Friday, December 19, 2014

Beer Flights at the Bird Tonight

Straight from the press release:

"Greetings all fans of the Dark!

Dark Matters' Film Festival presents our second annual Dark Brew Festival. Kick off your Horror Bites: Winter Solstice weekend with an amazing array of vintage and one-off beer flights at the Bird of Paradise (5409 Gibson Blvd. SE).

We are featuring Stone Xocoveza Mocha Stout on draft -- the perfect dark and spicy brew to toast our festival. Santa Fe's Santa Sidra Cider will be on hand to provide samples of their superior Seca (dry) and Ligeramente Dulce (A Tad Sweet) bottled ciders.

Featured bottled beers include Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, Old Rasputin XVII Anniversary Barrel-Aged Stout, Straffe Hendrik Heritage 2012 Oak-Aged Quad, Traquair 2020, Rogue XS Old Crustacean (2012, '13 & '14), XS Dead Guy and Morimoto Imperial Pils; Odell 180 Shilling & Trellis Garden Ale; Deschutes Black Butte Porter, New Belgium/3 Floyds Grätzer (yay, zombies), Biira Montegioco Fumigant, and many more. Flight pours will be 6 oz. per beer.

And come early, because we're offering a bucket-list opportunity: 1.5 oz pours from Samuel Adams' Utopias 11 for only $10.50. Courtesy of the Bird of Paradise, we'll be raffling off an (empty but still highly collectible) Utopias bottle during the event.

Admission is a suggested $5 donation that goes towards the Dark Matters Film Festival. The event begins at 6:30 PM on Friday, December 19th.

Then come to The Guild Cinema (3405 Central Ave. NE) on Saturday, December 20th for an equally amazing assortment of dark delicacies as we present Horror Bites!!! -- our annual collection of the best short genre films from around the world. We're presenting three programs, sorted into Horror, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and Animation. Screenings are at 4, 6 & 8 PM.
We are also pleased to co-sponsor the highly praised new horror film, The Babadook (2 PM and 10:30 PM). William Friedkin, director of THE EXORCIST, named it the scariest horror movie he has ever seen. Glenn Kenny ( called it "the first capital-G “Great” horror movie of the 21st Century."

Updates and further details can be found on "

Appropriate that a beer tasting to benefit such a dark subject would be held in one of the seediest areas of town. You could take the area east of San Mateo and south of Central and quarantine it and I would never miss it- except for the Bird of Paradise. IT has employees who care about their beer selection regardless of the fact that 90% of the customers are after their Four Loko fix. And empty bottles, even as prized as the one being raffled off, become just that: empty bottles, when you're moving house and see just how many empty bottles and growlers you're going to have to pack. I won't be bidding on that Utopias empty, though I love the idea of splitting up the full bottle and selling pours. I saw this done in Boston and they were selling pours for $15, so you're getting a bargain. And who doesn't want some more of that elusive Bourbon County. Not mentioned in the release is that Mad River John Barleycorn Barleywine bottles will be sold for only $3 each.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Santa Fe Brewing: We Are the 20%

Santa Fe Brewing quietly continues to keep growing, now making its way into Utah. I still stand by my opinion that the only reason to enter Utah is for the national parks, but at least you'll have another drinking option if stuck there in a snowstorm or Mormon world takeover. Here's the press release from Santa Fe:

Santa Fe, NM November 12, 2014-- The Santa Fe Brewing Company is excited to announce
that it will open distribution to their tenth State in mid November of 2014. The great State of
Utah, with an emphasis on Salt Lake City, will soon stock packaged Happy Camper IPA,
Imperial Java Stout, and State Pen Porter. With the help of the team at M&M Distributing, SFBC
will now be able to reach the fine people of the Beehive State with these artfully crafted
Southwestern brews.

Brian Lock, President and Owner had this to say about the news, "Santa Fe Brewing Co. is
thrilled to partner with M&M Distributing for distribution throughout the State of Utah. Their
extensive knowledge of craft beer coupled with their market presence makes them the perfect
partner. SFBC has always considered itself to be the heart of the Southwest and it has been a
desire to distribute in the four corners area for many years. Now it has become a reality."
Scott Stiltz, Craft Brand Manager adds, "We could not be more excited to bring Santa Fe
Brewing's tremendous brews to the craft beer fans of Utah. They have a great reputation,
even better beers and will be a great addition to our portfolio."
A celebratory release party will be held on Tuesday Nov. 18th at the Leprechaun Inn on S. 900 E
from 4:30 to 8pm.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Drink in the Blues at Sister

Come on down to the construction zone eyesore that is downtown Albuquerque for an Oskar Blues tap takeover at Sister (407 Central). As far as actual "tap takeovers" go, this one is pretty tame. After all, only six of Sister's 40+ taps will be devoted to Oskar Blues beers. Call it more of a tap co-existence. But the OB beers being poured will be enough to make you happy, and send you on your way upstairs for that double Jack and Coke you definitely don't need. From 5-9 pm (and later, if the kegs haven't kicked by then) sample some of Oskar Blues finest, including the monster 10% Imperial Stout, Ten Fidy. It's said to be the first keg of Ten Fidy poured in the state...running water and electricity can't be too far behind, New Mexico. I tried to get Oskar Blues to send a keg of Ten Fidy for ABQ Beer Week a couple of years ago, but they wouldn't budge. Glad to see times are a' changing. Oskar Blues merchandise will be raffled off there will be a glass giveaway as well, so you don't have to bring an extra large purse for stealing. Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Going Into Business Sale!

Ever wanted to be a part of Albuquerque's craft beer boom? You still have a few days to become part owner of an ambitious new taproom/nanobrewery: Ale Republic.

Sure, a Kickstarter campaign allows you to be an owner of the business much like being a Green Bay season ticket holder makes you an owner of the football team, but your money will go to a business that sets itself apart from other beer bars in town.

Ale Republic founder Patrick Johnson is a PhD grad student at UNM. Like most PhD candidates, his plan is to open a part NM-brewed craft beer bar/ part brewery that will allow customers to come in and brew their own recipes on Ale Republic's 3 barrel system. Sort of like Kelly's Brewpub program that lets people brew, but Kelly's is geared more towards the first time brewer. Ale Republic steers towards the seasoned homebrewers who would like to live out their grandest recipes on a better system than the one in their laundry room at home. Want to brew a lemon-ginger-verbana IPA? Why??? Whatever the reason, you will have the opportunity to do so at Ale Republic. Oh, and they will provide all the ingredients, and let you brew free of charge. A socialist's dream! And if your beer is deemed good enough, Ale Republic will brew it on their larger scale 15 or 30 barrel system (that system is still a ways off. Socialists can only spend so much on themselves when sharing with you).

The craft beer part of the operation will be exclusively NM-brewed beers, but the focus will be on getting breweries' specialty kegs. Amber ales are fine, but how about a once-brewed anniversary ale, barrel-aged stout, sour, etc.? Sounds fine to me. Ale Republic will feature 30 taps of the harder to find beers from around the state.

The plans are to be located somewhere in the downtown area, possibly in the Wells Park section. They plan to open as soon as January 2015.

But listen: These good people are still $11,000 short of their initial $25,000 goal. Their concept is certainly the most forward thinking of any brewery plan that I've seen, and it would be a great addition to our scene if they could get your help. Help needs to come in the next three days, as their campaign is coming to an end. Donations start at $10, which gets you a set of three stickers. Hey, give a little, get a little. Donations go all the way up to $1,000 (feel free to give more, but the gifts end there...or do they?? For anything over that, maybe you get to go into the Champagne Room). $1,000 gets you the Aristocracy Membership, or "Living like a 1%er". It gets you the stickers, input on designing the house beers, a damn engraved stone with inscription of your choice that will become a part of the space itself, tickets to the grand opening, invites to exclusive tastings, discounts on pints and merch, and probably a small island in the Sea of Cortez.
I don't have an extra $1,000 to give, and I'm sure most of you don't either. I had to use Smith's Bonus Points to pay for gas today. But a few bucks from a lot of us could get this innovative brewery going, and it could be an exciting addition to Albuquerque's brewing community.
Visit to make a donation.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Stone Beer Dinner at Elaine's...No Big Salad, Though

Beer dinners have caught on with the highbrow crowd, as evidenced by the recent one held at Farm and Table. Welcome a new high-end player in the beer dinner game: Elaine's, the fine dining establishment in Nob Hill, will host a Stone Brewing Co. beer dinner on Tuesday, August 26 at 6:30. Elaine's boasts the cooking prowess of Executive Chef Andrew Gorski, whose resume includes a stint under Thomas Keller, of French Laundry fame. Have always wanted to eat at the French Laundry but barely being able to afford to do laundry put a damper on that dream. But having a Keller disciple cooking for me might just be the next best thing, and a dinner matched with Stone beers might make it even better.
$55 gets you four courses, beginning with a Dungeness crab salad paired with Saison. The second course is ricotta mascarpone ravioli along with Go To IPA, probably the best of the Session IPAs to have come out in the past year. Third course is duck breast, with the beer making a drastic ABV jump to Old Guardian Barleywine. The dessert course is a maple sweet potato custard with candied walnuts, paired with Quadrotriticale, the Belgian-style Quad from Stone's Stochasticity Project.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Old Town Meets the New Craft Beer Boom

Old Town residents, rejoice! In an area where a wine margarita was considered an exciting drink, craft beer will now abound. The second location of Santa Fe Dining's concept tap room, The Draft Station, is set to open this weekend on Central Ave. just east of Garcia's Mexican Restaurant. And it's about damn time, as all you residents who would only venture out on Mondays to take advantage of Old Town Pizza's craft pitcher specials can attest. The building that formerly housed the X Pac fitness center (I'm sure they've aired it out) has had a tap room in the works for many months, but permitting issues (go figure- how do any of you business owners live the American Dream with the nightmare of bureaucracy you have to put up with here??) held things up. The recent green light from the city can be partly attributed to you local residents, as Santa Fe Dining Vice President of Operations Robert Griego told me, "Our neighbors and surrounding community were very helpful in assisting us in getting our approvals, which says a lot for everyone in our area. People in the Old Town area were really wanting a neighborhood pub that was close enough to walk or bike to. and I think that we will really fill that niche."
The concept of The Draft Station is to feature beer from New Mexico breweries, with an emphasis on breweries who have brewers who, at some point, worked in the Chama River Brewing Co.'s brewhouse. And who hasn't done that, from Rice to Erway to Hamilton to Bullard to Woodward and so on. So expect the majority of taps to consist of Chama and Blue Corn offerings, with a rotating lineup of beers from Marble, La Cumbre, Bosque, Turtle Mountain, and others yet to be confirmed. Adds Griego, "We'll listen to our guests and bring in what they want, but only beer produced in NM."
The Draft Station will have seating for about 60 indoors, with bar seating, tall and standard tables, and couches for you lounge-y types. A patio area will accommodate an additional 50 patrons- a good thing, as the bar should do a brisk business in the opening weeks. We'll see how the employees handle the crush. The bar staff has attended, as Griego says, "classes that taught our staff everything from the history of beer to the proper techniques in serving it. Hopefully people will see friendly, eager servers who are willing to talk all things that pertain to beer." So no, "It's a dark beer" answers when asking about a beer? That's refreshing. Just don't school me too much on a beer. Save your breath for the tourists who strayed while waiting on a table at Vinaigrette.
Food options include chips, salsa, and guacamole from next door neighbor Garcia's restaurant. Another good thing about being right next to Garcia's: you can get a few beers in you and go next door and place bets on how many tortillas the tortilla lady can crank out in a minute. Chama River provides soft pretzels, flatbreads, and sandwiches. Future neighbor Five Star Burgers (yeah Old Town, you're getting one of those too. The hot new neighborhood? Yeah, maybe when the gate to Hell Walgreens at Rio Grande and Central is razed) will provide something. Probably burgers. You won't need too much food to stay on the safe side of sobriety, as The Draft Station will have beer limits along the same lines as local breweries. You know the drill.
Brew Club memberships will be sold for $10 until the end of the year, and a "beer passport", free of charge just for the asking, will offer savings on pints and growlers as well. Non club-types can expect regular pricing on a pint to be $4.50, more for premium styles.
Hours will be 12-12, Monday thru Saturday, but will open at 11 on Sundays during football season. Numerous TVs will broadcast numerous Cowboys losses.
And for you hardcore DOWNTOWN downtown residents: I don't know how you live there. And oh, there are no immediate plans to close the Microbar at this time. But come down and check out The Draft Station. Yes, it's a bar on Central Ave., but with 65% less booming bass.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Pajarito Hosts ANOTHER Fest

For a little place that I've never been, Pajarito Mtn. sure does host a lot of beer events. And people keep showing up and loving them, thanks to the hard work that people like Thad Hahn and friends put into them. Must be that Los Alamos water. Tomorrow will be another such event, the 2nd annual Beer Fiesta, brought to you by the soon-to-exist Los Alamos Beer Coop. Santa Fe, La Cumbre, Marble, Taos Mesa, and Bosque will be pouring brews while you listen to the musical stylings of Felix e Los Gatos. The event only costs $10 to get in and that includes your first pint. It runs from 12-6, though the ski lift will be running from 9-3 for those of you who want to mix beer and mountain biking down steep hills. That should make for a bedridden Sunday.

The Coachella of 12-Packs...on Tap!

I was going to title this piece as "the Lollapalooza of 12-packs on tap" but that would have been dating myself. Seems there are festivals that have bigger draws than Lollapalooza these days. Maybe even bigger than Edgefest. And you don't have to bake in the sun or slop around like a pig in mud (or try to hook up with a girl at Lilith me guys, the girls there are not interested in you) to drink the Beer Camp mixed 12-pack that sees Sierra Nevada collaborate with the most sought after breweries to create some delicious beers. 12-packs hit Albuquerque earlier than many areas and are still available in stores, with the 12-pack retailing at around $25. And you can try all of these beers ON TAP at O'Niell's Nob Hill location today. And what a wide variety of styles of beers they are: Russian River (heard of 'em? Me neither) contributes Ivan the Great, a Belgian style Blonde reminiscent of their popular Damnation. Cigar City is in with Tropical Maibock, mixing the German style with mango and guava whatever else grows down in Florida (minus the white trash flavor). Ballast Point brings an IPL (India Pale Lager), of course contributing some San Diego hoppiness. You trade and travel-challenged folk will be happy to sample Chico King, getting to try a Three Floyds Pale Ale that tastes like what you'd expect when Three Floyds and Sierra come together to make a beer in that style. If you're looking for a less traditional beer, try the Asheville Brewers Collaborative Scottish Sweet Potato Ale. For some reason, people go nuts for Ninkasi beers, and you Ninkasi groupies will probably go cuckoo for the Double Latte coffee Milk Stout. Victory Brewing stays true to their German roots (via Pennsylvania) with an Altbier style ale. And Allagash doesn't even leave the house by producing a Belgian style Pale Ale. Oskar Blues brings a can, naturally, of Rye Bock. Wisconsin reps with New Glarus taking on something a bit out of the ordinary for them with an ESB. Bell's is in with what they call an Imperial Dark Ale. Is it a Porter? A Stout? Who cares; It's Bell's, we don't get their beers here, therefore they must be good. Finally, Firestone Walker, the darling of the craft beer world, gives us a hoppy Pilsner. Firestone Walker had plans to enter the Albuquerque market but is pushing that back. Maybe we have to buy up all the out of date Green Flash on the shelves first to prove we are worthy of them.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Odell Tasting at Kelly's Brewpub

Just a quick note to let you know that there is a free Odell IPA tasting going on tonight at 8 at Kelly's Brewpub- the only local brewery that invites you to come in and drink other breweries' beers! (To be fair, Stumbling Steer does this as well). The free tasting consists solely of Odell IPA, and rep Ryan Bogart is once again back in town to meet with you and answer all your Odell questions.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I Choo-Choo-Choose You for the Yards Premier

Come out for a beer event in a location that has been used lately as a place where tattooed couples push their kids around in strollers while buying local, organic, kitschy, etc. type goods while I am still in bed. The Albuquerque Railyards will be hosting the NM Brewers Guild's latest beer event, The Yards Premier. For $15, you get access to beers from Second Street, Kaktus, Abbey, Tractor, Sierra Blanca, Nexus, La Cumbre, Back Alley Drafthouse, Chama River, Blue Corn, Taos Mesa, Turtle Mountain, Rio Grande, Cazuelas, Marble, Santa Fe, Kelly's, Stumbling Steer, Bosque and BJ's Brewhouse out of California.
Now listen: this is not constructed like a normal "You pay an entry fee, you get unlimited/ X amount of samples" fest. What you get here for your $15 is: entry to the fest. A commemorative glass, filled with one free beer. Live music by Anthony Leon and the Chain and Man No Sober. Food trucks will be on hand- Supper Truck, Irrational Pie, Sebastiano's and Joe S. Sausage, but of course you don't get free food. Joe Sausage is pretty generous, though, and if you give him a sip of beer, he may throw you a sausage. After your first free beer, your wristband will allow you to purchase three pints after that. So you see, this is NOT a sampling event. And that's ok, but you all need to know that when deciding whether to purchase a ticket. It's fine to ask to try something before you buy, but it's not the type of event where you get a 3 oz. pour of the Brown Ale and get back in line for Hefeweizen sample. This event is designed for you to buy a few beers and relax with your friends in a spookily fun setting. The lines should be noticeably shorter than those at sampling fests, so you'll have time to walk around and take your Instagram photos of the Railyards and whatnot. The event runs from 4-10. Get your tickets here.

Friday, May 30, 2014

ABQ Beer Week: Friday, 5.30

What could be more authentically Italian than pasta sauce from a bag a la Olive Garden? How about the Birra del Borgo #25 Dodici Zymatore special tapping happening at Imbibe, where patrons may also be sporting real Italian Cavaricci pants. A barrel-aged version of their 9.5% ABV Winter Warmer beer, this will give off even warmer notes with the whiskey/pinot noir barrel treatment. The event runs from 4-7, so you may get in there with relaxed dress, but Imbibe does have a stricter dress code that starts at some point in the evening. But the time where people who get dressed up to drink show up is probably the time you want to get the hell out of there. And that is why I like you.

Goose Island will be sampling some of their off the regular lineup beers: Illinois DIPA, Ogden Tripel, Class of 88 Belgian Strong Pale Ale, and Lolita Wild Ale. Lolita is that one that comes in the real pretty bottles but you pass up because of the price. Come get a free sample of this cabernet barrel/raspberry beer for free beginning at 4 at Jubilation.

More freebies at both Total Wine locations, these of the canned variety. Cottonwood will be pouring the Kelly's Brewpub beers, while Uptown has the new Tractor cans for sampling. Both locations start the pouring at 4. Get there earlier and try some of that purple drank.

It wouldn't be a Beer Week without a Left Hand special tapping at Two Fools. Friday's feature is Left Hand's Ambidextrous Step 2, a Smoked Double Bock. And it is indeed smoky, like it was cooked low and slow at Franklin's. Yesterday's New Belgium keg was kicked by 6:30 yesterday (warned you!), so you might want to call it an early day at work and show up at Two Fools around 4, when the beer will be tapped.

Marble will have three cask-conditioned beers for sampling and purchase: the 505 2014 Collaboration, World Beer Cup Gold winning Pilsner, and the never-before revealed Rye Bretta. The casks will be pouring all day.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

ABQ Beer Week Thursday, 5.29

Deep in the heart of Beer Week 2014, and I'm deep in the heat of internet service woes. Woes be gone, hopefully. It's working now.

There are, surprisingly, still tickets available for Marble's Beer and Cheese pairing event. I got to sample some of the cheeses today and the taste just like the cheeses I could never afford to purchase from Whole Foods. And one the beers in the event is Sansa, Marble's latest Wild Ale release. I'm not sure what "Sansa" means. I was thinking, "Sansa time", or "Sansa anarchy", or maybe even "Sansa bitches". But those of you who tried it at Blues and Brews know it is a solid beer, and just one of the many you get for $20. The event takes place at Marble Brewery from 4-7.

Tractor will be hosting Casks and Cupcakes from 4-6 at their Nob Hill location, with help from bakers from Bittersweets Bakery. That's a pairing usually reserved for "just got home from the bar at 2 a.m. and am starving" eating, but I'm sure this will be no less satisfying.
I Believe I Wood! New Belgium Loves Blackberry Whiskey Barrel Beer Tapping at Two Fools Tavern. That's quite the long name for an event. They had me at wood. A blackberry whiskey barrel beer sounds strange, but Lauren Salazar and the blenders at New Belgium know what they are doing with fruit blends. Starts at 4 pm. I imagine this will be a popular event, so get there quick.

Another New Belgium event is a tap takeover/Rolle Bolle event at Adieux Café. Quietly amassing a thoughtful draft lineup and serving good food (it's possible to do downtown, believe it or not), Adieux is located next door to Effex. It's cool to go in there, guys. Nobody cares. They play football now too. Event starts at 8...go to find out what the hell Rolle Bolle actually is. Is it like Parcheesi, or however it's spelled?

Tastings at O'Niell's Juan Tabo and Nob Hill, with Boulder Beer sampling at Juan Tabo. Shake Chocolate Porter has to be the smartest beer they've done to date. People be buying that stuff. Nob Hill location has a mini Sierra Nevada tap takeover, with the highlight being this year's Hoptimum. Both events begin at 5.

Is this really happening? Stumbling Steer is hosting a stellar tap takeover with Lagunitas. Check out this list:

Undercover Shutdown

Nighttime Cascade IPA

IPA Maximus Ale

Hop Stupid Ale

Lil Summpin Summpin

Day Time: A Fractional IPA

How many of those have you ever seen on tap in Albuquerque??? Undercover Shutdown, where it has been languishing at Sister Bar, waiting to be poured? Starts at 5.

Nexus gets all fancy with a beer dinner at Prairie Star at 6 pm. Come see what new Head Brewer Kaylynn McKnight has done to Nexus' Cream, IPA, and Porter, served along with the "Beam Me Up Scotty" Anniversary Ale. Eat some Prairie Star food as well. It's good stuff, or so I'm told. Only $39 for a beer dinner there? That's a jaw dropping price for a beer dinner these days, sadly.

There will be beer tastings at both Total Wine stores and at Jubilation as well tomorrow.

Thanks to all who have come out and supported Beer Week events thus far- I have talked to many of you at events and the support has been incredible!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Gladly Accept This Challenge

Decided to take a break from the busy world of blogging to prepare myself for the upcoming ABQ Beer Week, which will quietly kick off tomorrow with the Pint for Pint Blood Drive at Tractor's Wells Park location beginning at noon. Lots more Beer Week highlights to come.
The NM Brewers Guild has announced the dates for the 12th annual NM IPA Challenge, an event where the trophy is probably almost as coveted as a GABF or World Beer Cup award...or at least right up there with Honorable Mention for "Best Microbrewery" in the Albuquerque Tribune readers' poll. Congratulations, Assets Grille!
The first leg of the Challenge will take place at Second St. in Santa Fe on Sat, July 12 from noon-4. Hardcore Challenge fanatics will have to make the trip to Roosevelt Brewing Company in Portales (I-40 East, make a right at Santa Rosa, keep going. And going.). Portales: we make Artesia seem fun! But at least they have Roosevelt Brewing in Portales, which I hear good things about. If I could be assured that AAA would come that far to tow my car when it overheated out in that desert, I might be inclined to make the trip myself. The Portales event is Wednesday, July 15 from 4-9.
Finally, the Albuquerque section of the Challenge will be Saturday, July 19 from noon-4 at Tractor's Wells Park location (4th and Hannett). I applaud the Guild on this choice if only for the fact that I can ride my bike there easily. You know what would be even better? Breaking up the Albuquerque event, which is by far the most popular, into two sessions; say a 12-4 session and a 6-9 session. I am admittedly the world's biggest wuss when it comes to day drinking, but I'd have to think there are other people out there who'd like a later start on the drinking as well. Anybody with me on that?
The format remains the same as last year: $20 to get in, 16 breweries showcasing their best IPA (no other style; not, as one person so wrongly stated last year, "This beer is a Vanilla Porter disguised as an IPA!" No, it wasn't. It just sucked.) in 2-3 oz. pours. Vote for your favorite and receive a collectible glass that you will break before next year's challenge. Visit for tickets to the Albuquerque event.
Beer Week Cometh!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Widmer- a Great Value and Oh, The Beer's Good Too?

Let's face it: when you hear of a brewery such as, oh, let's say Widmer, releasing a new IPA, you probably don't get very excited about it. And I totally understand. Broken Halo IPA was a nice entry level IPA back in the day, but mostly because you could get a 12-pack of it for cheap. And their Rotator IPA series had so many variations coming out that you couldn't keep up with which was the newest/freshest one. But it may be time to give the Widmer IPA line another shot, now that they have released Upheaval IPA, their first true West Coast Style IPA. A promising hop lineup that includes Chinook, Simcoe, and Nelson, along with 85 IBUs, was enough to pique my interest. 7% ABV falls in line with popular versions of the style. And the price- $6.49 at Total Wine (possibly more at other stores, though I haven't found it at other stores) makes it one of the best IPA deals out there. Yeah, it's Widmer. Don't hold that against them. They've brewed an IPA that you may find comparable to ones that cost $3 more per six-pack, and that's admirable considering today's rising craft costs.

Friday, March 21, 2014

New Beer Friday

Well, Lobo fans. A sad day, to be sure. At the very least, you can drown your sorrows with one bracket winner, Brewing News National IPA Champion Project Dank. Anyone else notice how anytime there is any kind of IPA competition, whether it be GABF, World Beer Cup, or this latest IPA Championship, La Cumbre and Fat Heads are always competing at the end? It's high time these two breweries collaborated on a beer.

Look who's canning! Utilizing a mobile canning service, Kelly's Brewpub is now canning their Amber Ale (4.7%) and a new Session IPA, which is 4.8% ABV but purports to have 87 IBUs. Beginning March 31, you can try both of these styles, and you probably will be over that tough loss by then. Which is good, because it would probably take a lot more than a 4.7% beer to make you feel better about it. Expect to pay $7.50-$7.99 for the Kelly's cans, which will be available in stores around town.

What can you say about this DIPA that hasn't been said before? Stone graces us again with Enjoy by IPA, this one being Enjoy By 4.20.14. Perfect timing, as we all know what you'll be enjoying on that day. At over 9% ABV, this may be just the beer you need to drink today. And you can- it's in stores right now. Put down that noose/gun/can of gasoline and start enjoying life again with the pep that only alcohol can give you.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Pygmy Owl: Small Ones Are Sweeter?

It's official: craft beer is IN. God help us all. If you need evidence, just look to the latest statistics from the Brewers Association, which today announced that craft brewers saw an 18% increase in total volume and a 1.3% increase in craft's share of the total U.S. beer market (total $ share is up to 14.3%...does that mean we pay double for craft beer? I may have to start buying Hamm's). Statistics are great, unless you are talking about a college class you are taking. And I don't need statistics to tell me craft is hot; I can just look at the latest trend: breweries emulating each other to come out with their own version of the latest "hot trend"- yup, we have them in the craft industry now too- session IPAs. My last post focused on Stone's Go To IPA, and today's brings you the newest wildlife themed beer from Big Sky: Pygmy Owl. Joining Scape Goat, Powder Hound, Brush Tail, a bear, an elk, a trout, a horse, and some poor skinny doggy looking thing named Bobo on a Big Sky beer label, Pygmy Owl is a 4.2% ABV, 30 IBU Session IPA. 4.2%, the same as the Guinness Draught you might be drinking right now. Spotted at a surprisingly quiet Total Wine on the greatest of drinking days. And as far as Session IPAs go, small ones are not sweeter, as the alcohol content just doesn't allow for it. But I felt compelled to throw in a line from the Judy Blume classic Superfudge. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Go To Your Happy Place With Stone's Newest IPA

To keep myself in my perpetually positive state of mind, I like to find things to be thankful for on a daily basis. Today, for instance, I am thankful for the Session IPA style. While I'd love to just sit around and get wasted on 9% and up ABV DIPAs at night, it makes for a groggy and unpleasant experience having to deal with stupid idiots the day after. So enter Go To IPA, a real gem of a beer from Stone Brewing Co. Go To joins Founders All Day IPA and Lagunitas Daytime IPA at the very top of the Session IPAs (loosely defined by me as an IPA under 5% ABV). Go To is 4.5% ABV and 65 IBUs- but doesn't have the super bitter bite that brings down many Session IPAs. Go To captures the fruitiness of a good modern IPA, and somehow smells a lot like Stone's 9.4% Enjoy By while keeping the low alcohol. Low alcohol usually equates to an easier morning after, which allows you to keep thinking happy thoughts throughout the day, just like me. Go to Whole Foods on Carlisle, where stacks and stacks of Go To are on display

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Not So New But New Faces in Old Places

Not only does Albuquerque have an influx of new breweries opening in the coming months (or years, as dealing with the city when it comes to all things ALCOHOL has me thinking we are governed by Quakers), we also have former assistant brewers making the move to head brewers. Zach, the tireless toiler at Il Vicino, will be making the jump to head brewer at Chama River Brewing Company. Congratulations Zach, but please don't try to turn Jackalope IPA into a Wet Mountain clone. Something along the lines of Exodus would be swell.
Former assistant at Chama River, Tim Woodward, will be heading west- all the way to Turtle Mountain Brewing Company, where hopefully he can provide consistency to a product that can be very good at times. I'm sure he will make his mark over there. Good job, Tim. Make some beers that will get me to drive all the way out to that godforsaken part of the world, would you please?
Finally, she's not the first female head brewer ever to lead a New Mexico brewery (anyone remember who that was?), but she's the only one in Albuquerque: Kaylynn McKnight will soon be putting her own touch on Nexus beers, as former head brewer Manuel is heading back to California. Though her place may seemingly be more suited to the kitchen, Kaylynn promises to leave the chicken and waffles recipe alone. But seriously, she's worked hard under Jeff from the start at La Cumbre and brings quite a skill set with her to her new position. I'm excited to see what she will bring to Nexus.
It will take a little time for these brewers to make their mark as they get familiar with their new systems, but there's sure to be some good beers coming from all of them. Congratulations again to all of you!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Not Available to Married Men

Tired of drinking all those flavorful IPAs and Stouts? Looking for a beer that you and the bros can pound over beer pong or foosball tournaments? Leave it to Australia to brew up some of the least flavorful beer you could imagine, and now you can get it right here in Albuquerque! We have been wisely chosen as one of only six states (so far) that has the demographic that could sufficiently appreciate Good Head Beer, a 4.6% ABV Premium Lager style beer. Good Head may be a good change for those of you who like something easier to drink as the weather turns warm, and the price is right for this type of beer- $4.99 for a four-pack of 16 oz. cans.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Land of Lupulin

Illinois may be known as the Land of Lincoln, but Goose Island wouldn't mind if you thought of Illinois as a haven for IPAs. Lincoln himself probably wouldn't mind either, since most people probably think of Illinois as "where Obama's from...either there or Kenya". Goose Island has gone so far as to name their new DIPA "The Illinois", though after drinking it I'm reminded more of an east-coast style DIPA- heavy on the malt. There is plenty of hop presence (Chinook, Cascade, Citra, Meridian in the hop bill) and 95 IBUs to boot, but the malt makes for a very drinkable DIPA, especially when you consider that it is 9% ABV. Goose Island isn't a major player in the IPA battle, but they never had to be. The Bourbon County lineup was enough for me to love them, though they have won many awards for their English-style IPA. The Illinois is definitely an American version of a DIPA, but I suggest you drink it fresh...and you can, as the version to hit shelves here (Jubilation, Total Wine) was bottled 2.7.14, and retails for around $10 a four-pack.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

You Have to be Scholastic to Spell Stochastic

...but you don't have to be scholastic to drink it. You should be well-versed in bitter IPAs, however, for the new Stochasticity Project Grapefruit Slam IPA is as bitter as the project itself is pretentious. Or seems pretentious, I should say. "Stochasticity Project Grapefruit Slam IPA seems natural in its cohesive perfection, but it is a beer birthed from iterations both numerous and varied." That's an actual quote from the press release. I had to consult an Ivy League professor to decipher the entire release, but here's what the project seems to boil down to: It's beer releases for brewing science nerds, and for those who want to learn the science involved in the beers they drink. It's a product of Stone Brewing Co. (claimed to be brewed by KoochenVagner Brewing Co., but that's just a play on Greg Koch and Steve Wagner, founders of Stone), a brewery that already has enough quality product out there but wants to go beyond what others are already doing. They want to bring the science to you, going so far as to hire famed crime scene detective Lincoln Rhyme, who brings his gas chromatograph to dig deep into the brewing process to discover off-favors and why they occur in your beer. I didn't detect any in Grapefruit Slam, which combines Centennial, Chinook, and Magnum hops along with hand-zested grapefruit peel in this 8.2% ABV, 95 IBU DIPA. Jubilation has the 22 oz. beer for under $10, a bargain when you consider that the budget for research into the project is higher than NASAs. But then again, who's isn't these days? Look for future releases from the Stochasticity Project in coming months.

500 B.C. A number that makes one think back to the classic film Caveman, starring adequate Beatles drummer Ringo Starr. It's also the name of the DIPA from Humboldt Brewing Company, available now in stores for around $8 per 22 oz. Since Firestone Walker contract-brews the beer, I had high hopes- up until I took my first sip. "Tastes old", I said. Glanced at the mirror. "Looks old", I said. Looked at the bottle, noticed the 9/27/13 bottled on date. Five months doesn't a bad DIPA make, but it can change into a beer that isn't necessarily what I'm looking for in an IPA-DIPA. I want more of the bright, punchy hop flavor that a fresh bottle can give you. If you like a sweeter DIPA, the age on 500 B.C may just please you. Total lapse of any kind of sense on my part not to have looked for a bottling date while in the store. Beer geek, indeed.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sample Stone at Sister

Sister, the Central Avenue spot with probably the nicest looking bar in town, will be hosting an evening of Stone Brewing Company's beers. $12 gets you:

Five tastes and one 10 oz of your choice of:
2012 Red Wine Barrel-Aged Double Bastard
Matt's Burning Rosids Imperial Cherrywood-Smoked Saison
2013 Double Bastard
2013 Old Guardian Barleywine-Style Ale
Ruination IPA

That's only $2 more than the $10 I paid just to get in the place last night, where I still had to pay for a beer, and left before the act I paid to "see" had even gone on. And trying to get a cab after that? Forget it! But the $12 you spend tonight will be well worth it. Ride your bike to Sister, though. There can't be more than like three cabs to serve the entire city.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Poor Man's Parabola

People may be divided over having big-box liquor retailer Total Wine in town, but there's no denying the fact that they are the sole reason we get to try beers from (off the top of my head, so forgive me if I forget some) Flying Fish, Scuttlebutt, Diamond Knot, Pike's, Reel, and Humboldt. Humboldt Brewing Company is the one famous for having a hemp ale (before Colorado totally one-upped them and made it legal to get high and chug a beer at the same time. Or something like that). The best of their lineup, I do believe, is their Black Xantus Imperial Stout. Though the company has undergone ownership changes in the past few years, the beers are still contract-brewed by the good folks at Firestone Walker. A great brewery, and one that was supposed to have begun distributing in Albuquerque by spring, though this has been pushed back till fall. At least. Don't hold your breath- just grab a 22 oz. Black Xantus, seen at Whole Foods for $14.99- though I bet you can get it cheaper. Black Xantus has always made me think of a lighter version of Firestone's incredible barrel-aged Imperial Stout, Parabola, though with more coffee. Black Xantus spends six months aging in bourbon and wine barrels and is infused with Jobella organic coffee. All the things a growing stout needs. 11% ABV, so enjoy your body's battle between the alcohol and caffeine.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Ed's Back. Heaven Help Us.

Those of you who are fortunate enough to have been drinking beer for years may have a memory of Ed's Cave Creek Chili Beer. It may not be a fond memory, but it may exist. It disappeared from distribution here, and some feel that was for the best. After all, a beer with an actual chile (I'm spelling it the New Mexican way) pepper resting in the bottom of each bottle is an interesting novelty item to view on the shelf, but ingestion caused indigestion. And burning mouth, for hours. Sound tempting? Now you can try an updated version, now known as Original C Cave Creek Chili Beer - Cerveza Con Chili. The name has changed, but the chile pepper remains. It's now brewed in Mexico, where all good beer comes from. And its back in our stores- in Jubilation, for one, where you can buy a single bottle for $1.89. And a single bottle should be plenty.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Maybe This IPA Thing Is Catching On

The folks over at the Boston Beer Company (Jim Koch in particular) had for years talked about the IPA style in a way that made it seem as if they were above it all. So many breweries made serviceable versions, why waste R+D time on one when they could use that time to come up with Cranberry Lambics and Scotch Ales? To be fair, the Sam Adams line has brought us Whitewater IPA and the Latitude 48 line of IPAs, but now they are getting serious, with Rebel IPA- their first true "West Coast Style IPA". Hint: "West Coast Style" is the good kind of IPA. The kind people will buy. Word is the BBC people are getting aggressive about having their share of the IPA market, so much so that Lagunitas chief Tony Magee took to Twitter claiming that BBC was deliberately targeting his tap space in bars in order to replace Lagunitas beers with Rebel taps. Ah, the craft beer business- where everyone who gets into it is just out to fulfill their passion of brewing good beer and money is only an afterthought. It's nice to romanticize the craft movement, but after lifting sacks of grain and filling and lugging kegs for 14 hours a day, a brewer's rugged individualist spirit starts to sag...but sure can be boosted by a having a bank account comfortably in the black. But enough cynicism about "craft beer" (for now, I've plenty stored up for later), let's examine this Rebel IPA. 6.5% ABV, fine, maybe a tad low compared to what many breweries are shooting for nowadays but not every IPA has to be on the verge of being a DIPA. 45 IBUs, way low, you sure this isn't an APA? Hop bill: Cascade, Centennial, Simcoe, Amarillo, Chinook. Yes, I believe successful West Coast Style IPAs have been made with those ingredients. Price: $8.99 per six-pack (at Jubilation), right in line with the other Sam Adams beers- thankfully they didn't try to match the higher price points of some other IPAs. But can they match the flavor? And will your favorite Blue Moon tap at Holiday Bowl be replaced by Rebel IPA? Time will tell.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2014: The Year of the Perpetual Hangover?

Wow, halfway through January and just now writing the first post of the new year...not like there's nothing going on. Plenty of brewery happenings to get you excited, but the proof is in the beer. In Nob Hill, or Pub Hill, as it's becoming, we will welcome stalwarts Bosque Brewing and an offshoot of the ABQ Brew Pub concept under the Alien name (yes, Rio Grande and Sierra Blanca beers). New to the scene will be the Hops Brewery. Not to be confused with thirty or so other beer places with the same name, this one is a creation of the former owner of Hello Deli. Hello, Hops Brewery. Make my brains scrambled, please. Stumbling Steer on the west side of town isn't a chain, so I'm not sure what it's doing in the big box area by Cottonwood Mall, but the space looks promising. Downtown may still be crying for a new grocery store, but residents can cry those tears into a glass at Tractor's upcoming industrial area location or Chama River's new taproom, in the part of Central that Aveda and Vinaigrette have made all fancy. Looking forward to trying outgoing Chama River head brewer Justin Hamilton's new brewery when he gets up and running...even looking forward to the reincarnation of Bad Ass Brewery, under a different name, ownership, and, most importantly, new recipes.
Lots of beer to try this year. Please do your part- I can't drink it all myself.