Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Finally: Dark Lord Day!

But wait. I realized I didn't tell you about the room party I hit the night before. So I'm walking around the hotel, drinking my beer, and I come across a sign that says "No beer here...come on in!". But of course there was beer, plenty of it. And all these beauty queens you see in the picture. And some guys I had hung out with the previous year. They were already breaking out some great stuff, including Terrapin's Cap't Krunkles Black IPA, Portsmouth Kate the Great Imperial Stout, Voodoo's Big Black Voodoo Daddy, and a bunch of others. Just what I needed the night before a big beer fest.

I know people get to Dark Lord Day bright and early, but my best sleep goes right through that time period. I got up around ten, feeling pretty good and, as usual, ready for a drink. I was prepared to walk the mile or so to Three Floyds with my rolling cooler, but I learned there was a local guy shuttling people to the event for seven bucks. Since the sky looked ready to dump rain at any moment, I ponied up the money. the driver passed the time telling me about Freedom Fest, where "They be rolling up these big-ass joints all day". He had to let me off a ways from the event, which allowed me to check out what people in line were drinking. And gave me time to wonder why they were wasting time in line. I learned last year that the beer is there, waiting to be picked up, until 5 pm, and at that point in the day there is no line. So why not free yourself and roam around and meet people?

Oh my. Looks like this poor guy already made too many friends. You see, this place just turns into a free-for-all of trying the best beers available, many of which are hard to find. But an event like this brings out the true meaning of Christmas, which is sharing your best beers with others. For instance, I had set up a trade with my Chicago friend Gary: a Marble DIPA for a 2008 Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout. Very generous of him to trade me that beer in the first place, since the 2010 version came and went within a week or so. But not only does he give me that, but he throws in two of them, oh, and why not a 2008 Dark Lord(!!!!!!)? You know how much people are paying for that beer on Ebay? That's just the camaraderie you share between craft beer lovers. Well, that he shares. I still only gave him the Marble.

Met up with the gang from last year, who managed be parked at the same picnic table as last year. The Wisconsin contingent, made up of doctors (who I love drinking with because, if they do it, it must be healthy), brought over 100 beers to sample. And Wisconsin cheese. And sausages, and bread, and more beers. Also met up with some friends from Chicago, one of whom had recently passed the bar exam (congrats!). So I was set: beer, food, friends. I spent most of my time with the beer, though. I saw one of the guys who hosted the room party the previous night and he asked if I left my keys in their room. I checked my pockets and whadda ya know? Once again I had lost something! I need a traveling companion just to keep things in my pockets for me.

I want to tell you all the beer I tried, but...I lost my notebook that I was writing all the beers in. And that was at a point where I couldn't see straight enough to look for it. I can't really say I remember picking up my Dark Lord, but I must have, because it is right across the living room from me. And this picture I took of me actually buying the beer points in that direction as well. I remember calling the shuttle guy, at 6:31 according to my phone. Then: waking up at 10 pm, thankfully in my room, but with no recollection of getting there. And somehow wanting a beer, though I held myself to the Beck's 64s that I wisely picked up for sessions like these. Know when to say when like I do, folks! Retrieved my keys from the room they were hiding in, did some more hanging and drinking, and most importantly, survived another Dark Lord Day!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sam's Summer...STILL No Dark Lord Story???

Look, the dude sitting in the middle sit on the plane took up so much room, I couldn't even blink, let alone pull out a computer and type. So I'm sorry. It's coming, but for now...

Sam Adams Summer Ale has hit the shelves, along with the Summer Styles variety 12-pack. You get your usual Boston Lager, Sam Light, and of course the Summer Ale, but you also get Blackberry Witbeer (mmm, I can see myself drinking one of those after having too much of everything else on a hot afternoon, then throwing up the sweet, purply beer all over. Sorry), Sam Adams Pale Ale, and a new IPA: Latitude 48. Sounds like the title of a Jimmy Buffet album. It's a darker in color, lighter in ABV (5.8%) style IPA, and is unremarkable but drinkable. Supermarkets sell these Sam Adams variety packs for way too much, like 16-17 bucks, but Kelly Liquors always seems to have them for $12.99.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Give Me a Sec...

I know you just can't wait for my Dark Lord Day story, but I've been so busy drinking that I have been unable to sit in front of the computer long enough to get one together. I'm flying out today, so maybe I'll get it done when I'm on the plane.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pre-Dark Lord Day

Y'all know that I am here in beautiful Munster, Indiana for the one day release of Three Floyds Brewery's Dark Lord Imperial Stout. This is the largest gathering of idiots who waste good money that could be spent on houses or cars but instead split their money between hard to find beers and plastic girlfriends. And by plastic, I don't mean the Ugged, rimless-glasses-ed, and designer sweatpant-ed girls who only date Ferrari-driving guys with gelled hair. I mean the DIY "girls" that you have to blow up before they will blow you back. The kind I get.

Look. Local beers on tap! Sure, it is the Sunport's Rt. 66 "Brewpub", but at least you can get Santa Fe IPA, Alien Amber, or Santa Fe Pale Ale on tap. But you don't have to. You can get bottled water for $2.50 instead, like I did. Yes, I drink water too! I have a lot of drinking to do this weekend, so I abstained. Though being stuck with a group of high school students from Eldorado and Rio Rancho who were on their way to a Marketing competition in Louisville, Kentucky (don't we have good enough markets here?) tried patience that my Ipod couldn't even placate. "Morgan! How tall are you!!??? You are sooo tall!!! (no shit! I had to squeeze by you when I got up to pee). "I have a 13 year old cousin who is 6"4 but they (the height doctors, I presume) say he is gonna be like 7"8!"

We did land, eventually, not before I wished the students failure in their upcoming competition. The "Oh my GOSH's" reverberated in my head as I laughed my way to the rental car counter. Dodge Charger. Pretty fast. But no match for Chicago's Cicero Blvd., which is apparently the only way out of Midway Airport. I sat in traffic forever, sated slightly by the smooth jazz station coming out of the Charger's speakers.

I stopped at Kenwood Liquors, an old favorite of mine that never lets me down. Except when you try to pay wit ha credit card. Cash only, please. I bought $70 worth of beer, including Hoppin' Frog Hop Dam Triple IPA, Southern Tier Gemini DIPA, Three Floyds Dreadnaught DIPA, Dark Horse Crooked Tree DIPA, Goose Island Night Stalker Imperial Stout, and a 12-pack of Beck's 64. C'mon, I need something to just drink like water instead of polluting myself with water! I then drove through the EZ-Pass lane of the toll road without having an EZ-Pass. Damn 18-wheeler wouldn't let me over! That one's on you, Thrifty Rent-A-Car.

Fast-forward to later. I got to my hotel, checked-in, and hit Three Floyds Brewpub for Dreadnaught and Barrel aged Popskull (collaboration between Dogfish Head and Three Floyds)on tap. Made friends (cause you all who know me know that is what I do best, right?) with a guy from Louisville, Kentucky (small world!), a couple from State College, PA, and a beer blogger from Milwaukee. We hung out inside while a line gathered outside for the standing-room only pub. At some point I realized that I hadn't checked the precious cargo I brought with me, so I headed back to the room. All the beers I brought were intact, including the local beers in the picture. New Mexico, represent!

Here's my $150 a night room. Nicer than your whole house! Expensive, but that's what you get when you stay in Munster. You want cheese history, my friend, this is the heart of it. I'm about to go downstairs and meet up with the guys in the parking lot who have their car stereo entertaining them while they drink various crafts out of their coolers. Till tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Rest of the World Sucks

Especially India. And my blanket statement is proven by the fact that Albuquerque brewers took home two medals in the recent World Beer Cup, which is the largest beer judging event, with entries from around the globe. Chama River Brewery's Justin Hamilton earned a Silver medal for Three Dog Night Baltic Porter. I stopped by there to get a picture of him with his award, but apparently it gets mailed. He did receive a coupon for half-off a Slurpee, so that's why he looks so happy.

Brady McKeown is all smiles as well, this picture taken just before he beat the crap out of me with a rubber hose. I still don't know why. He must be proud of the fact that Il Vicino took home a Bronze medal for the St. Bob's Imperial Stout (vintage 2006). You should be proud too. The fact that two of our locals were judged to have brewed some of the best beers in the world has me sticking my chest out, making me look even tougher than usual.

One more thing: remember Blue Moon's great idea to make a "Grand Cru" version of its popular beer and sell it 25 oz. bottles for $11.99? What's that? It didn't sell and dropped to $7.99? Not good enough? How about $2.99? Ok. I'll take one. it looks like all the liquor stores are offering it at this price now.

Monday, April 19, 2010

No In-N-Out, But Double Doubles Abound

We've got some heavy hitting Double IPAs hitting shelves this week. I usually don't get excited for Widmer's hoppy beers. Broken Halo IPA is a fine drinking beer, but it is nothing remarkable. So when I heard about Deadlift, the new Widmer DIPA, I figured it would be worth a try, but I didn't have high hopes for it. I gotta stop being so negative. And stop using "gotta". I can't get a gig with the New Yorker or Harper's with writing like that. Deadlift has a great citrusy smell and flavor, thanks to the increasingly popular Nelson Sauvin hop from New Zealand. And though this DIPA only has 70 IBUs, it tastes plenty bitter to me. Reasonably priced four-packs for an 8.6% DIPA, at $7.99. Jubilation has it right now.

As surprisingly nice as Deadlift is, it doesn't play in the same league as Avery Maharaja DIPA, finally here in Albuquerque. Maharaja is only brewed twice a year, and is one of the best doubles to drink fresh. Older versions, well, you may as well be drinking from a river in India. So we get this one relatively fresh, as it was brewed in March. Each batch of Maharaja varies slightly in flavor profile and alcohol level, with this one hitting 10.4% ABV. That didn't stop me from drinking the whole thing last night. And more. Seemed like a good idea at the time. The 102 IBUs are quite apparent along with the pine, Simcoe, Chinook, Cascade, Centennial, and my slight hangover. You're paying a premium for this one: $7.99 for 22 oz., but I've paid more for less in the past week (Mikkeller 1000 IBUs) and this is a great one.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hopped-Up on Goofballs

"6½ kilogram of alpha-acid extract was used og 10 kilograms of simcoe-pellets per 1000 liters beer". That's how Mikkeller technically describes their new beer, 1000 IBU, in their quaint Danish/metric way. But I prefer the term in this post's title, one my grandmother used to use to describe me and my cousin when we were especially rowdy. Mikkeller's new experiment into hop madness has a theoretical 1000 IBUs, almost ten times the amount that beers like Mean Manilishi, Unearthly, and Hopsickle contain (three of the highest IBU beers I had ever tried). Of course, there is all kinds of evidence that the human palate can only detect a certain number of IBUs, somewhere around 100. So this beer may be gimmicky, but it is fun anyway. And not as bitter as I would have expected, as there is a lot of sweet, almost honey-ish malt that is present but never interfering with the hop bitterness. At $12.99, the price is high for a beer that is only 12.7 oz. But you gotta be able to brag about trying a beer with 1000 IBUs, right? What's that? Nobody thinks that makes you cool? Well, I always think you're cool, 1000 IBUs or not. But you're cooler if you go to Jubilation and buy this beer.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Marble Moves to Minnesota!

New Mexico, the Rodney Dangerfield of states. Just when I thought a local brewery was going to get some national respect, things went awry. The latest issue of BeerAdvocate magazine has glowing reviews of both the Marble Red (B+ rating) and Oatmeal Stout (A rating). While that's excellent and deserved news for Marble, once again our fine state gets slighted. Apparently, Marble is brewed in Albuquerque, MN, rather than NM. No wonder I don't drink there a whole lot- that's a hell of a ride home after a few beers!
Marble will be bringing some beers from MN to a beer dinner at Standard Diner on Sunday, April 18, starting at 5 pm. I'm not going to give the full descriptions for all six courses, but here's an abridged rundown: Cheddar/Beer Soup w/ Oatmeal Stout...Caprese Salad w/ Amber Ale...Watermelon/Tuna Ceviche w/ Double IPA...Kobe Sliders w/ Red Ale...Lollipop Lamb w/ Quad...Cinnamon Baked Brie w/ Bock. So, the typical stuff you find at diners in Jersey. $50 per person (plus tax + tip)gets you all this fanciness, and the waitress might call you "Hon" and snap her gum at you. Call 243-1440

Monday, April 12, 2010

It Isn't THAT Nice Yet!

While the weather
has improved dramatically (almost enough for me to actually leave my cave and sit outside at Marble), and the Phillies are back in championship form, it still doesn't mean I'm ready to start drinking summer beers. I haven't even done the final Imperial Stout Challenge of the year like I've been meaning to. But the breweries don't seem to be living by the same schedule as me- take Sierra Nevada, who have already released Summerfest. One of the few lagers Sierra releases, this one is a 5% ABV pilsner style hopped with Saaz. $7.49-7.99 pretty much anywhere you go. Should be a good summer drinker when summer actually comes around. In two months.

We barely saw a hint of Rising Moon, the spring offering from Blue Moon, before Honey Moon took its place. A 5.6% ABV wheat ale, released for "summer", that is higher in alcohol than its other seasonals (save for Harvest Moon, .1% higher). That seems a little backwards, but higher alcohol never scared me away from a beer. Higher-alcohol beers attract me like a, oh, I don't a bee to honey, perhaps? True to its name, Honey Moon is brewed with actual honey from Lyons, CO. So I might try this one. The whole Blue Moon line really isn't bad, and a Honey Moon sounds pretty good right now, even in 65 degree weather.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bad Band, Better Beer; Big Belgians

Full Sail's annual Imperial IPA, Slipknot, is out and about. I picked mine up at Kelly Liquors on Wyoming for $4.99. Not a bad price for a DIPA, but when I poured the beer and sniffed it, I swear it smelled just like their regular IPA. That's not a good sign. But the 8.2% ABV beer is assuredly a DIPA,with 80 IBUs and one of the more bitter ones I have had lately. There is no pine to this one, just straight citrus and that almost harsh bitterness. Don't love it, don't hate it. It's one of those B minus-ish DIPAs.

Some more Goose Island beers are turning up at Jubliation, all being Belgian styles. Sofie, Pere Jacques, Matilda, meet the readers. Readers, please open your homes to these beers. Sofie is a very dry Farmhouse style ale that is 6.5% ABV. Pere Jacques is an 8% ABV Abbey Dubbel that I haven't tried yet; Dubbels aren't my favorite style. Matilda is a 7% ABV Belgian Pale Ale, kind of in the Leffe style of beer, though pricier: a four-pack costs $11.99. Pere Jacques and Sofie both come in 22 oz. bottle form and cost $6.99 apiece.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hey, I Know That Dude!

Goody. I was afraid the folks at Samuel Adams were going to skip Albuquerque again in their distribution of Longshot. The Longshot six-packs are comprised of beers brewed by the three winners of Sam Adams annual contest in which homebrewers vie to have their recipe picked as the best in the country. What makes this year's really special is the fact that our homegrown homebrewer extraordinaire, Ben Miller, was one of the winners. Miller, of Rio Rancho (I been there! They got a bad-ass WalMart!) won for his Mile High Barleywine, a 9.8% ABV, highly hopped American style Barleywine. It was excellent at the Great American Beer Fest, and I imagine it only has improved with age. ((EDIT: It is now drinking time, and I am having the Barleywine. It is less hoppy than I remember; way more dark fruit taste. Still verry good)) Also among the winners are a 9% ABV Old Ale (Old Ales are rich, malty, dark beers, similar in flavor to English Barleywines), and a 6.4% Lemon Pepper Saison. That sounds like an interesting beer for a nice afternoon of watching baseball, and if it ever decides to stay warm outside, I might actually drink it. The six-packs, which go for $9.49 at the Mountain Run Kelly Liquors where I bought it, contain two of each of the winners. I'm excited for all of these beers, but tonight it's all about Ben's Barleywine!

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Rich get Richer, but I Just Stay Drunk

Well, the NCAA Men's Basketball Finals just ended, and like I dreaded, Duke has won. I don't even follow college basketball, but I just had to watch in case I got to see Duke lose. Now I understand why NASCAR fans used to hate Jeff Gordon just because he won a lot (well, that, and they all thought he was gay. I don't care if a Duke player is gay, but I feel the hate). I don't like pompous people, and all the Duke lovers I have met fit into the pompous category. I want to drink to commiserate with the Butler fans. Actually, I want to drink because, well, that is what I do, but a good reason makes me feel better about it. Luckily I have some leftover Easter present to myself to ease the pain: a growler of Marble's DIPA and a growler of their Simcoe Pale Ale. Simcoe is my favorite hop, and Marble's Simcoe Pale is excellent. Mixed in with the DIPA, it becomes the RoboHop Bionic Beer. I get my Iron Chef on and mix the two to create the perfect beer. I use a spoon to stir and everything, just like a real chef would. Try it yourself, if you feel you have the necessary skills.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Rye Pale Ale Repeats

Il Vicino's Malt Madness tournament, pitting the brewery's best beers in a head to head taste test, has found a winner. And thankfully, it's not Duke. I hate Duke. I had a homeroom teacher in 10th grade who's husband went to Duke, and she was always going on about how great a school it was. And she had an ugly perm hairdo that somehow made it all worse. But she didn't win Il Vicino's tournament either. For the second year in a row, Rye Pale Ale comes out on top, surprisingly beating out Elsa's Hop Elixir. I wrote that the tournament was of the brewery's best beers, but conspicuously missing was Hopgoblin IPL, which was the champion of the 2009 NM IPA Challenge. It would have been interesting to see how it would have fared in the tournament. I was going to say congrats to Il Vicino for the victory, but since all the tournament beers are their brews, they win no matter what. Good. Anybody but Duke.