Saturday, July 21, 2018

NM IPA Challenge Round 1

As the second round of the IPA Challenge begins at Second Street in Santa Fe, it's only fitting that I catch up on Round 1, held in Taos. Now, I know that people in Taos have been conditioned over the years to like mediocre beer, as evidenced by the popularity of Eske's Green Chile beer, but the voting results really raised eyebrows. Is it just the strange tastes of the quinoa kids in Taos, or was there some subterfuge afoot? Red River Brewing, only a scant 36 miles from Taos, somehow managed to get 64% more votes than the closest competitor, Boxing Bear. That's one more vote than Duel, Kaktus, Marble, Quarter Celtic, Bow and Arrow, Bosque, La Cumbre, and Santa Fe COMBINED. Hmmmmmmmm. Now, it's hard to pick out a certain beer in an IPA Challenge (save for maybe Boxing Bear's entry this year). While I can't say for sure that people were stuffing the ballot box, I can SAY FOR SURE that people were stuffing the ballot box!!! Sure, I could be wrong. Happens multiple times a day. But here's my prediction: Red River falls back. Boxing Bear continues to show well. May the merit-based vote accumulator win!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

NM IPA Challenge: The Three Trays

Duel Brewing had their finest tap selection since opening as they hosted the elimination round of the NM IPA Challenge. The format was simple: the 38 IPAs were broken up into three trays to be distributed equally to the participants. Apparently some event-goers didn't get the memo, as there were complaints about not getting a tray with all 38 entries. Don't you have to wait long enough to get your tray of 12-14 samples?? Just do what the pros do and show up with three people and get to try from all three trays. Then come up and yack to me about stupid shit for an hour. I was not a pro, as I have only one friend and so only got to try from 1-27, though did sneak a sample of 29 and 31. I found tray 1 to be superior to the second, with 5 good IPAs, 4 bad, and 3 ok. This may not seem like a great ratio, but five out of 12 will get you in the baseball hall of fame. Tray 2 was a bit closer to the Mendoza line, with 8 bad, 1 good, and 3 ok.
Of interest to me:

I think the hazy beers got some votes based purely on looks: Boxing Bear's 26 votes were second only to Marble's 29, though I didn't think that beer was in the top 5.
Marble's beer stood out as I tried it with a "Huh!" which means good, but I was surprised to see it get the most votes as it wasn't HAZY.
Bow and Arrow's had a great NE IPA look, but it lacked in taste. This is where I think the look helped, as they gathered 16 votes.
Santa Fe Dining had a good showing, with concepts Blue Corn and Kelly's both making the finals. You remember Kelly's: the place where everyone used to go and pack the patio when the beer was bad. Now they have good beer and the place is empty.
Red Door had an interesting beer that finished like a lager. They're going on to the finals as well.
Rio Bravo wasn't one I'd put money on to make the next round, but their beer stood out. Nice job.
La Cumbre surprised me by NOT doing something hazy, and their beer was really good.
Kaktus' 11 votes may have been more than their previous entries combined.
Santa Fe stood out to me above the rest with a variant of Reluctant, their hazy IPA. Not quite in the murky category, more wheaty looking. But what a great beer. Only 12 of us had the good taste to vote for this one.

The way the Guild tallies votes is effective but antiquated. How about grabbing an Ipad and entering the data as you receive the votes. Then, 30 seconds after the last vote is in, boom, you can announce the results and we can get out of that hot and humid atmosphere. Those big windows at the front of Duel combined with the high ceilings make for an overstretched air conditioning system. That charcuterie board might be worth hanging around for though.
Duel, Second Street, Taos Mesa, and Bosque all received a bye as they are all hosts this year. Excited to see what Second Street and Bosque bring to the finals. You know Bosque wants to bring home the trophy to their new billion dollar baby.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

U.S. Open Beer Championship Winners Announced: The Local Slant

Did you all mark your calendars for this one? The U.S. Open Beer Championships was right up there with Arbor Day for me up until a couple of years ago because it just didn't have the publicity afforded to the ones we're familiar with, even though it has been held since 2009. So while it isn't as well known as GABF and World Beer Cup and though its website ( makes mine look modern, it is still a legitimate competition. It has the unique distinction of allowing homebrewers to enter alongside commercial breweries. One guy even took Silver in the DIPA category! There were 6,300 entries from around the world in 117 categories, and looky here: New Mexico brought back some parting gifts. The 377 Brewery took Gold in the Wood/Barrel-Aged Sour Beer category for Belgian Sour Quad. Nice! One of the few non-chain places in the airport area and it's a winner. Will the local sour chasers be searching this one out? Another underdog brewery, Flix Brewhouse, took a Bronze in the Baltic-Style Porter category for Darth Malt. Great name, great beer, apparently. Santa Fe took two Bronze medals, the first for Santa Fe Pale Ale in the ESB category. Who knew all these local Pale Ales were really ESB Ales? La Cumbre Pyramid Rock Pale Ale, Santa Fe Pale Ale, Bosque IPA winning at World Beer Cup a few years back in the Australian Pale Ale category...FAKE NEWS!!! The second Santa Fe Bronze was for their fantastic 7K IPA in the West Coast IPA Category. Yeah, there's a New England IPA category. Will be one at GABF this year too, finally. Anyway, have I told you how much I enjoyed the 7K on tap at Albuquerque Sunport at the place that stays open late in Terminal B? Hint: Terminal B is the one where you turn right. Back to the beer in a second, but first, someone explain why there are so many late flights out of huge airports yet all the restaurant/bars seem to close by 10pm? NY, LAX, Vegas...yet we have one flight out of little ABQ Sunport at 11:45pm and the bar there is open up almost until boarding. I love that. And I got there after a crazy day of work and had myself the best 7K I could imagine. Two, actually, of the large ones. And then I went into the restroom and chugged an Underberg mini, got on the plane, and settled in with my earplugs and sleep mask. And listened to myself think about how important it was that I get some sleep. Listened to that annoying voice all the way up to landing.
Congratulations to our local winners!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Can ABQ Bear Another Hazy IPA?

You don't have to have a magic 8 ball to know that Hazy/ NE style IPAs are all the rage. It's old news for me to even write about it. And you know that, yes, Albuquerque IPA drinkers would love to have another quality hazy IPA to try. Look at La Cumbre, who has seen remarkable success beginning with El Jugo and followed up by Postcards From Hell (collab with Modern Times), In the Money, etc. You know, the beers you had to line up for. And people got so used to lining up there that they even did it for the South Peak Pilsner can release, even though people when it was available previously on tap at the pub, people weren't drinking it at the pub and it got dropped from the regular lineup. Sun Fade, their most recent hazy, should be available throughout the summer and I saw a lot of it in Phoenix recently. Bosque did a few really good ones, and I think they should keep trying them. Seems like (naturally) a lot of focus has gone to opening the new place, and I haven't been blown away by any of their recent releases. Marble has Desert Fog, a hazy IPA that may or may not get canned someday. Quarter Celtic and Canteen have done a few but none hit the mark of a NE style, and I'm using the look/mouthfeel of Monkish, Tired Hands, Other Half as my reference. Not they have to do the beers as well as those named do, they just have to be similar in style. Red Door, Ponderosa, Bombs Away all have done or are still brewing the style.

But what about Boxing Bear? Is Justin Hamilton content with the success of his back-to-back NM IPA Challenge winning IPA? Well, probably. That would be enough for me. But he's been intrigued by the NE style IPA since before it blew up. And he sorta tried his hand at one in the MavBear collab with Josh Trujillo at Marble. He's finally releasing his very own at Boxing Bear, Albumurky. I like the name, though we'll see if San Diego's Pure Project has any objections since they seem to be the original "murk" meisters, with beers named Murklands, Murkwoods, Murk Mobile, Murk of the Beast, UC Murkley...
Hamilton says that while MavBear came across as having higher bitterness than a typical NE IPA, Albumurky is more true to style. It is 6.8% ABV and is hopped with Simcoe, Mosaic, and Citra. Definitely looking forward to this one.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Founders Double Trouble

I remember going into Local Option bar in Chicago in, oh 2012 or 2013 and seeing Bell's Hopslam, Three Floyds Dreadnaught, and Founders Double Trouble on tap. At the time, it couldn't get any better than that as far as DIPAs for me. And Double Trouble surprisingly tasted the best out of the three. So when Founders decided to take Double Trouble out of their release schedule, I was bugged. Up until recently, double trouble for Founders was the amount of CBS (who else stocked up on that "whale"?) and KBS sitting on the shelves and floors of liquor stores. Other Half has a beer called Stacks on Stacks; that name goes for KBS four-packs as well.

Founders seems to have come to their senses, as far as Double Trouble DIPA goes. While they are making a push with All Day IPA and Solid Gold Lager, Double Trouble is back for a short time. The $11.99 are priced within reason for this 9.4% ABV beer. Though bottles just arrived this past week, they were bottled on 5/17. It's a tough game to play when local breweries are offering fresh DIPAs daily...or are they? Who has a DIPA on tap right now? Not Bosque. Not La Cumbre. Not Marble (downtown, at least). So maybe Double Trouble is worth your time. Single bottles are available at Jubilation right now.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Beer Week- Final Round

Psst. Hey awake? C'mon, you got one more day in you, right? There's only a few things going on today. You can go back to sleep after that, I promise.

Hotel Chaco hosts a brunch at Level 5 with a Marble Tap Takeover. Four taps. Brunch stuff. Nice views. Wind may knock you off the roof today, but you've had a good run. Brunch till 2.

"Le Cask Lunatique", a day of cask beer and live performance by Le Chat Lunatique. Another great Beer Week idea, and a fine way to end what has been another fun celebration of our favorite pastime. Look at this lineup:
Cider with Cascade Hops and raw sugar.
Cider with maple syrup and cinnamon sticks.
The Village Wit with pure honey and grapefruit.
Kettle Run - A Solo-Hop Sour with agave and the juice & zest of 12 limes.
Sparkfitter Amber with molasses and ginger.
Brickie American Stout with raspberry purée.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

ABQ Beer Week Saturday, June 3rd

Quarter Celtic and Palmer Brewery have collaborated to make Lawn Ninja, a summer ale made with rice. Palmer Brewery is the ninja brewery of Albuquerque, as I never even know that they're there. Should be an interesting beer to try- not many rice beers out there, unless you count all the Japanese ones. And Great Divide Samurai. And every Budweiser and Bud Light.

A Mini Lager Fest? Ok. What would once have been a ghost town of a fest might actually be a hit, especially as "near-record" highs are forecasted for today. Ponderosa has gathered the best lagers from 8 breweries around the city and brought them together for you. $15 gets you your fill of beer as well as live music. Event goes from 12-4.

Canteen is (I hope) proud to bring you Zafado Groove, a passionfruit Belgian Ale aged in chardonnay barrels with brett. Also, Crafts, Crops, and Hops: an evening beer market happens there today from 5-8. Farmers markets should happen later more often. Just because I sleep till noon doesn't mean I shouldn't be able to get fresh local produce. You can keep the necklaces and Life is Good inspired t-shirts.

Want to re-live those high school days? You can guess my answer. But Tractor Wells Park is hosting 90s Beer Prom: Under the Sea at 8. $50 for couples or (God forbid) $25 for a single. Best dressed are crowned prom King and Queen. Worst dressed gets treated like Carrie at prom.

Friday, June 1, 2018

ABQ Beer Week Friday, June 1

Feeling sour this Friday? You should feel sour if you went to the Battle Of the Beer Geeks at Tractor. No carbonation in any of the beers and they still charged the full $10? It was a rip-off to us as customers and a disservice to the people who entered the competition. I voted for 5, though number 1 won it. I could see either winning. But where was I? Oh yes, feeling sour? Jubilation ups the acid indigestion with a full panel of sour beers from Rowley, Steel Bender, Cascade, and others. It's free!

Firestone Walker has a whole fancy line of beers in their Barrelworks program. Prepare to be wowed by a tap takeover featuring some of these beers at Nob Hill Bar and Grill. Krieky Bones, Agrestic, Bretta Weisse and more. Dance party follows soon after.

A special "beer edition" of the First Fridays Comedy Contest at Tractor Wells Park happens tonight. What does that mean? Craft beer jokes? I tried to tell a joke at Battle of the Beer Geeks but it fell flat.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

2018 ABQ Beer Week, Thursday May 31


This could be the most popular event of Beer Week: Battle of the Beer Geeks once again visits Tractor Wells Park.
The Worthogs, ABQ Craft Beer Drinkers, NM Dark Side Brew Crew, CNM future (hopefully) brewers, and Babes in Brewland vie for beer geek supremacy. No, I'm not bitter that I once again didn't get invited to participate. I'll still be there, trying the recipes that these groups came up with. So $10 gets you a pour of all 5 entries and your vote can help crown the next champ. Event starts at 5.

Green Coyote Tomatillo and Sunny Rain Golden Tart are featured sours from Odell at Nob Hill Bar and Grill today. Coincidentally, Sunny Rain will be dancing from 8-8:15 at Knockouts tonight.

There's still time to get to Flix for their 8 pm showing of Beerfest. A special menu and souvenir glassware as well as the release of a collab between Flix and Steel Bender highlight the night. The movie is second to Beer League, starring Artie Lange, in my opinion. Fun starts at 7.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

ABQ Beer Week Begins- Part 1

Wow. Deciding to take a week or two off from writing turned into me being the poster child for procrastination. But even Rip Van Winkle would agree that this is a good week to wake up and hack away at the Selectronic.

ABQ Beer Week is in its 8th year, and the craft beer scene has seen a lot of changes. Eight years ago, there were a few breweries that could be counted on to make stuff that was growler worthy. People were talking about how they had traveled to exotic places and tries beers like Lagunitas, Dogfish Head, and Founders (ok, Grand Rapids probably doesn't qualify as exotic), and why oh why can't we get those great breweries here?? Well, you got em. Want any more CBS? It's waiting there for you! So many local breweries now are making great beers

Steel Bender is one of those "tweener" breweries that is just far enough away that I rarely get there. I hear good things, though. This Homegrown Pils may have me driving up scenic 2nd St: Wilderness Malt from Colorado Malting is featured for the very first time in the US in this Amarillo-hopped Pilsner. I'm a sucker for a good Pilsner!

Nexus will feature The Notorious BUN (Big Ugly Nasty) IPA at both locations. This beer is part of their 7th Anniversary celebration, which goes from the 24th to the 27th.

Come out and help support Behind the Badge, a group that raises funds for first responders who have faced on the job injuries. Have a first responder help you after overdoing it at the Beer Walk, Run, or Crawl event beginning at 4 at Dialogue. The crawl will then hit Tractor, Bow and Arrow, and finally Rio Bravo for more beer and a concert. The first 35 people to enter get a free t-shirt to go with their ridiculous costumes.

Rowley Farmhouse Ales will be featured at Tractor Wells Park from 5-8. Watch the fun as runners from the Walk, Run, or Crawl event down a couple of sours and run on to the next brewery. That'll sit well in the belly.

The granddaddy of Beer week events, Beer, Cheese, and More, returns to Marble's 111 location from 5-8. $25 for five Marble beers alongside five Whole Foods-selected cheeses. I remember the days when this was just called Beer and Cheese.

The answer: Pink guava, kaffir lime leaves, and Citra hops. The question: what are two things that don't belong in a beer, and one that does? I kid! Canteen's Social Capital is a Kettle Sour that has been released with a variety of ingredients, and guava is a perfect complement to this beer. I'll be interested to see how the lime and Citra play into it.


Nexus continues their Anniversary celebration with the release of Beam Me Up Scotty Scotch Ale. Glad Beer Week coincides with the Nexus Anniversary!

KBS will be flowing at Nob Hill Bar and Grill beginning at 5. Two years worth- 2017 and 2018, to be exact. Another Beer Week, another Friday Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout tapping by NHBG. I can never do Friday nights. How they love to torture me.

Sister will be serving up a great variety of rare to NM kegs at the Over 21 event, where all the breweries are over 21 years old. That's a great idea, and hard to believe some have been around that long! The draft list: Bell’s Brewery: 30th Anniversary Cherry Stout Reserve, Firestone Walker: ’17 Helldorado Blonde Barleywine, Four Peaks: Green Tea Lager, Left Hand: Chai Milk Stout Nitro, New Belgium: Clutch Sour Stout, Odell: ‘16 Meddler, Rogue: Combat Wombat sour NE IPA, Sierra Nevada: Kolsch German-Style Ale. Event starts at 6.

Here's something in the never heard tried and never should have been allowed to be tried category: folk artists covering Radiohead songs. Tractor hosts this mashup at 8. I know, there are a lot of folk music fans out there. I've heard The Doors "Light My Fire" and Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" covered by folk/bluegrass bands here in ABQ. May as well listen to a folk rendition of Jigsaw Falling Into Place.


Marble's successful Brewer's Brunch event heads to their Westside Taproom on Saturday from 11-1. A small setting (only 24 spots) allows you to enjoy brunch and beers while talking shop with Marble brewers. $30 gets you the VIP seating. Don't get on the tour bus with them.

Just when you thought all the beer puns had been taken (maybe that only applies to gose): Canteen releases Oompa Lupulin DIPA. About time Zach and the Canteen crew puts out a DIPA. Canteen has released some under the radar IPAs that have been great. Go over there and give them their due at the Pedals and Pints event happening all day. Show up on your bike and get discounted beer. Show up in your car and get egged.

M'Tucci's Italian Market and Pizzeria will be hosting a beer dinner featuring beers from both Bosque and Upslope. A Colorado brewery and a NM brewery whose packaged beers are brewed in Colorado. Call M'Tucci's for more details. Their website calendar doesn't have the event listed and I'm not playing Hardy Boys.


Sister hosts the La Cumbre gang for a tap takeover brunch at 11. Tacos and tater tots and La Cumbre beers. Simple yet elegant.

Dueling brunches! Nob Hill Bar and Grill ALSO is hosting brunch at 11, this one featuring Goose Island's Madame Rose as well as Sofie beermosas. The ABQ Beer Week site says for more information visit, but they haven't done any work on their events page since 2015. And I thought I was bad.

Gecko's will be hosting an all day tap takeover from Odell Brewing. Did you know Odell just launched in the Utah market? That's how backwards Utah laws are: a brewery that's well over 20 years old took this long to distribute to the state right next to them. Coincidentally, it also took Gecko's a long time to get on the Beer Week bandwagon. I remember trying to get them to participate the very first year and you would have thought we were trying to sell them a vacuum cleaner.

Of course, the highlight event on Sunday is ABQ Blues and Brews. One of the longest-running fests in the city, Blues and Brews takes place at Sandia Resort and Casino. 200 beers from 70+ breweries, four bands, Dukes of Ale homebrews, Imbibe Cocktail Challenge, and, most importantly, unlimited beer sampling for 4 hours! This is a marathon event.


It's still going. Memorial Day has Steel Bender hosting a cookout at 11 with pulled pork, spare ribs, and brisket along with all the favorite sides that go with BBQ. Plus lots of beer, if you can stomach any after Blues and Brews.

Marble downtown hosts their annual Memorial Day Festival at 3 with lots of bands and lots of Goses. Customers who bike to the event get brew club pricing.

Tractor has a Four Hills location? Wow, I should stay up on local beer stuff. Well, if you're up that way (and what is up that way? When I think of that area, I can only picture the Waffle House and motels and shady shady people around there), stop into Tractor for Paint Your Own Stein Night. $35 gets you a night with Kiln It!, who will provide you with ceramic stein and paint. Creativity and skill, well, you're on your own. Don't worry, the $35 gets you a beer you can cry into about your lack of talent. It's not your fault they didn't have left-handed scissors in that art class when you were a kid. It's not your fault.

Brain Gang Trivia brings a special beer edition to Canteen from 7-9 pm. Show off your beer knowledge and win big. Quick: convert 8.7 degrees Plato to ABV! Yeah, me neither. Hopefully, the questions will be along the lines of, "What was the name of the dog in the Bud Light ad campaign in the 80s?" Extra credit if you can name the Stroh's dog.


Barrel-aged Obey the Darkside on cask at Canteen today. The NM Dark Side Brew Crew did this beer awhile back in collaboration with Canteen and now you get to try it after some time in whiskey barrels.

High and Dry hosts a special tapping of...another brewery's beer! Ok! Just like Tractor Nob Hill carrying cans of La Cumbre Elevated IPA, business is business! High and Dry will be tapping Boxing Bear's Sucker Punch DIPA. This way you don't have to cross the river.

The Ultimate Taco Tuesday? We'll see about that! Ponderosa Brewing hosts tacos and beer pairings starting at 3. Take that, Bob's Burgers.

More food. How about grilled cheese? How about 4 different grilled cheese sandwiches paired with a flight of beer for $13*? How about you get to Tractor Nob Hill at 5? *price does not include Elevated IPA.

This could get messy: Two Fools is hosting a whiskey and beer event in which you pay $25 and get 3 whiskies, 3 beers, and 3 food pairings. Remember: it's not technically a shot if you order it "neat". Goes from 6-8 pm.

TFK Smokehouse hosts a $55 beer dinner with Steel Bender and Bell's from 6:30-8:30. Lager of the Lakes, 30th Anniversary Cherry Stout, and more! Call 639-5669 to reserve your spot.

More Tuesday, more beer, more tacos! This time at Canteen on Tramway. I'm gong to need bigger slacks. No wonder the call it Fat Tuesday.

You buy local food? Why not local hops? Red Hat Hops' Tom Brewer and Red Door Brewer Matt Meier hosts a discussion on hops and beer from 7-9. Bring your own tacos.


Rebel Donut and Tractor Four Hills are pairing up for a pairing. Beer and donuts. Four donuts paired with four Tractor beers from 3-7. Insert Homer Simpson joke here.

4 cask beer samples for $5? That's Beer Week 1 pricing! Join Quarter Celtic for their Mini Cask Fest from 4-9, where they'll be pouring award-winning Pedro O' Flannigan on oak chips, Pedro with Mosaic hops, Crimson Lass with Chai, and Mor Buck with Azacca distilled hop cloves. Whatever that is.

Remember Beer and Cheese? How about Beer and Meat? Doesn't sound as classy. No wonder they didn't name it that. Marble's Heights location hosts M'Tucci's for a pairing of 4 Marble beers with 4 M'Tucci's cured meats. $30 gets you stuffed. 5-8 pm.

A Star Wars themed beer crawl comes your way beginning at 7 pm at Bosque and hitting Kelly's, Hops Brewery, and ending at Tractor Nob Hill. Dress as your favorite Star Wars character. There will be trivia along the way, beer discounts, and prizes. I'm going to be Sarlacc in the Great Pit of Carkoon. Look both ways before crossing the street, Darth.

Back with more Beer Week events tomorrow-ish.

Friday, October 6, 2017

GABF: Thursday Session

Ahhh, Thursday. The most civilized of the GABF sessions. The evening started off with a bit of a somber note as our entry was slowed down just a tad by the addition of metal detectors for the first time. This was, I'd imagine, in direct response to the Vegas shooting. While I have never seen the logic of adding security AFTER an isolated incident of idiocy, I don't see the metal detectors as any kind of burden. I'm surprised this wasn't a part of the fest in the past.

This year, festgoers had added bonuses like an expanded Meet the Brewers section with 136 participating breweries, as well as a larger brewpub section with 42 pub represented. This might have been a draw for some people, but most were lining up at stalwarts like Dogfish Head and Cigar City. Toppling Goliath also had long lines all night, thanks to Mornin' Delight BA Coffee Stout and King Sue DIPA. Every year, I pick a brewery to kick off the tasting and Toppling Goliath was my choice this year. I found both Mornin' Delight and King Sue to be underwhelming. Could be the growing pains associated with the gain in popularity. Things got better with Bell's Blackbeard's Bear Hug Stout: rum-barrel aged with cinnamon, vanilla, and coconut. Great stuff. Also, a surprise addition of bottles of BA Expedition Stout. Sorry Albuquerque, we most likely won't get any b.ottles.

Other standout beers were Genius IPA from Highland Park in Los Angeles. Finally some good beer to be had out of LA. Only problem is you can't get to any of the breweries there because of traffic. And you couldn't get anywhere near thee Sam Adams booth when they were serving Utopias. Line down the street. Stupid.

The Brew Kettle was solid as always with El Lupulo Libre DIPA as well as Tunguska BA Imperial Stout. Liquid Mechanics had a rum-barrel aged Coconut Porter that stood out. Lone Pine Tessellation IPA represented Portland, Maine well. Fremont had a long line due to Rusty Nail and BA Dark Star on tap. Dark Star never disappoints.

The booth of the year (century, probably) belonged to Melvin Brewing. Their booth was a bus. An actual bus. They had a DJ spinning old school rap, people dancing, etc. You could almost get a sample poured when they were in between dance moves. Let's stay focused on why we're here please, people. I'm sure they gained a lot of new fans with that booth, as some festgoers are just there to party.

I think my beer of the night goes to Great Notion's Juice Box DIPA. That, or Ripe IPA. Both were really good. The word of mouth had gotten out about them, as the lines were impressive. Not Dogfish Head long, but not every booth has Sam greeting people.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

And It Hasn't Even Started Yet

Come to think of it, maybe I should just go up on Thursday from now on. You'd think, 10 years into my annual visits to the Great American Beer Festival, that I would have some clue by now on how to be prepared physically and mentally for the world's largest beer event. But sadly, I still feel like I have to participate in every event leading up to, during, and after GABF.

And so it was that I found myself in the sea of barely humans gathered in the parking lot of Falling Rock Tap House, where Melvin was hosting the IPA Throwdown, in which you throw down $40 for six 8 oz. pours from the list of 22 IPAs. The format differed from last year's free for all where you were waiting for 10+ minutes to get served and felt compelled to order 6 at a time. In the new format, you could only get one at a time poured into the glass that came with the admission fee. The new format allowed for shorter wait times but also made me feel like I had to drink them fast in case something else I wanted was about to run out. As it turns out, the only keg that kicked while I was still drinking was Other Half Double Dry Hopped Stacks on Stacks and I had gotten that one first. May as well go big. I got smart after the first couple of pours and started pouring them into plastic cups and going back for something else in order to compare and contrast the different beers. Yes, that meant drinking out of plastic cups, but comparing side by side was worth it. I recommend going to an event like this with at least one other person- that way you get to try many more samples, as long as that person isn't a selfish dick. I also ended up talking to guys from Great Heights Brewing out of Houston and shared some samples with them.

So, the list of beers I got to try:

Bissell Brothers The Substance: Looking forward to trying their beer for a long time. Tasted old school. Not impressed.

Cortez the Killer: Looked old school. Tasted new school. Perplexing like a blond stout but it was great.

Breakside What Rough Beast: Touted as PNW meets NE. Another really good one.

Cellarmaker Dank Williams: No haze here. Straight up dankness. Also good.

FieldworkPULP: One of the most talked about, from what I overheard. Loved.

Great Notion Juice Jr: Liked at first but had a strange aftertaste. Underripe.

Kane Mosaic Punch: Peaches and mangoes added during fermentation. It worked. Really good.

Lawson's Finest Mosaic IPA: Not Lawson's finest effort. Pass.

Modern Times Perfect Talon. Not perfect at all. Looked great, just too fruit heavy.

DDH Workers Are Going Home: I wanted to love it but I ended up dumping it.

The VeilIf You're Drinking This It's Too Late: One of the best. Back for seconds.

Other Half
DDH Stacks on Stacks DIPA: Also one of the top ones. Great beer.

WeldWerks Extra Extra Juicy Bits: takes the good Juicy Bits to immortal status. Possibly my favorite.

And the nightcap: I walked inside because I saw more than one person with a stout-like beer and thought, "Something good was tapped!" Just Fremont's Rusty Nail BA Imperial Stout. Just what I needed to end the night!

And so I sit here, a few hours before the first night of three sessions of the Great American Beer Festival. 800 breweries. 4000 beers. That's over 1,333 beers a night if I want to get to them all. Starting to come around now. Feeling alive. I'll let you know tomorrow how I did.