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.

Wednesday

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.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Santa Fe Brewing: We Are the 20%

Santa Fe Brewing quietly continues to keep growing, now making its way into Utah. I still stand by my opinion that the only reason to enter Utah is for the national parks, but at least you'll have another drinking option if stuck there in a snowstorm or Mormon world takeover. Here's the press release from Santa Fe:

Santa Fe, NM November 12, 2014-- The Santa Fe Brewing Company is excited to announce
that it will open distribution to their tenth State in mid November of 2014. The great State of
Utah, with an emphasis on Salt Lake City, will soon stock packaged Happy Camper IPA,
Imperial Java Stout, and State Pen Porter. With the help of the team at M&M Distributing, SFBC
will now be able to reach the fine people of the Beehive State with these artfully crafted
Southwestern brews.

Brian Lock, President and Owner had this to say about the news, "Santa Fe Brewing Co. is
thrilled to partner with M&M Distributing for distribution throughout the State of Utah. Their
extensive knowledge of craft beer coupled with their market presence makes them the perfect
partner. SFBC has always considered itself to be the heart of the Southwest and it has been a
desire to distribute in the four corners area for many years. Now it has become a reality."
Scott Stiltz, Craft Brand Manager adds, "We could not be more excited to bring Santa Fe
Brewing's tremendous brews to the craft beer fans of Utah. They have a great reputation,
even better beers and will be a great addition to our portfolio."
A celebratory release party will be held on Tuesday Nov. 18th at the Leprechaun Inn on S. 900 E
from 4:30 to 8pm.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Drink in the Blues at Sister

Come on down to the construction zone eyesore that is downtown Albuquerque for an Oskar Blues tap takeover at Sister (407 Central). As far as actual "tap takeovers" go, this one is pretty tame. After all, only six of Sister's 40+ taps will be devoted to Oskar Blues beers. Call it more of a tap co-existence. But the OB beers being poured will be enough to make you happy, and send you on your way upstairs for that double Jack and Coke you definitely don't need. From 5-9 pm (and later, if the kegs haven't kicked by then) sample some of Oskar Blues finest, including the monster 10% Imperial Stout, Ten Fidy. It's said to be the first keg of Ten Fidy poured in the state...running water and electricity can't be too far behind, New Mexico. I tried to get Oskar Blues to send a keg of Ten Fidy for ABQ Beer Week a couple of years ago, but they wouldn't budge. Glad to see times are a' changing. Oskar Blues merchandise will be raffled off there will be a glass giveaway as well, so you don't have to bring an extra large purse for stealing. Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Going Into Business Sale!

Ever wanted to be a part of Albuquerque's craft beer boom? You still have a few days to become part owner of an ambitious new taproom/nanobrewery: Ale Republic.

Sure, a Kickstarter campaign allows you to be an owner of the business much like being a Green Bay season ticket holder makes you an owner of the football team, but your money will go to a business that sets itself apart from other beer bars in town.

Ale Republic founder Patrick Johnson is a PhD grad student at UNM. Like most PhD candidates, his plan is to open a part NM-brewed craft beer bar/ part brewery that will allow customers to come in and brew their own recipes on Ale Republic's 3 barrel system. Sort of like Kelly's Brewpub program that lets people brew, but Kelly's is geared more towards the first time brewer. Ale Republic steers towards the seasoned homebrewers who would like to live out their grandest recipes on a better system than the one in their laundry room at home. Want to brew a lemon-ginger-verbana IPA? Why??? Whatever the reason, you will have the opportunity to do so at Ale Republic. Oh, and they will provide all the ingredients, and let you brew free of charge. A socialist's dream! And if your beer is deemed good enough, Ale Republic will brew it on their larger scale 15 or 30 barrel system (that system is still a ways off. Socialists can only spend so much on themselves when sharing with you).

The craft beer part of the operation will be exclusively NM-brewed beers, but the focus will be on getting breweries' specialty kegs. Amber ales are fine, but how about a once-brewed anniversary ale, barrel-aged stout, sour, etc.? Sounds fine to me. Ale Republic will feature 30 taps of the harder to find beers from around the state.

The plans are to be located somewhere in the downtown area, possibly in the Wells Park section. They plan to open as soon as January 2015.

But listen: These good people are still $11,000 short of their initial $25,000 goal. Their concept is certainly the most forward thinking of any brewery plan that I've seen, and it would be a great addition to our scene if they could get your help. Help needs to come in the next three days, as their campaign is coming to an end. Donations start at $10, which gets you a set of three stickers. Hey, give a little, get a little. Donations go all the way up to $1,000 (feel free to give more, but the gifts end there...or do they?? For anything over that, maybe you get to go into the Champagne Room). $1,000 gets you the Aristocracy Membership, or "Living like a 1%er". It gets you the stickers, input on designing the house beers, a damn engraved stone with inscription of your choice that will become a part of the space itself, tickets to the grand opening, invites to exclusive tastings, discounts on pints and merch, and probably a small island in the Sea of Cortez.
I don't have an extra $1,000 to give, and I'm sure most of you don't either. I had to use Smith's Bonus Points to pay for gas today. But a few bucks from a lot of us could get this innovative brewery going, and it could be an exciting addition to Albuquerque's brewing community.
Visit https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1965699311/ale-republic-the-capital-of-beer-democracy to make a donation.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Stone Beer Dinner at Elaine's...No Big Salad, Though

Beer dinners have caught on with the highbrow crowd, as evidenced by the recent one held at Farm and Table. Welcome a new high-end player in the beer dinner game: Elaine's, the fine dining establishment in Nob Hill, will host a Stone Brewing Co. beer dinner on Tuesday, August 26 at 6:30. Elaine's boasts the cooking prowess of Executive Chef Andrew Gorski, whose resume includes a stint under Thomas Keller, of French Laundry fame. Have always wanted to eat at the French Laundry but barely being able to afford to do laundry put a damper on that dream. But having a Keller disciple cooking for me might just be the next best thing, and a dinner matched with Stone beers might make it even better.
$55 gets you four courses, beginning with a Dungeness crab salad paired with Saison. The second course is ricotta mascarpone ravioli along with Go To IPA, probably the best of the Session IPAs to have come out in the past year. Third course is duck breast, with the beer making a drastic ABV jump to Old Guardian Barleywine. The dessert course is a maple sweet potato custard with candied walnuts, paired with Quadrotriticale, the Belgian-style Quad from Stone's Stochasticity Project.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Old Town Meets the New Craft Beer Boom

Old Town residents, rejoice! In an area where a wine margarita was considered an exciting drink, craft beer will now abound. The second location of Santa Fe Dining's concept tap room, The Draft Station, is set to open this weekend on Central Ave. just east of Garcia's Mexican Restaurant. And it's about damn time, as all you residents who would only venture out on Mondays to take advantage of Old Town Pizza's craft pitcher specials can attest. The building that formerly housed the X Pac fitness center (I'm sure they've aired it out) has had a tap room in the works for many months, but permitting issues (go figure- how do any of you business owners live the American Dream with the nightmare of bureaucracy you have to put up with here??) held things up. The recent green light from the city can be partly attributed to you local residents, as Santa Fe Dining Vice President of Operations Robert Griego told me, "Our neighbors and surrounding community were very helpful in assisting us in getting our approvals, which says a lot for everyone in our area. People in the Old Town area were really wanting a neighborhood pub that was close enough to walk or bike to. and I think that we will really fill that niche."
The concept of The Draft Station is to feature beer from New Mexico breweries, with an emphasis on breweries who have brewers who, at some point, worked in the Chama River Brewing Co.'s brewhouse. And who hasn't done that, from Rice to Erway to Hamilton to Bullard to Woodward and so on. So expect the majority of taps to consist of Chama and Blue Corn offerings, with a rotating lineup of beers from Marble, La Cumbre, Bosque, Turtle Mountain, and others yet to be confirmed. Adds Griego, "We'll listen to our guests and bring in what they want, but only beer produced in NM."
The Draft Station will have seating for about 60 indoors, with bar seating, tall and standard tables, and couches for you lounge-y types. A patio area will accommodate an additional 50 patrons- a good thing, as the bar should do a brisk business in the opening weeks. We'll see how the employees handle the crush. The bar staff has attended, as Griego says, "classes that taught our staff everything from the history of beer to the proper techniques in serving it. Hopefully people will see friendly, eager servers who are willing to talk all things that pertain to beer." So no, "It's a dark beer" answers when asking about a beer? That's refreshing. Just don't school me too much on a beer. Save your breath for the tourists who strayed while waiting on a table at Vinaigrette.
Food options include chips, salsa, and guacamole from next door neighbor Garcia's restaurant. Another good thing about being right next to Garcia's: you can get a few beers in you and go next door and place bets on how many tortillas the tortilla lady can crank out in a minute. Chama River provides soft pretzels, flatbreads, and sandwiches. Future neighbor Five Star Burgers (yeah Old Town, you're getting one of those too. The hot new neighborhood? Yeah, maybe when the gate to Hell Walgreens at Rio Grande and Central is razed) will provide something. Probably burgers. You won't need too much food to stay on the safe side of sobriety, as The Draft Station will have beer limits along the same lines as local breweries. You know the drill.
Brew Club memberships will be sold for $10 until the end of the year, and a "beer passport", free of charge just for the asking, will offer savings on pints and growlers as well. Non club-types can expect regular pricing on a pint to be $4.50, more for premium styles.
Hours will be 12-12, Monday thru Saturday, but will open at 11 on Sundays during football season. Numerous TVs will broadcast numerous Cowboys losses.
And for you hardcore DOWNTOWN downtown residents: I don't know how you live there. And oh, there are no immediate plans to close the Microbar at this time. But come down and check out The Draft Station. Yes, it's a bar on Central Ave., but with 65% less booming bass.