Monday, June 28, 2010

Avery Seventeen

I did promise to get back to local news finally, and here you go: Avery's 17th Anniversary Black Lager. Right here in Albuquerque. Each year Avery does something a little different with the anniversary beer; what was last year's, a Saison? And I don't think the fifteenth ever even made it here. It was supposedly a mess of a Wild Ale that one reviewer compared to Roquefort cheese. Up until recently, Kelly Liquors at Mountain Run had plenty of the 14th Anniversary Belgian Strong Dark Ale sitting out, but they seem to have disappeared-or disintegrated from sitting on that sun-drenched floor for years. Anyway, this year's Black Lager has been dry hopped with Tettnang and Hersbrucker hops and is high in ABV for the style at 7.69%. I had it on tap in San Diego last week (can't get away from the SD talk!) and it was fine, with the hops noticeable but they don't overpower the beer. Worth a try. Little pricy at $8.99, and have only seen it at Jubilation thus far.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hoppy Father's Day- Final Trip Post!

So long, San Diego. Sunday meant it was time to head up to Escondido, where we had reservations for Stone Brewery's Hoppy Father's Day! But first, let's reflect on this sign for a bit. Admit it: you've been using that phrase a little too loosely, haven't you? Sinner!

Before heading inland to Escondido, we drove up the coast, destination San Clemente. A bartender at Toronado had told us we should check out the great selection at Pizza Port's bottle shop located there. Sounds good, even though that meant going way north of our destination and sitting in stop and go traffic for most of the drive there. A sharp eye may say, "Wait! That picture is from Pizza Port in Carlsbad!" Shut up. I'm well aware. See, thanks to the Toronado bartender and my usual lack of fact-checking, we drove all the way there only to be told, whadda you know! There's no bottle shop at this location! So we had to drive back down I-5 in traffic to Carlsbad. Hence the picture. And there is no picture of the Carlsbad bottle shop because it wasn't that great. There was one bottle of Firestone Walker Parabola that I had been searching for the whole trip; however, it was being held for someone. Par for the day so far.

Things were bound to get better. I did have a momentary vision of Marty Moose outside Stone when we arrived telling us, "Sorry folks! Brewery's closed to clean and repair America's favorite family fun brewery!", but they were open and hopping. The building is located in an industrial area and the Stone brewery has no visible sign outside. However, it is an impressive structure. Can't imagine what the place cost to build, but I know I contributed over the years.

Our first beers at Stone! And no ordinary beers; we were there for the 24 taps of IPAs and DIPAs for the Hoppy Father's Day celebration! These beers are Jenn's Alpine O'Brien's IPA and my Alpine Bad Boy DIPA. Mine's the little one. We had originally reserved a table but found seats at the outdoor bar, which I preferred. I like the feel of sitting at a bar, watching beers being poured and talking to patrons and bartenders about the beer.

Check out the indoor dining area at this place. There is a whole wall of glass that you can partially see in the photo (didn't want to take too many pics inside while people were trying to enjoy dinner) that houses the brewing area. But I had to walk around now and then to take a break from all the beer I was drinking.

This place is called Stone Bistro and World Gardens, and here is the garden part. Or part of the garden part. There is way more. And we had way more beer: YuleSmith DIPA (great) Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous (very good), Bootlegger's Knuckle Sandwich DIPA (greatish), Mikkeller 10 (good), Mikkeller Green Gold (very good), Stone Double Dry-Hopped IPARussian River Pliny the Elder (duh! Of course Great!), Moylan's Hopsickle (not that good! Seemed darker and way maltier than I remember. I think it may have been a mispour, but I have no idea what other beer it was), Stone 14th Anniversary Empirial IPA (great- will be here in Abq soon!), Hangar 24 DIPA (Jenn's favorite of the night) and Kern River Citra DIPA (my favorite of the night).

What's that? We didn't drink enough? We agree! So we felt it was imperative to get a growler of 2009 Double Bastard for the hotel room, and I stand by our, I lay down by our decision. The room is still kind of spinning. A gift shop that sells full growlers is about the only gift shop I can stand. We almost finished half of that before falling limply in bed.

And home! Idiot me forgot my hard suitcase lined and filled with bubble wrap, but still managed to pack some good beers in our bags. Not pictured are duplicates of beers we each wanted, and six Pliny the elders bottled less than two weeks earlier! you can click on the photo for a larger image. Thanks for keeping up with the trip story. I promise I will get you some local news in my next post!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lazy San Diego Saturday

Like the title implies, we didn't do a whole lot on our third day in San Diego. We went to the Hillcrest area, home of some cool shops, including an excellent vinyl store with rare and expensive records. I'm not into that stuff too much, but I think it is a cool hobby and am glad there are still some places that can support an interest like that. Anyway, here's our lunch from a place called Los Panchos. Carne Asada and Pollo Asado. Very exciting.

We decided to start the drinking early and headed back to Toronado, knowing that they change kegs daily so we could try some different stuff from the last visit. I wasn't expecting to be drinking Underberg, though. I don't even know what it is, other than a German Jager-like liquor that the bartenders keep minis of for themselves. Toronado only serves beer. The bartender gave us each a shot to do with them, and it was all downhill from there, in a good way. We had Hop 15, Bruery Mischief, Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast, Port Mongo DIPA, Russian River Blind Pig IPA, a Stone IPA cask dry-hopped with Centennial hops, and Speakeasy Barrel Reserve Old Godfather Barleywine. Oh, also Alpine Pure Hoppiness on tap, which they put on just for us when they heard we came all the way from Albuquerque. I didn't even have to play the card. But it works. The lady at Smiths doesn't even make me scan my Fresh Values card for discounts when I am wearing my website shirt.

Downhill, indeed. Who in their right mind buys all these different slices of pizza unless they are under the influence? The good news is I didn't drop the box this time. The bad news is I tried to eat all of the pizza when we got back to the hotel. The pizza place is called Sicilian Thing, by the way, and is a good stop after you are done at Toronado.

This is the marina located right behind our Hilton hotel there on Harbor Island. The area really is a beautiful spot to stay in as long as you are not trying to do any drinking that involves traveling more than from your hotel room down to the hotel bar. And this is the final night in San Diego- one more day to write about, and that involves a little place up the road a bit in Escondido. Ever have a beer from a brewery in Escondido? I bet you have!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

San Diego Day Two Volume One Part One

I want to see how long it takes before I am too confused as to which day I am writing about. I am already a bit confused since I am home and it is humid. And as I lay in bed at 5 am, unable to sleep well because of the humidity, I started thinking, "Does anybody care about my trip, or should I stick to the local stuff?" I decided that since I had been away and didn't have any local news, I may as well keep going with the vacation story. So bear with me for a few more volumes...

And not only do you not get local beer news on this site, you also have to look at non-beer related stuff from other states. But look: that mess in my hands is from world famous Hodad's in Ocean Beach! The line to eat there stretches down the block, though I left Jenn to wait while I walked a block over to check out Pizza Port's new Ocean Beach location. I wasn't ready to drink yet (gasp!), so I just did a look-see and talked to a burned out beach bum guy at the bar who was enjoying a pitcher of Double IPA. He started talking about how he used to drink bong water and may still be talking about it, for all I know.

We ended up getting our Hodad's to go and eating it on the beach, then drove up to fancy-pants La Jolla. We walked along this trail to the seven caves of something or other, some famous spot there in La Jolla. Went to our new hotel, way out on Harbor Island. Nice place, but not as convenient to the places we were interested in visiting: namely Hamilton's and O'Brien's. And when I checked Hamilton's website, I saw that the tap list was dominated by Bear Republic beers. They are good, but I was looking for more variety. And O'Brien's was 17 miles from our hotel...ugh!

We settled on taking the hotel shuttle downtown, (one nice thing about being at that hotel- shuttles every two hours downtown) to a place called Neighborhood, and it turned out to be an excellent choice. Twenty-six beers on tap, including five from Lost Abbey. I started off with a Green Flash Imperial IPA, one I have had many times in the bottle but have always wanted on tap. In fact, that was one of my goals for this trip, and I succeeded. I really set the bar high when it comes to life goals.

The great bartenders also set us up with some custom beer flights. How's this sound: Alesmith Lil' Devil, Deschutes Jubel 2010, Avery 17th Anniversary, and Alesmith Speedway Stout? That Speedway is so much more coffee-ish on tap. Jenn did a flight with Port Hot Rocks, Dogfish Festina Peche, Lost Abbey Red Barn, and Victory/Stone/DFH collaboration Saison Du Buff. That saison is available here in bottles, but on tap it is really amazing.

While at the bar, I happened to notice that someone had left a comment on my first San Diego post. It was from Jeff Hammett, the guy behind He wrote about a beer store I had overlooked somehow, Best Damn Beer Store. I mapped to it and found it was only a few blocks away. Jenn stayed at the bar to pound the beers while I scuttled over to the store. WHAT A FIND! This was by far the best selection of 22 oz. beers I had found in the city. Sid, pictured with his masterpiece in the background, has created an oasis in the heart of the city, where people are more likely to pop in for a 40 oz. or rolling papers rather than Alpine Nelson. Sid and I talked beer for a half-hour or so, and I left with Pliny, Nelson, Hair of the Dog Blue Dot IPA, Lenny's R.I.P.A. on Rye (DIPA aged in rye whiskey barrels) and some bourbon barrel aged Marin Old Dipsea Barleywine. Also got a good tip from Sid on a pizza place, Basic, which probably has the best pizza in the city. Customers chimed in with their opinions on getting pizza as well- the guy with the 40 of Magnum Malt Liquor suggested Papa John's, and the corn-rowed gentleman opined Domino's, but I went with Basic and was very happy. Thanks anyway to those customers. I'm sure they are reading this. And finally, thanks to Jeff Hammett for mentioning Best Damn Beer Store in the first place.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

San Diego Part Dos

I've been here two days and the proximity to Mexico has me randomly typing in Spanish.
So first: I looked at my last post and saw I spelled "buy" as "by". It was a typo. I don't want anyone who stumbles upon the site to think I'm an idiot. Not for that reason, at least.

Back to Day One of the trip. We decided to take public transportation (the bus) to Toronado, little brother of the famous bar of the same name in San Francisco. Even though the bus stopped at every corner the first mile or so, it was still a good way to save money rather than getting ripped off by a cab driver. That would come later. Got a couple of seats at the bar and dug in. No food since a breakfast burrito at the Albuquerque airport mixed with Alpine Duet and Union Jack IPA makes for a fun experience. Throw in an Alpine Exponential Hoppiness (so hard to find! So lucky!) at 11% ABV and one's motor skills can become compromised.

I wanted to enjoy my delicious moments, I really did. The scene was set perfectly: a pizza place a few doors down from Toronado. But when I wrote about "One's motor skills", I was referring to "MY motor skills", so when the guy handed me the pizza, I didn't have as firm a grip on it as I thought. And I dropped it. Right in front of everybody eating there. The pizza suffered far less than my pride, which I was surprised to see still had some life in it. Jenn standing there cracking up at me was a huge help. I'm actually blaming the picture on the box for the whole mishap- I've decided my motor skills are fine. Just look at the guy rolling the dough- you can see him thinking, "Yeah, I've got a delicious moment for YOU, all right!" and it made me not want to touch the box. Creepy. We caught a cab and the driver got us near the hotel but decided to drive around for another five minutes until we called him on it, where he mumbled something about construction. I mumbled something about forgetting how to tip, and we retired to the room to eat what may have been a pizza at one time.


Friday, June 18, 2010

San Diego: The Final Frontier

And I don't mean between the United States and Mexico. San Diego is the one city I have wanted to visit on a beer trip for a long time. I have done Oktoberfest in Germany, hit the best bars and beer stores in Philly, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Portland, Nor Cal, and now am finally in the land of the West Coast IPAs.

So naturally, the first stop is at a beer store. Don't let the grimy exterior fool you; this place is grimy inside as well. It is also supposed to be a great place to buy beer, even though it is located in a crappy strip mall in the Imperial Beach area. They did have a nice selection, and we picked up some Russian River Damnation, The Bruery Hottenroth Berliner Weisse, Coronado Idiot IPA, and Alpine Duet. Just a quick few beers to have in case of emergency at the hotel. And I'd like to once again thank the shitty Google Maps app on my phone for making me drive through a residential area that was nowhere near the South Bay beer store.

Oooh, pretty. Too bad I took this picture while driving over to Coranado Island. That wouldn't be a bad thing, if I was actually trying to get to Coronado Island. Once again, Google Maps has me making deep imprints in the steering wheel of our rented Nissan Versa. All we were trying to do was find a Ralph's supermarket. We eventually did, and checked into the Doubletree. Really nice! We have a balcony and everything.

Hey, I gotta check out of this hotel now. we are moving to the Hilton tonight. I'll get back to day one in about two weeks, knowing me.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Single Malt Nears Double Digits

Rogue's homegrown ingredients project continues with the release of Single Malt Ale. The beer is a Blonde Ale in style, and uses Rogue's own trademarked Dare malt exclusively in the brewing process, hence the "single malt" name. Single malt in this case has nothing to do with scotch, though the $8.99 bomber price inches closer to the realm of the cheaper single malt scotches rather than a 4.8% Blonde Ale. Yup, for $8.99, that is little bang for the buck, though certainly the argument can be made that you are paying for the quality of the ingredients rather than the ABV. Look at most of the Lambics for sale that are around 5% ABV and are priced in the ten dollar range. Sierra Nevada also had a high price tag for their own homegrown ingredients beer, Chico Estate Harvest Ale. So I don't think Rogue is out of line for charging $8.99 for a moderately low-alcohol Blonde Ale, but I think I'll wait till someone else buys this one and offers me a taste.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Saturday Night's All Right for a Fight

Saturday's Mountain Rescue Brew Fest was a smash hit, judging from the amount of people in attendance. I don't think I've ever seen that many people gathered on Marble's patio since they've been open. Mountain Rescue's Jessie Shires told me that the response was so overwhelmingly good that Marble wants to host the benefit again next year. And thanks to Jessie who replaced my High Angle Ale pint glass that I found mysteriously broken with a new one. And thanks to my friend who took that glass home with her but didn't bother to bring me along too. I walked with that friend from Marble over to Central Avenue in order to more easily catch a cab home and was again reminded why I stick to craft beer bars rather than clubs. On the stroll to Central we witnessed the first group of douchebags getting into a fight outside the convention center, complete with a guy screaming, "I'll fucking kill you! You're fucking dead!" Luckily, the cops showed up before he could make good on his threat. The next treat involved a guy and his WAYYY too drunk girlfriend (? friend? acquaintance?) in the plaza area by the Galeria shops (why only one L?), where she could barely stand but certainly had the energy to scream, "NO! NOOOO!" I couldn't tell what the hell was going on, and again the cops showed up quickly. After passing by Lucia, where all the short skirt wearing girls have gravitated to since Sauce's demise, we arrived on Central just in time for a huge brawl to break out involving people waiting to get into NYPD pizza. They shoulda had DiGiornio's. By this time I had become desensitized to all the violence, so much so that when I saw a well-dressed girl standing by herself in the middle of Central, crying her eyes out, I couldn't help but laugh out loud. How many incidents occurred at Marble in perhaps their busiest day ever? Zero. Stick to good beer, my friends!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Dear Alibi: Leave the Beer Writing to ME

So hopefully by now you have heard about the big Mountain Rescue Brew Fest Saturday, June 12 at Marble. You may have read the sidebar in the Alibi stating that the event is from 11 am to 3 pm. SIGH. The Alibi should know that if anything should be written about a beer event, it should be written by me! The event actually STARTS at 3 pm, ok? Get there at 11 and the only thing you'll see is me pacing back and forth, awaiting my first beer of the day.
The event features a special beer brewed by Ted Rice, dubbed High Angle Ale. Ted describes it as a Belgo-American Pale Ale, brewed with Belgian, German, and American malts and finished with four different American hop varieties. He describes the beer as spicy with orange character and very drinkable at just over 5%. Both Marble GM Ryan and Mountain Rescue's Jessie Shires also tell me it is quite the easy drinker. Jessie also tells me that in addition to the beer (which sounds perfect for a hot day like tomorrow will be) they will have a raffle with over $3000 worth in prizes, which include: a 3day/2night stay at a Taos Ski Valley cabin; personal training packages; a hot air balloon ride for two; outdoor gear from Outdoor Research, Black Diamond, PMI, and REI; and gift certificates to lots of local businesses. Tickets are 1 for $5 or 5 for $20. Drawing is at 9:45, and you do not need to be present to win. There will also be live music all day, starting at 3pm with the Squash Blossom Boys, followed by:
4pm - Chokecherry Ranch
5pm - Prudy Dimas
6pm - Angie Lucht
7pm - Big Lips and the Skinny
8pm - Big Sad Guy
9pm - Rivet Gang
10pm - 505 Blues Band
You gotta come out and support a great cause, or don't worry about the cause and just come out for some great beer. As long as you buy the High Angle Ale, you are helping Mountain Rescue. Jessie tells me, "Marble is making a donation for every pint of it sold on Saturday, so we'll be encouraging folks to give up their IPAs and Reds for just one day to support the team."
And I'll be there. Reason enough.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Here Comes the Sun(Flower)...It's All Right....

From the ashes of the former Western Warehouse at Montgomery and Juan Tabo (Moriarty wept when it closed) comes the third Sunflower Market, joining the Lomas and Academy locations. Unlike the other locations, this one was ready to go upon opening with a license to sell beer and wine. I didn't waste any time getting over there to check out their goods.

Been to another Sunflower Market? Then you've pretty much seen this selection. A very good one, with bombers from Avery, Stone, Great Divide, Marble, and some Belgians as well. Better six-pack selection than Whole Foods, but not as good a bomber selection. Sale on Marble for $5.99 a six-pack. Ten grapefruits for a dollar. New Belgium Trippel sign misspelled as "Tripple". And a major fuck up. I went to buy a Marble sixer. That's all. I passed on the grapefruits. The beer rang at $7.99 plus tax! They had been open for days by the time I visited; plenty of people must have bought the beer...WHY hadn't they fixed the mistake in their system by this time? How many people had bought other groceries along with their Marble and didn't notice they had been overcharged? I have written about a few misleading Sunflower beer ads in the past. Here we go again.

So if you must go to Sunflower for beer, BEWARE of being overcharged for your Marble!!!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Ain't Nothin' Goin' on But the Rent

I've been feeling guilty lately, having not written anything since Monday. You poor folks have been stuck with the Alibi (and gosh, haven't written anything for them, either), or Ziggy comics in the Journal. It's not for lack of wanting to write anything, it's just that there has been nothing exciting in the beer world worth covering. In fact, there technically still isn't, but I've got a preview for you. Next week, Hop in the Dark from Deschutes will be on local shelves. It is a 6.5% ABV Black IPA, or as is becoming more the official designation, "Cascadian Dark Ale". You gotta be careful what you call beers these days. I could see myself at a beer fest trying a Cascadian Dark Ale and exclaiming, "This is a damn good Black IPA!!!". The room goes silent, people glaring at me, jaws dropped. Somewhere, a glass falls to the floor and shatters. So when you go to your favorite beer store for this beer, please mind your manners. I don't have a price on the beer yet, but I am guessing $5.99 for a 22 oz. bomber.