Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stopping By Santa Fe on a Snowy Evening

"My little horse must think it queer"...with all due respect to Robert Frost, that line made our entire 6th grade class laugh when our teacher read it. That poem came to mind after looking at the art for the upcoming Winterbrew event slated for this Friday, February 3. Thirteen breweries:Santa Fe Brewing Company, Second Street Brewery, Marble Brewery, Blue Corn Brewery, Chama River Brewing Company, Tractor Brewing Company, Il Vicino Brewery, Turtle Mountain Brewing Company, La Cumbre Brewing Company, Nexus Brewery, Sierra Blanca Brewing Company, Rio Grande Brewery and Monks' Ale will gather at the Santa Fe Farmers Market Building to celebrate the season. It is also the first NM Brewers' Guild event put on since hiring a person to basically get everybody in the Guild on the same page. Can you imagine trying to get a roomful of brewers to agree on anything? Good luck, Chris! The $15 Winterbrew ticket gets you a commemorative glass along with five tickets good for five beer samples. You may purchase additional drink tickets for a buck apiece. Small plates from a number of Santa Fe eateries including Rio Chama, Zia Diner, Junction, Epazote, Second Street, Flying Star, Whoos Donuts, Whole Foods, Slurp, and others will be sold for $1-$4 each. I'd like to see Bobcat Bite there with some burgers, then maybe that Bon Appetit magazine guy who is always on TV and looks like he should be in Nickelback would show up. As far as the beers go, expect winter-appropriate styles like Stouts and Porters as well as the usual favorites from the breweries in attendance. You can pick up your ticket at one of our locals (Marble, Chama, Turtle Mountain, La Cumbre, Santa Fe) or at the door. The RailRunner station is only a few blocks from the Winterbrew location and a 9 pm train will get you back to Albuquerque in time for bar-hopping.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Widmer's Time of the Saison

Well Sacre Bleu! Widmer has done gone and fooled around with the classic Saison style and added Chocolate and Caramel malts to create Dark Saison, the 2012 style in their Brewmasters' Release series. I'm not sure how this will match up to the classic French Farmhouse-style beers, but I do know that "Dark Saison" is easier for me to say than "Avec Les Bons Voeux". I have trouble pronouncing "frites" without stuttering. The xenophobe in me doesn't mind paying the $8 to try Widmer's take on a style that, if done right, is as sublime as Pissaladiere or Brandade de Moure Marseilles. I first saw this at Sunflower Market on Lomas, though it should be appearing everywhere Widmer is sold.

Friday, January 27, 2012

One More Outburst Like That...

...and you'll be drunk! Pyramid kind of flies under the radar these days, with newer breweries outdoing them in many styles, but Pyramid tries to catch up with Outburst Imperial IPA. Hops varieties abound in this beer, with Chinook, Cascade, Nugget and hops from the Columbus/Tomahawk/Zeus family. The beer is dry hopped with Falconer's Flight and Zythos hops. The resulting beer is 8.3% ABV and 80 IBUs. And a six-pack is going for the very, very reasonable price of $6.99 at the Kelly Liquors on Wyoming. I haven't tried this beer yet, and I'll admit that I can't remember the last time I bought a Pyramid product, but this one might be worth a shot.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Slimmer Spring Pickings for You IPA Haters

Fans of Sierra Nevada's Glissade Bock, the Maibock-style beers that Sierra previously offered as a spring seasonal, will be a bit disappointed this year. Sierra Nevada has replaced Glissade with yet another IPA, this one called Ruthless Rye. This makes back to back seasonal releases for the brewery, with their Celebration IPA being the winter release. I can understand people wishing for more variety as far as new releases go, but at least Ruthless Rye has a twist on the other IPAs: you guessed it- the rye malts. Rye pairs with pale, caramel, and chocolate for the malt bill in this beer. The hops used are Bravo, Chinook, and Citra, along with some "experimental" hops. Hope they don't leave permatrails. I first saw the 6.6% ABV, 55 IBU Ruthless Rye at the Bird of Paradise liquor store on Gibson, selling for $12.99 a 12-pack. That same store also has some bottles of Rogue's excellent Old Crustacean Barleywine in those annoyingly small 7 oz. bottles for $2.99, down from $7.99. $3 for 7 oz. may seem expensive, but the beer ages well for years and at 11.5% ABV the small bottle size is perfect for one serving.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Fall Beers: It's a Buyers Market

If you have been holding out for the lack-of-interest rates in fall seasonal beers to drop before you bought, your patience will pay off with a visit to Kelly Liquors on Wyoming. There are cases aplenty of Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale and Dundee Oktoberfest on sale for $12.99 a case. I know the Pumpkin was selling for $8.99 a six-pack, and the Dundee was probably 7 or 8 bucks, so you're getting a good deal here. I'd personally trust the flavor of the Pumpkin Ale over the Oktoberfest as far as drinkability at this point in the respective beers' lives, but you won't die if you drink a bottle of Oktoberfest. Drink enough and you'll feel great.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Told Ya So.

Ok, maybe I haven't been touting Albuquerque as the BEST beer city in the country, but I know it's a hell of a lot better than Ft. Lauderdale, where I'm sitting in my hotel room waiting for the beer to get cold enough. And I am proud to see we beat out Missoula, Akron, Burlington, and other "livable" cities that I would never want to live in. I'm really enjoying the weather here in Florida, but the people in any supermarket I've been to here make our Wal Mart crowds look like a high tea gathering at Buckingham Palace. Thanks to all our wonderful breweries for making the beer that earned Albuquerque the great distinction.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

More Green for More Brown Than Black

There's a new Stone collaboration for you to try, and if the pricing at the Whole Foods on Carlisle is an indicator, expect to pay $4.99 for the 12 oz. release. That's a buck more than the previous releases. That's a $30 six-pack. So is Stone collaborating with Tiffany's or what??
No, this beer was made with brewers from Ninkasi (a very popular Oregon brewery; one that, when you talk about Oregon beer, someone always says, "Oooh! Ninkasi!" much in the way people used to say, "Oooh! Fat Tire!" about Colorado beer way back in the day), and The Alchemist of Waterbury, VT. Both Ninkasi (Tricerahops) and The Alchemist (Heady Topper) know how to brew DIPAs. This beer lies somewhere in that blur between IPAs and DIPAs at 7.4% ABV, but I'll call it an IPA so I don't sound wimpy. Actually, I'd better call it a Black IPA, though the Ninkasi folks would probably call it a Cascadian Dark Ale. The Alchemist would call it...a Ben and Jerry, I don't know. As the name denotes, the beer is more brown than black, and the hops are pronounced. I tried this while in California last month and liked it, though I'm sure I didn't pay near $5 for it. You may want to shell out the money if you are interested in seeing what these three hop-centric breweries created together.

Monday, January 16, 2012

O'Niell's/Left Hand Beer Dinner

What are you doing for dinner on Monday, January 30? I was planning on pairing my favorite Lean Cuisine flavors with Malt Liquor selections like St. Ides, Magnum, Colt 45, OE 800, and a vintage, discontinued bottle of Crazy Horse. But then O'Niell's went and collaborated with Left Hand Brewing to come up with a beer dinner that almost sounds as good as mine. For $45 per person, you can enjoy potato leek soup, spinach salad, a chicken gorgonzola and cheddar potato fritter, ball-tip sirloin with peppercorn demi glaze, and chocolate chip cheesecake for dessert. Water will be complimentary. Oh, and beer will be paired with all these dishes. Don't know if that's your thing, but...
The Left Hand beers being featured are Milk Stout, Polestar Pilsner, Stranger Pale Ale, Fade to Black Pepper Porter, and Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout. And don't think you have to make friendly with people seated around you, as Left Hand's head brewer, Ro Guenzel, will be there to make sure you drink every last drop of his beer. He may even make eye contact or sign a napkin for you. Everyone feels a little bit special when the brewer talks to them, so make your reservations here and save that Lean Cuisine for another date. Keep the St. Ides on ice for when you invite Ro over for a nightcap.

Friday, January 13, 2012

New Beer Friday

Not to be confused with the mustard, Van Steenberge Brewery's Gulden Draak is now available here. A member of the highly-populated Belgian Strong Dark Ale club, Gulden Draak is 10.5% ABV and has a label depicting a dragon being gagged with a stick, or so it seems. The 25,4 oz. bottle sells for $11.99, and the beer is also sold in 4-packs of 11.9 oz. bottles for $17.99. Expensive, but European stuff is fancy.

Here's to hoping the beer is as good as the movie: Bridgeport Brewing's Kingpin Double Red Ale hit the shelves this week. An 8.5% beer, the Kingpin boasts of being "Triple Hopped". Hey, that's the same brewing process Miller Lite uses! You surely won't get Munsoned if you buy this beer. Both Kingpin and Gulden Draak are available at Kelly's on Wyoming.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Is It Right?

When I walked into the Kelly Liquors on Wyoming tonight and saw they were selling the Life and Limb #2 for $24.99, my first thought was, "Man, that's a fucking rip-off!" I thought this for two reasons:
1. When the beer was released, I never saw it for more than $14.99. The Kelly's on Wyoming was one of the cheaper places.
2. If I am at a restaurant and an entree is more than $10, I raise hell. Everything is a rip-off in my opinion.
But after reflection, I'm starting to think about the worth of Life and Limb. Is it worth $25? Well, to me, not even close. In fact, I saw some just the other day at another liquor store, at the regular price, and I didn't buy it. The Kelly Liquors on Wyoming is counting on the beer selling at such a high price because of its relative scarcity, but it can still be found. Anyway, is it worth $25? If someone is willing to pay $25 for it, then I guess that's what it's worth. I can't say I'm in love with the practice of the "less we have, the more we charge", but it's their business to run. Their prices are always on the lower end of the scale, they have a nice selection, and they are friendly people. This is really the first time that I have been in that Kelly's where I was shocked by a beer's price. So if you need Life and Limb that bad that you'll pay $25 for it, then you know where to go.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New Deschutes and Some Dubious Deals

Deschutes Brewery's seasonal DIPA, Hop Henge, has once again hit area shelves. And this seasonal release has actually come to us at the time the beer is supposed to be consumed, not months after every other state gets it. Hop Henge is an 8.5% DIPA that hits 95 IBUs thanks to the generous amounts of Centennial and Cascade hops in the beer. Hop Henge won the award for best Imperial IPA at the 2011 World Beer Awards. In other Deschutes news, the brewery has realized what a relevant beer city Albuquerque has become and has us penned in for a visit from their Beer Camp. Deschutes Beer Camp is a week of beer events that involves (from the press release) "Beer dinners, tastings, music, total tap takeovers and pint specials to help fans celebrate a love of craft beer". Count me in. Base Camp will be hitting Albuquerque from Oct. 22-27, and you know I will have plenty of info for you as the date approaches.

Whole Foods on Carlisle has cut prices on some very good craft beers. Problem is, a sale at Whole Foods is like offering me $1000 off a new Porsche. To be fair, Whole Foods has competitive prices on the beers they sell, but the beers on sale are pricy everywhere to begin with. For instance, Odell Woodcut #5 is down from $23.99 to $18.99 for a 25.4 oz. bottle. See what I mean? Other noteworthy cuts involve Nogne O's Imperial Stout, down from $10.99 to $6.99, and Jolly Pumpkin sours Luciernaga and Noel de Calabaza down from $14.99 to $11.99. If you've been eyeing these great beers, now is the time to pick them up. Should I add the Rogue Imperial IPA bottles, down from $7.99 to $3.99? I just did, but when you factor in the bottle is only 7 oz., I probably shouldn't have.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Double the Pils at a Reduced Price

How was the first week of the new year for you? Break any resolutions yet? Since I resolved years ago not to resolve anything that would do me any good, I am still in the clear. If you resolved to spend less on beer, good luck. Until they start offering beer at thrift stores, which would actually be kinda cool..."I found a Radio Shack answering machine and a 2006 Left Hand Milk Stout at Goodwill today!". you are better off taking advantage of the deals Kelly Liquors on Wyoming offers on slightly "mature" beers. In today's case, we have Odell Double Pilsner, an 8% ABV seasonal that sold for $9.99 a four-pack when it was released and is now down to $6.99. Not as close to free as I would like, but it can make you feel like you are truly making a difference in the world in 2012 by sticking to those resolutions.

Friday, January 6, 2012

My Team Will be at Souper Salad

Football season is over as far as I'm concerned, my team once again having let me down. I shouldn't say they let me down since I never expect much, but there is always that hope, ya know? For some reason I always end up watching the Super Bowl even though I just sit and stew about how my team should be in it and I eat the disgusting fifty-layer dip that someone brought and I get mad at people laughing at the commercials...my usual happy-go-lucky behavior. I was considering watching the game at Ojos Locos this year in hope that a disgruntled Raiders fan might put me out of my misery, but it looks like there is a Super Bowl party I might actually enjoy: Boar's Nest Brewery is hosting a party in the yet to open brewery space (3300 Princeton Dr NE, Suite N1) beginning at 2 pm on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 5. The full lineup of Boar's Nest beers will be served up alongside barbeque type food (no word on if there will be fifty-layer dip). You can get the full picture of what is going on at Boar's Nest's Facebook page, but owner Victor Gutierrez sent me an addendum addressing some FAQs he has received since posting the event:

"1. While we will be honoring our Founding Members for their support at the Super Bowl event, no donations are required to attend. If you would like to become a Founding Member at the event, you are more than welcome to, but there is no requirement nor expectation to do so. We welcome all ABQ beer fans with open arms and want to enjoy the event with everyone!

2. For our Founding Members that RSVP with the amount of guests that they plan to attend with, we will reserve seats for them and their guests. If you plan to sit with another group of Founding Members, please make a note of it in the RSVP, so we can put you together. All other seating will be first come, first served on the day of the event.

3. RSVP's are not required, but they help us plan out food, beer, chairs, tables, etc. Please take a second to send a quick email to Admin@BoarsNestBrewery.com with the amount of people that you plan to attend with.

4. We will be using a ticket system to make beer and food purchases quick and easy. One ticket will equal one beer. Some meals will be 1 ticket, while some will require 2 tickets (i.e. 1/2 rack of baby back ribs). Tickets can be purchased with cash, credit cards, or debit cards. No checks please."

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sam Keeps Cranking Them Out

A new year, a new Samuel Adams variety pack from the brewery that changed the way you think of George Thorogood's "Who Do You Love?". The Brewer's Choice collection contains three familiar styles: the trademark Boston Lager, Irish Red, and Black Lager. All decent, but not a selling point as far as I'm concerned. However, the addition of three new beers might get me to pick this 12-pack up (and at $12-$13.99 at most liquor stores, the Sam Adams packs are always a good deal). Alpine Spring replaces the Noble Pils as the spring seasonal (the Pils will now be a year-round offering) and is introduced here in the Brewer's Choice collection. Alpine Spring is a 5.8% ABV Helles Lager that is big on citrus, though not as lemon-heavy as the Coastal Wheat. The Mighty Oak Ale is an oak-aged Red Ale with vanilla and caramel notes. Finally, yet another new IPA, Whitewater, is the final addition to this mix. Not your typical IPA, though, as Whitewater is a wheat IPA brewed with apricots and spices. Hmmm. You try it first.