Saturday, January 30, 2010

New Belgium Finally Gets It Right

This is not going to be a column bashing New Belgium. Sure, I'm not the biggest fan of their beers, especially Fat Tire, but how can you bash a company that has become such a success, and oh so socially conscious at the same time? Maybe it is the people I see in the stores talking about the company as Fat Tire. As in, "Look honey, they carry beers from Fat Tire here!". It pisses me off because: 1) They think the company is called "Fat Tire", 2) They act like it is something out of the ordinary to see New Belgium beers on a shelf. Big freakin' deal- even 7-11 carries their beer. I once saw a bum at the I-25 and Lead/Coal exit with a sign that said, "Will blow you for a Fat Tire", so you know that shit's mainstream. I also have a problem with the "Fat Tire" bicycle. I don't like those super heavy, junky looking old-style bikes, and people who ride them look like dumbasses. They could possibly be at top of the list of idiotic looking bike riders, surpassing people on tandem bikes and people dressed for the Tour De France. Ever see a whole family on a bicycle for four, complete with the little yellow trailer with the youngest kid attached to the back? Ever wanted to unlatch the trailer as they ride by? Later, Aidan! And what's with the full cycling regalia (sponsor jersey, padded spandex, aerodynamic helmet, etc.) these people wear? You are riding past a strip mall on Eubank Blvd., not through a mountain pass in the Pyreness. When I go out to play basketball, I don't wear the Sixers tanktop and 80's short-shorts and Kareem-Abdul Jabbar goggles for a pickup game. So...what was I writing about here? Oh yeah, Ranger IPA from New Belgium. It is here, it is good. New Belgium experimented with many recipes for an IPA before deciding on this one, and I think they got it right.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

You Know What They Say About Guys with Bigfoot...

...we all have bigger hangovers. Well, that is, if we choose to forgo moderation, which I would never do, and never suggest that you do, either. Except maybe tonight. It's ok- you deserve it. And I deserve it too. So what do you say we start our new life of excess and indulgence together with Sierra Nevada's 2010 Bigfoot Barleywine? After all, the 10% ABV is perfect for getting us to that state of mind where we just don't care about right and wrong. We can drunk dial people, or as I did one time when I was drunk, email Dietz and Watson and tell them how great their lunchmeat is (I swear I did this, though I have no idea what would possess me to praise the virtues of olive loaf). Hmmm...maybe I better just stick to one six-pack of this tonight. You can feel free to drink more. Maybe you'll get drunk enough that you won't remember what you said or did, and everyone you pissed off will be way too mad to even talk to you to tell you what you did. Whatever you do, try one of these Bigfoots when it is new. Bigfoot is probably the most popular Barleywine to drink fresh, as it has a great hop character. That's not to say that it won't age well; like me, it ages gracefully and becomes better looking after each sip. $11.99 per six-pack. I have only seen it at Kelly Liquors at Mountain Run so far (Kelly's on Wyoming gets it Friday), but everyone should have it soon. See you in jail!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

You Can't Spell Mean Without Me

And the heading really has nothing to do with the content of this posting, but I just like the sound of it. And I have been told that I am a much nicer person on paper- so I've got that going for me, which is nice. Reader Danny Karlstrum reminded me of the fact that we will soon have a new brewpub, brought to us by the owner of the Uptown Sports Bar. In fact, the brewpub will be located right next to the sports bar, at 6601 Uptown Blvd., right near the shops at ABQ Uptown. Oh man, I can't get enough of all the great shopping there! I could spend hours breaking everything in Pottery Barn alone! I have no info on the brewpub, as I was not able to talk to the owner today, but that doesn't stop me from wasting your time with what little info I have on the place. I DO know that Sierra Blanca will be brewing all the house beers for the pub. Does that get you excited? Or would you prefer to hang at California Pizza Kitchen instead? I'll reserve judgement until the place actually opens. For now I will be content with drinking my 40 of OE 800 on the stoop of Williams-Sonoma while waiting for the Uptown security force to rouse me.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Six Samurai

With all due respect to Kurosawa, there really was no need for seven samurai. These six from Great Divide will do just fine. Samurai ale, so named because of the addition of rice to the brew, or so I guess. Is that wrong to assume? It's ok to say that Japanese people eat rice, right? These PC times make me leery of saying anything. I'm Irish. I love alcohol. That stereotype holds quite true for me, thank you. Rice is also a main ingredient in Budweiser- where's the nod (or the bow) to the Japanese? Anyway, Samurai is a 5.1% ABV, unfiltered beer that is priced like it was imported from Japan- $10.99! I don't even like sushi (which I hear Japanese people are fond of), and I'm not paying eleven bucks for a six-pack of 5.1% rice beer. I'll stick to other Great Divide beers like Yeti or Hercules, and I'll get my rice beer from Budweiser. Sayonara.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Six More Reasons to Visit Marble

The boys at Marble must not have felt as if they were working hard enough supplying every bar in town, from hip to dive, with their beers, so they have gone into brewing overdrive and now have given us six Brewer's Specials on tap. They have a single hop pale ale with Centennial hops (5.5%)that could pass as an IPA at plenty of lesser breweries. There is a lightish Porter (4.7%) that makes for a good session beer. Also a Winter Warmer (9.6%) that they describe as an Imperial Red/Barleywine hybrid. I describe it as too drinkable, a true test of my desire to drink more than one matched against my need to make it home alive. The Quad is the biggest and baddest of the Belgian styles, yet somehow the easiest Belgian to drink, for me at least. Sometimes Belgian Dubbels and Tripples seem overly carbonated and inhibit my imbibing. The 10% alcohol in The Quad is well hidden, though you may not be able to hide your intoxication level so well. Woodford's Brother is a 9% bastard in the Reserve family, aged for a shorter period so it only picks up a slight bourbon taste, giving it a slight candy sweetness. Finally, an Imperial Stout (10.3%) that ranks up with some of the best I have tasted, and I have tasted many. It has a strong roasted flavor alongside a big hop bite that lasts through into the finish. So while I LOVE to dance into the night at Sauce, you are more likely to find me at Marble, face down in my six new best friends.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Why You Gotta Be All Fancy?

First off, let me say that I am very happy that Avery's duganA Double IPA has become available in Albuquerque. It is a big, piney beer, hopped with Columbus, Chinook, and Centennial. 8.5% ABV, 93 IBUs, all that good stuff. But what's with the fancy label? Since when is fine art cool? And when did it start infiltrating my beer labels? Beer bottles should only have important things pictured on the labels- like bowling balls, tennis rackets, or anything else sports related. Maybe some Clydesdales or a cool Rocky Mountain stream would be ok too. Or a dude eating a slice of pizza. That's real art, and that's what a good beer label should be. Not some half-naked, Rapunzel-looking, belly dancing freak floating in a nightmare. I want Avery to change the label to a picture of a pork chop. And I don't want them to get artsy by making it black and white; I want good old American color photography.And I want the name to not be ironical- duganA is backwards and weird and should be "Dugana". And I want to drink it while watching Sportscenter, or maybe Married With Children, but never the PBS broadcast of La Boheme live from the Met. All you like-minded individuals out there can find this 22 oz. beer at Jubilation for $6.99.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pitch Black and a Bargain

New from Widmer is their Pitch Black IPA, the latest to follow the trend of dark IPAs (think Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous). The 6.5% ABV is matched by 65 IBUs, and should be a solid offering. Though only recently released to the public, it was entered and won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in the "Out of Category- Traditionally Brewed Beer" category. Whatever that means. It is hopped with Cascade, Warrior, and Millennium hops. Widmer has always done a decent job with their Broken Halo IPA, and this special Brewmaster's Release is worth trying at the $7.99 retail price.

Kelly Liquors has a good deal going right now on Red Hook 12-packs. $8.99 for any variety of the family of beers, including Longhammer IPA, ESB, and my old buddy, Winterhook. I picked up some Winterhook because it is probably the most flavorful of the line. Red Hook may not make the best beers out there, but for $8.99, I'll get a 12-pack or two. Not quite as great a deal as the day I picked up a 12-pack of Winterhook for $4.99 at Quarters, but that was a loonng time ago.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bait and Switch?

Or was this week's ad from Sunflower Market just a careless mistake? The ad promotes Rogue beers as being 2 for $10. Not a super deal, but ok. The problem is that the beers pictured are from the Rogue XS Series, and those beers retail for $15.99. Ridiculously overpriced, but I'll gladly pay five bucks for one of them. When I realized that the ad said "22 oz.", I knew that the picture was a mistake. The beers in the XS Series come in 25 oz. bottles, and fancy ones at that. But that didn't stop my friend Andreas and I from going to check it out. As suspected, it was the plain old Rogues that were on sale. In fact, Sunflower doesn't even carry the XS beers. So Andreas settles on some Widmer Broken Halo IPA, on sale for $5.99 a six-pack. But he grabs a 12-pack, as always, because it is easier to carry than two sixers. We get to the cashier, and she has to call two different people over to try to verify the six-pack price, because the 12-packs aren't on sale. She then said that Andreas had to buy two sixers because the beer had to actually scan in the system and be accounted for. I was having fun playing dumb, saying, "They both add up to twelve." "Yes, but it has to scan, sir." "Yeah, no, they both add up to twelve, do you see?" "YES SIR,BUT IT HAS TO SCAN!!". "Hmmm. Well, if you say so, but I could almost swear they add up to twelve.". So that was my fun for the day. Moral: Don't buy 12-packs from Sunflower.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Humble Pie Tastes Disgusting

Well, my boasting about the Eagles has bitten me in the ass, just like it does every year. Losing to the Dallas Cowboys makes the disappointment and bitterness even more powerful, and I need a distraction. Something to take me away from the sheer misery of another playoff meltdown. Something to keep me from burning every Eagles jersey I own, and from keying every car with a Cowboys star or bumper sticker on it. So I find myself staring at the label on Sierra Nevada's newest beer, Glissade Golden Bock. The label depicts what I take to be a Springtime setting, with flowers blooming in the foreground and still snowy mountains off in the distance. A lone mountain goat (bock loosely translates to goat in German) stands at the edge of a high hill. Philadelphia Eagles fans line up to jump off of the, stop it! I better drink this beer instead of staring at it. Glissade is in the Maibock style, lighter in color and hoppier than the regular bocks. 6.4% ABV, $7.49 retail. Come on beer, do your job and take away the pain!!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Let's Drink to Hating Dallas

If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's our hatred of the Dallas Cowboys. And if there's one thing we should all agree on, it's our love of the Philadelphia Eagles and the wonderful fans. From the days when the fans booed and threw snowballs at Santa Claus, pelted Cowboys coach Jerry Johnson with more snowballs, and cheered as Michael Irvin lay motionless on the field after a career-threatening injury, the Philly fan is notoriously nasty. And I love it! What other group would force a city to put a courtroom and jail in the stadium itself? I even saw Philly fans at a 76ers game boo as a guy was proposing to his girlfriend in the stands. Ruthless AND wise.

So as a Philly fan, I of course am rooting for them in Saturday's playoff game. Unfortunately, I think Dallas may have a better playing team right now, so I need to make sure I have plenty of beer just in case the wrong team wins. And I have to keep it real and drink some Philly area beers. So I went through the library and picked out some Yards ESA, and a collection of (how fitting) Victory beer including Prima Pils, Hop Devil IPA, Golden Monkey, St. Victorious Dopplebock, and Storm King Imperial Stout. I hope I don't have to drink all of these beers while drowning my sorrows, but I will do it win or lose. And if the Eagles do somehow lose, my hatred of every other team will be further fueled, just like every real Philly fan out there.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Bock By Any Other Name...

Costs two dollars less. Here we have Gordon Biersch's cold weather release, Winter Bock. It retails in stores for $7.99, which isn't a bad deal nowadays for a 7.5% ABV Double Bock style beer. But did you know that the same beer is sold for $5.99 under Trader Joe's private label? Gordon Biersch brews the beer for Trader Joe's under the name Winterfest. It is a decent beer, as long as it doesn't warm up too much. Unlike Imperial Stouts, which get better as they warm up, the Double Bocks tend to be almost cloyingly sweet. Too many sweet beers that are 7.5% promises to have the same unhappy ending as chugging a bottle of White Zinfandel. I still have two cases of the 2007 Winterfest sitting around in case I ever get snowed in, and some White Zin for my bros!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Better Than Night Ranger

Sister Christian there's so much in life
Don't you give it up before your time is due

Actually, Night Ranger had some pretty good songs. Wonder if they are going to playing the NM casino circuit anytime soon. More importantly, when is Ranger, the first IPA from New Belgium, coming to Albuquerque? Looks like we are going to be waiting till Feb. 1 before it arrives here, though I was given one by a thoughtful reader who obtained it out of state. The 6.5% IPA is liberally hopped with Cascade, Chinook, and my favorite, Simcoe. My friend remarked that the beer had a cat pee smell, but don't take that as a bad thing; Simcoe hops kind of have that going for them. And I like them. So there. The beer has a floral first sip that quickly turns into a harsh bitterness unlike anything New Belgium has ever brewed. It was kind of surprising, but not unwelcome, considering this is an IPA, after all. And at a healthy 70 IBUs, this should satisfy those who would be skeptical of New Belgium's attempt at an IPA. It'll be here soon, and you can decide for yourself!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Obama Awarded Noble Pils Prize

Since Winter has been in session for all of ten days, it is only fitting that the Samuel Adams Spring seasonal beer, Noble Pils, is now in local stores. The Pils replaces the White Ale as the Spring offering. So what's in the name? "Noble" refers to the varieties of hops used in the beer. Sam Adams says they use "all five of the noble hops". I only thought there were four, and could only come up with three off the top of my head (Hallertau, Tettnang, and Saaz, with Spalt being the one I couldn't remember). It turns out there is debate as to what constitutes "noble". Some lean toward the historical aspect, where the aforementioned hops were used predominately to make classic European beers. Some consider the British hops Fuggle and East Kent Golding as part of that noble group. Others say that it is more the characteristic of the hop that defines it as noble, in this case aromatic hops with lower alpha acids (in the 2-6% range) that are low in bitterness. So what do the Samuel Adams people think? I don't know- it is Saturday, and nobody is home in Boston. They have an emergency line, but I didn't think this column quite constituted a phone call from me. Damn all the hops, you just want it to be a good beer, right? And it is pretty tasty, though I'd have to go with a Pilsner Urquell over it on most days. The Noble Pils is lacking the bite and crispness that I like in a pils, as the honey-ish malt stands out more than the hops. This 5.2% pils can be purchased just about everywhere in town for around $7.99.