Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year from Philadelphia!

Stay safe out there tonight...you know ABQs finest will be on the lookout for any of you who have had more than one beer and tried to drive!

So last night we ventured into the Northern Liberties section of Philly to visit the Standard Tap, a renowned beer bar that ONLY serves draft beer, and ONLY local beer at that! I went with the Sly Fox Odyssey Double IPA and Jenn had the Weyerbacher Delta. Odyssey is a beer comprised of a mix of all the hops used in the single hop variety IPAs released throughout the year, and comes in at 9.4%. Weyerbacher Delta is the fourth beer in a series of special releases, and this is a 7.5% imperial stout brewed with large amounts of ginger and cinnamon. We also had small glasses of Weyerbacher's Old Heathen Imperial Stout and Troegs Mad Elf, a Belgian Ale brewed with cherries.

Tonight we have been hitting the beer buffet located in the refrigerator of our hotel room. We started with Southern Tier Unearthly Double IPA, followed by Founders Centennial IPA, followed by Bell's Two Hearted Ale, followed by Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA, followed by Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin, and soon to be followed by Stoudt's Double IPA at midnight!

Thanks for keeping up with the site this year, and I hope you all have a happy and prosperous and (most important) great-beer-filled 2009 in Albuquerque!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Here We Go Again!

Sure, Albuquerque will become a great beer city, but to get an accurate yardstick of what a great beer city is, we occasionally have to travel to see what is going on in other cities.

So we are in Philadelphia, the city that Philly beer writer boldly proclaims "The Best Beer City in the US". The trip started off in a bad way at the ABQ Sunport. Usually we will jump out of the cab, give the Skycap a few bucks for our checked bags and get to our plane. However, the line JUST for the Skycap was 200 people long, with an even longer line inside! We re-created the OJ Simpson Hertz commercial and ran through the A Concourse, barely making our flight but getting stuck with shitty seats. Damn Southwest Airlines and their "pick your own seat". I vowed never to fly that airline years ago but it had been so long that I forgot how much I hated unassigned seating. The kid SCREAMING behind me was a good reminder. She went on for the majority of the flight, to the point where I was sitting with my head in my hands, pressing my earphones as tight as I could towards my eardrums. Sometimes I had to use only one hand though, as the breath of the guy next to me forced me to hold my nose at times.

After a quick layover in Chicago, we made it to Philly. We are staying near the airport at the Extended Stay Deluxe, which is nice because it has a couch, oven, microwave, and a refrigerator! Knowing this, we made Frontier Saloon in Folsom the first beer stop of the trip. We could buy all the beer we want and have it cold in our very own hotel fridge.


We had to restrain from buying more than what you see in the picture; there is much to try, and patience and pacing is key here. Having gone through the beers thus far, I'd have to say the Rogue Yellow Snow IPA is the best thus far. Maybe the beer will hit Albuquerque some day, but for now, I'm glad to be enjoying it here at our hotel, eve though it seems the front desk person has invited all her friends for a party in one of the rooms, complete with a girl running through the lobby from the 30 degree outdoors, wearing only a bikini and snow boots.

Tomorrow we will venture away from "Winter Break at the Extended Stay" and I will have more for you!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I'll keep it short, as I know you are all trying to enjoy your eggnog and new sweaters. Just wanted to wish you all out there a Merry Christmas, even if you had to drive to Arkansas and the best the beer store carried was Sam Adams.
We'll be drinking Santa's Little Helper from Port Brewing, a 10% imperial stout that is fitting for the holiday. The label has Santa blacked out because the government says you can't have an image of him on a product containing alcohol. Kids will turn into lushes just looking at something that traumatic, I guess.

Monday, December 22, 2008

What's on Your Christmas Menu?

No, no, I don't care if you are eating roast beef, ham, or turkey. The only important choice is what to drink on Christmas Eve and day.

Albuquerque stores offer a variety that'll keep your yule log burning all through the holiday season. There is the old standby, Anchor's Our Special Ale, though it is overpriced at $11 a sixer, when the beer is only 5.5%. For some reason I keep buying it, both the six-pack and the magnum bottle. You could go with something a little bigger, like Mikkeller's Santa's Little Helper, an 11% Belgian Strong Ale brewed with cocoa powder. Sounds pretty good, but the Helper's $12 price tag per 750 ml has kept my purchases to $8 six-packs of cheer, like Deschutes Jubelale or Avery Old Jubilation. Anderson Valley's Winter Solstice has hit the shelves recently, along with Rogue's Santa's Private Reserve. Rounding out the worthy this season are Odell Isolation and Great Divide Hibernation.

I almost forgot those beers that people buy just because of the name, those Cost Plus favorites: Bad Elf, Very Bad Elf, Super Bad Elf...

Fat Tire six packs have snowflakes on them now, so I guess that makes it a choice for holiday beer...

I'm not sure what we will be drinking yet, but I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Short's: Only in America

Ignorance may be bliss, but the ignorance people show when they talk about "great beer" makes me rethink the meaning of bliss. Dealing with beer for a living, I hear people gush about Euro lagers like Stella Artois and Heineken, or speak about how Tsingtao is better than American beer because of their ancient Chinese secret ways, or Guinness/Beamish/Murphy's...and Red Stripe??? You like these beers, fine, but don't give me the "it's better cause it's imported" argument.

We know that Bud and Bud Light are the biggest selling beers mostly because of their massive advertising, but what about Sam Adams? I personally can't hear "Who do you Love" without thinking of their commercials, which is a switch from the days where I couldn't hear it without quickly tuning to another station. They have barely made a dent in the public's idea of what great beer is. People also are unwilling to change their beliefs as to what is good, even if what is good to them is piss wrapped in European smugness and fueled by American insecurity. It has to be great if they make it, right? While advertising and complacency may be big culprits here, ignorance rears its head most prominently when these same people talk about the great beers. This ignorant thinking about the superiority of Any Beer Not Made in the United States is infuriating. Don't these people wonder what all those exotic looking six-packs in the American beer section of their local markets hold, as they saunter past in search of a 24 oz. bottle of Beck's?

This rant comes a few days after finishing a growler of Uber Goober, a peanut butter oatmeal stout created by Short's Brewing. Short's had long been on my radar of beer to try, and I finally got my chance at this year's Great American Beer Fest. Their line was the second longest of the day, only surpassed by Russian River Brewing, so I knew I wasn't the only one interested in this company's beers.

Short's is a brewery that epitomizes the spirit of American craft brewing: calling the town Bellaire, Michigan home, in the upper, upper, area of the state (these guys are almost north of Ottawa), with a population of under 1,200 people, they still have managed to crank out 50 varieties of beer- atypical beer at that: black cherry porters, smoked apple beers, beers fermented with over 400 pounds of bananas, a bloody mary-inspired beer with Roma tomatoes, dill, horseradish, and peppercorns, and the aforementioned uber goober, an oatmeal stout which is fermented over peanuts. Uber Goober is one of the richest stouts I have tasted, with a full chocolate mouthfeel initially, with the nuttiness coming through in the finish. We were enjoying this beer so much that the growler was gone before we knew it. That's too bad, because in my peanut-chocolate-alcohol euphoria I had visions of soaking bread in Uber Goober and making French toast with it the next morning...but that will have to wait until the next time I can get my hands on this treat.

I remember reading a piece about how some breweries were skipping the Great American Beer Fest because of the overall cost of putting everything together. Short's justified the cost as "We think of it as a way of rewarding our employees". Hey AmBev: you hear that? Those 1,900 layoffs are one hell of a Christmas present to those folks in St. Louis, don't you think?

So the next time you see the person in line with their 12-pack of Foster's, case of Bud Dry, or silver bullet-style cans of Sapporo, relish in the fact that you have the knowledge of choice. The knowledge that you don't have to settle for one bland style...rather a million choices fueled by the ingenuity that is American craft brewing, from amped up pilsners to Imperial Pumpkin beers to 20% IPAs. Cheers to Short's and other breweries like them, with the drive to keep pushing the envelope and making the best beers possible, whether the rest of the world takes notice or not.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Trader Joe's Vintage 2008

Another holiday is approaching, which means it is time for another version of Trader Joe's Vintage Ale.

The beer is produced annually for Trader Joe's by Unibroue, whose Belgian-style beers are available year-round at local beer stores. The style changes a little each year, though this is listed as a Dubbel, just like last year. However, I found the 2007 to be kind of muddled in flavor, a disappointment after the 2006 version. That was very good, except for the fact that, though it was released in 2006, you had to wait until 2007 to actually take a sip because the head didn't subside for a few months.

I am happy to report that the 2008 Vintage is a winner. It starts off with a neutral smell that belies the amount of flavor packed into its 750 ml container. This 9% beer is selling for $4.99, which is a couple of dollars cheaper than other Unibroue products in the city. Pick up one to drink now and a few to cellar, as this beer will age well. I still have some '06 and '07 waiting for me, but man it's hard to have the patience to wait out years worth of releases to do a vertical tasting.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Upcoming Cask Fest


Marble is once again hosting a cask-conditioned beer fest, this one happening on Saturday, December 13. I went to the one earlier this year and it was blazing hot outside, not really the weather conducive to enjoy cask beer, which is served closer to room temperature than your typical draft beer. December weather seems better suited for an event like this.
The event costs $20, which gets you a taste of all ten casks and a pint of your favorite- you know, the same formula used for every New Mexico beer event. My advice: get there early! The previous event got packed and beers were gone way too quick. I think the pint I settled on was my third choice because the other two were gone already. Another reason to show up early is because the crowd inside may be worse than the last time because less people will be willing to hang outside because of the cold. Be prepared for lines, big guys not moving their bellies an inch to let you get through, but great beers! One of a kind Beers! Casks will be tapped at 2 pm.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Blackout! Stout Fest

I never used to like stouts very much. My consumption was limited to a Guinness on St. Patrick's Day, and then I'd move onto an IPA. But drinking only Guinness and declaring you don't like stout is like trying a Swanson Salisbury Steak TV dinner and deciding you don't like steak. There are so many varities of stouts, along with American craft brewers focusing on aged and infused imperial versions that now have me looking forward to the next big release.

So when my friend Kelly (a.k.a. Buck) Wild approached me with the idea of a stout tasting party, I thought it was a great idea. We ironed out the details and decided to do a blind drawing where invitees picked a slip of paper and the name listed was their assigned beer to bring. I tried to include beers that are easily available in Albuquerque, but I didn't get it quite right. What do you mean Left Hand Brewing doesn't distribute their Milk Stout here anymore. Poor Dan got that hopeless assignment, and dutifully went around the city trying to find this beer.

Aside from that hiccup, plans worked out and Buck Wild Productions and Abqbeergeek.com presented the Blackout! Stout Fest. Guests began arriving en masse at Abqbeergeek headquarters Sunday evening. Ok. Headquarters = my house. Click the damn Google Ads and I'll rent some headquarters someday. The stouts were spread out on the counter according to their respective styles: Dry/Irish, Oatmeal, Cream/Milk, Chocolate, American, and Imperial.

The scoring was on an overall scale of 5, without the hassle of subcategories like color, aroma, body, etc. For one thing, this was a stout tasting, so the color is gonna be pretty similar throughout. And this was a non-formal gathering of friends who like beer. Why overthink things? I was lucky if I remembered to write down the beer I was trying at the time, as I was enjoying the people almost as much as the beer. Almost. After all, it wasn't just locally available stouts on the menu; Jenn and I also busted out some of our collected stouts for the event.



Of course, get some of these guys drinking and their gay tendencies seem to come out in full force. A harmless game of ping pong looked as if it was going to break out into "dong pong" until Marcus backed his ass up into one of my framed pictures and it went crashing into the floor. Thankfully at that point, all boners died down.



Well, almost. One non-beer drinker who will remain nameless spent most of the tasting on Jenn's laptop looking for prospects on Adam4adam.com, a website that I guarantee will never grace her computer again. Unless she goes away for the weekend.

The guests' stouts had all been sampled by this time so I started pulling out some of our stuff: Bell's Java and Cherry Stouts, Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout, Terrapin Coffee Oatmeal Stout, Green Flash Stout, Oskar Blues Ten Fidy, 2006 Victory Storm King, Avery Mephistopholes, Sweetwater Happy Ending, and Deschutes The Abyss. These beers were not part of the official judging because the crowd had thinned out by this point and not everyone got to enjoy these beers.

I actually had more stouts that never made it out: Oak aged Yeti, Peche Mortel, Hoppin' Frog B.O.R.I.S., Alesmith Speedway,Dark Starr Stout, Heavy Seas Peg Leg, Big Shot Espresso and a couple others. But man! We had already had so many good ones that we had to say enough at some point. Instead, it was time for a concoction of our own.

Corrine came up with the idea of mixing a special "Garlic Stout" that consisted of Old Rasputin Imperial Stout mixed with Papa John's Garlic Sauce. The unwitting guinea pig would be honored guest Andreas. At first, he was not willing to try the beer because he is not the biggest fan of garlic. However, his love of beer prevailed ane he took a healthy swig.


Judging by his reaction, I don't believe he liked the beer much, though he was unable to speak for awhile save for some groaning. I have to give a special thanks to him for always being a good sport and bringing laughter to any event he attends.



And good job to Corrine, whose Garlic Stout may not ever become the mainstream flavor people enjoy like chocolate or coffee stout, but at least SOMEONE was willing to drink it. And I believe I saw her savoring more than one sip of that beer without any prodding. Yuck.


On that note, the evening ended, and I have finally
tallied up the scores from the guests' judging. The order, from last to first:

14. Lost Coast 8-Ball Stout
13. Avery Out of Bounds Stout
12. Ft. Collins Chocolate Stout
11. Young's Double Chocolate Stout
10. Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout
9. Rogue Chocolate Stout
8. Samuel Smith Imperial Stout
7. Deschutes Obsidian Stout
6. Ska Steel Toe Stout
5. Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout
4. Port Brewing Old Viscosity
3. St. Peter's Cream Stout
2. North Coast Old Rasputin

And the winner, by one-one hundredth of a point: local favorite SLEEPING DOG STOUT from CHAMA RIVER BREWERY!!

Thanks to all attendees who made it to the event, with special thanks to Molly who made the #1 stout trophy and Kelly Wild for brainstorming the idea. Look for Buck Wild coming to your local public access channel soon!
Jenn and I enjoyed having you all and hope you had a good time as well. Cheers!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Double Bastard Party

As promised, I went to the Stone Double Bastard Release Party at O'Niell's Friday night. Of course, a beer party isn't much of a party until Abqbeergeek gets there, so the bouncers let me right through the line of people stuck behind the velvet ropes and took me right to my place at the bar.

Ok, that was all a lie. O'Niells isn't that kind of place, thankfully. It is a friendly, low-key type of bar with a good staff, no televisions and a nice beer selection. As previously posted, they also have all four kegs of Double Bastard that came to the state so it was another good reason to be there. The beer is sooo easy to drink for a 10% beer. I find it easier to drink than its baby brother, Arrogant Bastard. And O'Niell's doesn't gouge you for this beer, either. $5.99 for a pint of a limited release 10% beer is very reasonable.

Go try this beer while it lasts; as the bartender told me, "It's selling like hotcakes!"