Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Two Dads and Other Anomalies

Finally, some new beers to talk about...or are they new? In Rogue's case, I have been excited to see a new beer from them, only to realize it was a beer I had already tried and was re-packaged under a different name. They used to make a "Dad's Little Helper" that was a Malt Liquor. This new Dad's Little Helper is sure to be a new version, considering that it is a Black IPA. Being a Pacific Northwest brewery, I'm surprised they haven't embraced the "Cascadian Dark Ale" name that breweries in that area have used for beers of that style. This version of Dad's Little Helper is 7% ABV and sells for 5 to $6.99. I saw this version at Kelly Liquors at Mountain Run shopping center.

Also spotted at the same Kelly Liquors was maybe not an anomaly, but the beer's label certainly pictured a scene out of the ordinary. Big Sky's Buckin' Monk is a Belgian Tripel that comes in at a hefty 10.5% ABV. We never get a large allotment of the Big Sky special releases so you may want to act fast if you plan on trying this one. I only saw about six bottles at Kelly's, and the 25 oz. bottles are selling for $14.99 each. That's about the same as you'd pay for the other big bottle Big Sky releases like Smoove Cherry, Olde Blue Hair Barleywine, and Ivan the Terrible.

Lastly...not much of an anomaly for a true "beer geek", right? We all have that day where we pick up five 30-packs of Miller High Life and another 30-pack of the Light version for when the regular High Life is just a little too much. Think I should change my moniker after seeing this picture? Tough crowd! I was already chastised and had my "beer geeknees" challenged in the Alibi weekly newspaper letters section for saying in a story that I didn't like to drive the 12 miles to Turtle Mountain brewery. In the same week when I had returned from a $1000-plus beer trip to Dark Lord Day. But in my defense of the Miller takeover of my trunk, the beer WAS priced at $8.99 a 30-pack at that Kelly Liquors location! And they also have the same deal on 30-packs of Pabst Blue Ribbon and Coors Extra Gold. So, judge me if you will, but I am drinking a 2009 Goose Island Bourbon County Stout as I write this.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Summer Beer With a Twist

A twist of lime, that is.

Well, of course this one is destined to be a failure when it comes to summer beers. After all, what do our friends in Canada even know about summer? To them, swimming means playing hockey on a frozen pool. Oh. Wait. I just checked the temperature in St. John, New Brunswick, where the Moosehead brewery is located. Temperature there is 64 degrees- one degree higher than in Albuquerque right now. There goes another story angle. Anyway, I don't think this will be my beer of choice this summer. Lime is not meant for beer. Lime is meant for Bud Light.

Maybe this one instead? Ska has brought back its Mexican Logger in canned form, perfect for all the things I always say I am going to do but never get around to it: hiking, camping, boating, fishing, etc. At 4.2%, Mexican Logger is tame enough that you can imbibe freely without worrying about falling out of the boat or off the cliff. Mexican Logger carries a premium price of $9.99 a six-pack, but if you're camping then you're already saving on the cost of a hotel room and valet parking. Plus you're making your own S'mores rather than ordering them from room service.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Nice Cans!

Join Dan Scoglietti, aka Canmandan, and many others as the Roadrunner Chapter of the Brewery Collectibles Club of America hosts their annual swap meet this Saturday, May 21 from 10 am to 1 pm at La Cumbre Brewing Company. Dan has been collecting beer cans for over thirty years, and his staggering amount of memorabilia could make a seasoned hoarder swoon. Unlike a true hoarder, however, Dan's obsession is actually interesting. Do you have any brewery memorabilia you'd like to trade or show off? Cans aren't the only items of interest at the swap meet. Scoglietti invites people to bring "Any Breweriana... cans, bottles, openers, coasters,neon signs, tin signs and tackers, glasses, steins from pre-prohibition to microbrewery /craft brewery items". Ever find yourself looking at the wall of beer cans above Marble Brewery's bar and wondering about the history of a certain can? Most of those cans came from the very Roadrunner Chapter Brewery Collectibles Club that is putting on the swap meet, so come out Saturday and talk to one of the members. Each piece of memorabilia holds a piece of history, and the event is sure to be fun and educational.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pucker Up for American Craft Beer Week

Another Monday means another week of work that saps your will to live. Let the thought of that first after-work beer grant you the serenity to make it through this workday without snapping. You have an even better reason to drink this week, other than the fact that your job drives you to it: May 16-22 is American Craft Beer Week. Started in 2006, American Craft Beer Week celebrates all the good that craft beer brings to our world. It has grown from 124 breweries hosting events in its first year to 341 breweries participating in 2010, hosting 621 events- and that was with 45 states involved. This year, all 50 states (not sure about Puerto Rico or Guam) have breweries that will be celebrating in some manner. New Mexico's official entries are the May 19th Chama River beer dinner, featuring beers like Vanilla Creme Ale and HopSlap IPA, and May 21st's Bock Fest, held at Santa Fe Brewing Company.

Unofficially, however, this is also the week where Marble Brewery will tap Sephira, the first release in its Funkified Series. Sephira is a barrel-aged blend that's chock-full of Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus, sure to provide a fix to you sour beer junkies. Sephira will be tapped either Wednesday or Thursday. Show your support for American Craft Beer Week by visiting Marble and our other fine breweries.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Double the Pils for Me and My Cru

New Belgium's Lips of Faith series has two new entries on shelves this week: Abbey Grand Cru and Super Cru. The 9.5% ABV Abbey Grand Cru was available some time ago on draft a a few locations in Albuquerque and I was a much bigger fan of it than I am the regular New Belgium Abbey version. I guess that's why it's the "Grand Cru" version, or "Mo' Better" version, in Spike Lee's words. Super Cru was brewed in honor of New Belgium's 20th Anniversary, and they based this beer on much of the recipe of the one that made them successful: Fat Tire. Much bigger than Fat Tire though, at 10% ABV, and with Asian pear juice added in to give it that exotic taste of the Orient, like when you eat at Panda Express. Both under $10 at Jubilation.

Odell's Double Pilsner makes its return, meaning I have to search hard to find that dormant willpower inside myself. This beer is just too easy to drink for an 8.1% ABV beer. In fact, I could probably finish off an entire four-pack in a couple of hours without even thinking about it. I could have done this last night. I could be paying for it today. You never know. Available at Jubilation now for $9.99. Speaking of Odell, do you want to see their Myrcenary on tap in town? Me too, but bars that carry Odell on tap are hesitant because of the higher keg price. Go bug your favorite Odell-carrying establishment and tell them you want Myrcenary on tap! We are becoming a great beer city due mostly to our local breweries; it's time our local "beer bars" started ponying up for bigger draft releases!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Dark Lord Day: A Study in Bad Taste

Yeah, I overdid it a little the night before one of the biggest drinking days of the year, but it's not just the actual day-of that counts for me, it's the whole trip. That said, I still could have done with a little more sleep and a little less fun that night. We did manage to wake up on Saturday, which was a nice start, and filled our backpacks with beer for the 1.5 mile walk from our hotel to Three Floyds brewery. The weather was nice, though I could have lived without the constant 30 mph wind in our faces on the walk. As we got near the brewery we saw the usual line of people waiting to pick up their bottles of Dark Lord.

The whole structure of Dark Lord Day changed this year: to actually get onto the Three Floyds property, you had to have tickets that were sold online a month prior to the event. The tickets sold out in twenty minutes, and we were lucky to each get one. I figured that the ticket only policy would mean far fewer people this year. As evidenced by the picture, I was WRONG! We passed the line so we could join the crowds at the tasting tables where the real fun is.

We met up with some Albuquerque friends who had also made the trip and with our Chicago and Wisconsin friends whom we had met at Dark Lord Day a few years ago. Jenn deposited herself at a table in the sun and waited for her hangover to dissipate before joining in. We had tried to wake ourselves with a jolt of some White Castle food on the way over- White Castle may be the only food that has successfully re-created its product in the frozen food section to taste exactly like the one in its's that bad.

One of many tables full of beer to try, yet the hangover wasn't my only foe on this day: I hate to admit it, but I had a pretty nasty cold that affected my sense of smell bad enough that allowed me to actually eat White Castle, but also kept me from truly being able to taste all these beers before me. That wasn't going to stop me from trying, however.

Like a good little trooper, I sampled anything offered me: Three Floyds Evil Power, Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee Stout, Kuhnhenn 4th Dimension, Surly Four, Yazoo Sue, The Bruery Black Tuesday, Short's Blood Orange, New Glarus Smoked Rye, Hoppin Frog DORIS The Destroyer, Goose Island Bourbon County Rare, even Brew Dog's 41% ABV Sink the Bismark. Lots of others too. If my sense of smell was going to be out of whack, the rest of my senses may as well get loopy too. The day was winding down though, and we still had to pick up our bottles of Dark Lord.

Another twist in this year's fest was a scratch off that came with each ticket that gave a chance to win a special version of Dark Lord. Options included a brandy barrel aged version, a Pappy Van Winkle barrel version, a vanilla bean Dark Lord, and one with chiles. We won none of the above. Oh well. I was happy enough just to have been there for another year and getting the regular old Dark Lord, a great beer on its own.

We were prepared to walk back to the hotel (just follow the empty bottles) but were spared the trek by our New Mexico contingent. Thanks, all you Hawkinsons for making room in the car for us. We retired to the room, where I had beer waiting that was more befitting my olfactory handicap: Miller High Life Light. Nothing but the best. Three Floyds put on their most organized Dark Lord Day yet, and it was still an amazing day just to be around all that beer and the people who love it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

TGI Another Friday Pre- Dark Lord Day Story!

Since the first one was so much fun, I thought I'd give you another story about the day before Dark Lord Day! My excuse for running late is that the Hyatt in Chicago charges $15 a day for internet on top of hundreds of dollars for a room. Why can you stay at a $39 Travelodge and get free internet but the Hyatt piles on the charges? Anyway, I know I have to play catch-up, so here's another pre- Dark Lord Day teaser to piss you off.

Remember the previous post about waiting around for a hotel party? I was sitting on the couch in our room (yeah, I had a couch in my room. Also sprung for a nice duvet, armoire, and credenza) and kept falling asleep. Feeling too much like the old old man I am, I decided to do laps of the 3 floors of the hotel until I found a damn party. No nodding off to the sounds of 60 Minutes for this grandpa. Finally, hours later (maybe slightly less), I found some Ohio people who were entertaining in their room. We got in just in time for a vertical tasting of 09, 10, and 11 Founders KBS, a pretty damn good way to start a party. Others soon joined, bringing beers like Jester King Black Metal and Dark Horse Plead the 5th Imperial Stout.

Word spread of a tasting going on in the hotel lobby area, so we all packed our beers and joined in. This is where the trouble really started. You see, people weren't content to just break out some of their local Keystone Ice and save the good stuff for Dark Lord Day. From my notes (and notes, pictures, and a vague fuzziness that tells me I actually was there are all I have to go on), it looks like people forced me to drink: Cigar City Either, Cigar City Or, Founders Nemesis, Hair of the Dog Golden Rose, Surly Furious, Minneapolis Hall Town Brewery Masala Mama, Alesmith 2008 Old Numbskull, 2010 Dark Lord, Beezlebeer, Mikkeller Rauch Geek Breakfast, Short's PB+J, Central Waters Peruvian Morning, Cigar City Sea Bass, Pozharnik RIS...oh, and to rub it in, they held me down and poured Surly Darkness, Portsmouth Kate the Great, and Cigar City's Hunahpu's 2010 and 2011 Imperial Stout down my throat.

See? There's proof! That was no way to treat an honored guest who had traveled all the way from Albuquerque and who shared Marble beers with everyone (one person at the tasting remarked of Marble's DIPA, "No beer tonight has smelled as good as this Marble does,"). So you can imagine that I was feeling pretty good that evening. Was also pretty pround that I found our room without having to ask directions from the first floor to the second. But a night like that can take it's toll before the real event even begins. Looking back, I think they should have just put me on a board and floated me out to sea.

Relax- nothing more to write about except Dark Lord Day, so that's coming up next. soon. Promise.