Monday, May 31, 2010

Don't Sing Oskar's Blues Just Yet!

There has been a rumor going around that Oskar Blues, makers of popular canned beers Dale's Pale Ale, Gordon, Old Chub, Mama's Little Yellow Pilz, and Ten Fidy is pulling their beers out of New Mexico. I talked to Caryl Corcoran, head beer dude for National Distributing (the company that puts Oskar Blues beers on our shelves), and he assured me that the beers are not going anywhere. So where did the rumor begin? Caryl feels that one of National's competitors started the rumor, and it just spread, much like the one that I ate some kid's throw-up years ago.
I asked Caryl if we are ever going to see Gubna, the Double IPA from Oskar Blues that has been available in CO and CA for months now. Caryl said that in mid-June, the brewery is upgrading to larger tanks, and we may see it after that.
A final note on Oskar Blues: don't buy any Gordon from Kelly Liquors at Coors and Irving. The ones they have for sale were brewed on 1/20/2009. Mmmmm, nothing like a hoppy beer that has been sitting for a year and a half. Even the can can't keep it that fresh.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

This Dog's a Pussycat

New from Laughing Dog Brewery is their Devil Dog Imperial IPA. Sounds promising, with the use of Columbus, Ahtanum, and Simcoe hops, right? But what's up with them using Munich and Caramel malts? I don't usually review too harshly, if at all, because I am more about promoting craft beers in general. But I don't understand Laughing Dog basically dumbing down the beer with those darker malts. There's a picture of a Yellow Lab on the label. It should at least have been a Chocolate Lab. That picture is misleading, and I want my $11.99 back. Yes, my $11.99. I spent that much when I could have gotten a Maharaja or Marble DIPA for way cheaper and enjoyed them more. Laughing Dog is a good brewery, but I was disappointed by this one.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

New Brews in the News

Pretty darn quiet on the new beer front in these here parts. But we will be getting some new beer very soon. Patience, my precious.

Fort Collins Brewery had a major shelf presence that seems to have dissipated in the last year or so. Remember all the Retro Red, Kidd Lager, Chocolate Stout, and Pomegranate Wheat that used to be available? From what I hear, we will be getting Fort Collins stuff back, along with some new varieties from them. This Hellesbock should be on shelves soon. 6.3%, a little dark in color for the style, but a very nice beer indeed. I hope we will finally get the Rocky Mountain IPA that Fort Collins makes. That's one I could drink throughout the summer.

Full Sail's Brewmaster's Reserve series keeps pumping them out, though this new Imperial Stout might sound more appealing to me if I wasn't sweating just from the exertion of typing. Timing aside, Full Sail seems to do their best brewing in beers that age well. Their Old Boardhead Barleywine is always a winner, and last year's Black Gold Bourbon Barrel Stout would have been great had I let it age longer. I am going to let this 8% ABV beer sit until at least this winter.

Don't have prices yet for these beers, but Full Sail always keeps their 22 oz. beers (which both of these beers are; forgot to write that) at very reasonable prices.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Thrill of Victory...

Well, my Philadelphia Flyers may still have one more series ahead of them, but defeating Montreal in the Eastern finals sure beats the agony of defeat! I'm drinking a 2007 Victory Storm King Imperial Stout (a Philly-area beer, naturally) in celebration of the win. Hockey may not be the biggest sport here, but I'm sure I got my neighbors fired up when I ran outside screaming and banging my pots and pans!

OK Ladies, I'm Free on Tuesdays Now Too...

I have never been one to get involved with a TV series. I had never even seen an episode of Seinfeld before it went into syndication. So it took a lot of never-shutting-up-about-Lost some years back by my friend to get me to break down and start watching. I had to play some catch up in the first season but it didn't take long to become hooked.

And it's over. Now what am I gonna do on Tuesday nights? Any specials at Fantasy World? Do they do delivery?

The finale may have sucked a bit, since it was a 2.5 hr montage of all the soap opera moments that had me groaning over the years (more Sci-Fi, less sigh, googly-eyes), but at least they brought back Vincent. He was my favorite character.

I did a little themed-drinking for the show last night, breaking out the Mikkeller Black Hole (13.1 % ABV Imperial Stout with coffee). It was kind of a loosely defined tribute to the Man in Black and the Smoke Monster and the cave when the light goes out. I had other ideas, such as drinking Scotch whiskey whenever Desmond was on screen, or Australian beer when Claire came on, or seeing how many KFC Double Downs I could pound when Hurley filled the screen, but I just sipped the Mikkeller and watched another night become freed up. Call me.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I Think They Named it After Me

Though I was not involved in Stone's most recent collaboration, I know they had me in mind when naming their latest brewery three-way: Saison du BUFF. Because when you think of buff, you think of me, with the biceps and pecs and delts and lats and the sit-ups and the Cheez-Itz. So thanks, guys. And thanks to Victory Brewing, who along with Dogfish Head are the fellow concoctors with Stone in this recipe. Victory, out of Downington, PA, is one of those frustrating breweries that makes great beers that are available all around us but not to us. Gotta make the trip to CO or TX for your closest taste of Prima Pils or Hop Wallop. But we are getting this beer, a 6.8% ABV Saison brewed with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. And to think, I just had a V-8 when I coulda had this. The beer has an intial hop-forwardness that flows into a black licorice taste. And I got parsley stuck in my teeth. A lot going on in this beer. Can't get a good picture without going into roid rage, but the beer is good stuff.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

In the Year 2000... store will sell COLD beer, rather than the lukewarm stuff that sits on shelves and gets old before its time. Well, we all know every just about store with electricity does that. But apparently it is a novel idea for Trader Joe's, whose Uptown location has finally added a cold beer section (along with a cold wine section, but nobody cares). I don't think the former lack of a cold section was any kind of prejudice against alcohol, which is a large part of Trader Joe's sales. I just think it is the lack of space that prevented them from having it. This is the chain that doesn't even sell ice. Maybe it is a prejudice against cold. You can see from the picture that is is a smallish cold section, but there is a decent variety, and they are going to add in cold single beers soon. Someday, they will add a parking lot with space for more than ten cars as well. how lucky we are to live in times of such monumental advances in our quality of life!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ska Release Party

You like Ska music, right? Me neither! But I'm willing to put up with the "musical stylings" of Made in Bangladesh, The Blue Hornets, and The Big Spank, if only because I will be drinking fresh Ska beer on tap at the same time. Launchpad is hosting a release party this Wednesday, May 19 to celebrate Ska beer being available on tap in Albuquerque and the price is right- for the music, at least: free admission. Don't know what the beers will cost. Also not sure what Ska taps will be pouring yet- Dave Welz from Ska is supposed to be getting back to me as soon as he finds out himself. I did stop in Billy's Long Bar today and saw that they have Pinstripe Red Ale and Modus Hoperandi on tap. So expect those, and hopefully others. Doors open at 7, and my earplugs will be inserted at 8:30, when the first band goes on.

Friday, May 14, 2010

It's Five O' Clock Somewhere

Happy Friday. Sorry for the slow week of posting, but I've been trying to get this Alibi article written. I'll get something good written someday. Yes, I know, that'd be a first. In the meantime, grab yourself a Beer 30 Ice and drink your cares away.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Southern Cross and Motueka?

I thought I knew my hop varieties pretty well, but the New Zealand hops Motueka and southern Cross aren't as widely used as Cascade or Centennial. They aren't used in hardly any beers, save for maybe Sierra Nevada's Southern Hemisphere. This beer uses freshly harvested hops that are sent on the boat pictured on the label, arriving in Chico, CA eighteen months later, the crew all dead from Scurvy, save The Dread Pirate Roberts. 6.7% ABV, $5.99 at your favorite beverage store.

Also: Kelly's on Wyoming is selling 12-packs of Sam Adams Noble Pils for $10.99. Pretty good beer, pretty good deal.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

There Can Be Only One!

This isn't new, but I was reminded today that I never wrote about it. If you go to get a growler filled at Il Vicino, you MUST use an Il Vicino growler. They will allow you to trade in whatever growler you have for an Il Vicino one and fill it, but they will no longer fill growlers from other breweries. Apparently, there is some ambiguity regarding the lawfulness of filling a growler with a different logo. So does this mean Il Vicino is being smart and proactive, or, considering no other brewery does this, that they are scaredy-cats who fear the MAN? Doesn't matter to me. I have one of their growlers, and if I need a new one it costs three whole bucks. Just wanted to give you the heads-up if you didn't know.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Chicago Continued

After my hour or so at Whole Foods (and who goes to the third largest and one of the most exciting cities in the country and wastes time at Whole Foods???), I made my way to my hotel, located in the Lincoln Park area of the city. Chicago has some great neighborhoods, and I was happy I chose this area to stay in. I had no idea what kind of area I was putting myself into, just that the hotel was close enough to the bar I wanted to visit.

Wow, am I in Japan? Two steps into my hotel room and I have one foot out the window. Thanks, Days Inn. The price was reasonable, though, and the lobby was pretty fancy. The clerks all wore three-piece suits. I did have to pay 22 bucks for hotel valet parking, but that beats the $38 I had to pay last year at a different hotel in Chicago. And I don't need a suite or anything fancy; I wasn't planning on hanging out in my room all night. I stayed in long enough to throw some beers on ice and I went out in search of beer.

Like I said earlier, I picked the hotel based on its proximity to a bar, located about 1.5 miles from the hotel. It was a nice walk, taking me through boutique shopping areas and the De Paul University campus. And into the bar! Local Option is the bar I wanted to visit ever since I spaced visiting here last time around. I had visited a few good bars, but when I got back to Albuquerque I checked Local Option's website and tap list and was pissed that I missed out on this place. So this was a definite destination for me this year.

It was like they knew I was coming, and they put all the beers I wanted on tap for me! Bell's Hopslam, Three Floyds Dreadnaught, Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree, Southern Tier Gemini and Oak-Aged Unearthly...golly! Not only those, but since the Craft Brewers Conference had been held in town a couple of weeks ago, there were some rare imports that Shelton Brothers distributors sent over for that event that were still on tap. Two Mikkeller Single Hop beers, Cantillion, Dark Force; and to top it off, there was a guy wearing a Hall and Oates shirt!

I had my fill of those beers and left for a final stop at Delilah's, a bar known for their huge selection of whiskies but the owner is also a collector of vintage beers. I normally wouldn't get an old IPA but I had wanted to try Goose Island's Imperial IPA forever, and this 2006 was still good. Good, but not great anymore. I poured a few sips and told the bartender he could share it with the other patrons. I needed food.

Perfect. I wanted Lou Malnati's, but didn't want the hassle of retrieving my car from the valet, or even worse, driving after all those beers. Luckily, there is a Lou Malnati's that delivers to the hotel. I love this neighborhood. What I like about Lou Malnati's is that their pizza isn't a dough bowl filled with a soup of cheese and sauce; theirs is almost Sicilian style except for the cheese being under the sauce.

Well finally, a sunny day. Too bad this is Monday, the day I flew home. The hotel clerk told me it would take about 45 minutes to get to Midway Airport, but I found myself getting close after only 20 minutes. Whatever would I do to pass the time? One more liquor store, Archer Liquors, only a mile from Midway. Great store, and one that allows you to take single beers from six-packs. My suitcases may have already been full, but somehow I fit a Founders Double trouble and New Holland Imperial Mad Hatter in there.

I knew one of my suitcases would be over the weight limit and sure enough, 58 pounds cost me $50 extra. That's ok. It was worth it. The whole trip was, once again. Even though I was sandwiched against the window from Chicago to Denver. Even if the TSA inspectors went through my suitcase and stole two bottles of Dark Lord. I still came home with 41 bottles of beer and memories of another fantastic beer journey!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Back to Two Weeks Ago

I never finished my story about my Dark Lord trip...why didn't you remind me? This has got to be better than the old days, when you were stuck at someone's house, looking at the slideshow of their boring trip. At least you can always switch to porn or whatever if you don't like my story.

And it starts off with the Dark Lord hangover, mixed with this gorgeous Indiana on the way to Illinois mid-morning. After securing all the beers in my suitcases, I was off to Chicago, where I had booked a room for a night. Damn, it was an ugly start to the day!

Binny's in the South Loop of Chicago made things slightly better. I feel like I could spend the day there, just looking at the shelves. Actually, I know I could spend the day there, because they have a bar with 14 or so taps, most of them Stone when I visited (Stone is new to the Chicago area, which is hard to believe since we have had their stuff for so long). Problem: I couldn't buy anything at Binny's because my suitcases were already full of beer.

And speaking of bars, guess which one this is? Maproom? Hopleaf? Who needs to visit the famous Chicago beer bars when you can just go into this Whole Foods and grab a pint? You can even take your beer with you while you shop! This Whole Foods also has a wine bar and huge food court, but not as good as the mall kind cause nobody here offers samples of Bourbon Chicken. Still, it makes our Whole Foods at Indian School and Carlisle look like the Lowe's on 4th St.

Sorry, have to cut it off here for now. Part 2 tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

He's Not Such a Bad Guy

Are you surprised that I'm not a history buff? I want to care. I'd like to pass time deep into a tome on the Byzantine Empire or the Mongols or the Bangles. But I don't seem to have the attention span to get into that stuff. I still have a college notebook from "History of the U.S. 1877-Present" where I'd write the date at the start of each class before taking notes, though there weren't many notes taken...plenty of drawings, though. Halfway through the semester, I admonished myself in the notebook, "Start taking NOTES!!!". This was followed by another half-semester of meaningless doodles. But I could get into this history stuff if it is written on a beer label. I found this Big Sky Brewing Ivan the Terrible at Kelly Liquors on the Westside the other day, and it was the first I had seen it in town, though it came out in 2009. I didn't think anyone in NM carried it, not even Jubilation (though they do carry others in the 25 oz. series from Big Sky). There were only two bottles of this oak-aged 10% ABV Imperial Stout left, and at $14.99 it is expensive, but supposedly a great one. Some BeerAdvocate guys had a blind stout tasting recently, and this came out on top over Abyss, Night Stalker, Dark Lord and other top Imperial Stouts. There were only 3,000 bottles of this made last year.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Nothing to See Here, Folks!

So, I'm sure a lot of you have noticed this sign in the past week or so. It hung on the outside of a strip-mall building on the east side of Coors between Irving and Cottonwood Mall. What did you think when you saw it? SKA Brewing is opening up a tasting room of some sort here, right? That's what I thought too. So I talked t a rep from SKA to get the scoop on when they were going to open, why they chose that spot, etc. (real reporter stuff). However, the rep had no idea what I was talking about. She said she would have someone else call me with the info, but I have a feeling now that there may be no info to be had, because:

There is a new sign up in the same spot where the SKA sign hung, this one advertising Rising Moon, a decidedly non-SKA product. Slowly, sloowwwly, my brain starts to process that my original assumption may have been a little off. So I drive around to the front and see that there is now a small sign saying "Nicky V's Pizzeria: Opening May 19. Ohhhhh. Well, I like pizza. So, that's cool. I guess.