Friday, August 23, 2013

Septemberfest Lite

Take heart, all you who mourned the passing of Marble's Septemberfest: The New Mexico Brewers Guild has revealed plans for a sort of "mini-Spetemberfest" to be held September 21st at Marble Brewery. Don't go in expecting the parking lot free-for-all sample fest that, let's face it, contributed to much of its popularity. Consider this a fest for the more refined craft drinker, or at least for someone who doesn't need to drink till they feel like they have to hold on to something to keep from falling off the earth. The format will be much like the successful IPA Challenge but without the challenge. There will be 12 NM Breweries represented, and you get a tray with a generous sample of beer from each brewery. You then get a pint of the beer you liked best served in a commemorative mug. $15 gets you into the event, which will be held inside the Marble pub, not in the lot. So, as you can see, a much more toned-down kind of event. No word on musical entertainment, but I was thinking of something along the lines of smooth jazz to complement the event. Food trucks will be on hand, and I would expect breweries to be bringing kegs of something special to make the event great. Time and ticket availability TBA, check the guild's and Marble's website soon for more info.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The 2013 IPA Challenge Results

It was beginning to look like the 1970's/80's Russian National Teams vs. the rest of the world (or perhaps as bad as Ivan Drago vs. Apollo Creed) in recent IPA Challenges. Il Vicino had dominated the event since 2009, leaving many to wonder if another brewery could ever topple Brady McKeown and crew. However, after the first three legs of the Challenge, Blue Corn had established a commanding lead. Would the discerning palates in Albuquerque agree?

To quote Al Michaels, "Do you believe in miracles??? YES!!!!!!" Blue Corn's John Bullard utilized a healthy dose of Citra and Simcoe hops to make an IPA that put it above all the rest, and, perhaps more importantly, as one brewer put it, "I don't even care if I win, just as long as someone finally beats fucking Il Vicino!" And the underdog Blue Corn did it, besting possible favorites Il Vicino, Marble, La Cumbre (which had a strong showing in Albuquerque but may have been held back by voters in areas unaccustomed to such a strong Nelson hop-forward beer), and Chama River. Congratulations to Blue Corn, and thanks to the Brewers Guild and all the hard-working people behind the scenes who helped make the 2013 IPA Challenge a success!

The final results, with the actual beers' corresponding number from today's challenge in parentheses:

1. Blue Corn-`164 votes (12)

2. La Cumbre- 45 votes (9)

3. Il Vicino 43 votes (2)

4. Turtle Mountain- 35 votes (1)

5. Chama River 29 votes (6)

6. Marble 29 votes (5)

7. Santa Fe 28 votes (4)

8. 2nd Street 24 votes (3)

9. Tractor 23 votes (14)

10. 3 Rivers- 21 votes (11)

11.Broken Bottle- 18 votes (7)

12. Bosque Brewing- 17 votes (10)

13. High Desert- 17 votes (13)

14. Taos Mesa- 10 votes (8)

Friday, August 16, 2013

My Spellcheck is Blowing Up

When I think of a typical German beer, I think of malty beers like Oktoberfests and Bocks. IPAs, not at all. But leave it to Stone Brewing Co. to come up with their version of a "German Double IPA" (9.5% ABV, 102 IBUs) with their 17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung IPA. Perhaps tying New Belgium's Paardebloem for a beer name that is both annoying to type and impossible for me to pronounce, Götterdämmerung utilizes mostly German hops such as Hersbrucker, Strisselspalt,Magnum, Merkur, Opal, Smaragd and Herkules. Pilsner malt rounds out the beer, along with a yeast strain found in King Ludwig's grave. Ok, that last part isn't true, but who knows? Sam Calagione may have a shovel in his hands as I type. Kelly's on Juan Tabo was the first store I know of in town to feature this beer, though you should be able to find it around town, $7.99-ish retail.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Best Fest Tickets are Cheap Fest Tickets

We all want to hit up as many of the local beer festivals as we can, but after buying all the new release bombers, constantly getting growlers filled, not to mention buying $10 four-packs, finding money to attend all the fests is getting tough. And finding time and money for food in between all that? Impossible.
That's why I thought you'd be interested in the ticket party on Thursday, Aug. 15 at Marble Brewery for the upcoming NM Brew Fest, Saturday, Oct. 5 at Villa Hispana on the NM Fairgrounds. The ticket party, which will go from 5 to 8, features reduced prices that won't have you rushing to the Wal Mart Coinstar to pay for a ticket. Look: the regular $30 general admission ticket drops from $30 to $20 ($25 if you want a Brew Fest shirt- good price for a shirt), or $35 for VIP (regularly $55, and VIP gets you specialty Belgian beers paired with food). $40 for a VIP ticket + shirt. If you don't want to pay the VIP price, you can still get fed- Supper Truck, Rustic, and The Last Call will all be on hand. All your favorite NM breweries will be there pouring beers at this Oktoberfest-themed gathering, as well as Stone, Left Hand, Oskar Blues, Deschutes, and New Belgium. You've probably never heard of any of those breweries, but they're up and coming. Live music rounds out the festival, which takes place from 1-5 pm.

Albuquerque's Kodiak Moment

People have been clamoring for years about getting Alaskan Brewing Company beers in Albuquerque. Beginning September 9th, they'll get their wish. Alaskan IPA, White, Freeride American Pale Ale and the Amber will be available in bottles and on tap. Alaskan Amber has always been kind of special to me ever since I was 16, when my grandfather brought me back an Alaskan Amber t-shirt from a cruise up there. That has absolutely nothing to do with why you should want to buy Alaskan beers, but it helped form the problem drinker before you today. The four beers we are getting are Alaskan's core brands, and I'm not sure if we will see others like their million time gold medal winning Smoked Porter or the Winter Ale brewed with spruce tips. Maybe if we buy enough of the core beers we will be rewarded.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Lord of the Flies...and IPAs

Happy now, all of ye who prayed for rain? I saw depressing statistics on how little the monsoon season has affected Albuquerque's drought conditions, leading me to this conclusion: The only thing rain does for New Mexico is bring a migration of all the world's flies, mosquitoes, and weeds. Monsoon season has one positive, at least- the annual IPA Challenge happens this time of year, starting tonight, in fact, at High Desert Brewing in Las Cruces. Tomorrow night, the Challenge moves on to Taos Mesa Brewing. Friday, August 16 brings the Challenge to Santa Fe Brewing, and the event culminates on Saturday at Marble Brewery. 14 Breweries are competing this year, all with one goal in mind: to beat Il Vicino, the champion of the last four years. IPAgate has been brewing, so to speak, a little more every year that Il Vicino wins. Some people seem to think that, while Il Vicino makes a fine IPA, it is more the rabid Il Vicino regulars figuring out which beer in the blind tasting belongs to Il Vic and voting for that one that brings home the prize year after year. Don't get mad at me, Il Vicino regulars, I'm just repeating what I know others believe. Is it just sour grapes on their part? I voted for Il Vicino in 2009 and 2010, and really don't care who wins this year. I'm going to vote for the IPA based on its merit, and I hope you do too.
The format remains the same, where your $25 gets you a few ounces of each of the 14 IPAs, then a commemorative pint glass filled with the one you liked the best (or filled with the Il Vicino offering, if you are a regular there...I'M KIDDING!) Damn, Il Vicino, see what happens when you are on top? Everyone's gunning for you!
It's going to be a great time at all the breweries hosting, and every year just seems to get better and harder to judge. Got to for a ticket, or pick one up at La Cumbre or any of the IPA Challenge sites.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What Was That P.T. Barnum Said?

Ok, a quick show of hands: Who here dislikes IPAs? All right then, handraisers: How many of you are going to the Breaking Bad beers release at Marble on Thursday? Wait, really? All of you?? But, but, you realize that both beers debuting, Heisenberg's Dark Ale and Walt's White Lie, are both IPAs, right? The Heisenberg is a Black IPA, the first of that style that Marble has attempted, and Walt's White Lie is a wheat IPA. Both use plenty of Galaxy hops, a variety that won't have you saying, "Jeez, where's the hop presence?" But that isn't going to scare you away, is it? The name alone will have you and many, many others lining up for a taste of IPAs named after everyone's favorite TV show, Breaking Bad. Why oh why didn't I think of using the Breaking Bad name in any single part of this blog? I could have dozens of viewers by now. And while I want to say I don't really understand people drinking a beer solely because of the name, I know I am guilty of the same thing- I have bought Guy Fieri salsa, Wolfgang Puck soups, Emeril Lagasse mustard, Andy Capp hot fries, Larry the Cable Guy mix with boiling water box of food on clearance at Big Lots...and probably all because of the recognition factor. I don't even like hearing Wolfgang Puck's voice, and I definitely would change the channel on Larry TCG faster than if an Ernest movie came on the TV. Other breweries realize the opportunity to co-brand with the best show to come out of Albuquerque since Dance Dance Dance It's a Teen Thing: both Il Vicino and Kelly's Brewpub will be releasing Breaking Bad beer of their own. And for you IPA haters choking down a glass of Galaxy hop-infused goodness, there's another good reason you bought that beer, as you can purchase an IPA Challenge (August 17 at Marble) ticket for $20, a $5 savings. And for you IPA fans, I hope at least one of you will try to make a black and tan version, or at least mix the two and toast the final season of Breaking Bad.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Well, There's Always Munich

We all look forward to the time of year when we get to toast the marriage of King Ludwig to Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The usual way we would do it here in Albuquerque was to get together at Marble Brewery for their Septemberfest- "As close as you can get to Germany in a parking lot". It was one of the most popular fests in the New Mexico beer world but will not be happening this year. Marble cites "festival overload" as one of the main reasons. And there are a lot of fests these days. With the Brewers Guild finally resembling a cohesive unit that puts on many events, along with Hopfest, Blues and Brews, something at Pajarito every week or so, breweries' time and the public's dollar are both getting stretched out. If you have some extra dollars to stretch, you can get a round trip ticket to Munich for $1,248, not including any lodging or tickets to the actual Oktoberfest. You know, a bike ride to Marble is a lot more convenient and less expensive for me. It will be interesting to see where the number of festivals overwhelms the rise in craft beer fans, if at all. The Brewers Guild put on the Beer Premier last month with a small turnout, but Nob Hill Summerfest and Cork and Tap were going on at the same time, so that may not be a good gauge. What say you? Would you have had enough festival spirit to go to Septemberfest if it was still on? Or are you saving it up for Hopfest? Or NM Brew Fest? Or the Great American Beer Fest? Or...