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.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

OB Finally Tries an IPA

For years, Oskar Blues offered hoppy beers but was on the fringe of having an IPA in their lineup: Dale's Pale Ale, while satisfying to hopheads, still had that telltale Pale Ale taste. G'Knight (Gordon) also did the job but is an Imperial Red. And Gubna, so over the top at 10% and relying on Summit hops exclusively, had OB fans divided on whether it was a good DIPA or garbage. Considering the fact that Gubna has undergone a reformulation, it seems that those of the garbage opinion were winning out, though I always liked the Summit hops. Deviant Dale's came along, and though touted as an IPA, I can't get past the fact that it is 8% ABV. That's beyond IPA to me, Brewer's Association guidelines be damned. One might have thought that Oskar Blues might go the way of Left Hand, saying we don't need to make an IPA (and when we do, it's not going to be good). But finally, in 2015, OB debuts their version of a modern IPA- and made with Australian hops: Ella, Vic Secret, Enigma, and Topaz. And it works. Not an over the top IPA, at 6.4%. Not overly bitter. Very drinkable. And not overpriced, which was an argument people had against poor ol' Gubna. Look for a sixer to run from $9-10 at your local store.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sorry Kumar: Hopfest is going Xtreme!

We've seen Hopfest evolve over the years, from the first two in what was then the Al's NYPD Pizza parking lot (think about the size of that spot, and imagine trying to have a fest there now), to O'Niell's parking lot and the overbearing eye of some of the "pour police" (where a rep from Coronado got thrown out of the fest for sampling beer from another booth), to its rightful home, Hard Rock Isleta Casino Hotel and Resort. This year's takes place on Saturday, August 29 from 2-6. Isleta is a great venue for a fest, where you get to sample beers from over 70 breweries situated both indoors and out. The indoors part is important, meaning there are actual restroom facilities with running water and soap and the guy with the blue jar of combs and the mints and so on. It also means you can enjoy a beer in the NM sunshine, then realize after five minutes that beer and direct sunlight makes for an early nap, so you can head back in for some air conditioning, maybe a couple of hands of 21, then back to sampling from over 200 beers. 22 of the 70 breweries serving at the fest are local, so you can grab samples of familiar favorites as well as exploring national offerings. Cider and spirits makers will be serving as well. Psst: the pours are more generous when fests are held at places like Sandia or Isleta. If you feel the need for a break, take in one or more of the 7 bands performing throughout the day on 3 stages. New for this year is the BMX Xtreme stage, where performers from Stuntmasters Action Sports will perform at 2:50, 4:00, and 5:30. My BMX freestyle repertoire consists of a shaky endo at best, but I do still have a 'Goose that can bunnyhop the curb. Tickets are still available for Hopfest by clicking here. Hope to see you all there!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Four Winds of Change

The Four Winds Travel Center on 12th St between Menaul and I-40 can be an...interesting place to visit. Part gas station, part convenience store, part liquor store; just a parking lot away from a Walgreens. All these forces combine to attract the types of people you might find in the "Most Wanted Property Crimes Offenders" section in the Friday Albuquerque Journal. But Four Winds is a clean place, the alcohol section has a surprisingly good beer selection, and there is now the added bonus of getting a growler fill to go along with your chimichanga. Upon my visit, I found the eight taps comprised solely of local offerings: Tractor, Santa Fe, Marble, and La Cumbre. Math time: $2.99 for a 32 oz. glass plus $4.99 for a fill. 64 oz. glass costs $3.99 plus $8.99 for the fill. They will also fill growlers from other breweries. Thanks to the helpful employee for the info, and also for the security guard for even letting me through the door with my "up and coming neighborhood dweller" look. It's nice to be able to get a growler fill of a GABF gold medal-winning beer at a gas station. See for yourself- they'll fill growlers up until midnight.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Not Your Father's Founders

It's official: Premier Distributing will be bringing Founders Brewing beers to NM in October. The Grand Rapids brewery, known for its Breakfast Stout, Kentucky Breakfast Stout, Centennial IPA, etc., etc., will be a great addition to the national brands carried here. Founders Double Trouble DIPA is one of my personal favorites, as well as their Harvest Ale, though we may be a bit late in getting distribution to get that one. We'll see. Exciting news either way!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Cry Into Your Beer at Santa Fe Tap Takeover

While Albuquerque eagerly awaits the opening of Santa Fe Brewing's new taproom off of Carlisle Blvd. (expect a soft opening late next week), we can take solace in the tap takeover tonight at Sister Bar. Highland Heath (barrel-aged Scotch Ale, part of their Ever Changing Series and available in bottles at Jubilation), Autonomous Collective DIPA (exciting to see Santa Fe doing a DIPA, as it's not something you think of when you think of Santa Fe Brewing, unless you can remember back to Imperial Yippee IPA. Oh, the times, they are a changing), and the first tapping of the 2015 version of Kriek. The 2014 version earned a well-deserved medal at the past GABF.
For some reason, Sister always seems to have these tap takeovers on Friday nights, so I won't be able to attend. But when I found out the takeover coincides with "Honky Tonk Happy Hour", which consists of Steed spinning "classic country, honky tonk and western swing records from 5-9 pm", I realized I could probably survive without making this event. I'm hoping that DIPA is still around for me to try on Saturday, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Stone Ain't Dead, and Greg Only Looks Homeless

It may be that Stone Brewing Company has reached an awkward stage in its growth, like the teenager who gets braces and ultimately the perpetual "puffy mouth" look. Stone brewed 287,000 barrels in 2014, leading to the inevitable talk by some that they've gotten so big that they lost the ability to make a good beer- someone's looking at you, Boston Beer Company. While this illogical thinking probably has something to do with the Big Three's repeated lackluster forays into the craft side of brewing, and Stone's focus spreading to hotels, collaborations, and their own European brewery, the recent release of RuinTen shows they still have something in the tank. Cries of "sellout" should be held to whisper level, thank you, as I'm not ready to hear it. RuinTen shows off what has always been Stone's strength, a hop bomb that is almost a throwback to the piney IPAs but with a 10.8% ABV punch. I do find it funny that this beer is now labeled as a Triple IPA, no doubt meant to stand out in a sea of plain old Double IPAs. But we all know that Stone partially got where it is today by its marketing, and the Triple IPA moniker will sell to the people who are new to the scene. I bought it because I still have some faith in Stone...but if they try brewing another chai-spiced beer, I'm done! The best part about RuinTen: a 22 oz. bomber sells for $7.99.
Now, I love me some Scale Tipper, and was buying so many growlers that my next investment was going to be a Sharpie and a piece of cardboard in order to stake a claim at an interstate exit, but the $12 price tag for the bomber (with no growler fills) has me looking at other options. I'll always be a proponent of buying from local breweries first, and the good people at Bosque are brewing beers that are worth buying, if you have the means. If you need an alternative, RuinTen fits the bill.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Root Beer: It's For Hipsters Too

Root beer lovers/alcoholics, rejoice! Not Your Father's Root Beer has hit Albuquerque stores. This 5.9% ABV marvel really tastes just like root beer, yet packs the same alcohol punch as a Mickey's widemouth. And it's hipster approved, since Pabst took over distribution rights for Illinois' Small Town Brewery. So put on those cutoff jean shorts that come all the way up to mid-rib and grab a Not Your Father's Root Beer.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

5/26-27 Beer Week Picks

Post-fest depression be damned; you're drinking again, aren't you? Nobody here is judging. Not your drinking habits, at least.

More artsy stuff involving Tractor. Smart move for Tractor to reach out to artists, especially if they ever decide to open a tap room in Santa Fe. There are a few artists up there, I hear. This event is Tupac Tuesday, featuring art centering around the dead rapper who's abs still look better in death than mine do in life, Tupac Shakur. The event takes place at the up and coming Grain Station, 2004 Central SE. Tractor's Tupac Cali Red will be on tap. Represent.

Visit Bistronomy B2B on Tuesday from 7-9, where the B2B brewers will be on hand to talk to you about their beers, and maybe entice you to buy one. If you do, you get a special beer glass from the folks at Yelp. The ironic thing is, these beer glasses only get one star on Yelp.

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. Two Fools. 6 pm. You waited in the cold for it on Black Friday. It might be even colder tomorrow night, who the hell knows with the way this weather has been?

Nob Hill Bar and Grill continues to bring in something different for Beer Week. A firkin from Lagunitas will be tapped at 5, and a rep from the company will be on hand from 5-6. A beer from Upslope will also be tapped. Tried their Imperial IPA, not bad at all! Drink fresh, as the 10% ABV lends to going sweet as it ages. Not that you'd let an IPA age, right?

Dogs drink free? Well, the first 25 do at El Pinto, where Bowser Beer will be flowing for the 25 lucky pups. For adults, Lagunitas (they of the doggie logo, of course) will be tapping Equinox Oat Pale ALe, Cappuccino Stout, Brown Shugga', and Waldo 4/20 DIPA, which is excellent, by the way. Event goes from 4:30-6:30, and will happen again on Wednesday. Good dog.

Finally, Santa Fe brings their new Session Ale to both Gecko's locations. Session Ale- the perfect beer to drink while you're huddled by the fire at the end of May.


Canteen Brewhouse continues to find old kegs back in that cooler even after it seems like they just had to have tapped all the old stuff at their last fest. But no, a 2012 Barleywine has survived, and will be tapped at noon.

Rock and Brews hosts Lagunitas for a tap takeover from 5-9. A multitude of Petaluma, California's finest will be on tap. Note: if you're ever in Petaluma, check out the Whole Foods there. Lots of good beers including Russian River bottles there for the taking.

The kids at Red Door are gaining tap space at more and more local bars. Sample a variety of their beers at a special Red Door tap takeover at both Gecko's.

A beer dinner that even I can afford is happening at 5 Star Burgers at Wyoming and Academy from 6-9. $18 gets you:
Chile strips with La Cumbre Brewing Co South Peak Pilsner, sweet potato fries with Marble Brewery Double White, green chile Turkey slider with La Cumbre Elevated IPA, BBQ pork slider with Marble Brewery Red Ale, and a burger slider with Santa Fe Brewing Co Nut Brown. $2 dessert available if you don't feel stuffed enough.

Miss the Beer, Cheese, and More event at Marble's downtown location? You can still get your fill at the Westside location, where the same pairings will be served beginning at 4. $20.

Italy meets Germany for some bad fashion but good food and beer at M'Tucci's Kitchina. Tractor will tap their Berliner Weisse. I recommend M'Tucci's food, but I'm not a food critic. I am an expert on what sucks, amd M'Tucci's does not make that list.