Friday, December 30, 2011

Santa Fe's Dark Side

What, you say? Santa Fe doesn't have a dark side. In fact, the city has an abundance of people who proudly strut their stuff around the Plaza while wearing their Southwestern technicolor dreamcoats and decorate their Subarus with bumper stickers in all the colors of the rainbow. Thankfully, Santa Fe does have some people who are still living on Earth, namely homebrewer John Rowley, who collaborated with Santa Fe Brewing's Tony Cordova to create the new Black IPA. I have written before that the style is not one of my favorites, as I usually end up thinking how much better the beer would be without the roasty malt flavor. However, I got a chance to try the Rowley/Santa Fe version and was very pleased with the beer. Though the color fit the name, the hops were the star, with maybe a hint of chocolate malt coming through. Not a surprise, I guess, considering that the recipe uses Columbus, Simcoe, Amarillo and Citra hops and is 92 IBUs. This 7.1% ABV beer will not be on the shelves in Albuquerque, as it is an experimental first run batch, so put on that turquoise belt buckle and trek up to either Santa Fe's Tasting Room or Eldorado Tap House, where the beer is available on tap and in bottles.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's On the Cheap

Throwing a New Year's Eve party rather than dealing with drunks on the road and "complimentary champagne toast at midnight!" at the bar? Generous enough not to make it a BYOB but don't want to serve up $19 bottles of Sam Adams Infinium to people who are just going to be puking it all over your carpet later?

Kelly Liquors on Wyoming, as usual, has some decent craft selections at deeply discounted prices that should please your partygoers. Widmer's X-114 IPA, the first release from their Rotator series, is on sale for $8.99 a 12-pack, or even cheaper at $16.99 a case. Since they only come in 12-packs at Kelly's, I guess that means if you bring up two 12-packs to the register you'll get the discount. These beers are on sale because they were brewed back in July, but look at it this way: it is beer for your guests, not you, and you can theme the party as "a look back at the year in beer".

Also discounted is the Montana Mixer, a 12-pack of four different styles from Big Sky. For $8.99, your guests will enjoy having the variety of Moose Drool Brown, Trout Slayer Wheat, Big Sky IPA, and a mystery beer, determined by the season when the 12-pack was released. Since these 12-packs are $5 off the regular price, you may get Summer Honey or even last year's Powder Hound Winter. It's all part of the New Year's fun, and I hope you all have a happy and safe one.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

California Day Two

So, you'd think that after all these years of traveling, I would be able to plan things out a little better. Even though the first part of the day depended on how long it would take to get our bottles of Beatification at Russian River, I still thought we would have plenty of daylight to do the coast drive. And we got our bottles at RR way faster than expected (the whole batch sold out by 11:20am!), leaving us plenty of time. Right?

We made it from Santa Rosa down into San Francisco without any problem, until I realized that the city founders didn't build a magic road for me that went directly to the coast. This meant stopping on the side of the 101 with cars zooming by way too close while I retrieved the map from the trunk. Yes, I actually brought the trusted Rand McNally US Atlas with me. It's nice having the phone with the GPS and everything, but sometimes it helps to have the bigger picture of where you are in relation to the rest of the state that the map gives you. After a few minor detours we were headed towards the coast. Thanks, Rand.

What I didn't take into account nearly enough was how damn early the sun sets at this time of year. By the time we were here in Monterey, it was somehow already 4 and the sun was due to set at 4:45. We couldn't even go on the famed 17 Mile Drive around the peninsula because they close the road near sundown. I didn't mind not having to pay the $9.50 fee to get on the drive.

And though it was close, my madman driving through Monterey and Hwy. 1 got us to the scenic Big Sur area just as the sun went down. However, I was soon wishing that they closed that road at sundown as well- as any of you who have done the drive can attest to, that road is damn near treacherous in the dark. I was not doing any madman driving once it got dark, I assure you. More like a white knuckle steering wheel grip while I did 20 mph through the twists and turns for hours, sure I would make a wrong move and put us over a cliff.

By the time the road straightened out, I wasn't interested in finding any breweries, just some pizza and a hotel. We ended up staying in Pismo Beach, famous to me because of that Bugs Bunny episode when I was a kid. And we were fine without visiting any breweries because we had picked up a growler of Pliny the Elder that morning. Pliny really does wonders to get rid of the stress of a long drive!

Next: Hooray for Hollywood

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How's That Weather?

I hear that mother nature isn't smiling so kindly there on you Albuquerque folk. Guess I picked a good time to be here in sunny California! And though I am typing this from balmy San Diego right now, the trip started up in Santa Rosa (north of San Francisco), so we actually had to deal with temperatures in the 50's! And we wouldn't have even had to deal with such low temperatures if it weren't for those lousy early beer releases. See all those people in the picture? They were patiently waiting for Russian River Brewing to open at 11 am- though I took this picture around 9:45. We had gotten there at 9 am and were still parked somewhere around 30th in line. Some had shown up in the 7 o'clock hour. All this madness of waking up early and standing in near blizzard temperatures (seriously- I had to keep switching my Starbucks from one hand to the other to avoid a chill) was for the first release of Beatification in two years.

Beatification is one of Russian River's most sought after sours, chock full of brettanomyces, pediococcus, lactobacillus, and sacchromyces- all the things a growing boy needs. It's too bad that the beer release only allowed for two of the coveted bottles per person. Also too bad is the $16 per 12.6 oz. bottle...doesn't Russian River care that I still had a lot of trip left and lots of beer to buy? At least the small release meant there was still plenty of trunk space left.
Next: why I shouldn't plan trips.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Solstice Blackout

It sounds kind of sinister, doesn't it? Solstice Blackout...but I assure you, the latest of Il Vicino's events is really just a celebration of the darker beers, not a gathering of teenagers who think being pagans or wiccas is cool. Solstice Blackout consists of sampling glasses of five different dark beers: Sweet Sanderine Porter, CDL (Cascadian Dark Lager), Schwarzbier, Dark And Lusty Stout, and Passtout, an Imperial Stout. You get all of these beers for $6.00, plus a score sheet where you get to give the brewers feedback on which you liked best. The event starts at noon on Saturday at the Il Vicino Canteen.

Monday, December 12, 2011

No' Ryely IPA

I'm a sucker for the Widmer releases, no matter how big a part InBev plays in their distribution. their discontinued Broken Halo IPA was a great buy when it was available. The Rotator series of IPAs has been a little hit or miss, with the X-114 and Falconer's only entered into consideration for purchase because of the good 12-pack price point. I got that little "ooohhh" feeling when I saw the latest Rotator release to hit our shelves, O'Ryely IPA. Then I saw the September 27 bottling date and I got that other "ooohhh" feeling. Took awhile to get that one to us, eh? Maybe it is because the new Chipotle restaurant has only been open a week but has sold more burritos than Widmer has sold Rotator IPAs in six months. The distributor has to try to sell out the current stock before releasing another one, even if it is a better IPA. The combination of rye malt and Nelson Sauvin hops sound like a good mix for this 50 IBU, 6.4% ABV beer, but we will have to see how time treated it. I first saw this at Smiths at Academy and Wyoming for $8.49, though keep an eye out for 12-packs at a better price.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy Anniversary, La Cumbre!

It couldn't have been a better year for Jeff and Laura Erway, who opened La Cumbre December of 2010. In their first year of business, they have built a brewpub that has produced enough IPA to warrant new equipment, won two golds and a silver at the GABF, and, most importantly, amassed a loyal group of pub regulars who devour the beers that Jeff and brewers Kaylynn McKnight, and Nathan Zerbe make. Albuquerque craft beer lovers are lucky to have La Cumbre as a destination. I plan to make it my destination on Saturday, as they will be tapping the special anniversary DIPA. See you there.

Hey, You On the Scooter!

Gimme a sec to catch my breath; I had to walk kind of fast to catch up with you. I just thought that you might like to know that your favorite brewery, Ska, has released a beer to honor one of your favorite bands, The Toasters. Yup, in honor of the group's 30th anniversary, Ska brewed up Shebeen Black IPA. I imagine that it must be named after a song or album, though you would know better than me, right? I've yet to start trying to polish up on my ska music knowledge. Perhaps the next time 97.7 changes formats it will become a ska station...yeah, I think the odds are pretty good on that one. Anyway, I won't keep you, as you're probably on your way to meet up with other scooter riders so you can terrorize the streets as you roam in your packs. But stop b y Jubilation on the way, where this Black IPA is selling for $6.99. Get an extra one to drink before the Jan. 23 Toasters show at the Launchpad.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Out of the Red, Into the Double Black

Thank you, Odell Brewing. I have picked up way too much beer lately, and lower beer prices aren't exactly the trend. However, with the re-release of Odell Mountain Standard Double Black IPA (formerly Mountain Standard Reserve), I feel like I can buy this and and a couple of six-packs to boot. The first Mountain Standard release was in 22 oz. bottles, and sold for $10.99. The second coming of the Mountain Standard is in four-packs of 12 oz. bottles, and is the same $10.99- more than twice the beer at the same price. More beer, and better reviews as well; I have heard that this release of the Imperial Black IPA style, with roasted malt and native Colarado hops, is better than the original. Get this 9.5% ABV beer at the Whole Foods on Carlisle.