Saturday, July 29, 2017

2017 NM IPA Challenge

One brewer told me, while commenting on the 2017 NM IPA Challenge, "I thought there were a lot of solid beers this year, unlike last year." Funny, I thought the same thing, only I thought that last year. This year, I thought there were mostly middle of the road IPAs along with some roadkill IPAs. But first:

The location- Steelbender. Plenty of room to sit, at least at the late time I arrived. However, waited over 20 minutes for a tray when there were only 8 people ahead of me. The delay? Not enough plastic cups. They were waiting for servers to collect finished trays so they could wash the plastic cups and reuse them. Hey Brewers Guild, up everyone's dues by 5 cents and stockpile enough for the next 10 IPA Challenges, ok? Those things aren't going to go bad.

The pours: I was lucky(?) enough to get a generous tray but I saw another tray just before mine that had half of what I got. I would have been a little miffed had I been that customer if they had seen me with my Big Gulp tray.

The beers: Started out very promising. Number 1, which turned out to be Quarter Celtic's, was very solid. Then it went onto a bunch of meh: 2, Ponderosa was bitter, 3, Boxing Bear, was ok, 4, Second Street, was decent, 5, Starr Bros, sucked, 6, well, turned out I got 2 of number 5, so I got double suck. Tried someone else's number 6, Bow and Arrow, and got a Belgian beer instead of an IPA. Yeah, that'll win. 7, Marble, didn't stand out. 8, Steelbender, wasn't very good. 9, Blue Corn, and 10, Tractor, got a "Nah" and a "No" in my notes, respectively. 11, Picacho Peak, wasn't bad but I got butter out of it. 12, Canteen, was finally another good one. 13, La Cumbre, was my favorite but had a poor showing overall. 14, 377's first IPA Challenge beer, was surprisingly decent. It got an "Ok!" in my notes. You can see I take intricate notes in my judging process. I can now understand why 377 got a lot of votes at the first event at Duel. I initially figured it was ballot stuffing but no. 15, perennial favorite Bosque, had a good entry, but...

Boxing Bear repeats with a 104-101 victory over Bosque. I'll be honest, that Boxing Bear entry wouldn't have placed in my top 5. And I picked Boxing Bear last year, so it's not like I dislike their beer. Just not my choice this year. On my choice of La Cumbre as the winner, a prominent brewery owner said, "Finally, someone with half a brain!" There may have been only 30 of us half-brains who voted for them, but exceptional people are never part of the masses. That's why we're exceptional.

Friday, July 28, 2017

GABF Public Ticket Sale Looms

And here I thought tickets were impossible to come by back when you had to physically wait in line for them. I lined up overnight for tickets one time: waited all night in a sketchy city for the Ticketmaster location to open, only to find that this one wasn't open on Saturdays. Rushed down to another part of the city, where a department store had a Ticketmaster office hidden on a forgotten upper floor. Stayed up all night for mediocre seats. But all that has changed with the internet. Now you can (have to) be ready to click on tickets the second they go on sale, like I did for a beer release recently. One second, tickets not yet available. OK. Next second, tickets available: choose quantity. OK, I choose, click on NEXT. Sorry, this item is no longer available.
It was available for all of five seconds, then gone. That's the reality of online ticket sales now. And it will be a struggle to get those GABF tickets in an age where everyone has discovered craft beer. They'll wait online so they can then wait in line to get into a place where they will line up over and over again to try beers. And you know what? IT'S SO WORTH IT. You know me. I don't get excited about much. But the feeling when you walk into the exhibit hall and hear the bagpipers and the buzz of all the other beer freaks there and there's all that wonderful beer waiting to be discovered...there's nothing like it!

So when the public sale begins on Wednesday, August 2nd at 12 EST (that's 10 am here in Albuquerque, you know), be on Ticketmaster and hope for the best. 3,800 beers are waiting to meet you.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

New Bears and Birthday Bears

If you were tired of only seeing April-dated cans from the Firestone Walker Leo Vs. Ursus series, well, aren't you the spoiled little thing? It's not THAT old, and still within the window that most breweries allow for an IPA/DIPA. Some breweries date their hoppy offerings as being good for 6 months, which I find absurd. And I'll admit to being one of the spoiled consumers who doesn't want to buy a 3 month old IPA, though I find the beers which use a light malt base (Like Firestone Walker's use of Pilsner malt in the Leo Vs. Ursus series) to hold up over time better than, say, a Great Divide Hercules. So now we have Adversus, the follow-up to the home run that was Fortem, the original in the lion vs. bear series. 8.2% ABV, only 55 IBUs (remember when people were crazy about IBUs!), and hopped with six varieties: Citra, Mandarina, Azacca, Cascade, Ekuanot, and Simcoe. Is it in the same class as that delicious Fortem? Well, it's worth trying. And Jubilation has single cans available so you don't have to commit to a whole 4-pack. If you don't like it, I bet you can find some fairly fresh Fortem out there. And speaking of Jubilation, it looks like they're almost down to the end of their stock of LAST YEAR'S Lagunitas Sucks. They're selling the December 1st, 2016 brewed beer in the singles section. Just so you know.

Happy 3rd to Boxing Bear! I stopped by there yesterday and found it to be as busy as it was when they hosted the IPA Challenge, which was plenty busy. Tried their long-awaited New England style Eastern Standard IPA. Found it to be very good as a beer, but didn't quite have the look of feel of standard bearers Other Half, Tired Hands, or Monkish. Also tried the 11.1% ABV TKO Triple IPA, the beer brewed specifically for their 3rd Anniversary. Kind of reminded me of the excellent Waldo's Special Ale, with a massive tropical hop presence and sweetness from the high ABV. This is one I plan on drinking fresh. Bottles are available for $15. Boxing Bear continues to crank out quality beers with an emphasis on IPAs. I like that.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Big Guns Are in Town for the Big Cans

Come one, come all to the 14th annual Brewery Collectibles Show and swap meet being held at Drafty Kilt Brewery from 10-1 tomorrow. This event is always a big deal, hosting all the locals who have been collecting beer memorabilia while you were still chugging 40s in the park. Cans, bottles, caps, tin signs, etc. will be available to view and to buy. Come bring that item you found in your grandparents' house and get it appraised: it's like Antiques Roadshow for beer.
This year's event is extra special: the national board of directors for the Brewery Collectibles Club of America will be attending and touring local breweries in preparation for Albuquerque hosting the BCCA's national CANvention in 2019. Come out tomorrow and show the bigwigs how much the craft beer scene impacts the city. Make friends with them. Buy them lapdances at Knockouts.