Thursday, August 26, 2010

Singles Scene Hits Mountain Run

The Mountain Run Kelly Liquors has joined the Coors and San Mateo locations in offering a "make your own six-pack" option. I love it when beer stores offer this, especially when I am in another state, as I get the chance to try a number of single beers without having to spend my life savings on a six-pack of each beer. This is probably the only "make your own" feature a business offers that I am on board with. I don't understand the appeal of Korean restaurants that bring you raw meat and fire and, as I heard a girl excitedly tell her friend, "They let you cook it YOURSELF!" Big frickin' deal. Albertson's lets you do that too, but I don't go around gushing about it to everybody. Sooo, beer. There are three tiers of mixed-six prices at this Kelly's: $7.99, $9.99, and $11.99. The $7.99 beers, as pictured, include New Belgium, Deschutes, Big Sky, and macro imports. At $9.99, most of the Odell line...and I don't remember anything else. I'm sorry. I should have taken a picture. And in the $11.99 section, you of course have Rogue, also Stone, and pricier imports like LaRossa and Spaten. I'm not sure how it works if you mix and match among the different tiers, though I imagine you pay by the bottle. Each beer is also priced individually, with the $7.99=$1.49 each, $11.99=$2.09 each, and the $9.99= I don't know why I keep drawing a blank on this section, but I do. Anyway, you can do the math and see that Kelly's is making a good profit on this feature, but it is nice to get that variety. Someday, Denny's will let me cook my OWN eggs, any style I choose!

Another thing that caught my eye at that Kelly's was the display of Stone goods, including growlers and half-growlers for sale, $12.00 and $9.25, respectively. Or maybe not so respectively: the owner told me that these weren't being distributed, but that his son went to Stone and picked these items up at the gift shop! Hey, at least he's not trying to gouge you on the prices. $12.00 is the same as you'd pay for a growler at Stone, and if you get one, you can be as cool as me, or possibly even cooler, since my Stone growler's handle broke off. An while the half-growler is cool, I don't know if any brewery will fill them. It seems to be a simple thing, just cut the amount you charge for a growler in half, but you know how people are afraid to do anything that could be remotely frowned upon by the ABC. "What, these people want to buy beer in a smaller, non-approved container? That's a $20,000 fine for you!" Finally, I thought it was funny to see an empty bottle of Sawyer's Triple from Stone on the display: the beer is only available at the brewery, and the bottle is not for sale, not that you'd want an empty bottle. It's just "there".

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Return of Fort Collins Brewery

It wasn't long ago that beers from Fort Collins Brewery had plenty of shelf space in Albuquerque beer stores: Kidd Black Lager, Chocolate Stout, Retro Red, Major Tom's Pomegranate Wheat, Z Rauchbeer...remember? Those beers more or less faded away from the area, but National Distributing is promoting FCB again, and this time around there are some new additions. Old ones too- you see the Double Chocolate Stout in the picture? Get it while you can, because this one is no longer brewed. It is an 8.1% ABV Imperial Stout that you can take home for $6.99. The Wheat Wine also is making its debut, and I believe it is the only beer of that style in Albuquerque. Wheatwines are similar to Barleywines, but with much of the malt dedicated to wheat. This version contains 50% wheat malt and is 9.2% ABV. It retails for $7.99.

During the heyday of FCB here in town, there was one beer in Fort Collins' regular lineup that was never carried here, and I could never understand why. I had the stuff two years ago on tap in Knoxville, TN, but couldn't buy it in New Mexico. Finally, Rocky Mountain IPA makes the 500 mile trip here. This 6.2% IPA has more of a caramel malt presence than many IPAs, but the 80 IBUs keep the malt from being the star of the beer, thankfully. A very drinkable IPA; $7.99 a six-pack.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Help Decide the Fate of the World

Fox and Hound is one of those places that I overlook, mostly because it is hidden behind a bunch of businesses. Also because it is frequented by the after work crowds, and I have nothing in common with people who have jobs. I am tempted to check out the "Beer Pong Mondays" if only to see actual fraternity brothers in real life. My experiences have only come from Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds 1 through 3. I may just make my first visit to the Albuquerque Fox and Hound location (4301 The Lane @ 25 NE, 87109) on Wednesday, August 25th for an event that is more my style: Admiral Beverage (formerly Maloof Distributors) is hosting an event where you get to vote the next draft beer at Fox and Hound. The fun starts at 7 pm, and there is a $5 cover charge. The $5 gets you a "free snack buffet" which I imagine includes more than Pringles and Goldfish, and samples of the beers vying to become the next regular tap at the restaurant. The beer choices are:
Honey Brown, Ska Pin Stripe Red Ale, Alien Amber, Rio Grande IPA, and Santa Fe's Pale and Nut Brown Ales.
Ok. Judging from that list, I don't even need to leave the house. Santa Fe Pale Ale should win, because that is what I'd choose if those were the beers on tap. It doesn't matter that I probably won't ever go to the Fox and Hound; that is the beer that should be on tap. I think I will use that $5 and buy five different flavors of Pringles, sit on the couch, and play Beer Pong on the Wii.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sierra's Latest XXX Stars: Charlie, Fred, and Jack Join the Fun

And hopefully these legendary performers will tickle the fancy of beer lovers more than the double team effort of Fritz and Ken. There are still so many bottles of Fritz and Ken's Stout at Kelly's on Wyoming that I don't think they are even getting the other releases. Jubilation is carrying the Charlie, Fred, and Ken's Bock, and Jack and Ken's Barleywine, however. The Bock is brewed by, and named for, Charlie Papazian, president of the Brewers Association and author of homebrew bibles; Fred Eckhardt, beer writer who authored a beer book way back in 1970 and continues writing for beer publications; and Ken Grossman, Sierra Nevada founder. I tried this beer on tap back in June while in San Diego. It is an 8.3% ABV, Maibock beer, and has the malty sweetness one would expect from the style. It was nice that the high alcohol content didn't come through in the beer, as that could have made the sweetness overwhelming. Jack and Ken's Barleywine is again brewed by Ken Grossman (it is his brewery, after all) and Jack McAuliffe, founder of the legendary New Albion brewery. This brewery only lasted from 1976-82, but is considered to be one of the first and most innovative craft breweries. The Barleywine is 10.2% ABV, hopped exclusively with Cascade, and still very boozy. I would sit on this for a year or two. Both new releases are $10.99 at Jubilation. And don't forget, there are still plenty of Fritz and Ken's Stout available at Kelly's, and they are down to $8.99!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Double the Pils, Double the Thrills

Odell brings back an old seasonal in its Single Batch series with the release of Double Pilsner. This Imperial Pils style features gobs (yes, it's a brewing term. It's kind of cutting-edge. You probably wouldn't know about it yet.) of Munich malt along with Saaz and Tettnanger hops. Needless to say, it veers toward the German side of the Pilsner spectrum, though I don't know many German breweries that are amping their pilsners up this much. Odell's version is 8.1%, and retails for $10.99 a six-pack. Jubilation has a good amount o the beer out on display, but it won't be around long. Odell means it when they say "Single Batch": only 100 barrels of this style were brewed so when it's gone you'll have to switch to another Pils. Or pills. Whatever makes you happy.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ich Bin Ein Paulaner

Miss out on that trip to Munich last year? You can still celebrate the 2009 Octoberfest in gut alt Deutschland style with some of last year's Paulaner Oktoberfest. The distributor must have found some hidden in a corner of the warehouse, and stores are selling 12-packs at a drastically reduced price. For instance, at Kelly Liquors on Wyoming, where normally you'd pay $8.99 for a six-pack of Paulaner, you can get a 12-pack for $9.99, or a whole case for $18.99! And while a 2009 beer that is still sitting around at the time the 2010 version should be coming out may give you pause, I don't think the Marzen style of beer suffers much from age. Maybe it will be a bit sweeter, but nothing offensive. I would get some myself, but I just took advantage of a $9.99 18-pack of beer at Smith's. I admit with only minor embarrassment that the beer is Miller High Life. It's not the craftiest of the craft beer world, doesn't even qualify as "craft" when you get down to it, but it drinks pretty darn easy in this hot August weather. I've mixed it with Marble IPA and it makes a perfectly less good Marble IPA. I'm just not ready for a malty Octoberfest-style beer right now- I'm still happy with the mixed drinks.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The End of the Family Line?

Probably not. First there was Sunspot IPA. The next year brought Sun of Spot IPA. Following that was Prodigal Sun IPA, and this year's version: Spotless IPA. Should have been called Sunless, as this is the first version without "sun" in it. All versions of this IPA family are made by Full Sail Brewing, and one thing I always liked about their brewery is that they keep the prices reasonable. In this case, the Spotless, available only in a 22 oz. bottle, goes for $3.99. Not too shabby for a 6.5% ABV, 70 IBU beer. I can't say that Full Sail makes great IPAs, unfortunately. There is always plenty of bitterness that stands out (supplied by Zeus and Willamette hops in Spotless), but there is always an underlying English malt flavor in the IPAs that don't mesh well with the hops. That doesn't stop me from buying each year's version, so there must be something I like about it. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Half-Off Party!

Don't get excited, ladies. By "half-off", I do not mean my state of dress. I am talking about something possibly even more enticing: This Thursday, August 12, beginning at 7 pm, Marble is hosting a party where tickets for the upcoming NM Brew Fest and Music Showcase will be sold for $15.00, half-off the regular ticket price of $30.00. Attending breweries are still being finalized, but event organizer Chris Goblet tells me that he has firm commitments from Eske's, Santa Fe, Marble, Sierra Blanca, and Rio Grande. He is also in discussion with many others around the state, and ultimately is planning on 15 local and 5 out of state breweries pouring their beers. The fest takes place at Villa Hispana at Expo NM on Saturday, October 2, from 12-7. Seven hours of craft beer and live local music sounds like a good way to spend a Saturday. It actually sounds a lot like my day today, except the music is coming from Take advantage of the special offer this Thursday night at Marble- the event is sure to be a good time, and you may even witness half-off ABQ Beer Geek!

Monday, August 9, 2010

This Is Why Learning Is Bad For You

New Belgium's latest release in their Lips of Faith (lower production, more expensive) line of beers is the Belgo IPA. "Belgo" is not the cute name for the beer; it is actually the term for the style of beer that combines an American-style IPA with a Belgian yeast strain. I have had a few of these, with Stone's Cali-Belgique and Flying Dog's Raging Bitch being memorable to me. I haven't tried the New Belgium version yet- the reason being is I have recently discovered math. Maybe "discovered" is the wrong word, as I'm sure I have used it once or twice in the past, but I recently started applying it to beer prices. Example: A 22 oz. bottle of this Belgo IPA goes for $7.99. Break it down to six-pack cost by roughly dividing the 22 oz. bottle by two, carrying the one, and breaking the abacus in frustration, that comes out to a $24 six-pack! And I know this is not a new phenomenon, but I never wanted to face the reality of what I am spending on a limited release bomber. And I still don't. I'm swearing off math forever as of right now. Ignorance is indeed bliss, and I'm going to be the most ignorant of them all!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Save Our Shore Benefit

Come on down to Blackbird Buvette this Sunday, August 8, and help support the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. The event, dubbed SOS (Save Our Shore), goes from 6-12. I might temporarily break my boycott of bars with pretentious names and stop in for a bit. There will be DJs aplenty and live music from Up The Holler, The Porter Draw, and The Blue Rose Ramblers. Don't know of any of them. But I don't know local music, either. Once the Dingo bar closed and Golden West turned into a creepy homeless bar, I gave up on the music scene. This is a free event, but donations are strongly encouraged (it is a benefit, after all). You are on the honor system here. I love the honor system. When the collection plate comes around, I'm gonna make like the guy in Coming to America and put my chicken bones in there. "I thought it was the trash!!!"

The SOS event gets its name from the beer brewed by Abita for the same cause. You may have seen this beer pop up all over recently. I have been meaning to write about it and this makes a good tie-in. The beer is a 7% ABV Weizen Pilsner, kind of an unusual style and high in alcohol to boot. Abita is giving proceeds from the beer to the coalition, so it is worth picking one up. It is only $4.99 for a 22 oz. bottle, and if you are too cheap to pay that, how about $3.99? Whole Foods has it on sale right now. It will fittingly be poured at Blackbird on Sunday, though I don't know what they will be charging for it. Maybe they will use the honor system.....

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sierra's Anniverary Ale Takes a Tumbler

If you were looking forward to this year's Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale release, I have some bad and worse news: 1. It will not be brewed- it has been replaced in Sierra's Fall seasonal lineup. 2. The replacement is a Brown Ale. Sorry to be negative, but I just am not a big fan of Brown Ales. And it's not like I was that big on Sierra's Anniversary Ale, which was a 5.9% ABV IPA that tasted like Sierra Pale with an extra Cascade hop pellet thrown in. And I haven't tasted this new release, deemed Tumbler. The 5.5% ABV beer is getting good reviews, so please don't let my prejudice against Brown Ales stop you from trying it. The best deals on it seem to be in 12-pack variety, as is usually the case with Sierra Nevada beers. Kelly Liquors often has the best deals on the 12-packs, often at $12.99.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Smiths Joins the Party

I was in the Four Hills Smiths the other day. That's a weird place- the clientele looked like the Who's Who of the People of Wal Mart site. I thought Four Hills was an upscale sort of area?

The Smiths did have a decent beer selection. Aside from the fact that local Smiths will soon be carrying Marble beers, this particular location has the "Specialty Beer Cellar". Ok, so the "cellar" is actually just a shelving unit. And the sign is just an ad for Blue Moon when you get right down to it. But I just thought it was a good sign that Smiths would be willing to make space for a craft beer display.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Short But Sweet: The 2010 NM IPA Challenge

Who would have thought an event that only went from 12-3 would be enough to make me happy? Or, should I say, hoppy as does this guy's shirt? I'm keeping this brief, as I have to write a story about the challenge for the Alibi by tomorrow morning.

So let me just say that Chama River was well prepared and everyone seemed pleased. I know I was. Met a lot of cool people and ran into some old friends.
Here's the results of the challenge:
10. Rio Grande
8. TIE- Turtle Mountain and High Desert
5 THREE WAY TIE: Blue Corn, Second Street, Three Rivers
4. Chama River
3. Santa Fe
2. Marble

And for the second straight year, Il Vicino takes top honors! Too bad you have to settle for Mendicino while Il Vic gets their new spot ready. Congrats to them!