Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It's a Pumpkin Beer...I Think

More Pumpkin beer love today. Good news: You don't have to buy the Samuel Adams Harvest Collection 12-pack and sift through the Boston Lager and Dunkelweizen just to get to the Harvest Pumpkin Ale, as the beer is now available in six-packs. That's right, six Pumpkin-only beers. $8.99 around town. And though people lament the other Sam fall seasonal, Octoberfest, as tasting more watered-down every release, this Pumpkin Ale is approachable but solid.

It has to be a Pumpkin beer, right??? I mean, just look at the name: Witch Hunt. It makes you think of Halloween, and Halloween makes you think of pumpkins, damn it. Even the moon in the artwork kind of looks like a pumpkin. But try to find any mention of pumpkin on the label of Bridgeport's new fall seasonal- it's not there. The beer is brewed with cinnamon and nutmeg, so I think we can see the route they are going down. And you don't necessarily have to use real pumpkin to make a Pumpkin-style tasting beer. Using real pumpkin is a pain in the ass, as it can clog things up (I know of one local award-winning brewer who absolutely hates making them). So try one of these next to a beer that uses pupmkin and see what you think. $7.99 at Kelly's on Wyoming.

Finally, how much are you willing to pay for beer artwork? I say this because even though I have had Shipyard's Pumpkinhead many times, each time it hits the shelves I am tempted to buy it, and that's after I know what it tastes like. I just love the way the label looks. The beer is maybe not that not that bad, but the $12.99 (Whole Foods Carlisle)price tag kills it for me. Especially considering it's a 5% ABV beer. The Shipyard Imperial Pumpkin (also on shelves here) is even more expensive per ounce, at $9.99 for a 22 oz. bottle, but at least it's 9% ABV.

Monday, August 27, 2012

It's Fest Time Again

Still feeling sluggish after all those beers at Hopfest? I bet. I hear it was a great time...Couldn't make it this year, and my Beer Geek card should be revoked, I know, but life happens.
So I'm ready for a fest, and the New Mexico Brew Fest is right around the corner-October 6, 2012 from 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm at Villa Hispana at the Fairgrounds. 23 Breweries will be serving up the goods, and you can get a good deal if you show up at Marble this Thursday, August 30. From 7-9, Brew Fest organizers will be on hand to sell discounted tickets ($15, or $20 with a commemorative Fest t-shirt). You can also purchase tickets by going to the website. A beer fest 4 days before I leave for GABF? Sure, why not?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Beer as Unique as its Name

Like those English ales? I have to say, after shunning them in favor of the all-powerful IPAs the past many years, I have come back to appreciate the balance and amount of flavor that can be packed into a 4% beer. However, this new-in-town John Smith's Extra Smooth Ale is done an injustice with the damn widget in the can, a device that nitros all the flavor out of a beer. I know the are many that enjoy the mouthfeel that nitro brings, but I can't enjoy it. I tried a North Coast Old Rasputin on nitro once, and even with the beer's 9% ABV the nitro killed all the goodness in the beer. Great job on the Olympics though, London.

I guess people weren't head over heels in love with New Belgium's summer seasonal, Somersault, or maybe Bird of Paradise just went overboard when buying it. Either way, we win with the sale that this Gibson store is having: $14 gets you an entire case of a beer that was selling for $7-8 a six-pack eariler in the season. Of course, keep in mind that these beers have a best before date of 8/25, but it's only 8/23 as I write this...

And finally, with the increasing availability of craft beer in cans, I didn't want you all to forget that there is still plenty of crap out there too! This malt beverage would love to tag along in your golf bag for the remainder of the summer, and while I admit I'm kind of curious enough to try it, I can't imagine Arnie ever endorsing this.

Monday, August 20, 2012

In Case You Haven't Heard...

I haven't written anything about Hopfest because I figure if you don't already know about it, you don't live in New Mexico and have no intention of going. "Hopfest awareness" is all over Facebook and all over town on flyers and those things sticking out of every six-pack in every beer store. Coincidentally, I think I have spotted little elves in tiny Hopfest shirts scuttling in the shadows.
But just in case you somehow aren't familiar with the event, here is a rundown:
The event takes place at the Hard Rock Hotel this Saturday, August 25. General Admission tickets are $25 if you buy online or at Tractor Brewing $30 at the door, and these tickets get you in at 3. If that's not early enough, there is an Extra Hoppy Hour starting at 2, though these tickets are 92% GONE. Get them quick, $35 online or Tractor, $40 at the door.
This will be the biggest NM beer event yet, with 55 breweries pouring 160 beers! This will also mark the first local fest involving new breweries Broken Bottle and Back Alley.
There will also be a drawing where the winner receives Widmer beer for a year. That's a lotta Hefeweizen.
Want to stay around after and party like someone who buys a $250 denim jacket with Hard Rock patches on it? There is a special room rate of $129 if you use the code HOPG2012 on the Hard Rock Hotel website. Come hang out and watch me lose at the blackjack tables like last year. I don't think there are UFC fights going on this year like there were last, so you'll probably see less Tapout and Affliction shirts and more brewery shirts in the Hard Rock crowd.
Finally, eight bands will be at Hopfest to keep the non-problem drinkers entertained. Eight? It's gonna be like Woodstock down there...hopefully without the smellies, though.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

End of Summer but Time for Camp

The 2012 version of Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp series has hit area stores. Beer Camp invites industry types (read: usually good Sierra customers like distributors, bar owners, beer store owners, but also 10 winners who entered videos to Sierra Nevada saying why they should be chosen) to come and brew some experimental beers that may end up being chosen to represent in the Beer Camp bottle line. The beer comes in a 12-pack of 4 different styles, three beers of each style. This year's choices seem to be right up my alley:

Imperial Red: 8.1% ABV, this beer is described as a DIPA with a large amount of malt, though malt comes through more than the hops.

Imperial Pilsner: at 5.6% ABV, I'm not sure that the term "Imperial" fits with this one. 5.6 may work for an Imperial Mild Ale, but it seems light in the Pils category. Haven't tried it yet, though looking forward to it. Sierra does a good job with its Summerfest, a Czech Pilsner.

Oatmeal Stout: If any of the beers deserved to be called "Imperial", this 9.0% Stout certainly is worthy of the title. Oats come through in the mouthfeel and there is also some chocolate and light coffee.

Floral IPA- They got the name right on this 5.9% ABV IPA, with ingredients such as rose hips and rose petals. Rose petals? I tried setting the mood by pouring a path into the bedroom, but it didn't work out so well...

Jubilation has this for $17, and Whole Foods at Academy and Wyoming have it for $21.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Summer Pumpkins and Winter Shandies

I know that Pumpkin beers have their detractors, but count me as a fan. A huge fan. Since I hate cold weather, the only thing about fall that I look forward to is the release of Pumpkin Ales. I'm not ready for the influx of the Pumpkins just yet, but it is happening anyway. Why the breweries didn't check with how I felt first is beyond me, but our shelves are already filling up with Harvest Moon, Wasatch Pumpkin, and two from Samuel Adams: the regular Pumpkin Ale that is part of the Harvest Collection 12-pack, and the first bottling of Fat Jack Double Pumpkin Ale. Fat Jack is 8.5% ABV, with added pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. I picked one up at Kelly's on Wyoming ($6.99) but I'm going to keep it stored away at least until the temperatures drop below 90 degrees.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pass the Poi Mahalo

Muka laka hiki, and welcome to another wonderful Tuesday, Hawaiian-style. I wanted to let you all know that Ibiza in the Hotel Andaluz will be hosting a Kona tap takeover on Thursday, Aug. 16 Thursday, Aug 16 from 6-8 pm. For $8, you get four 3 oz. samples and 1 pint of your choice of Kona Longboard Lager, Kona Wailua Wheat, Kona Firerock Pale Ale or the new Kona Big Wave Blonde Ale. These tap takeovers are a regular feature at the hotel and aren't filled with the regular Andaluzers you might expect to run into, so stop by and enjoy some Hawaiian beers.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Opa! Stone 16th Anniversary is Here

Not to be confused with the Stone Ruination 10th Anniversary, or the Stone Enjoy by 9.21.12 IPA, the 16th Anniversary has something that neither of the other numbered beers have: a lemon twist. The Anniversary series lets the brewers at Stone use their creativity with ingredients, and this year's version boasts lemon verbana and lemon oil. Were they brewing a beer or making avegolemono soup here? They added some rye malt, five hop varieties, and a dollop of tzatzaki sauce (no, of course not). The final result is a 10% ABV, 85 IBU DIPA worthy of being sold at Alex's Lemonade Stand or Olympia Cafe. Jubilation is selling it right now for $7.99.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Spending a Weekend at the Butte

Or rather, I should say spending a weekend with the Butte. I am not talking about driving down to the New Mexican kids' toilet that is Elephant Butte- I instead will be sampling Black Butte XXIV from Deschutes Brewery. The big brother of the flagship Black Butte Porter, this Imperial Porter changes recipe from year to year. Last year saw orange and chiles in the recipe, while this year has added figs and dates. The beer is 11% ABV and retails for $11.99 at the Wyoming Kelly Liquors, and should be available at most liquor stores today. Reviews on this have been very good thus far, so maybe you'll think twice about packing the car up this weekend for Elephant Butte and just cracking a Butte instead. It's so much easier staying home and being lazy.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Day That Will Leave You Feeling Bitter

Bitter, and loving it! 8/2 is of course National IPA Day, which means you have to pick up some IPA to celebrate, be it from a local brewery, liquor store, supermarket, whatever...if you have any money left after buying all the Chick-Fil-A you could eat on 8/1, that is. So, what will it be? Local favorites Il Vicino Exodus, Marble IPA, La Cumbre Elevated, Happy Camper, Nexus, something from Texas? No...Shiner doesn't count. Green Flash West Coast IPA? Does it count if you go to Billy's Long Bar and drink Double IPAs like Odell Myrcenary and Sierra Nevada Hoptimum? I think that would qualify as twice the amount of drinking credits...but it's your choice. If you're thinking DIPAs, may I suggest a growler of Chama River's just tapped The Big Lebrewski? Just make sure to save some for me, as I can't get over there until Saturday.

Falling All Over Autumn Seasonals

It's about 97 degrees outside as I type this, but I'm not longing for fall, because after that comes winter- which means biting winds, numb, non-functioning hands, and the inevitable jacket that I liked when I bought it last winter but I hate now.
I would have thought that with global warming, the Autumn seasonals might come out later this year, but no- they are showing up on shelves in all their various forms: Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale, Samuel Adams Octoberfest, and the newest in New Belgium's ever-changing world of seasonal offerings: Red Hoptober. Now, I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but I'm deducing that this beer is a hoppy Red Ale...maybe in the same vein as a Marble Red, perhaps? The hop bill is Target, Nugget, Cascade, El Dorado, and Centennial, with the beer containing 60 IBUs and a 6% ABV. I first saw this at Whole Foods on Carlisle, but it's New Belgium, so you can get it at a gas station.