Monday, August 29, 2011

Marble Septemberfest Looms

I'm not really sure why I chose the word "looms" in the headline- looms sounds like such an ominous word. Looming should be reserved for hurricanes and bill deadlines. Marble's annual Septemberfest is an occasion that people welcome like an unexpected refund check, not a call from Comcast demanding you pay for your internet so they don't go out of business.
What makes Marble's fest unique is the unlimited
free samples you get as part of the $20 fee, and none of the 17 NM breweries represented at the fest will be crying about going out of business from the amount of samples you take. The fee also gets you a souvenir pint glass and a pint of whichever beer you choose. The fest runs from 12-6 so I'd advise you to pace yourself, lest you end up with a skinned knee like the New Zealander I saw take a fall at last year's fest. It would probably be smart to take advantage of the Chama River food area that will be at the fest, or take a break from the beer and catch the three musical acts who will perform (I don't think any will be playing oompah music, so you're safe there).
Among the 17 featured breweries, there will be one which I haven't sampled from yet: Blue Heron, out of Embudo. Always excited to try a new brewery, even if they were "new" as of 2010. News travels slow on the internet.
Marble's Septemberfest is based loosely on Germany's famed Oktoberfest. I've made this point in the past, but again: there are only 6 breweries pouring beer at the Germany fest, and only one beer at each brewery's tent at that. We lucky Americans have 17 breweries to sample from with multiple beers pouring at each booth. If that isn't incentive enough, you get even more beer when you buy your ticket in advance at Marble Brewery: with a $20 ticket purchase, you get a free pint (only available at time of purchase; don't show up a year later with a rotted wristband still attached to your arm and expect to get that pint). Tickets at the door will cost $25, but I strongly suggest you buy that ticket in advance as the event sold out last year and turned many a lederhosen clad person away unhappy.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Oh Boy, We've Got a Busy Weekend Ahead

I'm not just talking about drifter workers like myself; Even you sixty hour a week crazy career people should take the time to enjoy the new beers that are begging to spend the weekend with you.

Konichiwa bitches! That's what this Stone collaboration would say if it could talk. Even without a voice, it speaks volumes above the other recent collaboration brews Stone has done. The Japanese Green Tea IPA was done with Baird Brewing out of Japan and Ishii Brewing out of Guam and all proceeds from sales of this beer go to relief programs for the recent Japanese tsunami. The Japanese Green Tea IPA is brewed with Sencha green tea and Crystal hops, along with seldom used Pacifica and French Aramis hops and finished with Japanese Sorachi Ace hops, It is really a Double IPA, at 9.2% ABV and 70 IBUs. It also has the unfortunate visual of a beer filled with sea monkeys, as there are floaties galore in the 12 oz. bottle. Relax- it's just green tea leaves. If you have the guts to drink one of those sick-looking boba teas, you can handle this beer. $3.99 a bottle.

The 15th Anniversary of Stone beers brings a reminder of the 11th Anniversary Ale, as both are in the "Black IPA" category. This one is a monster 10.8% ABV though, compared to the 8.7% ABV of the 11th Anniversary. This one also features Citra and Nelson Sauvin hops along with Columbus and Pacific Jade. It is also officially called "15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA", a jab at the Pacific Northwest's claim of "Cascadian" relating to any Black IPA, with Escondido being home to Stone. I had this tonight and could only wonder what a great beer it could be without the dark malts involved. I have to admit I'm not a fan of Black IPAs in general, preferring a lean malt-billed IPA instead. That being said, it is a very good beer, somehow hiding that 10.8% ABV. A very easy drinking DIPA that retails for $6.99 per 22 oz. bottle. I found that if I drank the beer very cold that the hops were still pronounced, while the chocolately malts were more subdued and made the beer much more enjoyable for me.

Last in our weekend warmup is another collaboration, this one between the breweries of New Belgium and...Clutch? What does a Baltimore-area band know about brewing? Maybe it's those brewers beards they sport. I know that members of the band went to tour the New Belgium facility only to find that the brewery was closed. Lucky that they ran into New Belgium brewer Eric Salazar at a restaurant and the next thing you know, they were brewing a beer together. Wish that kind of thing could have happened the first time I went to Falling Rock Tap House in Denver years ago when I showed up but they were closed for the first time in forever for a company party. If I had Clutch's luck, I would be drinking free beer at Falling Rock for life. Sour grapes aside (for the briefest of moments), this beer is a, whaddya you know...Sour. A Sour Stout, to be more precise- a blend of chocolate, coffee, and black malts and dark wood-aged bacterical beauties. The result is the 9% ABV Clutch, available in 22 oz. bottles for $8.99. Enjoy the weekend!

Cowboys, Bad-Asses, and Hooligans

Oh, and Pelicans too. In the shopping center at Montgomery and Eubank that is home to Albuquerque's favorite early bird fish specials, there is Bad Ass Brewery (yup, it still exists) and Dirty Bourbon, the place that gives East Mountainers a destination besides Walmart. Adding to this strip mall nightlife hotspot is the newly opened Hooligans, though don't let the name fool you- Hooligans is not a refuge for rioting British soccer fans, though you may run into a gruff Russian.

You will find that Hooligans has one of the larger draft lineups in the city, with a selection of 40 taps (with only two being Bud Light!). There is a mix of usual suspect crafts like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and New Belgium Fat Tire, but there are also taps for Dale's Pale Ale, Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Bridgeport IPA, and Odell IPA. Fans of matly bocks may not be getting Salvator or Celebrator on tap here, but they do get to choose between Shiner Bock and Ziegen Bock. Hey, at least you get a choice.

As Hooligans is still in its opening phase, there were very few customers when I visited. It will be interesting to see what kind of crowd the place attracts as time goes on. As of now, the hours are 7 pm-2am Tuesday through Saturday. Tuesdays should be busy, with all drafts that normally go from $3.50-$5 selling for only $2.50. Wednesdays are service industry nights, with all drinks $1 off for those in the business. Thursday through Saturday evenings there will be live DJs. Maybe we can organize a dance-off showdown between Hooligans customers and Dirty Bourbon two-steppers. I'd kick my Tony Lama's up on Hooligan's bar, order an Odell IPA, and enjoy the show.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Get Your Mojo Workin' For Cheap

Another Kelly Liquors old beer sale for you, but beware: this is an IPA, a style that feels the brunt of a life spent on warm, bright shelves quickly. Boulder's Mojo IPA cases are selling for $14.99, down from a regular price of $7.99 a six-pack (that's close to $32 a case for those who don't want to do the math). The "enjoy by" date on the cases is 8/18/2011...not too bad, but I thought I was being clever and grabbed a cold six-pack out of the cooler to replace one of the sixers in the case so I would have cold beer to test when I got home. Little did I know that there was even older Mojo in the cooler with a best by 7/26/2011 date! And here I am now with my older than the on sale Mojo, drinking it and wondering what the month fresher Mojo tastes like. I will say that the enjoy by July 26 can still be enjoyable, with the grapefruity Amarillo hops still present amongst the time-pronounced maltiness. For the price, you could do much worse.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

VIP Tickets at a Recession Price

If you want to experience this year's NM Brew Fest with a little more glam than the average fest-goer, you need to head to ABQ Brew Pub this Thursday. VIP tickets to the fest will be selling for $35...that's $15 off the regular VIP price! At 30% off, you'll feel like you've walked into a Borders! As a VIP ticket holder, you'll have access to beer and food pairings prepared by local chefs, a wine bar, a gift bag with goodies from Whole Foods (wouldn't it be funny if it was filled with milk and other perishables and you had to carry it around all day?), and beers unavailable to the oh-so general public, along with all the other beer from the 20 breweries at the event. If you can't make it to ABQ Brew Pub on the 25th to buy the tickets in person, you can still take advantage of the great deal by going to, where the same deal will be available for that one day.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

2011 NM IPA Challenge Winner Crowned

Don't let the arm of Nico Ortiz, Turtle Mountain honcho and holder of the IPA Challenge Cup in the photo fool you- Turtle Mountain did not win.
For the third year in a row, Il Vicino has taken the coveted cup, taking 140 votes. A landslide victory.
La Cumbre-94
Blue Corn- 30
Santa Fe- 28
Hallenbrick- 23
Nexus- 22
Turtle Mountain- 21
Second Street- 20
Mimbres Valley- 17
High Desert- 15
Three Rivers- 12
Sierra Blanca/Rio Grande- 4
Eske's- 4

Congratulations to Il Vicino! Better luck to Nico's arm next year!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Presidential Elections Have Nothing On Us

We may not have rigged voting machines, union strongarms intimidating voters, or ballots tossed in dumpsters, but we do have a lack of organization when it comes to responsibility for tallying and posting voting results for this year's NM IPA Challenge. What the NM Brewers Guild needs to realize is the fact that people who pay the $20 to participate in the IPA Challenge are people who are also actively interested in the results of each challenge. With Twitter, Facebook, and certain beer blogs, there is no reason for results not to be almost immediately available. But that has been the case for the second and third stages of the NM IPA Challenge. Calls to host breweries Mimbres Valley and Second Street ranged from having absolutely no clue (Mimbres) to a promise for a return call once the votes were tallied (Second Street- going on four hours now). I feel a certain responsibility to have this kind of info for you, so maybe I dropped the ball by not going to Deming and Second Street personally to report on the events, but I didn't think it would be this hard to get some answers. Our Brewers Guild does a fantastic job of organizing events for us that showcase breweries from around the state all year long, but in this case they needed someone responsible for getting the results out to you. I'm sorry I haven't been able to do it myself.

I do have the cumulative results through Tuesday's Mimbres Valley event but not including Thursday's Second Street event.

Il Vicino- 80
La Cumbre- 50
Marble- 40
Chama River- 32
Blue corn- 14
Tractor- 11
Nexus- 8
Hallenbrick- 8
High Desert- 8
Turtle Mountain- 7
Santa Fe- 4
Mimbres Valley- 4
Second Street- 3
Three Rivers- 2
Sierra Blanca- 1
Eske's- 1

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Little Kelly's That Could

Yeah, I know that the photo looks like Budweiser has taken over the world, but that is only partly true. This little Kelly Liquors pictured tucked in on Juan Tabo between Indian School and Constitution (near "Please God don't ever make me shop at" House of Floors and Bamboo House Chinese Restaurant, which never has any cars in the parking lot but somehow manages to stay in business) has been carrying a nice selection of crafts along with the Budweisers and Millers for some time. The selection may not be as big as other stores but is well thought out, thanks to employees who are really into craft beer. Oh, and that life and Limb you weren't able to find? This store still has a full rack of them for $9.69. Get your Cannonball Run on and beat the competition over there for your bottles.

This Beer Will Cost You

For the first time that I can remember, Buffalo Bill's Alimony Ale is now available here in Albuquerque. We have always gotten the seasonals Orange Blossom and Pumpkin Ale (also now in stores), but the beer that made Buffalo Bill's famous was for some reason not distributed here. Now that it is, I'm not actually suggesting you get overly excited about it. I just wanted to write about something, and this 6.8%, 70 IBU IPA was asking for it. Alimony Ale is an old school IPA, first brewed back in 1987. It is primarily hopped with Cascade, so if you are a fan of the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale type beers you might want to shell out the eight bucks for a six-pack.

Monday, August 15, 2011

2011 NM IPA Challenge, Day One

So who's bright idea was it to have the first leg of the NM IPA Challenge on a Sunday?? Don't they know Saturday is my all-out drinking night? I had to nurse Pilsners all night to keep from sleeping through the noon start time. It worked, and I even got there early early enough to get a few pictures of the pre-challenge setup. Remind me to invest in Reddy Ice.

My arrival time came just before the crowd swarmed upon La Cumbre, thankfully. With 16 IPAs to pour for each tray, the volunteers had a hard time keeping up with the initial crush of patrons. I felt bad walking back through the crowd with all my IPA goodness as those still waiting ogled my tray. One eager-eyed guy commented in a Barry White tone, "Yeahhh...that's the stuff...".

It is indeed the stuff. But 16 different IPAs threw my palate for a loop. This was by far the hardest time I've had judging thew entries in the seven years I have been attending. After over two hours, I had narrowed it down to four (1, 6, 8, and 12). Unfortunately, there were a couple of beers that just didn't belong (Green Chile beer is NOT an IPA whether we live in New Mexico or not!).

It's great to see that people who attend the IPA Challenge every year are there as fans of IPA first and the effects of beer second, unlike many of the major national beer fests. I don't even think anyone threw up, at least not while at La Cumbre. This Cowboys fan may be feeling nauseous once football season starts, but I'll try to save the cheap shots till then. The beers were under intense scrutiny all day, and by the end it turned out that the majority of the crowd had the same top picks as I did.

At 4 pm, La Cumbre owner/brewmaster Jeff Erway stood above the crowd and announced the results. It seems that Jeff has as much of a future in auctioneering as he does in brewing because he read so fast that I could barely keep up while writing down the results. Could all those IPAs I drank have affected my motor skills? I'll never admit it, but I was able to decipher which beer was which:
1. La Cumbre 2. Nexus 3. Three Rivers
4. Santa Fe 5. Mimbres Valley 6. Il Vicino
7. Tractor 8. Chama River 9. Second Street
10. Sierra Blanca 11. Turtle Mountain 12. Marble
13. Eske's 14. High Desert 15. Hallenbrick 16. Blue Corn

And with the best view possible of the tireless pourers, I give you the voting results of the first stop of this year's IPA Challenge. Remember, there are still three more events and votes from all four will decide the final winner. Here ya go:

16.Eske's 15. Sierra Blanca 13. Tie- High Desert/Three Rivers
11. Tie- Santa Fe/Second Street 9. Tie- Mimbres Valley/Turtle Mountain 8. Hallenbrick
6. Tie- Nexus/Tractor 5. Blue Corn 4. Chama River

The top three:
3. (35 votes) Marble
2. (50 votes) La Cumbre
1. (79 votes) Il Vicino

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Confectionary Collaboration

Stone is once again proving that they are best friends with everyone in the brewing business as they have collaborated once again- this time with 2 homebrewers (Jason Fields, Kevin Sheppard) and the Troegs Brewery out of Pennsylvania's capitol city. I can't vouch for the homebrew guys, but I do know that Troegs Sunshine Pils and Nugget Nectar are two amazing beers. Cherry Chocolate Stout is the result of the group's efforts, a 7.3% ABV Stout that retails for $3.99 per 12 oz. bottle (available at Jubilation today, others by week's end). If you want to try some local homebrewer's work, visit Bad Ass Brewing, where Jeremy Ray's "Red-Headed Step Child", a strawberry IPA that was judged the best in a competition held by Bad Ass is now on tap. Congratulations Jeremy!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Safer Way to Enjoy Samuel Smith's

A Samuel Smith's beer dinner in some parts of London nowadays would give new meaning to the term "flame-broiled". Luckily, the land of the free and home of the Whopper is also home to Savoy restaurant, which is hosting a beer dinner featuring Samuel Smith's finest on August 27. For $55, you get five courses of beer that includes Old Brewery Pale Ale, IPA, Oatmeal Stout, Nut Brown Ale, and Taddy Porter. You also get prosciutto wrapped fontina, prime rib, salmon florentine, ahi tuna, shortribs, and grilled romaine salad. If you're at a place that serves their lettuce grilled, you know they really care about the food. Or they really like fire. The dinner begins with a reception starting at 6:30. Make reservations by visiting or calling 294-9463.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Tree Grows in Albuquerque

The second edition of Life and Limb is in area stores now. A collaboration between the Sierra Nevada and As Seen on TV! Dogfish Head breweries, Life and Limb is an American Strong Ale that is 10.2% ABV. This bottle-conditioned beer utilizes syrup from both maple and birch trees, though I wouldn't recommend smuggling any into Denny's to pour over your Grand Slam breakfast. This year's version comes in a 25.4 oz. corked and caged bottle, as opposed to last year's capped 24 oz. bottle. The beer retails at Kelly Liquors on Wyoming for $9.49, though it mistakenly scans for $14.99. Thankfully, the guy working at the time (the red-haired guy with the goatee) knows his stuff and recognized the scanning error. I hope they get the price fixed, otherwise you might have a bit of a hassle dependent upon who is working.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Hallmark Moment, Beer-Style

Today, August 4th, has been declared International IPA Day. The power invested in bloggers such as The Beer Wench makes it so. As it is written, so shall it be done or something along those lines. It must be official, as all "collaborative worldwide grass roots social media event(s)" are. Just repost this if you agree that having a cousin is awesome and I'll send you a color!

Sorry, got off-track as usual. I haven't looked too far into what IPA Day entails, though I keep picturing Ed Grimley as the spokesperson, "It's IPA Day I must say!" I know that's not funny, just like all those old SNL and SCTV shows aren't funny. But it's what I was thinking. I was also thinking that today might be a good day to drink an IPA. I wonder if Double IPAs count or if that's a totally separate holiday.

Fall Fest Time Approaching

This is just a very early reminder to set Saturday, October 8 aside for a day of drinking. The second annual NM Brew Fest and Music Showcase will be held on that date from 12-6 at Villa Hispana at Expo New Mexico at the State Fairgrounds (same great spot as last year). Tickets will go on sale August 20 at a special one-day price of $15, which can be purchased online or at Marble brewery that day. Tickets will be $25 thereafter. You VIPs out there can take a break from the lines at Q Bar and enjoy perks such as special beer/food pairings from local chefs as well as pours from Odell Brewing (exclusive to the VIP area) and a goodie bag from Whole Foods (kind of like the bags movie stars get at award shows, only organic). VIP tickets will cost $50, though a discounted VIP ticket party is in the works to be held at ABQ Brew Pub. Date and cost are TBD. Chris Goblet, organizer for the fest, says the idea this year is to have all 23 statewide breweries represented, though not all have committed at this time. I'll keep you posted on any updates I get.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Worth Risking Your Life

Nope, the picture is not of beers currently sitting in my cooler, though I do enjoy a Camo 16 High Gravity xxXxx served in a snifter as an aperitif. These beers are iced down for the colorful cast of customers who make their way to Bird of Paradise Discount Liquors after a hard day of stealing. While shopping there today I saw a guy pissed off and arguing because they wouldn't sell him any more St. Ides Special Brew "blue flavor". He was obviously drunk, though his argument made sense to me, "Come on, lemme git's HOT out there!"
Yeah, the place has its drawbacks, but there are some good finds there that you don't see elsewhere in town- Uerige Dopplesticke, Mikkeller Ris a la M'ale, and some bottles of Marble Imperial Red AND Reserve too! I also found a 2009 Odell Bourbon Barrel Stout. Finally, they have some craft sales going at malt liquor prices: a 355 ml bottle of Cuvee Rene for only $2.99 and bombers of Dogfather Imperial Stout almost half-off at $4.99 were a couple of the highlights, though getting out of there safe was the best part.