Thursday, December 15, 2016


Portland, Oregon is one of those cities you hear people speak wistfully of when they are talking about places they could live. (Portland, Maine, not so much). And it is a cool city, even though everyone moved there and the housing prices went crazy. Still a great place to visit, with a rich beer culture, foodies, hipsters, and galoshes. Lots of galoshes. And umbrellas. So while I'm happy in a sunnier state, I do love Portland. And now a New Mexican staple will be available there: Al Hurricane Jr. will be performing two shows daily at the PDX Hilton! And while you're waiting for the show, take the edge off with some Marble beer. On 12/14, Marble sent off pallets of Red, IPA, Pilsner, and Double White, as well as a few cases of Reserve Ale, as part of an agreement with Portland's Alebriated Distributing. Alebriated is one of the heavy hitters in the area, so expect to find Marble taps and package beer at all those good beer stores like Belmont, Station, Beer Mongers, Tin Bucket, etc. Under the deal, Marble will be sending beer to Portland about every 3 months. We'll see if that Double White lasts to the end of December, though...

Friday, December 9, 2016

Remember the Titan?

And Yeti? And Hercules? If so, you are either someone who was drinking in New Mexico back when Great Divide was available here, or you have made a trip up to Colorado and didn't partake too much in that state's greatest tourist attraction. And now you'll have one less reason to travel to Colorado, as Great Divide has added NM back into its distribution area. As of today, Jubilation has Titan IPA, Colette Farmhouse Ale, and Yeti Imperial Stout. Colette is a 2010 silver medal winner at GABF and uses a blend of four yeast strains to achieve a tart yet fruity finish. $9.99 for a sixer of bottles. Yeti is what I would consider a classic in the Imperial Stout category, and there are a number of variations on the basic Yeti: Velvet Yeti, Oatmeal Yeti, Oak-Aged Yeti, Espresso Oak-Aged Yeti, Chocolate Oak-Aged Yeti, Barrel-Aged Yeti.....but we don't have any of these. Yet. Eeeeee. But you can get the original 9.5% Yeti in six-pack CANS for $12.99. Titan IPA, along with Hercules DIPA, were often go-to hoppy beers when Great Divide was last sold here. They have always been malt-forward for IPA/DIPA style beers, and I think the malt in Titan is even more pronounced when compared to some modern IPAs. I tried some Bosque IPA after some Titan and they were completely different animals. And that's fine- I like most animals as long as they aren't trying to eat me. Titan IPA is available in six-pack bottles for $9.99.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Quick Quiz For You...

Question 1 of 1: What has been sold in stores in the states bordering us to the east, west, and north of us for years but never sold here, with trucks dropping off the product in Texas, then driving right on through our state to deliver the product to Arizona? If you said condoms, well, that's funny but wrong. Magnums have been here forever, and I guess they sell other kinds, I don't know. But the correct answer is: Dogfish Head beer. AND WE ARE FINALLY getting beer from Dogfish Head. Yes, the brewery who once sold a malt liquor that came in its own brown paper bag. The brewery that made a beer using ingredients from every continent. The brewery that has made a beer that utilizes lobster. The brewery that has made a beer that utilizes saliva. But the Milton, DE is probably better known for its 60 Minute and 90 Minute IPAs. And 120 Minute IPA. And Chicory Stout. And a bunch of high ABV beers that were extraordinary if only (but not only) for the fact that they were 6+% higher than some of the biggest Barleywines being brewed at the time. And they're on their way to NM. Not sure if Beer Superstar/ Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione will be coming here as well (that's him in the photo, pouring me a glass of My Antonia Pilsner at an event in 2010...What's up brother?...You getting my emails?...I still have the glass you filled for me, never washed!) The news has been around for a bit, but I didn't feel right writing about it until I saw someone had posted it online, so the cat's out of the bag- and probably on its way into a Dogfish Head beer. You'll see their beers hitting the shelves in the weeks to come, but start calling Jubilation five times a day just to ensure you get yours. The Jubilation employees never get tired of people asking if they sell Dogfish Head, and it will be interesting to see if they are able to form and say the word "yes" with their mouths after so many years of replying in the negative.

I'm curious to see how long Dogfish Head sells like crazy before they level out here. Will they live up to the hype/people's memories of the beer? Remember that first 90 Minute that you had years ago on that east coast trip? The one Esquire named "The best beer in America"? The one people lined up for at GABF (that's the Dogfish Head line in the photo, and the closest I am now allowed to get to Sam Calagione). Well, it's still chugging along, though you may find it a bit maltier than the DIPAs you have grown accustomed to in the years since it first opened your eyes to DIPAs. And that's not to say it isn't good; it's a classic beer. But while still Dogfish is still hugely innovative in the beers they are brewing, they aren't necessarily trying to keep up with the latest IPA fad (Though their Indian Brown Ale, formerly referred to as a "well-hopped brown", is now labeled as a "Dark IPA"). Gotta sell those Brown Ales somehow!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Can and Growler Choices Expand

Torrance, California's The Dudes' Brewing Company quietly rolled into town recently, with at least five styles hitting the Kelly Liquors on Wyoming. Four-pack cans include the almost obligatory IPA (CalifornIPA) and DIPA (Double Trunk) styles, but they also offer a Berliner Weisse. Not a whole lot of canned Berliner Weisse to stock up on in Albuquerque, so give these Dudes a try.

Billy's Long Bar has started filling growlers. They have their own logo growlers for $5, or they will fill your growler of choice. "They" apparently referring to one of the managers; when I asked the bartenders about the process, I was directed to two non-bartenders who were working. Whatever the case, you should be able to walk out of there with a filled growler with a wide range of beers to choose from. Growler of Backwoods Bastard, growler of Union Jack, growler of Project Dank even! Just don't ask for the Firestone Walker XX or the Bourbon County Stout in a growler. Super premium beers not available for fills. Also, don't expect to be able to get a sample of Firestone XX, as "We don't do samples of it because of the high ABV." Which makes no sense, obviously. You want to tell me you won't do a sample because of the high cost of the keg, fine. I can understand that. In which case I'd be willing to pay $1 for a sample if that keeps me from paying $9.50 for a 10 oz. pour of something I don't like. In the end, I had to be satisfied with a Bourbon County draft served in a MUG. M-U-G.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Black Friday. Black Beer. Don't Blackout.

Black Friday fight day! Take a break from wrestling grandma for that 4K TV and head over to O'Niell's Pub on Central Avenue for a black beer Black Friday event. The good people there have gathered a number of dark beers to take the edge off of what was once just another good day because you didn't have to work. Then it became a day to get good deals on presents. Then it became a day to buy yourself all the cool electronics. I'll be at Sears. Nobody goes there anymore. Probably because Craftsman tools aren't exclusively made in the USA like thy used to be. Is that on Trump's list of things to do in the first 100 days mandate? Should be. Anyway, kegs being tapped at O'Niell's include:

Boxing Bear's multiple medal winning Chocolate Milk Stout
Oskar Blues - Death By Coconut - Irish Porter w/ chocolate and coconut, a GABF silver medal winner
La Cumbre 2015 La Llorana Baltic Porter
Full Sail Black Gold (bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout)
Boulder Nitro Chocolate Porter
Deschutes 2015 The Abyss barrel-aged Imperial Stout

The fun begins at 11 am.

Nob Hill Bar and Grill will be tapping both the 2016 and 2015 Bourbon County Brand Stout on Friday. Or maybe that 2015 is the same keg that was sitting on tap for a long time earlier this year...but now that it's an "event", people will be packing the place for it. Funny how that happens.

Jubilation knows you've been making room in your beer fridge just for this day. If you wake up and line up outside early enough, you can take your pick from these limited edition goodies, listed courtesy of Jubilation's Adam Auden:
Limit 1 bottle per customer unless otherwise stated.
Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout 2016 (Limit 2)
BCBS 2015
BCBS 2014
BCBS 2013 (Limit 2)
Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Barleywine 2016
BCBW 2013 (Limit 2)
Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee Stout 2013 (Limit 2)
Goose Island Bourbon County Regal Rye 2015
Goose Island Bourbon County Backyard Rye 2013
North Coast Cellar Reserve Series:
Old Rasputin XIX Bourbon Whiskey
Old Rasputin XVIII Wheat Whiskey
Old Rasputin XVIII Rye Whiskey
Old Rasputin XVII Bourbon Whiskey
Old Stock 2014 Wheat Whiskey
Old Stock 2014 Rye Whiskey
Old Stock 2013 Bourbon Whiskey
Bosque Scotia Limited 2014
Santa Fe Sour Porter
Founders Lizard of Koz (Limit 2)
Firestone Walker XX
Firestone Walker Barrelworks Agrestic
Evil Twin Maple Bourbon Jesus
Blackberry Farm Brewery Brett Red Wine Barrel (GABF Silver Medal!)
Deschutes Dissident 2016
Deschutes Collage #1 2012
Moylan's Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout 2013
Black Diamond Bourbon Barrel Peak XV Imperial Porter 2014
Green Flash Silva Stout 2015

Friday, October 28, 2016

Lagunitas Generates Fresh Hop Hype

Lots of praise being heaped upon this year's Lagunitas Born Yesterday Fresh Hop Pale Ale, not to be confused with Lagunitas Born Again Yesterday Pale Ale. Or maybe they wanted you to be confused when Born Again was released some months after Born Yesterday since the Yesterday was so good that they figured you would buy the Again again and again. Anyway...

Born Yesterday is the wet or fresh hop Pale Ale that everyone is going nuts over, again. The recipe varies each year but the premise is the same: get those freshly harvested hops straight from Yakima and get brewing. This year's version is heavy on the Mosaic, Amarillo, and Equinox hops and is 7% ABV, up a half percent from last year. Investors will be pleased. This year's version also is unfiltered, which I take as Lagunitas' nod to the fact that the New England hazy IPAs are all the rage. Remember when Stone came out with their unfiltered Enjoy By? Rumor has it that 95% of their workforce enjoyed it. And the Lagunitas Born Yesterday is in that Enjoy By category in the fact that they want you to drink it NOW, which is why it was shipped to and available in just about all of their markets by today. Born Yesterday was bottled on 10.17, so while it seems like it could have made it the 1,100 miles from Petaluma, CA to Albuquerque a little faster, it's still not bad. Maybe the driver stopped at In N' Out.

This beer has disappeared quickly in previous years, though I saw a substantial stack of it at Whole Foods on Carlisle. You can get a six-pack of 12 oz. bottles at the reasonable price of $9.99.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

GABF Wrap Up

From the Brewers Association:

"During competition registration, Karl Strauss Brewing Co. self-identified their San Diego location as a Mid-Size Brewpub. After the award ceremony, GABF competition staff realized that this was inaccurate: this location is, in fact, a Mid-Size Brewing Company. Karl Strauss, while it operates brewpubs, is classified as a production facility by GABF competition guidelines.

After reassigning Karl Strauss to the Mid-Size Brewing Company category, and recalculating the Brewery of the Year results, it resulted that Karl Strauss was the winner of the Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year category. In addition, Boxing Bear Brewing Co. is the resulting winner of the Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year category.

All of us with the Great American Beer Festival and the Brewers Association deeply regret this error. Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon, which had originally been identified as the Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year, had a very strong performance in the competition, winning a gold medal in the German-Style Wheat Ale category, a silver medal in Other Strong Beer, and a bronze medal in Fresh or Wet Hop Ale. They were among the top medal-winning breweries in the 2016 competition.

Congratulations to all of the winners in the most-entered Great American Beer Festival competition ever.”

Well, it sucks to be Fat Head's. How does the Brewers Association go about getting the award back? Is someone knocking on a Fat Head brewer's hotel room door Sunday morning and saying, "Heeyyy. So I know you're probably hung over after all that celebrating, but I wanted to catch you before your flight. Anyway, about that Mid-Size Brewing Company award...."

Great that Boxing Bear was able to scoop up that Mid-Size Brewpub award. Their golds for Double Red and Chocolate Milk Stout were the only gold medals awarded NM breweries. La Cumbre's Siberian Silk took a bronze in the Baltic-Style Porter category. Bosque scored big again with two silvers for Bosque Lager and the almost expected to win Acequia Wet Hop. I say "almost expected" because it seems routine now, though none of these medals should be expected. And I'm guilty of thinking this way too, expecting that Marble would win for their Pilsner, which they did take a bronze for. But the competition is so fierce anymore, with 7,227 entries in 2016 (up 9% just from last year!), that no brewery should expect anything, nor should they leave feeling like they failed in some way.

Some other stuff from the week:

If you can get tickets to GABF, you should also treat yourself to the Paired event that coincides with GABF. 21 chefs paired with 21 breweries this year, with two dishes served with two beers at each booth. Mostly high-end stuff, which you'd expect when you have celebrity chefs like Marc Vetri participating. Dishes such as "wild salmon tataki, chimichurri, blistered shishito pepper, lavosh cracker" or "svizzerana beef brisket tartare, dandelion marmalade, cured egg yolk". And then you had Chicago's Haymarket Brewery along with Russell's Smokehouse, pairing beer with hot dogs and sloppy joes. Guess which table I went back to for seconds?

Star Bar held "The Curiosity Ball" in their adjacent parking lot Friday night. The curiosity was whether they were actually going to get the damn thing started, as they didn't let people in until nearly an hour after the scheduled start time (well, there was the NM contingent of BrewsBanner and friends who were even more eager than me and were in the lot waiting before someone who worked there stopped letting people wait there). Even when it got going, they were having trouble with the jockey boxes and some of the beers weren't pouring. But what they did have was great, including what may have been the best beer of the week: Other Half's Double Dry Hopped Double Mosaic Dreams.

I liked that Avery was pouring beer straight from barrels at GABF on Saturday. Their booth is always amazing, even if they are one of the breweries that staggers their pouring times. I feel like a shout out is necessary for the breweries that were pouring their rarer beers all the time at the four sessions (at least until they ran out): Dark Horse Barrel Aged Plead the Fifth, Bell's Black Note, Lost Abbey Cable Car, Goose Island BCBS and Regal Rye.
The highlight of the Saturday session was probably the Coastal Evacuation DIPA from Cape May Brewing Company. I wish I had the luxury of hitting all four sessions just so I could try the breweries without hype behind them. Let's be honest- as much as New Mexicans know the worth of the breweries here, how many of those breweries are getting national recognition to where people are lining up for them at GABF? Taos Mesa made a great IPA for the NM Challenge this year, and they were on my list of breweries to try, but in the rush to get all the big names, I passed them by. I don't expect to be able to get to all 3,800 beers on the festival floor, but I know there has to be be good beer waiting to be discovered if I went to the little known guys. Stephen Hawking did some kind of equation to prove it.

Yes, Melvin Brewing guys. You make excellent DIPAs. But it doesn't help much when I'm trying to discern the differences between Couchlock, Asterisk, and 2x4 when you say, "Yup. Hops. Lots of hops." Somehow, your beer isn't as appealing anymore.

Freshcraft has to be a claustrophobic's nightmare during GABF. During the Surly tap event especially. Can't they take over the ever-changing business next door?

I-25 from Denver where it goes down to two lanes until Colorado Springs has to be some of the most treacherous highway driving there is. I feel like I can be on autopilot most of the way home after that, but there is always some RV that everyone has to pass that all of a sudden slows down the left lane almost to a stop. It's rough enough driving home after a week of GABF without having to test my weakened reflexes.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Four Peaks Hits the Rio Grande Valley

Shelf space just got a little tighter in NM markets with the addition of beers from Four Peaks Brewing out of Tempe, AZ. Considering they are our neighbor to the west, Arizona beers are not very well represented in NM. Far less than beers from our neighbors to the south, and that's with that giant wall to get over.
Four Peaks has been a mainstay in Arizona stores and beer bars for years. You may have downed their flagship Kilt Lifter Scottish Style Ale while enjoying a night among the crazy partiers on Mill Ave. near ASU. I always thought it was weird that a Scottish Ale would sell so well in a city that sits above the 100 degree mark so many days of the year, but it works. I've long been a fan of their 8th St. Pale Ale, but we won't be getting that one, at least not right away. Instead. look for Kilt Lifter, Peach Ale (yes, peaches actually do grow in AZ), and their solid Hop Knot IPA. Also, there will be a limited run of their popular seasonal Pumpkin Porter in stores and on tap, though only 8 kegs made it to the entire state.

Friday, October 7, 2016

GABF Thursday Session

Usually, when you're in bed by 11 pm after a GABF session, it's because you passed out. But I promised to take it easy, and, thanks to the breweries on the floor, it wasn't so hard to do.

You see, many of the breweries have adopted a practice that (I think) originated with Firestone Walker a few years ago, where they hold off on pouring their rarer beers until a certain time of evening. When Firestone Walker began doing it, it was with Parabola. I then noticed it at The Bruery, who had a certain time for Chocolate Rain. Avery also, pouring Tweak a one time, Rumpkin at another, and so on. It's become common practice, and I can understand the reasoning. Thousands of pours add up, even at one ounce at a time. But it's easy to lose track of the time when you're sampling, then you realize, "Oh shit! They're pouring XXX beer at such-and-such brewery at 7!" And it's in section O, and you're in section E now, and you have to trudge through the crowd, and you get there with ten minutes to spare, and there's already 100 people in line ahead of you. For a one ounce pour. Such is the modern craft beer world, right? But wait: now breweries are taking it to a new level by pouring rare beers on certain DAYS of the fest. Case in point Bottle Logic. This Anaheim, CA brewery makes one of the most sought after barrel aged Imperial Stouts in Fundamental Observation. And, tho their credit, they brought it to GABF. However, they are only pouring it on FRIDAY NIGHT at 7. That's it. Lucky enough to get tickets to the Thursday session? Sorry, pal!

Bashing the Bottle Logic pouring practices aside, they did bring (and pour!) one of the highlights of the fest for me, Stronger Than Fiction. A 14.3% barrel aged Strong Ale with coconut and coffee that had me going back for seconds and second seconds. Another highlight was Greeley, Colorado's Weldwerks and their Juicy Bits IPA. I was hoping for a showing from the hot New England breweries like Treehouse, Trillium, Hill Farmstead, or PA's Tired Hands, but none of them were at the fest. I guess when you're selling out of beer, there isn't a need to promote it more, but it would be nice to share with the rest of the country. I felt bad for the guy at the Cigar City booth, who didn't realize that the GABF app had Double Barrel Hunahpu listed as one of the beers they were pouring. I guess I was the first to ask when they would be pouring it, as it wasn't listed at their booth. He was dismayed when I showed him the listing, and walked off saying, "I need a captain here now to fix this!" Still isn't fixed in the app though. Poor guy must have been asked about that beer all night!
I love Columbus Brewing out of Ohio, but they didn't have any info about the beer they brought, and the volunteers were not any help. "And what is this beer?" "Oh this one? Uh, it's more pineapple than this other one." Well, thanks for that!

The NM breweries all seemed to draw a nice crowd, though it's a shame that we didn't have a brewers guild booth this year. I saw Taos Mesa with a decent line. Marble and Bosque also. La Cumbre represented well with an endcap booth, complete with La Cumbre label artist Chris McAfee there doing a live painting that would go to a lucky festival participant. An unlucky festival participant would have to let Chris crash in their room for the night.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

GABF 2016

8 years of covering GABF. That's a lot of hangovers. A lot of Pedialyte. But so I persevere, trying to keep up with all the hot new breweries to visit and all the Albuquerque locals pouring their wares to the world. It's gotten harder to try all the beers I want to try now that there are so many more breweries on the floor, thanks to an astounding 100,000 sq. ft. added to the event last year.

And since you can't just go into GABF without having some major warm up work, we arrived on Wednesday afternoon after a hassle-free drive up from Albuquerque. Hit up a couple of beer shops, where plenty of beers not normally distributed to CO were available on the shelves. Saw Half Acre, Westbrook, lots of Wicked Weed...picked up some Surly Todd the Axe Man and Lawson's Sip of Sunshine. Checked into the hotel along the 16th St. Mall, a.k.a. 10+ blocks of chain restaurants and people trying to get you to donate to Greenpeace. Fidgeted in the hotel until 8:30 and finally walked over to the old standby, Falling Rock Taphouse. Falling Rock is the unofficial home to everyone visiting GABF, and they were all there on Wednesday, to the point where I didn't even try to get a beer at the bar. I was there for the East Coast vs. West Coast IPA event anyway, so I fidgeted in the Falling Rock parking lot instead. Staked out what I thought was a strategically superior spot for when they started pouring, but it still took 10 minutes to get my order in, and I was at the front!
There were 20 taps of great IPAs/DIPAs, so it was hard to choose from this list:
Fort George 3 Way IPA, Beachwood Amalgamator, Societe the Pupil, Faction Hop Soup, Breakside Back to the Future, Crux Gimme Mo, Boneyard Notorious, La Cumbre Project Dank (never heard of it), Cannonball Creek Project Alpha 10, Comrade Superdamp, Lawson's Sip of Sunshine, Maine Lunch, Two Roads Two Juicy, Kane Head High, Carton 077XX, New England Beer Co G-Bot, Singlecut Bon Bon 2x TNT, Three Floyds Dreadnaught, Wicked Weed Juiceless, and Creature Comforts Tropicalia. Whew. Ended up hanging out with some cool locals and we all shared our beers, to were I tried way too many good beers the first night. Lawson's Sip of Sunshine kicked first, to nobody's surprise. What was a surprise was that they then tapped the rare Double Sunshine, so I had to order one of those as well. As far as what was best? Hard to say. I really like the Singlecut and Two Roads hazy East Coast thing they have going on. Dreadnaught still hung in there as an old timer DIPA. I feel like a winner for waking up today. Now on to GABF session 1 in a few hours. Gonna pace myself. Gonna pace myself.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Vegas Spot Worth the Trip

Hey! Who's up for a trip to Vegas? Me neither. The city didn't click for me in the whole two times I visited, for a number of reasons: gambling, while thrilling when you are winning, becomes a math-to-life equation as soon as I start losing. "Well, I lost at that hand of 21, so that's X amount of hours I'll have to work to make up for it..." Algebra comes in handy after all! And you try to get away from the gambling and look for a good beer on the strip, but no dice. Yeah, there's the place in the Monte Carlo with a ton of taps, but the best thing you're going to find is Union Jack or Sculpin that has been sitting in kegs forever. And pools are fun for awhile, but laying out at one all day? You ever see that video of the people at the resort at like 6 in the morning, waiting for the lounge chairs to be put out so they can stake their spot near the pool? It looks like the Cabbage Patch Doll rampages from the 80's. Just to lay by chlorinated water. There is, however, something rational-minded people like you will should find appealing if stuck in Vegas: CraftHaus, an up and coming brewery that you should visit instead of the "beer bars" with a chef's name attached. CraftHaus recently celebrated their 2nd anniversary, and with it came a 13% Triple IPA named Hop Bomb, a Mosaic heavy beer that somehow managed to feature the hops prominently without being overly sweet (hear that, Devil Dancer? What have the stores reduced the price on that one to, like $10 a four-pack now?). CraftHaus has a couple of canned offerings, with Resinate IPA and Evocation Saison available in stores around the city and state. Seek this brewery out instead of that four-foot tall bong of Jack and Coke!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Stone's Enjoy by 14 Years Ago

Once upon a time, Stone Brewing Co. released a Belgian Wit style beer. On February 2nd, 2002, to be exact. Brad Meltzer can have a field day looking into the significance of that date, but it did start a yearly event for Stone: releasing a Belgian-inspired beer each year through 12.12.12 (03.03.03, 04.04.04, and so on), known as the Vertical Epic series of beers. Some old-timers in the beer world even had the foresight to save that 02.02.02 and on to drink in a vertical tasting at the end of the series. The bottles were few and far between by the time 12.12.12 rolled around. I knew a couple who had a bottle that got stolen when their house was robbed. I came across a few bottles of the 03.03.03 Vertical Epic in a liquor store in San Diego just last year. But that 02.02.02 was elusive with only 300 cases produced, and though novel in its appeal to acquire to drink each year in order, it was not exactly a beer I was going to give up a lot for by the time 2012 arrived. A 7.5% Belgian Wit with ten years on it is really only worth drinking in a situation like the Vertical Epic tasting. It's not going to win prize pig at the state fair...aannndd I tried but couldn't get a damn bottle, ok?
But Stone has rolled back the clock to let you see what the 02.02.02 was like if you had been old enough to drink at the time(though you probably would have been drinking Icehouse) as part of their 20th Anniversary Encore Series. At 7.5%, the 02.02.02 encore is higher in ABV than a typical Wit, and Stone puts their signature hoppiness into the beer with the addition of Centennial hops, along with the requisite orange peel and coriander. And a 22 oz. is $7.99, not far off what you would have paid back in 2002. I think. What were we even doing back then? Watching Malcolm in the Middle? Driving with both hands on the wheel and our eyes on the road?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Hopfest Ticket Party Tonight

From its humble beginnings in the parking lot next to NYPD Pizza, to a parking lot behind O'Niell's, to Isleta/Hard Rock/Isleta again, Hopfest has become arguably the best beer fest in New Mexico. But what about the one at the zoo that time, you might say. But most likely not. Some fests are better (much, much, better) than others, and Hopfest has stood out to me for a number of reasons: The number of breweries represented is unmatched, with breweries I forgot still distribute here. For instance, Durango Brewing. How often do you see their stuff in stores? Also, thanks to Pueblo laws, the pours are more generous. No complaints here!
I will miss the "Extreme" part that was introduced last year, with the BMX freestyle show, but I won't miss the massive dust storm that kicked up in that area.
The VIP area is sweet, like you're hanging out in a fancy spa (because that's my kind of place) with hard to find beers.
You can get a discounted room and drink/gamble the night away at the Isleta hotel casino.
At 9 years old, this is a fest that has all the kinks of a brewfest ironed out.

There is a ticket party tonight at Quarter Celtic Brewpub. And here is the info on it, directly copied and pasted from the email. Hey, I'm going away tomorrow. Lots of laundry to do.
1. Join Coren at Quarter Celtic Brewpub on Monday and get 10% off GA & EH tickets, no online fees, & a FREE Hopfest Pint Glass - Monday Aug 22nd 5-8pm. Quarter Celtic has a Hopfest Special - 1/2 order of Fish & Chips and a pint of beer for $9. Also, it is Mor Buck Monday - $4 pint of Rye IPA or 13 oz Imperial GFE. Look for Coren with the Hopfest Tee.

2. Not available at that time? Head over to Tractor Brewing Co. to purchase your tickets, and skip the online fees. Bring cash = no fees, pay with a card = $1 fee.

3. Buy your tickets online from the comfort of your own couch (beer of choice in hand). Save 5% on GA or Extra Hoppy tickets with the code COUCH valid through 8/26.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Best Beer Value Out There?

"Best beer value" is a subjective term. You could argue that something like Bigfoot Barleywine is the best value, considering the high ABV and Sierra Nevada's pricing. Or the New Belgium 12-packs. The freshness of a local six-pack could factor into what you consider beer value, sure. The macro 30-packs have a place in the argument, but I'm looking for something with more body. There's an argument to be made for Who You Callin' Wussie, Stone, errr. Arrogant Brewing's rare attempt at a lager. I think "Wussie" is spelled "wussy", but since the beer is in 16 oz. cans, they went for the longer version of the word. I thank Fast Times at Ridgemont High's Damone for introducing the word to me in the first place. And for selling me those Earth, Wind, and Fire tickets.

Anyway, Arrogant Brewing does a fine job of the German Pilsner style, albeit with a few Stone-like touches, such as a higher than usual Pilsner ABV of 5.8%, and 47 IBUs to boot. That's Pale Ale ABV, but the taste is decidedly Pilsner. The best part of Wussie may be the value. A six-pack of 16 oz. cans is selling for as low as $9.99! 16 oz. cans! That's 96 oz. of beer at Natty Light prices. Who needs a job when you have Wussie available?? And I was this close to working at 7-11.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Post IPA Challenge Rambling

A few thoughts on recent beer events:

So, Boxing Bear won the IPA Challenge. And they deserved it. Not sure if Justin Hamilton replicated the 5,000 hop IPA from the previous challenge, but whatever he did, it worked. I blindly chose it at both the Rio Bravo event and the final at Tractor. There were some contenders, to be sure, but Boxing Bear's was above the rest. Good for them- partner Kevin Davis was always happy to help with homebrew problems while running Southwest Grape and Grain, and Brewmaster/co-owner Justin Hamilton is well-liked by the other brewers.
I don't get some of the internet chatter of a few saying this year was an overall sub-par collection of IPAs. I think it was a solid field and three or more could have won- though I was surprised to see Three Rivers near the top. I don't recall their IPA standing out, but I'm glad they placed near the top. Parity.
Tractor needs to turn up the AC when hosting that many people. I felt like I was in a Baptist church in the old south. And the sweaty look doesn't go well with being on TV. Yeah, there was indeed local news coverage of the challenge. Looks like we made it, as Barry would sing. And "being on TV" for me means seeing the back of my head, so only the gang over at the truck stop would have recognized me.
A well-run event overall, even if Castro did call during President Gozigian's speech, asking him to wrap it up already.

Heimat House has closed. German food is a tough sell in this town, even if you have the best German beer menu in the state. If it's not sushi, Vietnamese, or a chain restaurant, it's going to be quite the battle to get customers- unless, maybe, you take that schnitzel, smother it in red and green chile and a ton of cheese and serve it with dried up rice and bland refried beans. That seems to work everywhere. And on the chain restaurant note, anyone catch the piece in the Sunday Journal about things Albuquerque needs? Apparently, Ruby Tuesday is one of them. Yes, the lackluster chain that stands out from other chains because it has a salad bar. Hopefully you're reading this on your phone and shaking your head...while waiting for a table at the Cheesecake Factory.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Firestone Walker is Here. Oh Good.

Everyone excited for Firestone Walker's release in New Mexico today? I bet. Someone asked me the other day if I was excited about FW moving into town. Well, as you can imagine, Mr. Excitement has mixed feelings about the whole thing...
For starters, yeah, FW does have a great portfolio of beers. Union Jack, a multiple GABF Gold winner, is a classic IPA. Easy Jack Session IPA is the best of the style. Their barrel-aged beers are legendary (Parabola, Sucaba, etc.). So without trying to piss on everything (since it comes naturally), here are my concerns:

I'll miss the chase.
Traveling for beer has been one of the things that actually does excite me, and FW was always one of the brands I looked forward to drinking while on out of state excursions. So being able to walk into Jubilation for a sixer or Nob Hill for a pint does take away some of the fun of drinking Firestone Walker beer. Same thing happened with Founders, same thing happened with Ballast Point (I like the way all those colorful can boxes look together on store shelves, but I'm not spending $14 on a six-pack of it. Not with FW in town). And I know I'm not the only one who feels that way- show up at the next bottle share with an out-of-town IPA and you will feel appreciated. Show up with an Anderson Valley Hop Ottin or other locally-available shelf IPA, and I'll personally escort you to the door.

Also, there is the freshness issue to consider. Will we, as a still small craft community with a slew of great local beers, be able to support the buying of one brand enough to ensure a flow of the freshest of that national brand, such as FW? I've had a hard time finding fresh FW in Chicago, which can be understood considering that even though the beer geeks make up a higher percentage of the population than your average city, there are many more brands available than here. More great choices, more likely you'll find some beers sitting around longer. Plus, the distance from the brewery has to be considered. However, I have also had trouble finding fresh FW while in L.A., and that's not so far from Paso Robles. So, let's hope the local distributor has a plan to keep the freshest hoppy offerings from FW in stock. That 9.5% Double Jack DIPA can fall off quickly.

I doubt we're going to have a chance to find fresher Firestone Walker than tonight, at the release party at Nob Hill Bar and Grill. Starting at 6, you can try 15 or so of the finest FW offerings, including Stivo Pils (collaboration with Russian River), 19th Anniversary, Bretta Weisse, Parabola Wookey Jack, all the other Jacks, Pivo, DBA, and so on. Tomorrow, Jubilation will be hosting a tasting event for the packaged beers, and will pour DBA, PAle 31, Easy Jack, Union Jack, Pivo Pils, and Luponic Distortion #2 from 4-6.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

NM IPA Challenge: Only the Strong and Smoked Survive

With the first round of the NM IPA Challenge being an elimination round, one thing was certain: there were sure to be a number of bad beers. In the past, this was certainly true, even when there were only 14 breweries total to judge, let alone 28. But many NM breweries stepped up to the point that there weren't any "immediately spit the beer onto the floor" IPAs. So there's that.
Rio Bravo welcomed a full house of lupulin-crazed drinkers, including a man donning a pretzel necklace to help fuel him through the 28 oz. of beers he was served. The Rio Bravo space proved to have the perfect combination of factors to make for a successful event: plenty of seating and five minutes or less from my house. And the NM Brewers Guild people have been doing this for so long, there were no hitches when it came to getting the beers, aside from a lot of foam. Someday, someone will perfect the jockey box. Maybe Tesla. Or Kia.
The beers were divided into two trays of 14 beers apiece, so if you came with a friend, you might have gotten a taste of all 28. I talked to a few people who had tried both, and the consensus was that the tray with 1-14 had the better IPAs. I felt that way as well- in fact, I believe that directly contributed to Quarter Celtic's 24 votes. They were the standout beer from that group, but I don't know that they would have fared as well in tray 1. Newbie Starr Bros. was second in tray 2 with 17 votes, as they showed up with a respectable offering. Local favorite and reigning champ Bosque Brewing was third with 13, but I can't say their beer stood out at the time. Same with Marble, who only ended up with 6 votes. Santa Fe's newest IPA was entered but only got 3 votes. Should have saved some of that Western Bloc for the challenge! The real surprise in tray 2 was Chili Line out of Santa Fe, who brought a smoked IPA. Flavored or gimmick IPAs usually don't fare well in the Challenge (Eske's, anyone?), but Chili Line's smoked IPA got 10 votes and will go on to the finals. I could get all BJCP about the style guidelines for IPAs and how dare they enter this but who really cares? People liked it enough to vote for it.
Tray 1 started strong from the beginning, with La Cumbre in slot 1, and they gained 13 votes. That tied with tray 1 surprise Taos Mesa, who I had as a close second in my final decision. I ended up going with top vote getter Boxing Bear, who came away with 33 votes. They may be hard to beat this year. Stalwart Canteen (albeit with Zach in charge of brewing for the first time) tied for the lead with 33. A disappointment this year was Chama River. The beer tasted a little off, something I haven't encountered when trying beers at the brewpub.
A good experience overall, and a great job by the Rio Bravo staff checking on everyone and clearing tables. The two rounds outside of Albuquerque always bring out surprise votes (are Farmington palates that much different? Yes.), so you never know who will be near the top come July 23. See you then at Tractor for the finals!

Friday, July 1, 2016

A Guy Walks Into a Liquor Store...

And walks out with a growler! In other areas, this may not warrant the excitement that goes along with a !, but here in New Mexico, we haven't had that luxury like they have in other states. But new legislation passed allows New Mexico liquor stores to set up growler fill stations, much like ones you may have seen in other states. And it's about time, considering that four years ago I was choosing which beer to fill up a growler with at a damn Piggly Wiggly in a podunk town in South Carolina. And the time I was driving through Alabama 15 years ago and found a convenience store where people were filling up empty gallon milk containers at a set of taps. To be fair, the first time I ever encountered a self-checkout at a supermarket was at a Winn Dixie in Alabama, so maybe they're more ahead of the curve than I'd expect to give them credit for. And the place in the photo is the Charleston Beer Exchange, which has also offered growler fills for years in a state with a more religious anti-drink slant than NM. But let's be happy we've finally got the legislation passed through, and will have many more choices when it comes to take-home draft beer in this town. Expect to see rapid changes at your local retailer- Jubilation's Adam Auden tells me they are in the process of setting up an 8-tap growler fill station, and says, "We'll be focusing on non-local beers not available in package, but I will rotate some local draught only stuff through from time to time". And that makes sense, considering that you can hit up your local brewery for whatever fill you need of theirs. So can you imagine the day when you walk in Jubilation, or Kelly's, or Smith's, and walk out with a growler of Parabola? Dreams really can come true in New Mexico!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Founders Tap Takeover and Drumroll Pleases

Nob Hill Bar and Grill, they of the website (a name that might keep me from checking the place out if I were visiting from out of town...upscale??? Hell NO! But it turns out that the only time I don't want to be there is after 10 on a weekend night, when suddenly the place transforms into a Vegas dance club) is hosting a Founders tap takeover on Tuesday, featuring a number of favorites from the Grand Rapids, MI brewery. Mango Magnifico, Sumatra Mountain Brown, Devil Dancer Triple IPA, All Day IPA, 2015 and 2016 KBS, and ReDANKulous will all be on tap.
I know I lauded both Founders' ReDANKulous and Jubilation in the same post the other day, so now allow me to bash them both a bit: Founders, I was excited for ReDANKulous, but this batch is a malty mess. If you are expecting a malt bomb, I guess this is the beer for you. But I gave a recommendation based on the hoppy goodness that was previous batches. I can't imagine this current one would come anywhere close to winning a GABF Gold. And Jubilation, I applaud the fact that almost all of the beer you sell is kept refrigerated, and I am sure it is a distributor decision and not yours, but I hate to see the stacks of Devil Dancer displayed out on the floor. That stuff has a window of, oh, a week where it tastes like it could be a "Triple IPA" before it tastes like a Barleywine. Can you please sell all the Devil Dancer and ReDANKulous and get that Double Trouble in already??

Has Odell ever had a mass-marketed American Pale Ale? Their 5 Barrel Pale Ale could kind of stand in for one, but I think the public's need for hops has pushed away that English-style and compelled Odell to create Drumroll American Pale Ale, their first year-round release in two years. 12-pack displays are already up at Whole Foods. Get your nitrite and nitrate-free hot dogs and some American Pale Ale for the upcoming holiday. The beer is easy drinking, and definitely leaning towards Pale Ale category rather than Session IPA, though you do get pleasant tropical notes from the hop bill. Nice. It's the first beer Odell has produced that comes in cans only- hello, future of beer.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Clown Shoes Were Made For Drinking

For years now, Clown Shoes beers were only available in NM at Total Wine stores. Dark days, indeed. But now you can actually get Clown Shoes refrigerated, as Jubilation is now carrying the Massachusetts-based contract brewed beers. I tried fresh (it's true!) bottles of Galactic IPA and Space Cake DIPA and was pleasedwith the product Clown Shoes is making these days. Or having made for them, I should say, Much like "Brooklyn" brewery Sixpoint, Clown Shoes is still facing the stigma of contract brewing. It has worked just fine for Mikkeller and Evil Twin for years, but some breweries are still looking for the craft community's respect. Just make a solid product and I'll buy the damn thing.

ReDANKulous is one of the best Imperial Red ales I've had on tap, and we now have fresh bottles in town. The GABF Gold medalist from Founders is available in four-packs, again at Jubilation. I'm not trying to be a fanboy of the place, but I just can't stress enough how happy I am to see the number of people they have available to help shoppers at any time I go in. It could be 15 minutes before closing on a Monday evening and there will be like six employees ready to answer questions and offer suggestions. I know not all small, local businesses can afford to operate this way but they are certainly still the model for the way I wish businesses could be.

Is taking over your own taps with your beer still considered a tap takeover? If so, then call it a Chama River tap takeover at Draft Station on the 18th (Chama River and Draft Station both being part of the Santa Fe Dining Group, of course). The first 15 beers that most recent Head Brewer Andrew Krosche created when he joined the ever-rotating list of brewers at Chama will be featured, and it's quite the variety of styles, from Gose to Kolsch to a raspberry ginger beer, in case your mom wants to tag along.

Lastly, a thank you to Mitch Steele for helping Stone Brewing Company achieve remarkable growth in his 10 years there with innovative styles and a high-quality product. He will be leaving at the end of June to pursue his own brewery. When he first joined Stone after long working for Anheuser Busch as brewery operations manager, there was an uproar akin to back when people thought Obama was going to take away their guns when he became president. And now we have a world of uproar and overreaction regarding everything, so thanks, social media. But back then, people thought Stone was selling out and trying to become the fourth to the Big Three. No, the Arrogant Bastard didn't become watered down, beachwood-aged, or renamed America. And yes, Mitch Steele had a number of notable successes, particularly the Enjoy By series. So good luck to you Mitch, and I hope to see your beers in Albuquerque soon.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Beer week: Saturday, 6.4

I probably should have written about this before the June 2 entry deadline: Ponderosa is hosting a sidewalk chalk contest on Saturday from 11-5. $100 gift card to the winner, a mug club membership for second, and a $20 gift card for third. I guess spaces are limited so they had to do an early cut off date. Sorry if you are interested but are just finding out about the event. Anyway, come out and support your favorite...sidewalk chalk artist...

Barrel-aged beers are the theme of the day at Tractor, where they will be pouring Scotcholate Scotch Ale, Luna De Los Muertos, and Barley Wine. A flight of 12 oz. pours is $12. They will also be selling bombers of these beers for $15, limit 3 per person.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co will be bringing Five Hop IPA, Bigfoot Barleywine, and Hoptimum Imperial IPA to Nob Hill Bar and Grill at 5.

Tractor Brewing Wells Park hosts Planned Parenthood Votes New Mexico presents Beer & Bands for Better Sex Ed: an evening of entertainment, activism, and music! You know me, all about the activism. Whatever it takes to keep dummies from having little dummies. Mike Judge was so so so right. This $15 fundraiser will benefit sex ed programs in New Mexico, and there's a lot going on. Music from Le Chat Lunatique, Albuquerque Aerialist Collective, Cali Shaw, Keith Sanchez, Desert Darlings Belly Dance, and Leftover Soul. Doner Kebab, My Sweet Basil, and Pop Fizz provide the eats. The event begins at 5:30.

Another worthy fundraiser, this one for the animals I care about. Watermelon Mountain Ranch can always use your help, and Marble's Westside tap room will host a "Yappy Hour" from 3-5. Raffles, a pet photographer, plenty of adoptable puppies, and beer!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Farewell, Firkin

It's sad to see a brewery close, but especially during Beer Week. Sorry to say Firkin is no longer in business. It was located in a a nearly hidden spot in around the so-called "Brewery District", so unless you were headed for the place you would be unlikely to stumble upon it. The competition is rough these days, so anyone who plans on opening should have their A-game beers dialed in and ready to go. The public often will only give a place one try and be quick to pass on a bad review. I hope the folks who put it all together come out of it ok.

Beer Week: Friday, June 3

A light day for the most part, with multiple beer samplings at the Total Wine stores and Jubilation.

Santa Fe Brewing Company's Albuquerque Taproom will debut their spicy Saison, dubbed Lemon Skynyrd, evoking thoughts of the opening notes of Freebird. Unfortunately, it also brings to mind the sounds of Sweet Home Alabama and Daughtry's awful version of Simple Man. Looking forward to the beer, but if they play any of that crap I'm out!

Welcome newcomer Palmer Brewery to Beer Week. Imbibe will hosts the release of M.W.A. (Malt With Attitude), an 8% Malt Liquor made with New Mexico blue corn. A step up from the regular corn used in Malt Liquor, in which case the beer could have been called Monsanto With Attitude.

The NM Brewers Guild presents the Beer Premiere, where 15 NM breweries are pouring beers never before released to the public. A great concept at a very nice location, the National Hispanic Cultural Center. $35 dollars gets you unlimited samples, a stemmed glass, and a matanza-style pig roast courtesy of M'tucci's.

Art Fight at Tractor Wells Park! This art event does not include Sports Illustrated style body painting, so I won't be there. I do like where the money is going, however. Local artists will be creating pieces live while you drink your Tractor beer. Paint, Pints, and Pups is the theme. The pieces will be auctioned off at the end of the event, with proceeds going to Babes and Bullies and People's Anti-Cruelty Association/Albuquerque Animal Rescue. Event goes from 7-10.

The former Stereo Bar (now Mezcal Tequileria) hosts a tap takeover with Upslope Brewing at 6. I neglected to mention the Odell tap takeover that happened on Thursday, where there were lots of good beers (The Meddler, Friek, Russian Pirate, Tree Shaker, etc.). I hope Upslope represents well there.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Beer Week: Thursday, 6.2

Bourbon County on tap! Twice a year, if we're lucky, Bourbon County Brand Stout gets tapped in Albuquerque: around Black Friday and during Beer Week, and Nob Hill is usually the host both times. They will be tapping it at 6.

Barley Room is an unexpected host for some Ballast Point beers all day Thursday. Sea Monster Imperial Stout, Mango Even Keel Pale Ale, and Calm Before the Storm Coffee Cream Ale will befuddle the crowd.

Cazuela's will host an unusual but welcome event: a tap takeover with beers from New Mexico breweries outside of Albuquerque. That should be pretty cool! They open at the ungodly hour of 8 am, so you can start early.

M'Tucci's Italian Market and Deli will be tapping Santa Fe's Western Bloc IPA at 11 am. Normally, I wouldn't highlight a tapping of a beer that is available at the home tap room and other bars around town, but I enjoyed this beer so much at Sister on Wednesday night that I had to feature this event. I love the look the wheat gives this beer. Reminds me of Tired Hands HopHands.

Red Door hosts their 2nd Annual Food Truck Battle beginning at 2. Multiple food trucks will be pairing a dish with a Red Door beer. Pay as you eat/drink. The competition is purely for fun, so you probably won't see someone from one food truck shooting BB's at another truck's propane tank.

Hand-rolled cigars from Imbibe, chocolates from Chocolate Dude, and barrel-aged beers from Rio Bravo, all in the same cavernous building! Rio Bravo offers $10 flights of barrel-aged Porter, Stout, Belgian Strong Ale and Barleywine paired with Chocolate Dude treats starting at 5. Imbibe will do the custom cigars from 4-6.

Bow and Arrow releases their Wild Rice Pale Ale at 4, the latest in a series of pales with different star ingredients. Will this one be beachwood aged as well???

Battle of the Beer Geeks? Huh. Must have misplaced my invite. Again. For the third year in a row. Anyway, you get a flight of 5 beers from 5 teams who brewed their recipes with guidance from Tractor brewers. Vote for your favorite and receive a pint of it as well. All this for $10. The fun starts at 5.

Marble Brewery and Torino's at Home are pairing up for a beer dinner at 6. Some tickets still remain. $45 per person.

Ponderosa releases Saison Petit Souris on tap and in bottles at 3 today.

Sierra Nevada makes sausages. I did not know this. Beers and mustards weren't enough. O'Niell's in Nob Hill hosts a Sierra sausage tasting along with all the Beer Camp beers on tap at 6.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Beer Week: Wednesday, 6.1

June 1st, and it feels like I've hardly played any golf this year. When picking golf buddies, make sure to find ones without any adult jobs. Try to find the Johnny Manziel types. Maybe they'll pay for your greens fees as well.

Rock and Brews hosts another big Ballast Point tap takeover, with this one featuring a keg of barrel-aged Victory at Sea Imperial Porter. Tapping scheduled at 6.

Another tap takeover is happening right down the street at Billy's Long Bar. Billy's has been kind of quiet this year in Beer Week event involvement. But they will welcome Alaskan Brewing and a multitude of Alaskan beers on tap, also at 6.

Nob Hill Bar and Grill welcomes Ska Brewing and kegs of barrel-aged Dementia and Bump and Grind Coffee Stout. I have to admit, I haven't tried Bump and Grind, and that's not anything to do with Ska. It's just that as a notoriously anti-day drinking person, I can never find a good time to drink coffee beers. You should though. Event starts at 5.

Uptown Sports Bar. Now that's a place I haven't been to in a long time. Maybe tonight I will visit for the rare appearance of a keg of Alpine (with un-improvements by Green Flash) Nelson. They've done a decent job at trying to re-create the distinct Nelson look and flavor after a few disastrous attempts.
Ask a Certified Cicerone and bad beer tasting at Tractor- yet another 6 pm event. This event allows you to talk to Cicerone Skye Devore about study tips for taking the Certified Cicerone exam. The whole Cicerone thing really took off after years of it being pushed...surprised how many bars around the country are hiring based on people having the cert, though I guess it's a better way of hiring for a serious craft beer bar than on looks. I have neither the cert nor the looks, yet I manage to scrape by. Skye will also be guiding folks through bad taste by opening cider, errrr, off-flavor kits to add common "off" tastes to beer (think diacetyl, acetaldehyde, and other unspellable words) to help you identify what makes that bad beer so bad. $5 for the bad beer tasting, free for the Cicerone study tips.

Mother Road achieved what few other Arizona breweries have up to this point: a good IPA. Unfortunately, we can't seem to get any cans fresher than March 7 here, but you can hopefully bug the Mother Road people about that at the Mother Road tap takeover at The Grain Station, starting at, you guessed it, 6 pm. Mother Road will also bring a firkin for your drinking pleasure.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Beer Week: Tuesday, 5.31

Back to a full Beer Week schedule of events now that Blues and Brews and Memorial have passed. Starting off, we have another cheese-centric pairing, this one at Tractor Wells Park with Cheesy Street. Trays of 4 mini grilled cheese sandwiches paired with Tractor beers will be available beginning at 3. $13 fee for this one. And to the first person who can tell me what movie that picture is from gets a beer from my collection. Email, Facebook message, whatever.

Hitachino, Coedo and Miyazaki Hideji. Those are not the newest Street Fighter characters, though they sure do pack a punch! Ha.
Jubilation hosts a free tasting from these Japanese breweries on Tuesday from 4-6.

Rio Bravo gets in on the Taco Tuesday craze by offering $1 tacos from Mariam's Tacos along with $5 flights that include DRB IPA, Randy's Red, German Sommer, and Pilsner, beginning at 5:30.

An all fancy beer dinner at Ponderosa. The place is still cranking out beer even though a number of brewers have come and gone. I hope they can keep going, and this $45 beer dinner ($40 for mug club members) sounds like a good one: Sour Saison with Charcuterie Plate, Crosscut K├Âlsch with Scallop Salad, Red Rye Lager with Wild Mushroom Risotto and Braised Lamb Shank, and Chocolate Stout with Pot de Creme. 7 pm.

A Kill the Keg event at brat haven The Grain Station! Upslope and Santa Fe Brewing go head to head beginning at 6. Whichever brewery's keg is emptied first wins. The other brewery is just the wurst.

Two Fools continues to get in special kegs for the week. Today features Oscar Worthy Coffee from New Belgium's Lips of Faith series. A foeder of dark sour Oscar was blended with 50 lbs. of The Bean Cycle's coffee. The keg will tap at 4. For those of you who are saying, "Who the f### gets off work at 4? By the time I get there, it will be gone! Why do all the tappings start so early?" I AGREE. In fact, I may be the only one saying this. But I know there are a lot of you in the service industry and other occupations where you work later in the day but are really into beer and would like to take part in these events. I'm going to lobby for some later tap times in the future.

Go taste some bad beer at Albuquerque Brewing Company! Head Brewer Carnie will host a talk about and tasting of off flavors in beer. That way, next time you notice something tastes not quite right at a brewery, you can bring it to the attention of the brewer. They will be sure to take it in a non-defensive manner and thank you profusely.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Beer Week Memorial Day Events

Happy Memorial Day, and another happy Beer Week day. Red Door combines a special Beer Week event with a fundraiser for those we are honoring today. From the Red Door folks themselves, "Please join Red Door Brewing Co. and the Rio Grande Patriots for our inaugural fundraising event to sponsor The Folds of Honor Foundation. Of the one million-plus dependents adversely affected by deployments, nearly nine out of 10 do not qualify for federal scholarship assistance. Since 2007, the Folds of Honor has carried forth this singular, noble mission. To close the gap, providing educational support to spouses and children of America's fallen and wounded soldiers. Over 80% of funds go directly to recipients. Red Door will be donating 20% of sales and representatives will be on hand to accept additional donations. Come on out and be a part of something great." The event goes from 12-4.

Rio Bravo will be honoring vets and current enlisted military by giving them $2 off pints. Also, Rio Bravo barrel-aged Belgian Strong Ale and barrel-aged Porter will be tapped at Two Fools at 4.

Memorial Day cornhole tournament with the folks from Upslope Brewing at Rock and Brews from 2-5. Come out and play the game with the worst name ever and drink some pretty good Boulder, CO beers. Maybe win a keychain.

Santa Fe Brewing Co's Albuquerque Taproom will be featuring a firkin of white tea chardonnay sour today at 2. Bring your own watercress sandwiches.

Keeping with the theme of "Cheesiest Beer Week Ever", Albuquerque Brewing Co. will host a cheese, beer, and boards event from 6-8. The boards involved are not of the skate kind, which is probably for the best. Beer can have the dangerous side effect of making grown men think they can still pull off the tricks they used to do when they were riding around on their Powell Peralta Mike McGill model board (and they weren't very good at it back then, either). The boards for this event are board games, a much safer way to pass the time while drinking. And I'd like to take this moment to admit that I was wrong about Empire Board Game Library. I saw that place open in Nob Hill and thought there was no way a concept like that could last, but they are packed every time I pass by. People are having fun without alcohol...who knew such a thing was possible?

Friday, May 27, 2016

Beer Week Friday

Marble, 2nd Street, Santa Fe, Tractor, Turtle Mountain, Boxing Bear, Bosque, Red Door, and La Cumbre all came together to create the 505 Collaboration beer, a rye Kellerbier. This is the first time that I can remember the local breweries making a Beer Week beer that wasn't some form of a hoppy Red Ale. All the breweries involved will have the beer on tap. $1 from each pint sold goes to benefit the NM Brewers Guild, which eventually comes back to benefit you. Socialism.

It's perfect cookout weather, and Albuquerque Brewing Company is breaking out the brats for a day of beer and brats. The brats will all be cooked in ABC's beer, and cost five bucks a plate. They are then going to chill the beer the brats were boiled in and sell it for $10 a pint. Not really. I have to add that disclaimer because someone will read it and say, "Really??"

Another old favorite returns to Back Alley Draft Housse, on another Friday where I won't be able to make the event! Big list, with a mix of local and national breweries: Back Alley Berliner Weisse, Cazuelas/Bathtub Row collaboration Atom-Beer, SFBC's La Bete Noire, Ballast Point Sour Wench, Odell The Meddler Oud Bruin Ale, Rodenbach, Marble Brett IPA, Marble Saison Brux, Uinta Ready Set Gose, Uinta Birthday Suit, Anderson Valley Briney Melon Gose, New Belgium La Folie and Transatlantic Kriek, Goose Island Lolita, Sierra Blanca Crest Cranberry, and Stone Winter Harvest.

Former Left Hand Head Brewer Ro Guenzel wasn't a fan of the IPAs. He's at Great Divide now, and Left Hand is trying their hand at American IPAs. About time. Extrovert IPA tapped at Two Fools at 4.

$5 flights and BBQ at Rio Bravo on Friday from 4-9. Also, hand-rolled cigars made to order...that's unique. Not my thing, but I don't like collared shirts either.

New Belgium Lips of Faith Collaboration with Hof Ten Dormaal on tap at Gecko's in Nob Hill. A Belgian Golden Ale with Mosaic hops, sunflower seeds, and carrot herbs. A salad in a glass from 5-7.

Raja DIPA and Maharaja bigger DIPA on tap at Nob Hill Bar and Grill tonight...What's that stuff like fresh? I can't remember because we only have cans of 12/15 Raja and bottles of 8/15 Maharaja in stores. Come on, Avery. Make your distributor keep the same high standards that you do for your beer.

15 Ballast Point beers take over the taps at Stereo Bar. Go so you can say, "I drank allthe different fruity Ballast Point beers here before it became a tequila bar with collared shirt guys smoking cigars."Event begins at 6.

And speaking of cigars...Imbibe hosts a tapping of Boese Bros. Zeus Juice White IPA. Sorachi Ave, Chinook, and Citra hops along with Belgian yeast- sounds promising! From 4:30-8.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Beer Week Begins

Keeping the chatter short. You all know the deal: OVER a week of Beer Week events to keep you hitting that snooze button until you just can't hear the alarm anymore. That's right...just sleeeep it off...

Some of Thursday's highlights:

Nice to see Spinn's Burgers and Beer getting in on the Beer Week action. They were offering up a large selection of beer while this town was filling up on Coronas. Tapping a keg of Marble's Saison to kick off the week.

Best friends? Boese Brothers teams up with Santa Fe Brewing Co. to brew a Double Barrel Porter, which will be tapped at SFBC's Green Jeans location at 3. Sweet. Now if SFBC could collaborate with someone for a good parking situation, I'd be there more often. Yeah, I could ride my bike, but hills get in the way.

A firkin at Anodyne?? Times are a changing! I remember trying to get George on the Beer Week bandwagon years ago, and now he's allowing firkins...what's next, dogs running around the bar?? Abita melds their Turbodog Brown Ale with Horchata to create a rare paring (only firkin of it in NM).

Marble again welcomes one of the original Beer Week events, Beer, Cheese, and More! to their downtown location at 5. $25 gets you, well, beer, cheese, and more. They always break out some vintage kegs for this event. Some tickets still remain.

Jubilation also hosts a beer and cheese event today, this one featuring La Cumbre beers. Strawberry Gose, Elevated IPA, Red Ryeot, Malpais Stout, Slice of Hefen, and Project Dank all will be poured and paired with different cheeses. Free.

It's a beautiful thing when breweries send special kegs for Beer Week. Getting them to do it willingly isn't always easy. But Barrel-Aged Piper Down Scottish Ale from Ballast Point is heading to Nob Hill Bar and Grill. Event is slated to run from 6-8.

O'Niell's Juan Tabo location hosts a sausage and cheese tasting to go along with tappings of ALL of the Sierra Nevada 2016 Beer Camp Across America beers: Southern Table Beer, Imperial Session IPA (Imperial/Session cancel out to become IPA; leave the cute stuff to me, Sierra Nevada), Robust Stout, Rye with hibiscus, cocoa Brown Ale, and a Pale Ale based on an old, old recipe. These beers were brewed along with help from 31 different breweries, including beer geek darlings like Trillium.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

There's Waldos'

Waldos' Special Ale is so named for the Waldos, a group who would meet at 4:20 daily in search of a secret garden said to be near Point Reyes. As you can guess by the time, they may have been partaking in a semi-legal substance to enhance their mood during the quest. Waldos' Special Ale may not have the same medicinal properties as the unnamed other, but Lagunitas promises it to be the "dankest and hoppiest" beer they ever created. Over 5 lbs. of hops per barrel were used to make the beer, and it certainly comes through in the initial smell, something I have found to be lacking in many of the Lagunitas offerings. And the taste comes through just as strong, with tropical juice dominating the taste. The 100 IBUs, which barely meets the minimum standard for the average craft beer drinker nowadays, are hard to detect, showing once again why IBU count may be the most useless stat when it comes to tasting a beer (besides maybe SRM). The alcohol is present but nowhere near overpowering, especially considering the fact that the beer is 11.5% ABV. And that is my one complaint with Waldos'; I want to drink more than one of these delicious beers in a sitting but I know the next day I'll be paying for it. That fact notwithstanding, I think this is one of the best Double IPA releases this year and a steal at $11-$12 a six-pack! And while finding Waldo may be a craze that has passed, except in Halloween outfits, 3-D magic puzzles are making a comeback (as soon as we get tired of adult coloring books).
To paraphrase Jay in Mallrats, "What you need is a Waldos' Special Ale and I guarantee you'll be seeing a sailboat, an ocean, and maybe some-" know the rest of that line. Hopefully.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Let's Get 3 Tart-ed in Here

With many apologies to Angelo Orona, here finally is my short, swwweeettt write-up of Tart at Heart 2, or as Angelo originally told me, Tart at Heart 3...which led me to that headline. When Angelo later corrected himself, it was too late. The wheels had already been set in motion so the headline stays, and will be just perfect for next year's event! At one point, it felt like it was going to be next year before I got around to writing about Tart at Heart. I was planning on doing it, but went off to New York on a whim. After getting tired of paying $8 for an 8 oz. pour of beer, I came back, ready to write. So, hopefully there are still tickets available. And it's not like Angelo and Kevin McCallister (co-organizer) haven't been getting plenty of press on the event. I even saw a full-page writeup in the Venue section of the Journal about it. So I'll just give my quick rundown: $45 tickets may remain (VIP sold out early), admission at 2 at Sister. Event runs till 6, but feel free to stay until they start charging a cover for a band you don't care about. Fun fact: I once paid a $5 cover there because I was in the mood for the Project Dank they had on tap. It was world music night. Fastest I ever pounded a Dank. Unlimited tastings this year, folks, so be sure to Uber or ride that bike. 10-12 beers are exclusive to the fest or making their debut there- nice work procuring those rare kegs, guys. And portions of the proceeds benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, so it's not like these guys are out to make a killing off you- they're just two guys who are serious about good beer and want to share it with you. I'll gladly take some barrel-aged Narwahl from Sierra Nevada (seen that on tap in NM ever? Nope!), or some New Belgium Oscar Single Foeder Sour, from their Love series (first time a Love beer has made it to a NM bar). Laguntias makes a surprise visit to the sour side with a sour wheat ale, which, of course, they dry hopped. Local breweries are represented, with the last keg of Cumbre's Apricot Saison, Marble's Saison Brux, Boxing Bear's Black and Blue Tart, Ponderosa's Berlinerweisse, and Blue Corn's Braggot aged in Santa Fe Spirits apple brandy barrels w/ local apricots and brett all representing. Get your last minute tickets at Jubilation, Kelly Liquors on Juan Tabo, and Sister.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Albuquerque: Doing at Least One Thing Right

With Albuquerque's charming combination of poverty, drugs, crime, and some seriously fucked up people wandering the streets (anyone notice the guy who patrols Central between 1st and 5th with his pants around his knees? I mean, I know a little sag is kind of a fashion thing for some, but he puts SO much effort into holding his pants at that height, and he can barely shuffle from one empty store front to the next. You'd think he'd get tired of it and move on to some suspenders or something), it's nice to able to say we are the best at something. And no, I'm not talking about that recent report that named Albuquerque "one of America's greatest cities", thanks to the well-respected "real estate news" ( and it turned out we were in 41st place. Yay.); I'm talking about March Madness! Talking Lob..oh. March Madness, that is, in the form of the Brewing News and their annual National IPA Championships, where , for the second year IN A ROW, Bosque Brewing's Scale Tipper once again was named the best IPA in the country. Not only was this the second straight win for the Albuquerque brewery, it was the third straight year that an Albuquerque brewery won the competition (La Cumbre's Project Dank was the previous winner). No longer will these meaningless crappy internet sites be able to make us click through a painfully slow-loading slideshow so we can see Albuquerque listed as one of "America's Most Underrated Beer Cities"! Jokes aside for the moment, hiring John Bullard was the best decision the Bosque folks ever made. The entire brewing community respects the guy as he is as down to earth as they come and is a hell of a brewer. Congratulations to him and the Bosque team.

Buyer Beware: Jubilation had listed Deschutes Hop Henge as being a "new item" on their Facebook page, though what is in the cooler was released in 2015. Late 2015, mind you, but 2015 nonetheless. And here I looked at the hop bill and thought they decided to use the exact ones as last year (recipe changes year to year). Nope. Says clear as day "2015 Release", but I was too dense to notice. Not a bad tasting DIPA with some age on it but I thought other dense people might want to be warned.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Randumb Thoughts on the Beer World Today

I've been doing a lot of sitting back and watching the whole local/national craft beer phenomenon unfold lately. Here's a few thoughts:

Alcoholic sodas are a bigger threat to shelf space than 18-packs of Bud Light. The Coney Island and Not Your Father's line of sugar beers have a place, but I wish it could be at the supermarket only. And now you have Henry Weinhard getting on board, with national prime time commercials, so you can be sure that you'll have plenty of hard sodas in your face for some time. They may eventually take up more useful space than ciders currently do.

And those adult sodas have started to bleed into craft beers as well. Maybe the popularity of Grapefruit Sculpin is partially to blame, I don't know. But the way that beer exploded certainly influenced other brewers (Sam Adams Rebel Grapefruit, Ska Modus Mandarina), and now the Ballast Point lineup has more fruit than an Edible Arrangement: Mango Even Keel, Pineapple Scuplin, Coconut Victory at Sea, Watermelon Dorado...
And Green Flash just released a Tangerine version of Soul Style IPA, which to me tastes like someone added an Emergen-C to an IPA. How about we let the modern day fruity hops do their job and leave the additives to Monsanto?

"Have you checked out Starr Brothers yet???" NO. NO. Right now, in my mind, it's not a brewery. It's a restaurant. I don't rush out to try the latest green chile cheeseburger washed down with a beer from another local brewery. Wait, are we talking about Starr Brothers or Stumbling Steer? At least Starr Brothers actually has the equipment to brew with, so they aren't likely to meet the same demise that the Steer did. And their menu looks interesting, but I'll hold off until I can drink something they make. I look forward to it.

Let me ask you all a question: What new breweries are making beers that excite you/make you want to return? I'm withholding judgement on the new crop until they get a grasp on their systems and get things where they can say, "This is the beer I wanted to make." I love that there are breweries that took a chance on locating near or on Central Ave, "Where business go to die". Sidetrack feels like it could be nugded into a space in Greenwich Village in NYC. Until you walk out and realize that this area needs some love. But it's a start. I love the large windows in Boese Brothers and even the flashing countdown on the walk/don't walk signal. I feel like I'm in a live Edward Hopper painting. I like that they've added the option of ordering a beer flight to their menu. I don't like that they have 4 oz. glasses (for the flights), but don't allow you to order an individual 4 oz. beer. Why would you not?

Lastly, thumbs up to Canteen, who have brought back Zach Guilmette as Head Brewer. Canteen was going through a stagnant period, and Zach already has made some changes for the positive, such as brewing a DIPA as his first beer, with Citra, Simcoe, Mosaic, and Topaz. Canteen had been without a DIPA for how long? And Zach knows better then to throw a ton of Cascade in and call it a DIPA. Also: he eliminated the Bloody Beer from the Canteen. Yes! Get that shit outta here and focus on making great beer again!