Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Founders Tap Takeover and Drumroll Pleases

Nob Hill Bar and Grill, they of the upscalejoint.com website (a name that might keep me from checking the place out if I were visiting from out of town...upscale??? Hell NO! But it turns out that the only time I don't want to be there is after 10 on a weekend night, when suddenly the place transforms into a Vegas dance club) is hosting a Founders tap takeover on Tuesday, featuring a number of favorites from the Grand Rapids, MI brewery. Mango Magnifico, Sumatra Mountain Brown, Devil Dancer Triple IPA, All Day IPA, 2015 and 2016 KBS, and ReDANKulous will all be on tap.
I know I lauded both Founders' ReDANKulous and Jubilation in the same post the other day, so now allow me to bash them both a bit: Founders, I was excited for ReDANKulous, but this batch is a malty mess. If you are expecting a malt bomb, I guess this is the beer for you. But I gave a recommendation based on the hoppy goodness that was previous batches. I can't imagine this current one would come anywhere close to winning a GABF Gold. And Jubilation, I applaud the fact that almost all of the beer you sell is kept refrigerated, and I am sure it is a distributor decision and not yours, but I hate to see the stacks of Devil Dancer displayed out on the floor. That stuff has a window of, oh, a week where it tastes like it could be a "Triple IPA" before it tastes like a Barleywine. Can you please sell all the Devil Dancer and ReDANKulous and get that Double Trouble in already??

Has Odell ever had a mass-marketed American Pale Ale? Their 5 Barrel Pale Ale could kind of stand in for one, but I think the public's need for hops has pushed away that English-style and compelled Odell to create Drumroll American Pale Ale, their first year-round release in two years. 12-pack displays are already up at Whole Foods. Get your nitrite and nitrate-free hot dogs and some American Pale Ale for the upcoming holiday. The beer is easy drinking, and definitely leaning towards Pale Ale category rather than Session IPA, though you do get pleasant tropical notes from the hop bill. Nice. It's the first beer Odell has produced that comes in cans only- hello, future of beer.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Clown Shoes Were Made For Drinking

For years now, Clown Shoes beers were only available in NM at Total Wine stores. Dark days, indeed. But now you can actually get Clown Shoes refrigerated, as Jubilation is now carrying the Massachusetts-based contract brewed beers. I tried fresh (it's true!) bottles of Galactic IPA and Space Cake DIPA and was pleasedwith the product Clown Shoes is making these days. Or having made for them, I should say, Much like "Brooklyn" brewery Sixpoint, Clown Shoes is still facing the stigma of contract brewing. It has worked just fine for Mikkeller and Evil Twin for years, but some breweries are still looking for the craft community's respect. Just make a solid product and I'll buy the damn thing.

ReDANKulous is one of the best Imperial Red ales I've had on tap, and we now have fresh bottles in town. The GABF Gold medalist from Founders is available in four-packs, again at Jubilation. I'm not trying to be a fanboy of the place, but I just can't stress enough how happy I am to see the number of people they have available to help shoppers at any time I go in. It could be 15 minutes before closing on a Monday evening and there will be like six employees ready to answer questions and offer suggestions. I know not all small, local businesses can afford to operate this way but they are certainly still the model for the way I wish businesses could be.

Is taking over your own taps with your beer still considered a tap takeover? If so, then call it a Chama River tap takeover at Draft Station on the 18th (Chama River and Draft Station both being part of the Santa Fe Dining Group, of course). The first 15 beers that most recent Head Brewer Andrew Krosche created when he joined the ever-rotating list of brewers at Chama will be featured, and it's quite the variety of styles, from Gose to Kolsch to a raspberry ginger beer, in case your mom wants to tag along.

Lastly, a thank you to Mitch Steele for helping Stone Brewing Company achieve remarkable growth in his 10 years there with innovative styles and a high-quality product. He will be leaving at the end of June to pursue his own brewery. When he first joined Stone after long working for Anheuser Busch as brewery operations manager, there was an uproar akin to back when people thought Obama was going to take away their guns when he became president. And now we have a world of uproar and overreaction regarding everything, so thanks, social media. But back then, people thought Stone was selling out and trying to become the fourth to the Big Three. No, the Arrogant Bastard didn't become watered down, beachwood-aged, or renamed America. And yes, Mitch Steele had a number of notable successes, particularly the Enjoy By series. So good luck to you Mitch, and I hope to see your beers in Albuquerque soon.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Beer week: Saturday, 6.4

I probably should have written about this before the June 2 entry deadline: Ponderosa is hosting a sidewalk chalk contest on Saturday from 11-5. $100 gift card to the winner, a mug club membership for second, and a $20 gift card for third. I guess spaces are limited so they had to do an early cut off date. Sorry if you are interested but are just finding out about the event. Anyway, come out and support your favorite...sidewalk chalk artist...

Barrel-aged beers are the theme of the day at Tractor, where they will be pouring Scotcholate Scotch Ale, Luna De Los Muertos, and Barley Wine. A flight of 12 oz. pours is $12. They will also be selling bombers of these beers for $15, limit 3 per person.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co will be bringing Five Hop IPA, Bigfoot Barleywine, and Hoptimum Imperial IPA to Nob Hill Bar and Grill at 5.

Tractor Brewing Wells Park hosts Planned Parenthood Votes New Mexico presents Beer & Bands for Better Sex Ed: an evening of entertainment, activism, and music! You know me, all about the activism. Whatever it takes to keep dummies from having little dummies. Mike Judge was so so so right. This $15 fundraiser will benefit sex ed programs in New Mexico, and there's a lot going on. Music from Le Chat Lunatique, Albuquerque Aerialist Collective, Cali Shaw, Keith Sanchez, Desert Darlings Belly Dance, and Leftover Soul. Doner Kebab, My Sweet Basil, and Pop Fizz provide the eats. The event begins at 5:30.

Another worthy fundraiser, this one for the animals I care about. Watermelon Mountain Ranch can always use your help, and Marble's Westside tap room will host a "Yappy Hour" from 3-5. Raffles, a pet photographer, plenty of adoptable puppies, and beer!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Farewell, Firkin

It's sad to see a brewery close, but especially during Beer Week. Sorry to say Firkin is no longer in business. It was located in a a nearly hidden spot in around the so-called "Brewery District", so unless you were headed for the place you would be unlikely to stumble upon it. The competition is rough these days, so anyone who plans on opening should have their A-game beers dialed in and ready to go. The public often will only give a place one try and be quick to pass on a bad review. I hope the folks who put it all together come out of it ok.

Beer Week: Friday, June 3

A light day for the most part, with multiple beer samplings at the Total Wine stores and Jubilation.

Santa Fe Brewing Company's Albuquerque Taproom will debut their spicy Saison, dubbed Lemon Skynyrd, evoking thoughts of the opening notes of Freebird. Unfortunately, it also brings to mind the sounds of Sweet Home Alabama and Daughtry's awful version of Simple Man. Looking forward to the beer, but if they play any of that crap I'm out!

Welcome newcomer Palmer Brewery to Beer Week. Imbibe will hosts the release of M.W.A. (Malt With Attitude), an 8% Malt Liquor made with New Mexico blue corn. A step up from the regular corn used in Malt Liquor, in which case the beer could have been called Monsanto With Attitude.

The NM Brewers Guild presents the Beer Premiere, where 15 NM breweries are pouring beers never before released to the public. A great concept at a very nice location, the National Hispanic Cultural Center. $35 dollars gets you unlimited samples, a stemmed glass, and a matanza-style pig roast courtesy of M'tucci's.

Art Fight at Tractor Wells Park! This art event does not include Sports Illustrated style body painting, so I won't be there. I do like where the money is going, however. Local artists will be creating pieces live while you drink your Tractor beer. Paint, Pints, and Pups is the theme. The pieces will be auctioned off at the end of the event, with proceeds going to Babes and Bullies and People's Anti-Cruelty Association/Albuquerque Animal Rescue. Event goes from 7-10.

The former Stereo Bar (now Mezcal Tequileria) hosts a tap takeover with Upslope Brewing at 6. I neglected to mention the Odell tap takeover that happened on Thursday, where there were lots of good beers (The Meddler, Friek, Russian Pirate, Tree Shaker, etc.). I hope Upslope represents well there.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Beer Week: Thursday, 6.2

Bourbon County on tap! Twice a year, if we're lucky, Bourbon County Brand Stout gets tapped in Albuquerque: around Black Friday and during Beer Week, and Nob Hill is usually the host both times. They will be tapping it at 6.

Barley Room is an unexpected host for some Ballast Point beers all day Thursday. Sea Monster Imperial Stout, Mango Even Keel Pale Ale, and Calm Before the Storm Coffee Cream Ale will befuddle the crowd.

Cazuela's will host an unusual but welcome event: a tap takeover with beers from New Mexico breweries outside of Albuquerque. That should be pretty cool! They open at the ungodly hour of 8 am, so you can start early.

M'Tucci's Italian Market and Deli will be tapping Santa Fe's Western Bloc IPA at 11 am. Normally, I wouldn't highlight a tapping of a beer that is available at the home tap room and other bars around town, but I enjoyed this beer so much at Sister on Wednesday night that I had to feature this event. I love the look the wheat gives this beer. Reminds me of Tired Hands HopHands.

Red Door hosts their 2nd Annual Food Truck Battle beginning at 2. Multiple food trucks will be pairing a dish with a Red Door beer. Pay as you eat/drink. The competition is purely for fun, so you probably won't see someone from one food truck shooting BB's at another truck's propane tank.

Hand-rolled cigars from Imbibe, chocolates from Chocolate Dude, and barrel-aged beers from Rio Bravo, all in the same cavernous building! Rio Bravo offers $10 flights of barrel-aged Porter, Stout, Belgian Strong Ale and Barleywine paired with Chocolate Dude treats starting at 5. Imbibe will do the custom cigars from 4-6.

Bow and Arrow releases their Wild Rice Pale Ale at 4, the latest in a series of pales with different star ingredients. Will this one be beachwood aged as well???

Battle of the Beer Geeks? Huh. Must have misplaced my invite. Again. For the third year in a row. Anyway, you get a flight of 5 beers from 5 teams who brewed their recipes with guidance from Tractor brewers. Vote for your favorite and receive a pint of it as well. All this for $10. The fun starts at 5.

Marble Brewery and Torino's at Home are pairing up for a beer dinner at 6. Some tickets still remain. $45 per person.

Ponderosa releases Saison Petit Souris on tap and in bottles at 3 today.

Sierra Nevada makes sausages. I did not know this. Beers and mustards weren't enough. O'Niell's in Nob Hill hosts a Sierra sausage tasting along with all the Beer Camp beers on tap at 6.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Beer Week: Wednesday, 6.1

June 1st, and it feels like I've hardly played any golf this year. When picking golf buddies, make sure to find ones without any adult jobs. Try to find the Johnny Manziel types. Maybe they'll pay for your greens fees as well.

Rock and Brews hosts another big Ballast Point tap takeover, with this one featuring a keg of barrel-aged Victory at Sea Imperial Porter. Tapping scheduled at 6.

Another tap takeover is happening right down the street at Billy's Long Bar. Billy's has been kind of quiet this year in Beer Week event involvement. But they will welcome Alaskan Brewing and a multitude of Alaskan beers on tap, also at 6.

Nob Hill Bar and Grill welcomes Ska Brewing and kegs of barrel-aged Dementia and Bump and Grind Coffee Stout. I have to admit, I haven't tried Bump and Grind, and that's not anything to do with Ska. It's just that as a notoriously anti-day drinking person, I can never find a good time to drink coffee beers. You should though. Event starts at 5.

Uptown Sports Bar. Now that's a place I haven't been to in a long time. Maybe tonight I will visit for the rare appearance of a keg of Alpine (with un-improvements by Green Flash) Nelson. They've done a decent job at trying to re-create the distinct Nelson look and flavor after a few disastrous attempts.
Ask a Certified Cicerone and bad beer tasting at Tractor- yet another 6 pm event. This event allows you to talk to Cicerone Skye Devore about study tips for taking the Certified Cicerone exam. The whole Cicerone thing really took off after years of it being pushed...surprised how many bars around the country are hiring based on people having the cert, though I guess it's a better way of hiring for a serious craft beer bar than on looks. I have neither the cert nor the looks, yet I manage to scrape by. Skye will also be guiding folks through bad taste by opening cider, errrr, off-flavor kits to add common "off" tastes to beer (think diacetyl, acetaldehyde, and other unspellable words) to help you identify what makes that bad beer so bad. $5 for the bad beer tasting, free for the Cicerone study tips.

Mother Road achieved what few other Arizona breweries have up to this point: a good IPA. Unfortunately, we can't seem to get any cans fresher than March 7 here, but you can hopefully bug the Mother Road people about that at the Mother Road tap takeover at The Grain Station, starting at, you guessed it, 6 pm. Mother Road will also bring a firkin for your drinking pleasure.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Beer Week: Tuesday, 5.31

Back to a full Beer Week schedule of events now that Blues and Brews and Memorial have passed. Starting off, we have another cheese-centric pairing, this one at Tractor Wells Park with Cheesy Street. Trays of 4 mini grilled cheese sandwiches paired with Tractor beers will be available beginning at 3. $13 fee for this one. And to the first person who can tell me what movie that picture is from gets a beer from my collection. Email, Facebook message, whatever.

Hitachino, Coedo and Miyazaki Hideji. Those are not the newest Street Fighter characters, though they sure do pack a punch! Ha.
Jubilation hosts a free tasting from these Japanese breweries on Tuesday from 4-6.

Rio Bravo gets in on the Taco Tuesday craze by offering $1 tacos from Mariam's Tacos along with $5 flights that include DRB IPA, Randy's Red, German Sommer, and Pilsner, beginning at 5:30.

An all fancy beer dinner at Ponderosa. The place is still cranking out beer even though a number of brewers have come and gone. I hope they can keep going, and this $45 beer dinner ($40 for mug club members) sounds like a good one: Sour Saison with Charcuterie Plate, Crosscut K├Âlsch with Scallop Salad, Red Rye Lager with Wild Mushroom Risotto and Braised Lamb Shank, and Chocolate Stout with Pot de Creme. 7 pm.

A Kill the Keg event at brat haven The Grain Station! Upslope and Santa Fe Brewing go head to head beginning at 6. Whichever brewery's keg is emptied first wins. The other brewery is just the wurst.

Two Fools continues to get in special kegs for the week. Today features Oscar Worthy Coffee from New Belgium's Lips of Faith series. A foeder of dark sour Oscar was blended with 50 lbs. of The Bean Cycle's coffee. The keg will tap at 4. For those of you who are saying, "Who the f### gets off work at 4? By the time I get there, it will be gone! Why do all the tappings start so early?" I AGREE. In fact, I may be the only one saying this. But I know there are a lot of you in the service industry and other occupations where you work later in the day but are really into beer and would like to take part in these events. I'm going to lobby for some later tap times in the future.

Go taste some bad beer at Albuquerque Brewing Company! Head Brewer Carnie will host a talk about and tasting of off flavors in beer. That way, next time you notice something tastes not quite right at a brewery, you can bring it to the attention of the brewer. They will be sure to take it in a non-defensive manner and thank you profusely.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Beer Week Memorial Day Events

Happy Memorial Day, and another happy Beer Week day. Red Door combines a special Beer Week event with a fundraiser for those we are honoring today. From the Red Door folks themselves, "Please join Red Door Brewing Co. and the Rio Grande Patriots for our inaugural fundraising event to sponsor The Folds of Honor Foundation. Of the one million-plus dependents adversely affected by deployments, nearly nine out of 10 do not qualify for federal scholarship assistance. Since 2007, the Folds of Honor has carried forth this singular, noble mission. To close the gap, providing educational support to spouses and children of America's fallen and wounded soldiers. Over 80% of funds go directly to recipients. Red Door will be donating 20% of sales and representatives will be on hand to accept additional donations. Come on out and be a part of something great." The event goes from 12-4.

Rio Bravo will be honoring vets and current enlisted military by giving them $2 off pints. Also, Rio Bravo barrel-aged Belgian Strong Ale and barrel-aged Porter will be tapped at Two Fools at 4.

Memorial Day cornhole tournament with the folks from Upslope Brewing at Rock and Brews from 2-5. Come out and play the game with the worst name ever and drink some pretty good Boulder, CO beers. Maybe win a keychain.

Santa Fe Brewing Co's Albuquerque Taproom will be featuring a firkin of white tea chardonnay sour today at 2. Bring your own watercress sandwiches.

Keeping with the theme of "Cheesiest Beer Week Ever", Albuquerque Brewing Co. will host a cheese, beer, and boards event from 6-8. The boards involved are not of the skate kind, which is probably for the best. Beer can have the dangerous side effect of making grown men think they can still pull off the tricks they used to do when they were riding around on their Powell Peralta Mike McGill model board (and they weren't very good at it back then, either). The boards for this event are board games, a much safer way to pass the time while drinking. And I'd like to take this moment to admit that I was wrong about Empire Board Game Library. I saw that place open in Nob Hill and thought there was no way a concept like that could last, but they are packed every time I pass by. People are having fun without alcohol...who knew such a thing was possible?

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-"...you know the rest of that line. Hopefully.