tells me they are in the process of setting up an 8-tap growler fill station, and says, "We'll be focusing on non-local beers not available in package, but I will rotate some local draught only stuff through from time to time". And that makes sense, considering that you can hit up your local brewery for whatever fill you need of theirs. So can you imagine the day when you walk in Jubilation, or Kelly's, or Smith's, and walk out with a growler of Parabola? Dreams really can come true in New Mexico!