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.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Saturday Highlights for Beer Week

Whoever said, "God shines down on Beer Week" wasn't saying a word on Thursday, though the nasty weather didn't keep from me from visiting a few events. Marble's Beer, Cheese, and More seemed to be a success, save for the guy who got mad after eating his cheese and then going on the brewery tour, wisely deciding to leave his backpack on the barstool, and then getting mad when a customer turned it into the bartender, thinking the guy had left it by mistake. "You just wanted to take my seat!" And it used to be such a peaceful event. So why didn't I mention the event in my highlights from the other day? Well, I knew by the time you got there, it would be sold out. And that's what happened to many a sad person, so you're welcome.
I stopped by Canteen to try the Hopspitality IPA, brewerd with Azacca, Amarillo, and El Dorado hops. Was mad that I didn't bring a growler, then later was mad when I realized I could have gotten a crowler. Idiot.
Rock and Brews had some special brews that I felt compelled to stop and try. I can't comment too much on the beer, because I'm not sure what I was served. The very friendly server wasn't quite sure, either. I don't know if it is the Oskar Blues rep not communicating the descriptions well enough or someone at Rock and Brews not informing the staff but it seems like part of the job is being able to talk "Rock", as in "Oingo Boingo cassettes were sitting in the bargain bin back in 1989, yet 94.5 The 80's Station thinks people want to hear "Dead Man's Party" played at least once a day. Discuss." The other part of the job is being able to talk "Brews". So at least have a little flier printed for these special events where people can learn about what the special taps are. Thanks, OB.
And now, Saturday's highlights:
Beer and Boards at Tractor Wells Park. Skateboard art is the theme of the day at Tractor. Only instead of people holding their wine in one hand and their chin in the other while inspecting the art, they'll be holding a beer. Event goes all day, with live music at 6.
Nexus celebrates their 4th Anniversary with a special releease: Prosperity Works Belgian Scottish Ale, with a dollar from each pint sold going to Prosperity Works, helping New Mexicans..do stuff. Red Chile ribs are back on the menu! But where's my damn McRib??
Many tasting events going on at various stores, but the highlight for me is Jubilation's April Showers Bring May Sours event. From 2-4 the knowlegable staff will lead you on a tour of a variety of sours and which antacids pair best with them.
Nob Hill Bar and Grill welcomes a firkin of sour love from newcomer Mother Road Brewing out of Flagstaff. Deschutes Mirror Mirror Barleywine will also be tapped. This latest incarnation of Mirror Mirror isn't even unintentionally sour, unlike the previous version that we were able to get. Quite a fine Barleywine and a good find on tap.
Tommyknocker Event at Twin Peaks. I just had to include this, knowing what Twin Peaks is known for/ the fact that Jack Whacker Wheat is being served. There's a joke in there somewhere.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The DL on D&V

To all the retailers finding it harder and harder to make space on the shelves for new beers, I have some bad news for you: We've got a slew of Euros coming our way. Put the Lime-A-Ritas in the bargain bin and make room for the beers from D&V International. D&V distributes for a number of breweries, mostly Belgian in origin. Some of the more popular beers that that you may know are Duchesse De Bourgogne, the oak-aged Flemish beer from Verhaeghe, and the lineup from St. Bernardus, most notably the Abt 12, a 10% Quad that gives Westvleteren 12 a run for its money in any blind tasting. The Val Dieu beers (Brune, Blonde, Triple, Grand Cru) will make their way here as well. Expect to see Duchesse and St. Bernardus 12 on tap in bars that cater to customers of discerning taste. That leaves most of you out. Samples of Duchesse, St. Bernardus 10 and 12, and Barbe Ruby (Belgian for "sour cherry soda", I think) will be available at the upcoming Blues and Brews event. Nice to see some new beers coming our way, and even better that people are actually buying them. Will it be the same when Ballast Point beers get here? Yup, rumor has it we will be seeing Sculpin and...what else do they even make? Ok, I'll take Dorado DIPA and Victory at Sea. The rest you can leave in San Diego. I'm just hoping the price point of Sculpin, at possibly $15 or more a six-pack, doesn't leave us with a glut of old IPA. Case in point: I was just brought a sixer of Sculpin from El Paso, and found that it was canned November 12. I'm not saying that every Albuquerque store is conscientious about IPA dating, rotating stock, and pulling old beer, but come on- we've got to be better than El Paso, right?

Friday, March 13, 2015

The News of My Demise is Great

Well hello, stranger. Took a little hiatus from the beer blogging world to concentrate on my DVR shows and the re-realization that I will never be a competent guitar player. Now I figure it's time to get back into the scene, considering we have Beer Week approaching and also a first for Albuquerque: a sour beer festival! Created by Santa Sidra's/Monk's Ale Rep Angelo Orona and Kelly Liquors manager Kevin McCallister, the Tart at Heart Sour Fest will take place at Sister Bar on Saturday, April 11 from 4-8. Tickets are $35, and guarantee you samples of many beers hitting NM draft lines for the first time, including Stone's Passion Project, Birrifico del Ducato's Beersel Mattina-Blended Lambic, Odell's debut of Brazzle Sour Golden Raspberry, and other special treats- including Sierra Nevada's first ever barrel-aged beer to hit a keg! You can purchase your ticket here http://holdmyticket.com/event/196797. The event will have 20 sour and barrel-aged beers to try, but what's best is there are only 150 tickets being made available to the public, ensuring you won't be elbow to elbow with people like a certain sour fest up north that costs about $65 more. Plus the event will be educational, with the AV projector being used to school you on the beer you're drinking. Angelo is a Certified Beer Judge and can tell you what you should be looking for in your beer, and why you suck if you don't recognize those flavors. He'll probably keep that last part to himself. And Kevin has tried most every beer that you wish you could, and has worked hard to get distributors to get him rarities for the fest. It's going to be a good one- just don't forget the antacids.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Beer Flights at the Bird Tonight

Straight from the press release:

"Greetings all fans of the Dark!

Dark Matters' Film Festival presents our second annual Dark Brew Festival. Kick off your Horror Bites: Winter Solstice weekend with an amazing array of vintage and one-off beer flights at the Bird of Paradise (5409 Gibson Blvd. SE).

We are featuring Stone Xocoveza Mocha Stout on draft -- the perfect dark and spicy brew to toast our festival. Santa Fe's Santa Sidra Cider will be on hand to provide samples of their superior Seca (dry) and Ligeramente Dulce (A Tad Sweet) bottled ciders.

Featured bottled beers include Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, Old Rasputin XVII Anniversary Barrel-Aged Stout, Straffe Hendrik Heritage 2012 Oak-Aged Quad, Traquair 2020, Rogue XS Old Crustacean (2012, '13 & '14), XS Dead Guy and Morimoto Imperial Pils; Odell 180 Shilling & Trellis Garden Ale; Deschutes Black Butte Porter, New Belgium/3 Floyds Gr├Ątzer (yay, zombies), Biira Montegioco Fumigant, and many more. Flight pours will be 6 oz. per beer.

And come early, because we're offering a bucket-list opportunity: 1.5 oz pours from Samuel Adams' Utopias 11 for only $10.50. Courtesy of the Bird of Paradise, we'll be raffling off an (empty but still highly collectible) Utopias bottle during the event.

Admission is a suggested $5 donation that goes towards the Dark Matters Film Festival. The event begins at 6:30 PM on Friday, December 19th.

Then come to The Guild Cinema (3405 Central Ave. NE) on Saturday, December 20th for an equally amazing assortment of dark delicacies as we present Horror Bites!!! -- our annual collection of the best short genre films from around the world. We're presenting three programs, sorted into Horror, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and Animation. Screenings are at 4, 6 & 8 PM.
We are also pleased to co-sponsor the highly praised new horror film, The Babadook (2 PM and 10:30 PM). William Friedkin, director of THE EXORCIST, named it the scariest horror movie he has ever seen. Glenn Kenny (RogerEbert.com) called it "the first capital-G “Great” horror movie of the 21st Century."

Updates and further details can be found on www.facebook.com/darkmattersfilmfestival "

Appropriate that a beer tasting to benefit such a dark subject would be held in one of the seediest areas of town. You could take the area east of San Mateo and south of Central and quarantine it and I would never miss it- except for the Bird of Paradise. IT has employees who care about their beer selection regardless of the fact that 90% of the customers are after their Four Loko fix. And empty bottles, even as prized as the one being raffled off, become just that: empty bottles, when you're moving house and see just how many empty bottles and growlers you're going to have to pack. I won't be bidding on that Utopias empty, though I love the idea of splitting up the full bottle and selling pours. I saw this done in Boston and they were selling pours for $15, so you're getting a bargain. And who doesn't want some more of that elusive Bourbon County. Not mentioned in the release is that Mad River John Barleycorn Barleywine bottles will be sold for only $3 each.